Working Title: Wayward Ghosts

wayward cover(2014-????)

A family moves into a former School for Wayward Girls and discovers that it’s haunted.


While I was reading the book Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, I latched onto the idea of living in a house that was a former school for wayward girls.  The family dynamics would play a big part of what was happening – I’m thinking of American Horror Story: Murder House here – where the parents are going through a difficult period, and their daughter is going through puberty, all of which amplifies the haunting.

Girls living in wayward homes might be pregnant teenagers, or delinquents, or orphans, and all would be dealing with those things.  From my initial research into this type of school I found many references to children being beaten or abused.  Many of these “schools” were basically work farms.

You can check out my Wayward Pinterest board for some of my photographic inspiration.


Benzel, Barbara M.  Daughters of the State: A Social Portrait of the First Reform School for Girls in North America, 1856-1905.  MIT Press, 1983.

I found the section about why girls were committed to reform schools the most interesting – the #1 reason was parental complaints of “stubbornness.” Often girls were committed because their parents were too poor to care for them. Sexual activity of any kind was another major reason for girls to be committed.

Morris, Norval.  The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment in Western Society.  Oxford University Press, 1997.

Overall I found that the one chapter in this book was equivalent to much of the book Daughters of the State, even though this chapter covered reform schools for both boys and girls. The chapter discusses how various school and prison reforms affected the idea of a place for juvenile delinquents, from the earliest incarnations in the 1600s to the dissolution of most state-run reform schools in the 1970s. It also gives an overview of the types of treatment given to the residents – the lack of emphasis on schooling, punishments, etc.

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