Public hearing testimony

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

This series consists of testimony from public hearings held by the Commission to gather evidence on the care and treatment of mentally deficient persons in the state. Topics included nature and causes of mental deficiency (such as the role of heredity, poverty, family environment and other illnesses); the purposes and techniques of caring for mentally deficient persons; programs at state institutions; role of public schools and private charitable agencies; relationship between delinquency and mental deficiencies; and future role of state government.
1 cu. ft. (5 volumes) (4 microfilm reels)
Inclusive Dates:
Series Number:


Chronological by public hearing date.

Scope and Content Note

The series consists of 1160 pages of testimony from 11 public hearings held by the Commission in 1914 and 1915 to gather evidence on the care and treatment of mentally deficient persons in the state.

Those giving testimony at the hearings included: superintendents, physicians, psychologists, and other staff from New York State custodial institutions; superintendents from several state custodial institutions in Massachusetts; directors and staff from private charity agencies dealing with mentally deficient cases; State Board of Charities staff; public school administrators and staff; officials from local departments of health and other government agencies; researchers in mental health fields; county judges, police, and probation officers; and inmates at state custodial institutions. Topics discussed in the testimony included: 1)nature and causes of mental deficiency: theories of origin; role of heredity, poverty, and family environment; relation to certain illnesses such as tuberculosis and syphilis; and usefullness of classification systems used to identify mentally deficient persons; 2)purposes and techniques of caring for mentally deficient persons: need for specialized care and training; uses of diagnosis and testing; importance of family histories; techniques of placement; care in custodial institutions versus care at home or other agencies; and benefits of work outside of institutions.

3)Programs at state custodial institutions: number and classification of inmates; cost of care treatment; effectivness of present facilities; work assignments; training techniques used; 4) role of public schools in handling mentally deficient cases: numbers of students presently in school systems, teaching techniques used; need to expand school facilities; role of teachers versus physicians in diagnosis and care; relation of schools to state institutions; 5)role of private charitable agencies in caring for mentally deficient persons: agency work in surveying mentally deficient cases in individual counties; relation of agencies to state and local government; present operation of private homes and schools; differences in care provided at state and private institutions; 6) relationship between delinquency and mental deficiency: examples of individual cases of delinquency; numbers and types of mentally deficient inmates in local and state correctional facilities; need to separate mentally deficient persons from rest of society; experiences of local police and judicial systems in handling cases. 7) future role of state government in the care of mentally deficient persons: development of state custodial institutions since 1851; need for regional clearinghouses to examine and place cases; need for new laws to madate placement in custodial institutions for certain cases; and need to expand state facilities to meet present and anticipated caseload.

A substantial portion of this hearing testimony is contained in the final report of the Commission.

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There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of the material.

Alternate Formats Available

Microform is available at the New York State Archives through interlibrary loan.

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