A GUIDE TO WILLOWBROOK STATE SCHOOL RESOURCES AT THE CSI LIBRARY

Compiled by Dr. James Kaser, Archivist, and by Catherine Carson, Assistant Archivist, in February 2004.
Last updated in February 2006.

About the Guide

This guide is intended to help researchers identify and locate Willowbrook State School materials in the College of Staten Island Library.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Books

Manuscript Collections

Videos

Other Primary Source Materials

Introduction

CSI has a growing collection of materials that document the history of the Willowbrook State School. Included are printed books, reports, dissertations, and manuscript materials. News clippings dating from 1947 to 2000 provide context and an idea of the public's impression of the school at various times. In addition, photographs document buildings that were either renovated or demolished to create the current CSI campus in the early 1990's.

Back to Top

Books

Copies of these works are shelved in both the Special Collections reserve collection shelved in the CSI Library’s first floor and in Archives & Special Collections in Room 216, unless otherwise noted. If an item is only available in one location, the location is noted after the item's call number.

Items shelved in the Special Collections reserve collection may be accessed through the Circulation Desk on the Library’s first floor. These materials are restricted to in-Library use, and may be borrowed for a two-hour period with a valid CUNY ID.

Items shelved in Archives & Special Collections may be accessed through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 on the Library’s second floor. The Reading Room is generally staffed Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, when the Library is open.

• Castellani, Paul J. From Snake Pits to Cash Cows: Politics and Public Institutions in New York. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005. 302 pp. Includes bibliographical references (p. 283-296) and index.
—HV 3006 .N69 C37 2005

Castellani examines the history of public institutions and developmental services in New York from 1935-2000. He investigates why public institutions for people with developmental disabilities continue to operate in the state, despite proposals for their complete closure by 2000. He ultimately concludes “the perseverance and vitality of public institutions at the end of the century emerged from the collapse of the old system around Willowbrook and the opportunities of a new system that emerged from Medicaid.” While the book is not entirely centered on the Willowbrook State School, it does examine its place as part of the history of public institutions and developmental services in New York.

• Ferguson, Nancy Jean. The Willowbrook Consent Decree and Its Ramifications on Residential Services in the State of New York. Master’s Thesis. New York Medical College, 1990. 42 pp.
—KD 3412 .F47 1990 (Special Collections Reserve Collection)

The bulk of this work, which is primarily based on interviews with New York State employees, deals with the challenges of deinstitutionalization. The direct treatment of Willowbrook State School is brief.

• Fusillo, Maureen C. The Willowbrook State School: An Oral History. Student Project. [S.I. s.n., 1994].
—HV 3006 .N7 W5f 1994 (Archives & Special Collections, Room 216)

This book is only available in the Library's Archives & Special Collections Reading Room on the second floor in Room 216.

This student project includes interviews with persons who had been associated with the Willowbrook State School including educators, recreation therapists, ward attendants, parents, former residents, and a nurse, a psychologist and a social worker.

• Lambert, Paula. The Willowbrook Consent Decree: A Study of A Social Reform Movement. Dissertation. Yeshiva University, 1982. 330 pp (132 pp of the text are appendices).
—JK 3441 .L36 1982 (Archives & Special Collections, Room 216)

Drawing upon theoretical analyses of social reform movements, Lambert analyzes the background of the Consent Decree, including legal precedents. She also examines the Willowbrook litigation, plaintiffs and plaintiff attorneys in the case, and the implementation of reforms after the Consent Decree was issued. Lambert concludes by considering the future of the deinstitutionalization movement and making observations about the nature of the Consent Decree as the basis for a social reform movement.

• New York State. State Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled. Willowbrook: From Institution to the Community. A Fiscal and Programmatic Review of Selected Community Residences in New York City. New York: The Commission, 1982. 113 pp.
—HV 3006 .N69 N489 1982 (Special Collections Reserve Collection)

This post-Consent Decree study focused on the costs of small, community residential facilities for the developmentally disabled. Data was gathered and analyzed for a total of twenty-four community residences that divided evenly between those serving six to fifteen clients and those serving two to three clients in the New York City metropolitan area. In general, the study concluded that community residences provided “safe, attractive, comfortable and homelike environments capable of addressing the identified care and treatment needs of severely and profoundly disabled persons” at a comparable or lower cost than institutionalization. Problems that were discovered at some community residences were documented and a follow-up to the study found that these problems had mostly been addressed.

