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State Institutions : Institutions for People with Disabilities

A guide to researching records of hospitals, prisons, and other institutions operated by the State of Minnesota.

About Institutions for People with Disabilities

Some state institutions were established for the care and education of children and, in some cases adults, with specific disabilities.  Among them are:

  • Cambridge State Hospital: Opened in1925 as the Colony for Epileptics.  Its name was changed in 1949 to Cambridge State School and Hospital and in 1967 to Cambridge State Hospital.   The institution cared for many children with developmental disabilities.  Cambridge State Hospital closed in 1997.
  • Faribault State School and Hospital: Opened in 1879 as an experimental department of the Institute of the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind serving individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities.  
  • Faribault School for the Blind: Established 1874 is now known as the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind.
  • Faribault School for the Deaf: Established 1863, is now known as the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf.
  • Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children: Established 1879, was the first hospital in the United States for children with physical disabilities.  It became a private institution in 1975.


Researching Institutions for People with Disabilities

Find more information about institutions for people with disabilities on our State Hospital Research Guide

Search the library catalog for published materials and archival records about institutions. There are records documenting the operation of the institutions for people with disabilities and some records about individuals who were residents there.

Some of the finding aids for the state institutions serving people with disabilities are available online; others can be found in notebooks available in the library.  

Photographs of institutions can be found in Collections Online.

Records about individuals may be restricted to protect personal privacy. Library catalog records and finding aids will contain guidelines on restrictions. 

Search for Primary Sources at MNHS

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Currently open by appointment only.