Archives Find of the Month: Industrial School of Seattle

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29288Clerk File 12099 contains a 1901 report about the Industrial School of Seattle, submitted by the Municipal Guardian and Superintendent, Major C. Newell.  The report explains that the school was founded by the Boys and Girls Aid Society of Washington, whose mission was “to help boys and girls of school age that had no earthly helpers, educate and instruct them in the duties of this life, so prepare them that they might go out in the world useful and good citizens in society.”

The school was forced to move from its first living quarters at 35th and Union because local parents “objected to our children attending the public school for fear their presence would contaminate their children.”  After a temporary move to the old East Seattle Hotel on Mercer Island, the children relocated yet again to the Sarah B. Yesler Home, where they had “suitable lodging, boarding and school accommodations all under one roof.”

Seattle police immediately began to bring homeless children to the organization, and the school board provided teachers, desks, and books.  At the time of the report, the school served 22 boys and girls, many who had “roamed the streets of Seattle day and night with no place to sleep except in drygoods boxes or under side walks.”  The report praised the good progress many were making in their schoolwork, noting that some students would “surpass many of the children reared in good homes.”

Newell wrote that the County Commissioners “have treated us in a most kindly manner” by providing money for food and rent, and that the City Council “has come to our rescue” by providing $60 per month toward the school’s expenses.  He also noted that “the merchants and business men of this city have responded to our call for help in a most gratifying manner,” supplying an organ, a large steel range, a desk, and many other donations of money and goods.  Pointing out that “nearly every large city in the Eastern States has homes of like nature,” he believed the local business community felt that Seattle “must not be behind other cities in caring for their homeless boys and girls.”

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