Lunacy Massachusetts. State Board of Health.

Annual report of the State Board of Health, Lunacy, and Charity of Massachusetts online

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decreased average number of pupils, who have steadily di-
minished for a long time, and are now only about one-fourth
the number that was found in the State Reformatories fifteen
years ago. On the 1st of October, 1866, there were 603 boys
at Westborough and the school-ships, and 140 girls at Lan-
caster, — in all, therefore, 743 pupils at the State Reforma-
tories, which now contain but 163 pupils. The net expenses
of these reformatories in 1867 were $131,600 ; in 1881 they
have been less than $45,000, — a reduction due in part to the
system adopted of placing and visiting children, and amount-
ing, after fourteen years, to $87,000 a year. As above indi-
cated, we believe that certain changes, hereafter to be recom-
mended, would reduce the net current cost for 1882 below
$40,000 ; but an outlay of perhaps $30,000 for buildings and
alterations might be needful to bring about these changes.
This sum ($30,000) is less, however, than the annual reduc-
tion in the current appropriations at the State Reformatories
since 1878. The cash earnings at Westborough and Lan-
caster for 1881, though not all belonging to this year, have
been greater than ever before ; viz., $12,184. These earn-
ings do not directly diminish the sums drawn from the treas-
ury for the two schools, but they do reimburse the State for
a part of the money expended ; and, taking these reimburse-
ments into account, the two reformatories last year cost the
State less than $45,000 ; which sum, in consequence of fur-
ther reimbursements by the cities and towns ($10,600), has
been further reduced to about $34,000 for the year ending

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Oct. 1, 1881. This is the smallest net outlay made at the
State Reformatories for more than twenty-five years.

The State Primary School^ Monson.

Superintendent. — Gardiner Tufts.

A few persons other than children continue to be maintained
at this school ; and an increasing proportion of the children
there are the boys and girls sentenced to the custody of the
Board. Opinions differ as to the effect upon the younger
children of associating with these sentenced children, who
are generally older, and have committed at least some nomi-
nal offence. The prevailing opinion at the Primary School
itself now is, that the younger pupils gain more than they
lose by such association ; the sentenced pupils being naturally
bright, and in many cases having received more instruction,
before coming to Monson, than the children sent in from
the State Almshouse. But the risk of occasional contamina-
tion from such sentenced children (who may have contracted
habits really vicious and readily communicated) is so great,
that, should the limit of age be reduced for the boys sen-
tenced to the State Reform School, and the girls committed
to the Industrial School, it would be better to send most of
the sentenced pupils now received at Monson to these two
schools. This would diminish, to some extent, the average
number at the Primary School, which is desirable. This
number could also be reduced by sending more of the younger
pupils to be boarded in families, — a policy which has not yet
been pursued so vigorously as, in our opinion, it should be.
The general good condition of the Monson establishment,
and of the children there, has been already stated.

The State Reform School^ Westborough.

Superintendent, — Joseph A. Allen.

Since the 1st of December, 1880, there have been three
Superintendents at this establishment, — Rev. L. H. Sheldon,
who retired at that date ; Mr. E. T. Dooley, who retired on
the 15th of October ; and the present Superintendent, who
has been re-appointed, after an absence from the school of

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1882.] PUBLIC DOCUMENT — No. 17. clxv


