Archives Guide ~ Public Welfare Department (8700)

Historical note

The Overseers of the Poor in the Town of Boston, a corporation established in 1772 by act of the Legislature, were succeeded in 1864 by the corporation called “Overseers of the Poor in the City of Boston. In 1921, the name of the corporation was changed to Overseers of the Public Welfare. In 1954, the official name of the department was changed to the Welfare Department. The Overseers of the Public Welfare are also incorporated as a Board of Trustees of John Boylston’s and other charitable funds.

The Welfare Department was abolished as a municipal agency by Chapter 658 of the Acts of 1967; but the Overseers of the Public Welfare as a corporation continues to function as custodian of the permanent charity funds, the annual income from which is distributed in accordance with the terms of the donations.



8700.001 Annual reports 1891, 1952, 1964 3 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Includes "Annual Report of the Overseers of the Poor" for 1891; "Annual Report of the Overseers of the Public Welfare" for 1952 and 1964.  Annual reports can also be found in the City Documents series



8710 Overseers of the Poor


8710.001 "The Overseers of the Poor of the City of Boston, to their Constituents" 1823 November 23 1 pamphlet

Scope and Contents note
Pamphlet published in 1823 by the Overseers of the Poor, providing their account of the controversy between the Overseers and the City Council pertaining to the authority over the Almshouse and the new House of Industry.



8720 Temporary Home for Women and Children

Historical note
The Temporary Home for Women and Children was established in 1857. The Central Charity Bureau and Temporary Home at Chardon, Hawkins and Bowker Streets was completed in 1868 and rebuilt in 1926. By Ordinance passed March 5, 1869, the Overseers of the Poor were given charge of the Charity Building and Temporary Home. The Home afforded a temporary abode for women and children, and provided single meals for men. Presently, the New Chardon Temporary Home for Women and Children remains in operation as a shelter under the charge of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. The building is owned by the City of Boston.


8720.001 Records 1857-1993 53 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Includes registers of inmates admitted, 1857-1993 with gaps; monthly report of inmates, 1878-1893; expenditures, 1864-1893; and administrative records.

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