Monday, December 7, 2020

The Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum

Whatever Happened to Birdie Shine?

Caring for the Children At

The Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum, and its predecessors, 1867-1923

©Edward C. Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist, Retired

Pupils in Pleasant Green School - Pocahontas County--Marlinton, West Virginia

/ Photo by L.W. Hine, 1921, Library of Congress digital files, nclc 04343

(1921, October)

There are no known images of the children cared for at the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum

What obligation society has for children whose parents, for whatever reason, cannot care for them is a matter of long standing debate in the United States. Until the end of the 19th century it was a subject about which, for the most part, private religious based organizations concerned themselves, providing varying degrees of care, the most extensive and expensive of which was the creation of orphanages, the second homes that Timothy A. Hasci studies in his book on Orphan Asylums and Poor Families in America.[1] There have been a number of studies that have examined the history of orphanages in the era of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum (1867-1923) but few have looked carefully, or even mentioned the Hopkins experiment. They include Nurith Zamora, Orphanages Reconsidered: Child Care Institutions in Progressive Era Baltimore. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994, and Richard B. McKenzie, Home Away from Home: The Forgotten History of Orphanages, New York: Encounter Books, 2009, neither of which refer to the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum.[2] Marcy K. Wilson, "Dear Little Living Arguments": Orphans and Other Poor Children, Their Families and Orphanages, Baltimore and Liverpool, 1840-1910. College Park, Md: University of Maryland, 2009, is an exception, but she does not attempt to identify the residents or provide an assessment of their care.[3]

By the end of the 19th Century orphanages were being challenged by the advocates of foster care and social services who ultimately triumphed.[4] Public ownership and management of institutions for the care of poor children tended to be for those who were considered ungovernable and possibly criminal (“offenders”), such as the House of Reformation for Colored Boys (1870), at Cheltenham, Maryland, and the Melvale Industrial School for Colored Girls (1882), which began as a private facility designed to manage and discipline colored girls who did not voluntarily conform to the religious and legal mores of the day. Melvale became a fully funded state Institution in 1931 and was moved out of the city, but in the years that the Johns Hopkins Colored Asylum was admitting residents, it was a private institution located just over the Jones Falls on Melvale Avenue, later Cold Spring Lane, not far from the Asylum. Over the years nine of the girls who did not follow the Asylum regimen gracefully were transferred there.[5] As the 1904 Hospital Superintendent’s report explained: “One girl was committed to the Industrial Home for Colored Children at Melvale because the Committee found that her influence was not good for the general welfare at the Asylum.”[6]

Through special acts of the Maryland General Assembly, and City appropriations, some orphanages in Baltimore City received annual subsidies. After 1915, State subsidies were considerably reduced or eliminated with the reorganization of State Government as recommended by a commission headed by the President of Johns Hopkins, Frank Goodnow.[7] The Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum received neither a state subsidy or city support, save for free water until 1901 when the city began to charge,[8] but those who graduated to domestic service in the city in the last years of the Asylum’s support may have benefited from a little known program of the City Health Department which by 1931 was offering a day nursery “in the colored residential section. It is operated primarily to meet the needs of colored mothers who work as domestic servants. There are accommodations for about 35 children who as a rule range in age from two month to twelve years. The regular personnel consists of one resident nurse and three attendants.” [9]

Johns Hopkins University through students like Jeffrey Brackett, and the Johns Hopkins Hospital through its Social Services department was in the forefront of developing foster care (“placed out”), and the social services outreach approach to caring for destitute and neglected children regardless of color.[10] Jeffrey Brackett not only wrote a thesis on “The Negro In maryland: A study of the Institution of Slavery,” he was a pioneer advocate of medical social services and a founding head of what would become the Simmons College School of Social Work.[11] Five years before the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum’s move to 31st Street, he published his Notes on the Progress of the Colored People of Maryland since the War (1890), a remarkable study of the racial prejudices of the day, and in 1897 he chaired a special Baltimore City Commission on the “Care of Certain City Poor,” which, with a dissent from the lawyer who represented the then private Melvale Industrial School for Colored Girls, advocated giving the Trustees of the Poor greater funding and the power to allocate support for the care of the children of the poor, either in their homes, in foster care (“placed out”), or in carefully selected private institutions.[12]

By the 1970s orphanages had all but disappeared nationwide, replaced by foster care and direct subsidies to mothers to help care for their children. In the 1990s the Gingrich revolution abolished direct Federal payments to mothers and a number of Conservatives called for the re-establishment of orphanages, but that was not to be. Instead the national debate today has centered largely on only one aspect of childcare, the health of the child, while social service agencies remain overwhelmed by those they have identified as being in need of assistance and find themselves without sufficient political support to sustain, or more importantly, increase their funding.[13]

Following the Civil War the most acute problems of neglected child care were centered in the urban areas to which former slaves sought refuge and immigrants arrived in large numbers to seek their freedom and fortune. Baltimore was no exception. By 1910 there were 36 institutions in Maryland caring for orphans (generally defined as having a single parent or no parent living), of which 29 were located in Baltimore City. Of the 29, 6 admitted “colored,” for a total of 376 “colored” children on the rolls that year of which 61 (16.2%) were residents of the Johns Hopkins Colored Asylum. How many children of all ‘shades’ needed help but did not get it is almost impossible to determine. The records of private and public institutions devoted to the care of neglected children are uneven and sparse, and estimating the number of children over time who were in dire need of public and private support is a challenge. The 1897 Baltimore City Commission created to look into the “Care of Certain City Poor” simply threw up their hands and made it clear that determining “the exact number of children dependent on the city is practically impossible.” Instead they proposed without success that the City Trustees of the Poor should be empowered and well funded to determine the numbers and the need. Even the United States Census Bureau which tried to determine the extent of the care of poor children between 1880 and 1910 could not come up with any meaningful indication of how many children needed public and private attention.[14]

In 1870 the Twenty-First Annual Report of the Baltimore Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor noted that it had reached out to 2,937 families of which 357 or a little over 12% were “colored.” To place that in context, the estimated total number of colored families in Baltimore in 1870 was about 6,000 which indicates that at least 6% of the families who were designated ‘colored’ were in dire need of assistance that year. One of the Vice Presidents of the Association was particularly concerned about the care of the colored orphans in the city and he came up with his own estimate of the need, perhaps based upon what he had learned from his role in the management of the Baltimore Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor whose motto was “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver.”[15]

When that vice president of the association, Johns Hopkins, died on Christmas Eve, 1873, he left his fortune to education and health care, including the care of 3-400 colored orphans who were to be provided for by the income of $20,000 a year from property he left to support the orphanage, as well as a hospital, and a university. [16]

Johns Hopkins outlined what he intended in a letter written to his trustees ten months before he died and which was published by the Trustees.


It will be your duty, hereafter, to provide for the erection, upon other ground, of suitable buildings for the reception, maintenance and education of orphan colored children.

I direct you to provide accommodation for three or four hundred children of this class; and you are also authorized' to receive into this asylum, at your discretion, as belonging to such class, colored children who have lost one parent only, and, in exceptional cases, to receive colored children who are not orphans, but who may be in such circumstances as to require the aid of the Charity.

I desire that you shall apply the yearly sum of twenty thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, of the revenue of the property which you will hereafter receive, to the maintenance of the Orphans' Home intended for such children.

In order to enable you to carry my wishes into full effect, I will now, and in each succeeding year during my life, until the hospital buildings are fully completed, and in readiness to receive patients, place at your disposal the sum of one hundred thousand dollars.

In addition to the gift, already made to you, of the thirteen acres of land in the city of Baltimore, upon which the Hospital will be built, I have dedicated to its support and to the payment of the annual sum provided to be paid for the support of the Orphans' Home, property which you may safely estimate as worth, to-day, two millions of dollars, and from which your corporation will certainly receive a yearly revenue of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars; and which time and your diligent care will make more largely productive.

If the Hospital and Orphans' Home are not built at my death, it will be your duty to apply the income arising from the property so dedicated to their completion. When they are built the income from that property will suffice for their maintenance.[17]

In his will Johns Hopkins reaffirmed his commitment to the separate asylum “for the reception and care of colored orphans and destitute children.”[18]

The response of the Black community to Johns Hopkins proposal to build and fund an orphanage for colored orphans was immediate. The month after his letter to his Trustees was published a meeting was held on April 8, 1873 at the Douglass Institute near City Hall, where a who's who of the colored citizens of Baltimore and distinguished out of town guests, praised the intent of the benevolent Quaker.

Among them were Reverend Samuel Ward Chase (1805?-1867) , a distinguished educator and pastor, Isaac Myers (1835-1891) a pioneering African American trade unionist, a co-operative organizer of an all Black shipyard, and caulker, and John W. Locks (1819?-1884), a wealthy hackman, mortician, and president of the Black owned Chesapeake Railway and Dry Dock Company.[19]

Isaac Myer photo

Isaac Myers (1835-1891)

Isaac Myers pointed out that

... true to the instincts of his own nature, to the teachings of the Friends’ Society, he persevered [against opposition], and declared there would be no distinction of race or color within the walls of the noble institution he had founded.

John Stella Martin (1832-1876)


The Reverend John Sella Martin (1832-1876), a former slave and noted preacher then residing in Louisiana, addressed the crowd:

… white people were not disposed to give anything to the colored people except from necessity. They did ot let them fight or vote until they found it a political necessity. There was now an educational necessity, and Johns Hopkins was the first man to see that necessity. He has taken the highest expression of the spirit of the age as his guide -- Others have left their money to be expended after their death, but Mr. Hopkins gives his money while living, and keeps an eye on its disbursement. It requires the best of training, that of the Quaker Society, to produce such a man as Johns Hopkins. … Johns Hopkins will be lifted in the future to that high station which is accorded to the true philanthropist. [20]

Galloway Cheston (1806-1881), first Chairman of the Board of Trustees

and Benefactor Johns Hopkins (May 19, 1795-December 24, 1873)

In 1875 the Baltimore Architect John R. Niernsée submitted a plan for a 300 bed facility to the Johns Hopkins Trustees, but the panic of 1873 and the subsequent depression, temporarily reduced considerably the value of the income from stocks intended for the support of the hospital, and Niernsée’s proposal was never built, although land for it was purchased off the Frederick Road, adjacent to Mount Olivet Cemetery and the House of Refuge in West Baltimore.[21]

Impressive as Niernsée’s plans were, the Trustees would drastically reduce the number of orphans to be cared for, although initially they may have intended to build his Asylum on property on the West side of the City.

