Skip to main content

Long Lane School records

Identifier: RG178_002

Scope and Content

Records in the collection include documents, photographs, paintings and artifacts. Documents include materials such as superintendent, staff and student records. Photographs depict many aspects of daily life throughout the twentieth century including school activities, farming and the campus buildings. Paintings consist primarily of art done for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression and art found within the campus buildings. Artifacts include various objects from the school's history such as slate chalk boards, film reels, war ration stamps and other items.


  • 1867-2000

Language of Materials

The records are in English.

Restrictions on Access

Exemptions: Connecticut General Statues section 1-210(b)(10) of the Freedom of Information Act exempts the disclosure of any records created as a result of a doctor-patient or a therapist-patient relationship. Connecticut General Statues section 17a-28 exempts the disclosure of any Department of Children and Families record pertaining to a child. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) restricts access to students educational records. This closure applies to all records listed below as Restricted.

Items in Series 2: Board of Directors, Series 3: Superintendent's Records, and Series 4: Student Records (except for population statistics) are restricted

Students: Educational records continue to be made available to students themselves upon reliable proof of identification which may be a current copy of a Connecticut or state driver's license with a photograph or current credit card with the student's name on it.

Families: Students educational records can only be disclosed to families if the student provides a signed and dated written consent to release in accordance with FERPA or the student is deceased and the records are at least 100 years or older.

Students and families of deceased students should contact Assistant State Archivist Allen Ramsey by email at or send a letter with the following information:

- Full name of the student.

- Date of birth.

- Date of death.

- Studen's town(s) of residence.

- Approximate years in school.

- Name, e-mail, and telephone of the requestor.

The State Archives will search the records and will report the results of the search to the requestor. If a record is found and the requestor wants to view or receive copies of the record, the following information must first be presented to the State Archivist:

- Proof of identity through a copy of a current Connecticut or state driver's license with a photograph or a copy of a current credit card with the requestor's name on it.

- Proof that the student is deceased through a copy of a death certificate or published obituary.

- Proof that the requestor is a relative to the deceased student through a copy of a birth certificate, obituary with the name of the requestor mentioned as a survivor, or a signed and dated notarized statement of relationship to the student.

Other Parties: According to the exemptions the records are closed to all other parties except as provided in accordance with Connecticut General Statues section 17a-28(g).

These records are stored at an off-site facility and therefore may not be available on a same-day basis.

See the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections policy.

Historical Note

An incident that occurred on the New Haven Green inspired the idea for the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls. New Haven police commissioner Charles Fabrique and New Haven Mayor Morris Tyler were walking together one October afternoon in 1864 when they saw a fourteen year old girl with two soldiers. She was quickly arrested and taken to the police station. The girl was from Guilford and had traveled to New Haven without telling her parents. She was returned home, "but with nothing to prevent her speedy return to her vicious companions and to a dissolute life, as many girls of her age and class had done before her."1 This incident, along with others, spurred conversation between the two men and their peers, both male and female from New Haven and other towns. They brought the issue to the Common Council of New Haven resulting in numerous petitions being sent to the General Assembly to request the establishment of an institution for delinquent girls similar to the one for boys in Meriden.2

The General Assembly set up a commission consisting of Rev. Thomas K. Fessenden of Farmington, D.C. Gilman of New Haven and J.P. Whitcomb of Brooklyn to study the issue. They found that, "the State…should provide a suitable institution for the custody and proper education of delinquent girls, not as criminals to be punished, but as unfortunate children of unnatural parents or guardians, to be protected and trained for lives of industry and virtue."3 However, the appropriations needed for the institution was estimated to be approximately $75,000. The State was not willing to pay the entire amount and suggested that the school be set up as a private institution with funds obtained through charitable donations. This effort was organized by Mr. Charles Fabrique, Honorable Morris Tyler, Reverend Thomas K. Fessenden, Honorable Thomas M. Allyn and Miss Esther Pratt of Hartford. After $50,000 was raised from private citizens, the state contributed $10,000 and agreed to pay the school $3.00 a week for each girl it housed.4

On July 27, 1868, the General Assembly passed the "Act Incorporating the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls." It permitted the school to "act as guardian to the person of any girl, who between the ages of eight and fifteen years shall be committed to its charge, according to law for the physical, mental and moral training of such girl, which guardianship of such girl shall supersede any other guardianship of parents or guardians during the time that such girl is under the charge of this corporation." It also allowed the school to determine its own officers and agents based on the by-laws it would create with the stipulation that the "Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of the State shall be ex-officios of the corporation."5

