Collection inventory

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Willowbrook Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: Apr 1997

Biographical History

In 1972 television reporter and talk show host Geraldo Rivera, then a budding journalist working for WABC-New York's Eyewitness News, conducted a series of investigations at the Willowbrook State School for the Mentally Retarded, on Staten Island. His work resulted in a televised documentary entitled "Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace" which exposed the deplorable conditions and the rampant abuse and neglect of the residents. The report won a Peabody Award and led to changes in state law and to new standards for the treatment of the mentally disabled across the country, as well as making Rivera a national star. Willowbrook closed in 1987 and the area is now part of the campus of Staten Island College.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Willowbrook Collection consists of notes, photographs, videos, and films relating to "Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace." There are also a few unrelated items, such as a copy of Rivera's biography, Exposing Myself.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection remains in original order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Bernard Carabello: A Willowbrook Case in Box 8 is restricted.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Entirety of collection may be shared with other libraries and schools at SCRC's discretion, but may not be sold or broadcast on cable, the internet, or television without the written permission of ABC, Inc. Any such written permission documents will be retained by SCRC.

Related Material

Portions of the collection have been digitized. Contact the repostory listed above for more information.

Additional material relating to disability and disabled persons may be found in several other collections, including the William Langner Papers, the James Pirkl Papers, the James Thornton Correspondence, and the Rowley Family Papers, among others.

Subject Headings


Rivera, Geraldo.

Corporate Bodies

Willowbrook State School.

Associated Titles

Willowbrook: the last great disgrace.


Investigative reporting.
Journalists -- United States.
People with disabilities -- Abuse of -- United States.
People with disabilities -- Institutional care -- United States.

Genres and Forms

16mm (photographic film size)
Betacam (TM)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Negatives (photographs)
Notes (documents)


Investigative reporting.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Willowbrook Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Paul R. Dolan, 1993.

Table of Contents

Correspondence-subject files



Note on alternate formats:

Portions of the collection have been digitized. Contact the repostory listed above for more information.