Research

Scope and Content Note

The series consists of photographic prints and negatives, slide transparencies, synchronized slide shows (with audio tapes and scripts), audio tapes and videotapes, copies of brochures, and scrap books that document patients, employees, programs, and facilities of the Syracuse Developmental Center (SDC), formerly the Syracuse State School.

Subseries 1: This subseries consists of audiotapes and scripts pertaining to the "Kids and Health" weekly radio show sponsored by the SDDSO. The scripts were written by Dr. Phillip Swender, the chief medical officer for the SDC, and the show was produced by David Blatchley, the staff photographer. Each 5-inch tape contains one weekly radio show. Run-time of shows was approximately five minutes each. Topics included infant care, how to deal with common childhood illnesses, childhood development, and other issues relating to children and health.

Subseries 2: This subseries consists of 24 reel-to-reel (7 inch) audiotapes of two distinct programs. The first group contains 12 tapes titled "Fitness Focus with Linda Quinn." These were produced by David Blatchley, staff photographer of the SDC. Each tape contains 25 shows on such topics as proper eating habits and techniques for exercising correctly. The length of the shows is unknown. There are a few duplicate tapes. Programs aired during May-October, 1990.

The second group of tapes contains "One Minute Health Tips" that were also written by Phillip Swender and produced by David Blatchley. This group also seems to date from May-October, 1990. There is some indication that these tapes were used in a travelling exhibit for school children. The relationship between (Subseries 1) "Kids and Health" tapes and (Subseries 2) "One Minute Health Tips" is unclear, but the latter may be a digest of the lengthier topics covered by the former. Several unlabeled tapes of similar type are also present in the subseries; their origin and content are presently unknown.

Subseries 3: Records in this subseries have no apparent connection; how they relate to each other is not presently known. It is likely that several tapes titled the "Soper Sound Music Library" are a collection of originally composed and produced American music. Other music includes two 5-inch magnetic tapes of the song "I Love New York". This song was used extensively for promotion of travel and tourism and as background for various state-produced public service announcements.

Of particular interest are two 5-inch magnetic tapes and 1 audiocassette pertaining to the Jacqui Smith story, "Rainbows, Hearts, and Unicorns," a fundraising effort that raised nearly $50,000 for a local Syracuse girl who was struck by a car and comatose thereafter. After several surgeries, Jacqui no longer needed assisted living in the developmental center and was allowed to return home. With the money raised, her house was newly remodeled to equip her special needs.

Two additional paper items are present in this subseries. One is a "dummy" newsletter from the Syracuse Developmental Disabilities Services Office (Vol. 13, No. 8, January 1990), the issue that highlighted the Jacqui Smith story; the other is a promotional brochure about the fundraising campaign for her.

Subseries 4: This subseries contains videotapes wide-ranging in subject matter. Many appear to be local news station broadcasts or tapes of conferences and forums. Others are of fundraising events, such as a Holiday TV Auction in 1987. They appear to be informational or used for publicity, to highlight or outline a particular SDC program. Many videos deal with working toward the goal of independent living. Tapes vary in length of running time. In a few cases, slides or photos associated with certain titles are in another subseries.

Subseries 5: This subseries is roughly divided into three sections: bound volumes of slides: unbound slides; and slide shows. Each section is approximately 1/3 of the entire collection. Slides in volumes range in date from 1974 to 1988, with slides from all years mixed within each binder. In some binders there are dividers meant to distinguish among groups of slides; categories include special activities, community service, and colony group homes. Slides document the everyday activities and special events at the SDC.

Loose slides are also of everyday activities and special events. Most are grouped in small bundles, in slide boxes, or in plastic boxes. Many have identifying lables (e.g., state fairs, Christmas parties, staff photographs).

Also contained in this subseries are 13 slide shows and one script. One slide show, "Where the Children Are: A Slide Show About Institutions and Alternatives," from 1974, has a companion script. This slide show documented the move away from institutional living for the mentally retarded toward independent living. No dates are given for the other slide shows. All slide shows appear complete, with few missing slides.

Subseries 6: This subseries contains both black and white and color photographs, as well as black and white and color negatives. Original arrangement of photographs was apparently by subject. However, there is evident disorder and that order is no longer reliable. Some photographs are separated by tabs that indicate different subjects. These tabs sometimes supply the correct subject information, and are fairly reliable. Only some of the photos are separated by tabs; many are loose or have no labels or identification.

The photographs were taken by staff photographer David Blatchley, whose name appears on many of the photo envelopes and on the backs of photographs. These photos document the daily activities at the SDC. Activities and events photographed include: meetings, employees and staff, parties, volunteers, directors, work sites, staff awards, and directors. Many of the photos appear to correspond to slides found in Subseries 5 and contact sheets found in Subseries 8.

Of interest in this subseries is a binder filled with hundreds of photograph/video release forms dating from ca.1974-1994. Most are originals signed by a parent or guardian of a student at the SDC, giving consent and authorization for photographs and/or video of that student to be used to promote public understanding and support for people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

Subseries 7: This subseries contains three photograph albums from the 1970s. Photos in the albums highlight scenes from the SDC's 1976 and 1977 Special Olympics, as well as individual students and classroom scenes. Some albums contain pictures from Halloween celebrations and parties. One album includes photographs of the Education Department of the SDC, as well as classroom scenes. Although the albums are in deteriorating condition, they are well labeled with both students' and teachers' names, as well as dates and event names.

Subseries 8: This subseries consists of eight binders filled with thousands of contact sheets, with some negatives tucked in back of the sheets. The sheets are undated and the exact dates they were produced are unknown. While it is apparent that some of the contact sheets have associated slides and prints, it is not possible to relate them directly to corresponding items in other subseries. The contact sheets were most likely produced by SDC staff photographer, William Blatchley.

Subseries 9: In this subseries are17 Kodachrome/Ektachrome 8 mm films and six 16 mm movie films. Dates range from 1976-1980. About eight of the films are labeled topically. Topics include Special Olympics, field trips, classroom settings with specific teachers, and special events (such as an Easter egg hunt). Six of the films are unlabeled and/or undated. Six films on "Being Retarded Never Stopped Anyone from Being a Good Neighbor" are included; these films may correspond to a slide show in Subseries 5.

B1639-12: Most of the slides in this accretion relate to the historically significant "normalization movement." The slides are in labeled containers, often with dates, which provide some context to the images. Some of the subject labels are "Resident's Personal Possessions before Normalization Efforts," "Self Government," and "Normative Dining Events." Many slides also relate to improvement in patient/student housing and living conditions, which are labeled as "beautification projects." A smaller number of slides relate to staff training in proper procedures in taking care of patients, such as feeding techniques and drool control. Two audio cassette tapes are included with the training material.