Out of the Shadows - The Legacy of Pineland Logo

Timeline

This exhibit tells the history of the people, ideas, and issues around institutional care for Maine's persons with developmental disabilities, looks briefly at the 25 years of community services that have followed, and brings to light a concerning truth - that as far as we’ve come in our understanding about what people with developmental disabilities need to live full and self-determined lives, there is even now a danger of sliding back into the ideas that led to places like Pineland. We hope that this story brings home the lessons of institutionalization for each person that visits.

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1600s
History, Policies
Themes
Warning Out of Town

In the colonial era in New England, people with developmental disabilities were primarily cared for by their families. Without that support, people would often end up as paupers, living on the coffers of the towns they lived in.

1794
Public Documents of Massachusetts, 1881 Chapter Heading: Health, Lunacy, and Charity Title: Laws of Pauper Settlement and Out-Door Relief The Act of 1794 abrogated all previous Acts by which pauper settlements could be acquired; but all settlements then acquired under such previous Acts were continued. The Settlement Acts prior to 1794 were very numerous, and provided for a settlement in various ways; and these, though repealed, left behind them a legacy of trouble to poor-law officers. As years passed, the work of tracing settlements originally acquired before 1794 became more and more difficult, and fell almost exclusively into the hands of certain learned attorneys who had become expert in this peculiar work. In 1870 the Legislature enacted that “all settlements acquired by virtue of any provision of law in force prior to the eleventh day of February, 1794, are hereby defeated and lost.”
Policies
Themes
Massachusetts Settlement Laws

In 1767, the General Court in Massachusetts made changes to settlement laws that decriminalized “transiency” and saw the end of “warning out” as an effective means of avoiding providing aid to those that needed it. Around the same time, custodial care by families began to transition to the more institutional model of Poorhouses and Almshouses.

1800s
1821 Relief for Town Poor Law - Picture 2: Sidebar: Overseers to have the care of the poor, and their duty towards them. Main body: Title: Relief of the Poor. Body: Overseers of their poor; and where such are not specially chosen, the Selectmen shall be Overseers of the poor. Sec. 4. Be it further enacted, That said Overseers shall have the care and oversight of all such poor and indigent persons, so settled in their respective towns, and shall see that they are suitably relieved, supported and employed, either in the work house or other tenements belonging to such towns, or in such other way and manner as they at any legal meeting shall direct; or otherwise at the discretion of said Overseers, at the cost of such town.
History, Policies
Themes
Town Farms and Alms-Houses

This law led to the rise of “town farms”, also called “Alms houses” or “poor farms” - across Maine, there were perhaps dozens or several hundred. These farms became repositories for all who could not support themselves and had no family to care for them - the poor, the aged, the infirm, and those with disabilities.

1850s
Picture of steps with a line drawing of a person at each step and each labeled. First step, person sitting despondently with the label “Idiot” and the step labeled “Self Preservation”. Second step, person leaning with the label “Low Grade Imbecile” and the step labeled “Simple Menial Work”. Third step, person standing with arm on step with the label “Medium Imbecile” and the step labeled “Simple Manual Work”. Fourth step, person standing and looking up with the label “High Grade Imbecile” and the step labeled “Complex Manual Work”. Fifth step, person leaning as though to climb higher, labeled “Moron” and the step labeled “Work Requiring Reason and Judgement”. The picture has the title, “Steps in Mental Development: Where they stumble – the limit of development of each type. (Reprinted from the survey of Oct. 11-13).
History
Themes
The Codification of “Idiocy”

The idea that some of those with developmental disabilities could be trained, and also that they were dangerous or unfit for society if they could not be, led to the rise of the institution.

1800s
History
Themes
Dorothea Dix

Born in 1802 in Hampden, Maine, Dorothea Lynde Dix became a fierce advocate for the poor and the mentally ill, who worked to create the first mental asylums in the United States.

1874
Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876), Courtesy New Gloucester Historical Society
History
An Early Warning About Institutions

Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, who began one of the first programs for the "feeble minded" in Massachusetts in 1848, had determined within a decade that he made a mistake and warned against building large institutions.

