This collection is an excellent resource for the study of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century charitable organizations. Established by a colonial act in 1692, the Boston Overseers of the Poor provided relief in the form of food, fuel, medicines, and sometimes money, to "deserving" persons, provided that they were "settled" in Boston. The Overseers also provided relief at the expense of towns where needy people resided until the town took charge of them and also provided relief to non-state residents for short periods until they were removed to State Almshouses.
By the mid-nineteenth century the Overseers were in charge of the Charity Building in Boston, a headquarters for numerous charitable organizations, the Temporary Home for Women and Children, and the Wayfarer's Lodge for destitute men. The Overseers also served as trustees for various charitable trusts. While at one time, the Overseers were responsible for all types of relief, in 1823 their responsibilities were limited to relief provided outside of public institutions.
The Administrative Records in this collection cover the period 1738-1916 and contain financial records, warning out books, memoranda, letterbooks, correspondence, casebooks, and lists of persons receiving various types of charity.
The Almshouse Records, which cover the period 1735-1911, include admissions and discharge registers, list of inmates, death records, indenture records, and memoranda.
The Temporary Home Records cover the period 1862-1925 and contain admissions registers, children and foundling records, and registers of adoptions.
In additon, the Boston Overseers of the Poor Records also include City of Boston accounts of payments to various charities, lists of Boston residents, miscellaneous legal material and miscellaneous material from 1733-1901.
Number of rolls: 15