Cooper, Almeda

Rape victim
Institutionalized person
Born at Glenwood, NJ; deafened either from scarlet fever about age 4, or more likely from meningitis at age 2. Attended the New Jersey School for the Deaf 1917-1928; failed to return to school in the fall of 1928 due to being raped and impregnated by an itinerant Mexican that summer. To the Florence Crittendon Home for Unwed Mothers, where she delivered a hearing girl, Elizabeth, and gave up the baby for adoption in 1929. Then she was sent to the North Jersey Training School, an asylum for the mentally retarded at Totowa, where she was diagnosed as mildly mentally retarded. A trial period there turned into a lifelong stay for over 50 years. About 1976, her daughter, now Elizabeth Cooper Allen, began a search for her birth mother and found her nearby. A relationship was established for the remaining 2 years of Almeda's life; she died still a resident of the Training School. The story is told in Elizabeth Cooper Allen's Mother, Can You Hear Me? (1983).
24 December 1907-__ May 1978