Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne State School - renamed in 1931

Fort Wayne Developmental Center - renamed before 1986? closed in 2007

Google map photo from Street View of the 1983 remnant column of The State School building on East State Blvd. There is a newer July 27, 2020 plaque on one side shown on page 66 of the FORT WAYNE MONUMENTS PLAQUES AND MARKERS IN CITY PARKS 2020. The original 1983 plaque with outdated language was removed to a collection at The History Center. Discussed around the 1:19 minute mark is the 1981 decision for the land to become Northside Park with a park administration building dedicated June 4, 1983. The State School administration building was demolished in August 1982, with 1983 dedication of the column around the 1:51 minute mark of The Forgotten PBS documentary.

Google map of the corner of St. Joe and Stellhorn Road 1960s location now the Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne campus. The Fort Wayne State Hospital & Training Center aka Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth Cemetery is at the northwest corner of the Purdue Fort Wayne St. Joe Road entrance. Address was 4900 St. Joe Road. As of September 28, 2022 MapCarta still labels the corner as Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center as does Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center on RoadOnMap.com.

1911 Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

1911 - New Hospital Million Dollar Institution - School Feeble-Minded Youth
The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Sunday, March 12, 1911, Page 19, clipped by StanFollisFW, May 14, 2023

The word feeble in online dictionaries is defined as weak, unsatisfactory, or lacking strength. Presentism is a historical term meaning judging past actions by today’s standard. It helps to understand the vocabulary used in the late 19th century is often different than modern times and it is best not to judge the past on our understanding of modern science and social norms. Two examples are this 1873 newspaper article: 1873 - Lunatics Hither - Fort Wayne a Desirable Place for You to Live in and 1873 - A Lunatic at Large both from the Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Tuesday, Feb 11, 1873, page 4. It helps to understand education in the 19th century was different from modern times with many people illiterate or only attending a few years of school. The first Fort Wayne Community School building opened in 1857, and Fort Wayne High School in 1864. Well into the 20th century is was common for many people to not attend school past 8th grade, often ending their education earlier for various reasons.

Pages 517-518 in The pictorial history of Fort Wayne, Indiana : a review of two centuries of occupation of the region about the head of the Maumee River by Griswold, B. J. (Bert Joseph), 1873-1927; Taylor, Samuel R., Mrs Publication date 1917, on Archive.org.
Page 517 INDIANA SCHOOL FOR FEEBLE MINDED YOUTH. Page 517 The history of the great state institution known as the Indiana School for Feeble Minded Yotith, a model of its kind, dates from Page 518 the year 1879, when by a legislative act an asylum for feeble minded children was made an adjunct of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' home at Knightstown. In 1887 a separate institution was decided upon and Fort Wayne was chosen as the site, after a lively legislative controversy. The board of trustees, of which E. A. K. Hackett was the president, chose the present location, and in the following year the first appropriation of $50,000 was expended for the site and the erection of the main building. John F. Wing and M. S. Mahurin were the architects of the structure. The present magnificent institution has developed as a result of superior management and the earnest co-operation of the state authorities. The superintendents of the Indiana school from the beginning are John G. Blake, James H. Leonard, Alexander Johnson, Albert E. Carrrol and Dr. George S. Bliss.

A 60 acre property bounded by the Hicksville State Road (now State Street Blvd), Thomasetta (now Kentucky Ave), Charlotte and Parnell Avenues then out in the country in 1890. Designed by Marshall S. Mahurin. By the 1920’s the property housed about 1,600 patients as well as operating nearly 1,000 acres of farmland in Allen County including the property that is now the campus of Purdue and Indiana Universities on Coliseum Blvd. From photo and history by Randy Harter, Fort Wayne historian and authorposted May, 4, 2017 on Fort Wayne Readerthen posted May 8, 2017 and May 6, 2018 on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Archived group only visible to existing members on Facebook. Aka "State School" now Northside Park on State Blvd near North Side High School.

See Fort Wayne Developmental Center and Fort Wayne State Hospital & Training Center aka Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth Cemetery.

See also Allen County Children's Home, Allen County Orphan Home, Allen County Poor Farm, Fort Wayne Children's Home, and St. Vincent Villa Catholic Orphanage.

