The Florida School for Boys (at other times known as The Florida Industrial School for Boys and the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys) was a reform school located in the panhandle town of Marianna that operated from 1900 until it was closed by state authorities in 2011. The school was the site of more than a century of terror, with allegations of abuse, rape, torture and murder of inmates at the hands of school staff having been reported. Although the school was eventually closed, the state decided that there was not sufficient evidence at the time to pursue criminal charges.

In recent years, forensic anthropological researches from the University of South Florida have been using ground-penetrating radar to discover dozens of unmarked graves on the school grounds. Previously, the graves could not be exhumed without the permission of a family member, but many of the children who ended up at the Florida School for Boys were orphans. Later, a man whose uncle had died at 13 years old, after only a month at the school, was able to get an injunction to prevent the state from selling some of the school’s property until his uncle’s remains were found. This led to the state eventually allowing a complete search of the grounds and exhumations of any remains found there.

By late 2014, researches had found 55 bodies in unmarked graves on the grounds. There are another 31 in a small cemetery, which are the only marked graves on the property. For many decades the school was segregated, and at the time even the bodies of different races were not buried together. So far, the site that has been found was for African-American boys, and it is suspected that there could be many more bodies found in another site on the “white”
side of the campus.

Below are a few images of the school from the State Library and Archives of Florida:

What do you think of this dark stain on our state’s history? Please leave your comments below.

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