The Ward M. Canaday Center

for Special Collections

The University of Toledo

Finding Aid

Sunset House Records, 1871-1988

MSS-125

Size:  4.25 linear feet

Provenance: received from Sunset House administrator, Vicky Bartlett

Access: open

Related Collections:  YWCA Papers, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library

Copyright: The literary rights to this collection are assumed to rest with the person(s) responsible for the production of the particular items within the collection, or with their heirs or assigns.  Researchers bear full legal responsibility for the acquisition to publish from any part of said collection per Title 17, United States Code.  The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections may reserve the right to intervene as intermediary at its own discretion.

 

Completed by: Janice Colwell, December 1997.

 

Historical Sketch

 

            The early history of Sunset House is closely correlated with that of Toledo’s Women’s Christian Association (WCA), founded in 1870 and incorporated in 1891 as a branch of the national YWCA.  The Toledo Women’s Christian Association expanded rapidly, attracting over 200 women members in its first year.  According to the WCA’s first president, Harriet M. Barlow’s own account, during the organization’s initial meetings, three homeless elderly women “with sorrowful stories” approached her asking assistance.  After attempts to place one woman in her own home, and two in boarding homes Barlow, the wife of a prosperous Toledo merchant, together with the Association determined that “something must be done.”  After visiting and inquiring into boarding homes in Cleveland and Cincinnati, progressive-minded Toledo women under the auspices of the WCA, founded the organization successively named The Home for Friendless Women, The Old Ladies Home, then Sunset House.

            Press reports of the newly formed organization expressed sentimentality toward the elderly similar to that revealed in Victorian reform efforts directed toward mothers and orphans.  Blade newspaper accounts, such as that depicting a picture of grim homeless elderly women and asking, “Where will these woman go when twilight falls?”, produced a large amount of public sympathy and support.  The Home for Friendless Women began in five rooms on Locust Street rented with funds from the WCA, one ill lady and a matron.  As the Home consumed an inordinate share of its energies and resources, the WCA soon decided that it should become a separate entity.  Incorporated in 1872, Harriet Barlow, so instrumental in Sunset House’s formation, also became the organization’s first president.

            The early organization gained funds through membership subscriptions, providing plays and various community entertainments, bequests and, in particular, an annual party that became a major event in Toledo’s social season.  Soon outgrowing its facilities, the organization repaid its debt to the WCA and brought the Bissell Home on Woodruff Avenue, near LaGrange Street.

            The late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century history of the Home provides insights into Toledo’s rapid growth and the desire to create new community structures within an urban setting.  In its early years, the organization took in “friendless” women of all types--young and old, sick and well, unwed mothers and children, transients as well as permanent residents.  However, with increasing applications and the formation of City Hospital and The Retreat--a home for unwed mothers, by the late 1880’s the Home began to concentrate on the relatively healthy elderly woman, seen to be most in keeping with its original mission.

            In 1888, by means of a large bequest by Toledo brewer W.J. Findlay, the organization acquired and renovated the expansive home at the corner of Collingwood and Central Avenues that would be its home for the next forty years.  The location, now the site of the Kent Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Library, was believed to be just far away from the central city to provide residents a pure and serene environment.  With many of Toledo’s wealthiest citizens on its Board of Directors and all-male advisory board, the building bore more resemblance to a sprawling mansion than a charitable institution.  In keeping with its new focus on elderly women, the organization formally changed its name to “The Old Ladies Home” in 1889.  Advertised as a place of “rest for the weary,” by the 1890’s the Home had also gained a reputation for gentility.

            By 1928, growth of the Old Ladies Home and the deterioration of existing facilities, again forced consideration of a new building.  Ten acres of land were purchased at 4020 Indian Rd., an expanding residential portion of the city bordering the village of Ottawa Hills.  By the 1930’s the Home operated almost entirely upon its long-sought after endowment fund achieved in 1920 as the result of bequests and donations, as well as moneys received from the Community Chest.  Contributions from a generous public, including substantial funds from the late manufacturer and industrialist Edward Libbey, Mrs. Clarence Brown and Arthur Secor, enabled completion of a four-story manor-style building on the Indian Road site as home for fifty women.

