March 1, 2016
A Home for Wayward Boys: The Early History of the Alabama Boys' Industrial School
When reformer Elizabeth Johnston walked among the convicts in an Alabama prison mining camp, she was stunned to see teenage boys working alongside hardened criminals. She vowed to remove youngsters from such wretched conditions by establishing a home for wayward boys. With the support of women across the state, she persuaded the legislature to establish the Alabama Boys' Industrial School in 1900. After several difficult years, Johnston and her all-female board hired a young Tennessee couple, David and Katherine Weakley, as superintendent and matron. United in their Christian faith, their love for the boys, and some basic principles on how the boys should be molded into men, Johnston and the Weakleys labored together for decades to make the school one of the nation's premier institutions of its kind.
A Home for Wayward Boys is the inspiring story of the school, its leaders, and the boys who lived there. Armor’s book traces the experience of Elizabeth Johnston including her lobbying success in convincing the Alabama Legislature to establish the Alabama Boys’ Industrial School in 1900.
Jerry Armor served seven years as a juvenile probation officer, two years as the psychologist in one of the state’s prisons, and taught 30 years at Calhoun Community College and Athens State University. Today, he directs the Lawrence County Children’s Policy Council and teaches part-time. He earned a BA, MA, and PhD from, respectively, Samford University, Troy University, and the University of Alabama. He has written extensively for both academic and general interest publications. Jerry and his wife, Judy, live in Moulton, Alabama.