With the act passed, the school began organization and construction. Middletown was one of three towns who volunteered to host the school along with Winsted and Farmington.6 Middletown was finally chosen for its central location and because the town decided to appropriate $10,000 towards the purchase of forty-six acres of land.7 The school originally opened with two cottages and a classroom building. The superintendent and administration were located in a farm building on the campus. This layout was based on the cottage plan used at the first girls' training school that opened in Lancaster Massachusetts in 1854.The design was innovative because it placed girls into smaller houses instead of one large dormitory with the hope of imitating a family structure.8> The two cottages were named after Miss Esther Pratt and Mrs. Caroline Street, both of whom made generous contributions towards the establishment of the school. The classroom building was named after Rev. Thomas K. Fessenden. The first superintendent was Reverend J.H. Bradford from Massachusetts. Although the school was not formally opened until June 30, 1870, the first girl was admitted to the institution on December 10, 1869.9

The Connecticut Industrial School for Girls followed a practice employed at other New England training schools and did not segregate girls by their skin color. This was in direct contrast with most other facilities around the country which separated students with regards to sleeping quarters and activities.10 Girls who stayed at Long Lane attended school and performed chores around the campus. Most of the work was geared towards gaining practical skills that would help them upon leaving the school. Religion also played an important part of rehabilitation. Girls were strongly encouraged to go to church and attend Sunday school.

In 1873 the General Assembly increased the maximum age of girls committed to the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls from fifteen to sixteen years. At the same time it also increased the number of Directors serving on the board by two. It soon became clear that more money was needed to run the school effectively than could be obtained through donations alone. As a result, the school started a paper box factory that at first provided significant income. Although initially successful, by 1894 the factory closed because of decreasing revenue and it did not teach the girls skills that would be useful to them upon leaving the school.11

Ten years after opening its doors the school found that it needed more room to house its growing student body. In 1880 ground was broken for the construction of the Rogers Home, named after Mrs. Martha Rogers, one of the school's benefactors. She died the day before the groundbreaking and all of the girls attended her funeral. The construction and furnishing of the building was completely funded by private donations. Two years later, construction on the Russell Home was completed. The building was named after Mrs. Frances O. Russell whose husband had been on the Board of Directors. Her donation, in addition to $10,000 contributed by the State, made the construction of a new building possible.12

In December of 1883 the General Assembly agreed to contribute $15,000 to the building of a chapel and classroom building to replace Fessenden Hall. Further money for construction and an organ was donated by individuals. The building was never given an official name and was always referred to as the chapel and classroom building. In 1893 construction on the Smith Home began and was completed in 1897. The building was funded entirely by donations and was named after Mr. H.D. Smith one of the first members of the Board of Directors and a donor from when the school was first established.13

In 1917, the school hired Miss Caroline deFord Penniman as its first female superintendent. She previously worked as an assistant to Martha P. Falconer, a pioneering woman in the area of girls' training schools, at Sleighton Farm School in Pennsylvania. Penniman took over as superintendent there when Falconer left. During her tenure at the Connecticut School for Girls, Penniman instituted many changes to the program and philosophy of the school by using the techniques she learned from Falconer.14 On June 30, 1922, Superintendent Penniman submitted a report to the General Assembly which expanded upon the mission of the institution as a training school as opposed to a reformatory school. Penniman stated that "training, not punishment, is the object of the school in all its dealings with them." She did not look down on the girls as delinquents and criminals but rather saw them as a "citizen of the finest type, and the faults and failings with which he is handicapped are those of inheritance or environment."15 One example of her methods was the use of privileges and freedom as rewards. In one report she states that the girls, "have a great deal of liberty and many privileges…practically all the disciplinary problems of the school are met by taking away privileges."16 She also initiated a student government in each of the cottages. This allowed the girls to govern themselves to a certain degree and set standards for their own behavior. These developments marked a significant change in the way the girls at the school were treated.

