"An important addition to scholarly literature, not only because it is an excellent history, but also because Hornick includes the perspectives of parents and relatives, state and institutional officials, direct-care workers, and the citizens of Belchertown, as well as the institution’s residents themselves. I was particularly struck by the book’s ending—an ending that gives two former residents of the Belchertown State School the ‘final say.’—James W. Trent, author of Inventing the Feeble Mind: A History of Mental Retardation in the United States
""[Hornick] skillfully connects the demise of this particular institution to the attitudes and beliefs that informed broader 19th- and 20th-century U.S. public policies on the education and control of people who were variously labeled imbeciles, morons, and mentally retarded.. . . By unearthing obscure archival records and conducting interviews with now elderly Belchertown State School former residents and attendants, Hornick has made a substantive contribution to the field now called intellectual and developmental disabilities. He animates the historical facts with details that match my childhood memories: Elvis Presley's voice incongruously blaring from the loudspeakers of a carousel on the school's grounds, the intimidating granite steps of the administration building, the one-month waiting period before family could visit a newly admitted resident. . . . Belchertown State School is now closed, but its existence continues to affect the lives of countless individuals. Hornick's excellent and engaging history provides a welcomed context for the wide-reaching personal and policy impacts of the school.""—Sharon Flanagan-Hyde, sister of former Belchertown State School resident
""Hornick is interested in telling the story of Belchertown State School from all perspectives, and he includes the experiences of direct-care workers, managers, state officials, town residents, patients themselves and parents. . . . The author also gauges the impact of changing social attitudes toward people with disabilities. Hornick notes that his book--including subtitle--uses terms that are considered offensive today but which were socially acceptable during much of the period his narrative covers.""—The Hampshire Gazette
""[A]n almost charming account of an institution and set of events devoid of charm. . . . Hornick tells his story well. It's a good story, but why should sociologists care? First, the Belchertown State School, as an example of similar institutions, is a lesson in how good intentions go awry. . . .Second, Belchertown exemplifies how scandals operate. [A] scandal is often about publicizing already known but unnoticed facts and . . . reframing them as a violation of newly developing sets of standards. Third, although deviance has largely disappeared as a framework in sociology, there is still room for the study of stigma. . . . [M]ental retardation is a condition onto which, as Hornick shows, we have long read hopes and fears, prejudices and sympathies, ideas about what makes (and unmakes) humanity. [Mental retardation] fits remarkably well into the framework of stigmatization which examines how we make sense of difference. Hornick reminds us of the intellectual opportunity missed.""—Contemporary Sociology"