The Waco State Home was established as the State Home for Dependent and Neglected Children by the Thirty-sixth Legislature in 1919. It was in operation until 1979. Anglo children adjudged by district courts to be neglected were declared wards of the state of Texas, and they were admitted to the home for care, education, and training.
For many years, what happened inside the walls of the Waco State Home was only whispered about. Frequently, there was harsh treatment of the children — brutal beatings and sexual abuse. The stories of the former residents of the Waco State Home would have all been forgotten except for the efforts of Sherry Matthews. She’s written a book based on state records and the oral histories of the alumni called “We Were Not Orphans: Stories from the Waco State Home," published by the University of Texas Press.