Category Archives: Social services

‘Humane officer’ report, April 1904

Charles Stone (1847?-1911) was appointed Springfield’s first humane officer in November 1903. The position was part of the Springfield Police Department, and the humane officer had all the powers of any other police officer, but with the special duty of … Continue reading

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New Deal projects, 1930s

Thousands of people clogged downtown Springfield on June 30, 1939, celebrating the fact that streetcar tracks no longer crisscrossed Monroe Street. The giant festival, which included three bands, a jitterbug contest and appearances by city officials, was the climax of … Continue reading

Posted in Arts and letters, Buildings, Celebrations, Depression, Local government, Social services, Transportation | 2 Comments

Washington Hall, 1922-26

In the 1920s, the Washington Street Mission operated a rehabilitation center for young prostitutes in what now (2018) is the Chesapeake Seafood House. The facility closed in 1926, with no publicity and no explanation. Fifty years later, however, the mission’s … Continue reading

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Carrie Post King’s Daughters Home for Women

The Carrie Post King’s Daughters Home for Women opened on Oct. 7, 1895 with five women already in residence, room for four more, and a cow. It also had the support of hundreds of local church women, a unique force … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Prominent figures, Social services, Women | 5 Comments

Douglass Community Center

The Douglass Community Center offered civic, social and educational opportunities to African-American residents of Springfield when most similar organizations were closed to blacks. The Douglass center (apparently named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass) opened in 1926. It was phased out as … Continue reading

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Centennial Co-Operative Educational Congress, 1918

Black Springfieldians observed Illinois’ 100th anniversary in 1918 with a three-day conference examining the status, progress and prospects of the state’s African-American community. Some 3,000 people attended the Centennial Co-Operative Educational Congress, held Sept. 22-24, 1918, at the Illinois State … Continue reading

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‘Poor House Rules’ — the drawings of Alfred S. Harkness

Alfred S. Harkness (1866-1941) was an artist, illustrator and engraver whose specialty — at least for part of the time he lived in Springfield — was public health illustration. Harkness had been a member of the artist staff of the … Continue reading

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Sangamon County Jail conditions, 1847 (Dorothea Dix)

Social reformer Dorothea Dix wrote the following letter – Dix characterized similar communications as “memorials” — to the Sangamo Journal and Illinois State Register on Feb. 19, 1847. It was published in the March 4, 1847 edition of the Journal. … Continue reading

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Sangamon County Poor Farm

Sangamon County first created a home to care for the poor, feeble, disabled and mentally ill in 1851, four years after famed social reformer Dorothea Dix wrote a scathing commentary about the county’s practice of keeping paupers and the insane in the … Continue reading

Posted in Local government, Medicine, Public health, Sangamon County, Social services | 5 Comments

Springfield Library Association

The forerunner of today’s Lincoln Library was the Springfield Library Association, a private library supported by membership dues and donation. (Lincoln Library, Springfield’s public library, should not be confused with the state-operated Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.) But even its creation, … Continue reading

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