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Institutions/Orphanages: Catholic Charities Adoption Association and St. Mary's Orphan Asylum (1853 - 1972)
RepositorySeton Hall University, Msgr. William Noe Field Archives and Special Collections Center
Collection IDADN 10.9, 10.9.1, and 10.6.2
Size8 boxes
Collection Description
Beginning in 1851 orphans in Newark, girls only, had been housed in a building on Nesbitt St. (now Central Ave.), behind St. Patrick's Cathedral. St. Mary's Orphan Asylum was founded by Bishop Bayley in 1853, the same year that the Diocese of Newark was separated from the Diocese of New York. Bayley first brought in Sisters of Charity from Mount St. Vincent's in New York to care for the children; six years later the bishop established a diocesan sisterhood with Sister Mary Xavier as mother of the new order. The orphanage was located on South Orange Avenue in the Vailsburg section of Newark for many years. In 1930 a group of lay women formed Saint Mary's Guild to assist in providing for the children. The orphanage was closed in the early 1970s.

The Catholic Charities Adoption Association (now the Family and Adoption program of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Newark) traces its roots to 1903, when a group of lay and clerical Catholics founded the Catholic Children's Aid Association (CCAA) of New Jersey. John A. Cullen, who had studied sociology at the New York School of Philanthropy, became its general secretary. He worked closely with officials of Catholic charitable organizations in Newark, until 1931, when he resigned because of ill health. Between 1903 and 1925 the CCAA reportedly served more than 25,000 families.

In 1925 Rev. Edward F. Kirk was appointed director of Catholic Charities of Newark (later Associated Catholic Charities); he was succeeded in 1930 by the Rev. Ralph J. Glover. The mission of the Associated Catholic Charities in the Depression era was to serve "families involved in a major social problem, e.g., economic, health, religious, employment, education, delinquency, morality, immigration, naturalization, domestic relations"; to offer aid and assistance in "cases of abandonment"; to advise those applying for state aid; and to deal with cases concerning "the care, placement, or welfare of children," and "unwed mothers."

NOTE: Searchable listings of "inmates" and staff at all orphans' homes in Newark in the year 1900 are available online at:
Collection Contents
The collection consists of records produced by or relating to St. Mary's Orphan Asylum, the Catholic Charities Adoption Association, and the Catholic Charities Association. Contents are as follows:

10.9 Box 1: contains a discharge register, with a few brief entries listed alphabetically (Mc-V). Each entry includes the entrance date, name of the child, age, birth place, "responsible parties," parish, date of leaving, and "where gone"; most often the responsible party was Mr. John A. Cullen of the CCAA (Catholic Charities Adoption Association) or simply the CCAA. (1914-1925)

10.9 Box 2: contains three registers. Two record information on boys and girls who entered St. Mary's Orphan Asylum (ca. 1,227 boys had entered St. Mary's by 1870, and ca. 848 girls had entered by 1880). The third is a discharge register.

The Boys Register lists entrants chronologically and also contains the following: pages 199-ca. 211, a list of boys in St. Mary's Orphan Asylum as of January 1, 1888, including birthplaces. (Most of the children were born in Newark.); page 216, a list of boys in St. Mary's Orphan Asylum as of January 1, 1889; and page 396, a list of names, with ages, of children who received First Holy Communion and Confirmation (1917).

The Girls Register (1859-1922) is a chronological register with entries that include the date of entrance, name, birth date, parish, date of leaving, and remarks; and later "where gone" and parents' address. At the back of the register is a First Communion and Confirmation list (1917).

The discharge register, labeled "Mr. John A. Cullen Boys' Register" (ca. 1855-1923) includes entries for each child that include the date of entrance, name, birth date, parish, date of leaving, remarks, and, later, the parents' address, and where taken.

[There is no box labeled 10.9 Box 3.]

10.9 Box 4: contains four ledgers:

Baptisms (1913-1951): each entry includes the name of the baptized child, year of birth and date of baptism; parents' names; sponsor(s) and priest; and remarks, which sometimes include dates of confirmation and marriage

First Holy Communion and Confirmation, by name (1958-1970)

Register of Girls and Boys (1880-1931): records discharges, arranged alphabetically; each entry includes entrance date, name, age, birth place, parish, date of leaving, "where gone"; and "responsible parties"; at the back of the book is a boys Communion list (1926, 1929) and a baptismal list (1924, 1927).

Register of Boys (1917-1931): records discharges, arranged alphabetically, with the same information as in the preceding register, a boys Communion and Confirmation list (1926), and a baptismal list (1926-1930).

10.9 Box 5: contains individual records from the Associated Catholic Charities in Newark arranged alphabetically by city and then by orphanage; the bulk of the material relates to the placement of children. Two folders relating to St. Mary's (1926-1949, 1967) contain material associated with eight cases, all opened in the 1920s, with completed application forms (name of the child and color; parents' names, names of other children and birth dates of all; parish; religion; where baptized, names and addresses of relatives; parents' address; churches, charities or other parties interested in the child's care). Some case files also include correspondence, baptismal certificates, and narrative reports regarding the placement of the children. NOTE: This box also includes files on St. Peter's Orphanage, Newark, with material on five cases opened between 1928 and 1931

Three boxes, labeled "10.9.1 Institutions/Orphanages," contain additional records of St. Mary's Orphanage. Contents are as follows:

First box: 6 folders of bills, contracts, and related correspondence regarding renovation, maintenance, insurance, etc. (1932-1959)

Second box: 2 folders of heating and maintenance bills, with related correspondence (1961-1964)

Third box: contains a volume including 10 pages of minutes of Board of Trustees meetings of St. Mary's Orphanage, 1896-1899). NOTE: the remainder of this volume consists of minutes relating to St. Michael's Hospital.

Another box, labeled "Institutions/Orphanages Arlington-Newark RG 10.6.2" contains 3 folders of material related to St. Mary's Orphanage.. Contents are as follows: legal documents regarding the incorporation of St. Mary's Orphanage (1853); St. Mary's Guild material including clippings, membership booklets with names and addresses of members, and calendars of events (1955-1970), minutes (1948-1951), programs from annual lunches held at Thomm's Restaurant in Newark (1963-1964); a centennial souvenir program (1953); and financial material including annual reports, correspondence, and minutes regarding the purchase of property on South Orange Avenue (1865-1932)
FormatTextual materials
SubjectsPoverty / Philanthropy / Charities; Religion / Churches
Time Periods19th Century; 20th Century
Access policyOpen for research