In Massachusetts there were, at one time, three institutions built specifically for the care and education of the intellectually and physically disabled. Set in the rolling hills and bucolic farmland of early suburban communities, these schools set out to make their students ready to return home and to become productive members of society.
Over time, however, these “schools” grew into large-scale warehouses where education was no longer the primary goal. Instead, the purpose of the institution was to isolate the disabled from the rest of society. Eventually, two of the three state schools were dismantled and the third scaled back in operation, leaving behind the abandoned remains of what were once premier institutions for the education of the disabled.
This brief overview of the history of state schools in Massachusetts is presented through a collection of images both historical and current, giving a glimpse inside the past.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Katherine Anderson is a mental health historian who has written several volumes on the history of state hospitals and state schools in New England. A special education teacher, Katherine has been studying the evolution of the care for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled for the better part of two decades. She is also a professional photographer who has exhibited her work in libraries, museums, and historical societies as part of her lecture series.