more than fourteen years. During that interval great changes
have taken place, — the most noticeable being the decrease
in the number of pupils, already mentioned, and the re-
duction of the annual cost, which has not been so small
since Mr. Allen's former connection with the school as
it has been in 1881. The gross expenditure of the year
has been about the same as in 1880, although the ap-
propriation was smaller, but the large cash receipts have
reduced the net cost to the State considerably below that
of 1880. ^Notwithstanding a financial showing so favor-
able, in comparison with the great expenditure of former
years, it is our duty to say that the reduction in current cost
at West borough might have been still greater in 1880 and
1881, and the school in better condition now, had the Trustees
followed the suggestions made to them by this Board, and
discontinued the use of the newer portion of the main build-
ing. This would have enabled them to make a saving of
more than $1,000 a year in fuel, and of at least that sum in
salaries. The sleigh-shops have also been carried on for the
last year at a great expense, with no corresponding profit
from the work done in them ; and the whole deficiency this
year existing at the State Reform School was occasioned
by injudicious purchases of wood and iron, made by the late
Superintendent, for the purpose of supplying these shops with
material which they did not need. The cost of this purchase
exceeded $1,800, when $200 would have been ample for all
the material actually needed. And so long as these shops
are maintained in their present condition, with two or three
instructors and less than ten boys at work in them, they are
a drain upon the funds of the school, without any sufl5cient
compensating advantage.

Meantime, while the Trustees have carried on this costly
and hazardous form of labor, — for the boys thus employed
have more than once manufactured keys and other tools by
which to make their escape, — the fine farm at Westborough
has suffered for lack of the labor of the boys ; its crops this
year, except hay, have been less than usual ; and its condition
for future crops is not satisfactory.

Still less satisfactory has been the discipline and the moral

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condition of the State Reform School during most of the
time (now two years and a half) that this Board has been
required by law to take notice of its management. The
present Trustees of the combined schools cannot be held
responsible for the remote causes of this state of things ; the
unwise policy, permitted by our laws and encouraged by a
former Board of Trustees, having led directly to the recent
difficulties and disorganization. This policy, commenced soon
after 1870, of receiving and retaining at Westbbrough a class
of boys too old to profit by its discipline, and too much
addicted to vice to be allowed among less hardened boys,
has shown its natural results during the past two years.
Escapes have been frequent, punishments have been frequent
also, and severe, but not judicious; and a spirit of unity in
disobedience has been fostered among the pupils to an extent
that can hardly be overstated. As a place of reformation
and moral improvement the Westborough School in these
two years has V>een a failure ; and, unless it can be radically
changed in these respects, it would be best for the State to
give it up entirely. Without pausing to mention in detail
the various causes of this unhappy condition of affairs (which
has become obvious to the whole community), — and without
bestowing censure where, although deserved, it could do no
good, — let us point out how the existing difficulties can be

The first thing to be done, in the judgment of this Board,
is to remove the school itself from Westborough. So
palpable has been its ill success, and so closely is this asso-
ciated with the ill-arranged and unsuitable buildings there,
that it would be unwise to attempt longer, in that locality,
an experiment that has conspicuously failed. We are in-
formed that several magistrates, who have the option of com-
mitting boys to Westborough, steadily refuse to sentence
any there, giving as a reason (what we cannot deny) that
boys are more likely to get harm than good by such a sen-
tence. An impression of this sort, once fastened in the pub-
lic mind, is slow to be displaced ; and we believe that the
Reform School would gain something in the public esteem
merely by being removed from Westborough to Bome place

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1882.] PUBLIC DOCUMENT— No. 17. clxvii


without such an ill reputation. A few miles distant, in the
neighboring town of Lancaster, is a large farm with good
buildings, owned by the State and now occupied by the
Industrial School for Girls, who do not half fill the build-
ings. By transferring these girls to Monson or to Sherborn,
which could easily be done, the Lancaster buildings, left
vacant, could at once be occupied by the younger boys now
at Westborough, who could be employed, as soon as the
spring opens, in cultivating the farm there. The number of
these boys would be less than 100, and they could be lodged
in the four family-houses now standing at Lancaster, — two
of them quite unoccupied. For one family of these boys
the present workshop at Lancaster could be used ; and two
other detached workshops in convenient localities could be
fitted up in buildings now standing, for a small sum, within
a few weeks. The Lancaster buildings already contain
schoolrooms, dining-rooms, a chapel, etc., large enough for
the boys who should be sent there.

