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Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth

From Ohio History Central

On April 17, 1857, the Ohio government established the Ohio Asylum for the Education of Idiotic and Imbecile Youth. Over its history, the organization went by several different names, including the Institution for the Education of Idiotic and Imbecile Youth (1878-1881), the Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth (1881-1945), the Columbus State School (1945-1970), the Columbus State Institute (1970-1980), and the Columbus Developmental Center (1980-present). It was most commonly referred to as the Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth. Located in Columbus, Ohio, the institution rented several buildings on East Main Street. In the first year of the Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth's existence, nine students enrolled. By the third year, the institution began to average between forty and fifty students every year.

Due to the institution's success, the Ohio legislature authorized the construction of an actual campus for the school. Completed in 1868, the institution soon enrolled more than three hundred students. On November 18, 1881, a fire struck the school, destroying several of the buildings. The six hundred students escaped unharmed. The Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth rebuilt the destroyed buildings and enrollment skyrocketed to 1,100 students in 1900. Eventually, the institution developed branches across Ohio.

The Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth enrolled both boys and girls. These children struggled in the public schools of their own communities, and the institution gave the children a chance to enroll in a more supervised and stringent setting. The Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth also provided the children with vocational training, with the boys working on a farm owned by the school and the girls performing domestic duties. This institution helped provide students with various learning and social problems with the skills necessary to lead productive lives.

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