Chester County Children's Aid Society Records

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Collection Title: Chester County Children's Aid Society Records

Collection Number: 128

Dates of Collection: 1883-1957

Repositiory: Chester County Historical Society, West Chester PA

Language: English

Project Archivist: Kevin Martin

Biography:

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Biography: 

Founded in 1884, the Children’s Aid Society was formed in response to an act of the Pennsylvania State Legislature that required all children between the ages of two and sixteen to be removed from the various Alms Houses of the State.  Destitute and abandoned children were required by law to be housed in separate facilities than adults. 

Referred to by one of the members as a “private home plan,” “the Aid Society was organized under a conviction that children will be better morally and physically when brought up in the average private home than when cared for and trained even in the best of institutions where they are herded together in large numbers.” 

The C.A.S. was one of the founding institutions that would become the modern day foster care system.  In the preamble to their constitution the C.A.S. stated their purpose: “First to procure suitable permanent homes for all such county children as are of suitable age and condition; and secondly to provide comfortable and safe temporary homes for such as are not in condition to be permanently placed; but in all cases to be subject to the approval of their legal guardians, the Directors of the Poor.”

The C.A.S. provided temporary as well as permanent homes for children whose parents were unable to properly care for them or were absent because of death or abandonment.  In addition, a Supplementary Committee was formed to care for needy children still living with their families.  In their first year, the C.A.S. received more applications from potential foster homes then they had children under their care, approximately forty children.  By 1886 the C.A.S. had local committees in West Chester, Coatesville, Oxford, Kennett Square, Downingtown, East Marlborough and London Grove. In the 1890s there was much discussion among Society members regarding the problems of indenture.  Many of the children were put out to indenture and many of the members had issues regarding the moral implications of such a practice.   

In the late 1920s the C.A.S. and its local committees began to merge with other entities such as the County Welfare Association and other local welfare organizations. By 1938 money for the maintenance of the children under the care of the C.A.S. came from the county commissioners.

In 1956 political pressure and criticism regarding county welfare organizations began to mount.  That same year, discussions among state and local officials began in regards to the expansion of the child welfare program.  In the face of criticism the C.A.S. stressed their need for more professional staff but emphasized the excellent work being done by their small paid staff and volunteers.  They also offered to seek accreditation from various state and national bodies that grant such approval.  The County Health and Welfare Council suggested changes to the current system that would expand services provided for child welfare.  In 1957 C.A.S. declared that they would continue with their “present work and will back up the county commissioners in the new Child Care Program,” an expanded program for child welfare funded by an allotment of funds from the state.  In a speech to C.A.S. members, an employee of the Welfare Department in Harrisburg said, “The influence of the Aid Society is not weakened but shifted and the responsibility for the work goes on even more deeply.”  Despite the dedication of its members to continue their work in the midst of change, the shifting structure of child welfare spelled the end of the C.A.S in 1963.  The Daily Local News, reporting its end, wrote: “In bowing out, the Children’s Aid Society has yielded to the pressures of modern times for a more professional approach to the problem of caring for children who are desperately in need of special guidance and attention.”    

Collection Scope:

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Collection Scope: 

Includes: minutes, reports, records of children, financial records, etc.

The collection includes detailed minutes of meetings (Series I) conducted by the C.A.S.   Minutes are in bound ledger books and are divided by the different local committees of the society.  In addition to meeting minutes, the collection includes reports from committees (Series III) in charge of overseeing the placement of children. The majority of these reports are from the late 19th century.  Minutes and reports contain the names of children under care and details of particular cases.  They also include the activity and progress of children.  There is a limited amount of correspondence (Series IV), the bulk dealing with CAS business. 

Detailed records of children under the care of the C.A.S. are limited.  Series II—Children’s Records contains names and vital information for children from approximately 1883-1940.  A binder from the 1950s also contains a limited number of children names and caretakers (Box 8, folder 8).  In Series V—Financial Records, documents called “Warrants” include lists of children and caretakers from between 1948 and 1957.

Box 16, folder 3, contains notes taken during an earlier attempt to process this collection.

Related material:

Ms. Collection 123, Zook Family Papers. One of the Zook sisters was a member of the CCCAS and took in an orphan who is mentioned in their correspondence.

