Browse Exhibits (3 total)

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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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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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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