Ohio's Infirmary Buildings

  • Ohio's Infirmary Buildings

Ohio's Infirmary Buildings uses historic and documentary photography as a tool to examine the structures once used to house Ohio's poor. Ohio became a state in 1803, and it took 48 years to establish all 88 counties. On February 26, 1816, the Ohio General Assembly officially authorized boards of county commissioners to obtain farms that included housing for paupers (or the poor), and by 1874, each county in Ohio had what was originally called the poor farm. The former Wood County Infirmary story serves as an example of how superintendents and matrons managed people in need before modern programs helped designate specialized care. Collaboration with all 88 counties across the state of Ohio shows a unified story of public charity and highlights the importance of historic preservation. As early as 1937, Ohio counties began tearing down infirmaries, leaving behind few photographic records and institutional documentation.