|House of Refuge, Randall's Island, New York 1853|
In the early 1800s port cities in the United States bore the burdens of immigration. By the time immigrants arrived from their native country, many were tired, hungry, and poor. Many newly arrived immigrants ended up in the City Almshouse or Poorhouse. This meant the citizens of their new country had to take care of them.
New York City assumed responsibility for its citizens who were destitute, sick, homeless, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. The city maintained an almshouse (sometimes labeled a house of refuge), various hospitals, and a workhouse on Blackwell's Island (Roosevelt Island) to care for the poor. Some were admitted on a voluntary basis, others were sent by the local courts. There are many widows or single women. These women had no families to support them and had no recourse except to ask the city for help for themselves or their children. Abandoned children can also be found in these records.
Almshouse records for New York City exist from 1758 to 1953. Olive Tree Genealogy has an ongoing project to transcribe and publish all New York Almshouse Records that contain immigration information.
Project Number One
The first set of New York Almshouse admittance records is for the years 1782 to 1813.New York Almshouse Records 1782-1813.
The records contain the name of the person, date admitted, age, where from or born, complaint [illness], discharged, died, remarks.
Project Number Two
This set of New York Almshouse Admissions covers the years 1819-1840
These records include Name, Age, Place of birth, Ship Name, Where the person is from, Ship Captain's Name, Date of Bond, Sureties, Date Discharged, Death Date, Remarks, etc. Remarks often include genealogical details
Project Number Three
The third set of Almshouse admission records for New York city is for 1855-1858
It contains the following information: Name, age, country of origin, date of arrival, arrival port, departure port, name of ship, captain of ship, married or single, name of someone who knows them, how many times they have been on the island, and a section for remarks.
|Page from 1855 Almshouse Records|
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. "House Of Refuge, Randall'S Island." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1853. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-d364-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99