Archives Find of the Month: Protection Secretary’s report, 1910

Home » Archives Find of the Month: Protection Secretary’s report, 1910

From 1909 until 1912, the Seattle City Council appropriated $175 per month to the YWCA to fund the “protecting and caring for young women and girls.” Protection Secretary Mary Martin wrote to Mayor Hiram Gill on the last day of 1910 to give her report of the year’s activities.

Martin said that she investigated 368 cases during 1910, involving 730 calls and 1616 interviews. Her work included:

  • Investigating sixteen runaway girls, of which ten were found
  • Sending seven women to the State Insane Hospital
  • Reporting two women to their probation officers
  • Sending about a dozen girls and women to maternity homes
  • Removing four girls from the Mammoth skating rink and one from the Dreamland dancing pavilion
  • Referring twenty women to employment agencies
  • Reporting three girls to truant officers
  • Ensuring the arrest of two men for seduction
  • Finding a kidnapped girl
  • Holding two forced marriages “to legitimize five children”

Her report stated that “the number of young wives who have been deserted by their husbands is increasing each month,” and wondered if there was some way the men could be compelled to work to support their families. She encouraged the establishment of some sort of workhouse or laundry for women serving time in the city jail, feeling “it would be far better for these women than sitting playing cards.” And she expressed special concern for women between 45 and 70 years old “without home or friends” who were not served by existing programs for younger women, and who could not get into the existing Old Ladies Home, which had a long waiting list. She hoped a municipal lodging house could be founded so that these women had lodging options other than the county hospital or poor farm.

Martin praised the cooperation she had received from the Police Department, but did have some suggestions for improvement, particularly greater enforcement of the curfew law. She noted that “Children of tender years, both boys and girls are on the streets until very late hours at night,” and that if everyone knew the curfew would be enforced by all officers, “I feel sure the work of looking after young girls would not be so hard.”


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