Their disabled loved ones languished in state institutions. Now, they want the records.


Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, told GBH News he sponsored the legislation — which would open Massachusetts’s state records after they have aged 75 years — in part because he worked at the Fernald School as part of a “buddy” program for disabled children decades ago when he studied at Harvard College. Barrett says he mentored a blind child who was housed in a ward with people who had “cognitive difficulties.”

“Did he belong there? We’ll never know until researchers can excavate the histories of the folks who were there and begin to determine why they were sent there and why they, in many cases, never found their way back into the community at all,” he said.

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