Ohio History Journal

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74                                                          OHIO HISTORY


and midwestern conditions.4 Moreover, there survives an excellent

combination of materials describing the topic in the state documents,

which outline the structure of public finance and inspection, in the

BOSC reports (written by Byers), which graphically portray condi-

tions in the institutions and conflicts between local governments and

the state authorities, and in Albert Byers's own diaries and a brief

but interesting file of letters sent to him in his official capacity.5 When

these materials are used in conjunction with the annual reports of the

National Conference of Charities and Correction, it becomes possible

to reconstruct what we think is an illustrative portrait of the formative

period of state welfare.

The bill creating the Ohio Board of State Charities in 1867 was ad-

vocated by Republican Party reformers who controlled state politics

for the better part of two decades, beginning in 1855 with Salmon P.

Chase's election as governor.6 Three-time governor, and later Presi-

dent, Rutherford B. Hayes was the other major figure in this group.

The reform faith that the state should encourage education, relieve

disease, reform the wayward and aid the victims of war had pro-

duced a substantial number of institutions by the end of the Civil

War. Three insane asylums, a penitentiary, a blind asylum, a reform

school for boys, a deaf and dumb asylum, and an institution for the

"idiotic" were in operation while a fourth insane asylum, a soldiers'

home, and a soldiers and sailors' orphans home were about to open.

There was active discussion on the need for a girls' reform school



4. Few southern states created charity inspection authorities before 1900, largely

because the number of institutions to inspect was so small. By the late 1920s, however,

with southern urbanization and industrialization well underway, Sophonisba P. Breck-

inridge reported "central supervisory authority" in all but three states (Mississippi,

Nevada and Utah) and everywhere a trend toward increasing the coercive power of this

authority. See Sophonisba P. Breckenridge, "Frontiers of Control in Public Welfare Ad-

ministration," Social Service Reviews, 1 (1927), 84-99. For further evidence of Ohio's typ-

icality see Robert H. Bremner, ed., Children and Youth in America, I (Cambridge, 1970),

639-50; Ibid., II. 250-58: Sophonisba P. Breckinridge, ed., Public Welfare Administration

in the United States: Selected Documents, Second Edition (Chicago, 1938), 237-364.

5. A series of diaries belonging to Byers are in box 5 of the Janney Family Papers,

Ohio Historical Society (OHS). He seems to have used them as an aide-memoire and

they consist largely of brief factual entries and a meticulous detailing of expenses. Subse-

quently, some of them were used for other purposes, the 1864 volume, for example, for

press clippings from 1868. These in turn have been annotated, probably much later to

judge from the hand. See also notes 21 and 37.

6. Ohio. Laws. LXIV (1867) 257-58: Ohio. House Journal (1867), 624. Ohio was the

third state to establish a charity board, following Massachusetts (1863) and New York

(earlier in 1867). Seven other states (North Carolina, Illinois, Rhode Island, Wisconsin,

Michigan, Connecticut and Kansas) followed suit by 1873. For an excellent summary of

the various circumstances shaping the development of these boards, see Gerald N.

Grob, Mental Institutions in America: Social Policy to 1875 (New York, 1973), 270-92.