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Willowbrook Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: American Broadcasting Company.
Title: Willowbrook Collection
Inclusive Dates: circa 1972-1982
Quantity: 7 linear ft.
Abstract: Notes, videos and films relating to Geraldo Rivera's 1972 exposé of conditions at Staten Island's Willowbrook State School.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

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.

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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.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The collection remains in original order.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: Apr 1997
Revision history: 11 Dec 2009 - converted to EAD (MRC); 22 Jul 2013 - minor edits for video and film items in inventory (MBD); 13 Jan 2014 - minor updates for transfer to SULF (MRC); 23 May 2014 - recording IDs added (MRC)

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Note on alternate formats:

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

Correspondence-subject files
Box 1 Guide to overall resources
Box 1 Guide to legal resources
Box 1 Guide to film and tape resources
Box 1 Community acceptance resources
Box 1 Investigating abuse
Box 2 Clips, correspondence 1972-1982
Box 2 Photos, Willowbrook report, WABC News
Box 2 Film strips (negatives)
Box 2 Willowbrook photos
Box 2 ARC photos
Box 2 Media awards
Box 2 Concert, Chicago 1977
Box 2 Dance Marathon 1978-1979
Box 3 Exposing Myself, Geraldo Rivera
Box 3 Community acceptance
Box 3 Observing and gaining community acceptance - books and pamphlets
Box 1 One to One key documents
Box 2 One to One files
Box 3 One to One history shots, TBE (1 Kodak box)
Box 4 One to One selected home shots, miscellaneous negatives
See also Recordings : One to One.
Box 4 Center on Human Policy
Box 4 How to Create Interiors for the Disabled, Jane Randolph Cary
Box 4 Unequal Justice?, Robert Perske
Box 4 New Neighbors, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
Box 4 Access, The Guide to a Better Life for the Disabled Americans, Lilly Bruck
Box 4 Creating Community Acceptance for Handicapped People, Roberta Nelson
Box 4 Alternatives in the community for the developmentally disabled - pamphlets and guidebooks
Box 8 Bernard Carabello: A Willowbrook Case
RESTRICTED: This file is temporarily restricted.
Box 4 Syracuse
Box 5 20/20, Willowbrook Revisited 6 Jan 1982 (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_007)
Box 5 20/20 TS-087 McNulty 2 Nov 1987 (2 Umatic tapes) (ID#: willowbrook_008, willowbrook_009)
Box 6 Channel 5 News, 10 to 11PM edition 18 Jan 1977 - report on One to One Dance Marathon (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_017)
Box 5 "Death in the Nursery" - parts 1-4 (Newsbreakers report) (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_013)
Box 5 Evening News 9 Apr 1977 (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_010)
Box 5 Eyewitness 12 News, 6 to 7PM edition 18 Jan 1977 - includes report on One to One Dance Marathon (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_005)
Box 5 Eyewitness News, 11:00 PM edition 17 Jan 1977 - includes report on One to One Dance Marathon (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_006)
Box 5 Good Morning America 2 Jun 1977 - Geraldo at AABR Chicago explaining One to One (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_015)
Box 5 Good Morning America 2 Jun 1977 - Geraldo at AABR Chicago explaining One to One (1 DVD-Video) (ID#: willowbrook_016)
Box 5 Good Morning America 20 Jun 1977 (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_012)
Box 5 Good Morning America 14 Oct 1977 - Paul Dolan and Felton King (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_011)
Box 6 One to One Telethon 6 Jun 1979 (3 Umatic tapes) (ID#: willowbrook_019, willowbrook_020, willowbrook_021)
Box 6 One to One Telethon 3 Jun 1980 - reels 2A, 3, 3A, 4A (4 Umatic tapes) (ID#: willowbrook_026, willowbrook_027, willowbrook_028, willowbrook_029)
Box 6 One to One Telethon 24 Jun 1981 - reels 1-4 (4 Umatic tapes) (ID#: willowbrook_022, willowbrook_023, willowbrook_024, willowbrook_025)
Box 1 ROI (Residential Opportunities Inc.) Home Video - about life in group homes (1 VHS tape) (ID#: willowbrook_004)
Box 6 Self Advocacy: the Developmentally Disabled Speak for Themselves (1 Umatic tape) (ID#: willowbrook_018)
Box 1 The Willowbrook Case (WLPG-TV, Miami) (1 Betacam tape) (ID#: willowbrook_001)
Box 1 The Willowbrook Case (WLPG-TV, Miami) (2 VHS tapes) (ID#: willowbrook_002, willowbrook_003)
Box 7 Willowbrook: The Case - original film can had label, "ABC News 20/20" (16mm film, 1 reel) (ID#: willowbrook_030)
Box 5 Yes You Can - story of Timmy Loughlin, Down syndrome child (1 videotape) (ID#: willowbrook_014)

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