CCHS Newspaper Clippings File: see County Clippings, Organizations, Chester County Children’s Aid Society, bulk of articles are located here. Also see articles filed under “Organizations” in the individual Township sections of the Clippings File (for individual local committees)

Collection Contents:

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Collection Contents: 

Series I – Minutes

Description: Bound, handwritten volumes (unless where noted).

Meeting minutes provide details of activities of the main branch of the CCCAS in addition to a few of its branch offices in the county.  Includes details about placements; children activities; financial reports; treasurer’s reports; list of members and committee appointments (usually in front or back of each volume)

Box 1

1 item

1) “C.C.C. Aid Society, Secretary’s Minute Book”, includes constitution and by-laws of the CCCAS / list of active members by branch, 1883-1901

Box 2

4 items

1) “Minute Book of the C.C.C. Aid Society of West Marlboro”, 1887-1898 [binding broken]

2) “Newlin Local Committee of the C.C.C. Aid Society”, 1887-1914 [binding broken]

3) “East Marlboro Children’s Aid Society, Book III”, 1898-1907 [binding broken, covers detached]

4) “East Marlboro Children’s Aid Society, Book IIII [sic]”, 1908-1938 [includes single sheet pages inserted in book]

Box 3

7 items

1) “The London Grove Branch of the C.C.C. Aid Society”, 1921-1926 [partially filled]

2) “Regular meeting of the Chester County Children’s Aid Society”, 1931-1947

3) “Regular Meeting of the W.C. Branch of the Children’s Aid Society”, 1947-1954 [includes photographs of Philip Hopkins, John Hopkins, Harold Burton]

4) “Children’s Aid Society, Honey Brook”, 1919-1950

5) “Children’s Aid Society, Honey Brook Branch”, 1951-1957 [pages loose from binding] 

6) “Monthly meeting of the West Chester Branch of the Children’s Aid Society”, 1954-1957 [partially filled]

7) “Regular Meeting of the West Chester Local Committee, 1887”, [3 loose sheets];  “Members of the Downingtown Branch of C.C.C.A.S.”, 1952 [Typed report on three loose sheets; contents in folder]

Box 4

2 items

1) “West Chester Branch of Children’s Aid Society”, 1884-1895

2) “Regular Meeting of the West Chester Local Committee”, 1895-1904 [includes copies of Children’s Aid Journal, 1890]

Box 5

4 items

1) “Regular Meeting of the West Chester Local Committee”, 1904-1914

2) “Regular Meeting of the West Chester Local Committee”, 1914-1921

3) “West Chester Branch of Children’s Aid Society”, 1921-1931

4) “Minutes of the Joint Child Welfare Committee”, 1955 [in folder]

Series II – Children’s Records

Description: Placement records of children.

The majority are contained in small, bound books with a pre-printed form.  Heading on each form reads: “The Local Committee of the C.C.C. Aid Society. Reports the following Children placed.”  Lines are filled that contain the following information: Case number; Child’s Name; Date; Age; Race/Color; Religion; and Remarks related to their placement.  Remarks section usually includes the name of foster parent and their location.  Remarks might also include the last known location of the child if they were transferred from the CCCAS.  Date ranges of the books overlap and cover a period from 1884 to 1945.  The books are from different branches of the CCCAS, a specific branch location is given if known.  Letter before date range is taken from the upper left corner of a number of the books.  The letter’s purpose is unknown. 

Box 8 contains one large bound volume where records of children placements were kept from 1951 to 1957.  For additional records with children placement history see: Financial Records, Series V, Box 13  

