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Department of Public Welfare - RG 206 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Department of Public Welfare - RG 206


Historical Note:

The Civil Administrative Code of 1917 consolidated the administration of all state charitable and correctional institutions in the Department of Public Welfare. This new executive department succeeded to the powers and duties formerly exercised by the Board of Administration, State Deportation Agent, State Agent for the Visitation of Children, Illinois Penitentiary Commissioners, Southern Illinois Penitentiary Commissioners, Board of Managers of the Illinois State Reformatory, Board of Prison Industries of Illinois, Board of Classification, and the Board of Pardons (L. 1917, p. 2). These duties encompassed not only the operation of all state charitable and correctional institutions, but the visitation, inspection, and licensing of all institutions providing care or services for children or the mentally ill; the administration of state and federal appropriations for the care of veterans in state institutions; the investigation of complaints against charitable groups that appealed for public aid or received trust funds; the visitation and instruction of the adult blind; the establishment of trachoma clinics; the administration of public assistance legislation (i.e., Aid to Dependent Children, Old Age Assistance); the selection of superintendents and administrative staff for county departments of public welfare; the development of programs for the prevention of delinquency; and the gathering and filing of information concerning all convicts and known criminals.

Within the Department of Public Welfare numerous divisions were established to carry out these responsibilities, among them the Division of Child Welfare, Division of Veterans' Service, Division of the Adult Blind, Division of Public Assistance, Division for Delinquency Prevention, and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. The Division of the Criminologist was responsible for the Institute for Juvenile Research and the Division of the Alienist directed the operation of the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute and coordinated the Psychiatric Nursing Affiliation Program. The Department of Public Welfare also operated a group of research and educational hospitals in conjunction with the University of Illinois.

In addition numerous advisory and non-executive boards were appointed by the Governor to perform special duties in relation to the Department of Public Welfare (e.g., Board of Public Welfare Commissioners, Board of Standardization, Board of State Reformatory Advisors for Women, Advisory Board to the Division for Delinquency Prevention).

In 1941 the newly created Department of Public Safety assumed most of the law enforcement and correctional responsibilities of the Department of Public Welfare (L. 1941, vol. l, p. 1214). These included the operation of the Illinois State Penitentiary, Illinois State Farm, Division of Pardons and Paroles, and Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. Correctional institutions for women and children remained in the Department of Public Welfare until the Illinois State Reformatory for Women was transferred to the Department of Public Safety in 1953 and the Illinois Youth Commission took control of the Illinois State Training School for Boys, Illinois State Training School for Girls, and the Illinois Industrial School for Boys, in 1953 (L. 1953, pp. 620, 850). The Department of Public Welfare's duties further were reduced in 1943 when the administration of public aid was transferred to the Public Aid Commission (L. 1943, vol. 1, pp. 272, 276).

The Department of Public Welfare was abolished in 1961 and all its powers and duties transferred to the newly created Department of Mental Health (L. 1961, p. 2666). The following institutions were under the control of the Department of Public Welfare:

Alton State Hospital

Anna State Hospital

Centralia State School

Chicago State Hospital

Dixon State School (formerly Dixon State Hospital)

East Moline State Hospital (formerly Watertown State Hospital)

Elgin State Hospital

Galesburg State Research Hospital

Harrisburg State School

Illinois Braille and Sight Saving School at Jacksonville (formerly Illinois School for the Blind at Jacksonville)

Illinois Children's Hospital-School at Chicago

Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary at Chicago (formerly Illinois Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary at Chicago)

Illinois Industrial School for Boys at Sheridan (formerly Illinois State Reformatory at Sheridan)*

Illinois Institute for Crippled Children at Chicago (formerly Illinois Surgical Institute for Crippled Children at Chicago)

Illinois School for the Deaf at Jacksonville

Illinois Security Hospital at Menard (formerly Chester State Hospital for Insane Criminals)

Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's School at Normal

Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Home at Quincy

Illinois Soldiers' Widows' Home at Wilmington

Illinois State Farm at Vandalia*

Illinois State Penitentiary, Joliet/Stateville Branch (formerly Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet)*

Illinois State Penitentiary, Menard Branch (formerly Southern Illinois Penitentiary at Chester)*

Illinois State Penitentiary, Pontiac Branch (formerly Illinois State Reformatory at Pontiac)*

Illinois State Psychiatric Institute at Chicago (formerly Illinois State Neuropsychiatric Institute at Chicago, Illinois State Psychopathic Institute at Chicago)

Illinois State Reformatory for Women at Dwight*

Illinois State Training School for Boys at St. Charles (formerly St. Charles School for Boys)**

Illinois State Training School for Girls at Geneva**

Illinois Visually Handicapped Institute at Chicago (formerly Illinois Industrial Home for the Blind at Chicago)

Institute for Juvenile Research at Chicago

Jacksonville State Hospital

Kankakee State Hospital

Lincoln State School (formerly Lincoln State School and Colony)

Manteno State Hospital

Mental Health Center at Chicago (formerly the Division of Community Clinics and Veterans' Rehabilitation Centers)

Peoria State Hospital

Southern Illinois Children's Service Center at Hurst

Tinley Park State Hospital

*These institutions were transferred to the Department of Public Safety in 1941 or 1953.

*These institutions were transferred to the Illinois Youth Commission in 1953.

Access to some of these records is restricted according to the provisions of the Mental Health Code and the State Records Act of 1957 as amended.






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