Hazel Orme (14 years) Indianapolis, Indiana

Colony for the Poor and Feebleminded 40 x 60 inches Mixed media on paper

Colony for the Poor and Feebleminded

40 x 60 inches

Mixed media on paper

Work in progress images

I am drawing about Hazel Orme and related things. Hazel was a 14 yr. old girl in Indianapolis, IN in 1902. Hazel was the subject of a case that year involving her abuse at the hands of the adults that cared for her. See The Indianapolis Journal article below - "Hazel Orme's Troubles" for details on how the trial was reported at the time and the individuals involved. See The Medial and Surgical Monitor article for one expert witness' testimony - Dr. William Fletcher - on the mental state of Hazel Orme. 

The case concluded in 1902 and Hazel returned to her parents home in Indianapolis. Hazel's mother, Belle Orme, died in 1909 from "carbolic acid poisoning, suicide" (as listed on the death certificate). Hazel lived with her father until his death in 1936 based on census records. Hazel's siblings grew up and moved out but Hazel remained. She was listed as a laborer in the meat packing industry in the 1930 US Census. This census entry is the last record I have found on Hazel until her death certificate in 1952. 

Hazel died at the "The Marion County Home" in Indianapolis. Based on some inquiries to the Indiana State Archives - this institution started as the Marion County Poor Farm in 1832 for the poor and the mentally ill. It was located near the village of Julietta. See photo image below. During the trial, Hazel was sometimes portrayed as "feebleminded" as a strategy for the defense. She never married or had children. I suspect that Hazel may have been a patient of one of these institutions at some point in her life. 

I am looking for info on Hazel Orme and other individuals in the same situation. I am encountering many things I did now know - the wide acceptance of eugenics in America, forced sterilization as policy and how it continues into today - Buck v. Bell (1927) to the California women's prison sterilizations in 2006 - 2010 ( Stern, Alexandra. Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America). Along with many other things, I am trying to find out if Hazel Orme was sterilized. I am currently looking for Indiana hospital records from afar with limited success. 

I am finding how the things we did then = today.


Additional Sources

SCOTUS: Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927)

“Hazel Orme's Troubles.” The Indianapolis Journal, 27 Feb. 1902.

Fletcher, Wm. B., "Mental Diseases of Children." The Medical and Surgical Monitor Volume 5 (Jan. - Dec., 1902): 147-149. Print.

Julietta Asylum, Indianapolis, Indiana. Digital image. AsylumProjects.org, Asylum Projects. n.d. Web.

Gross, Terry. “Poet Imagines Life Inside A 1910 Institution That Eugenics Built.” NPR, NPR, 14 Aug. 2017. 

Brown, Molly McCully. The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded: Poems. New York: Persea, 2017. Print. 

Cohen, Adam. Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck. NY, NY: Penguin, 2017. Print. 

Levine, Philippa. Eugenics: A Very Short Introduction. New York, NY: Oxford UP, 2017. Print. 

Stern, Alexandra. Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America. Oakland, CA: U of California, 2016. Print.