Orphan Asylums, Social Welfare Reform, Nineteenth Century Evangelical Protestantism, women in society, children, immigration, social history


Within this research, I sought to uncover the correlation between the cholera epidemic of 1848 and the establishment of the Cleveland Orphan Asylum in 1852. However, I ascertained that not only was this a practical venture to save waifs that had been orphaned due to epidemic, but it was a religious obligation rooted in antiquated Puritan beliefs of salvation. The founding couple, the Rouse family, came from Massachusetts during the Second Great Awakening and instituted sundry Sunday schools in their wake. Beginning in New York and slowly making their way to Cleveland, Ohio, they spread the gospel and created tracts and missions for the evolving city. My research outlines their direct influence in the Cleveland Protestant Orphan Asylum and its dynamic changes in the nineteenth century. Although there was a move toward scientific charity, the Rouse's original intention of reforming children in order to prevent degradation and immorality firmly rooted itself in the mission statement as the institution took a more secular name, Beech Brook. I discovered that the Cleveland Protestant Orphan Asylum of the nineteenth century was more progressive than most institutions surrounding the area, and rivaled the nuanced ideas of the Children's Aid Society in New York City. The Cleveland Protestant Orphan Asylum began placing children in the new western frontier and instituted home visiting before many contemporary institutions in the surrounding area, resulting in a fully functioning, ethical, and progressive yet deeply evangelical foster care institution.

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