From 1873 until 1917, when the Johns Hopkins Colored Asylum closed its doors, only a maximum of 80 girls a year would be cared for at three successive locations, 16 Fayette Street, 206 West Biddle Street, and in the renovated summer home of former governor William Pinkney Whyte on 31st Street adjoining the Marine Hospital.[22]

Initially the Trustees attempted to meet the spirit of the terms of Johns Hopkins’s letter by supporting a shelter for colored children that had been established by incorporation in 1867, located at 16 East Fayette Street with support from Johns Hopkins, and his friend, Galloway Cheston, the first President of the Johns Hopkins board of Trustees.[23] The Trustees created in Johns Hopkins’ lifetime quickly found that the Fayette location was not suitable.[24] As one account put it, “the old situation of the shelter, in Fayette street, was low, damp and distant, and the house inconvenient.”[25] Instead the Trustees purchased a vacant house on West Biddle Street behind the Orchard Street Colored Methodist Church, and left its administration to an independent board of managers.[26]

1879 Sanborn Insurance map showing the Johns Hopkins Colored Asylum (206 West Biddle

)and the Orchard Street Colored Methodist Church, detail from:

Detail from 1879 Sanborn placed on a 2016 Google Earth map of the Orchard Street Church neighborhood

To the surprise of the Trustees and the board of the shelter, the neighborhood objected, complaining bitterly to the City Council that the orphanage was a neighborhood “nuisance” where the “children are being brought up to idleness and educated to become worse than useless members of society” when in fact “a number of them are old enough to be bound out to service”.[27]

The officers and friends of “The Shelter for colored Orphans and Friendless Colored Children,” a number of whom were also the trustees of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, found it necessary to defend themselves in the Baltimore Sun:

When the house in Biddle street was presented to the notice of the managers it seemed to them in all respects eligible. The last tenant left it mainly on account of the noisy and disagreeable surroundings. It had remained more than two years unrented and unsold, two large schools near, and a long alley at the back occupied entirely by colored people, rendering the ‘elegant’ residence rather undesirable. The managers of the Shelter were able to purchase it at a reduced price, and neither wishing nor expecting to excite hostility or opposition, occupied the house, not only to their comfort and convenience, but greatly to the improved health and benefit of the children. It was only after the purchase was completed that we became aware that the institution would be so unwelcome to the neighborhood.[28]

The officers and friends invited the public to see for themselves.

Of the thirty children in ‘The Shelter,’ nearly half have been received the present year [1873], the greater number are under six years of age; three only are over ten and one is nearly fourteen. These four last do nearly all the housework. They help to wash, to iron and to scrub. Only one colored woman is employed in the house, to cook and help in this large family. The matron and her sister teach the children in school, nurse them in sickness, make nearly all the clothing, and keep the house in more than common cleanliness. The children are placed out as soon as fit for service. Quite a number during the past year have found homes, where we trust they will grow up to be useful men and women. Nearly every one of our children have been taken from destitution and misery that must have led to crime or death.[29]

Judge Harlan’s notebook, pp. 181-182, The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives

of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

By 1894 the Trustees were prepared to leave Biddle Street and finally settled on a much less grand Asylum than that envisaged by Johns Hopkins as expressed in the Niernsée plans.

Judge Henry T. Harlan (1858-1943), who from the day he became a trustee of the Hospital, took an interest in the new version of the Asylum, providing a map of the property in his diary, along with a note of the history of its acquisition and expansion. The former summer residence of Governor Whyte was purchased for $18,500 in July of 1894. By September 1, 1895 an annex was built for $26, 453.53, and furnished for $2,259.70, providing accommodations for seventy-five girls 5 to 18.[30] The facilities would cease being an orphanage in 1917 when it was turned over to the University and the remaining ‘inmates’ were provided an allowance to live elsewhere until they reached 21.

In all, according to the annual reports, 147 girls would be admitted to residence over the years of the operation of the Asylum on 31st Street, which with the children who were transferred from Biddle Street probably meant that altogether over 180 orphans would enter its doors until admissions ceased in 1913. Because there are no surviving formal individual admission, behavior, or placement records, however, a complete list of names is not possible, although with the census records of 1900 and 1910, newspaper accounts, and mention of some residents in the Annual Reports, 176 children have been identified as having lived at the Asylum on 31st Street.[31]

The shelter sought Council support for their work on the grounds that they were helping to prevent crime and poverty in the city. The city never complied, but the Sun reported that for the subsequent 19 years (1873-1892) the Asylum received about $85,000 from the trustees of Johns Hopkins Hospital, about $15,000 a year less than what Johns Hopkins intended.[32]

1881 Baltimore City Directory

Images of census pages, 1880, for the Biddle Street orphanage, courtesy of

According to the 1880 census 11 boys and 19 girls were cared for at the West Biddle Street address. While there is a list of their names in the census schedules, nothing is known about their lives beyond their ages that year:

1880 Census of Orphans at 206 West Biddle (renumbered 519 West Biddle in 1888),

courtesy of

By July 1894 the Trustees had decided to sell the Biddle Street property to the “Shelter for Aged & Infirm colored Persons,” and provide a new home for the orphans on 31st Street in the new north-western annex to the city (new Ward 22).[33]

1896 Bromley Atlas of Baltimore City, detail showing the location and outline of the

Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum identified as the “Colored Home” on

West 31st Street, formerly King Street

an excerpt from the 1927 aerial survey of Baltimore with the numbers indicating, 3) the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum buildings, then in use as a psychological laboratory, 2) the 1894 row houses on West 31st Street, and 1)the home of Jacob Y[e]agle at 2802 Huntingdon Avenue who is among the boys in the following photograph.

Neighborhood Boys of Remington, contemporaries of the orphans on 31st Street[34]

Privately owned, see:

A copy of the by-laws governing the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum on 31st Street has survived among the records of the Johns Hopkins Medical Archives.[35] No child was to be admitted over ten years of age or under five, although an exception could be made by the Committee on Admission and Dismission.[36] The children were to remain in the Asylum until eighteen years of age. Each child on becoming of age (18) was to receive a Bible, and trunk, with a suitable outfit of clothing consisting of:

2 Woolen Dresses (old and new)

2 Percale Dresses

1 Black Dress

2 Domestic Dresses

4 White Aprons

3 Gingham Aprons

1 White Skirt

2 Flannel Skirts

2 Seersucker Skirts

3 Gowns

4 Chemises

4 Pairs of Drawers

3 Undervests

4 Pairs Stockings











Until 1909 education was at the school, and from outset religious instruction was provided by the Episcopalian Bishop of Maryland and those he designated, although until 1911, the Matrons in charge were Quakers, as was Johns Hopkins, the benefactor.[37]

The stated main objective of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum was to provide a suitable context for raising the young women to be wage earning domestic servants when they reached their majority of 18.[38] While not all of the residents of the asylum on 31st Street are known by name, from the 1900 and 1910 census schedules, the annual reports of the Superintendent of Johns Hopkins Hospital, the confirmation records at the Protestant Episcopal Archives, and, for the final years, from among the surviving detailed records of the asylum at the The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, a roster of the majority can be compiled.[39]

Opening Day, October 30, 1895

According to the Baltimore Sun, Wednesday, October 30th, was a lovely, crisp, partly cloudy day, with a high of 44 degrees fahrenheit. The following day the Baltimore Sun introduced the new facilities and described the opening ceremonies held at 31st Street:

The Asylum now has accommodations for 75 colored girls, 50 in the new building, and 25 in the old one. At present there are 35 girls in the home, all of them occupying the new building, while the old building is not used.

The ladies in charge of the asylum are anxious to have the enlarged accommodations made full use of by those who are entitled to the privilege. Female colored orphans are taken between the ages of two and seven years, and remain under the oversight of the asylum authorities until they are eighteen. They are well educated and are trained as domestic servants. On leaving the institution homes are found for them and an outfit is given to each.[40]

The opening exercises included singing and a series of temperance recitations by seven of the older inmates in competition for a Demorest silver medal.


The Demorest prize was created by philanthropist W. Jennings Demorest (1822-1895) in 1886 to encourage young people to recite speeches of temperance movement leaders. Its medals—silver, as here, gold, and even diamond—were presented in contests throughout the country through the early years of the 20th century.

Resident Leah Carleton won the medal with Lizzie Hall (14), runner up. In addition to the medal, books were given to each of the seven girls by Mrs. Joseph P. Elliott, vice president of the Lady Managers of the Asylum.[41].

Courtesy of the New York Public Library

While the principal address was given by her husband, Joseph P. Elliott, Vice President of the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins Hospital, the most notable speaker of the day was a former domestic servant from Baltimore who became one of the best known poets and Temperance advocates of her day, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.[42]

Forest Leaves by Frances Ellen (Watkins) Harper, c. 1849. Rare Books Collection, MdHS. (MP3.H294F)[43]

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper had been an orphan herself in Baltimore, raised and educated by her Uncle William Watkins who for many years prior to the Civil War ran one of the most successful of the private schools established for the education of the colored population of Baltimore City. She first earned her living in Baltimore as a domestic servant, and after publishing her first pamphlet of poetry in Baltimore, moved to Ohio to teach, followed by a long career of writing poetry, speaking out against slavery, and in favor of women’s suffrage and Temperance. As an orphan and later as a widowed single mother raising a daughter who, until her death, accompanied her mother on her speaking engagements, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was a role model for the residents of the Johns Hopkins Orphan Asylum, perhaps more so than the Trustees and Lady Managers of the Asylum intended.