1880s
Lewiston Evening Journal, June 12, 1893 List of Headlines and subheadlines: Alms House Abuses. No Doubt That They Exist in Many Maine Towns. A Chance for a Crusade in Behalf of the Neglected Pauper. The Good Work Going On at the Maine Reform School.
History, Policies
Themes
Rise of Institutions

By the late 19th and early 20th century, there were rising calls for a separate institution for those who were called the “feeble minded”.

1903
Policies
Themes
An Aside on Education

In the revised statutes of 1903, compulsory education for children ages 7 to 15 was the law - but with an exclusion carved out for “any child whose physical or mental condition makes it inexpedient for him to attend.”

1905
Policies
Themes
Committees Wrestle with “Feeble Minded” Problem

The recommendation of the Committee was unequivocal: “After full investigation of this subject, we most earnestly recommend to the legislature of Maine, that humanity demands at our hands the location of such a home for this unfortunate class: that economy and the protection of society demand it.”

1908
Lewiston Saturday Journal, July 10, 1909 Array of 9 pictures of the outsides of buildings on the grounds of the school, top of clipping says: Saturday, July 10, 1909, Lewiston Saturday Journal. Headline: Remarkable Progress Made In Work At State's New Home for Feeble Minded at West Pownal, ME – Half a Hundred Inmates Already There.
History
Maine School for the Feeble Minded Opens

"Remarkable Progress Made In Work At State's New Home for Feeble Minded at West Pownal," a newspaper headline announced on July 10, 1909.

1910s
Policies
Themes
Organization & Establishment

Laws passed over this decade allowed judges to commit people to the School, placed power in a Board of Trustees, and criminalized any who tried to run away or those that helped "fugitives". The population of residents swelled during this time, fueled by calls to expand: "the state must plan to care for, altogether, at least 1500 persons of this class."

1911
History
Themes
First Investigation

Only three years after the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded opened, a visiting committee identified problems.

1912
Lewiston Evening Journal, July 15, 1911 Newspaper Clipping from Lewiston Evening Journal, July 15, 1911 – Headline: Burn ‘Em Up Says Gov. Plaisted: Who Would Remove Malaga Island Natives to Institution. Body: The official visit to Malaga Island made by Gov. Plaisted, Council and guests on Friday, may lead to some radical measure being taken with the residents of that more or less unsavory place. The visit was promoted by Hon. E.B. Winslow of Portland, and the party wore his guests for the day. He had chartered the steamer Machigonne and had provided in every way for the comfort of the party which was made up as follows: Governor Frederick W. Plaisted, Mrs. Plaisted, Miss Gertrude Plaisted, Mrs. Elma Woodbury of New York, Hon. And Mrs. Charles L. Turgeon of Auburn, Hon. And Mrs. Weston Lewis of Gardiner, Hon. and Mrs. C.G. [cut off]
History
Themes
Malaga Island – Racism in the Institutional Model

Maine’s Malaga Island in the late-19th and early-20th centuries was inhabited by a mixed-race community of fishermen and families. In the early 1900's, fear and racism turned public opinion against the people of Malaga, and many inhabitants of that island were sent to the School for the Feeble Minded.

1914
History
Themes
A Big Problem

Just six years after the institution opened, a headline announced "Care of Feeble-Minded Big Problem for Maine." The facility already had 255 people receiving care, with 160 on a waiting list.

1920s
History
Themes
Social Darwinism, Eugenics, and Sterilization

Alongside blaming heredity for causing intellectual disabilities, those with such disabilities were demonized and blamed for all the ills in our society - women of “feeble mind” were said to be promiscuous - and of course would “breed” more generations of “defectives” with their loose morals.

1925
Policies
Themes
Pownal State School and Law on Sterilization

The name of the institution was changed from the "School for the Feeble Minded" to "Pownal State School" and the 82nd Maine Legislature Maine passed a sterilization law to "prevent reproduction of feeble-mindedness or in treatment of mental disease."

1931
Policies
Themes
A Second Sterilization Law

A new bill on sterilization was signed into law. This law made it easier to recommend these procedures for residents of institutions like Pineland, and coerce people with developmental disabilities, most of them women, to be sterilized.

