IV. The Rise of the Institutions 1800 - 1950 E. 1925 to 1950: Invisibility and Abandonment
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"All hope abandon, ye who enter here."
– Dante

During this period, at least one state-supported institution existed in every state. The number of residents increased from 25,000 to 50,000. The ideas of parole and institutional care were promoted. At their peak, public institutions housed approximately 4 percent of all people with mental retardation but consumed the vast majority of public funds for services.

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By the mid-1920s, professional views of persons with disabilities changed. Superintendents, such as Fernald, who had spoken about the menace of feeblemindedness, began to see the positive results of education and community interaction for people with disabilities.