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Mansfield Training School records

Identifier: RG170_001

Scope and Content

Series 1. Predecessor Institutions, 1863-1919, includes the records of two institutions that merged to form the Mansfield Training School: the Connecticut School for Imbeciles, located in Lakeville, Connecticut, and the Connecticut Colony for Epileptics, located on the grounds of what became the Mansfield Training School. The Connecticut School for Imbeciles records, 1863-1917, include resident commitments, admission and attendance, personnel and financial information. The Connecticut Colony for Epileptics records, 1911-1919, 1931, consist of research notes, resident commitments, admission and attendance, personnel, financial and facility and land information.

Series 2. Board of Trustees, 1917-1974, includes minutes, superintendent's reports, and Parole Board minutes that reflect the changing attitudes towards the mentally challenged during the beginning decades of the twentieth century through the first few years of the 1970s.

Series 3. Administration, circa 1891-1987, Superintendents' Files, 1919-1971; Joint Committee of Training Schools minutes, 1947-1951, 1968-1969; appointment books, 1956-1957, 1962-1963, 1981; donation records, 1963-1965; and various publications.

Series 4. Mansfield Training School Foundation, 1972-1991, includes the Board of Directors minutes and correspondence. The Foundation was a non-profit organization, comprised mostly of family and friends of residents at the school, to raise money for equipment and programs for the school.

Series 5, Civil Defense, 1943-1955, contains the functional and organizational plan, and forms and informational brochures for the Civil Defense Organization that was based at the Mansfield Training School in case of a threat against the United States, particularly a nuclear attack.

Series 6.Residents, 1884-1986, which comprises the bulk of the collection, includes birth certificates, death certificate receipts, commitment orders, admission and discharge/transfer information, roll call books, register cards, medical records at department levels and for individual residents, charts and files related to residential life, recreational, social and religious activities. The separate accession of 1992 -055 consists of 24 boxes of the case records of discharged residents compiled by the Social Service Department of the Mansfield Training School covering the time period 1920-1959. In addition the series contains outpatient files, circa 1929-1959.

Series 7. Personnel, 1912-1989, complements the resident records. They provide not only information on the administrative side of the operations but also the care and training of residents and the size and variety of staff needed to support the residents and to carry out the mandate of the institution. Records include employment agreements, employee information and departure/transfer index cards and binders, time cards, dismissal and legal action, meeting notes, notices and procedures and newsletters.

Series 8. Finances, 1916-1981, contains various expense and payroll records.

Series 9. Reports, 1917-1990, shows the number and variety of reports required both internally and externally at the school and the importance of statistical data. Population/attendance reports in different formats and medical reports comprise a large segment of this series. Annual reports provide information about what the school accomplished over a given year, major events, admissions, needs, financial statements, statistics, and departmental reports. Reports done by outside agencies are also included, such as the Connecticut Study of Known Retarded Persons that documented all the residents' functional, self-care, social competence, behavior and physical status on a scale.

Series 10. Facilities, 1888-1992, includes real estate deeds and leases, land and building information, maps and blueprints, and proposed construction and land uses.

Series 11. Photographs and slides, circa 1927-1991, depicts the routines and daily life of residents and staff including the training residents received, work residents did on the farm and throughout the campus, and recreational, social and religious activities. Special events are also documented such as theatrical productions, holiday celebrations and excursions. In addition to the aforementioned, training demonstrations and presentations comprise a large segment of the slides. Facilities and educational and entertainment slides represent a much small proportion of the slides.

Series 12. Scrapbooks, 1946-1956, includes one scrapbooks that contains newspaper clippings related to issues and events of the mentally challenged in general and in Connecticut, particularly Southbury and Mansfield Training Schools and another about events and people associated with Mansfield Training School.

Series 13. Artifacts, circa 1949-1975, includes items related to residents and staff.

Series 14. Training, circa 1968-1984, includes audio tapes, video cassettes, films, LPs, and manuals produced both internally and by outside parties.


  • 1863-1992

Language of Materials

The records are in English.

Restrictions on Access

New Exemption: Public Act 11-242, section 37 amends subsection (b) (10) of Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 1-210 and adds to the exemptions of the Freedom of Information Act any records created as a result of a doctor-patient or a therapist-patient relationship. This closure applies to all records listed below as Restricted.

Residents: Files continue to be made available to residents themselves upon reliable proof of identification which may be a current copy of a Connecticut driver's license with a photograph or current credit card with the patient's name on it.

Families: Section 52-146c of the Connecticut General Statutes allows "next of kin" the right to view records of a deceased patient who was also a relative.

Relatives of deceased residents should e-mail or send a letter to Assistant State Archivist Allen Ramsey with the following information:

- Full name of the resident.

- Approximate years resident was at Mansfield Training School.

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

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

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

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

- Proof that the requestor is a "next of kin" to the deceased patient 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 resident.

Other Parties: According to the new exemption, medical records are closed to other parties.

Record Series Listed Below: Records listed below labeled as non-restricted or unrestricted are open to all researchers who have read the rules of use and signed the registration forms. Since these records are stored off site, they may not be available on the same day.

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

Restrictions on Use

See the Reproduction and Publications of State Library Collections policy.

Series 14. Training, circa 1968-1984, audio tapes, film reels, and LPs are restricted due to condition. The Connecticut State Library does not have the equipment to play any formats other than VHS and DVD.

