The Gov’t Sterilized the “Feebleminded” in My Hometown

by | Aug 15, 2023

When I was in middle school, the bus route would take us past a mysterious, old campus with an array of decaying brick buildings.

I always thought it was dark and ominous looking.

Little did I know, a century prior, hundreds of people had been committed and sterilized there.

See, back in the Progressive Era, the campus was known as “the Wisconsin Home for the Feebleminded.” Indeed, it was just one of many facilities like it across the United States.

These facilities were the policy of Progressive Era eugenicists who, in a practically religious way, saw the State as being the primary vehicle of social reform.

Their version of social reform, however, was to eliminate the “indigent, insane, epileptic and idiotic” from society by making sure they couldn’t “further their kind.”

For the victims, just dancing at the bar could earn you a sentence in one of these facilities.

I’ve been fascinated with this place ever since the days I watched it go by outside the school bus window.

Just what was it? What happened to people there? Why was it made? Why did folks think this was OK?

All these questions swirled around my head every time I saw it.

So, two years ago, I decided to get as many answers as I could, and told anyone and everyone this story.

In this newsletter, we’ve been talking about how to find “what they’re not tellin’ you” out for yourself. There may not be a better example of it than the episode I ended up making.

Watch it today for free, below.

This article first appeared as an email to Patrick MacFarlane’s newsletter. If you liked it, be sure to subscribe here.

About Patrick Macfarlane

Patrick MacFarlane is the Justin Raimondo Fellow at the Libertarian Institute where he advocates a noninterventionist foreign policy. He is a Wisconsin attorney in private practice. He is the host of the Vital Dissent at, where he seeks to oppose calamitous escalation in US foreign policy by exposing establishment narratives with well-researched documentary content and insightful guest interviews. His work has appeared on,, and Zerohedge. He may be reached at

Listen to Vital Dissent with Patrick MacFarlane

Listen to Vital Dissent with Patrick MacFarlane

Our Books

latest book lineup.

Related Articles


Class versus Identity Politics?

Parts of the "left" and "right" often lament that class politics has given way to identity politics. I don't get that. Class was the original modern political identity, and state privilege was part of the cause. Libertarians and classical liberals long warned that...

read more

An American Bombing

The most mainstream documentary about the truth behind the Oklahoma Bombing is now running on HBO. An American Bombing is a great, if partial, vindication of the great work of Glenn and Kathy Wilburn, J.D. Cash, Roger Charles, Jesse Trentadue, Richard Booth, Wendy...

read more