If it should be found necessary hereafter to extend the
Lancaster buildings so as to receive more than 100 boys, of
the age suitable for a reform school, such as the founder and
generous benefactor of the Westborough School designed,
there is land enough for any reasonable extension, and for
the farm and garden work of the pupils, even should their
number reach 200. But it does not seem probable that the
State will be called on, for many years to come, to maintain
in its reform-school buildings more than 100 or 150 boys
below the age of sixteen years. Above that age such boys
should not be retained in reformatories of this kind ; but, if
they need restraint, should be sent to a prison reformatory,
where they would be subject to a wise prison discipline, and
not permitted to associate at all with younger children,
whom their example would corrupt. The younger boys
also could be placed out in families (after suflBcient deten-
tion in the school) so constantly, that their number need not
rise above 150, and for the present not above 100. The
success of the Trustees in placing out the girls from the Lan-
caster School during 1881 shows what can be done in this
work when it is taken up earnestly by the authorities of the

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school itself, aided by this Board and the auxiliary vis-
itors. There is no reason why these visitors should not take
the same share in placing out the younger boys, and thus
increase the yearly number in families, instead of allowing
them to accumulate in any institution until they are too
old, or too much accustomed to institution life, to be placed-
in families with good success.

It has been supposed that the Lyman Fund, now amount-
ing to more than $40,000, might not continue to be available
for the State Reform School in any other locality than West-
borough. But the heirs of the late Theodore Lyman, by
whom the fund was given, have informed the Board that
they see no reason why the transfer to another locality should
not be made, if the interests of the school require it, and
that they freely consent to the continued use of the Lyman
Fund by the Trustees of the school, should it be removed
from Westborough. Mr. Theodore Lyman, the only son
of the founder of the school, has made this communication
to the Board, and has added his opinion in favor of reducing
the ages of the boys received at the school, and shortening
the time which they remain there. The Board would ex-
press its sense of the generous readiness of Mr. Lylnan to
forward a measure for the improvement of the institution.

The extensive repairs made on the farmhouse at West-
borough were not completed until late in December; 1881 ;
and during the present month, January, 1882, the boys at
Westborough have been removed to the older portion of the
main building, and to the Farmhouse, except about 60,
who were already in the Garden House, and in the Peters
House. The whole number of boys at Westborough Jan. 7,
1882, was only 113, of whom only 49 are lodged in the
main building, which is capable of accommodating 400 boys.
A plan for devoting this building to other uses will be given

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1882.] PUBLIC DOCUMENT — No. 17. clxix

the state industrial school at lancaster.

The State Industrial School at Lancaster.

Superintendent. ^-'S. Porter Brown.

This establishment makes a better financial showing than
that of the Westborough School for boys; the surplus at
Lancaster on the Ist^of January, 1882, being nearly twice
as great as the deficiency at Westborough. The net cost
at Lancaster for the year ending Oct. 1, 1881, was about
»fl3,500, and, for the calendar year 1881, was not far from
the -same sum; the whole amount drawn from the State
Treasury for current expenses being $15,586.85, and the cash
earnings paid into the treasury $1,758.10, — leaving a balance
undrawn of the appropriation for current expenses ($18,000)
of $2,413.15, and a net cost to the public of $13,829. This
outlay was made, however, for an average number of only
57 girls; and the number remaining Jan. 1, 1882, was but
48. The average age of these 48 girls at the present time is
sixteen years ; and there are among them only six girls less
than fourteen years old, while there are eight over eighteen,
and three more over seventeen years old. The great and
commendable pains taken by the Trustees and by the school
officers to place out as many girls as possible in 1881, has
had the effect of increasing the proportionate number of un-
desirable girls now remaining at Lancaster; and, if all the
girls were now discharged or removed to the Sherborn Re-
formatory Prison who ought not to stay in the Industrial
School, the actual number at Lancaster would be little more
than thirty. These could all be provided for in a single
family-house at Monson or at Sherborn, and the Lancaster
buildings could be vacated for the use of the Westborough
boys as early as March next.

