HomeFinding AidsOverseers of the Poor

Overseers of the Poor

Collection Summary

View contents here

Title  Rockingham County Overseers of the Poor Records
Collection Reference Code  OSP
Inclusive Dates 1766-1914
Extent 1 Binder consisting of 167 pages; 1 bound book consisting of 35 pages; one folder consisting of 2 letters
Creator The Overseers of the Poor for Rockingham County
Bio/Historical Note  Prior to the establishment of federal social welfare in the 1930s, poverty in America was largely a local issue. Each town or county cared for their impoverished based on the needs of their communities. While an Americanized form of English Poor Laws initially informed the practices of caring for the poor, the American institution soon developed its own practices. The Overseers of the Poor were the local officials appointed for each county tasked with the oversight and care for the poor. These men usually met once a year to discuss the taxes to be laid, the overall running of the poorhouse, and the election of new members. Rockingham County's Overseers left behind meeting minutes, annual receipts of expenses, and correspondences that reveal a great deal about social welfare in the Valley, including dynamics of gender, race, and class.
Archival History The Overseers of the Poor records have been maintained by the Rockingham County Circuit Court since their creation. 
Scope and Content  The collection is comprised of three series. The first is the Rockingham County Overseers of the Poor meeting minutes from 1787-1870. The bulk of this series can be found in the bound book with meeting minutes from 1787-1862. The remainder (1865-1870) can be found in a separate book. Series II consists of 2 folders with one correspondence letter in each, either written to or by the Overseers. Series III is comprised of Indentures of Apprenticeship, which were formal contracts created by the overseers to bind poor or orphaned children to a "master" with who they would learn a trade.
Index Terms  Poorhouses, Almshouses, Poverty--America, 19th century, Gender & American culture, Race and society
Processing Information Processed by Kayla Heslin, 2019. 
Arrangement  Documents are arranged in four series and within each series, the records are arranged chronologically and alphabetically.
Conditions Governing Acess This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.
Language English

Printable PDF version