Fernald State School, 1848-2014
Backstory and Context
The school had a controversial past, due to the prevalence of methods that were once largely accepted such as radiation testing. One of the school's early leaders also dabbled in the pseudo-science of eugenics, a body of theories that proposed the study and gradual elimination of "inferior races" through sterilization. Despite these practices, the school also served as a home for children and others who society had rejected and many school officials cared deeply for those with developmental disabilities. In addition, some officials cooperated with investigations of the schools practices which led to new regulations that protected people with developmental disabilities in future generations. The facility was operated as the Walter E. Fernald Developmental Center until 2014.