• O’Connor, Patty. The History of Institutionalization and the National Deinstitutionalization Movement in America (with Special Focus on Willowbrook State School). Master’s Thesis. The College of Staten Island/CUNY, 1998 30 pp.
—Thesis RC 443 .O36 1998 (Special Collections Reserve Collection)

This essay places the history of Willowbrook in the context of treatment in of the developmentally disabled in the United States, with a particular concentration on the twentieth century. The two-page bibliography is particularly helpful.

• Reiss, Jean. They Learned to Do Without: Untold Stories from Willowbrook State School 1958-1970. Staten Island, N.Y.: s.n., 1994. 95p.
—HV 3006 .N7 W5r 1994 (Archives & Special Collections, Room 216)

Jean Reiss was a member of the staff at Willowbrook for over 11 years. She originally wrote these stores in 1976. Names have been changed and chronology of some incidents altered but the children existed and the events occurred as described in the book.

• Rivera, Geraldo. Willowbrook: A Report on How It Is and Why It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way. New York: Random House, 1972. 147 pp. photographs.
—HV 3006 .N7 W57 1972

In this first-person account, Rivera gives the background of his now famous investigative television report (January 6, 1972) and special (February 2, 1972). He includes the basic facts he uncovered about Willowbrook and descriptions of other New York State institutions he visited (Letchworth Village and Suffolk State School). He also gives accounts of the surreptitious “raids” he made on Willowbrook to get footage and the protests organized in the aftermath of his first televised report. In addition, he recounts his trips to California to visit successful programs for the developmentally disabled.

• Rothman, David J. and Sheila M. Rothman. The Willowbrook Wars. New York: Harper and Row, 1984. 405 pp. indexed.
—KF 228 .N48 R67 1984 (Archives & Special Collections, Room 216)
• ________. The Willowbrook Wars: Bringing the Mentally Disabled into the Community. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction, 2005. 417 p. indexed.
—KF 228 .N48 R67 2005

Authored by two established scholars, this work is the most comprehensive treatment of the history of the Willowbrook State School, the litigation that brought about its closure, and the implementation of the Consent Decree (through 1981). The 2005 edition is essentially a reprint of the 1984 edition, with a new afterword by the authors that is approximately 10 pages in length.

Back to Top

Manuscript Collections

The Bernard J. Carabello Collection

All materials are open to researchers.

All materials are accessible through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 in the CSI Library. These materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Reading Room.

Bernard J. Carabello was born on January 19, 1950 in New York City. He was born with cerebral palsy, but was misdiagnosed as being mentally retarded at age three. Carabello was placed at the Willowbrook State School in 1954, and remained there for 18 years. Carabello has since transformed himself into a major force in the movement for self-advocacy in New York and across the nation.

The collection contains Carabello's medical records from the Willowbrook State School and the first four chapters of his unfinished autobiography.

There is an Annotated Inventory for this collection.

Back to Top

The Assemblywoman Elizabeth A. Connelly Papers

All materials are open to researchers except where otherwise noted.

All materials are accessible through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 in the CSI Library. These materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Reading Room.

Assemblywoman Elizabeth A. Connelly was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1973. She was appointed Chairwoman of the Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse in 1977, and the collection is particularly strong in documenting her service with the committee. Connelly retired in 2000. Her legislative papers include several files and a video related to the Willowbrook State School.

A list is available here.

Back to Top

The David Goode PhD Collection on the Willowbrook State School

All materials are open to researchers.

All materials are accessible through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 in the CSI Library. These materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Reading Room.

This small collection includes brochures, programs, and articles related to the Willowbrook State School and related issues. The collection also includes reprint copies of the text of the 1975 consent decree.

There is an Annotated Inventory for this collection.

Back to Top

The Herbert J. Grossman, M.D. Collection

All materials are open to researchers.

All materials are accessible through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 in the CSI Library. These materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Reading Room.

