Browse Exhibits (14 total)

Abuse Claims at St. Joseph's

Lawsuit against abuse.pdf

This exhibit showcases a number of early newspaper articles around early abuse claims at St. Joesph's from the middle and late 20th century and early 21st century. The purpose of showing these newspaper clippings highlight the fact that as abuse claims started to surface in the late 20th century, victims did not receive justice nor were they believed. It wasn't until the early 21st century and the tell-all Buzzfeed article, in 2018, that brought the entire investigation to the forefront. After the investigation was published, the Burlington Police department created a task force to "achieve a public accounting" of the child abuse and decide whether these crimes should be prosecuted. As Louise Piche, of Shelburne, responded to comments to the Vermont Attorney General, she said that the allegations have continued to come out time and time again, but they have not been listened to. This selection of documents highlights that the attention to these claims have been fleeting over the past 30 years and it. 

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Stories from St. Joseph's

Poisonous berries.pdf

This exhibit highlights interesting and unique stories from St. Joseph's. The exhibit starts with a story about poisonous berries being sent anonymously to St. Joseph's. These stories, although several reminisce on happier times of being reunited or the care given to children with special needs, these stories primarily highlight the dark history of the orphanage. The orphanage separated families and was known for abusing the children, but this exhibit highlights that this history is not just one of abuse. St. Joseph's had a tremendous impact on all individuals that were associated with the orphanage.

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Vermont State Hospital Patient Data (1898, 1920, 1930, 1940)

Patient Occupations, 1898.png

This exhibit shows five different data tables about admitted patients at the Vermont State Hospital. The first three tables are from 1898, depicting data on the form of disease admitted patients had, the cause of illness, and the occupation(s) they previously held. The last two data tables show a breakdown of the type of illness that admitted patients had in 1920 and 1930, respectively. These two tables are most similar in nature to the first table of the exhibit: "Form of Mental Disease in Cases Admitted (1898)". Each data table is described and its key takeways are highlighted. Similarities and differences, as well as connections, are drawn amongst all of the data tables in this exhibit. The next page is a simple introductory page, just showing the images that will follow in the succeeding pages.


Historic Photos from St. Joseph's Orphanage


This exhibit presents historic photos of St. Joseph's orphanage from the 20th century.  Children at St. Joseph's were often stripped of many human attributes, such as their birthdays, siblings, and even names. The children experienced unrelenting physical and psychological abuse. These photos highlight certain aspects of the orphanage and contribute to the history of St. Joseph's. They provide insight into the environment of St. Joseph's and serve as a starting place for stories to begin. These photos offer context to the stories told by residents but they do not capture the intense physical abuse and mistreatment of the children. Although many of these photos may be staged to hide the abusive treatment, some photos capture clues and trigger memories from the past. 

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Modern Photos of St. Joseph's Orphanage


This exhibit provides images that were taken after the closing of St. Joseph's Orphanage. St. Joseph's operated from 1854 to 1974 by the Sisters of Providence. After the closing, the orphanage was scheduled to be completely gutted and refurbished to be used for Liberty House, a new apartment complex. The remodeling of the building introduced the potential of erasing the setting of the orphans' secrets. However, these images attempt to provide context to the stories and remind residents of their experiences. Starting in 1993, residents that suffered abuse and mistreatment began reaching out to tell their stories and seek compensation. Some of these images are from the lawsuit initiated by Philip White on behalf of St. Joseph's survivors. The defendants named were the Burlington Diocese, Vermont Catholic Charities, and the orphanage. 

There is currently an ongoing investigation into abuse claims made by dozens of former St. Joseph residents. The investigation is led by a Vermont law task force, working in coordination with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Vermont Catholic Charities holds St. Joseph's records and is working with the task force and diocese to review the reports. The task force is currently interviewing survivors and meets once a month to discuss updates on the case; however, there have been no criminal prosecutions on the case up to this date. 

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Modern Photos after the Closure of the Vermont State Hospital


These photos were taken after the closure of the Vermont State Hospital in 2012 

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Brandon Training School: The Impact of Campus Planning on Interpersonal Relationships

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At Brandon Training School, the dorm that a resident was placed in, based on evaluations by the administration, dictated their entire life. For "low grade" residents, they were placed in the back of the campus and largely ignored by the adminstration. But "high grade" residents deemed "trainable" or "eduacable" were housed right next to the school and the adminstration buildings. These dorm location choices contined to inforce the perception that some residents were more important, more worthwhile while others were not who the school wanted to be focued on. This exhbit will look at documents and photos from BTS and dive deep into how it the planning of the campus affected the interpersonal lives of residents.

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Farming at the Vermont Industrial School


This exhibit presents a number of photos that capture farming activities at the Vermont Industrial School. Farming played a significant role at the institution, both in providing food for the community and in serving as a method for teaching labor skills. It was common for boys to spend most of their time on the farm, collecting hay, tending the land and/or raising cattle. Even if they were not to pursue farming as a vocation, interests on the farm likley served useful in other industries. The photos in this collection highlight various activities on the farm and suggest that farming was not always specific to boys nor a certain age group. 

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Agency of Human Services 1973 Report on the Weeks School

In 1973, the Vermont Agency of Human Services published a report on the Weeks School. This report served to investigate the school as a whole, measuring the success or lack thereof of the administrations treatment of the students, as well as an investigation regarding the everyday lives of the students. 

This exhibit shows pages from this report covering three main topics. The first exhibit shows the introduction to the reports, and different objectives the administration had for the residents. 

The second exhibit shows two pages of the report fiinding that the living conditions and everyday life of the residents were not condusive to an environemnt for kids to enjoy themselves. 

Then, there are examples of potential physical and mental child abuse cases and how the witnesses, predominantly the staff, refutes such claims. 

Lastly, there are two simple examples outlining how the school failed to condition the residents for reintegration into society despite that being their objective. 

Vermont Eugenics Survey: The Impact of Henry F. Perkins


The state of Vermont had pride in its strong heritage and immaculate landscape in the late 19th and early 20th century. However, during this period, public leaders, intellectuals and members of academia, began to congregate amid concerns of a cultural deteriotation. The massive influx of French-Canadian, Italian, and other European immigrants posed cultural challenges to Vermont's vision of retaining the old colonial stocks. The integration of these new demographics were thought to compromise community traditions and institutional expression of protestant ideals. This fear led to the birthing of the Vermont Eugenics Movement. Before Henry Perkins's arrival, the movement consisted of various assistance relief programs, with the purpose of mitigating shortcomings in public education, child welfare, and poverty rates. With the arrival of World War 1 and the impeding health concerns due to the Spanish Flu of 1918, the Vermont Eugenics Movement truly took form. Vermont's extremely high rates of draftee rejections due to physical and mental abnormalities caused concern amongst state leaders. As the Vermont Eugenics Movement kicked into gear, the Children's Aid Society of Vermont worked to further develop and implement programs to increase child welfare, as well as to "rescue" children from unsuitable homes. By 1925, biologist Henry Perkins used his past knowledge of human heredity, combined with inspiration from his student's past work with eugenics, to take the lead role in the Vermont Eugenics Survey. Perkins's goal was to merge eugenics with progressive social reform in Vermont, which resulted in the implementation of policies which served to "cleanse" the Vermont genetic stock. Our goal here is to observe the differences in pedigrees from before and after Perkin's leadership and partnership with the Vermont Children's Aid Society. We have attempted to contrast the number, quality, and general relevance of the pedigrees pre and post 1925.