Fonds - Aged Women's Home fonds

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Aged Women's Home fonds

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  • 1846-1946 (Creation)

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Administrative history

The Aged Women’s Home 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. As more organizations emerged to care for poor and orphaned children, the Society began to solely concentrate its attention on aged and infirm women. Through volunteering in the community, members of the Society witnessed first-hand how elderly, poor and infirm women with few resources and family supports, were left destitute and unable to provide for themselves in their old age, due to a lack of pensions, as well as poor wages during their working lives that left little room for retirement savings. By 1877, the doors of the Aged Women’s Home on Wellington Street opened in downtown Hamilton in the former Hamilton Orphan Asylum, which was also established by the Society. The building transitioned from the care of orphans to the care of elderly women through renovations that altered and enlarged it to fit their specific needs. As donations and support increased over the years, a new residence was opened in 1958 and renamed Idlewyld Manor in 1963. In 2004, a new, modern building was constructed on the west mountain, which still exists today, and which is now home to both male and female residents.

Custodial history

The material 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 (formerly Special Collections), on behalf of the Board of the Aged Women's Home, on July 16, 1958.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of 13 volumes of minute books of the Ladies Benevolent Society, the parent organization of the Aged Women's Home and the Hamilton Orphan Asylum. The minute books date from 1846-1946 and include transactions of society business as well as the names of some women admitted to the facility. There are also minutes detailing the relief efforts of the Benevolent Society from 1854-1904.

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Physical condition

All volumes are in fair condition with the exception of one.

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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: Aged Women’s Home fonds, 00017, Hamilton Public Library, Hamilton, Ontario.

Finding aids

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 Aged Women’s Home fonds:

Accession Number 00584 – Hamilton Orphan Asylum fonds

Idlewyld, Aged Women’s Home Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings, 1887-2004, R362.615Id4

CF – Hamilton – Hospitals – Aged Women’s Home

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. Some of the volumes were originally labeled as the Hamilton Orphan Asylum, but they are actually the minutes of the Ladies Benevolent Society and pertain to the Aged Women’s Home, with some references to the Hamilton Orphan Asylum.

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The fonds was processed in 2023 by Archives Technician Kelly Bucci

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