Obrazy na stronie





Entered as second-olass matter at the Post omos, Albany, N. Y., March 7, 1921

Signed artioles are not to be understood as copressing the views of the editors

or publishers



By Amos W. BUTLER Secretary, Indiana Board of State Charities; Secretary, Indiana

Committee on Mental Defectives, Indianapolis

One of the first undertakings of the Board of State Charities of Indiana, after it was estalished in 1889, was to ascertain how many persons were inmates of the state and local institutions and, later, who these persons were, some facts of personal history and the reason they were public charges. The information, collected by means of institution reports, was transferred to a card registration. Beginning modestly with the inmates of ninety-two county poor asylums and four state hospitals for the insane, the registration contained about 5,700 names at the end of its first year. From time to time other institutions were added, and the reports were made to include something of both personal and family history. All this was properly carded.

The registration now contains over 158,000 names of persons who are, or within the past thirty-one years have been, inmates of eighteen state charitable and correctional institutions, ninetytwo county poor asylums and thirty-three orphans' homes. It is maintained in duplicate, one set being arranged by institutions, the other alphabetically and phonetically. It is the latter that brings family names together, and no one can glance over the cards without being impressed by the frequency with which feeblemindedness or a related defect appears on these records. It was from them in 1896 that Mr. Ernest P. Bicknell, then secretary of the board, made a study of 248 families, selected because of feeblemindedness in one or more generations. Concerning these records, Mr. Bicknell well said:

* Read before the section on Eugenics and the Human Family of the Second International Eugenics Congress, New York City, September 26, 1921.

“They are not clean cut, not properly rounded out. They begin in obscurity, come into view for a few years, and fall back into obscurity again. But the broken stories of their misery, their perpetuation of their own wretched kind, their demoralizing influence upon their fellows, their dragging down of the average of morality, intelligence, and physical development, are sorrowful beyond words."

Eleven years afterward it was my privilege to present to the National Conference of Charities and Correction a similar study from this registration, of 803 families, more than half the members of which were feebleminded.2

Beside this card registration of institution inmates, the board has a record, by name, of every family aided by official out door poor relief, of every person received at a county jail, of every child born in a maternity hospital. All these make available a vast amount of information concerning public dependents. Out of it has grown a desire for still more data, and one result was the appointment by the Governor in 1915 of a committee to study the whole problem of mental defectives and suggest a program for their care.

This committee has surveyed ten of our ninety-two counties, listing every feebleminded, epileptic or insane person found,5,322 in all, an average of 2.1% of the population of those ten counties. On this basis, Indiana has 56,718 mental defectives, 44,284 feebleminded, 8,311 insane and 4,123 epileptics. It is estimated that 25,232 of these do not need institutional care, but of those who do need it, the state is now caring for 79% of the insane, 23% of the epileptics and but 7% of the feebleminded. It is plain, therefore, that it is the feebleminded who constitute our most serious problem. We have but two state institutions for them, a school at Fort Wayne, a colony farm at Butlersville. Together they have about 1,500 inmates--a very small proportion of the number in our state who need institutional care. Where are the rest? They are in institutions not suitable for them, or they are at large in the communities.

10. C. C., 1896, page 219. 2 C. C. C., 1907, page 1.

More than half the inmates of our county poor asylums are mental defectives. They wander in and out almost at will. Usually present in large numbers in the winter months, they leave when spring comes, and roam about the country, satisfied with whatever offers shelter,-an old hut or sometimes a rail pen.

Because the state school for feebleminded youth is crowded, our orphans' homes are gradually filling up with children who cannot be placed with foster parents. A study of 225 dependent children in one institution disclosed 22.6% mental defectives.

Many of our prisoners are feebleminded. “Mental defect is good soil in which to develop crime.” The ten counties surveyed by our committee were represented in the Indiana State Prison by 69 men, of whom 60.8% were mental defectives.

Of nearly 1,000 school children tested by the Binet-Simon method, from two to three per cent were found feebleminded, and ten per cent in need of special instruction. They were receiving no benefit themselves in the public schools, and were hindering the progress of normal pupils.

In our records of official outdoor relief, we usually expect to find defectives in about one-fourth of the twenty thousand families aided annually. These people are living in their own homes, or in some deserted shanty, depending on charity to eke out a miserable existence.

What kind of homes do they have? Let me quote from an investigator's report on some of them: “The dirt, disorder, filth and cluttering are indescribable. Animals wander in and out. Garbage on the table, piles of filthy clothing on the floor, food stored under beds, an awful stench arising from the filth." "The yard of one house a jungle of harness, ropes, old buggies, broken cots, cans, old iron, wheels. In the house the beds are piled high with dirty rags. One room so cluttered with old furniture that a pathway to the beds is the only unoccupied


“Many homes dilapidated. Isolation remarkable. Roads are just ruts and ditches.'

The records which have been accumulating in our office for the past quarter of a century, and more recently those collected by the Committee on Mental Defectives, while somewhat in the nature of a census, yet contain in some cases many generations of family history. Now and then when a particular name occurred with unusual frequency or a particular locality seemed unduly represented in public institutions, a special investigation has been made. In one way and another, hundreds of degenerate families have been listed, some going back as far as seven generations. Among them are scores of referencs to the Tribe of Ishmael, which is to Indiana and the central west what the Jukes are to New York and the Kallikaks to New Jersey, though a much larger group than these or any other that has so far been studied. While these family records are strikingly similar, some are noted for a particular trait or tendency. There is, for example, a family in eastern Indiana, of which the mother and ten of her eleven children are mentally unbalanced. Two sons and two daughters of this family committed suicide. Another daughter with two children threatens their lives and her own. Their maternal grandfather met death by his own hand.

A family which has long been a veritable hotbed of immorality lives in southern Indiana. One woman, whom we will call Polly, is known to have had eleven illegitimate children, each with a different father. One of Polly's daughters, feebleminded like her mother, has had eight illegitimate children, seven of whom are of the same mental caliber. One of these seven has had four illegitimate children. In this one group there have been twenty-three illegitimate children, the offspring of three feebleminded women. Altogether, Polly has fifty-six lineal descendants, thirty-one of whom are feebleminded and eighteen of whom have been inmates of public institutions. Sixteen of the eighteen are known to have spent a total of seventy-two years on public support, at a cost of $10,800. This is one branch of

« PoprzedniaDalej »