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New South Wales - Glossary Term

Mental Defective

Mental defective was a term loosely applied from the early 20th century until the 1960s to people considered to be intellectually, behaviourally or sexually subnormal. Some 'mental defectives' were physically disabled whereas others were considered to be 'high grade' or 'high functioning' but their behaviour was considered unacceptable to welfare authorities.

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  • Ellmoos, Laila, Our Island home : a history of Peat Island, Department of Ageing, Disability & Home Care, Sydney, 2010. Details

Journal Articles

  • Evans, Caroline; Parry, Naomi, 'Vessels of progressivism? Tasmanian state girls and eugenics, 1900-1940', Australian Historical Studies, vol. 32, no. 117, 2001, pp. 322-333. Details

Online Resources

Prepared by: Naomi Parry