The Story of Beautiful Girl and inhumane institutions

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June 27, 2011 — Rachel Simon’s new novel The Story of Beautiful Girl is not only a portrait of great love, it tracks the inhumane treatment of developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals who were institutionalized in the 20th century. Dr. Dan Gottlieb discusses the book and the institutional treatment of some of our most vulnerable citizens with novelist Rachel Simon, researcher Jim Conroy, and self-advocate Jean Searle. Simons has written The Story of Beautiful Girl, which is her first New York Times Bestseller, and the 2002 memoir Riding The Bus With My Sister, which was a national bestseller. Her work has been adapted for film, television, radio, and stage. She lives in Delaware. Conroy is the founder and president of The Center for Outcome Analysis (COA), a non-profit firm founded in 1985 to perform evaluation, research, and demonstration projects in the human services and health care services. Searle was institutionalized at age 12 and released years later only as a result of the judge-ordered closure of the Pennhurst State School and Hospital for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic (Spring City, PA). She is co-president of the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance and is working on her memoir. To viewSuffer The Little Children, the groundbreaking 1968 NBC10 expose on Pennhurst State School by reporter Bill Baldini, visit

Featured photo: Book cover of The Story of Beautiful Girl

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