The Ladd School


The Ladd School

A 1937 Stanford-Binet intelligence testing kit.

Stanford-Binet Intelligence Measures



“In the old days, if they caught you on a street corner sucking your thumb and could catch you with a net, you had it."

The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Measures

This complete second-edition Stanford-Binet Intelligence Measures set hails from 1937 and remains in near-perfect condition. Housed in a slide-top wooden box, the kit encompasses over 40 items—beads, blocks, toys, trinkets, a hardcover instruction book, a paper doll, a test blank, and a full set of flashcards designed for identifying shapes, vocabulary words, and visual absurdities.

In the early 20th century, the labeling and commitment of individuals deemed 'feeble-minded' to institutions like the Ladd School were commonly underpinned by psychometric tests. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Measures, originally invented by French psychologist Alfred Binet in 1905 and revised by Lewis Terman at Stanford University in 1916, were such tools.

They were designed to ascertain an individual's 'mental age' and categorize them into one of three clinical terms of feeble-mindedness: 'Idiot,' 'Imbecile,' or 'Moron.' This system of labeling and the societal attitudes it embodied significantly shaped the lives of those admitted to or committed to institutions like the Ladd School, whether voluntarily (often by parents or legal guardians) or involuntarily (initiated by law enforcement and sanctioned by two licensed physicians at a public court hearing).

This artifact offers a sobering window into a period of our history when the measure of one's intellect could dictate their life path, serving as a powerful reminder of the implications and potential misuses of standardized testing.


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