On June 24, 1921 the General Assembly passed PA 402, which transferred the property of the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls to the State. The State made the decision because it felt that it should take direct responsibility for juvenile delinquents. The General Assembly also felt that state funds should not go towards private institutions. The act also changed the school's name to Long Lane Farm and decreased the number of directors from twelve to nine.17 Despite these changes, the act ensured that the school's function was to, "remain training and education of girls who had been found in and taken from environments in which (it was believed) only evil could come to them."18 In 1943, the school's name changed again from Long Lane Farm to Long Lane School at the request of the student body.19

During the 1950s girls at Long Lane continued to enjoy a certain degree of control over their time at the school. Girls could attend classes up to the 12th grade, or enroll in vocational classes in beauty culture, handcrafts, dressmaking, art and home making. They could also participate in extracurricular activities such as volleyball, basketball, baseball, school choir, Girl Scouts, Tri-Hi-Y, 4-H, Garden Club, Wesleyan - Cady forum, Saturday Forum and Catholic Sodality. Religion continued to play an important role in the girls' rehabilitation. Girls were encouraged to invite their pastor to the school or go to local church services. Sunday school classes were also offered at the school and run by volunteers. To ensure that all of the students health needs were met, staff included visiting physicians, a psychiatrist, psychologist, three full time registered nurses, a part-time dentist and dental hygienist. The Women's Auxiliary of Middletown also became involved in student life at Long Lane. Mrs. Julius Smith a former member of the Long Lane School Board of Directors led the effort. Their interest with the school helped the girls to become more involved with the local community.20

In 1970 Long Lane School administratively became part of the new Department of Children and Youth Services under PA 664, which was later renamed to the Department of Children and Families in 1993. Two years later Long Lane School merged with the Connecticut School for Boys after the latter experienced internal trouble with staff and student discipline. The boys from the school were sent to live at Long Lane School, which was becoming known for its progressive methods. Long Lane continued to offer various programs for helping students gain the skills they needed to adapt to society. Each student at the school was assigned a Treatment Services worker who would coordinate with other staff to create an individualized treatment plan. The school also continued to offer basic educational classes while at the same time developing a more personalized and interactive curriculum that was geared directly to the students. One of the main programs used by staff was Guided Group Interaction. In these groups a staff member would act as a facilitator to talk with a group of ten to twelve students and initiate positive peer pressure. This was supplemented by the Youth Challenge program which allowed students to spend more time outdoors and off campus while at the same time teaching them better strategies for dealing with stress and social interactions.21

In September of 1998, attention from both the State and public focused on Long Lane after Tabatha Ann Brendle, a fifteen year old student, hung herself in her room. It was the first suicide in the school's history. As a result, the Child Fatality Review Board conducted an investigation. The study found that numerous policy violations were taking place at Long Lane, some of which contributed to Brendle's suicide. In particular the study found that the school was understaffed and students, especially those considered high risk, lacked supervision. Also many of the clinicians who dealt with high risk students were unlicensed despite being one of the credentials required of staff. Other violations included improper use of mechanical restraints and punishing students through abuse and neglect.22

After the Board's report came out the school worked to get more adequate staff and fix conditions, however problems continued to arise. New reports found that staff members were not creating long term plans for student treatment. Also restraints were used incorrectly and students were put into unlawful seclusion. Another major problem was the unhealthy living conditions. Inspectors reported finding sagging beds, blankets with holes, trash on the floor, unsanitary refrigerators, dirty toilets and numerous other violations.23 As a result, Long Lane School closed on February 7th of 2003. After the closing, all staff and boys were transferred to the Connecticut Juvenile Training School located in Middletown. Girls were sent to the Connecticut Children's Place in East Windsor and other residential programs around the state.24 The property was bought by Wesleyan University and the school's inventory was auctioned off.


