Almshouse and State Primary School in Monson, MA -- Historical Notes

Submitted by Sally Neale (with her notes included) nealegenes@aol.com 
 
"The following I took from a book I got at the Massachusetts State Archives. I copied it directly from a finding aid the Archives have: Massachusetts. State Primary School (Monson, Mass.) Case histories 1866-1895, Agency: 918X, vol 4. 114/nn/122/3."
"The State Almshouse at Monson, MA provided residence for paupers without settlement [legal residence] in the Commonwealth from 1854 to 1872. The State Primary School opened at the almshouse in 1866 and continued after its closing until 1895, providing lodging, instruction, and employment for dependent and neglected children under age sixteen without settlement in the Commonwealth and some juvenile offenders. "
"The following I took from an annual report on the Almshouse (I am ashamed I didn't source it properly) for 1879. But I'm sure the archives could let you know."
"In 1879 there was a total of 443 children, 99 of whom were females between the ages of 5 and 12. Children participated in work-related activities, including sewing, laundry and farming. Studies in school included bible stories, Edwardís 1st-4th Reader, geography, arithmetic, writing, grammar, physiology and history. Discipline was as parental as possible. Children were subsequently adopted, indentured or fostered out of the institution. "
"The following I took off the Library of Congress Site. However, tonight I tried to access the site and got nowhere. I've emailed them, requesting the old site's address so I can properly source this. But it did come from loc.gov."
Started in 1852, c 275 authorized the building of three state almshouses for paupers without settlement in the Commonwealth as certified by overseers of the poor or other local authorities, each with a superintendent and three inspectors who could bind out minors as apprentices.

Started in 1853, the state appropriated funds for almshouses in Bridgewater, Monson, and Tewksbury, which opened in 1854.

Starting in 1855, the state provided for recording by the almshouse superintendent of birth and deaths and the making of annual returns to the state secretary.

Starting in 1859, state authorized the Board of Alien Commissioners to transfer paupers between state almshouses and lunatic hospitals or to discharge and send them out of state.

Starting in 1854, state had banned admission of the dangerously insane; Starting in 1865, admission of cases of smallpox or other dangerous disease solely on determination of state authority.

St 1863, c 240 placed almshouses under jurisdiction of the Board of State Charities.

Almshouse children under age sixteen (along with those transferred from other almshouses) were segregated at Monson in a State Primary School established at the almshouse in 1866, c 209. The State Almshouse at Monson itself was discontinued in 1872, and most inmates (i.e., adults) were transferred to the State Almshouse at Tewksbury, although some were transferred for support or temporary custody as helpers (along with their children under age three) at the State Primary School (Board of State Charities. Annual report. 9th, 1872 (PD 17: Jan. 1873)), while the almshouse superintendent and inspectors continued responsible for the schools.
The Mormons have microfilmed some of the vital records from the Almshouse/State Primary School:

Admission records and case histories, 1854-1882
Authors: State Almshouse (Monson, Massachusetts) (Main Author)
Notes: Microfilm of records at Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts.
Subjects: Massachusetts, Hampden, Monson - Poorhouses, poor law, etc.
Format: Manuscript (On Film)
Language: English
Publication: Salt Lake City : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1997
Physical: on 15 microfilm reels ; 35 mm.

This link (with a URL too long to display here) should take you directly there (but in case LDS changes it -- researchers can always simply start at  www.familysearch.org )

NOTE:  The original documents are archived at the Massachusetts State Archives.
This also includes letters written by the children, parents and adopted parents.

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