Mills County, Iowa

Iowa Institution for Feeble Minded Children

The Iowa Institution for Feeble Minded Children is located at Glenwood, the county-seat of Mills County, Iowa, a thriving little city on the main line of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. It nestles in the wooded hills on the east border of the Missouri River valley, and is in the midst of a beautiful and productive country. The Institution is situated on a commanding elevation, three quarters of a mile from the business portion of the town, and overlooks the city and surrounding country. The panoramic view from this elevation, three-quarters of a mile from the business portion of the town, and overlooks the city and surrounding country. The panoramic view from this elevation is admired and commented on by all visitors.

The Intuition was organized April 26, 1876, under the Act passed by the Sixteenth General Assembly. The first Superintendent was Dr. O. W. Archibald, of Glenwood, who served from 1876 to 1882. The present Superintendent, Dr. F. M. Powell, succeeded Dr. Archibald in 1882. The Act creating the Institution set aside for its use about twelve acres of land, on which was a small brick building that had been occupied until 1874 as a Western branch of the Soldiers’ Orphans Home.

The first pupils were received September 4, 1876. During the first year there were admitted and cared for eighty-seven children. The number has gradually increased until there are, at present, nine hundred and fifty enrolled. Necessary buildings have been added from time to time, and additions made to the land.

The Institution is a progressive little city within itself; it has facilities and modern improvements that are not possessed by many cities much larger in size. It has its own system of water-works, electric light plant, cold storage and artificial ice manufacturing plant, and its own stores; has its own shops, brickyard, printing office, fire department, bakery and dairy; it also has a well-organized school system, band and orchestra. The farm, garden and orchards fill an important part in the economy of the Institution, as well as providing avenues for industrial teaching.

The purpose, or object, of this State Institution is to provide special methods of training for that class of children deficient in mind, or marked by such peculiarities as to deprive them of ordinary school benefits and privileges. Such methods of training and discipline are adopted as tend to make each child approach as nearly as possible the movements of actions of normal people. It further aims to provide a home for those who are not susceptible of mental culture. These latter are provided with such training as may tend to correct their habits and create an interest in their own welfare.

In the school department lessons are imparted din the simple elements of instruction taught in the common schools, as well as in the rudiments of such industries as are suited to their capacity. Girls learn plain and fancy sewing, and general household work, while the boys are detailed to work on the farm, in the garden, shoe-shop, carpenter-shop, and to assist in the various departments of the Institution.

For additional photos and information about the Glenwood Institution, see the School page.

Source: Souvenir of Institution at Glenwood, Iowa, 1902.
Donated by Carrie Merritt, Mills County Historical Society ~ transcribed by Karyn Techau

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Page updated on September 2, 2014 by Karyn Techau
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