Fernald State School

Waltham, Massachusetts

General Facts

  • Founded in 1848 by Samuel Gridley Howe
  • First Resident Superintendent - Walter E. Fernald
  • Oldest institution that served people with disabilities
  • Originally named The Experimental School for Teaching and Training Idiotic Children School for boys, then changed to The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded
  • Admitted by IQ test scores
  • No possible way for release
  • Torture, sexual abuse, and experimentation was "normal"
  • Closed on November 29, 2014

Education Included...

  • Classroom training
  • Manual shoe repair
  • Broom making
  • Rag rug making
  • Weaving
  • Knitting
  • Sewing
  • Housekeeping
  • Music Therapy
  • Dancing
  • Athletics

Institution Population

  • 1889 - 142 Residents
  • 1911 - 494 Residents
  • 1926 - 1,330 Residents
  • 1945 - 1,890 Residents
  • 1960 - 2,600 Residents
  • 2005 - 248 Residents
Locking Away the Feeble Minded