The Poorhouse Story NEWSLETTER         2/6/2001 (Eighth issue)

Greetings!   (Because this newsletter is already a week late <red face> we didn't take time for fancy graphics, but ...
                    Happy Valentine's Day! anyway.)

Just as Topsy suspected of herself ... The POORHOUSE STORY sometimes seems to have ...  "just growed!"  And the website was beginning to look that way. When folks submit items to post  which are already there ... it seems like a good time to work on improving the organization of the site! So we have been doing that.

First -- We eliminated a step (or a mouse click) in how readers can get to a particular state. Remember how you used to click on POORHOUSES BY STATE and be taken to a page where you had to choose between New York and Other States? Well, you don't have to do that any more; clicking on the link on the homepage will now take you directly to the table of states. That's the good news; it's also the bad news. 

NOTE: It turns out that many of you had bookmarked a page with the URL [Check it out now. Go to your Favorites (or whatever your browser calls it) and click. If it takes you to that page, you will get a page with a notice that the page will shortly be eliminated. It WILL be! So....change your bookmark to  ]

Second -- We did a major revision of the top portion of the RECORDS page. (Not the rest of the page; that still looks like an awful mess! That's next on the agenda. Sigh.)  The top portion of the page is a section called RESEARCH TIPS. There you can now find....       All you need to know but were afraid to ask ... about how to find poorhouse records ON YOUR OWN! (You are probably getting tired of hearing about this...but Please, Please, Please go there to get a pleasant surprise. We have made the suggestions much more clear and have included graphic examples. If you click on every link there, you will find information about census reports, annual town reports, county histories, inmate certificates of registration, already published inventories of records which may include poorhouse records, and much more!) We would love to see the time come when The POORHOUSE STORY website is almost unnecessary ... because everybody knows about poorhouse records and can find them anywhere!) 

Third -- In that same spirit of helping you help yourself, we updated our list of links to the various STATE ARCHIVES.
(That's not easy! Sometimes it seems like those guys redesign their sites or change ISPs constantly!)

Fourth -- We are placing a page of instructions everywhere there is a link to send e-mail to us. [You can click on the link now to see what we mean. It will launch a separate browser window which you can simply click out of to return here.] 
This has been necessitated by the fact that we are now receiving over 200 e-mail messages per month! Of these, about 40% contain suggestions about or submission of material to post on the site! Tracking the work we do (or need to do!) on those requires correct labeling and filing of them. 

Finally -- The form has temporarily been removed from the VOLUNTEER page (linked off the homepage) because we are having to totally revise the management of the services of volunteers.

Next month our newsletter will contain a full  "State of the Website" report! It will probably surprise you! So...
Tune in again.

Now...on to ...

(Remember, you can simply scroll down farther to see the additions which have been made to the website recently.)


In the last newsletter we started the New Year off by defining the problem statement (which it is our mission to solve) 
and the  objectives of The POORHOUSE STORY. Now we will look at some goals we have set for ourselves. But first, let's restate the former:


In our culture it has been primarily only those who have avoided poverty whom history has documented in ways that make it possible to know of them … or to know much about their lives … in order to have the opportunity to acknowledge them and honor them.

To preserve, identify, and make more accessible the history and records  which will make it possible for us to better know of those people whose poverty often relegated them to the poorhouses of 19th century America … in order that we may count them among the ancestors whom we attempt to more fully honor and respect.  

Because the statement of goals needs to get much more specific, we are presenting this on a separate page. (< Just click 
on the link to follow as we articulate these. Please join us on the next page! You can return here any time you wish.)


      Table of STATISTICS and NEW ITEMS ADDED  to The PHS Website
          (since 5/8/2000)                            (since 1/5/2001)                   

Total Visits to Homepage  
   as of 01/05/2001 -- nearly 31,500
as of 2/10/2001 -- 38,000+
Our next newsletter will contain a newer and more accurate detailed way of looking at the statistics regarding 
the volume of usage of The POORHOUSE STORY website.
E-mail Subscribers to Monthly Newsletter 
       as of 01/05/2001 -- 405   
as of 2/09/2001 -- 446 (We purged the mailing list by deleting
                                      the addresses of people to whom our
                                      server is having difficulty delivering.)
(based on readers submissions)
"The good pastor of the Presbyterian church in DeSoto [ Jefferson County, Missouri] and his Woman's Christian Temperance Union decided one November afternoon in 1896 to visit the poor 'inmates' at this institution!"
     Submitted by:
Charlotte Maness
[This refers to "A Crying Shame": an open letter which describes very deplorable conditions. ] 


1897 Newspaper article:   paints an extremely detailed and very poignant picture of the contemporary conditions in the Sheldon  Poorhouse [Franklin County, Vermont].   
     Submitted by: Jim Carroll
[This article merits reading by anyone who wishes to understand the realities of day-to-day life in many a poorhouse of the times. This is a MUST READ! Even poorhouses in vastly differing places often were constructed and operated in the manner described so meticulously in this article.]                  


Minutes of the Guilford Co. Warden Court, 1840: An Abstract  by Judy Millikan
Originally published in The Guilford Genealogist, Vol. 26, No. 3, Summer 1999, Issue No. 86               [North Carolina]

[This is an excellent example of the kinds of very detailed primary documents which are rich in both genealogical and historical information.]