  1. INDIANA DISABILITY HISTORY TIMELINE at Indiana University has lots of interesting items for Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center search.
  2. The Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth in Fort Wayne opened its doors in 1890 on East State Street, in an area that was, at the time, in the country. The school's campus included the Administration Building, cottages, a school, an industrial arts building, a hospital, and a gymnasium. The vocational arts were divided by gender, with men learning carpentry, agriculture, painting, upholstering and the making of mattresses, shoes and bricks, and the women learning the domestic arts of cleaning, cooking, canning, dressmaking, loom weaving and laundry. Residents came from all over the state. In 1931, the 1130 resident capacity facility housed 172, and had a waiting list of 200. That same year, the legislature changed the school's name to Fort Wayne State School. In 1960, many residents moved to the new site at Stellhorn and St. Joe Roads, but some residents continued to live at the old school for about 20 years. After a number of years in which the State Street campus was inhabited by vagrants and rats, the Administration Building was demolished in 1982 to make way for North Side Park, which became Bob Arnold Northside Park. The Park Department saved a stone archway to leave as memorial to the former residents. These mortality lists are taken from the Annual Reports of the Fort Wayne State School to the Governor, and cover the time period from November 1912 to June 1937. (ACPL call number GC 977.202 F77fmy.) After that time, the reports did not list the deaths. The report includes name, age, date and cause of death, and evaluation grade. Actual death records were created for each individual and are part of the Allen County Death Records. Microfiche copies of the Allen County Death Records to 1932 are held at The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library. Later death records can be obtained from the State Vital Records Office. Among other information, death records could provide birthplace and parents' names, when known. Also provided are burial places. Some deceased residents were buried in their hometowns, others in various cemeteries in Allen County, including the institution's cemetery, located in Section 19 of St. Joseph Township, on the west side of St. Joe Road, between Broyles and Canterbury Boulevards. There is one large stone, dated 1901 to 1967, but the graves were never marked. It is probable that some of those bodies supposedly buried at the school cemetery were instead donated for medical research. Many deceased inmates, however, were buried in other cemeteries or returned to their hometowns for burial. Copied from Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth -- Fort Wayne State School Mortality Lists at The Genealogy Center.
  3. See the Fort Wayne State Hospital & Training Center aka Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth Cemetery on the Purdue Fort Wayne campus.
  4. November 12, 2013 post by the Indiana Genealogical Society on Facebook:

    TUESDAY TIDBIT: The causes of insanity among patients at the Indiana Hospital for the Insane in 1869 included: excessive breastfeeding, masturbation, sunburn, seduction, reading "vile" books, a defective education, and fear of being drafted into the army.

    Source: The annual report of the Indiana Hospital for the Insane for the year ending October 31, 1869. [begins on page 363 as Superintendents Report in the Documentary journal of Indiana 1869, by Indiana. General Assembly, Publication date 1869]

  5. During 1879-1887 the Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children was located on the grounds of the Orphan's Home and the two organizations shared all communal facilities (dining hall, hospital, church, etc.). Complaints concerning the combination of the two homes, particularly by veteran's organizations, led to the transfer of the Asylum to Ft. Wayne in 1887. Copied from Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's home at the Indiana Archives and Records Administration at IN.gov.
  6. Indiana’s second oldest mental health facility opened in 1879 at Knightstown. It was relocated to Fort Wayne in 1890. The first patient admitted that year was an eleven year old boy from Ossian, Wells County. It served mentally retarded children from throughout Indiana until 1939, when its service area was reduced to the northern half of the state. Its mission was expanded to include patients of all ages with other developmental disabilities. Before closure in 2007 the facility had admitted 12162 patients. The center’s admission registers, card index, and a nearly complete set of medical records on microfilm, are at the Indiana State Archives. Copied from Fort Wayne Developmental Center (Fort Wayne State School, Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth, and Asylum for Feeble Minded Children) at Central State Hospital Collection: Index at the Indiana Archives and Records Administration at IN.gov.
  7. The Forgotten: A History of the State Developmental Institutions in Fort Wayne Special | 1h 59m 29s | Video has closed captioning. In 1879 Indiana decided to create an institution for children with mental disabilities. In 1890 a brand-new facility dedicated to this cause was opened. It was located just northeast of the city of Fort Wayne, on what would later become East State Boulevard. Aired: 09/26/22 Rating: TV-14.
    Copied from PBS Fort Wayne and their September 29, 2022 post on Facebook. Around the 23 minute mark discusses the 1931 name change to Fort Wayne State School. 23:40 starts an 8-minute discussion of the 1907 The Eugenics Law to sterilize individuals to prevent their having children. 59 minute mark discusses converting the farm land into IPFW and converting Blackhawk Farms into a housing development and building new facities on the Parker Place site.Sponsored by AWS Foundation.

