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The History of Tacachale

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Matheson History Museum

513 East University Avenue

Gainesville, FL 32601

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The Matheson History Museum is honored to welcome author and historian Steve Noll to share the history of Tacachale and discuss his book, "Feeble-Minded in Our Midst: Institutions for the Mentally Retarded in the South, 1900-1940." A book signing will follow his presentation.

Originally named the Florida Farm Colony for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic, Tacachale opened in November 1921 on 3,000 acres and was the first state-funded program for residents with developmental challenges. Today it is one of two such institutions in the state and is run by the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities. In his book, Steve Noll traces the his...tory and development of institutions for the 'feeble-minded,' such as Tacachale, in the South between 1900 and 1940. He examines the influences of gender, race, and class in the institutionalization process and relates policies in the South to those in the North and Midwest, regions that had established similar institutions much earlier. At the center of the story is the debate between the humanitarians, who advocated institutionalization as a way of protecting and ministering to the mentally deficient, and public policy adherents, who were primarily interested in controlling and isolating perceived deviants.

Steve Noll is a Master Lecturer at UF, historian, and author. He received his Ph.D. in 1991 in American History from the University of Florida, M.A. in 1985 from the University of Florida, M.Ed. from the University of Florida in Special Education in 1976, and B.A. in 1974 from the College of William and Mary. He joined the University of Florida Department of History in 1992. His other works are "Mental Retardation in America: A Historical Reader," and "Ditch of Dreams: The Cross-Florida Barge Canal and the Struggle for Florida’s Future," written in collaboration with Santa Fe College Professor David Tegeder.

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Matheson History Museum

513 East University Avenue

Gainesville, FL 32601

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