Memoir Query

Laurel Daen's picture

Dear All-

A colleague has asked me to pass along this query on their behalf: I am looking for memoirs written by family members of institutionalized children (for any actual or perceived disability) during the 1940s or 1950s. Especially looking for memoirs written by BIPOC authors. Grateful for your wisdom and help.


Replies can be sent to me ( ) or to the whole listserv: we can share the knowledge!


Thanks very much,





Susan Burch, Ph.D.

American Studies Program

Middlebury College

Middlebury, VT 05753

802 443 5866 (v)


Middlebury College sits on land which has served as a site of meeting and exchange among indigenous peoples since time immemorial. The Western Abenaki are the traditional caretakers of these Vermont lands and waters, which they call Ndakinna, or “homeland.” We remember their connection to this region and the hardships they continue to endure. We give thanks for the opportunity to share in the bounty of this place and to protect it.


CAVEAT: This message was composed using dictation software and may contain distinctive mistakes. Dictation never misspells, but it often inserts wrong words. Thank you in advance for reading creatively and considering the larger context when my words are confusing.​

Dear Susan,

I would love to know what others turn up here. In my research I have found very few memoirs written by BIPOC and very few memoirs about institutionalized children. Yesterday's Child, by Helene Brown comes to mind, though I think their story takes place in the 1960s, and they are white. Pearl Buck's daughter Carol (b. 1920) was also institutionalized and Buck writes about this in The Child That Never Grew. Pearl and Carol are also white.

Eager to hear what others have found.