Box 6

Folder 1 – “Record of Children”, West Chester Committee, “G”, 1883-1891

Folder 2 – “Record of Children”, “D2”, 1884-1888

Folder 3 – “Record of Children”, West Chester Committee, “A1”, 1885-1891

Folder 4 – “Record of Children”, “D3”, 1886-1894

Folder 5 – “Record of Children”, “P”, 1887-1908

Folder 6 – “Record of Children”, 1885-1905

Folder 7 – “Record of Children”, “C2”, 1888-1892

Folder 8 – “Record of Children”, “L”, 1888-1914

Folder 9 – “Record of Children”, “H”, 1891-1911

Folder 10 – “Record of Children”, Newlin Committee, 1892-1897

Folder 11 – “Record of Children”, “D4”, 1892-1906

Folder 12 – “Record of Children”, “C1”, 1893-1902

Box 7

Folder 1 – “Record of Children”, “D1”, 1896-1905

Folder 2 – “Record of Children”, 1897-1900

Folder 3 – “Record of Children”, 1904-1908

Folder 4 – “Record of Children”, “E”, 1905-1912

Folder 5 – “Record of Children”, Oxford Branch, “M”, 1905-1945

Folder 6 – “Record of Children”, “J”, 1906-1911

Folder 7 – “Record of Children”, 1908-1910

Folder 8 – “Record of Children”, “O”, 1909-1924

Folder 9 – “Record of Children”, 1910-1915

Folder 10 – “Record of Children”, 1910-1916

Box 8

Folder 1 – “Record of Children”, “I”, 1912-1920

Folder 2 – “Record of Children”, Newlin Committee, 1915

Folder 3 – “Record of Children”, “N”, 1915-1923

Folder 4 – “Record of Children”, “F”, 1920-1926

Folder 5 – “Record of Children”, “B”, 1923-1929

Folder 6 – “Record of Children”, West Marlboro Committee, “K”, 1924-1940

Folder 7 – “Record Book”, Record of homes and children, 1885-1912

Folder 8 – Binder w/ record of child placements; financial record; member list, 1951-1957

Folder 9 – “Child’s Record” for William Garis and George Garis from the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, 1927

Box 9

1 item

1) “Secretary’s Book”, includes minutes, reports, correspondence, and financial record, 1901-1941

Series III – Reports

Description: Chiefly reports from the home and visiting committees of the CCCAS.

The visiting committee was in charge of visiting caretaker homes and reporting on the progress of children under the care of the CAS.  The homes committee was in charge of matching children with caretakers.                               

This series includes a copy of the Children’s Aid Society constitution (box 10, folder 10).

Box 10

Folder 1 – Home Committee, 1884-1886

Folder 2 – Home Committee, 1887-1888

Folder 3 – Home Committee, n.d. [1880s]

Folder 4 – Visiting Committee, 1884-1885

Folder 5 – Visiting Committee, 1886

Folder 6 – Visiting Committee, 1888-1889, 1932

Folder 7 – Visiting Committee, n.d. [1880s]

Folder 8 – School Reports, 1911-1912, 1918-1919, 1930

Folder 9 – General Reports, children’s placement, 1885-1887, 1907, n.d. 

Folder 9A – Pamphlets, miscellaneous

(1)   “Eight Years Going on Nine”, County Agency Department

 Children’s Aid Society of Pennsylvania, 1930

(2)   “Girard College and its Founder: Information of Stephen Girard and the Institution he Endowed”, 1912

(3)   “The Constitution of the Children’s Aid Society”, 1891, 1909

(4)   “Something  Besides Figures” year report by the C.A.S. of Pennsylvania.  Gives stories of two boys whose relatives were found.

Folder 9B – “Regulations of the Department for Women and Children,” Children’s Aid Society, Pennsylvania, n.d.

Folder 9C – Clippings [copied from CCHS clippings file], 1884-1957

Series IV – Correspondence

Description: Contains approximately 30 letters from 1883 to 1957, arranged alphabetically by author. 

Includes a small number of letters from children under the care of the Children’s Aid Society as well as from caretakers and parents.  Includes a letter by Fannie B. Ames that started the CCCAS in 1883.

Box 10

Folder 10 – “A”

Ames, Fannie B. to Sallie P. Marshall, 1883                                    

Folder 11 – “B”/”C”

Bickhart, Thelma to Florence B. Cloud, 1919

Boy Scouts of America to Troop and Explorer Post Leaders, 1955

Cloud, F.B. to Mrs. Baker, 1931

 

Folder 12 – “D”

Darlington, R. A . to Sarah H. Bailey, 1917

Downing, M. to Mrs. Kift, 1885

 

Folder 13 – “F”

Fell, Garnetta to Mrs. William R. Hoopes, 1930

Fell, Garnetta to Mrs. Walter Painter, 1930

 

Folder 14 – “G”

Gunkle, Katherine E. to Miss Darlington, 1917

Gheen, John J. to Sarah H. Bailey, 1923

 

Folder 15 – “H”

Heck, Florence M. to Mrs. Charles Pearson, 1956

Heck, Florence M. to Lucy R. Llloyd, 1956

 

Folder 16 – “K”

Kohn, William A. to Mrs. Morris Holman, 1957

           

Folder 17 – “L”

Lacey, Flossie M. to “mother”, 1898

 

Folder 18 – “M”

Maris, Annie M. to J. Smith Futhey, n.d.