The previous year Frances Ellen Watkins Harper had participated in the meetings of the American Association of Educators of Colored Youth which were held at the principal black churches in Baltimore between July 24th and 27th, 1894.[44] The meeting was opened at North Street Baptist Church with an address of welcome by Mayor Ferdinand Latrobe, whose sister-in-law would oversee religious education at the Asylum. He was followed by Governor Brown, the State Superintendent of Public Education, the President of the City School Board, the Superintendent of City Public Schools, Bishop Wayman of the AME Church, the president of Morgan College, Reverend Harvey Johnson, pastor of the North Street Baptist Church, and E. J. Waring, Esq, on behalf of the citizens of Baltimore. It was an auspicious beginning, with sessions held morning, noon and night, including a paper by W. Ashbie Hawkins on the education of colored youth prior to the commencement of the public school system in the city in 1869. On the 26th Frances Ellen Watkins Harper read a poem, perhaps “A Fairer Hope, A Brighter Morn,” which includes the lines:

Higher and better than hate for hate,

Like the scorpion fangs that desolate,

Is the hope of a brighter, fairer morn

And a peace and love that shall yet be born;

When the Negro shall hold an honored place,

The friend and helper of every race;

His mission to build and not destroy,

And gladden the world with love and joy.

She would go on to author with Bishop Wayman and two other colleagues, a resolution adopted by the meeting that there “should be no discrimination in the appointment of [public school] teachers … solely on the ground of color, and that all applicants should be tried by the same rules and judged by the same standards.” The Board Lady Managers of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum and the male Trustees of the Johns Hopkins Hospital to whom they reported, chose not to send the residents to Baltimore City Public Schools until 1909, preferring instead to provide schooling at the Asylum.

From the beginning on 31st Street, the lives of the residents were managed by an active group of society women who constituted a Board of Visitors and chaired committees on finance, purchasing, admissions and dismission, religious instruction, clothing, domestic science, and education.[45] Hannah M. Pope (1837-1918) a Quaker, was the first president of the Board of Visitors.[46] The day to day operations were entrusted to a matron and her staff. From 1895 until her retirement in 1905, Sarah Isabella White, a Quaker born in Franklin, Southampton County Virginia, not long after Nat Turner’s bloody slave rebellion, ran the Asylum, assisted by her two daughters, one of whom, Mary Ellen, succeeded her.

Governance, The White Years:

Very little is known about the life of Sarah Isabella White and her daughters outside their work at the Asylum. Sarah Isabella was a single mother, the widow of Exum Newby White (1824-1886), who brought her two daughters to live and work with her at the Asylum She and her daughters attended Homewood Meeting and when she retired in 1905 to be succeeded by her daughter Mary Isabella, she continued to live at the Asylum until her death in 1910. By then one daughter Ellen Margaret, who taught school at the Asylum, had left to live first in Thurmont Maryland and then to teach in Suffolk, Virginia, not far from where her mother was born. Ellen Margaret died in 1939 and was buried with her mother in the family plot in Poplar Spring Cemetery, Franklin City, Southampton County, Virginia. Mary Isabella, the second matron of the Asylum, resigned not long after her mother’s death ito live with her sister in Thurmont, Maryland, before also returning to Franklin, Virginia, where she died ca. 1933 and was buried alongside her mother in Poplar Spring Cemetery.[47]

Sarah Isabella White, the first matron of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum on 31st Street, was not a wealthy society woman like those on the board of Visitors and Lady Managers to whom she reported. When she died of heart failure in 1906, the obituary in the Sun reported that

Mrs. White was a Virginia lady and a well-known and esteemed member of the Society of Friends, both in Maryland and in Virginia. She was born in Franklin, Va., 76 years ago. Mrs. White was greatly beloved at the asylum for her benevolent nature and her wise guidance of the affairs of the institution, to which she had given so many years of devoted effort.[48]

She left an estate worth little over $700 to her children in 1910. In all five children survived her, Mary, Ellen, Martha (who married a Bristow), Thomas Parker, and Joseph J. G., along with several grandchildren. Her sons were farmers in Southampton County Virginia. All were devout Quakers and, those who lived for a time in Baltimore, were members of the Homewood Meeting. While Mary and Ellen were employed first as teachers at the Asylum, Ellen left before her mother retired. Mary succeeded her mother as matron in 1905, leaving not long after her mother’s death in 1910, after some undocumented disagreement with the Hospital over her management.[49] She was succeeded by the last matron, Annie Beecher Scoville, whose title was changed to Superintendent, and who tried without success to persuade the Hospital Trustees to continue to support the Asylum. In 1914 the Board of Trustees converted the Asylum to a colored crippled children’s hospital (officially named The Johns Hopkins School & Convalescent Home for Colored Children), and the remaining residents were “placed out,” to be financially supported until the Trustees felt they no longer had an obligation to care for them.[50]

Apart from the cost of the building and addition (all estimated to be worth $78,286.41 in 1912), the average annual per capita expenditures for an average of 62 residents a year between 1907 and 1911, amounted to $170.[51] This did not include any gifts or services provided gratis by the Lady Managers or the Protestant Episcopal Church, but does include maintenance on the buildings. Over the years from 1895 until 1912 the reported yearly expenses remained relatively constant at about $11,000. Of that amount about $4,000 a year was spent on food. What was spent annually on salaries prior to 1907 is not known, but probably did not exceed $3,000 a year. In the Superintendent’s report covering the year 1911, the last year of the White family management, there are two charts, one which gives a comprehensive analysis of all expenditures that year, and one that provides five years of data on net expenditures, average number of children, and the average cost per child. It is clear that the yearly total fell short of the $20,000 dollars a year Johns Hopkins intended to be allocated to the care of orphans.

An example of the annual assessment of the costs of running the Johns Hopkins Orphan Asylum, courtesy of

The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Compare to the following table for 1911.

23rd Report of the Superintendent of The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Note that the expenditures are for February 1911 through January 1912, the twelve month time frame that was used in all the Superintendent’s published reports on the Asylum. In 1918 the Hospital Trustees recorded that they were “saving $10,000 a year” with the closing of the Asylum. By then the property had been turned over to the University and was occupied by the Psychology Department.

Metal tokens earned by the Residents are known to exist in one, five, and ten cent denominations. What was referred to as aluminum currency was introduced in 1902[52]. The first ‘currency’ devised for the residents was paper or pasteboard stamped with an official seal. The date on the coin of 1867 is misleading. That refers to the incorporation year of an institution for the care of colored boys and girls that was first subsidized, and then taken over by the Trustees of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in an effort to fulfill the terms of Johns Hopkins’s will. The coin illustrated here was owned by the late Russ Sears and is referenced in an article by his wife, the first published essay on the history of the Asylum.

Reporting of activities at the Asylum, such as the 1908 headline from the SunPickininnies’ Revel. Little Orphans Taught to be Useful at Colored Asylum”, were decidedly racist. Others just reported special events, award ceremonies and the degree of self-government introduced by Matron White’s daughter, modeled after a “Junior Republic”.[53]

The idea of creating a “Junior Republic” is credited to William Reuben George who provided a refuge in Freeville New York for the ‘street urchins’ of New York beginning in 1890. By 1895 he had established rules for a degree of self governance that gained an entry in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica entitled “George Junior Republic.”

[William Reuben George] devised first (1894) the plan of requiring payment by the children in labour for all they received during these summer jaunts, then (1895) self-government for a summer colony near Freeville, and finally a permanent colony, in which the children stay for several years. The Republic was founded on the 10th of July 1895; the only check on the powers of executive, representative and judicial branches of the government lies in the veto of the superintendent. “Nothing without labour” is the motto of the community, so strictly carried out that a girl or boy in the Republic who has not money[54] to pay for a night’s lodging must sleep in jail and work the next day for the use of the cell. The legislative body, originally a House of Representatives and a Senate, in 1899 became more like the New England town meeting. The respect for the law that follows its enactment by the citizens themselves is remarkable in a class so largely of criminal tendencies; and it is particularly noticeable that positions on the police force are eagerly coveted. Fifteen is the age of majority; suffrage is universal, children under fifteen must be in charge of a citizen guardian. The average age of citizens was seventeen in 1908. The proportion of girls to boys was originally small, but gradually increased; in 1908 there were about 70 girls and 90 boys. The tendency is to admit only those aged at least sixteen and physically well equipped. In the Republic’s earlier years the citizens lived in boarding-houses of different grades, but later in family groups in cottages (there were in 1910 twelve cottages) under the care of “house-mothers.” The labour of the place is divided into sewing, laundry work, cooking and domestic service for the girls, and furniture making, carpentry, farm work, baking bread and wafers (the business of an Auburn biscuit factory was bought in 1903), plumbing and printing for the boys. Masonry and shoe and harness making were tried for a few years. There is an efficient preparatory and high school, from which students enter directly leading colleges. The religious influence is strong, wholesome and unsectarian; students in Auburn Theological Seminary have assisted in the religious work; Roman Catholic and Hebrew services are also held; and attendance at church services is compulsory only on convicts and prisoners. [55]

In 1899 a George Junior Republic farm was established at Annapolis Junction in Howard and Anne Arundel counties,[56] and that same year Sarah Isabella’s daughter, Assistant Matron Mary White, created a Junior Republic at the 31st Street Asylum with the consent of the Board of Lady managers and the Hospital Trustees. The Baltimore Sun carried a favorable notice in June, 1899, written at the time of the closing exercise for the Asylum’s school, which was followed by a national story in Youth’s Companion for February 22, 1900 based on the Sun article.[57]

The last public notice of the Republic at the Asylum was in August 1908.[58]

In 1908 the Sun provided a pathetic account of a grandfather bringing his two granddaughters to be admitted. While it is not certain who the Lillian of the story was (a Lily Fisher, age 7, was admitted the second of April, 1908, and a Lilian Ross , age 9, was admitted in June of that year), the matron was assisted in the process of admission by Bertha Thompson, age 13, who was in charge of the music and would soon be sent to Hampton Institute to further her education.

Death certificate, Maryland State Archives, MSA CM1132, no. C12782.

