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COLLECTION Identifier: 174

Records of the Rutland Corner House, 1877-1955


Annual reports, minutes, financial records, etc., of Rutland Corner House (Boston, Mass.), organized in 1877 as the Home for Working Women.


  • 1877-1955

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Researchers must sign a special permission form to use the collection. Folders to which access would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy are restricted as noted and records of former residents of Rutland Corner House are closed for 80 years from the last date within each folder or resident identification card.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Rutland Corner House are 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. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures. Copies of the Records may not be deposited in other institutions.


7.74 linear feet (10 + 1/2 file boxes, 8 card file boxes)

This collection covers the period from the establishment of the House in 1877 through the changeover to an urban halfway house. For a more detailed history of the House, and an extensive treatment of Rutland Corner House as a halfway house, the reader is referred to Halfway House, by David Landy and Milton Greenblatt.

The Rutland Corner House Records cover the period 1877-1955, and are arranged according to offices in the organization.

Annual reports contain items such as condensed financial statements, rules of the House and results of the House's activities, list of agencies using the House, Board of Managers and its officers, and reports of the Board of Managers.

Visitors' Books contain monthly reports written by members of the Board of Managers who made evaluative visits to the House. Entries include conditions of cleanliness, interpersonal relationships, staff evaluations, information on current boarders, and reports on the House's industries. Volumes 41-44 are redacted copies; the originals are closed for 80 years from the last date in each volume.

The client card file contains a card for each woman who stayed overnight in the House. The cards contain name, age, address, birthplace, occupation, religion, list of family members, evaluative remarks, date of admission and discharge, and recommending agency. Reports from other agencies are also included in this file; these reports are sometimes filed with the client's card, and sometimes are filed in the box for the year in which they arrived. UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED; CLOSED FOR 80 YEARS FROM LAST DATE ON RESIDENT CARD.

Recording Secretary minute books contain minutes for annual, monthly, and special meetings. They also contain monthly results of the House's operation, list of house visitors appointed for each month, and staff salaries.

In September 2009, three files and one volume (#80-82 and volume 55) containing documents that filled gaps in the holdings were added to this collection. Transferred from subsequent accessions, they have been listed within the existing intellectual arrangement; they are boxed at the end of the collection in the newly-created Box 17.


In May 1877, a group of citizens established the "Home for Working Women" at 327 Tremont Street in Boston, to provide a place where "women desirous of making an honest living, but penniless and friendless, may find shelter and employment until able to secure a permanent position." A laundry and sewing room were set up so that inmates could gain useful training while contributing to the cost of their room and board. Incorporated under the name of "Temporary Home for Working Women" in 1878, the House served not only as a temporary haven for girls newly arrived from places like Maine and the Canadian Maritime Provinces, but also as a friendly community to which they could turn in time of sickness, loneliness, or unemployment. The House was administered by a Board of Managers, who paid a Matron and her assistants to live in and superintend the House.

In 1881 the House changed quarters to 126 Pleasant Street, continuing to help four hundred to one thousand women annually under its motto, "Help those who want to help themselves."

In 1886 a permanent building was purchased at 453 Shawmut Avenue, at the corner of Rutland Street. The House, about one-half self-supporting, had a firm policy concerning inmates. One of the House Matron's tasks was to assist inmates in finding jobs. If a suitable place was found for an inmate, she had to take it whether she liked it or not, unless she herself had found something better. A woman could not remain in the House for longer than a month without special permission, nor could she return within a period of six months. Mothers with babies under two years old were admitted, but for a few days only. The three prerequisites for admission were "poverty, respectability, and ability to work." Most inmates were referred through social agencies, although some were accepted directly from the streets. In 1925 the name of the House was changed to Rutland Corner House.

In the early 1920's the House discontinued its industries because of the postwar boom. The capable women who had previously carried on the industries no longer had need of the House's services. The Board became disturbed because of an increase in "undesirable types" among the inmates, but eventually became used to the House's new function of serving primarily as temporary lodging for girls and women awaiting final placement by various agencies. This changed composition of inmates continued through the 1940's and early '50's, as can be seen from a typical Annual Report of this period: "Among those helped were unmarried mothers, psychopathic cases, those discharged from hospitals, young runaways, and court cases."

With the increasing specialization of social service agencies, it was felt the House served too varied a clientele to be as effective as it might be. A 1952 study stimulated consultation on future direction with many agencies who frequently referred cases to the House. In 1953 the Board voted that the House become a transitional residence for women psychiatric patients. The Board of Managers continued its function; the Matron was replaced by a trained social worker, an associate director, and housekeeper.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 70-41

The archives of Boston's Rutland Corner House were given to the Schlesinger Library in March 1970, by Mrs. Herbert P. Gleason on behalf of Rutland Corner House.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Additional records of Rutland Corner House (Boston, Mass.), 1950-1995 (inclusive), 1955-1975 (bulk) (MC 605).


The following item has been removed from the collection and catalogued separately:

  1. Halfway House, A Sociocultural and Clinical Study of Rutland Corner House, a Transitional Aftercare Residence for Female Psychiatric Patients, by David Landy and Milton Greenblatt.


  1. Box 1: folders 1-5, vols. 1-35
  2. Box 2: vols. 36-41
  3. Box 3: folders 6-10, vols. 42-44
  4. Box 4: folders 11-24
  5. Box 5: folders 25-32, vol. 45
  6. Box 6: folders 33-46, vol. 46
  7. Boxes 7-12: See Inventory
  8. Box 13: folders 47-56
  9. Box 14: folders 57-68
  10. Box 15: folders 69-78, vols. 47-50
  11. Box 16: folder 24a, 79, vols. 51-54
  12. Box 17: folders 80-82, vol. 55

Processing Information

Processed: March 1972

By: Cheryl Ann Crandall

Updated: September 2009

By: Stacey Flatt

Rutland Corner House (Boston, Mass.). Records of the Rutland Corner House, 1877-1955: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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.

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