Markle, Charles to “friend”, 1917

Morton, Viola to Mrs. George W. Henderson, 1956-1957

 

Folder 19 – “P”

Pearson, Helen M. to Mrs. Carnathan, n.d.

Perrin, Charles C. to “gentlemen”, 1954

Pyle, Helen M. to Mrs. Baker, 1928

 

Folder 20 – “R”

Robert, Elizabeth L. to Sarah H. Bailey, 1921

 

Folder 21 – “S”

Speakman, M.A. to Mrs. Ramsey, 1901

Stoner, E.M. to A.B. Darlington, 1887

 

Folder 22 – “T”

Talbot, C. Wesley to Mrs. Adelaide B. Comfort, 1917

Thomas, Agnes D. to Sarah H. Bailey, 1920

 

Folder 23 – “W”

Walter, Anna M. Mrs. to W.C. Williams, 1919

Webb, Florence Michener to Miss Bailey, 1921

Whitaker, Samuel to Levi S. Thomas, 1917

Wismer, W., Mrs to Mrs. W. Painter, 1930-1931

 

Folder 24 – unidentified  

 

Series V – Financial Records

Description: Bound account books and ledgers that record C.A.S. expenses from 1895 to 1957.  Included are account books from the Downingtown and Oxford branches of the C.A.S. Cancelled checks and check stubs record recipients of C.A.S. payments. “’Warrant’, Monthly Expense Reports….” (box 13, folders 1 to 14) include a record of children and caretakers  from 1948 to 1957.

Box 11

3 items

1) Ledger, “Disbursements”, 1939-1950

2) Ledger, “Downingtown Branch of the Chester County Children’s Aid Society”, includes receipts and expenditures, 1942-1955

3) Ledger, “Disbursements”, 1950-1955

4) Ledger, “Disbursements”, 1955-1957

Box 12

5 items

1) Account Book, 1895-1928

2) Account Book, “Oxford C.C.C. Aid Society”, 1905-1907

3) Account Book, “Jane D. Cook, Treas. C.C.C. Aid Society”, 1919-1936

4) Account Book, monthly expense accounts, 1928-1939

5) Cash Book, receipts and expenditures, “Downingtown Branch of the Chester County Aid Society”, 1956-1957

 

Box 13

Folder 1 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1948

Folder 2 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1949

Folder 3 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1950

Folder 4 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1951

Folder 5 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1952

Folder 6 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1953

Folder 7 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1954

Folder 8 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1955

Folder 9 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1956

Folder 10 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , Downingtown, 1957

Folder 11 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , West Chester, 1954

Folder 12 – “arrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , West Chester, 1955

Folder 13 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , West Chester, 1956

Folder 14 – “Warrant”, Monthly Expense Reports for the Support of Children from Chester County Institution District , West Chester, 1957

Folder 15 – Postcard acknowledgment of payment from Office of County Treasurer, 1944-1958

Folder 16 – “Treasurer’s Report to West Chester Branch of the Chester County Children’s Aid Society”, monthly, 1956-1957

Folder 17– Record of payment, 1886-1888, n.d.

Folder 18 – Receipts, 1914-1915, 1933-1935, 1948

Folder 19 – Checks for board, payment record to caretakers, 1956-1957, n.d.

Folder 20 - “1952 Dues”, payment record

Folder 21 – Miscellaneous 

Box 14

1) Check stubs, 1919-1935 [in five bound books]

2) Cancelled checks, 1921-1934 [in eleven groups]

Box 15

1) Cancelled checks, 1934-1940

2) Check stubs, 1935-1940

Box 16

1) Cancelled checks, 1941-1957

2) Bank statements, 1941-1957

3) Notes from earlier attempt to process collection

Made Possible By: 
This project was made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission 2005