A March 11, 1889 Act of the California Legislature authorized the establishment of a state school for juvenile offenders. This institution officially opened as “Whittier State School” for boys and girls on July 1, 1891 in Whittier, California. Girls were transferred out in 1916 and only boys were in residence from that time until the institution’s closure in 2004. The school was renamed the “Fred C. Nelles School for Boys” in 1941 (“For Boys” was dropped from the name around 1970). Many of the records from the Whittier School were transferred to the California State Archives. These and other records served as source material for Miroslava Chávez-García, Professor and Vice-Chair in the Chicana & Chicano Studies Department at the University of California at Santa Barbara, in her book States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California’s Juvenile Justice System (University of California Press, 2012).
Hear an historical overview of Whittier School from Miroslava Chávez-García as well as from Chris Garmire, an archivist from the California State Archives, on January 24, 2015 at the Whittier Museum. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the event starts at 2 p.m.