1907 : Two Detroit Girls Sentenced to the Industrial Home for Girls For Frequenting Dance Halls

May 2, 2022 all-day

On May 2, 1907, Detroit Recorders Court Judge James Thelan made news when he told the mothers of two 16-year-old girls that if they could not “keep your children from going to places where they shouldn’t go, you might better cut off their legs.”

“It would be far better for them to be virtuous cripples than the certain kind of woman they are likely to become if they continue in the way they have been going.”

The two girls were chastised for frequenting east side dance halls. After Thelan’s lecture, one mother fainted, both girls wept “violently,” and the two girls were sentenced to five years at the Industrial Home for Girls at Adrian.

Source: “Advised to Cut off Legs of Thier Girls: Mothers of Juvenile Disorderlies Told by Judge Phelan It’s Better to be Virtuous Cripple Than Certain Kind of Woman”,  Detroit Free Press, May 3, 1907, p.2

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