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The Penn Libraries provides access to numerous records of and about charitable institutions. There are three convenient ways to search. Remember to consider what sources are available before choosing a topic. If you choose a very specific institution for which there are no sources because they burned in a 19th century fire, then you're in trouble.
- Search the catalog. Search the catalog by author using the name of a specific institution or words that you would expect to find in the author field. The catalog results will include links to documents that are authored or published by these institutions. Remember, books that are not available online can often be mailed to you through the Books by Mail service.
- Subject specific databases include extensive records of specific institutions. These records are often more extensive than anything you can find outside a physical special collection or archive. Remember that you have to work with what is available.
- Large corpus databases include thousands or millions of full text documents. Think Google Books. Search these databases intelligently and you can find fantastic resource. Search them casually and you might be overwhelmed with useless titles.
Primary Source Records in the Library Catalog
Databases Specifically Relating to Charities
Jewish Life in America
Includes Records of the Baron de Hirsch Fund (1819-1991). Founded by financier and philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch, the Fund existed to provide support for Jewish immigrants on their arrival in the U.S. In addition to providing access to basic education and immediate temporary work at ports or in urban centres, the Fund also established agricultural and trade schools to teach useful skills.
Poverty, Philanthropy and Social Conditions in Victorian England
Includes settlement House periodicals and reports from the British Library as well as correspondence of the Poor Law Commission.
African American Historical Serials
click on the “publications” link at the top of the page. There are no fewer than 25 series of annual reports of philanthropic organizations such as “Annual Report of the House of S. Michael & All Angels for Young Colored Cripples”
Child Welfare and Reform: Records from the Ministry of Health and Department of Health and Social Security.
This collection comprises manuscript records pertaining to ten reformatory and industrial schools in the United Kingdom. From the mid-nineteenth century, children who were orphaned or otherwise abandoned were often sent to industrial schools in order to learn skills that would make them useful in the workforce. Children who had been convicted of crimes were regularly sent to reformatory schools after stints in prison.
Among the manuscripts included in this collection are “rules and regulations” documents. For example, in the Glamorganshire Reformatory School file, the document specifies that “boys are admitted under the Reformatory Schools Act, 1866, being between the ages of ten and fifteen years, and having been either previously convicted or of known criminal habits, and being mentally and physically fit for work.” Also spelled out in the document are the daily menus and hours spent on schoolwork (dependent on harvest schedules), recreation and exercise, religious instruction, and physical labor.