(We didn’t create them; we just show them!)

"Indentured Servants"     by Karen Mullian  from the February 1999 Issue of the Quarterly of The Genealogy Club of Albuquerque
(The above links will launch new browser windows to take you to off-site links. To return to our page, just close the new browser window.)

This is an excellent article about the various types of indentured servitude (focusing on the practice in Pennsylvania) adopted and utilized in America. Indentured servitude had a long tradition in this country, dating all the way back to the colonies and extending throughout most of the 19th century. 

The "binding out" (through indentured servitude) of children as young as 18 months old was a very common practice when children were initially placed in poorhouses. While this article does not deal with that type of indenture of children, readers of The POORHOUSE STORY have expressed enough interest in the general topic of indentures, that we thought many of you might find this article useful. The article concludes with a very helpful bibliography which includes two other articles available on-line. [Note: You might also enjoy seeing our graphically
represented actual 1835 indenture bond for a 7 year old child being "bound out" of a Washington County NY poorhouse. The page takes quite while to load, but we think you find it worth the wait.]


This one is a MUST READ!
Linda Fluharty   
host of The Pleasants County WVGenWeb Page
obtained permission from Goldenseal and the author to post the full text and pictures from the article cited below --

" A Home for the Homeless: Remembering the Pleasants County Poor Farm." This is a truly wonderful example of the emotional power of recorded oral history, an interview with surviving personnel of the poorhouse. Linda put this online from the hard copy provided by Thelma Wells West. (Hooray to both of them!


There are excellent local newspaper articles which we have copied --
relating to the News Alerts features mentioned immediately below.


Well, we said in the last newsletter that we would be emphasizing this section during January...and we DID! 


For the first time ever, we posted a PETITION. (And for the first time ever, we sent a notice to this mailing list about something other than an announcement of the posting of this newsletter. Only one person unsubscribed as a consequence; and 62 of you signed the petition! It is still active, if that gives you an idea.) This represents an attempt to preserve the old poorhouse building in Macomb County, Michigan. You can read more about it on the page linked here at the left.


Jennifer Fleishmann is at it again! She and Dr. Michael McBride are doing a presentation for the Wauwatosa Historical Society titled:
"Milwaukee County Pauper Cemetery - Past...Present...Future"
This is in response to a history of neglect of this cemetery, 
and attempts to protect against the threatened future abuse of the memory of those who were buried there. Again, you can read more about it on the page linked here at the left.

HONORED STATES current Still Kansas!
  previous Illinois/Pennsylvania/Tennessee
Picture Postcards/Photos/Illustrations    
  CT New London
  IL Carroll/Cook
  MI Jackson
  NH Carroll
  NY Oneida (2)
  OH Shelby
  WV Ohio
Notes from Readers/Local Notes     
  IOWA Marion/Warren
  ME Kennebec
  MD Washington
  MI Jackson
  MINN Hennepin
  MO Jefferson (See above under Featured Articles. We did not put this on the Featured Articles page; but we want readers to note its significance.)
  PA Elk/Fayette
Historical Documents    
                   1824 Yates Report NY Franklin/Oneida
1835 Indenture Bond for a 7 year old boy being "bound out" from the poorhouse ....... NY Washington
We recently found this story about poorhouse history in Frederick County:
How Revolutionary Soldiers Guarding "Conventioners" (or Prisoners of War) Came to be Housed in the Poorhouse at Frederick, Maryland 
MD Frederick
Uhmmm...It's not a document; but it is a very
interesting object!
Here is a very unusual
artifact of a poorhouse in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
PA Berks
"Articles of Agreement"
scan of an historic letter between officials
dealing with issues involving support of
poorhouse residents when a new county is
NY Hamilton/Montgomery
We published a scan of a "broadside" (poster) of an 1840 report of the Poor-House Establishment of the Township of Hillsborough, Somerset County, New Jersey. 
(Note: This page takes a while to load because it is a scanned page image.)
NJ Somerset
WPA Inventories
This is the largest project which the PHS Volunteers have undertaken yet!  They did GREAT! 
(Still some more counties to be posted later.)
To read about this program which was undertaken during the 1930s and 40s by the Works Progress Administration,
see these
notes off the Ohio page.
  OHIO Ashland/Athens/Belmont/Columbiana/Fayette/Franklin/Hancock/Jackson/Lake/
Then ... it grew! 
Carolyn Feroben took up the effort and searched for such inventoried records in California .... by the way, not an easy state in which to find them. She is publishing them first on the CA-RECORDS e-mail list and then sharing them with PHS.
  CA Santa Clara

Poorhouse Records

  NJ Guilford (see Featured Projects above)
City of Newburgh:   AVAILABLE ALMS-HOUSE MATERIALS -- list    NY Orange
Cemetery Lists   (none added)
Poorhouse Resident lists from CENSUS
(new material or off-site links to the web)
  1850 ME York
  1850 NY Rensselaer
NC Alamance
The Poorhouse in Literature
[Who had time to read a book this month???!!!!     PHL ]
STATE ARCHIVES Holdings new (none) 
NOTE: We updated all the links to STATE ARCHIVES at ..... 
  previous Delaware/Illinois/Michigan/Minnesota/Ohio/Oregon
New York/Pennsylvania
Thanks for your continued support.
Linda Crannell                                                        
(aka=The Poorhouse Lady)