Over the years, The News & Advance has told the stories of those who were involuntarily sterilized at what now is known as the Central Virginia Training Center.
At least 3,800 sterilization procedures were done as part of the now-discredited eugenics movement at the training center. About 8,000 Virginians were sterilized statewide.
Here are some of their stories:
Janet Ingram remembered the day in 1965 she was taken to what now is the Central Virginia Training Center.
She was 16 years old, living in a Nelson County foster home with a woman who made her care for babies assigned to the home by the welfare system.
The social worker came and got us and took us to the training school, and told Janet she and other girls were going to get a physical examination.
They said, get in bed, and we did, Janet told The News & Advance in 2014.
Then the nurse came back, and she had a needle. She gave us a shot, and we went to sleep.
And then my stomach was hurting. I looked down there, and it was stitches in it.
The nurse came in and said, Why are you crying?
I said, Ive got stitches in my stomach.
She said, Oh, youve just been sterilized. You didnt want a baby, because they are nasty.
I told her, I would love to have a kid, I like kids.
I thought about how it would look just like me, Janet remembered.
Janet befriended a nurse at the training center and eventually went to live at her familys farm in Campbell County where, at 19, she took on a nanny-type role with the nurses 5-year-old daughter, Hope Wright, andended up caring for the sisters.
Neither Sadie nor Janet went beyond the 6th grade in a Nelson County elementary school.
Sadie was sterilized in 1960 and Janet five years later. Their mother, two sisters and an aunt all were sterilized at the Madison Heights facility.
The reason court documents list for Janet and Sadies sterilization is cultural familial mental retardation.
Lewis Reynolds began having seizures at 3, after an older cousin hit him in the head with a rock during play.
He was admitted to the institution at age 12 and sterilized on Jan. 30, 1942 at age 13. The doctor wrote the procedure will take a big burden off him in the future.
Sometimes I cry when I see a lady pregnant or something like that. I always wanted children and never could have them, he told The News & Advance in 2012. Sometimes I get off by myself and cry.
Reynolds joined the Marines, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He became a licensed electrician later in life. He was married twice.
During his time in Korea, Reynolds received a dear-John letter from his first wife. One reason she gave for leaving was his inability to have a family.
Later, he married Deloris Layne of Lynchburg. He said he suggested they adopt children, but she refused. She said, If I cant have my own, Im not going to have somebody elses children and be responsible for them, he said.
Deloris Reynolds died in 2007, after they had been married 47 years.
Still, Reynolds wished he could have been a father.
Sarah Pack Wiley understood little of what the operation meant, but she remembers one part.
They gave me ether, she told The News & Advance in 2012. Wileys discharge documents from the training school confirm a sterilization procedure in 1959 when she was 24 years old.
Wiley, Shirley and their older brother, Marvin, were taken from their parents in Patrick County and admitted to the training school in March 1948, according to documents she has kept.
Wiley was diagnosed as having a moderate mental deficiency upon admission to the institution at age 11.
Training-school officials sent Wiley to work in peoples homes, doing housekeeping or babysitting. In many cases, the homes were owned by the institutions staff members.
She was discharged from the training school in 1976.
At age 51, she met and married James Wiley, who cooked chili at the Texas Inn. Their marriage lasted until his death 11 years later.
One of the medical documents confirms SarahWiley underwent the sterilization procedure in 1959. It reads MEDICAL EVENTS IN THE INSTITUTION: In 1948 she had acute tonsillitis, in 1949 pharyngitis, 1959 sterilization, and in 1974 arrhythmia.
Sidener is the special publications editor for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5539.
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