Boston Public Library
Rare Books and Manuscripts Department Finding Aid
Massachusetts Charitable Societies Records, 1876
Title: Massachusetts Charitable Societies Records
Span Dates: 1876
MS No: Ms. 825-864
Creator: Centennial Volumes of Benevolent Institutions
Extent: .5 cubic ft.
Language: Material is in English.
Abstract: This collection documents forty-seven charitable societies that existed
throughout the state of Massachusetts in 1876. Statements from the various societies
provide information regarding their individual history, purpose, patrons, finances and
Gift from the Philadelphia Free Library, 1943.
Finding aid prepared by Laura Hoff, November 2009.
Massachusetts Charitable Societies Records. Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston
Public Library/Rare Books.
Open for research.
Association for the Relief of Aged Women of New Bedford, est. 1866.
Bethesda Society, Boston, est. 1818.
Boston Children’s Friend Society, est. 1833.
Boston Diet Kitchen, est. 1874.
Boston Fatherless and Widow’s Society, est. 1817.
Catholic Charities of Massachusetts.
St. Ann’s Infant Asylum and Lying-in Hospital, Boston, est. 1864.
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Boston, no date.
St. John’s Hospital, Lowell, est. 1864.
St. Joseph’s Home for Females, Boston, no date.
St. Peter’s School and Orphan Asylum, Lowell, no date.
Female Auxiliary Bible Society, Boston and Vicinity, est. 1814.
Fragment Society, Boston, est. 1812.
Haverhill Female Benevolent Society, est. 1818.
Holly Tree Coffee Rooms, Boston and Cambridge, est. 1870.
Home for Friendless Women and Children, Springfield, est. 1865.
Ladies’ Association in the Congregational Society, Peabody, est. 1843.
Ladies’ Benevolent Society, Peabody, est. 1814.
Ladies’ Education Society of Leicester, est. 1852.
Ladies’ Tenement Association of Gloucester, no date.
Ladies’ Union Charitable Society of Lawrence, no date.
Lowell Home for Young Women and Children
(Young Women’s Christian Association), est. 1873.
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Boston, est. 1867.
New Bedford Orphan’s Home, est. 1843.
Newburyport Female Charitable Society, est.1803.
Society for the Relief of Aged Females, est. 1835.
Ladies’ General Charitable Society, no date.
Newburyport Bethel Society, no date.
Freedmen’s Aid Society, no date.
Old Ladies’ Home, Lowell, est. 1867.
Peabody Woman’s Missionary Society, est. 1871.
Plymouth Fragment Society, est. 1818.
Salem Female Charitable Society, est. 1804.
Seamen’s Orphan and Children’s Friend Society, Salem, est. 1839.
Society for the Employment of Bible Readers, Boston, est. 1868.
Taunton Female Charitable Association, est. 1815.
Union Maternal Association, Boston, est. 1860.
Washburn Home for Aged Women, Worcester, est. 1869.
Widow’s Society, Boston, est. 1816.
Worcester Children’s Friend Society, est. 1849.
Woman’s Baptist Missionary Society, Newton Centre, 1871.
Woman’s Board of Missionaries, Boston, est. 1868.
Woman’s Education Association of Boston, est. 1872.
Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church,
Boston, est. 1869.
Woman’s Union Missionary Society of America, for Heathen Lands, Boston, est. 1860.
Women’s Christian Association, New Bedford, est. 1869.
Women’s Union, Fall River, est. 1874 .
Scope and Content Note
This collection documents the history of forty-seven charitable societies that were in
existence throughout Massachusetts in the nineteenth century. The statements were
written by society members in response to a survey of benevolent institutions conducted
in honor of the nation’s centennial. The reports contain a varying degree of detail;
however, common subjects include the founding of the organization, brief histories, the
particular needs addressed by the charity, financial information, and accomplishments.
The associations were founded between 1803 and 1874.
Among the charities represented is the Holly Tree Coffee Rooms in Boston and
Cambridge which advocated temperance. The rooms were founded in 1870 to provide an
alternative to whiskey shops for working men and women, and to offer healthy meals at
low costs. The Lowell Home for Young Women and Children, originally theYoung
Women’s Christian Association and Home, provided shelter for young women obliged to
care for themselves, and offered day care for their children while they were at work. The
statement from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
details the efforts of Mrs. William Appleton, the primary force behind the creation and
chartering of this society in Boston. The statement includes a copy of the original petition
for the creation of the organization and official letterhead with the names of the directors
and officers in 1876.
Other institutions include the Seamen’s Orphan and Children’s Friend Society in Salem
which provided a home for orphaned children or children whose parents were temporarily
unable to care for them. The record of the Society for the Employment of Bible Readers
documents the history and object of the organization, which employed to read to sick and
poor residents. Also reflected is the progress of the society and its fundraising methods.
The statement of the Woman’s Union Missionary Society of America, for Heathen
Lands, details the inspiration for and the formation of the society. It contains the plans
and methods of the organization as well as narratives of the first two missionary projects
in India and Japan. The society claims to be the first missionary group operated solely by
women, and much of their work in other nations focused on women and girls.
As of 2009, a number of the organizations are still operating in Massachusetts. For
instance, the Association for the Relief of Aged Women of New Bedford, Catholic
Charities of Massachusetts – particularly St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the Fragment Society
of Boston, the Haverhill Female Benevolent Society, the Ladies’ Union Charitable
Society of Lawrence (as Lawrence General Hospital), and the Massachusetts Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In addition, the following charities are also
operating: the Ladies’ Home of Lowell (as the Merrimack River Valley House), the
Plymouth Fragment Society, the Seamen’s Orphan and Children’s Friend Society in
Salem (as Children’s Friend and Family Services), the Taunton Female Charitable
Association, the Washburn Home for Aged Women in Worcester (as Washburn House),
Widow’s Society in Boston (as S.W.A.N. Society), Massachusetts Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Women’s Union in Fall River.
Organization of the Papers
The records are organized alphabetically by city.
Folder Contents Dates
1 Boston A-M 1876
2 Boston N-Z 1876
3 Fall River – Lowell 1876
4 New Bedford – Plymouth 1876
5 Salem-Worcester 1876