1932
Policies
Themes
A Consolidation of Bureaucracy

Alongside the growth of centralized institutional care for people with disabilities, the early 30s brought a parallel consolidation of governmental administration under the executive branch, including the creation of the Department of Health and Welfare.

1933
Newspaper clipping from theLewiston Evening Journal, April 7, 1937 with the headline: "Act To Permit 240 To Enter Pownal School - Senate Bill Gives Health and Welfare Dep't Control of Admission""
History, Policies
Themes
Expansion of the School

While changes were being made to the administrative structures of Maine’s institutions, the Pownal State School was undergoing an expansion as well. An increase in beds and buildings was championed by a new superintendent, Dr. Stephen E. Vosburgh, who was hired in 1919 and served for 18 years.

1938
Front Page Headline from the Lewiston Evening Journal, March 7, 1938: Governor Orders Probe At Pownal State School
History
Themes
First Charges of Neglect

In 1938 came the first whispers of something more sinister, when a former Superior Court judge accused the institution of neglect.

1941
Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Daily Sun, January 25, 1941 with the headline: "Sen. Bishop Proposes Sterilization of the “Defectives at Large”."
Policies
Themes
More Calls for Sterilizations

In 1941, a bill came before the legislature to create a “State Board of Eugenics”, which would allow for involuntary sterilizations of “defectives” not residing in institutions.

1941
Policies
Themes
Furloughs for Residents

Residents of Pownal State School were allowed to be granted the right for a temporary “leave”.

1945
History, Policies
Themes
Expansion Continues

While the patient population would peak in the 1930s at around 1,500, Superintendent Kupelian would continue to advocate for expanding the numbers of residents - asking the public to support funding for up to 9,000 total patients.

1945
Policies
Themes
Educational Aside – Beginning of Special Education & the Board of Ed

Governor Hildreth signed into law a bill creating the Division of Special Education for Physically Handicapped Children under the Maine Education Department. While it only provided for children with physical disabilities and the “special” classes were separate from their “normal” peers, this bill was a step towards providing an education for every children regardless of disability.

1946
History
Themes
Another Investigation

The Maine Federation of Women's Clubs expressed concerns about conditions at state institutions and found overcrowding, staff shortages, and inadequate food and clothing.

1949
Vanessa Munsey at her home in 2019 - courtesy of Keith Ludden, OHFR
Personal Stories
Vanessa’s Story

"This aide come took me down the stairs and ripped my dress and they treat me like a wild animal. If you don’t get up at roll call they put you in the other bed until you get up. They treat you like a crazy person."

1951
Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Evening Journal, January 10, 1951 – Headline: Pownal Incidents ‘Exceptions’ – Payne
History
Themes
New Charges of Abuse and Neglect

A Visiting Committee in 1951 cited cruel and abusive treatment, including excessive use of straightjackets, euphemistically known as "camisoles," and physical punishments. Superintendent Peter Bowman reported that some patients had been "scalded, beaten, and sexually abused in the recent past." But, Bowman stressed, most employees were caring and tried to do the best for residents – but were hampered by inadequate facilities, and staff shortages.

1954
History
The Rise of Parents Groups

In 1954, a group of parents formed a support and advocacy group: Pownal Parents and Friends. When the news of abuses came to light these parents were horrified, and began to organize towards investigating further and improving conditions for their children and family members living in Pownal. These groups and others like it would form the basis of the community care system in Maine.

1954
Still of Arlene MacPherson speaking about Pineland
Personal Stories
Parents Stories

"We were told to put her in an institution and forget her." - "Parents couldn't cope - there were no services" - "We went to the Legislature in groups and pairs." - "They were putting people in communities that were not ready." - "Pineland should always be there."

1955
Policies
Themes
Educational Aside – An Act Relating to Education of Physically Handicapped or Exceptional Children

While still segregated from their non-disabled peers, this law opened up opportunities to children with developmental disabilities.