Sadly Bertha’s older sister Clarissa, who had been “put out” to work at 611 West Lanvale Street, died at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in June of 1908 of tuberculosis, a serious health issue at the Asylum. She was buried at Laurel Cemetery in a plot purchased for the Asylum that happened to be on a hill overlooking Johns Hopkins’ Clifton mansion. Still the Sun provided an idyllic account of where she, her sister, and Lilian lived as orphans:

It was a pleasant home that the two children were to enter and much more attractive than the places of squalor they had left. Situated on Remington avenue, on a plateau said to be higher than [the] Washington Monument, it affords a view of Druid Hill Park and the surrounding count[r]y. Occupying a solid square the red brick buildings of the asylum are surrounded by pretty gardens and well-kept lawns, fringed by hedges of flowers and foliage.

Since its foundation, about 20 years ago, by the late Johns Hopkins it has been considered a model orphanage. Under the same management as the Johns Hopkins Hospital, it has the advantage of the instruction of a dietetic nurse, who, during the winter, conducts two weekly classes in cooking. The care of the institution is under the direct supervision of a matron, a sewing teacher, a school teacher, and a laundress.

A tour of inspection of the buildings showed that from the tiniest child, who was busy washing door knobs, each one had some special duty for which she was responsible. In the laundry a group of girls were busy ironing. Laundry work is done five days in the week and in addition to their own clothes the laundry of the matron and her assistants is done by the girls.

The breakfast hour is at 6:30 o’clock and the girls are supposed to be at their morning work by 7:30 o’clock. During the winter the younger children have lessons in the big schoolroom, where on Sunday afternoon Protestant Episcopal Church services are held.

The management of the school is on the order of that at the National Junior Republic at Annapolis Junction, where self-government is the motto. The girls are paid for their work and with their wages they buy clothes. The officers are elected … [They are seated at meals] according to their good or bad behavior. In the dining room the good children occupy seats at flower-trimmed tables; the moderately good girls have only oilcloth on their tables and the bad girls eat from board tables.

In the sewing classes are made all of the clothes worn by the Inmates. The mending, which is considerable, is done by the girls themselves, and at intervals the girls sew upon their little wardrobes, which they during their life at the asylum prepare to take away when they leave for positions.[59]

The girls were ‘hired’ by the week. Experts were paid $1 a week in the Republic’s currency and told to be careful with their money for which they were given cloth bags. They were then made to pay for everything they wanted with the exception of lodging and meals which were given free. As the Sun reported those that failed to save or behaved badly were dubbed paupers, and taken off wages. If they were good, they were put back on the payroll and for those who performed exceptionally well, additional wages were given. Paupers were compelled to eat at the board table, given old garments, had their names posted on the blackboard, and were compelled to go to bed early. Of the 72 residents at the Asylum in 1899, not more than 8 or 10 were considered paupers according to the Sun.[60]

In all, there is only one known instance of a parent being dissatisfied with the care of a child at the Asylum and that may have been because she could not be ‘retrieved’ to help support her mother. By all accounts Birdie Shine liked living at the Asylum and fit in well with the program there.


William Paret (September 23, 1826 - January 18, 1911),

Episcopal Bishop of Maryland, 1885-1911[61]

While the Matron, many of the Lady Managers, and the first teachers were Quakers, the Religious Committee of the Lady Managers was headed by Mrs. Charles H. Latrobe (d. 1922), a devout Episcopalian and sister-in-law of Ferdinand Latrobe, Mayor of Baltimore in 1895.[62] In 1896 she persuaded the Episcopal Bishop of Maryland, William Paret, to take the charge of the religious work of the Asylum.

Bishop Paret’s baptisms at the Asylum, May 2, 1897,

courtesy of Mary Kline, Archivist, Maryland Diocese Archives

Baltimore Sun (local edition), August 19, 1912

In 1899 Bishop Paret appointed Dr. George Washington Simpson to oversee the religious training of the residents, as well as providing medical advice. He continued in that post until June of 1912, shortly before he died. Born in Baltimore in 1841, Dr. Simpson was not only a clergyman, but also a medical doctor who by the time of his death maintained a large practice in northeast Baltimore. He was appointed Chaplain in the U. S. Army by President Grant and served for nearly 20 years in Texas, Nebraska and Wyoming. Before coming back to Baltimore to practice medicine and oversee religious instruction at the Asylum, he wrote a manual for Army Chaplains that was the standard for many years. Politically, he was a staunch Republican who several times ran unsuccessfully from the 7th Ward for a seat in the Legislature.

Because of the well-maintained archives of the Diocese of Maryland it is possible to identify the residents who were confirmed as Episcopalians, even after Dr. Simpson retired and the girls were “placed out,” In 1914 the Remington based priest, Reverend George J. Kromer, confirmed 18 of the former residents. In all of the nearly 200 orphans identified, 94 were confirmed (48%) by Dr. Simpson and Reverend Kromer.

Those who were confirmed attended services at the Asylum on Sunday afternoon and went to St. James or St. Mary’s. Reverend George F. Bragg, preached at the Asylum. Later, Reverend Bragg would found his own orphan asylum for colored boys for which he was successful in obtaining an annual subsidy from the Maryland Legislature. After 1902 the residents who were confirmed went once a month to St. James or St. Mary’s for communion.[63]

Health Care:

Dr. Ralph Winslow (1852-1937)

from: Men of Mark in Maryland, Vol II, 1910

The first Doctor employed on retainer at the Hopkins Asylum when it was on Biddle Street, Dr. Randolph Winslow (1853-1937), was a pioneer in the practice of womens’ diseases. He founded the Women’s Hospital in Baltimore, and ended his career at the University of Maryland Hospital. A Quaker he was well known with his son for his work in breast cancer surgery as well as other ‘female’ afflictions.[64] In addition to Drs. Simpson and Winslow, Johns Hopkins Hospital provided hospital care for the inmates, especially during the flu epidemic of 1898, and outbreaks of measles, typhoid, dysentery, and tuberculosis.[65]


For life of the Asylum the education of the children was under the oversight of a Committee of Lady Managers headed for a number of years by Baltimore socialite Fanny Turnbull. The children at first were taught by a succession of white teachers at the asylum. The financial records at the Johns Hopkins Medical Archives document the purchase of textbooks and supplies as well as the salaries of the teachers, two of whom were the daughters of the Matron, Isabella White. The kindergarten was established in 1897, with Miss Reese as teacher and her assistant, the first colored teacher, Mrs. Alice E. Mitchell, whose husband, John W., may have worked in the Baltimore customs house as a Republican political appointee. Both left Baltimore in 1902 to go to Cheltenham where Alice continued to teach and John was placed in charge of the chair caning department. Alice would return briefly to help care for the children.[66]

A Girls Classroom in a Baltimore City Colored School, 1921

In 1909 as a cost saving measure, it was decided to send the school age girls (as many as 43 students) to Colored Public School 115 off Greenmount avenue (The Talbott Street School on Talbott Street which ran northward from 412 East 31st Street).[67]

The Trustees authorized the officers of the Colored Orphan Asylum to place about thirty colored girls in the Talbott Street School in order that they might receive instruction under freer and more normal conditions than seemed possible in an ungraded school at the Asylum and since that date these girls have attended this school regularly with decided benefit. The instruction has been good and the teachers have been kind and devoted. It is evident however that the school as at present situated is a decided menace to the lives, health and morals of scholars by reason of improper location and defective facilities for the care of children.[68]

Detail from the 1906 Bromley Atlas of Baltimore City


The move to public education was disastrous as Annie Beecher Scoville hints in her one and only annual report as Superintendent. She wrote that:

At the opening of the year, February, 1912, we had thirty-seven girls in Public School no. 115; we now have twenty-eight in school. … There was no one at the Asylum who could cooperate with the teachers, and the children were irregular in attendance, and defiant and sulky about their work. The first step in reorganizing our life here was to see that every child was in school on time each day. A monitor to take them to and from school, a study hour where their lessons were prepared, note books, pencils, and book bags, all helped in establishing a new attitude toward the school. The Superintendent was the monitor for the first three months , and found it an excellent opportunity to study the school conditions.[69]

In 1914 the reform minded daughter of Daniel Coit Gilman, the first President of Johns Hopkins University, visited the school and issued a scathing report:

No action was taken and according to a 1921 survey of the Baltimore Public Schools, No. 115 remained the worst of the colored schools. By then the orphans were gone, but the conditions under which they received a public education remained.

School No. 115

This building is not fit for the housing of school children . The second

story is the worst kind of a fire trap. The toilets are foul and adjacent

to the drinking fountains and in such close proximity to the school build

ing as to be a constant annoyance. The recent portables built on this

site do not meet modern standards of natural lighting. The site is totally

inadequate for school purposes and the building should be demolished .

An adequate site should be selected in the center of population for the

colored people in this section and a modern school building erected.[70]

Annie Beecher Scoville, portrait edited for cropping (detail), no date.

(Collection of Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, Beecher Family Papers, MS 71)

Governance: The Scoville Year, 1912

In 1911 Mary White left the Asylum and her successor, Annie Beecher Scoville, the granddaughter of the abolitionist Methodist preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, and keeper of the Beecher family archives, was hired to improve what the Lady Managers referred to as the “unsettled state” of the Asylum. Whether or not she kept the Junior Republic model is not clear from the surviving record, but she certainly had an impact on how the Asylum was run for the brief time she was in charge. Her hiring appears to have been the last ditch attempt on the part of a minority of Hospital Trustees and the Lady Managers to continue the institution. She was employed as Superintendent, not Matron, at $1,000 a year and given instructions by the Trustees that she not engage a workforce for more than $290 a month. She came with a teaching background from Hampton Institute where she oversaw the program for job training for Native American students. She was best known for her work as the special representative of the U. S. Indian Commissioner for whom, in 1905, she began a study of the Winnebago and Omaha Indian reservations. She also spent some time working at the Pine Ridge Bureau of Indian Affairs in South Dakota. The Cornwall Historical Society occupies her home in Western Connecticut and houses the bulk of her surviving papers. Curiously their web site does not mention her affiliation with the Johns Hopkins Colored Asylum. It does note that “she traveled and worked [with the Indians] alone without a chaperone. For relatives and acquaintances back in Cornwall, this was truly radical and unsettling. According to family lore, her unusual behavior was attributed to bad parenting.” Her one time lover and long time friend was Katherine Lee Bates, author of America the Beautiful. Bates was professor of English Literature at Wellesley College and has left this sketch of Annie: “All her knowledge is vitalized by imagination and presented with such a glow of beauty, earnestness and joy as to inspire any audience with a fresh sense of the glory of life.”[71] It is likely that she found little that was to be joyful about on 31st Street.

