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MC 294

Home for Aged Women (Boston, Mass.). Records of the Home for Aged Women, 1849-1975 (inclusive), 1849-1950 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

The records were processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RC-0051-79-1260).

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 294
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Home for Aged Women (Boston, Mass.)
Title: Records of the Home for Aged Women, 1849-1975 (inclusive), 1849-1950 (bulk)
Date(s): 1849-1975
Date(s): 1849-1950
Quantity: 13.35 linear feet (27 file boxes, 10 half file boxes) plus 10 oversize volumes, 1 oversize item, 1 folio+ item)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Annual reports, minutes, correspondence, etc., of the Home for the Aged (Boston, Mass.), originally the Association for the Relief of Aged and Indigent Females.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 78-M126, 79-M280
The records of the Home for Aged Women were given to the Schlesinger Library in August 1978 and December 1979 by the Home for Aged Women. Records of the Winchester Home for Aged Women and the Ladies Unity Club, Inc. were also given to the Library as part of the records of the Home for Aged Women; these records have been processed as separate collections.

Processing Information:

Processed: February 1980
By: Madeleine Bagwell Perez

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Home for Aged Women is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Home for Aged Women (Boston, Mass.) Records, 1849-1975 (inclusive), 1849-1950 (bulk); item description, dates. MC 294, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


The following items have been removed from the collection in February 1980:
The following items have been removed from the collection and processed separately (MC 296) in February 1980:
The following items have been removed from the collection and processed separately (MC 295) in February 1985:


The Home for Aged Women (Boston) was proposed in March 1849 by Andrew Bigelow and others who "felt that the time had come to provide a home for certain American women who seemed to need special consideration." The Massachusetts Legislature passed an Act on April 30 incorporating Moses Grant, Charles F. Barnard, and Lewis Caswell, their associates and successors as the Association for the Relief of Aged and Indigent Females. The Association immediately rented a house at 36 Charles Street, Boston, and on May 1, 1850 opened the Home with a single resident.
Before long the applications for admission far exceeded the capacity of the building. The Association rented adjoining houses until the early 1860s, when the Home moved to larger quarters at 108 Revere Street. In 1872 the Legislature changed the name of the Corporation to the "Home for Aged Women." Because of continued growth, the Home in 1924 purchased a piece of land at 205 South Huntington Avenue, overlooking the Jamaicaway. The new Home, built here and opened in February 1927, was designed to be safe for the residents and efficient to operate.
The Home for Aged Women has been well regarded by the wealthy citizens of Boston, and has received many generous bequests and legacies. Its Board of Managers has attracted persons known not only for their charity but also for their business sense. Besides giving otherwise homeless women a place to live, the Home for Aged Women provides "outside aid" to women who are able to live on their own. Through its Doane Fund it has helped both resident and non-resident retired nurses. With the institution of Social Security and other government assistance programs, the Home for Aged Women established new rules of admission in 1949 which allow women to enter the Home as boarding members.
For a more complete history of the Home, see especially the annual reports in Series I of this collection.


The collection is arranged in five series:


Series I, Annual reports. Compiled by the Board of Managers, the reports begin with the first report issued in 1851 and include lists of officers, members of standing committees, residents, life members; financial information; and by-laws, rules, and the like. Addresses given at the opening and dedication of the Homes on Charles Street and Revere Street are found in I-1v and I-3v, respectively. A brief history of the Home, compiled for its 100th anniversary (1949), is in I-12v.
Series II, Corporation records, contains a list of the life members of the corporation for 1849-1867 and reports of the annual meetings beginning with 1860. For reports for the first ten years (1849-1859), see the end of IIIA-1v.
Series III, Board of Managers' records, is arranged in five subseries.
Subseries IIIA, Minutes of regular meetings of the Board of Managers, begins with the year 1849 and includes reports of committees, decisions regarding admissions, etc.
Subseries IIIB, Minutes of Executive Committee meetings of the Board of Managers, begins with the July 16, 1863 meeting and concerns the running of the Home, applications, residents, etc.
Subseries IIIC, Reports to the Executive Committee of the Board of Managers, contains reports from the matron, visitors' committee, treasurer, et al. For the years 1915 to 1923, the matrons' reports (IIIC-1 to IIIC-10) are arranged in one sequence, with one separate folder (IIIC-11) of visitors' committee reports and one folder (IIIC-12) of admissions reports. Beginning with 1924, all types of reports are arranged in one chronological sequence. Not all committees reported each month. The material in IIIC-1 to IIIC-10, IIIC-11, and IIIC-12 is arranged separately because of the incompleteness of the files.
Subseries IIID, Minutes of Finance Committee meetings. These are available for the years 1879-1890 only and include records of votes taken, monies paid, abstracts of cash accounts, etc. For actual financial records, see Series V.
Subseries IIIE, Correspondence, contains correspondence of the Director, the Secretary, and the Treasurer, arranged in one chronological sequence with incoming letters separated from outgoing.
Series IV, Residents' records, is arranged in four subseries.
Subseries IVA, Applications (to enter the Home), includes such personal information as parents' names and occupations; residences; marital status; religious affiliation; and so on. Some applications indicate whether the woman was actually admitted, and some give death dates and burial information.
Subseries IVB, Admissions records, contains information similar to that in the applications, with additional remarks on references and burials. There are alphabetical indices to the volumes.
Subseries IVC, Cemetery records, consists of miscellaneous records concerning cemeteries, grave sites, burials, etc.
Subseries IVD, Menu diaries, gives a daily listing of the food served to the residents at breakfast, dinner, and supper.
Series V, Financial records (Income and expenses), is arranged in six subseries.
Subseries VA, Cash books, records day-to-day transactions. For the period March 1926 to February 1927 no cash book has survived, but two volumes of check stubs give a record of disbursements.
Subseries VB, Journal-ledgers, monthly statements, payroll sheets, gives financial information arranged by name of account. Journal-ledgers begin with 1880; for 1927-1930 the journal can be found at the end of cash book VA-17vo. Monthly statements begin with 1941 and are cumulative totals of general income, general expenses, bequests, etc., with comparisons with other years. Payroll sheets begin in 1945 and include name of employee, position, and salary.
Subseries VC, Trial balances and statements of funds, is a year-end accumulation of data about real estate, stocks, bonds, mortgages, funds, and other income.
Subseries VD, Audit reports, contains copies of audits of the books and records compiled by various public accounting firms.
Subseries VE, Treasurer's books, begins in May 1931 and lists income (donations to the Home, monies raised through bridge parties, interest from endowments, etc.), and expenses.
Subseries VF, Bequests and investment income, contains information about bequests to the Home for Aged Women, and income from bequests, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.
Series VI, Financial records (Beneficiaries), is arranged in three subseries.
Subseries VIA, Outside aid, gives the names of women who did not live at the Home for Aged Women but received financial aid from it. The records include lists of recipients, check stubs, and an incomplete file of questionnaires (1922-1925).
Subseries VIB, Doane Fund, pertains to aid given retired Boston nurses. A record book and check stubs supply most of the information. See VIA-7 to VIA-14 for additional material.
Subseries VIC, Pin money accounts, begins with 1926 and records the petty expenses taken care of by the matron at the Home for Aged Women.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Annual reports
Boston (Mass.)--Social conditions
Journals (bookkeeping)
Nursing home benefactors
Old age assistance
Old age homes
Older women--Care
Older women--Dwellings
Association for the Relief of Aged Indigent Females (Boston, Mass.)