Archival Pennhurst Images

Rug Weaving, 1926
Rug Weaving, 1926
As with the farm, other industrial activities were dependent on the unpaid labor of Pennhurst residents. This unpaid work, nominally called "training," did provide people with meaningful activities and, often, a sense of self-worth. If these jobs led to movement out of the institution into paying jobs in the "real world," they would have been justified. Unfortunately, they led instead to continued life in the institution because the work done was necessary for the institution to survive.
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Mary Anne Prashina9/28/2015
Shelly - Do you have or know of a disabled child/adult who cannot work?? DO YOU expect them to sit around all day doing nothing? Back then there was no TV. I'm disabled and would much rather being doing work even for free than NOTHING.
Doctor K- I agree with you. These people were enslaved and abused and not even given the basic human rights we gave to prisoners throughout this entire 80 year disgrace - disgusting doesn't even begin to describe it. These patients probably represented dollar signs and that is about it.
I'll say it again. This was in 1926 and at that time this was a way of life and for those that were not severely disabled and it was probably a Godsend to do something that reminded them of home and made them feel normal. It was occupational therapy and much better for them than just sitting around
Let's be honest. Who really was paying children back in 1926 for their labor? Yes its disgraceful but its the cold hard truth of what our country was like back then. This day in age Shelly your right they would be paid. Back then remember they wouldn't even let woman vote, why would they pay childre
Actually I'd rather these children had not even been there in the first place! There's a limit on what children should and shouldn't have to do before being paid for it. These children CERTAINLY should had been paid for the work they were doing! That in my opinion would have been far more satisfying
Doctor K10/25/2010
@Betty - Pennhurst was not a regular school where students were allowed to leave at 18. They had to qualify for 'parole'. At the time of Bill Baldini's 1968 expose, only 7 percent of residents were in parole programs. The vast majority had to spend their entire lives here.
I think what is meant by the photo caption is that persons beyond the age of 18 were supposed to be allowed to leave the school if they so chose, but may have been coerced into staying to benefit the school, rather than reaching thier potential outside an institutional setting. Surely many of these
I don't agree with the negative spin on training and the unpaid labor of these individuals. I think the important question is whether these activities were forced on these children. Our children today are not paid for what they produce. Would you rather these children be sitting around with nothing