In an effort to improve conditions at the Asylum Superintendent Scoville felt she had to upgrade the physical plant and farm out the incorrigibles and feeble minded, who, in her opinion, should never have been admitted in the first place. Her letters to Hospital Trustee, John M. Glenn[72], have not survived among his papers, but his response is revealing:

Your letter [he wrote Miss Scoville] is very interesting, as well as shocking. I am sure that we shall not accomplish any good by trying to keep incorrigible girls in a place that is not intended for care of that kind. Nor can we take proper care of the feeble-minded and the tuberculous. It is absolutely essential that we should make up our mind to deal with only normal children. There is no hope of success otherwise. It is not pleasant to send children to Melvale or to send them to any other institution, but it is the only way in which we can save the children who are not weak minded and bad. Keeping the abnormals means making the others abnormal morally or physically. The essential thing is to determine which are incorrigible and abnormal and which can be treated normally.

Please accept my sincere sympathy. You have had a very disagreeable time, but what you have learned is of great value to us.

Very sincerely yours,

J. M. Glenn[73]

Despite Annie Beecher Scoville’s efforts to make the Asylum viable, by 1913 the policies of Johns Hopkins University towards indigent children had shifted from supporting institutionalized care for young girls to social services outreach, and the decision was made to close the orphanage.

As a Hospital social worker, Margaret S. Brogden, who was assigned to oversee the care of the remaining girls, explained in 1920:

Based upon the trend of progressive theory regarding institutions for dependent children, the trustees decided to close the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphanage August, 1913, and attempt to adjust the children who were legally wards of the Johns Hopkins Hospital to normal conditions by placing them out in the community under trained supervision.

There were fifty-seven colored girls between the ages of six and seventeen resident in the Orphanage; some of these of normal intelligence, others of very low grade mentality, distinctly institutional children. They were all put under the supervision of the social service department, a social worker [Ms Brogden] was appointed to take charge of the group. The older girls are placed as domestic servants on wages, the younger children are boarded at St. Katherine's Home. Five of those constitutionally inferior have been transferred to public institutions. All children under school age (fourteen years) either attend the public school or have regular instruction from their employer.

The three lower floors of the Orphanage have been converted into a Convalescent Home and School for Crippled Colored Children admitted through the orthopedic clinic of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The top floor was reserved and equipped as a shelter for the former inmates of the Orphanage under a colored house mother during changes of placement, and in periods of convalescence.

An attempt was made to train some of the older girls as hospital maids and attendants in the wards of the institution, but was abandoned after a few months, principally because of the undesirable influence of the other maids ,who were not under the same restriction as to hours, etc. A selected group was entered in the trade classes in Industrial Schools in Virginia, the Johns Hopkins Hospital paid the board and tuition fees. Manassas Industrial Institute for Colored Youth, St. Paul's Industrial School, the Virginia State Normal School and Christiansburg Industrial Institute were chosen for the experiment. After three years in the schools we felt the girls had not developed so well as those working in private families under our close supervision and influence. They have all been withdrawn except one who had had an operation for tuberculosis of the hip; she has shown unusual aptitude for study, has been awarded a scholarship each year by the Manassas Industrial Institute and is preparing herself as a teacher.

Homes are selected with a view to fit the needs of the individual girl. On receipt of an application accompanied by five reliable references a visit is made to the prospective employer, special stress is laid upon inspection of living conditions and the opportunity for training. Before a girl is entered in a home conditions of placement are signed by the employer and her husband giving the representative of the Johns Hopkins Hospital access to the home and the right to remove the child at any time, if in her estimation the interest of the child demands such a procedure.

Wages are paid by check drawn to the girl, which is sent with a wage statement to the social service department .... All girls have a savings account in a public bank. They are taught to dq their own banking. Girls earning a normal wage are entirely self supporting, and even those who are constitutionally unable to do so refund to the Johns Hopkins Hospital a small percentage on their purchases.All girls are required to save. at least 50 per cent of their wages, quite a number of them continue these practices for thrift when they are no longer under our direct supervision.

They are taught to do their own shopping, accompanied by the social worker who guides their selections until they show sufficient judgment to go by themselves, the purchases made are inspected by the social worker and their relative merit discussed. The value of this system has shown a gratifying result as demonstrated in the actions of girls having reached maturity, their selections show a knowledge of materials and good workmanship. A tabulated list is kept of all possessions showing date of purchase.

In 1917 necessity arose demanding the entire closing of the buildings. Two rooms have been rented from the Colored Young Women's Christian Association to substitute the needs of the fourth floor The advantage of this arrangement is chiefly in the elimination of the institutional atmosphere and establishment of

a community connection for the individual girl with the better class of her own race.

They have been entered upon the membership roll of St._Mary's Episcopal Church, and their religious instruction was delegated to the Sisters of the House of the Holy Nativity. This affiliation. Not only fills their temporary needs but gives them a permanent church connection.

As is the case in all similar institutions we have two distinct groups to deal with -- the normal girl and the subnormal girl, in many instances hampered by congenital taint. Taking into consideration their racial tendencies the normal girls have as a whole been responsive to a remarkable degree to the training bestowed upon them; and even the subnormal girls, though .for the most part they have followed their natural trend, showing some reaction to the care they have received.[74]

Paul Winchester, Baltimore Afro-American, June 13, 1925

Two years after the last remaining orphan became of age in 1923, and no longer the charge of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Reverend George F. Bragg, pastor of St. James Episcopal Church in West Baltimore, who had preached to the orphans of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum, hosted the girls on major religious holidays, and founded his own orphanage for boys, reflected on Johns Hopkins’ intent.

From History of the Afro-American Group of the Episcopal Church

George F. Bragg, D. D.,

1425 McCulloh Street, Baltimore, Maryland

Church Advocate Press


Reacting in the Afro-American to the intense criticism in the paper over the closing of the orphanage by the Johns Hopkins Hospital Trustees, he defended the Hospital in a letter to the editor headlined “Regardless of Race: The Johns Hopkins Hospital is for the Poor of the City Regardless of Race”. Quoting the March 10, 1873 letter to the “trustees,” he wrote;

The late Johns Hopkins, anticipating the needs of the colored poor of the city and state, made for them the same provision established for all others. If we have neither the sense or the courage to stand up and earnestly contend for what is right and just, then let us, at least not blame others.[76]

By 1930, however, Reverend Bragg was less sanguine in another letter to the editor of the Afro-American:

Your reference to the Johns Hopkins foundations brings to mind a matter upon which many colored citizens desire light and information. No doubt the trustees of Hopkins can furnish the necessary information.

Why was the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum discontinued, and the property given over to a department of the Johns Hopkins University, or Hospital? such an institution was in existence, for the undersigned often visited it and conducted religious services for the inmates.

The trustees of the great Hopkins foundation can not afford to ignore this matter. In the presence of so many Negro orphan cildren in this community the public should be advised with respect to the failure of the Johns Hopkins Negro charity.

George F. Bragg, Jr.[77]

The issue to Bragg, was not so much the abandonment of an orphanage for colored girls as it was the failure of the Hospital Trustees to follow through on the intent of Johns Hopkins to provide a home-like setting and appropriate education for indigent African-American orphans. The majority of the Hospital Trustees lent their support to the idea of social services and foster homes for orphans, but they left the implementation largely to the City and State. For over fifty years the Hopkins Trustees did attempt a bowdlerized version of what was clearly Johns Hopkins intent, the care and education of 300 orphans of both sexes, reducing his dream to at most an annual residency of no more than 80 girls intended for domestic service. To be fair, the University also established a school of hygiene and public health and the Hospital did extend its service further to the Black community with Harriet Lane’s endowment while persisting in providing care, albeit segregated, without regard to color.

It is also true that the 1904 fire obliterated the rental properties that Hopkins had allocated for the support of his vision under the trusteeship of the Hospital. The famous physician, Wiliam Osler, even offered to give up his salary to help with the loss which proved unnecessary as John D. Rockefeller gave the Hospital $500,000.[78]

As to the 50 year experiment of funding an orphanage, the only mystery remaining is the fate of the girls. A few are known to have disappeared into domestic service. Where they were first employed is known. A few others were disciplined by sending them to Melvale, and to an out of state ‘training” school, but not a single orphan who left the Johns Hopkins Orphan Asylum, except those who died there, can be traced through the stories of their lives to their final resting place.

Whatever Happened to Birdie Shine?

Birdie Shine is a case in point. For a brief moment in 1902 her life at the orphanage became very public as her mother tried to use the courts to have her released into her custody.[79] Birdie was apparently quite happy at the orphanage. She won at least one medal for her work there and evidently did not want to leave.

Birdie came to the Orphanage on August 24, 1897 at the age of 9 on the order of a local Justice of the Peace, William F. Clark, who said she was “suffering through neglect and immoral habits of the mother, Martha Shine.” According to the President of the Board of Lady Managers of the Asylum, Hannah M. Pope, ever since Birdie arrived she had been “tenderly cared for … and given the advantages not only of a comfortable home and home training, but a religious and moral education as well.”[80] The courts decided for the Orphanage and Birdie remained never to be heard from again.

Teresa Cornish died at Bay View Hospital (the City Hospital), August 10, 1911, and was buried at Laurel Cemetery in the Asylum’s plot.. The address given as her residence was probably her home before she entered the Asylum the previous year at the age of 6. She too died of tuberculosis. Death certificate, Maryland State Archives, CM1132-110.

