WPA Inventory of  Santa Clara County holdings of Poorhouse Records

submitted by: Carolyn Feroben 
Ed note-I hope someone may have a bit more information to offer on the Old Peoples home- especially the name and location. The records listed below are only for those specifically mentioning the almshouse or Old Peoples Home.
The information posted below is from:
      Santa Clara County (San Jose) # 44
       April 1939
      ( entries pertaining to Almshouse/Old Peoples Home )

As early as 1850 the legislature made a provision that the court of sessions which later became board of supervisors, should "perform all other acts necessary to the county welfare"(1). In 1872 the political code contained a section, specifying that the board of supervisors should provide for the care and maintenance of the indigent sick and the dependent poor of the county and erect and maintain hospitals for that purpose. In connection with the hospital the board was required to provide a farm and to make regulations for its operations (2). The statues of 1883 required the board of supervisors to appoint some suitable person or persons to take care of and maintain such hospitals and poorhouses (3).

In 1901 a provision was made that every county should relieve and support all pauper, incompetent, poor, indigent persons and those incapacitated by age, disease and accident, when they are not supported by relatives, friends or by their own means. Upon receiving any person, incompetent, poor, indigent or incapacitated, the superintendent of the county hospital or almshouse or his subordinates were required to make diligent inquiry into the ability of such person or of his relatives likely to bear the actual charges and expenses of his maintenance and support and to report the results of that inquiry to the district attorney and the board of supervisors.(4).

No persons or private institutions are allowed to maintain a home for the needy without obtaining a license or permit from the state department of public welfare (5).

The WPA Inventory contains many interesting records listed for the County Hospital, including the Register of Inmates (1896-1934). The register for the Hospital contains the case number, name of patient, age, sex, race, place of birth, residence, date of admission, length of time in county, state, and United States, occupation, classification, ailment, handicaps, date of discharged or date of death, name and address of nearest relative, and remarks. Arr.. num.. by case numbers. Indexed alpha. by names of patients. Hdw. pr. fm. Ave. 260 pp. 16 x 10 x 1 1/2. Main Off. It states that the county hospital was located on Los Gatos Road- Now this would be a great find for research-!!

Other Records:

Board of Supervisors- located in the County Court House
12. (Miscellaneous Papers on File), 1852--. 49 bdls.; 18 f.d.; 207 f.b.

(Ed note- I have not posted all the contents of this file-just the pertinent ones.)

iii. (Almshouse Lands and Buildings, and Boiler Inspections Reports),1861--,entry 59.


In Miscellaneous Papers on file) entry 12-iii. Reports of superintendent of Old Peoples' Home on boiler inspection, and almshouse lands and buildings, showing nature of report, date submitted and signature of superintendent.

For reports on almshouse inmates, 1932--, see entry 70

70. HOSPITAL, HEALTH DEPARTMENT AND ALMSHOUSE REPORTS, 1932--. In Miscellaneous Papers on File), entry 12-XXXii.

General reports from county hospital, health department, and almshouse to board of supervisors, showing such information as number of cases of diseases or sickness in county at beginning of each month, type of case, whether a new kind of disease, number of births and deaths, and date of report.

For reports on almshouse lands, 1861--, see entry 59; for prior health reports see entry 78.

78. (VETERINARY SURGEON'S AND HEALTH OFFICER REPORTS), 1893--. In (Miscellaneous Papers on File), entry 12-lxvii.

Reports to board of supervisors regarding sanitary conditions of jails, county buildings, and schools; reports on issuance of circulars with instructions on disease prevention; reports on foot and mouth disease; bulletins and quarantine reports of regulation needs for protective councils.

90. (INSURANCE ON COUNTY BUILDINGS), 1905--. in (Miscellaneous Papers on File), entry 12-xxxi.

insurance taken out on county fixtures and buildings, showing amount of policy, name of insurance company, date and terms of policy.

708. TIME CHECKS, ALMSHOUSE, 1931--. 1 f.b. No prior records. . Arr. chron. No index. Hdw. pr. fm. 8x 4 x 12. Aud. off.


1.Cal. Stats. 1850. 1850, pp. 210-211.
2. Pol. Code of 1872, sec. 4046.
3. Cal. Stats. 1883, p. 304
4. Cal. Stats. 1901, p. 636.
5. Cal. Stats. 1925, p. 23.

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