Featured Articles

         I.        Articles about Poorhouses in Other Countries

     Links in this section will take you off the PHS website--just use Back to return to this site.

The Victorian (England) Poorhouse (essay by Sandra Spencer, University of North Texas) http://omf.ucsc.edu/london-1865/victorian-city/victorian-poorhouse.html 

Bawnboy (Ireland) Workhouse (comprehensive website with photos and history)

Index to "Paupers in Workhouses (England & Wales) 1861" at
http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/Paupers/  (public records - 10% sample)

The Union Workhouse at http://www.judandk.force9.co.uk/workhouse.html 
[This is a very good website which in many ways is the British equivalent to what we have tried to do here with The POORHOUSE STORY website regarding American poorhouse history.]

The Workhouse, Southwell...The Story So Far at
[This site tells the story of the preservation work of The National Trust of England to preserve an important poorhouse. It tells a story which should inspire us in the United States to follow their example. (includes photos)]

        II.     Articles about   American Poorhouses   (or related subjects) 

The "Portsmouth Asylum" 1833-1926 is a wonderful project ( a work-in-progress) which has been created by the employees of Raytheon Company in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Their website coverage of the project  is very responsive to the planning, physical work on the location, and on-going historical research  they are doing. For that reason, the website is constantly changing. Currently it includes: the 1832 Act -- Establishing the Asylum, the 1838 --  "Rules & Regulations", the 1851 Statewide Investigative Report (documenting abuses & making recommendations for needed laws), excerpts from Local Records (i.e. inventories, production reports, etc.) ... plus ...many tidbits of information which will make  day-to-day life in the poorhouse seem real!

Don Darling has shared with us a wonderful article called "The Poorhouse Revisited" in which he wrote of his experiences as a child living on the Dickinson County, Kansas, Poor Farm -- where his grandfather was the Superintendent.  It is a great read! 

During the Great Depression, Clinton County Ohio issued "County Bonds" for the support of the general Poor Relief Fund and the County Home. Some of these were purchased by The Poorhouse Lady on eBay. Read the story and see the bonds.  

"Boston's Pauper Institutions" by William I. Cole 
The New England magazine/Volume 14, Issue 2/April 1898

This article is apparently the third in a series and deals with the "principal Almshouse, on Long Island."  It is rich in detail and full of wonderful old historic photographs which evoke the detailed texture of life in a city poorhouse in those times and tells of the evolution of the almshouse and its relationship to other institutions.  (The link will take you to the article on the Cornell University website.)  PHL


"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 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.]

Pope County's Pauper Problem  by Laura L. Shull

[This is a wonderful article which the Pope County [Arkansas] Historical Association Quarterly gave us permission to copy. It has a fascinating and well-researched narrative along with excerpts from historical records which are rich in local color and which give much deeper insight into just how the poorhouse system worked ... and sometime didn't! An interesting thing about this article is that it shows examples of how all three systems of poor relief worked ... "outdoor" relief (direct "welfare" payments), contracting with people to take paupers into their homes to care for them, and an actual poorhouse owned and run by the county. This article makes poorhouse history more up-close, personal, and real!]

Kaufman County Poor Farm by Kathey Kelley Hunt, Kaufman County Historical Commission--Texas

[Kathey sent us an article which she wrote specifically for The POORHOUSE STORY. She also sent photographs and cemetery lists. This challenged us to collaborate on formatting a layout that would look good and be really effective. We think we all did a good job! This project served as a prototype project and we hope others will send in data which we can work up in a similar manner. Thanks to Kathey for doing a great job. (By the way, she taught us how to take an aerial photograph of the site of a former poorhouse and label it to show the status of old and new buildings as the site exists now.) Special congratulations on their plans to create a POORHOUSE MUSEUM in the remaining buildings!]

Milwaukee County Poorhouse Notes  submitted by Jennifer Fleishmann

[Jennifer sent us a newspaper article and a research paper (written several years ago by a friend of hers) and many great photographs which she took of the remaining buildings of this poorhouse in Wisconsin. By the way, within just weeks of posting this information about a neglected poorhouse cemetery, the local officials took action to allow it to be cleaned up! These kinds of submissions really help us put together very readable presentations which make history come alive for us and all the readers of The POORHOUSE STORY. Many thanks! ]

Cass County Texas Poor Farm submitted by Jean Gilley

[Jean Gilley sent us the BEST newspaper article we have ever seen about a poorhouse! Almost a quarter of a century ago, the 1974 Frontier Times, told the story of the Poor Farm in Cass County, Texas.At that time we were emerging from a period during which we tended to romanticize life and gloss over some of the more gritty details of life. The article reflects that transitional process. It does tell the story in a somewhat nostalgic sentimental way. But it still weaves the complex tapestry which was the poorhouse. The warp and woof of that tapestry consisted of the warm human compassion trying to manifest through the layers of cold harsh bureaucracy.]

Great LESSON about Annual Town Reports -- and how much genealogical information can be found in those boring, dry financial accounts!

[Sylvia Sebelist  (whose mom and dad both served as town "selectmen" for the Town of Waterford (Oxford County, Maine) was kind enough to scan and share with us pages from their 1892 Annual Town Report (which reported on expenses for the poor during 1891).  We have been able to use this in a very helpful presentation about how genealogical researchers can use such reports to locate information about people who were residing on the Town Farm -- a form of poorhouse.  This is the real stuff -- out of which a knowledge of our heritage grows.]  

Poorhouse Restoration & Museum -- One Couple Does "The Right Thing"

[There is a magnificent and quite unique on-line newspaper called The Mountain Laurel -- Can you tell we love it?! -- which carries an article which tells the story  about the successful efforts of a married couple to restore the poorhouse in Wythe County, Virginia ... and turn it into a museum! We are featuring that in our News Alerts section ... to inspire individuals and corporate or governmental organizations in other locations to follow their dedicated example.]

Works Progress Administration (WPA) Inventories for Ohio 

During the 1930s and 1940s (during the Great Depression) the federal government provided the services of people in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to inventory government records in the state and county archives and repositories of many states. This is a terrific resource for both historians and genealogists.  A group of OHIO volunteers have helped us extract and transcribe extensive notes about the poorhouse records in those inventories  They provide a great deal of local poorhouse history as well. 

Ohio Poorhouse Inspired Famous Poem -- Article in The Toledo Blade 1/5/01

The successful preservation and restoration efforts of the  Hillsdale (Ohio) Historical Society are chronicled in this story about The Will Carlton Poorhouse have been documented in this article. Erica Blake, the reporter who wrote the story,  interviewed PHL and used The POORHOUSE STORY for background information. The poem is one we have previously posted here -- Over The Hill to the Poorhouse by Will Carlton