    The newspaper article Days of a forgotten school Stories sought about memories of state center by Terri Richardson published March 08, 2020 in The Journal Gazette newspaper  had a section titled New Sign stating:

    The stories received will be used in a documentary by WFWA-TV PBS Fort Wayne.

    In addition, the History Center will have a temporary exhibit this fall that focuses on the center, how the region has understood the people at the school and artifacts from the school.

    Hays is also hoping to change the sign on the column stone that marks where the original school stood along East State Boulevard to make it more politically correct. Currently, the marker uses the words “retarded,” “idiot” and “feeble minded” to describe the residents at the school. She says that unfortunately these were medical terms used at that time. “You can't erase history.”

    The old sign would be given to the History Center to exhibit.

      A September 25, 2022 post on Facebook promoted The Forgotten A History of the State Developmental Institutions in Fort Wayne documentary broadcast September 26, 2022 by PBS39 WFWA Fort Wayne. The webpage states: A History of the State Developmental Institutions in Fort Wayne In 1879 Indiana decided to create an institution for children with mental disabilities. In 1890 a brand-new facility dedicated to this cause was opened. It was located just northeast of the city of Fort Wayne, on what would later become East State Boulevard. Advances in medical and behavioral treatments, as well as overcrowding partly due to an aging population, led to a new modern complex being built by Saint Joe and Stellhorn roads in northeast Fort Wayne. Using interviews, newspaper accounts, and archival photos and videos from these facilities, this 2-hour historical documentary tells the story of these forgotten places and those that inhabited them. A September 26, 2022 then a September 27, 2022 post on True Fort Wayne Indiana History on Facebook generated over 140 comments on the first airing of the show.

    In State Developmental Center Documentary Season 2022 Episode 3033 | 27m 32s | Video has closed captioning. Guests: Patti Hays (CEO - AWS Foundation) & Nancy Louraine (Retired CEO - Turnstone). This area’s only in-depth, live, weekly news, analysis and cultural update forum, PrimeTime airs Fridays at 7:30pm. This program is hosted by PBS Fort Wayne’s President/General Manager Bruce Haines. Aired: 09/23/22 on PrimeTime39 on PBS39 WFWA Fort Wayne.

