|Rare Book & Manuscript Library|
At a Glance
Arranged by genre.
Annual reports, photographs, correspondence, typescripts, and clippings that illuminate both the history of a single institution as well as the evolution of care, treatment, and training of people (particularly children) with mental and learning disabilities.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Letchworth Village Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Daniel Eshom June 2005.
2010-02-16 Legacy finding aid created from Pro Cite.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
In 1907, New York State officials cited the need for the establishment of a facility to care for the "feeble minded and epileptic." The State purchased 2,000 acres of rolling farm country in Thiells, a Rockland County hamlet, to build the facility. In 1909, the facility was renamed Letchworth Village in honor of William Pryor Letchworth, a noted philanthropist, humanitarian and advocate for the village's creation. Letchworth sought to depart from the mission of custodial institutions built during the nineteenth century and instead embrace a forward-looking treatment plan that would provide education, training and vocations to children and adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. The resident patients (or "inmates", as they are called in annual reports) worked as farmers of the Letchworth land. According to the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, the farm produced over one million dollars worth of crops during the 1930s, and it remained active until the early 1960s. Dr. Charles S. Little, who figures largely in these photographs and documents, was the first superintendent of Letchworth. Dr. George Jervis, a research scientist at Letchworth, achieved international acclaim for his discovery of the cause of Phenylketonuria (PKU), a form of mental retardation.