The school education, industrial training, and general man-
agement of the pupils of the Industrial School have been good
during the past year ; and the practical skill of the Superin-
tendent in farming has made the establishment more produc-
tive than in any former year, as appears by the income
received from the faim. Its condition has been improved,
also, both by the general cultivation it has received, and by
the special labor bestowed on the pasture-land, for the

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reclaiming which $500 was appropriated and spent in 1881.
More than half this sum was returned in the year by the
value of the crop harvested on the land reclaimed. The silo
(built by Mr. Brown, the Superintendent, at a small ex-
pense) has answered his expectations, and the 75 tons of corn-
fodder stored in it has been suflBcient 9o feed his stock of 25
cows for about two months of the present winter, thereby
saving a large expenditure for grain and meal. The Lancas-
ter buildings generally are in good repair; but the chapel
needs to have its roof-timbers strengthened, and the reservoir
which supplies the establishment with water should be en-
larged, and a few hydrants placed among the buildings for
fire protection.

The same remarks apply to this school as to the Westbor-
oygh School in regard to the age of children who should be
sent, and the length of time they should be retained. It
may be expedient to allow the girls to stay in their reforma-
tory a year longer than the boys stay in theirs ; but the same
general principle holds good of both schools. They should
not be places of detention for young men and young women,
but receptacles and training-schools for boys and girls, for
whom homes in good families should be found as soon as

The Idiot School.

Trustees. — Samuel Eliot, Boston; Lewis Allen, John Cummings,
Woburn; John S. Damrell, Boston; Samuel A. Green, M.D., Boston;
Charles D. Homans, M.D., Boston; Edward Jarvis, M.D., Boston;
W. Brandt Storer, Cambridge; John D. Washburn, Worcester;
William W. Swan, Boston; Stephen Salisbury, Jan., Worcester;
Benjamin Spinney.

Acting Superintendent, — Dr. G. G. Tarbell.

The School for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Youth at South
Boston, established in the year 1848, under the eye of its two
founders, Dr. S. G. Howe and Dr. Edward Jarvis, has now
continued in existence for more than thirty-five years, and
has shown what can be done for this unfortunate class. The
school instruction of idiots cannot be carried very far ; but
they can be taught good habits, and a certain degree of moral
responsibility. Many of them, too, can be trained to some
amount of useful labor. But most idiots need oversight by

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1882.] PUBLIC DOCUMENT — No. 17. clxxi


the public for the greater part of their lives ; so that a school,
which can only receive the young, and cannot retain them
very long, does not quite meet the requirements of the pub-
lic. The managers of the Idiot School, recognizing this, are
converting their establishment, in part, into an asylum ; and,
for this purpose, have bought a farm of 100 acres, and a
farmhouse in Dover near Medfield, to which they have re-
moved six boys, and propose to send others in the spring. ,
The cost of this estate, with tolerable farm-buildings on it, "^ ^
was less than $6,000 ; and it is under consideration as a site ^ ^
for the whole South Boston School in some future year not
far off. The property in South Boston could, perhaps, be
sold for enough to rebuild in the country, which, on most f \
accounts, is the better place.

The number of pupils at the establishment in South Boston
has never been so large as during the year past, and is now f
almost 130. The buildings there have been enlarged and
improved since they came under the supervision of this Board, 1

and have never been in better condition than at present ; nor
has the general management of the school, in respect both to
instruction and employment, ever deserved more commenda-
tion than now. In the country, however, it would be practi-
cable to employ the pupils more generally in out-door labor
than can be done at South Boston.

The Massachusetts Infant Asylum.

Matron. — Miss Elizabeth Clapp.

