The Lost Girls

Girls Industrial School
Girls Industrial School, Beloit, Kansas circa 1940. Photo courtesy of the KansasState Historical Society; Kansas Memory.

In 1888, the Women's Christian Temperance Union founded the Girls Industrial School in Beloit, Kansas and gave the school to the state in 1889. For 121 years, thousands of young women called the school home. In 2009, amid state fiscal difficulties, declining census, and a restructuring of the juvenile system, the facility closed. In this retrospective piece, we look at the system 10 years later from the perspective of an inmate and a correctional officer, both of whom were there for the final days of this longstanding Kansas institution.