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City Council Committee on the House of Industry records

Identifier: 0140.021

Scope and Contents note

This collection is composed primarily of reports. Some reports are from Directors of the House of Industry to the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commmon Council. These generally cover such items as property inventories, statements of receipts and expenditures, and tallies of inmates accepted and discharged. Others are from Joint Committees composed of both branches of City Council which are reporting about the House of Industry. A copy of the legislation granting authority to the Directors of the House of Industry is also included.


  • 1822-1826


Biographical/Historical note

The Town of Boston created a committee in 1821 to consider the issue of pauperism. At the time, the Boston Almshouse contained the unfortunate, the intemperant, the infirm, and also petty criminals. The committee's report in May 1821 suggested that the various types of inhabitants ought to separated. As a result, an appropriation was made for the purchase of land in South Boston, chosen as a more pastoral and healthful location than the Boston Almshouse. Construction commenced on a House of Industry, meant for the poor who were able to work. Serving on the newly appointed Committee on the House of Industry was Josiah Quincy, formerly the head of the 1821 Committee and later to become the Mayor of Boston.

In 1822 the Town of Boston became a City, and Quincy's Committee on the House of Industry reported to the City Council. It became apparent that a jurisdictional dispute existed over the management and coordination of the two institutions, the Almshouse and the House of Industry. An Act Concerning the House of Industry in the City of Boston was passed by the state legislature in February 1823 to clarify the authority of the Directors of the House of Industry. However, issues about the duties of the Board of Overseers of the Poor, the status of the Boston Almshouse, and and the transfer of residents continued to be debated in various reports and statements for two more years.

Meanwhile, the Directors of the House of Industry were authorized in 1823 to build a new House of Correction in South Boston for the vagrant and vicious poor (as contrasted with the virtuous poor who were at the House of Industry). These new institutions met with such success that the Boston Almshouse was finally sold in 1825.


0.01 Cubic feet (4 folders)

Language of Materials


Related Archival Materials note

Miscellaneous Town & City documents, 1806-1850 (0100.003)

City Council proceedings (0100.001)

Registers of House of Industry, 1857-1896 (8501.002)

Committee on the House of Industry records
Diane Pierce-Williams
March 20, 2008
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

201 Rivermoor St.
West Roxbury MA 02132 United States
617-635-1194 (Fax)