The "Ungovernable" Ella Fitzgerald

The "Ungovernable" Ella Fitzgerald

On April 10, 1933, according to records at the New York State Archives, Westchester County judge George W. Smyth sentenced a fifteen-year-old “colored” girl named Ella Fitzgerald to the New York State Training School for Girls in Hudson, NY because she was “ungovernable and will not obey the just and lawful commands of her mother.”

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"They Are All Ellas..."

"They Are All Ellas..."

Ella Fitzgerald sang jazz in a voice so pure and perfected that it admitted no pain — and America loved her for it….Yet…for over 60 years she kept the cruelest chapter of her own history a secret: her confinement for more than a year in a reformatory when she was an orphaned teen-ager.

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New York State Training School for Girls, 1904 – 1975

New York State Training School for Girls, 1904 – 1975

In 1904, when the New York House of Refuge for Women in Hudson, NY closed, the New York State Training School for Girls took its place to establish a separate place of confinement for “incorrigible” girls between the ages of 12 and 15 who had previously been housed with boys on Randall’s Island in New York City or at the State Industrial School in Rochester.

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