Public Hostage: Public Ransom Photo Gallery

Inside Institutional America

©1979 by William Bronston, M.D.

William Bronston, M.D., shared six chapters from his unpublished book entitled Public Hostage: Public Ransom—Inside Institutional America about Willowbrook, with photos that illustrate each chapter. This is a gallery of photos from those chapters.

Click the images to view full size:

Social Control: Origins of Willowbrook

Keep door locked
Sign: Department of Mental Hygiene
Nelson Rockefeller and Officials
Guards outside

People Become Things—Mass Reduction

Willowbrook Residents
Pile of Shoes
Rows of beds
Rows of beds
Child and wheelchair
Row of children in wheelchairs
Playground slide
Row of children in beds
Piles of junk
Residents on bare floor
Toothbrushes on hooks

The Radiator

Child with radiator
Sleeping on radiator
Seated on floor by radiator
Huddled on floor
Huddled on floor
Resident in chair
Group by radiator
Sleeping on floor by radiator
Naked resident lying on floor by radiator

Living Death… Alone

Child behind fence
Child alone
Child curled up in bare floor
Resident alone on bench by window
Row of wheel beds
child in wheel chair
Child curled up behind bars
Isolated resident


Injured child
Injured child
Injured child
Injured child
Injured child
Injured resident
Injured child
Injured child

For the People—a Choice

Photos by Howard Blatt

Cavett show
Cavett show
Cavett show