Skip to main content

Zoom Text:


Increasingly, the new institutional leaders were medical doctors who spent much of their time managing their growing facilities. On June 6, 1876, six superintendents – Eduoard Seguin, Hervey B. Wilbur, G.A. Doran, C.T. Wilbur, H. Knight, and Isaac Kerlin – gathered in Medina, Pennsylvania and established the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Persons (now known as the American Association for Mental Retardation, or AAMR).

Participants at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of the Feeble-Minded, 1910

As Richard Scheerenberger notes in his book, A History of Mental Retardation, the Association's primary purpose was to discuss "the causes, conditions, and statistics of idiocy, and the management, training, and education of idiots and feebleminded persons; it will also lend its influence to the establishment and fostering of institutions for this purpose."

Institutions became medically oriented; and persons with disabilities were viewed as patients who were sick, and needed to be cured. The individual was redefined to meet the needs of the institution. Formation of this organization made clear that institutions would now have a medical focus.