Rome State School & Cemetery

New York State Custodial Institution at Rome for Intellectually Disabled Children and Adults.

1916 Rome State Custodial Institution For Feeble-Minded Children.
Rome Developmental Center Cemetery Names.
Rome State Custodial Asylum Map.

Rome State School

Rome State School

Photograph courtesy of The Museum of disABILITY History

“Although the initial purpose was essentially eugenic in nature, the scope of the institution expanded over the years. Educational training and independent living became central aspects, and several colony homes were established. The New York State Custodial Asylum for Un-Teachable Idiots was established in 1893 to address the growing public need for increased custodial provisions for ‘idiots’ deemed beyond the reach of education.  However, the staff soon realized that these individuals were capable of far more than the name of their institution implied. Led by Superintendent Charles Bernstein, the Board of Managers assumed a philosophy that focused on the recognition that people with disabilities “have a right to experiences and opportunities equivalent to those available to all other citizens.” Over fifty colony homes were established during Dr. Bernstein’s forty year superintendence, providing the people in attendance with many opportunities to live and work in the community.”

Rome Developmental Cemetery – This cemetery appears to be well maintained.
Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the Rome State …, Volumes 1-12.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO They’re Buried Where? by Seth Voorhees

THE BAD NEWS: Thousands Remain Nameless! 6.15.2015.

THE GOOD NEWS: One Man Is Remembered! 6.14.2015.


16 thoughts on “Rome State School & Cemetery

  1. My grandmother’s sister, Anna M. Paul, was an ‘inmate’ of the Rome State School for Mental Defectives in 1940. I know she passed away sometime before my grandmother’s death in 1976. Besides being listed in the census of 1940 I can not find any other information about her. She is not listed as being buried in the cemetery.


      • I was born there in 1957 luckily given up for adoption. I have met my birth family maternal side but believe my mother may have been impregnated by a staff member. How do I find access to employee rolls in the 1950’s or obtain my birth mother records


    • My mother Beverly McCall born 4/28/1940 and two uncles Stanton McCall Ronnie McCall were in The Rome State School. My aunt said when Uncle Stan left when they went to visit my mom…it was the most awful and scary place to go. My mom doesn’t remember age she went or age leaving. My mom told me she did stuff in the office and had shock treatments. She did say things were done to her. My mother was not very nice to me mentally or physically. It’s been a very long journey trying to understand The Rome State School and what did happen to my mother.
      I enjoy reading all postings and pictures.
      I appreciate any direction to go on this journey!
      Thank you!


  2. I am doing search on my family. I came across an uncle who listed as prisoner at Rome State School in census of 1940. I also found out he w as in WWII attached to the 712 Tank Battallion. He died in or near the Ardennes. He is buried in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium. I would like to know why he was in that school and listed as a prisoner. His name is Fred C. Putnam.


    • Do you know for sure that the Fred C. Putnam listed at Rome is your uncle? There are thousands of Putnams. My mother was a Putnam. I’m sure that there are many men with the name, Fred C. Putnam.


  3. My mom got out in 1940 ,when her mom died and her remarried dad came down from Syracuse to get her. Now I knew she was slow and didnt know a hell of alot, but she certainly was not retarded. Who knows what would have become of her had she stayed. She always told us it was for children without parents. Her mother didn’t want her. My father wasn’t much better calling her retarded. God rest her soul. I loved her.


  4. I recently received my deceased father’s adoption records stating that my biological grandmother was an “inmate” in Ward 2 of Rome State School. Her name was Sophia Gadden Rogers and my father was her 9th child. I have been my entire life wondering about my relatives and would like more information concerning this. His father was listed as unknown and at the time of my father’s birth November 27, 1932, my grandmother would have been 32. I would appreciate some direction or sources to further my search and hopefully connect with family.


  5. I’m still on a journey to find information about my mother and uncles. My grandmother left them at The Rome State School.
    Beverly McCall
    Ronald McCall
    Stanton McCall
    Any books written? News articles? Photos?
    Can family request records? If so how and where?
    Thanks for help with my journey!


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