The challenge to the genealogist and family historian seeking the life stories of the orphans at the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum is a difficult one. The records of what happened to the girls are sparse. The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions provides a few glimpses, from glasses for the girls who were to attend Hampton Institute, to coffins and burial in Laurel cemetery for those who died at the Asylum (for example Teresa Cornish, who died at the age of 7 in 1911 and Bertha Johnson, who died in 1909 at the age of 18). They were buried in style:

Courtesy of The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives

of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

The life stories of Bertha and Theresa, at least in the last years of their lives, are known. Their burial was paid for by the Asylum and they were buried in the Colored Asylum lot at Laurel Cemetery. Sadly they did not rest easily there. In the 1950s the graves at Laurel Cemetery were desecrated and the land converted into a shopping center. They may still be there under the blacktop, or dumped in an unmarked grave in Carroll County.[81] But for the vast majority of the ‘inmates’ at the Johns Hopkins Colored Asylum, their fate is still unlearn'd.[82]

Appendix A

Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum

Admissions, Departures, Health issues, and Religious Conversions

Taken from the annual reports of the

Superintendent of The Johns Hopkins Hospital


1894-95 (Isabella White, Matron)

“The direct management of the asylum is in the hands of about thirty ladies. The officers are: President, Mrs. Daniel F. Pope; vice-presidents, Mrs. Joseph P. Elliott, Mrs. mary McCullough, Mrs. Caleb Winslow, and Mrs. Thomas R. Matthews; secretary, Mrs. Joseph B. Brinkley; treasurer, Mrs. William L. Elliott. Mrs. Isabella White is the matron with Misses Mary and Ellen White as teachers.” Baltimore Sun, Thursday 10/31/1895.

25 children from Biddle Street plus 9 admissions reside at the new Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum. All in good health. Excepting the heavy washing, all the work, as also the cooking is done by the children, two of whom are of age (18) and are receiving wages. Mary White is the school teacher. Ellen White teaches sewing. During the year the older girls attend services at St. Peters. A Sunday School was held by the Matron and services provided by Bishop Paret and Mr. England, a Deacon. Each child large enough to work among flowers is given a bed to cultivate as her own.


17 admissions , one became of age, for a total of 50 residents by the end of the year. None were dismissed.


34 cases of measles, 30 admissions for a total of 80 by the end of year. Of those 2 were sent to Melvale, 2 to homes in the country, 1 reached her majority but had not left, and one was out to service, leaving 75 minors present at year's end. A kindergarten was begun with Miss Reese as a teacher assisted by a former pupil. 15 were baptized, 12 were confirmed as Episcopalian.


50 residents at the beginning of the year. 30 children admitted, 4 sent out including one to Melvale and 3 to homes in the country. At year's end there were 76 residents. 38 were baptized and 11 confirmed. (Statistics supplemented by an account in the Sun, announcing the election of Judge Harlan as a Trustee, 2/16/1898).

In November Lee Carpenter died. He had been raised at the Asylum [on Biddle Street?] and had been employed for five years.


2 admissions, 2 reached their majority. 1 was removed to Bayview, possibly on account of diphtheria, and 1 was returned to her father. 24 were enrolled in kindergarten. The average age of the residents was nearly 11 years.


69 residents by the end of the year. 3 admitted, 1 to Melvale, 1 to Bayview (feeble), 2 to father (2 of age on wages).


63 residents at the end of the year, 3 admissions, 1 death with burial in Laurel Cemetery, 7 to hospital for treatment, 5 to good homes, 1 feeble minded to Harford County, 1 to a good home.


63 residents at the beginning of the year, 7 entered, 5 sent away, 2 died and buried in Laurel Cemetery? Annie Wilson died of tuberculosis (TB) after being sent to Hopkins Hospital (4/4/1902). Birdie Shine (11) subject of Habeas Corpus, having been admitted 3/2/1897. 13 in kindergarten, 2 of which graduated to Asylum school. Aluminum currency introduced as wages for the girls. Reverend George Bragg from St. James Episcopal Church attends regularly and the girls go to St. James once a month for communion.


63 residents at the beginning of the year, 9 admissions (5-10 year olds), 2 attained majority, 1 sent to Melvale (committed for being a bad influence). 4 died of TB and buried in Laurel Cemetery?, leaving 65 girls at the end of the year. Frances Jones who worked at the Asylum since becoming of age, left to “take a situation”. One girl was sent to the School for Colored Blind Children on Saratoga Street for the winter. Aluminum currency introduced last year still in circulation and the George Junior Republic begun. 25 of the older girls go to St. James.


66 residents at the beginning of the year, 6 admitted, 12 placed in homes (only 2 were 18), 1 sent to Melvale. 59 in the Asylum at the end of the year. There were many applications for service. Wages were placed in Provident Savings Bank. Ethel Watkins, the blind girl, was returned to her grandmother. German measles was present in the Spring of 1904 and there were 12 cases of TB.

1905 (Mary White becomes Matron)Melvale

59 residents at the end of the year, 6 admitted: 5, 6, 7 (2), 11, and 12 years of age. 7 attained the age of 18 of which 2 remained at the Asylum. 4 went to homes, 1 was returned to the care of an aunt, and 1 was sent to Melvale. No deaths and no TB, but the grippe, whooping cough, and chickenpox were present. Girls go once a month to St. James or St. Mary’s.


57 residents at the close of the year. 7 admissions (5-10 years old), 5 reached their majority and were placed. Girls attend St. Mary’s.


58 residents at the close of the year. 6 admissions (6-11 years). 5 reached their majority and all were placed. 3 were also placed before they reached the age of 18. 2 cases of typhoid fever, both recovered.


63 residents at the close of the year. 16 admissions, 2 reached their majority, and 10 “gone out.” Clarissa Thompson died of TB and Bessie Carter was sent to Chicago to be with her grandfather.


71 residents at the end of the year. 14 admissions. Girls sent to public school 115, except older ones (13) kept for “industrial” training. 1909/10/11 Bertha (Clarissa?) Thompson died of TB. In December, Episcopal Bishop Murray confirmed 9 girls (Episcopal Archives).


61 residents at the end of the year. 4 admitted, 13 “gone out” (8 placed in homes, 1 returned to her mother, 4 insubordinate with 2 sent to Melvale and 2 sent to St. Elizabeths. 43 sent to public school 115, of whom 2 performed poorly.


59 residents at the end of the year “owing to unsettled conditions at the Asylum” when Mary White resigned. 2 admissions, 9 went out ( 4 in homes, 1 to Pratt Institute to study dressmaking, Bertha Thomspon to Hampton Institute, 2 returned to parents, and 1 death to TB- Teresa Cornish buried at Laurel Cemetery).


(Annie Scoville, Superintendent)

54 residents at the beginning of the year, 39 residents at the end of the year. 3 admissions, 18 sent awa7 (3 over 18 in service, 3 under 18 in service, 3 returned to their “friends,” 9 sent to institutions). Judge Harlan warns the Trustees that they were obligated to care for the girls until they were 21. 1 cripple, 1 “adrift in the street,” and one deficient. Melvale suffered a typhoid fever epidemic


(by August Annie Scoville gone; Asylum administered by the Social Services Department of Johns Hopkins Hospital)

45 girls resident at the beginning of the year ages 5-18. 9 on wages, 8 out for Board with requisite apparel, 11 returned to relatives, 3 in other institutions. Of the 45 girls, 23 were earning wages of up to $12 a month, 7 were out earning clothes and board. 3 of the youngest were boarded out, 3 were sent to institutions, 6 of those returned 3 went to a mother, 3 went to relatives. 4 were waiting places. 2 girls would become 18 in 1913 and it would be two 2 years before any more reached 18. Complaints about poor records were reported to the Trustees.


Asylum now a convalescent home. 40 of the remaining girls place out to private homes and “suitable institutions”. In March Episcopal Bishop Murray confirmed 12 girls (Episcopal Diocese Archives).

In all there had been 178 recorded admissions from Biddle and 31st Streets, derived from

from census records and the Johns Hopkins Hospital Superintendents’ reports.

[Appendix B. is a spreadsheet of all known residents of the Asylum. It is in the process of being edited and will appear here in due course]

[1] Hacsi, Timothy A. Second Home: Orphan Asylums and Poor Families in America. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1998.

[2] Professor Zamora does not mention the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum and confines her analysis to three orphanages that cared for white children. For Richard B. McKenzie’s work see:

[3] Dr. Wilson’s study is online at: Margaret S. Brogden does provide some very helpful facts about the administration of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum in “Changes in the Work of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum,” published in the Johns Hopkins Nurses Alumnae Magazine, February 1920, XIX, #1, pp. 21-23, which is available at the Johns Hopkins Medical Archives, along with her equally useful notes on the Asylum that she gleaned from the surviving records of the Hospital including the minutes of the Board of Trustees. Unfortunately the admission records and individual files for the residents that were at one time in the care of the Social Work Department are no longer extant. The Maryland State Archives has also published a helpful timeline of benevolent giving at, but it too fails to mention the Hopkins Asylum. At The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions there is a 17 page typescript analysis of all the minutes of the Trustees relating to the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum.

[4] See: Grace Keech’s report on the Asylum in the Twenty-fifth Report of the Superintendent of the Johns Hopkins Hospital for the Year Ending January 31, 1914, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1914. Grace Keech and Margaret S. Brogden were the Social Workers assigned to follow through on the care of the remaining orphans until they reached their majority. The best study of the national trend away from orphanages to private and state subsidized welfare is Building the Invisible orphanage, A Prehistory of the American Welfare System by Matthew A. Crenson (Harvard University Press, 1998).

[5] See Appendix A. “The Maryland Training School for Colored Girls was first incorporated in 1882 as the Industrial Home for Colored Girls for the "care, reformation, and instruction of colored female minors" (Laws of 1882, ch. 291). Although it was a private institution, the governor appointed two members of its board of trustees, and the Baltimore City mayor appointed two others.