1955
Bobby and Vicki Schad as children - a black and white photograph of two children sitting together with the larger one holding the smaller one close
Personal Stories
Bobby’s Story

"But when he came back home I believe there was a time when Mom and Dad talked to him, not knowing really if he understood, but just telling him that “We didn’t know. We didn’t know what was happening, we didn’t know how sad you were We didn’t know what was going on and we will never, ever send you away again.” And he just began—I think at that point he began to heal."

1950s
Jim Reed stands in front of his chicken coop
Personal Stories
Jim’s Story

"They had to have bodyguards when I take a shower and everything. Just for one minute they didn’t leave the area. They had to have bodyguards there to watch out what you’re doing. I didn’t like that either. Privacy. That’s not good."

1956
Policies
Themes
Response to Abuse – A Committee

The Maine Legislature, as such bodies are wont to do when faced with intractable systemic problems, on the recommendation of the Legislative Research Committee in 1955 created a Governor’s advisory committee to study the issue - the Maine Committee on Problems of the Mentally Retarded.

1957
Black and white photo of six girls sitting around a table, all wearing Camp Fire Girls uniforms, with papers and pencils. One is holding a bouquet of flowers.
History
Themes
A New Name and Vision – Pineland Hospital and Training Center

Superintendent Bowman himself began to express the view that many of those at Pineland could and should be returned to the community: “the mission and objective of Pineland is to return to the family, the community, and to outside civilization as many of the patients as possible, after they have received the maximum training and education we can provide here.”

1950s
Richard Raymond sits looking at the camera wearing a cap and blue shirt
Personal Stories
Richard’s Story

"When night time comes, you know, one of the worst things that happened was that superintendent was leaving the building, you know, and leaving the kids all unattended and they had big guys up there, coming down, beating us up, you know."

1957
Policies
Themes
Educational Aside – Public School Funds for Special Education Teachers

This bill allowed municipalities to raise funds for “the education of teachers to meet the education needs of mentally retarded children”, and pledging matching funds from the State.

1959
Policies
Themes
Bureau of Mental Health Formed

“The Bureau of Mental Health shall be responsible for the direction of the mental health programs in the institutions within the department and shall be responsible for the promotion and guidance of mental health programs within the several communities of the State.”

1959
Maryann Preble sits in an easy chair smiling at the camera, arms folded over a pink and white striped shirt
Personal Stories
Maryann’s Story

"My folks couldn’t come for a while, because where I was just—It hurt me to see them to leave and I got really upset and crying and stuff and they were going to come in and put me in a straitjacket and give me a shot. I finally calmed down, you know, it took me a while, but it was just like they put me there and they went off. It hurt me so bad, you know. It wasn’t my kind of place to be."

1961
Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Daily Sun, February 16, 1961, page 1 – Headline: Pineland Is Aiding The State – Dr. Bowman Tells of Rehabilitation at Pownal Hospital – Needs More Help
History
Themes
Community Placement Calls for a Larger Institution?

New ideas were cropping up - it was beginning to be understood that services provided in the community were both more humane and less expensive. But even as a new infirmary to “house 134 totally dependent patients” was dedicated, Governor Reed called for more, saying, “the needs of this and other state hospitals continue to grow".

1962
1962 Cover to Report from the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation, titled “A Proposed Program for National Action to Combat Mental Retardation” – The President’s Panel on Mental Retardation, October 1962
History, Policies
Themes
Kennedy’s National Action to Combat Mental Retardation

President John F. Kennedy had a personal connection to institutionalization and as President he would bring developmental disabilities into the public eye, and make the reenvisioning of services for people with developmental disabilities a cornerstone of his policies.

1963
Policies
Themes
Mental Retardation and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act – Federal Law

Congress passes the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendments, which would create funding for both services for children with disabilities and grants to “plan for and take other steps leading to comprehensive State and community action to combat mental retardation”.

1965
Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Evening Journal, February 2, 1963 – Black and white photo of basement room with mats on cement floor, ladder on wall
History
Themes
Staffing Problems and Failing Infrastructure

Staffing issues and high turnover was a constant refrain in the mid-1960’s in Maine’s institutional system. In 1965 it was determined that Maine’s turnover rate in this industry was twice the national average.