            During the 1970’s the organization’s name was formally changed to “Sunset House,” the name by which it had been informally known by residents for some time.  Modern expansion of its facilities by a one-story annex built in 1965 and several other additions has enabled the institution to house more residents.  Increased nursing staff has likewise enabled accommodation of sick as well as healthy women.  Presently there are no entrance requirements for the Home’s women residents.

Sunset House extended its influence beyond its walls in 1988, when its active auxiliary organization initiated “Project Keep,” a program which delivers meals to homebound elderly within a three-mile radius.  Throughout its history, the Home has profited from the volunteer contributions of numerous lay individuals and many professionals.  In 1971 Sunset House celebrated its 100th anniversary, and in 1996 its 125th.  In the 1990’s the institution continues to provide an intimate, spacious environment to approximately 100 women residents.  The non-profit organization continues to reflect its unique history and evolution as an unusual experiment in women’s urban reform.

 

Scope and Content Note

        

            The records of Sunset House, Toledo, Ohio, 1871-1996, are comprised of administrative records, financial records, ephemera and memorabilia, including annual reports, treasurers reports, membership and admission committee reports, a visitor’s register, board minutes, correspondence, cash books, financial ledgers, accountants reports, financial statements, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, secondary and primary source histories of the institution and residents, proclamations and slides.  The first twenty-five years of the organization are well documented; subsequent periods to a lesser extent.

            The collection is divided into three primary series and arranged alphabetically, then chronologically. (S1) Administrative Records, pertains to the general matters of running the Home as taken up by its chief administrator, board of directors, and various administrative committees.  It contains numerous general administrative and committee reports, board minutes, statements of policy, by-laws, constitutions, and correspondence related to administrative matters, as well as two annual reports of the Women’s Christian Association (WCA). (S2) Financial Records, contains more specific information related to financial matters including resident (“inmate”) accounts, bank records of the home, bequests and donations, bills, lists of donors, and miscellaneous receipts, and contains its own correspondence section on finance-related issues. (S3) Ephemera/Memorabilia contains photographs, slides, scrapbooks, invitations, newspaper clippings, and proclamations, which reflect the more definable, material aspects of the institution’s history.

            Within each series, the collection is divided into three sub-series, arranged alphabetically, then chronologically. “The Home for Friendless Women” sub-series represents the span of years 1871-1888; “The Old Ladies Home,” 1889-1929; and “Sunset House,” 1930-1996. These name changes reflect, although somewhat imperfectly, the physical location of the organization, as well as alterations in its services and mission. Consequently, this arrangement appears most useful and appropriate.  Documents that span years overlapping the chronology of the sub-series arrangement are placed according to their beginning dates.

 

Series List

S1

Administrative Records

 

1871-1996, .8 linear feet

 

Arranged chronologically and alphabetically

 

Included in this series are various administrative reports, including annual reports, treasurers’ reports, and reports of the membership and admissions committees. Two annual reports of the Women's Christian Organization (WCA), the institution's formative precursor organization, are also included. A visitor's register, correspondence related to administrative matters, statements of admission policy, by-laws, and constitutions are also represented in this series.

S2

Financial Records

 

ca. 1870's-1962, 1.3 linear feet

 

Arranged chronologically and alphabetically.

 

Materials in this series include cash books, cash ledgers, journals, accountant's reports, financial statements, bills, donor lists, inmate account and bank records, bequest and finance-related correspondence.

S3

Ephemera/Memorabilia

 

ca. 1870's-1996, 2.6 linear feet

 

Arranged chronologically and alphabetically.

