The Passaic Home and Orphan Asylum 1886 – 1962

Jean Pellegrino

As taken from “The Castle Genie,” Vol. 8, No. 4
Newsletter of The Passaic County Historical Society
Genealogy Club

Mrs. Peter Reid of Passaic, a lady of means noted for her “philanthropy with alacrity,” gathered twenty-two ladies in the parlor of the Presbyterian Church, Passaic to form an Auxiliary to the Paterson Orphan Asylum Association on November 22, 1882.

The Auxiliary was reorganized as an independent association on January 17, 1883. It became incorporated as the Passaic Home and Orphan Asylum on December 17, 1884 and opened for receipt of children June 4, 1886. Its first registrar was appointed in January of 1898.

The Passaic Home and Orphan Asylum’s first headquarters was located in the Marsh Home on Lexington Avenue where it remained until the purchase of the W.S. Anderson Estate in 1888 on 238 River Drive.

After 76 years of operation, The Passaic Home fell victim to changing times and the extension of Route 21 (past the intersection of Route 3). When it closed its doors in 1962, virtually all the papers connection with its operation had been preserved. More than 150 pounds of papers, reports, pictures, and clips were presented to Rutgers Library in New Brunswick.

Where normally just little fragments remain, the Passaic Home and Orphan Asylum documentation is virtually complete. It is indeed a rarity for papers to be saved so completely through the years. This unique collection is housed at

Rutgers University
Special Collections and University Archives
169 College Avenue
New Brunswick, New Jersey 07903
Telephone: (732) 932-7006

The collection includes:

Register of Inmates: 1896 – 1944

Register of wards and boarders of the Passaic Home and Orphan Asylum Association that includes: a.) alphabetical list of inmates, b.) list of inmates at the beginning of each year, c.) list of yearly admissions and removals, d.) list of inmates complete for each year, e.) history of inmates, f.) lists of deaths occurring in the home, g.) Annual Report of the Registrar, 1902-1940

Register of Inmates: 1944 – 1961

Includes: a.) lists of inmates complete for each year b.) Annual Report of the Registrar, 1941-1960, c.) lists of inmates, 1960-1961

Inmate Case Files A – Z

Permission to consult the Inmate Case files must be secured from the Passaic Home and Orphan Asylum Association

Minutes of Board of Governors Meetings:
January 21, 1885 through February 1969

Records contained in 18 books that includes lists of officers, Annual report of 1924, and Secretary’s book (January 1933 – December 1941)

Minutes of the Ladies Auxiliary
March 11, 1897 through December 1952

Records contained in 12 books that include list of members, officers, by-laws, etc.

Treasurer’s Accounts, 1893 – 1956
Roll Call Books, 1898 – 1932
Employee Work and Pay Records, 1927-1928 and 1951-1960
Garden Club Committee Meeting Minutes and Annual Report, 1914.
Donation Books, 1896 – 1962
Petty Cash Books, 1933 – 1935 and 1960 – 1962
Other Records:

  • Anniversary Meeting Programs, 1894-1901
  • Annual Reports, 1887-1895
  • Lists of Officers, 1902-1953
  • Scrapbook of Clippings, 1882-c1907
  • Scrapbook of Clippings relating to Auxiliary, 1936-c1942 and c1945-1962
  • Legal correspondence with the State of NJ regarding taking of the property for construction of Rt. 21
  • Correspondence concerning the sale of the Home and disbursement of the assets, 1964-1965
  • Appraisals and sale of destination of the furnishing in the home at the time of closing, 1962
  • Last orphanage flag taken down at closing of Home, 1962
  • Official Seal of the Passaic Home and Orphan Asylum Association
  • Miscellaneous clippings, photographs, correspondence, legal documents, accounts, and printed items.

The Special Collection and University Archives (Ph: 732-932-7006) at Rutgers University is open to researchers 9:00 – 5:00 Monday through Friday and 1:00 – 5:00 on Saturday. (Saturday hours though May 9th only – Saturday hours will resume in the fall).

Works Cited

  • Star Ledger, February 13, 1983
  • The History of the Paterson Orphan Asylum Association 1832-1952 by Wm. H. Holcombe
  • Mr. Tom Frusciano, Special Collections Librarian at Rutgers University, who provided the catalog of material contained within the Passaic Home and Orphan Asylum collection

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