  8. Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center Friends private Facebook group
  9. Photo Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth, Fort Wayne IN: later known as the State School. Side view from a distance. 1898. reproduced from a printed source. at Allen County Public Library Digital Collections at the Allen County Public Library.
  10. Deaths at Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth, Fort Wayne, Indiana (1891-1917) from annual reports at the Indiana Genenealogical Society.
  11. Annual report of the Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth Fort Wayne Indiana on Archive.org
    1. Twenty-first Annual Report October 31, 1899
    2. Twenty-seventh Annual Report October 31, 1905
    3. Thirty-third Annual Report September 30, 1911
    4. Forty-first Annual Report September 30, 1919
    5. Forty-second Annual Report September 30, 1920
    6. Forty-fourth Annual Report September 30, 1922
    7. Forty-fifth Annual Report September 30, 1923
  12. "Annual report of the Fort Wayne State School, Fort Wayne, Indiana." search results Annual report of the Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, for the fiscal year ending October 31 ..1909-1915 and 1906/07 at Hathi Trust Digital Library with Google digitized copies: 1909-1915 (original from The Ohio State University) or 1919-1924 (original from The Ohio State University)
  13. Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth search results and Fort Wayne State School search results at Google eBookshows lots of annual reports only a few are listed here
    1. Annual Report of the Fort Wayne State School Issue 4, 1882
    2. Annual Report of the Fort Wayne State School Issue 9, 1887
    3. Annual Report of the Fort Wayne State School, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1908
    4. Annual Report of the Fort Wayne State School, Fort Wayne, Indiana 1935
    5. Annual Report of the Fort Wayne State School, 1948
    6. Annual Report of the Fort Wayne State School, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1950
    7. Annual Report by Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center · 1966
  14. Family And Social Services Administration. Disability And Rehabilitative Services, Division of Fort Wayne State Developmental Center at Research Indiana.
  15. Old Fort News Volume 83 - Number 2 -2020
    Old Fort News Volume 83 - Number 2 -2020 The Fort Wayne State Developmental Center The Pace of Educational Change at The History Center. See cover photo at Google.com
  16. Old State School Cemetery Located On IPFW Grounds Feeble-Minded at IPFW An Historic Look at the Grounds was published January 11, 2012 in Vol. 42 Issue 15 of the IPFW student newspaper The Communicator on Purdue University Fort Wayne Helmke Library.mDON: mastodon Digital Object Network .
  17. Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center, 1879-1979 book by Bette Peterson and Employee handbook, Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center at Indiana State Library from WorldCat.org.
  18. Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center 1975 and Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center 1979 at Google eBook.
  19. Fort Wayne State Hospital and Training Center, 1879-1979 images Google search results without dates
  20. The history of the Fort Wayne State School for the Feebleminded : Fort Wayne Indiana, 1889-1942 by Evelyn G. Bell, M.A. University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration 1947 on WorldCat.org.
  21. Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth ca. 1900 with photo by Randy Harter, Fort Wayne historian and authorpublished May 4, 2017 at Fort Wayne Reader.
  22. Fort Wayne, IN: Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth (State School) with several photos published July 29, 2020 on Towns and Nature blog.
  23. 2011 and vintage photos on February 23, 2014discussion and album on Vintage Fort Wayne on Facebook
  24. May 29, 2017 post on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.
  25. 1915 legislation to pay $300 to injured brickyard laborer Keith Dickson at a May 22, 1912 incident at the school was the subject in a January 21, 2014 Tuesday Tidbit on Indiana Genealogical Society on Facebook.
  26. Fort Wayne Developmental Center at Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
  27. A Real Classic, Right Here in 'Your Country' by Eric Olson 21Country at 21AliveNews.com Indiana NewsCenter March 25, 2013.
  28. An August 2, 1919 photograph of Scenes on State School Farm Friday When Thousands of Farmers Gathered for Tractor Demonstration on the front page of The News-Sentinel newspapersparked an August 2, 2014 discussion on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.
  29. A color postcard was posted April 19, 2019 by Hofer and Davis, Inc. Land Surveyors on Facebook.
  30. “We Cannot Make a Silk PurseOut of a Sow’s Ear”Eugenics in the Hoosier Heartland by Alexandra Minna Stern published in the Indiana Magazine of History 103 (March 2007) online at Scholar Works Indiana University.
  31. Fort Wayne is mentioned 36 times in the 92 page THE EUGENIC ORIGINS OF INDIANA’S MUSCATATUCK COLONY: 1920-2005 Abigail Nicole Bragg Submitted to the faculty of the University Graduate School in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts in the Department of History Indiana University September 2020 online at Scholar Works Indiana University.
  32. Annual report of the Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, for the fiscal year ending .. by Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth Publication date 1905. There are several more reports online.
  33. At Richmond, between 1887 and 1890, three of the completed buildings were occupied by "The School for Feeble Minded Youth." In 1890, these patients were transferred to what is now known as the "Fort Wayne Developmental Center." The buildings were refurbished and the hospital formally opened on July 29, 1890, with the first patient admitted on August 4, 1890. copied from Family and Social Services Administration on IN.gov.
  34. 1898 Cornerstone
    Cornerstone photos of 1898 cornerstone, several photos, and historical information at 200 @ 200 2016 Bicentennial items at The History Center.
  35. Google Search shows lots of photos from various sources.
  36. Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth ca. 1900 by Randy Harter Fort Wayne Reader 2017-05-04.
  37. Read the history Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth -- Fort Wayne State School Mortality Lists then search the Index on the The Genealogy Center with names and causes of death.
  38. Fort Wayne State School photo with brief information at the Indiana Disability History Project.
  39. The Asylum Projects.org Wiki has a history and several photos.
  40. A postcard of the school and September 14, 2013 discussion on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook.
  41. Jerry Henry, son of social worker Jerome Henry, who lived in an old farm house on the school property in the 1950s-60s recalls growing up near the school and the cemetery that existed at that time. Research shows more than 200 graves existed, possibly more. The History Center was hoping to team with PFW archaeology students in the summer of 2020 before the COVID-19 Pandemic started to identify the boundaries of the cemetery. The AWS Foundation and the History Center as part of a project to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act are researching and documenting the history of the school and center to show how far society has progressed when it comes to people with disabilities. They are hoping to collect stories to used in a documentary by WFWA-TV PBS Fort Wayne. In addition, the History Center will have a temporary exhibit the fall of 2020 that focuses on the center, how the region has understood the people at the school and artifacts from the school. Read more in Days of a forgotten school Stories sought about memories of state center by Terri Richardson published March 08, 2020 in The Journal Gazette newspaper .
  42. Photos posted and discussed February 24, 2023 by Ancient America on Facebook.
  43. Photos posted and discussed May 18, 2023 showing The State School plaque and the column one of the few things remaining from the buildings and another batch May 18, 2023 on Abandoned and Forgotten Indiana Facebook group.
  44. July 29, 2023 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:

