State Reform School for Girls

From Ohio History Central
State Reform School for Girls map.jpg

The State Reform School for Girls, which eventually became known as the Girls' Industrial Home, was Ohio's correctional facility for minor women for much of the state's history.

Most states established detention facilities for juvenile offenders during the mid nineteenth century. Many legislators feared that placing juvenile criminals in prisons with adult offenders would further corrupt the youth. Similar to other states, Ohio established the Girls' Industrial Home. It opened in 1869. Known as the State Reform School for Girls until 1872, this institution was a reformatory for girls. Originally the young women were to be between seven and sixteen years of age. The Girls' Industrial Home was located approximately ten miles south of Delaware, in the small community of Rathbone, Ohio. The institution was located on the grounds of the former White Sulphur Springs, a resort established in 1847. Many people believed that water from the spring had medicinal qualities.

In 1901, the Girls' Industrial Home consisted of a 189-acre farm on the west bank of the Scioto River. Eleven buildings comprised the Girls' Industrial Home at this point, including an administration building, a school building, a hospital, and eight cottages to house the inmates. Each cottage held between forty and fifty girls. On February 24, 1874, a fire destroyed several of the buildings, but the State of Ohio rebuilt the destroyed structures and, over the years, added several additional buildings.

The inmates spent their mornings performing domestic chores. They also learned various vocational trades, including basket-making, music, sewing, and stenography. In the afternoons, the girls attended school, where they studied, reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, geography, literature, and United States history among other topics. The girls remained at the school until they reached seventeen years of age or completed their sentence.

Eventually, the Girls' Industrial Home closed. Juvenile female inmates now serve their sentences in various juvenile detention facilities across Ohio.

See Also


  1. Brenzel, Barbara M. Daughters of the State: A Social Portrait of the First Reform School for Girls in North America, 1856-1905. N.p.: The MIT Press, 1985.