The Industrial Home for Colored Girls was purchased by the state in 1931 and renamed the Maryland Training School for Colored Girls (Laws of 1931, ch. 367). The new school was managed by a nine-member board appointed by the governor. Five of the nine were women. After the school reopened in 1933, the courts admitted twelve- to eighteen-year-old girls who had been "adjudged delinquent on the basis of violations of laws, incorrigibility, truancy, or immorality." The school attempted correction through education, including "academic, vocational, religious, recreational, and physical training." In 1949, the General Assembly renamed the school the Barrett School for Girls, but it remained under the direction of its board of managers and its nature was unchanged (Laws of 1949, ch. 314)”.

[6] 15th Report of the Superintendent of the Johns Hopkins Hospital for the year ending January 31, 1904, p. 43.

[7] For Johns Hopkins University president Goodnow’s efforts to reform the Maryland budget, see Richard E. Israel, A History of the Adoption of the Maryland Executive Budget Amendment,

[8] Baltimore Sun, April 11, 1901.

[9] Study of Public Health and Hospital Service, Baltimore, Maryland [preliminary draft] by Joseph W. Mountin, A. w. Fuchs, J. O. Dean, and Sophie C. Nelson, Washington, D. C., United States Public Health Service, 1931, pp. 109-110. Author’s collection, autographed copy originally owned by Huntington Williams.

[10] During the years of the Asylum, girls were regularly placed out on contract. Often these contracts were called ‘apprenticeships’, a term that was widely used in Maryland to refer to slaves, former slaves, and pre-Civil War Free Blacks who were rented out for a specific period of time. Often in the case of slaves the contract provided for the slave’s freedom after the specified years of service. As late as 1910, the Baltimore Sun was queried as to whether “therewere negro orphan asylums in maryland which apprentice their orphans?”. The answer was yes, listing “The Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum, Thirty First Street and Remington avenue; Maryland Baptist Orphanage, 509 McMechen street; Maryland Home for Colored Children,1624 Druid Hill avenue, St. Elizabeth’s House for Colored Children, 317 St. Paul street; Federated Charities, 15 pleasant street, may also be communicated with.” Baltimore Sun, November 30, 1910.

[11]Hardwick, Katherine D. Jeffrey Richardson Brackett, "Everyday Puritan". Boston: Privately printed, 1956. <>. and . [need to cite Brackett biography here]

[13] See Timothy A. Hacsi, Second Home: Orphan Asylums and Poor Families in America. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Univ. Press, 1998.

[14] See the reports available at: 40and In 1912, under President Taft, the Children’s Bureau was established as a Federal agency, but prior to the 1930s did not provide any reliable statistical assessment of the number of neglected children in the nation deserving of public or private assistance and care. For an introduction to the Children’s Bureau see: “Children’s Bureau,” by Kriste Lindenmeyer at: Homer Folks in The care of destitute, neglected, and delinquent children (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1907), provides tables derived from the the 1880 and 1890 census of the charity care of non-delinquent children nationwide, but makes no effort to assess the demographics of the need. A White House Conference in 1908 attempted to address what needed to be done and how to do it, but failed to provide meaningful statistics on the extent of the need. See Matthew Crenson, Building the Invisible Orphanagef.

[15] Twenty-First Annual Report of the Baltimore Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor, Baltimore: Innes & Company, 1870. Author’s collection.

[16] See the inventory of Johns Hopkins for details as to what income generating property he left to the Johns Hopkins Hospital which was intended to benefit the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum with $20,000 a year support. Maryland State Archives, BALTIMORE COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Inventories), OPM 11, ff 585-631.

The Hospital on average never reached that amount annually according to the surviving annual accounting reports at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Medical Archives.

[18] Quoted by Jane Sears, “Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum,” Maryland TAMS Journal, Vol. XXVI, no. 4, Winter, 2005. See:

[20] quotes from the Baltimore Sun, “The Johns Hopkins Charity: Enthusiastic Mass Meeting of Colored Citizens,” April 9, 1873. Reverend John Sella Martin was best known for his speech to the PARIS ANTISLAVERY CONFERENCE (1867). “John Sella Martin was born into slavery in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was carried to Georgia and escaped from there to the North in 1856. Martin lived successively in Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo, where by that point he was a minister and led a church in the city. By the early 1860s Martin was minister of the Joy Street Baptist Church in Boston and a prominent abolitionist speaker. Martin traveled to England three times to promote the antislavery cause and on August 27, 1867, he addressed the Paris Antislavery Conference as a representative of the American Missionary Association.” See also: He was also known for his defense of John Brown in a speech he gave in Boston in 1859:, and The Liberator, December 9, 1859.

[21] See:, pp. 331ff. See Chesney, Alan M., and William H. Howell. 1958. The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: A chronicle : Vol. 1-3. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, v. 1, p. 69 for the decline in the annual income from the endowment and the impact on the building program of the Hospital. Nowhere does Chesney even mention the Asylum in his three volume work. He simply makes it clear that the Trustees felt they could not afford to build the main hospital as they intended, let alone undertake the Niernsée plan for the Asylum. In 1874 the General Assembly of Maryland amended the 1867 charter to permit acquisition of property for the purpose of building Niernsée’s Asylum and acquiring rental properties to support it. 1874, LAWS OF MARYLAND, CHAPTER 291., AN ACT to authorize the Johns Hopkins Hospital, a corporation incorporated by certificate duly recorded in the Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Baltimore City, to purchase and hold such tract, or tracts of land in this State as it may require for the building of a house or houses for the reception, and care of convalescent patients from the said Hospital, and to purchase and hold such tract or tracts of land, as it may require for the building of a house or houses for the reception, education and care of orphan colored children, and erect all necessary buildings for the said purposes, and to govern the said establishments”.

On January 4, 1875 Johns Hopkins Hospital bought the site for the proposed asylum adjoining the House of Refuge and Mt. Olivet cemetery off Frederick Road for $16,000 and sold it in 1897 for $23,235. Baltimore County Land Records, JB 90, f. 205, and RO 1710, ff. 521-525. Today there is a charter school on the site, the Seed School of Maryland ( Given the intent of Johns Hopkins Will, perhaps the Johns Hopkins Hospital might be contributing $20,000 a year to the support of the school?

[22] There were a few boys cared for at Biddle Street, but none on 31st Street. Jane Sears in an historical introduction to two tokens that were used at the orphanage as incentive reward for the residents, provides a brief history of the orphanage from its days on Biddle Street to the closure of the 31st street facility as an orphanage (See: Jane Sears, “Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum,” Maryland TAMS Journal, Vol. XXVI, no. 4, Winter, 2005,

The Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum did not technically cease operation until the last girl under contract reached the age of 18 in 1923. This account of the asylum is indebted to Jane Sears for her carefully documented note cited above, although she apparently did not consult the records at the The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions is an extraordinary archive staffed by a most helpful team of professionals who made the surviving records of the asylum readily available for my review. (See:

[23] 16 East Fayette Street was also advertised as the Shelter for Colored Orphans and Home for the Friendless Colored Children. Baltimore Sun, March 2, 1868. In 1867 the Shelter sought an appropriation of $8,999 from the City, but was turned down because “It was alleged that , as there were but four children in the institution, such appropriation was not justifiable”. Baltimore Sun, April 30, 1867. For the first trustees of the University, see: “On August 24, 1867, 12 men set their hands and seals to a Certificate of Incorporation of “The Johns Hopkins University,” a document that named the university’s first 12 trustees: George W. Brown, Galloway Cheston, George W. Dobbin, John Fonerden, John W. Garrett, Charles J.M. Gwinn, Lewis N. Hopkins, William Hopkins, Reverdy Johnson Jr., Francis T. King, Thomas M. Smith, and Francis White. Before the Board held its first meeting on June 13, 1870, Dr. Fonerden died and was replaced by James Carey Thomas. Between this meeting and the death of Mr. Hopkins on December 24, 1873, the Board developed a set of by-laws; created an Executive Committee, a Finance Committee, and a Buildings Committee; and established three Board officer positions: president (now known as “chair”), secretary, and treasurer. Galloway Cheston was named first president of the Board”.

[24] According to Clyde C. Rohr, “The Hopkins Orphan Asylum began its activities during the [Civil War] as a shelter for colored children, notably contrabands (i.e. negro slave refugees from the Southern States) and chiefly by efforts of members of the Society of Friends. After Mr. Hopkins death in 1873, its management was assumed by the trustees of the fund for colored children, provided in his will.”p. 669, in Baltimore Its History and Its People, edited by Clayton C. Hall, volume 1, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1912. Rohr is not quite accurate. The initial shelter was for “Orphans of Colored Soldiers and Friendless Children of Baltimore City and the care of colored orphans was supported by funds provided by Johns Hopkins before his death in 1873. See the Session Laws of Maryland, 1882, Special Session, Chapter 317 for the legal history of the shelter. The annual reports for the shelter for 1869, 71, 72, and 75 are at the Maryland Center for History & Culture, formerly the Maryland Historical Society, MHV 995.5541. The reports note that they purchased the 196 West Biddle Street site in 1872 and leased it to the Johns Hopkins Colored Asylum in 1875.

[25] Baltimore Sun, Thursday, February 6, 1873

[26] Ibid.

[27] Baltimore Sun, February 3, 1873.

[28] The Baltimore Sun, February 6, 1873.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Judge Harlan’s notebook, pp. 181-184, The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Collection JHH, Sub-series 2.a.2

[31] See the table of residents in the appendix.

[32] ibid.

[33] SIXTH REPORT OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE JOHNS HOPKINS HOSPITAL For the Year ending January 31, 1895. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1895, pp. 17-19. The Annual Reports of the Superintendent are partially available online through Google Books and and provide an administrative overview of the operations of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum from 1894 to its dissolution in 1913. I am grateful to the The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions for providing copies of the annual reports that are not on line.

[34] What the boys in the neighborhood of the Asylum thought of the girls on the hill at 31st Street is not known, but a photograph of Jacob Yeagle who lived nearby and his classmates, standing well dressed and angelic on the steps of a school, identifies each of them by name. Their lives can be traced beyond childhood. The lives of the orphans at the asylum cannot, nor has a single photograph of any of the girls been found.

[35] The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Records of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Colored Orphan Asylum, Committee on the colored Orphan Asylum, Collection JHHCOA, Series A, 1898-1905.

