The organization works to catalog and preserve records that document thousands of lives
“The century-old Children’s Home on Warm Springs Avenue opened as a private orphanage in 1908. It sent its last adoptee to a new family in 1968 and now provides counseling for children and families. But 6,600 adoption records amassed over six decades are still there, kept in a long row of metal cabinets in the society’s attic.
The attic is a kind of time capsule in itself, painted a 1920s-era shade of gray-green and lined with closets where young residents once stored their belongings — if they had any.
SAVING THE PAST
The society is trying to raise about $1,500 to pay for staff to finish entering names and dates from the adoption records into a database. Judi Williams, an executive assistant at the society, said she averages a call each month from a former adoptee looking for information.
Some, like Newburn, want to fill in their family medical history. Others, said Williams, “just want to know where they came from.”
In addition to getting the basic information entered in the database, the society also is trying to raise $7,000 to digitally scan the documents in every one of the files.
Some of the files date to the early 1900s, and many of the documents are brittle. Some have fading handwriting. Fire, water damage or just the natural decay of old paper could mean the end of the documents — and the loss of the stories they contain, said Beth Gregg, the society’s marketing and development director.
Saving such irreplaceable records are important to the larger community, said archivist Alan Virta, head of Special Collections at Boise State. The Children’s Home files represent people who struggled, many of them anonymously and on the fringe of society.
“The documents reveal how society dealt with orphans and families,” Virta said. “These papers give an intimate look at those lives that started out in circumstances that were less than beneficial.”
The Children’s Home Society recently applied for grants from the Idaho Humanities Council and the Harry W. Morrison Foundation to pay for the project. Neither grant panned out, and the society staff is on the lookout for other foundations whose funding guidelines match the project, said Gregg. They’re also hoping for donations from the public.”
Much more to the story than what I have included here so go read it please…
Can we collectively help? Any ideas? Finally an agency that kept the files and wants to preserve them instead of saying they were damaged in flood or fire. Thoughts?