1966
Paul Easton sits on a stool wearing a sweater with an American flag on it
Personal Stories
Paul’s Story

"It was like going to a strange place. I had to get used to the place. What they did was my mother and father drove over to the building where they did the signing to let the person come to Pineland and then from there I went to a hospital."

1969
Policies
Themes
Bureau of Mental Retardation and Public Guardianship

Another “responsibility” that was granted to this new department was control over people with developmental disabilities who were determined to need guardianship, and who didn’t have family members willing or able to be guardians.

1969
Cover of Maine Times, January 31, 1969, with the headline "Maine's Snakepit". A black and white picture of a barefoot young girl hunched over in a wooden chair in front of a tile wall
History
Themes
More Evidence of Abuse and Neglect

A Maine Times exposé in 1969 revealed overcrowding, residents with inadequate clothing, staff shortages, and deteriorating facilities. Another exposé, in The Church World in 1972 found similar problems.

1970
Policies
Themes
Staff Pressures and More Money for Institutions

On the ballot in 1969 was a referendum bond issue for $2.5 million in funds to “enlarge and improve” institutions, which passed by a large margin. Complaints brought by staff around pay and hours were also addressed.

1970
Black and white photo of an indoor swimming pool with a ramp that goes into it, and a woman pushing another woman into the pool in a wheelchair
History
Themes
New Ideas, Dignity, and Fears

Change and reform were in the air at Pineland, but despite some new ideas and improvements, problems continued.

1970
Policies
Developmental Disabilities Services and Facilities Construction Amendments of 1970 – Federal Law

This Federal amendment to the 1963 Community Health Centers Act gave states the responsibility for making and implementing plans for comprehensive community services for people with disabilities.

1973
Policies
Themes
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (federal)

This act was the first federal law that protected the civil rights of people with disabilities, providing that people with disabilities could not be excluded from or denied participation in any program that received federal funding - including schools, healthcare, and government assistance.

1975
Policies
Themes
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act – Federal Law

This law finally included children with disabilities in public education in an inclusive way, mandating that all children have the right to a “free and appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment” possible.

1975
Policies
Themes
Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act

This law provided clearer definitions of developmental disabilities that included specific conditions and specified that the conditions originate before the age of 18 (raised to 22 in 1978), are expected to continue indefinitely, and represent a serious handicap.

1975
First page of the Wuori v Bruns complaint, filed July 3, 1975 in the U.S. District Court, Southern Maine Division
History
Themes
The Lawsuit

Pine Tree Legal Assistance, the first organization in Maine to provide free legal assistance to those in poverty, filed in federal district court in Maine on July 3, 1975 the lawsuit Wuori v. Bruns, alleging that the six defendants named in the case, and the "class" – all other residents and future residents – were not getting "training and education which would enable them so far as possible to lead normal lives."

1976
Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Daily Sun, November 23, 1976 – Headline: Zitnay Urges Improved Services for Retarded
Policies
Themes
New Policy Directions

The years while the lawsuit worked its way through the courts were marked by much upheaval and many changes at Pineland. Many policies were beginning to be implemented in order to give Pineland residents more autonomy, choice, and opportunities.

1978
History
Themes
The Consent Decree

The state decided to settle the lawsuit, rather than go to trial. The result was a two-part consent decree that detailed rights of persons with developmental disabilities at Pineland and in the community.

1980s
Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Daily Sun, November 19, 1983 – Right side of clipping has two black and white photos of people with developmental disabilities, on left one sitting on a stationary bike and on right two people next to a telescope, one looking through the eyepiece, with the caption: “Jimmy McGuigan, left, exercises while at right Skip Farrington, left, and Roger Raymond check out a telescope.” Headline: Their Goal: To Join Society
History
Themes
Oversight and Protecting Rights

Neville Woodruff, the lawyer who represented Pineland residents in the lawsuit, threatened new suits against Pineland saying, “They are very far behind in three major areas - staffing, quality of programs, and staff training.” Court Master Gregory was critical of the lack of improvements at Pineland as well, saying residents were “still just being kept. Life for them is purposeless."