    After reports of neglect and abuse at several Indiana institutions for people living with disabilities, the deinstitutionalization movement led to the closure of many of these facilities. To ease this transition from institutions back into society, Governor Frank O’Bannon established the 317 Task Force in 1998. He instructed the task force to study how the state could provide comprehensive support to people with disabilities. The group met monthly to discuss the needs of people with disabilities, their lived experiences, and how best to serve them. Notably, Chairwoman Kathy Davis made a point to include both people with disabilities and their families on the task force. The task force’s final recommendation was dubbed the “317 Plan” and recommended person-centered support plans that focused on community integration.

    This task force united advocates in the disability community and other allies for the cause. On Wednesday, December 9, 1998, hundreds of people living with disabilities, their families, and other advocates rallied at the statehouse to show their support for the 317 Plan and request full funding for it. Their advocacy was successful, and, in 1999, the governor and Indiana General Assembly allocated nearly $40 million dollars to implement the first phase of the 317 Plan, which implemented home and community-based services.

    To learn more about the 317 Plan and the history of Hoosiers with disabilities, visit the Indiana Disability History Project: https://www.indianadisabilityhistory.org/items/show/179

    Image courtesy of the Indianapolis News, December 10, 1998.

    Video from link above:

    The 317 Plan: Charting a New Path August 3, 2017 by Indiana Disability History on YouTube

    The 317 Plan marked a significant step in Indiana's history of providing services to people with disabilities. John Dickerson, David Mank, Randy Krieble, and Bettye Dunham talk about the impact the 317 Plan had on developing community based services.
    Video produced by Center on Aging and Community/Indiana Institute on Disability and Community/Indiana University. Funded in part by a grant from the Indiana Governor's Council for People with Disabilities
    Copyright 2017 The Trustees of Indiana University
    Music Attribution: Redwood Trail by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/...)
    Artist: http://audionautix.com/

  45. August 7, 2023 post by The Atlantic on Facebook:

    For decades, America hid away disabled children. Jennifer Senior’s aunt Adele was one of them. For our September issue, she tells the story of Adele’s life, and considers the life she might have lived. The Ones We Sent Away I thought my mother was an only child. I was wrong.

  46. August 7, 2023 post by The Public Domain Review on Facebook:

    “My liberty, and my very existence as an individual being, had been signed away behind my back. In my weakened perceptions I at first thought that the mansion was an hotel. Left alone in a big room on the first evening, I was puzzled by the entrance of a wild-looking man, who described figures in the air with his hand, to an accompaniment of gibber, ate a pudding with his fingers at the other end of a long table, and retired. My nerve was shaken to its weakest, remember; and I was alone with him! It was not an hotel. It was a lunatic asylum.”

    My Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum by Herman Charles Merivale on Archive.org.

  47. Not Fort Wayne but this post shows a lunacy declaration for a now treatable medical condition epilepsy in the 1800s.

    September 9, 2023 post by the Greene County Archives on Facebook:

    On Tuesday, we highlighted an affidavit claiming an individual was deemed a threat to the community due to her epilepsy. This was common practice in the 1800s, and it continued through the 1900s. This week, we are sharing a blog from 2020 exploring the treatment of the disease through history.

    Epilepsy and Lunacy: Medical Diagnoses of the 1800s

    Image: Inquest of Epilepsy of Mahlon Ogle, 1930 (Greene County Probate Court Records)

    ***********************

    Modern Parkview Health epilepsy post:

    September 12, 2023 post by Parkview Health on Facebook:

    Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurring, unprovoked seizures. Since the condition affects 3.4 million people in the U.S., it's important for everyone to know the signs and how to assist someone who is in distress.

    Diagnosing, treating and managing epilepsy

  48. Purdue Fort Wayne repurposes historic land for its new residential complex Avery Johnson Jun 11, 2024 Fox 55 Fort Wayne.

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