Boys Industrial School FAQ


The Ohio Historical Society hosts this online index of Boys and Girls Industrial Schools inmates’ case records to improve access to this resource for genealogical and family history research. Currently, this database indexes the admission records for the Boys Industrial School from 1858 to 1944 and the Girls Industrial School from 1869-1943.


What is the source of this data?

This index was created by volunteers at the Ohio Historical Society. Volunteers viewed the original Boys Industrial School inmates’ case records and data-entered all names contained in each volume. Audit procedures were used to assure accuracy.

What was the Boys Industrial School?

The establishment of the Ohio Reform Farm (or School) was authorized by the Ohio General Assembly on April 7, 1856. A law enacted April 17, 1857, outlined in detail the organization of the institution. Located on 1,170 acres five miles south of Lancaster, Ohio, the Ohio Reform Farm was the first institution in the United States to be operated on the cottage or "family" plan rather than the "big-house" system. Each "family" of 40 boys, who ranged in age from ten to eighteen, was supervised by an “Elder Brother.” The Boys Industrial School was governed by a Board of Commissioners until 1911. At that time, control was given to the newly created Ohio Board of Administration, which in turn created a Bureau of Juvenile Research in 1913 to “test, examine, and evaluate delinquent juveniles entrusted to its care.” In 1921, this bureau was transferred to the Ohio Department of Public Welfare. The Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Correction began overseeing the Boys’ Industrial School in 1954. In 1963, the Ohio Youth Commission was created and assumed control of the Boys' Industrial School. The institution ceased to operate as a juvenile reformatory in July 1980. The campus was converted to a medium security prison (Southeastern Correctional Institution) for adult offenders under the supervision of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

What was the Girls Industrial School?

Over the years, the school has had several name changes: 1869-1872, State Reform and Industrial School for Girls; 1872-1878, Girls' Industrial Home; 1878-1965, Girls' Industrial School; after 1965, Scioto Village; and later, Riverview Juvenile Correctional Facility. The State Reform and Industrial School for Girls was created by act of the Ohio General Assembly on March 5, 1869. The purpose of the school was "the reformation of exposed, helpless, evil disposed, and vicious girls." In 1878, the term "incorrigible" was added. A five-member board of trustees purchased a piece of property known as the Ohio White Sulphur Springs Resort, eighteen miles north of Columbus. The first six girls were admitted to the school in October 1869.

What information appears in the inmate case record?

Early Boys Industrial School records consist of a double page spread is divided into six columns: Name and Parentage (birthplace, date received, parents' names and nationality); Commitment (offense, by whom committed); Education (including Sunday School for some years); Health and Special Marks; Employment (including parents' occupations for some years); and Miscellaneous (bad habits such as tobacco, profane language, intoxicants, truancy; and remarks on discharge). Beginning in 1913, the form of the entries changed to one page per boy, and added more information, such as previous commitments and family data. Girls Industrial School records contain similar information.

Why do some names appear multiple times?

The Industrial Schools trained young men and women to specific trades and then placed the youth outside of the institution to work in these trades. In some cases, these placements were not successful, and the boys and girls were re-committed to the School. Each time a youth was committed to the School, the original Inmate Number was used. Thus a name with multiple entries will have multiple commitment records.

How do I get copies of these records?

You may use this index to obtain information about any admission records that you wish to order. You may use the microfilm containing the original inmate case records free of charge in the Microfilm Reading Room at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus, and make copies there for a nominal fee, currently 25 cents per page. If you wish to place an order by mail, use the online record selection feature to create an order form. Research Services staff will make uncertified copies and mail them to you for $7.00 per record.