The Grossman Collection relates to two main topics: Grossman’s testimony in the Willowbrook State School legal case (Parisi, et.al., vs. New York) and his chairmanship of the American Association on Mental Deficiency’s Terminology and Classification Committee. The Willowbrook related materials primarily consist of litigation records; however, there are also materials Grossman probably received on one of his visits to the school, as well as material he collected after his participation in the legal case had ended. The material related to the visit consists of a wide range of directional publications distributed to staff in the school’s academic department and are of interest for revealing the duties of teaching staff, kinds of activities in which staff involved students, and institutional expectations of students. The remainder of the Grossman Collection is primarily composed of drafts of the AAMD’s Classification in Mental Retardation.

A Finding Aid is available for this collection.

Back to Top

The Diana McCourt Collection

All materials are open to researchers.

All materials are accessible through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 in the CSI Library. These materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Reading Room.

Diana McCourt became involved in the efforts to expose and improve the conditions at Willowbrook State School after her daughter, Nina, was placed at the institution in 1971. She was involved as a parent organizer and advocate of the institution's closure, and remains involved in promoting individualized day and living options for people who need 24 hour support.

The collection contains materials related not only to these efforts but also to the hepatitis program and the lawsuits against New York State over Willowbrook and compliance with the 1975 consent order. The folders are arranged alphabetically.

There is an Annotated Inventory for this collection.

Back to Top

The Assemblyman Eric N. Vitaliano Papers

All materials are open to researchers.

All materials are accessible through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 in the CSI Library. These materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Reading Room.

Assemblyman Eric N. Vitaliano served in the New York State Assembly from 1982 until 2001. His legisliatve papers include four files related to the proposed uses of the Willowbrook State School site in the 1980's, particularly to the controversy created by the proposal to build group homes in Corson's Woods.

A list of files is available here.

Back to Top

The Mike Wilkins M.D. Collection on the Willowbrook State School

All materials are open to researchers.

All materials are accessible through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 in the CSI Library. These materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Reading Room.

This small collection includes video recordings, programs and articles related to Willowbrook State School and the impact of the consent decree.

There is an Annotated Inventory for this collection.

Back to Top

Videos

Unless otherwise noted, copies of these works are housed in Media Services, which is located on the CSI Library’s second floor in Room 201. All materials are non-circulating and may be used only within Media Services. To contact Media Services about access to this item, please call 718-982-4035.

Additional videos are housed in the Connelly and Wilkins collections as noted above.

• Unforgotten: 25 Years After Willowbrook. New York : City Lights Home Video, c. 2002. 1 videodisc (DVD) (56 minutes).
—1446 HV

This video examines the impact on patients and their families of Geraldo Rivera's expose in 1972 of conditions at the Willowbrook State School for people with developmental disabilities. The DVD includes Rivera’s thirty minute ABC news special, “The Last Great Disgrace,” as a bonus feature.

Back to Top

Other Primary Source Materials

The Willowbrook State School News Clippings Collection

All materials are open to researchers.

All materials are accessible through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 in the CSI Library. These materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Reading Room.

This collection contains clippings of newspaper articles related to the Willowbrook State School. The collection’s extent is approximately 2.5 linear feet. The clippings are arranged chronologically and cover the period from September 1947 - November 2000.

The collection is searchable by article title, publication title and author. There is also a search keyword index of the names of individuals and organization prominently featured in the news articles.

The database currently includes records for clippings housed in this collection and The Diana McCourt Collection.

Click here to search the for news clippings.

Back to Top

The 1975 Willowbrook Consent Decree

The College Archives has digitized the landmark 1975 Willowbrook Consent Decree and made it available online at http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/archives/consent.htm. The Consent Decree ended a three-year legal battle to improve conditions in what was once the largest institution in the country for the mentally retarded.

Back to Top

The Willowbrook State School Pre-Demolition Photographs

All materials are open to researchers.

All materials are accessible through the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room in Room 216 in the CSI Library. These materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Reading Room.

The College Archives contains approximately 60 black & white photographs taken in order to document several Willowbrook State School buildings prior to demolition. These photographs were taken as part of Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) Project No. 65102301. The photographs were taken in November 1988.

An index to the prints and a map of the project site are available in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room.

The Willowbrook State School Pre-Demolition Photographs are housed with the College of Staten Island Photographs in the College Archives.

 

Back to Top

The College of Staten Island, CUNY
Archives & Special Collections
Library, 1L-216
2800 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, New York 10314

Telephone: 718.982.4128
Fax: 718.982.4127
Email: archives@csi.cuny.edu