George Junior Republic (Pennsylvania)

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George Junior Republic is an all-boys institution in western Pennsylvania, in the vicinity of Grove City, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nation's largest private non-profit residential treatment facilities.[1] George Junior Republic serves to house, school, and discipline 500 high school-aged boys from troubled backgrounds. "George Junior Republic uses a behavior/education treatment model and provides psychological testing, psychiatric evaluation, education, vocational training, recreation and athletics to delinquent youth. Special need programs and drug and alcohol diagnosis/treatment area also provided. The school is also characterized by its many cottages that house the boys. All of these houses are modern and they give the campus the appearance of an upper-class housing development.


William Reuben George

The George Junior Republic in Grove City was founded by American philanthropist William Reuben George in 1909. The Original George Junior Republic was founded in Freeville, New York in 1895 as a self-governing colony requiring payment in labor for all that they received.[2] "The George Junior Republic was run like a small village where the residents where engaged in self-supporting enterprizes and administered their own laws"[3] In 1910 he was forced to sever ties with the Freeville Junior Republic and make his home elsewhere after allegations of misconduct arose regarding his treatment of female citizens.[4] After leaving direct supervision of the Freeville Republic William George became the director of the National Association of Junior Republics. In 1914 William George was accused of misconduct in a case involving molestation of three girls at Freeville.[5] The Judges strongly condemned "his "theory" of paternalism which allowed him to treat women and citizens of the republic "without regard to the rules and usages of common life and civilized society" [6]

Brief description of the life of an interned boy at the GJR in late 1949-1951[edit]

In the late 1940s and well into 1951, the GJR cottages were supervised by husband/wife teams referred to by all as cottage parents and called "Aunt" and "Uncle". The GJR was probably 85% self-sufficient. There was the dairy, tailor shop, barber shop, blacksmith shop and the gardens raising much of the fruit and vegetables for the institution. During this period there were 3-4 major cottages housing anywhere from 90 to 120 boys. The housing consisted of 3-4 floors. Usually the basement was where the boys remained when not outside working. The basement also provided for showers and individual lockers for each boy. The main floor was primarily the kitchen and dining room. A small TV room was also provided for those boys that qualified for TV privileges. Uncle Milty was the most desired show of the time. The third floor consisted of the bedroom for the cottage parents and several small individual bedrooms each housing four specially privileged boys. The top floor was totally open much like a military barracks. The top floor consisted of the WWII metal bunk beds stacked two high throughout the entire floor.

The normal daily routine[7] was to be up at 6:30 a.m. and down into the basement to take care of individual hygiene. Then breakfast and off to work detail or school. Most of the boys, who qualified, were sent to the local high school in Grove City. Returning from school and off to whatever work area you were assigned. After supper was study time for those attending school. Saturday morning was equally a work period but Saturday afternoons were usually reserved for a movie in the gymnasium. Sunday was visitor's day when family could come and spend the entire afternoon with their related interned.

During my internment a major change came about when the original head of the institution received a promotion to one of the larger state prison's was replaced with a more forward looking administrator. This new administrator favored total rehabilitative measures over punitive. No more physical punishment was allowed to be administered by the cottage parents; especially the razor strap beatings. No more 'on your knees' floor shining, which had proven damaging to the boys knees. All floor shining was hence carried out by erect sliding on 'shine rags' under the feet. Floor shining was a punishment for some infraction such as talking during silent time before meals. Anyone caught even whispering during 'silent time' was put on the 'shine line' which was conducted after each meal.


Information For George Junior Republic[edit]

"George Junior Republic: Building Better Boys" By Eric Slack

  • Collection contains extensive correspondence and other materials concerning William R. George and the founding of the George Junior Republic, the evolution of the Republic and its part in educational reform in the early twentieth century; and the establishment of other Junior Republics in the United States

George (William R.) family papers, 1750-1989.

  • Letters from Susan Dixwell Miller (Mrs. Gerrit Smith Miller) concerning Miss Cross' settlement house work for women in Brooklyn; letters, notes, and reminiscences concerning the beginnings of the George Junior Republic in Freeville, New York; and family letters and printed items.

Kitchelt, Florence Ledyard Cross papers, 1896-1954.

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 41°10′16″N 80°06′40″W / 41.171°N 80.111°W / 41.171; -80.111