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The Dr. Joseph H. Ladd School

Originally recognized over a century ago as a school for the 'feeble-minded,' the Ladd School functioned as both a psychiatric institution and a reformatory. It has historically served youth and adults with developmental disabilities, focusing on isolation rather than the support typically expected today.


The Ladd School Historical Society

We are a private organization committed to researching and documenting the complex history of the Dr. Joseph H. Ladd Center. Our aim is to share this knowledge to enlighten and engage new generations, helping to build a more informed and compassionate society.


Our Collections

Found, gathered, and carefully cataloged over a period of twenty years, this is the largest collection of Ladd School history and artifacts in the world.

Photographs, 35mm Slides

This collection of nearly 1,000 photographs provides a broad, candid, and intimate look at life behind and beyond the walls of the Ladd School.


The Dark Days of Social Welfare

This 1943 book by Dr. Henry Jones is a rare find, with its dustjacket, burgundy cloth cover, and delicate foil stamping intact.


The Language of Schizophrenia

Unveiling the haunting audiotapestry of Buffalo State Asylum, this three-record set from 1962 offers a raw glimpse into the depths of mental illness.

The Ladd School Historical Society

Exeter, Rhode Island

Misfits for as Long as They Lived.

At last, the words of those who conspired against them betray the reasons why they were called Exeter Girls.


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More to Discover

Books | Non-Fiction

True stories from the Ladd School

Collections | Historical

Over 2,000 collected materials

History | Learn More

About the Ladd School

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Ladd School still standing?
Two buildings remain. One building is being used by the state as a storage facility and the other is a substance abuse center.
Can I visit the Ladd School?
We don't own, manage, or govern the property in any way.
Can you help me find my long lost relative?
Probably not, but if you provide a name and dates we'll add them to our list.