Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MC 400

Records of the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children, 1864-1986


Legal documents, correspondence, histories of the home, etc., of the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children in Dedham, Massachusetts.


  • Creation: 1864-1986

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Unrestricted. Folders 4-12 are closed; use microfilm M-130.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1.25 linear feet (3 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder,1 reel of microfilm (M-130)

This collection contains legal documents relating to the home, including the constitution, by-laws, incorporation papers, bequests, and property deeds; short histories of the home and its founder; financial records; reports and correspondence concerning its reorganization in 1910; board and annual meeting minutes; and published annual reports. Although the Schlesinger Library's set of annual reports is far from complete, the reports as filmed (M- 130) are almost complete for 1864-1945, with one gap. Two bound volumes borrowed from the Dedham Historical Society cover the years 1864-1910. The one omission is 1912, which either was never issued or has been lost.

There is little documentation of individual clients of the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children.


The Temporary Asylum for Discharged Female Prisoners (TADFP) was incorporated on 30 April 1864, its object being "to provide shelter, instruction, and employment for such women as have been discharged from the Correction Institutions of the State, and who, with a desire to reform, have no home but the abode of vice and misery." Located in Dedham, Massachusetts, the asylum came into existence largely through the efforts of Hannah Balch Chickering. The youngest of seven children born to Jabez Chickering and Dorothy Deborah Alleyne Chickering, Hannah Balch Chickering, through her experience as a "self-appointed visitor, librarian, and chaplain" to women at the Dedham Jail, was convinced of the "imperative need" to prepare inmates for their return to society while they served their sentences. Instruction was given at the asylum in "all branches of domestic service and needlework" and in the basic elements of a "common school education," and arrangements were made to find employment for the inmates after leaving the asylum. Initially the asylum was supported by voluntary subscriptions, the earnings of the inmates, and a small appropriation by the state; legacies later created an endowment.

Extending her interest to the reform of penal institutions, Hannah Balch Chickering visited prisons across the state, and in 1870 served on an advisory board to investigate and suggest improvements in the management of state prisons. One recommendation was the establishment of separate jails for women, and in 1877 the Reformatory for Women was opened at Sherborn. Other reforms included a "ticket of leave," the forerunner of the present parole system, and an indenture law (1879) giving inmates the opportunity to live in private homes.

With prisons putting into practice many of the policies of the asylum, it was decided, in 1910, to amend the charter, changing the name to the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children, and the function to another form of social service: the convalescent care of women and children. About this time the home also became known as Chickering House, in memory of its founder; the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children remained its legal name, however. In 1943 the Charter was further amended to include care for men. In 1946 funding from the Greater Boston Community Federation was suspended and Chickering House was therefore closed. Income on the endowment continues to provide convalescent aid through disbursements to established charitable agencies and social service departments of hospitals.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 87-M33, 90-M135

These records of the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children were given to the Schlesinger Library in February 1987 by the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children.


  1. Reports for 1864-1910 were filmed from bound volumes lent to the Schlesinger Library for this purpose by the Dedham Historical Society. Reports for 1911-1945 were filmed from separate volumes in the library's collection.
  2. Blank pages, and covers of reports that contain only information duplicated on the respective title pages, were not filmed.


  1. Box 1: Folders 1-3, 12a-17
  2. Box 2: Folders 4-12
  3. Box 3: Folders 18-27, 29-31

Processing Information

Reprocessed: April 1990

By: Alison Ernst

Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children. Records of the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children, 1864-1986: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Annual reports, 1864-1945, were microfilmed in April 1990 with funds provided by the Dedham Temporary Home for Women and Children and the Friends of the Schlesinger Library. The records were processed with a grant from Clara Goldberg Schiffer.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

3 James St.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA