Introduction and Contexualization
Throughout American history, families and governance have attempted to control and cure both physical and mental disabilities. This concept is most clearly manifested in the American institution. Beginning in the nineteenth century, institutionalization became a way to remove people with disabilities from the remainder of society, in hopes that this isolation would help to rehabilitate these individuals without disrupting the lives of the majority able minded and bodied population. By exploring how these structures became embedded in American society through a literature review, our exhibit will set the stage for our primary documentation of the individual institution experience.
Through the lenses of medical paternalism, physical and mental disability, and minority health, our exhibit will explore the detrimental effects of forced institutionalization as a means to segregate society, and will examine the movements which shifted society’s view of mental and physical disabilities and which sparked reform efforts.
Credits: Vish Nair, Meghan Hoefling, Viktoria Beck