The Ladd School

About Us

The Ladd School

The Ladd School Historical Society

The Ladd School Historical Society is a private organization dedicated to researching and preserving the history of the Dr. Joseph H. Ladd Center, a residential and custodial institution for youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Exeter, Rhode Island.

About Us

The work of the Ladd School Historical Society is based on over twenty years of research. Though our source material spans from the turn of the 20th century to modern times, our study focuses on the pre-war era, during which developmental disability was called feeble-mindedness, and the institution's residents were referred to as inmates.

Some may object to discussing and analyzing certain essential events, linguistic norms, and once-prevailing social mores in the Ladd School's early history. However, such information does not reflect the character or constitution of any existing organization or any person, living or dead; it is only a matter of historical fact. And though such facts are not always presented dispassionately, they are nonetheless true.

By exploring even the most unpleasant parts of this history, we believe its trials and transgressions will therefore not have caused suffering in vain but serve to fascinate and inspire new generations with knowledge in the hope of informing a more compassionate society.


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More to See

History | Learn More

About the Ladd School

Collections | Historical

Over 2,000 collected materials

Exhibits | Rare & Unique

Rare and unique items on display
Exeter Girls: Letters From a Feeble-Minded School on
Exeter Girls: Letters From a Feeble-Minded School on

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I go to the Ladd School and shoot a film or conduct a paranormal investigation?
We don't own, manage, or govern the property. So do whatever you want; it makes no difference to us.
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.