1918 Conditions Indict Us All
The Tampa Tribune, Tuesday November Fifth 1918
This is a report by the United States Public Health Service relating to conditions at the State Industrial School For
Boys at Mariana in this state. The official went to that institution during the recent influenza and what he found
there is partly contained in the following paragraphs quoted by the Tribune.
I beg to submit the following report: Conditions at the school are very bad. Sewage imperfect, no sanitary rules at
all, screens broken, fleas by the thousands. They were 35 cases of pneumonia, lack of medicine and lack of
proper nourishment. No linen. Boys were lying under wool blankets naked, with dirty mattresses on the cement
floor, the reason said to be that the husks (corn) would all run out if put on a cot. The condition was one of filth,
body lice, improper food, and no bathing for lack of towels. Samples of bed linen and shirts brought into
Jacksonville office, superintendent having not seen a boy in four weeks, according to attendants. The dinner of
the well colored boys the day I was there, being hoe cake and bacon grease mixed with flour. The dinner for the
white boys being rice and bacon grease gravy. One boy said he was flogged for refusing to cook peas full of
worms, that meat sent to the boys was kept until spoiled and then fed them and they were all sick. I advise an
Unpleasant reading as this is: that the sewage at the state school is imperfect, that there are no sanitary
regulations enforced, that screens are broken and flies, mosquitoes and fleas are prevalent. There is no linen for
the beds, the mattresses are dirty, the beds are made on the floor. There is no night clothing for the boys and
they must lie there sick and miserable, entirely naked and no washing is done for the boys. They are dirty and are
fed improper food and they did not have enough food. We are told by a official who has no reason to
misrepresent conditions, that all this miserable mismanagement results in much illness and suffering for the boys
of the school.
There is the indictment good people of Florida, that you have neglected your wards, that your officials have not
provided sufficient funds to keep your words decently fed, clothed and housed. That the management of the
school has permitted a condition that shames the whole state, how do you like it?
And the Tribune very forcibly adds:
In the face of that report the starved soul and broken bodies of those whipped and starved into obedience of
rules more stern than a convict camp, cry out in anguish to the people of Florida who have trusted their
reformation to men who slack their duty, while demanding the punishment of "slackers." In the face of that report
every tortured, lice bitten, naked body tossing in filth on a mattress harder than the cement floor it rested on, cries
out for mercy, for death, even, to release it from it's horrible torture. In the name of God and humanity, are we to
summit longer to the cruelties of the Hun Hellishness of those in charge of this institution?
Transcribed From Original Newspaper Documents Into Text By R.Straley
CONDITIONS OF THE FLORIDA REFORM SCHOOL IN 1918