|Rare Book & Manuscript Library|
At a Glance
Materials are grouped together by genre and arranged in one series.
A small group of annual reports, photographs, correspondence, typescripts, and clippings collected by Annette Riley Fry in the 1970s, while conducting research for a possible article on Letchworth Village. These materials document the history of Letchworth Village and address the evolution of care, treatment, and training of people (particularly children) with developmental disabilities and neurodiverse people in the twentieth century. The collection does not contain records of individual resident patients at Letchworth Village. In addition, while Letchworth Village remained in operation until 1996, the most recent materials in this collection date to approximately 1976.
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.
Charles Benedict Davenport Papers: professional papers of the American eugenicist Charles B. Davenport, which includes "a substantial series relating to a long-range study of children carried out at Letchworth Village, Thiles, New York." At the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
New York State Governor Monthly Reports and Minutes of Meetings of Boards of Managers of State Institutions: reports and minutes of meetings submitted to the governor by boards of managers of state institutions, including Letchworth Village, documenting their visitation and inspection of these institutions. At the New York State Archives, Albany, New York.
Willard State Hospital Medical Records: Includes medical records of patients transferred to Sampson State School (which was administered by Willard State Hospital) from Letchworth Village. At the New York State Archives, Albany, New York.
New York State Commission to Investigate Provision for the Mentally Deficient Photographs of Custodial Institutions for the Mentally Deficient: several hundred black and white photographs illustrating conditions at custodial institutions for people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses in New York and other states, including Letchworth Village. The photographs were gathered by the Commission to Investigate Provision for the Mentally Deficient to illustrate its final report. At the New York State Archives, Albany, New York.
Margaret Bourke-White Papers: contains photographs taken by Bourke-White at Letchworth Village circa 1933-1934. Those photographs are likely duplicated in this collection. At Syracuse University Libraries Special Collections Research Center.
A group of clippings, speech typescripts, and annual reports from Letchworth Village which make up part of the collection were originally owned by Franklin B. Kirkbride, who was head of Letchworth Village's Board of Directors. Kirkbride was a cousin of Annette Riley Fry, and the materials were given to her by another relative after Kirkbride's death.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed by Daniel Eshom, June 2005.
Finding aid updated by Celeste Brewer, March 2021. The following changes were made: removal of ableist language, clarification that resident admission records are not included in this collection, and the addition of related materials notes. The collection title was changed to reflect the fact that the materials were assembled by Annette Riley Fry, and are not the institutional records maintained by the staff of Letchworth Village. This information was also added to the scope and content note. Finally, a brief biographical note of Annette Riley Fry was added.
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
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 businessman, philanthropist, and advocate for the village's creation. Letchworth sought to depart from the mission of custodial institutions built during the nineteenth century and instead follow a treatment plan that would provide education, training and vocations to children and adults with developmental disabilities and other neurodevelopmental conditions. 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 A. Jervis, a research scientist at Letchworth, achieved international acclaim for his research into the causes of Phenylketonuria (PKU), a metabolic disease which can cause intellectual disabilities and other health conditions if not treated. While farming activity ended at Letchworth Village in the early 1960s, the facility did not close until 1996.
Annette Riley Fry (1923-2017) was a writer perhaps best known for her 1974 American Heritage magazine feature article on the Children's Aid Society's orphan trains, "The Children's Migration." Governor Herbert H. Lehman appointed her head of research of the New York State Democratic Committee in 1950. She married Varian Fry the same year. They had three children. She died in Rochester, New York on November 21, 2017.