Fonds - Hamilton Orphan Asylum fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Hamilton Orphan Asylum fonds

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  • 1848-1914 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

4 volumes of textual material.

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Archival description area

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Administrative history

The Hamilton Orphan Asylum was the creation of the Ladies Benevolent Society. The Society, which was established in 1846, consisted of prominent Hamilton women who were concerned about the welfare of the poor within the city, particularly women and children. The Society held its first meeting on May 25, 1846 to discuss how to best provide for the needs of those suffering from sickness and poverty. Beginning as a soup kitchen on John Street, the charity provided relief with the help of donations from prominent citizens, churches, lodges, and other benevolent societies. During this time period, the ravages of cholera and other illnesses left many families destitute, and left numerous children orphaned. The plight of the working poor also resulted in many parents being unable to care for their children. In 1848, the Society established a day school to assist with provisions and the education of these children. With an increase in donations, the Society was able to construct the Hamilton Orphan Asylum, which was completed in 1854 and existed until 1914, when care of the children transferred to other children’s aid organizations in the city.

Custodial history

The material in the fonds was formally donated by the President of the Board of the Aged Women’s Home, Mr. Francis Malloch. Mrs. W.B. Duncan brought the donation to the Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives department (formally Special Collections), on behalf of the Board of the Aged Women’s Home, on July 16, 1958.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of 4 volumes of records pertaining to the Hamilton Orphan Asylum, including 3 volumes of Registers of Names, dated 1848 to 1869, 1848 to 1886, and 1874 to 1914, as well as a volume entitled, Record of Orphan’s Apprenticeships, dated 1881 to 1913.

Notes area

Physical condition

The volumes are fragile, and some are badly damaged with covers detached from the spine. The volumes are wrapped for preservation purposes.

Immediate source of acquisition

Mrs. W.B. Duncan


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Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Yes. Historical Documents on Microfilm Collection: Reel number 453.

Restrictions on access

The material is open to researchers. There are no restrictions on access however, researchers should use the microfilm to preserve the original materials.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Records are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on reproduction for research and private study.
Preferred citation: Hamilton Orphan Asylum fonds, 00584, Hamilton Public Library, Hamilton, Ontario.

Finding aids

File list is not applicable.

Associated materials

The following related material can be found in the Local History & Archives (LH&A) department at the Hamilton Public Library pertaining to the Hamilton Orphan Asylum fonds:

Accession Number 00017 – Aged Women’s Home fonds

Accession Number 00562 – Orphans and Orphan Asylums

CF – Hamilton – Orphans and Orphan Asylums

Houghton, Margaret. Vanished Hamilton, Vol. 4, p.81. Burlington: North Shore Publishing Inc., 2012.

Related materials


Further accruals are not expected.

General note

The records for the Aged Women’s Home and the Hamilton Orphan Asylum were donated to the Local History & Archives department at the same time. They were originally catalogued for the book collection. At a later date, they were de-accessioned from the book collection, given separate archival accession numbers, and added to the archival collection.

The names of the of the children who were registered at the asylum are listed in the Local History & Archives department card catalogue index, under the format (last name, first name).

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

The fond was processed in 2023 by Archives Technician Kelly Bucci.

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