[36] In 1910 there was one four year old resident, Amelia Haskell, who proved to be non-conforming and by 1917 ended up at the House of the Good Shepherd, placed there by the Juvenile Court. This was the same reformatory to which the Juvenile Court sent Billy Holiday in 1925. According to one source “In 1925 Billie, age ten, was ordered by the juvenile court to spend a year in the Baltimore House of the Good Shepherd for Colored Girls on account of truancy. When she got out, she was placed with the neighbors for Christmas Eve, and she was raped there. Thus once again she was sent to the House of the Good Shepherd.”

[37], p. 69. In 1896 Bishop William Paret records that on December 15th by request of the Trustees of Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum, and Institution under the care of the Friends, I took Pastoral charge of the same, establishing a Sunday Service and Sunday School. Said Evening prayer and addressed the children.

[38] When the orphanage was closed to new admissions in 1913, not all members of the trustees committee on the Colored Orphan Asylum were pleased with the decision. On page 217 of the Minutes of the Hospital Board it was noted that some members disturbed over the proposed changes to the asylum and that “the original purpose of the Colored Orphan Asylum to train servants should not be wholly given up.”

[39]See Appendix. As research progressed on the history of the Asylum, much was learned about how the residents were cared for, and about the nature of their religious and secular education, but very little could be discovered about the lives of those who reached their majority there, once they left 31st Street. Perhaps with the publication of their names here with what little is known about them individually, more biographical details will emerge.

[40] Baltimore Sun, 31 October 1895, p. 6.

[41] Baltimore Sun, October 30, 1895.

[43] Note the Black preacher who owned this copy, Reverend Harrison H. Webb, who was the second Black rector of St. James. See Reverend George F. Bragg’s biography of him in Men of Maryland, Reverend Webb was also an executive officer of the Baltimore branch of the Freedmen’s Bank. Joseph P. Elliott (1833-1898) and Mrs. Elliott were members of the Baltimore Monthly Meeting of Friends. In his memorial it was noted that Joseph P. Elliott was Chairman of the Committee of the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins Hospital that had “special charge of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum” Where “he labored faithfully and earnestly to bring [both institutions] to the highest possible efficiency, and also took a deep and personal interest in the sick or unfortunate individuals brough under their care, causing them to feel that in him they had an influential friend.” Minutes, Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends (Homewood), Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends (Orthodox), Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends (Orthodox : 1828-1968). (18431967). Minutes, Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends (Homewood). Baltimore, MD: Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends, pp. 85-88.

[45] Mary Kay Wilson touches on the history of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum in her dissertation “Dear Little living Arguements” Orphans and other Poor children, Their Families, and Orphanages, Baltimore and Liverpool, 1840-1910, University of Maryland, Ph. D., 2009. She argues that the men of the Board of Trustees through the Committee on the Colored Orphans Asylum actually administered the asylum and its affairs. It is not clear that this was the case beyond holding very tightly to the purse strings. Both of her examples relate to how much money the Trustees were willing to allot to the running of the Asylum, which never reached the amount per year that Johns Hopkins intended. Still, Dr. Wilson provides an interesting comparative study utilizing the Annual Reports of the Lady managers and the Matron. It is ultimately the policy change from institutional care to social services and foster home care that brings this era of orphan care at Johns Hopkins Hospital to a close. In that policy change the Trustees were influenced by the Social Services Department which was run by a number of very outspoken and dedicated women as can be seen by the reports of what happened to the residents of the asylum on its stopping admissions in 1913. While the term ‘domestic science’ was not used in the reports to the Trustees until 1904, it was said to have been first introduced into common parlance between 1895 and 1900, meaning the study of cooking, needlework, and other subjects concerned with household skills. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: July 9, 2017).

[46] Hannah M. Pope, also an active member of the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) was married to Daniel F. Pope, a Baltimore grocery mechant. She defended the Asylum in the Birdie Shine case. See below. Obituary: Baltimore Sun, May 2, 1918. Her daughter, Evelyn Pope Lord (1869-1960) founded the Visiting Nurses Association and was a life member of the Johns Hopkins Nurses Alumnae Association.

[47] When Sarah Isabella and her two daughters moved to Baltimore, her sons remained in Franklin City, Virginia.

[48] Baltimore Sun, April 14, 1910. Sarah Isabella was so identified with the Asylum that the Sun mistakenly referred to her as ‘colored.’

[49] "Maryland Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999," images, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), Baltimore City > Will books 1910 vol HWJ, no 107 > image 284 of 620; Hall of Records, Annapolis.’ Find A Grave Memorial #35041469 (

[50] 1923 was when the last former resident reached her majority of 21. While the apparent contract for admission (no copies have survived) set 18 as the year residents would be put out to service, Judge Harlan, a Trustee and chairman of the Board, advised the Trustees that they had an obligation until the individual reached the age of 21. See the Annual Report for the year Ending January 31, 1913.

[51] Based on her analysis of a small Roman Catholic orphanage for colored girls in Baltimore, Nurith Zamora calculates that the girls there cost on average $250 a year. See: Richard B. McKenzie, ed., Home Away from Home, The Forgotten History of Orphanages, New York: Encounter Books, 2009, p. 196.

[52] Matron’s report in the 15th Report of the Superintendent of The Johns Hopkins Hospital for the Year Ending January 31, 1904, p. 45.

[53]PICKININNIES' REVEL: Little Orphans Taught To Be Useful At Colored Asylum” Baltimore Sun , Aug 23, 1908, Pg. 3. See also the Baltimore Sun, June 11, 1898.

[54] The “government” of the George Junior Republic issued its own currency in tin and later in aluminium, and “American” money could not be passed within the 48 acres of the Republic until 1906, when depreciation forced the Republic’s coinage out of use and “American” coin was made legal tender.

[56] It ceased to exist in 1917 and ultimately became the property of the District of Columbia Department of Human Services. See “New Relevance for the Junior Republic,” Washington Post, March 19, 1995.

[57] Baltimore Sun, “Training in Thrift,” June 3, 1899 and Youth's Companion, February 22, 1900. The Sun got the address wrong for the Asylum. It was on 3st Street, not 30th, and Mary, not Ellen, was the assistant Matron.

[58] Baltimore Sun, August 23, 1908.

[59] The Baltimore Sun, August 23, 1908.

[60]Baltimore Sun, June 3, 1899.

[61] Men of Mark in Maryland - Biographies of Leading Men of the State. Johnson's Makers of America Series. IV. Baltimore, Washington and Richmond: B. F. Johnson. 1912. p. 94.

[62] Obituary, Baltimore Sun, October 20, 1922. There is no mention of her work with the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphans Asylum.

[63] For a list of the girls who were confirmed see Appendix A.

[64] for Dr. Winslow see:, which quotes the New York Times obituary,; also the obituary in the Bulletin of the University of Maryland School of Medicine 1936-1937, p. 168,, and Dr. Winslow’s records of births for 1875-1886, and 1890-1895 are in the Jones Collection of the Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1245.

[65] The yearly reports of the Johns Hopkins Orphan’s Asylum appear in the Reports of the Superintendent of The Johns Hopkins Hospital beginning with 1895. See Appendix A below for a tabulation of admissions, departures, illnesses, and other statistics concerning the lives of the residents. In 1897 there were 34 cases of the measles. In December of 1898, 62, of the 76 residents came down with the flu virus. In September 1912, several of the girls who had been sent to Melvale from the Asylum came down with Typhoid Fever, although there is no mention of the Fever for that year at the Asylum. Annual Report of the State Department of Health of Maryland, 1913, pp. 195-196.

[66] For the Mitchells see: The Afro-American for December 13, 1902. “In 1870 Enoch Pratt donated 700 acres in Prince George's County to found the House of Reformation and Instruction for Colored Children (Cheltenham). Before this time African-American boys, some as young as eight years old, who committed crimes were routinely confined in jails and the state penitentiary.”

[67] Twenty-Second Report of the Superintendent of The Johns Hopkins Hospital for the Year Ending January 31, 1911, p. 40.

[68] Letter to the Baltimore City Board of Education, November 16, 1912, from the Board of Trustees of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Henry Mills Hurd Collection in the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Board of Education Series 4, Folder 10/3 . The letter goes on to describe the school as a fire trap. The outhouses are not monitored, the playgrounds are used by neighboring houses for the storage of wood, lumber and fuel, and are crossed by an open sewer. The children are locked out of the building during the noon hour and can only take refuge in a neighboring saloon in the event of rain or storm.

[69] Twenty-Fourth Report of the Superintendent of The Johns Hopkins Hospital For the Year Ending January 31, 1913, p.70.

[72] Thomas B. Turner, Heritage of Excellence, p. 325. According to Turner, Trustee Glenn was, with Charles P. Emerson, largely responsible for bringing the first paid social worker to the Hospital in 1907. Annie Scoville clearly felt she could confide in him and seek his support.

[73] Beecher Family Papers, MS 71, series 1, Folder 999, Yale University, Manuscripts and Archives.

[74] Margaret S. Brogden, Changes in the Work of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum, The Johns Hopkins Nurses Alumnae Magazine, Volume XIX, no. 1, February, 1920, pp. 21-23.

[75] See p. 225 for mention of Reverend Braggs’ The Maryland Home for Friendless Colored Children, 61-A Ellicott City, Md. “A diocesan institution for the training of neglected boys. The Bishop of Maryland, president.” The orphanage received a State subsidy, unlike the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum.

[76]Afro-American, August 8, 1925.

[77]Afro-American, November 22, 1930.

[78] William Osler to Judge Henry D. Harlan, March 7, 1904. Osler Collection, Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives. “Hopkins Hospital Lost Half its Income” Washington Times, February 17, 1904.

[79] Anne Arundel County Circuit Court (Petitions) Birdie Shine #328, 1902 [MSA C128-9], Maryland State Archives.

[80] Ibid., Deposition of Hannah M. Pope, president of the Board of Lady Managers of the Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum.

[82] lyrics. What details can be gleaned for the known residents are in the roster that follows which is derived in large measure from the census records for 1880, 1900, and 1910, supplemented by information from the Johns Hopkins Medical Archives.

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