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The Children’s Home Society of Virginia History | Exploring the 1910s

In January we celebrated the Children’s Home Society of Virginia’s 120th birthday!

Since 1900, we have always dedicated our time to children and families in Virginia. We believe healthy families are the cornerstone of healthy communities.

We work diligently to transform our community by creating and supporting families in which children can thrive.

Virginia adoption
Siblings as received

We are passionately committed to finding a permanent family for every child and supporting all foster care youth. When we do, we positively impact children’s lives and our entire community benefits.

Last month, we wrote a blog about our early history, detailing the work we accomplished for child welfare during the 1900s. This month, we dive deep into the 1910s.

Keep reading to learn more about our early staff, financials and organization expansion.


Children’s Home Society History | The 1910s

Importance of Local Advisory Boards

As the number of children needing help rapidly increased each year, the organization needed more financial support. So, a widespread and intense financial campaign evolved.

Local advisory boards, which were created to manage the unique needs of local populations, primarily solicited this financial support.

In 1907, the budget grew to $5,000, up from $2,000. But, the society was still ending each year with a deficit. The receiving home proved to be a heavy burden because it was always full.

The budget was as follows during the 1910s:

1910 $8,755.80
1911 $10,000.00
1912 $9,926.85
1913 $10,998.05
1914 $10,607.54
1915 n/a
1916 $16,070.03
1917 $18,807.80
1918 $22,805.12
1919 $20,000.00

Financial Burdens & Patrons Clubs

In addition to the staff’s financial secretary, our founding secretary pro-tem Rev. Maybee played an active role in the financial campaign by delivering sermons to secure funds.

In 1917, Miss Florence Kelly began organizing Patrons Clubs. Directed to organize them in cities of 5,000 people or more, these clubs were managed by women. A patron was someone who contributed 20 dollars or more annually. Despite difficult times, Miss Kelly organized clubs in Lynchburg, Petersburg, and Ashland. In 22 months, she collected $10,086. The Richmond Patron Club alone donated $1,200.

By 1919, the workload had grown substantially that the financial department was slightly re-arranged.

The state was divided into territories, and each territory functioned on its own.

During this time, Robert Kent was the treasurer of the organization, and he was in charge of depositing and keeping records of the money. He also made an annual report to the board of directors, invested funds and managed the financial affairs of the society.

Other Early Officers

In 1907, other society officers were as follows:

  • John Garland Pollard, President
  • Rt. Rev. Robert A. Gibson, D.D., Vice President
  • C.P. Walford, Recording Secretary
  • Robert M. Kent, Jr., Treasurer
  • Hon S.S.P. Patterson, General Counsel

In 1908, Mrs. Maybee had to resign as head of the receiving home because of her health. Miss Gilliam was hired in her place. 

By 1916, the society realized that the office staff could not keep records, visit children and collect money. Beginning in 1920, the office staff worked exclusively on the business, while the supervision and placing of the children became the work of a separate group.

Long-Standing Procedures

Virginia adoption
Rev. & Mrs. William Maybee

During the 1910s, the society’s policies and procedures still centered solely around finding homes for neglected and abused children. 

“They then pass through a thorough system of renovation, are dressed in clean and comfortable garments, cared for and trained for a short while. This period usually lasts from ten to 60 days.”

After this procedure, “…as a result of the investigation, well-approved homes are located, whose desirability is passed on by the local advisory boards. In these homes, children are accepted as a member of the family.”

–Rev. Maybee, State Superintendent 

During placement, society members made frequent, friendly visits to the families and children, giving helpful advice and suggestions.

Many letters from former adopted children to the society proved that they were most grateful for the help of the society and had developed into happy citizens.

Eventually, the society realized that the biological family would often fulfill the needs of the child if only some time and care were put forward. In 1907, the first record of children being returned to their homes was recorded. That number only continued to grow as the years went on.

Below, we outline the number of children received and adopted during the 1910s:

Year Total No. Received Adopted Returned to Parents
1910 211 36 n/a
1911 240 34 n/a
1912 343 n/a n/a
1913 464 11 n/a
1914 382 37 n/a
1915 358 16 n/a
1916 395 22 n/a
1917 357 n/a n/a
1918 325 n/a 31
1919 460 28 23

Stay tuned next month when we explore the 1920s. Each month, we will expand upon a new decade.

Virginia adoption
Sisters rescued from county poor house

Support Virginia Adoption & Child Welfare | 120th Anniversary

The Children’s Home Society of Virginia proves to be a leading innovator in finding loving families and support for children whose birth parents are unavailable or unable to do so.  Innovation sparked the creation of CHS in 1900 when it was formed to place children in permanent homes as a better alternative to the orphanages of the day, which often failed to provide adequate basic needs such as food, clothes, and shelter.

Since Children’s Home Society was chartered in 1900, we have had the joy of serving over 14,500 children and families in Virginia. Today, in addition to facilitating private adoptions, CHS specializes in finding permanent homes for harder to place teens or children with physical or emotional challenges, often due to abuse or neglect.  

The Possibilities Project

Unfortunately, each year, approximately 500 young people “age out” of Virginia’s foster care system and are sent into the world with little to no support. Like most young adults, they’re not prepared to be fully on their own. The outcomes are devastating:

  • Within two years, one in four will be incarcerated
  • One in five will be homeless
  • and fewer than one in six will graduate from high school.
  • They also face higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, and more.

We know that opening doors to youth aging out of foster care will make a positive, life-changing impact and create a new path to possibilities for young people. That is why we partnered with The Better Housing Coalition to create The Possibilities Project.

We believe that surrounding these young people with the supports they need to thrive, while teaching, guiding, coaching and challenging them will help them to develop into successful, independent adults.

“Youth who have participated in The Possibilities Project have accomplished incredible things that include: Completing their Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, college certifications and vocational trainings. They have gone on to become CNAs, medical technicians, security officers and valued employees at fortune 500 companies.”

How to Adopt

If you’re thinking about adoption, you’re in the right place. Currently, there are nearly 1,000 children waiting to be adopted in Virginia. Meet children waiting for a forever home here

If you want more information on how to give a child in need a forever home, get in touch with us today: 804-353-0191

Get Started!

Click here to learn about our creation in the 1900’s