Rossella Raimondo, Childhood in asylum: crossing the nineteenth century through the stories of minors interned in Bologna (1811-1902)


This article intends to investigate the historical reality of the “Francesco Roncati” asylum in Bologna from 1811, the year in which the first child is registered, all the way until 1902. Such a long time period is taken into consideration to grasp the evolutions and the changes which, at certain moments such as at the beginning of the last century, proved to be crucial for the introduction of new theories and practices concerning the re-education of minors with physical and mental deficits. Through the analysis of the documents retained in the archive of the “Gian Franco Minguzzi” Institution, with specific reference to the cases of 396 children and adolescents who were admitted to the Bolognese asylum at that time, it was possible to identify some aspects related to the characteristics, living conditions and personal vicissitudes of minors, in relation to the interest that doctors and psychiatrists increasingly turn to in children between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.



Keywords: Italian asylums; Psychiatry; Minors; Abnormal children; History of childhood; Care.

Published on: N. 31 New Series – Year XVI 2020 – Methods and practices, histories and perspectives