Indiana Institutions

Institutions were woven into the fabric of Indiana’s founding as a state. The original Constitution provided for “one or more farms to be an asylum for those persons, who by reason of age, infirmity, or other misfortunes, may have a claim upon the aid and beneficence of society.” The 1816 document pledged to offer these Hoosiers employment and “every reasonable comfort,” promises that would not be kept. It was almost two centuries later when the last of Indiana’s state-run institutions for people with disabilities closed its doors. Disability rights advocates, disturbing media exposes, and evolving social attitudes ended a troubled chapter of Indiana’s history.

Institutions were woven into the fabric of Indiana’s founding as a state. The original Constitution provided for “one or more farms to be an asylum for those persons, who by reason of age, infirmity, or other misfortunes, may have a claim upon the aid and beneficence of society.” The 1816 document pledged to offer these Hoosiers employment and “every reasonable comfort,” promises that would not be kept. It was almost two centuries later when the last of Indiana’s state-run institutions for people with disabilities closed its doors. Disability rights advocates, disturbing media exposes, and evolving social attitudes ended a troubled chapter of Indiana’s history.


Deinstitutionalization Project: Ahead of Its Time


"You don't train people to get ready to go out in the community; you take a risk and let them go and see where their strengths are." From 1973 through 1976, the…


Evil Things Were Happening Inside - Erika Steuterman on Her Brother's Time at Central State Hospital


Erika Steuterman visited the Indiana State Archive in 2013, as a way to face the difficult memories of visiting her older brother at Central State Hospital (Indianapolis) in…


Sue Beecher - "Mandated to Close"


“I came back on Monday and one of the clients had a broken limb and nobody knew how it had occurred,” explains Sue Beecher of a visit to Muscatatuck State Developmental…

Indiana Institutions