Although this private charity was incorporated in 18G7,
and occupied buildings in 1868, it was not until the year 1876
that it established itself in its present location at Jamaica
Plain, where it has buildings of its own, ample in extent, and
admirably arranged. In the report of the asylum for the
year ending April 11, 1876, the buildings at Jamaica Plain
are described with engraved plans. Their chief features are,
exposure to the sun and air, careful ventilation and improved
classification of the inmates, who are not allowed to occupy
any portion of the buildings in great number. The establish-
ment is placed on a sunny hill-side, sloping to the south, and
consists of a central building divided into two parts by an


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unbroken brick wall, — the southern half used as a nursery,
the northern for kitchen, dining-room, etc. ; a wide corridor ;
a wing, also a nursery ; a detached ward, or nursery ; and a
laundry, removed at some distance. In the southern half of
the central building, on the first floor, the matron has her
parlor, bed-room, and bath-room. Above, the area of 40 feet
by 22 is divided into two nurseries, each holding two nurses
and four infants. It has the brick wall on the north, but is
open on three sides and overhead to the sun and air. The
area of the western wing is 44 by 24 feet, divided above into
two nurseries, each holding three nurses and six infants. It
has windows on all four sides, and is thoroughly open to sun
and air. Beneath, on the first floor, are the assistant matron's
rooms, day nursery, linen and medicine closets. The de-
tached ward, joined by a covered passage, stands on piers, and
is swept above by every wind. It is 20 feet square. One of
the most important features of the plan is the corridor, 45 by
16 feet, connecting the principal building and this wing. It
has a brick wall on the north ; and its continuous line of glass,
looking east and south, renders it a very attractive and beauti-
ful adjunct, answering well for a " sun-bath." It was intended
to be kept cool, as a place of exercise for the infants. On its
roof is a passage between the buildings, and a place for sun-
ning and airing mattresses in fine weather. In stormy weather
a small loft is provided for the latter purpose over one of the
corridors. It is ventilated from floor to roof, which is one
long skylight. A rack holds the mattresses in the sun, allow-
ing free circulation of air around them. In the rear of the
central building, on the second story, is a room for receiving
infants and keeping them for ten days or a fortnight, till it
is ascertained that it is safe to place them with the other

In these buildings there are never more than twenty chil-
dren, and oftentimes less than that number. In the branch
asylum at West Medford, where a house is hired for that
purpose, less than ten infants are generally kept. The whole
arrangement of the buildings in both localities would serve
as a model for other communities desirous of preventing the
death of foundling and deserted children.

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1882.] PUBLIC DOCUMENT — No. 17. clxxiu



Having thus described the State Charities and t
made in the State establishments and elsewhere fc
dren of the State " (as these minor wards of tt
wealth have been happily styled), we may now
out what is done in the same direction by th
towns, and by organized private charity when i
place of public assistance. With charity that is
vate this Board has nothing to do; but the a
corporations and private associations to persons
otherwise be public dependants comes so near th<
public charity that it cannot be wholly left oui
any statement of the charities of Massachusetts
We have therefore, in the chapter on Lunacy (as-
required by law), reported on the private asyl
insane, and in speaking of the foundling childrei
tioned the admirable volunteer work of the M
Infant Asylum. The great mass of our privj
cannot yet be reported on fully ; for no law requii
should make returns to the State of their receip
and general transactions, unless they receive a
State Treasury, as the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
does. It has been customary at intervals to collect informa-
tion concerning these private charities by the courtesy of their
managers, and to publish this in connection with the record
of the State and municipal charities ; and we hope to present
in the Fourth Annual Report the fullest information of this
kind ever published, using as a basis the census tables of 1880,
and the valuable researches of Mr. George S. Hale in the
"Memorial History of Boston" and of the "Associated
Charities " in Boston and other cities. For the present the
Board can only report on a few of these private charities ; and
in a general way, but with some detail in certain directions,

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on the municipal charities, meaning thereby the public charity
dispensed in various forms by the 346 cities and towns of
Massachusetts, all but one of which have made returns to
this Board during 1881.

Pauperism in the Cities and Towns.

Copious statistics on this subject will be found in the first
62 pages of the Appendix, accompanied with explanatory
remarks on the tables. These have been prepared from the
yearly returns by the Inspector of Charities assisted by

Online LibraryLunacy Massachusetts. State Board of HealthAnnual report of the State Board of Health, Lunacy, and Charity of Massachusetts → online text (page 16 of 32)