From One Century to the Next: A History of Wrentham State School and the Institutional Model in Massachusetts


Series: Disability Studies
BISAC: SOC053000

This book chronicles the development of the institutional model in Massachusetts with the well-intended beginnings, the decline and the subsequent heroic reform. Massachusetts led the country and perhaps the world in the development of facilities intended to house the mentally ill and developmentally disabled during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The state schools constructed during the early 20th century in the United States were the direct result of the unfortunate science of eugenics, as society strived to create a race that was without flaw. After WWII, the eugenics fervor became moot and the myriads of people who were placed in state schools remained—as society forgot about them. Sufficient funding was denied, and both employees and residents suffered the dire consequences of a society that no longer cared-a society that wanted to forget.

This is the history of a place, but more than that, it is a story about people. It is the story of great men who did wonderful things and of well-intentioned men who made egregious mistakes. It is the story of a heroic fight for reform. A study of the human condition, of atrocity juxtaposed against nobility—a constant struggle. Unlike many other books on this topic, here there is a happy ending. Nobility triumphs. The tireless human spirit perseveres, and society is forced to listen to the cries of its institutionalized. (Imprint: Nova)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface /Foreword


Harold L. May’s endorsement

Nicholas D’Aluisio’s endorsement

An important note about terminology


Chapter 1 – A very brief history of the town of Wrentham (pp. 1-6)

Chapter 2 – With the best of intentions-institutions (pp. 7-10)

Chapter 3 – The stain of eugenics (pp. 11-16)

Chapter 4 – Dr.‘s Fernald and Wallace: An introduction (pp. 17-20)

Chapter 5 – Wallace‘s contribution (pp. 21-24)

Chapter 6 – The institution is becoming too popular:‖ A history of community placement in Massachusetts (pp. 25-32)

Chapter 7 – Wrentham State School: The beginning (pp. 33-44)

Chapter 8 – 1911 – 1919: Cutting edge (pp. 45-68)

Chapter 9 – 1920 – 1929: Coming of age (pp. 69-100)

Chapter 10 – The 1930‘s: A different era (pp. 101-112)

Chapter 11 – The 1940‘s: Gradual change (pp. 113-122)

Chapter 12 – The 1950‘s: Something missing (pp. 123-138)

Chapter 13 – The 1960‘s: The system fails (pp. 139-158)

Chapter 14 – The 1970‘s: The consent decree and heroic reform (pp. 159-188)

Chapter 15 – The 1980‘s: A time of positive change (pp. 189-220)

Chapter 16 – A new world (pp. 221-222)


About the author

Mission statement


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