1980
Policies
Themes
Task Force on Long Term Care

Governor Brennan appointed a “Task Force on Long Term Care for Adults” to study the systems of long term care as they stood and bring back policy recommendations to the administration.

1980
Policies
Themes
Marriage Statutes Revised

The new law gave a bit more freedom for marriage, but still denied anyone “impaired by reason of mental illness or mental retardation to the extent that he lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make...responsible decisions” the right to marriage.

1981
Policies
Themes
Law Requiring Home-based Care

The Legislature passed a law into statute requiring the Department of Human Services to provide in-home and community support services for adults with long-term care needs.

1981
Policies
Act to Create a Department of Corrections

This law broke the Department of Mental Health and Corrections into two separate agencies.

1980s
History
Themes
Beginnings of Community Care

With public and policy sentiment turning towards the idea that people with developmental disabilities deserved the right to care in their communities and a full life with control over their choices, a new system needed to be built from the ground up.

1990
Policies
Themes
Americans with Disabilities Act (federal)

Furthering the gains of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the ADA protects people with disabilities from discrimination not just from the government, but from employers and businesses that provide public accommodations.

1990
A photo of a round pinback slogan button, with the words “PINELAND CENTER” around the top edge in black, the dates “1908” and “1996” around the bottom edge in red, and a drawing of a yellow key with the number “709” on it. Peeking out from under the button is the bottom of a house key.
History
Themes
New Problems and The Closing of Pineland

Despite all the systems in place to ensure compliance, problems arose. New criticisms of inadequate funding, staff shortages, not enough community options, lack of proper oversight of persons moved into the community, and other non-compliance led to another lawsuit. In the meantime, the state had decided to close Pineland.

1990
Policies
Themes
Educational Aside – The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The IDEA law of 1990 built upon the the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 - further enshrining the main elements of an inclusive education.

1993
History, Personal Stories
Themes
Paige Barton and the Creation of SUFU

Paige Barton spent 15 years in an Ohio institution before proving her self-sufficiency. She became a leader of self-advocates in Maine, eventually forming the advocacy group Speaking Up for Us (SUFU).

1996
Yellowed paper with staple holes and tape marks at top, titled "Client Rights" and listing the rights that clients have, including privacy, personal property, and access to advocates
History
Themes
Into the Community

The transition from institutional to community living and care was not easy for many Pineland residents, nor was it easy for those setting up and trying to operate housing and various services.

1999
Policies
Themes
Olmstead vs LC (federal)

While Maine was working to build a system of care for people with developmental disabilities outside of institutions, a legal case before the Supreme Court finally codified the idea that people with developmental disabilities had the right to life in the community.

2000s
History, Policies
Themes
New System, Old Problems

Despite a growing understanding that community-based services were a better choice for individuals than institutionalization, switching from a consolidated and hierarchical system to one of many service providers helping smaller numbers of clients follow personalized plans for success was difficult, and the path forward had many hurdles to overcome.

2003
History, Policies
Themes
A Roadmap for Change

In February of 2000, in response to the federal Olmstead decision requiring services for people with developmental disabilities in the least restrictive environment possible, the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services created the Workgroup for Community-Based Living.

2004
Policies
Themes
Establishment of the Department of Health & Human Services

In an attempt to consolidate and eliminate bureaucracy, in 2003 a bill was proposed at the Legislature to merge the Department of Human Services and the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Servicers (formerly the Department of Mental Retardation) into one department: the Department of Health and Human Services.

2010s
History
Themes
Smaller Budgets and Bigger Waitlists

The second decade of the 21st century ushered in big changes to state government. An economic downturn and a new administration ushered in alongside others in an austerity-based, small government movement led to budget cuts and staffing freezes at the Department of Human Services. Over this decade, waitlists for services exploded, especially for Section 21 services, which serve those who need daily support to live full lives.

Now
History
Themes
History Repeats Itself?

The impulse toward institutions continues as some community-based facilities for developmentally disabled persons grow in size and the people they serve become less integrated in everyday community life and less in control of their own lives.

What year was the following quote?

“These people are a danger to society.”

What year was this quote from?