The Dr. Joseph H. Ladd Center

The Ladd School was once recognized as a state-run facility providing residential, vocational, and medical services for youth and adults with developmental disabilities. But over a century ago, it was better known as a feeble-minded school — an institution more closely resembling an almshouse and reformatory.


The Ladd School Historical Society

We're a private organization dedicated to researching and documenting the existence of the Dr. Joseph H. Ladd Center. Our mission is to fascinate and inspire new generations with knowledge in the hope of informing a more compassionate society.


The Collections

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.


Film Reels

More than 15 hours — over six miles — of reel-to-reel film of the Ladd School, recorded between about 1960 and 1972.


Press Photos

Professional photographs of public events at and about the Ladd School in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Ladd School Historical Society

Exeter, Rhode Island

The Ladd School Historical Society

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More to Discover

Stories | 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.