We Changed the System...

Gale Smith, former assistant superintendent at the NYS Training School for Girls in Hudson, NY

On April 2, 2015, Hudson (NY) Site Coordinator Brian Buckley interviewed Gale Smith at his home in Ithaca, NY. Gale worked as the assistant superintendent at the New York State Training School for Girls during the 1960s and ‘70s.

Gale grew up in Portage, WI, a small town about 35 miles north of Madison. After getting his graduate degree in social work, Gale worked as a cottage supervisor at the Oregon School for Girls in Oregon, WI, where he met Thomas Tunney, the school’s then superintendent. In 1965, Tunney moved to New York to become the superintendent at the New York State Training School for Girls, following in the footsteps of the School's former superintendent, Muriel E. Jenkins, an African-American woman who served as superintendent from 1963-1964. After Tunney took on the position in 1965, he invited Gale to join him at the Training School as his assistant superintendent.

In this short excerpt from the oral history interview, Gale describes how his experience working at Hudson compared to working at the training school in Wisconsin. Gale also talks about what he saw as some of the problems at the Hudson Training School from the point of view of an administrator, and how he and Tunney tried to change that system. 

Thank you to Matt McCarthy, our summer 2015 digital humanities intern from Grinnell College, for editing this audio piece.