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JESSE SPALDING SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES 1933 CHICAGO SILENT FILM #(51394)
Dating to the year 1933, this silent film from the Chicago Public School System under Superintendent of Schools, Dr. William J. Bogan celebrates "A Century of Progress in the Education of Handicapped Children". (The "Century of Progress" was the name of the Chicago World's Fair of this same time period). The film gives an extraordinary glimpse into "state of the art" education for children with disabilities in the first part of the 20th Century, and is one of a couple films in our collection about "special" students. The context of this film is important, as one needs to keep in mind that the Polio epidemic had placed extraordinary strain on American society and its schools. Also, 1933 coincides with some of the worst times in the Great Depression. Given this, the level of care provided by the Chicago public school system seems noteworthy and perhaps was even unique.
The film looks at the efforts in Chicago to see that children with disability can receive an education, albeit a segregated one. As the film notes, in 1833 few children with a physical difference were accommodated. At :34, the Jesse Spaulding Public School is seen, and one still exists in Chicago at 1626 West Washington Blvd. Unfortunately we don't know much of this school or its charter, but apparently it was tasked with accommodating (as the title card states at :48) "crippled children". At :56, Dr. William Bogan visits the Spalding campus. At 1:16, some of the 45 buses that transport children with disabilities are seen arriving at the school. At 1:40, the school interior is seen and the first glimpse of the student body. At 2:00, a title card refers to the fact that the school serviced K-12 students, and that the nursery school teacher is "furnished by Sunbeam League".
At 2:14 the interior of the nursery school is seen with interracial boys and girls playing happily together. At 2:50 an African American girl plays with a doll given by a white child. At 3:30, children eat together. At 3:40, an all male high school science class is seen, with students dressed in shirts and ties. At 4;20, a shop class is seen including a printing press.Some of the children appear to have intellectual disabilities, others physical disabilities, but they all appear to share the classroom. At 6:00, students are seen making pottery with end products seen at 6:20.
At 6:27, the Brace Repair Shop is seen. Here various crutches and braces — often used for children suffering the effects of polio -- are seen being fixed. At 6:50, an all-female household arts class is seen. At 7:20 the Janiel Shop is seen. where clothes sewn by girls working at the school are sold.
At 8:00, physical rehabilitation is seen with nurses helping students in a variety of exercises. A girl is seen walking with the aid of braces, others are seen in wheelchairs. At 9:00, ultraviolet light is used, apparently in the belief that it will help paralyzed muscles. At 9:26, cardiac cases (likely as a result of polio) are assessed and at 9:40 underwater treatment of infantile paralysis / polio patients is seen. At 10:10, recreational swimming is shown. At 10:30 an elaborate solarium for treatment of tubercular cases is seen. At 11:20, motion studies of children are conducted and the children show off for William Bogan, who is seen in close up as well as members of the Board of Education and Mr. Michael Zimmer the warden of the Cook County Hospital.
At 13:25, some of the ramps, as well as elevators, are seen that allow the school to house students in wheelchairs and with braces. At 14:28, buses are seen departing the school to take the students home.
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