Magdalene Asylums were institutions from the 18th to the mid-20th centuries ostensibly for "fallen women", a term used to imply sexual promiscuity. Asylums for these girls and women (and others believed to be of poor moral character, such as prostitutes) operated throughout Europe, Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States for much of the 19th and well into the 20th century. The first asylum in Ireland opened on Leeson Street in Dublin in 1765, founded by the Protestant Lady Arabella Denny. Initially the mission of the asylums was often to rehabilitate women back into society, but by the early 20th century the homes had become increasingly punitive and prison-like. In most of these asylums, the inmates were required to undertake hard physical labour, including laundry and needle work. They also endured a daily regime that included long periods of prayer and enforced silence.
Margaret Schroeder fled Ireland for America when she became pregnant and her family threatened to send her to a Magdalene asylum.
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