BY THE START of the twentieth century, there. was a name for the collection of disabilities that orphanages were alleged to impose on their inmates. It was called "institutionalism." The term referred to the stunted emotional development that seemed charactcristic of asylum children, but it was also applied to the institutional practices that supposedly produced it. Institutionalism, as Hastings H. Hart observed, embraced both "the artificial environment and its unfavorable effect upon the initiative, independence, and force of the child." Even the people who ran orphan asylums accepted the label and the institutional failings that it marked out for attention. Rudolph R. Reeder, superintendent of the New York Orphan Asylum, a Protestant esttblishment at Hastings-on-Hudson, enumerated the usages covered by the term. Institutionalism, he said, was
a combination of rote, routine, and dead levelism. It is law and coercion, without liberty or individual initiative. It is system gone to seed. It is praying by rote, singing by rote, repeating portions of the Bible by rote. It is rising at a fixed hour, saying off a prayer in concert, washing in a row under the inspection of a caretaker, lockstepping it into the dining-room, repeating in meaningless monotone a set blessing over bread and milk.