IV. The Rise of the Institutions 1800 - 1950 E. 1925 to 1950: Invisibility and Abandonment
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Weaving 1932In spite of an increased understanding of the abilities of persons labeled mentally retarded, and the positive outcomes seen by professionals, the institutions continued to grow in size and number. One reason for this growth was the inability of many families to meet the financial needs of their sons or daughters with disabilities; the lack of educational services contributed. The Great Depression placed a financial strain on all Americans, particularly those individuals and families with special needs.

During the 1920s and 1930s, special education classes were offered primarily in large cities. Many families sent their children to institutions because they believed that only there they would receive training. Lack of community services and negative attitudes about persons with disabilities resulted in an increased demand for institutional placement.


Letters to Parents and Superintendents (PDF)
Courtesy Ed Burke

July 13, 1933
July 19, 1933
August 28, 1933
May 21, 1934
May 2, 1935
May 4, 1935
October 22, 1935
March 24, 1936
December 17, 1937
December 20, 1938
November 29, 1942
December 5, 1943
December 9, 1943
July 6, 1945

The Doubting Dance: Contributions to a History of Parent/Professional Interactions in Early 20th Century America
(TASH Journal 2008)