At the turn of the last century, it was widely accepted by conventional science that feeble-mindedness was one of the greatest threats to society in the modern era. But while hereditary diseases or defects of the mind and body were most commonly associated with feeble-mindedness, it was not defined by disability alone - morality and sexuality were traits equally as culprit in its diagnosis, and believed to be just as inheritable by birth.
For this reason, from 1913 through the Great Depression, hundreds of disadvantaged and uneducated young girls and women from broken homes, orphanages, jail cells, psychiatric hospitals, convents, and maternity wards across Rhode Island were legally declared feeble-minded and sentenced indefinitely to an institution for the mentally retarded.
Exeter Girls is an epistolary novel telling the first-hand accounts and true life stories of three women - Evelyn, Cora, and Dorothy - branded by the scarlet letters of waywardness and sexual delinquency, and committed to Rhode Island's School for the Feeble-Minded nearly a century ago.
Expertly researched and transcribed from previously sealed documents, this rare collection of personal letters exposes the shocking reality and untold tragedy of a dark age in social services, and reveals the truth behind the State's most notorious public institution, better known today as The Ladd School.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I find it very strange that this book does not contain any bibliography or even a list of sources which scholars can consult for themselves; in this case, information from patients' medical files. I've never seen a book of historical documents which does not provide information on resources from which the book is based on. If these files are strangely open to public view, it should be noted where they are deposited for future reference.
The letters transcribed in this book tell a chilling story of how society treated those less fortunate in that era. One can only imagine what it was like for the patients who were unable to communicate on their own behalf. This book helps the reader feel what these unfortunate women suffered. The men must have had an equally difficult life there. This is a must read for anyone in mental health care.