1. The Word “Moron” Was Popularized at the Ellis Island Hospital Complex
One of our favorite fun facts we learned while exploring Ellis Island was that the word “moron” was actually popularized at the hospital complex. American psychologist Henry H. Goddard is credited for inventing the term in 1910, during an annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of the Feeble-Minded where he proposed a system for classifying individuals with mental retardation based on their IQ.
Under his system, a “moron” was someone with an IQ of 51-70; an “imbecile” had an IQ of 26-50 an and “idiot” had an IQ of 0-25. His inspiration for the word came from a Greek root, “moros,” meaning “dull” or “foolish. In 1913, Goddard sent assistants to Ellis Island to identify and parse out “morons.” He instituted his IQ testing system there to keep “feeble-minded” immigrants from passing through to the United States.