Historical Note

The Mansfield Training School was established in 1917 with the merging of two institutions, the Connecticut Colony for Epileptics and the Connecticut Training School for the Feeble Minded (previously known as the School for Imbeciles) "to provide for the care, custody, education and employment of mental defective (feeble minded) and epileptic persons."1 On its opening on July 1, 1917 there were 402 students in residence.

The population and campus steadily expanded for the next fifteen years. By 1932, there were 1,070 residents, 559 males, 511 females.2 However, the next decade was a trying time as the depression and World War II affected Mansfield Training School. Even as the institution reached and maintained its projected maximum population, the waiting list for entry increased to over a thousand prospective people, prompting the state to open Southbury Training School in the 1940s. Cuts in the operating budget, no construction on urgently needed buildings, the lack of adequate maintenance on contemporary equipment and buildings and insufficient staff strained the quality of the services.

The next few decades following the war were marked by changes at the school. The 1950s saw an increase in construction, which included the Longley School and four new dormitories with 152 beds each. However, chronic overcrowding continued to be a problem. The number of residents and the types of education and training increased. Residents worked in the print, wood working, weaving, and industrial shops.3 As the number of people who worked outside of the school increased they were also provided with more realistic job training.4

A change in the attitude towards the mentally challenged became increasingly evident in the 1960s. There was an increase of the ratio of the number of staff to residents. In 1969 there were 1,609 residents and 875 full time staff.5 The size of the campus reached 1,000 acres and had 85 buildings. The administration sought to lessen the institutional aspects of life at the school and increase activity in things like the Special Olympics.6 The objective of the school also reflected this change, "1. to rehabilitate as many retarded persons as possible so that they can return to the community as self-supporting citizens and 2. to assist other retarded persons …who do not have the capacity to return to the community, to become as happy and self sufficient as possible."7 However, the staff was always challenged to provide quality care for such a large number of residents.

The next two decades continued the trend towards a less institutionalized attitude concerning the care and services for the mentally challenged. Cottages were created on campus and more people moved into group homes located in communities around the state. In 1976 the number of residents had dropped to 1,106.8 The facilities were old and the quality of care was questioned by family members of residents in a 1978 lawsuit, CARC v. Thorne that would eventually result in the closing of the school in 1993. However, the number of residents had been dropping steadily for years. Since 1984, an average of 80 men and women left the school each year. By 1991 there were 141 residents remaining.9 In 1993 the last buildings were closed as the last residents left for other accommodations. Some buildings were so dilapidated by this time that they were knocked down, other buildings were transferred to the use of other institutions such as the University of Connecticut and still others were abandoned.


  1. 1Annual Report, 1948-1949, 2.
  2. 2Governor's Digest, 1932, 5.
  3. 3Annual Report, 1951-1952, 7.
  4. 4Annual Report, 1953-1954, 5.
  5. 5Annual report, 1968-1969, 2.
  6. 6Ibid, 13.
  7. 7Ibid, 1968-1969, 2.
  8. 8Annual Report 1976, 5.
  9. 9Kathleen Megan, "Mansfield: End of an Institution Memories of Mansfield, Closing After 76 Years", Hartford Courant, January 31, 1993, A1.


122 cubic feet


The Mansfield Training School opened on July 1, 1917 as a home for persons with mental retardation. It closed in 1993.


Arranged into fourteen series as follows:

Series 1. Predecessor Institutions, 1863-1919; Series 2. Board of Trustees, 1917-1974; Series 3. Administration, circa 1891-1987; Series 4. Mansfield Training School Foundation, 1972-1991; Series 5, Civil Defense, 1943-1955; Series 6.Residents, 1884-1986; Series 7. Personnel, 1912-1989; Series 8. Finances, 1916-1981; Series 9. Reports, 1917-1990; Series 10. Facilities, 1888-1992; Series 11. Photographs and slides, circa 1927-1991; Series 12. Scrapbooks, 1946-1956; Series 13. Artifacts, circa 1949-1975; and Series 14. Training, circa 1968-1984.


Most of this material was acquired during the summer and fall of 1991. The Mansfield Training School staff transferred the remainder as the institution closed out the buildings during the winter and spring of 1992. The University of Connecticut transferred the outpatient files in the spring of 2010.

Related Material

RG 170, Dept. of Developmental Services, Series 2, Commissioner, Legal files, CARC v. Thorne

Processing Information

In the summer of 2008, accessions 1991-035, 1995-078, 1996-002, 1999-009, 1999-034, T000737, T000934, T000944, T000945 and T000948 were processed into a single accession 1991-072. Accession 1992-055 remains separate. Allen Ramsey added the outpatient files and other materials to the records in spring and summer 2010.

In November 2011 further processing was done to separate restricted from unrestricted material.

RG 170:001, Mansfield Training School
Inventory of Records
Finding aid prepared by Juliane Silver.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Revision Statements

  • August 2, 2010: This electronic finding aid was updated by Allen Ramsey. Updates included additions to the following series: predecessor institutions, adminstration, residents, personnnel, reports, photographs and slides, artifacts, and training.
  • October 15, 2021: This electronic finding aid was updated by Allen Ramsey. Updates include removing restricted from the entire photograph series and only restricting slides and a small amount of photographs after reviewing all photograph boxes.

Repository Details

Part of the Connecticut State Library Repository