  1. 1"History and Development of Long Lane School", unpublished paper, n.d., Box 113 Folder 1
  2. 2 Ibid.
  3. 3 Ibid.
  4. 4 Ibid.
  5. 5 Connecticut General Assembly, Act Incorporating the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls, 1868, Box 113 Folder 1.
  6. 6 "High Lights in the History of Long Lane Farm Originally Known as the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls," unpublished paper, n.d., Box 113 Folder 1.
  7. 7 Ethel Mecum, "History of Long Lane School," unpublished paper, 8 February 1966, Box 113 Folder 1.
  8. 8 "Progress of Juvenile Institutions," unpublished paper, n.d., Box 113 Folder 1.
  9. 9 Mecum, "History of Long Lane School."
  10. 10 "Progress of Juvenile Institutions."
  11. 11 "High Lights in the History of Long Lane Farm."
  12. 12 Ibid.
  13. 13 "High Lights in the History of Long Lane Farm."
  14. 14 Mecum, "History of Long Lane School."
  15. 15 Caroline deFord Penniman, article for Register and Manual, 23 December 1933, Box 113 Folder 1.
  16. 16 Ibid.
  17. 17 Ibid.
  18. 18 General Assembly of Connecticut, PA 402, 24 June 1921.
  19. 19 Mecum, "History of Long Lane School."
  20. 20 Ibid.
  21. 21 Connecticut. Department of Children and Youth Services, Long Lane, circa 1972, Box 113 Folder # 2.
  22. 22 Colin Poitras, "It Just Gets Worse with Long Lane Report Says Decent Care Lacking at 'Warehouse' for Youths" Hartford Courant, 1 December 1998, p. A1.
  23. 23 "Failure at Long Lane," Hartford Courant, 27 December 2002, p. A12.
  24. 24 Gregory Seay, "Long Lane to Close Soon; Girls From School to be Dispersed," Hartford Courant, November 26 2002, p. B1.


227 cubic feet


The Connecticut Industrial School for Girls was established in 1868 as a private institution for delinquent girls. In 1917 the State took control of the school and renamed it Long Lane Farm which changed to Long Lane School in 1943. Items in this collection include documents about staff and student life, photographs, paintings and artifacts.


Series 1. History and Mission, circa 1878-1972, undated Accession 2003-028, Includes historical information about the Long Lane School such as organization and mission statements.

Series 2. Board of Directors, 1868-1965 Accession 2003-028, Includes meeting minutes.

Series 3. Superintendent's Records, 1869-1962 Accession 2003-028, Includes journals of daily events, correspondence and files.

Series 4. Student Records, 1870-1973

Accession 2003-028, Includes warrants of commitment, admittance/discharge records, placement records, daily census, index of girls committed, case files, case history books, identification numbers, and population statistics.

Accession 2003-044, Includes case files

Series 5. School Records, 1874-1969 Accession 2003-028, Includes a school journal, visiting agent's book, sign-in book and a mailing list and lawyer's index.

Series 6. Reports, 1867-1990 Accession 2003-028, Includes annual reports, annual objectives, development proposals, and investigations.

Series 7. Correspondence, 1884-1972 Accession 2003-028, Includes correspondence to and from staff and superintendents.

Series 8. Financial Records, 1868-1963 Accession 2003-028, Includes budgets, bank books and reports from the treasurer and auditor.

Series 9. Policies, 1948-1990 Accession 2003-028, Includes policies and manuals for staff and students.

Series 10. Staff Materials, 1948-1990 Accession 2003-028, Includes staff directory, schedules, memorandums, daily notes, and staff council notebook.

Series 11. Student Life, 1914-1984 Accession 2003-028, Includes notebooks about daily events, publications and school activities.

Series 12. Publications, 1885-1984 Accession 2003-028, Includes publications by Long Lane staff and those not produced by Long Lane.

Series 13. Committees and Conferences,1932-1989 Accession 2003-028, Includes newspaper clippings, correspondence and conference proceedings.

Series 14. Inventories, 1918-1968 Accession 2003-028, Includes room inventories and statement of resources.

Series 15. Newspaper Clippings, 1881-1998 Accession 2003-028, Includes clippings from various newspapers.

Series 16. Maps, undated Accession 2003-028, Includes campus maps.

Series 17. Postcards, undated Accession 2003-028, Includes postcards of campus buildings and student life.

Series 18. Scrapbooks, circa 1973-1980 Accession 2003-028, Includes photos of school activities with descriptions.

Series 19. Miscellaneous, 1926-1990 Accession 2003-028, Includes various documents about school events.

Series 20. Photographs, 1880-2000 Accession 2003-028, Includes photos of activities, buildings, student pageants, outdoor views and the farm.

Series 21. Works of Art, 1939-1950 Accession 2003-028, Includes paintings from offices and those produced for the WPA.

Series 22. Artifacts, 1926-1998 Accession 2003-028, Includes various items from the school's history.

Related Material

RG 178, Department of Children and Families

RG 178:001, Connecticut School for Boys

RG 178:002, Long Lane School
Inventory of Records
Finding aid prepared by Melissa L. Hendrick.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Connecticut State Library Repository