Submitted by Sylvia Sawyer Sebelist

One of the most amazing things we have discovered in all this poorhouse research involves the fact that the poorhouse seems to remain so invisible to us today. This is despite the fact that the poorhouse was probably one of the most extensively publicly documented institutions in 19th century America.
To the left we see the cover of the "Annual Report" of a town. Usually such reports were presented at Annual Town Meetings.
This town was Waterford in Oxford County, Maine. But such a town meeting and annual report were common all over the country. (More so in the Eastern half of the country, but the custom was carried to many Western communities also.)
These reports have usually been saved as historical records and may be found in the archives of most states, counties, and communities. Genealogy researchers just need to become more familiar with the wealth of information which can be found here.
To see the types of information recorded in these Annual Reports, please read the next pages. As you will see, it is not only the more powerful members of the community who are listed here ... but also the poor -- both those who resided in poorhouses and those who received "outdoor" poor relief. 
[Note: In most cases we have not included on the pages of The POORHOUSE STORY information about recipients of poor relief outside the poorhouse itself. We feel that good researchers will already know the locations in which the people they are researching lived. The situation is different in the case of poorhouse inmates whose removal to a poorhouse may put them farther from the location of their previous residence than researchers may believe they have reason to look. But in this good example, we are showing information about both types of recipients of poor relief ... to demonstrate the value of looking for (and in) this type of record.  PHL  ]
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