 

The Ephemera/Memorabilia series consists of newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, party invitations, various primary and secondary source histories of residents and the Home itself, proclamations, photographs and slides of the three principal buildings of the institution, and of the staff, its volunteers and residents.

 

Folder Listing

Box

Folder

Item

 

 

 

 

 

S1. Administrative Records

 

 

  Home for Friendless Women

1

1

    1st Annual Report, 1873

 

2

    2nd Annual Report, 1874

 

3

    3rd Annual Report, 1875

 

4

    4th Annual Report, 1876

 

5

    5th Annual Report, 1877

 

6

    6th Annual Report, 1878

 

7

    7th Annual Report, 1879

 

8

    8th Annual Report, 1880

 

9

    9th Annual Report, 1881

 

10

    10th Annual Report, 1882

 

11

    11th Annual Report, 1883

 

12

    12th Annual Report, 1884

 

13

    13th Annual Report, 1885

 

14

    14th Annual Report, 1886

 

15

    15th Annual Report, 1887

 

16

    Board Minutes, May 1871-December 1903

 

17

    Board Minutes, April 1882-March 1893

 

18

    Correspondence, 1870’s

 

19

    Correspondence, 1880’s

 

20

    Donations to the Building Fund, 1873-1874

 

21

    “No. of Persons in the Home,” 1876

 

22

    “Persons Admitted to the Home,” 1875

 

23

    Secretary’s Annual Report, (ca. 1874)

 

24

    Visitor’s Register, June 1878-June 1897

 

25

    Women’s Christian Association, 1st Annual Report, 1871

 

26

    Women’s Christian Association, 2nd Annual Report, 1872

 

 

  Old Ladies Home

 

27

    16th Annual Report, 1889

 

28

    17th Annual Report, 1890

 

29

    18th Annual Report, 1891

 

30

    19th Annual Report, 1892

 

31

    23rd Annual Report, 1896

 

32

    26th Annual Report, 1899

 

33

    27th Annual Report, 1900

 

34

    29th Annual Report, 1902

 

35

    37th Annual Report, 1910

 

36

    47th Annual Report, 1920

 

37

    Constitution and By-Laws, (n.d.)

 

38

    Constitution, Toledo Council of Social Agencies (ca. 1920)

 

39

    Correspondence, 1903

 

40

    Correspondence, The Toledo Community Chest, 1920

 

41

    Correspondence, Toledo War Chest, 1918

 

42

    Pay Roll, Old Ladies Home, December 1, 1935

 

43

    Register for the Inmates of the Home, 1887-1943

 

44

    Rules for Admission (n.d.)

 

45

    Publication, “A Happy Day,” (n.d.)

 

46

    Summary of the Board of Managers Meeting, October, 1929

 

47

    Treasurer’s Annual Reports, 1893-1924

 

 

Sunset House

 

48

    58th Annual Report, 1931

 

49

    94th Annual Presidents Report

 

50

    Centennial Report, 1971

 

51

    Correspondence, 1930’s

 

52

    Correspondence, 1950’s

 

53

    Correspondence, 1970’s

 

54

    Correspondence, 1996

 

55

     Fee Information, 1984

 

56

     Newsletters, “Sunset Scenes,” 1986-1988

 

57

     Publications, Brochures, (n.d.)

 

58

     Treasurer’s Annual Report, 1931       

 

 

S2. Financial Records

 

 

   Home For Friendless Women

 

59

     Bank Accounts with Toledo Savings, Ketchum, and Union Savings

 

60

      Ledger, January 1800-January 1889

 

61

      Miscellaneous Receipts, 1870’s

 

62

      Tax Statements and Receipts, 1873-1888

 

 

    Old Ladies Home

 

63

      Accountants’ Reports, 1919-1927

 

64

      Building Fund, List of Contributors, November 1928

 

65

      Building Fund, Receipts, Disbursements & List of Contributors, 1929

 

66

      Cash Accounts Ledger, December 1902-June 1909

 

67

      Cash Accounts Ledger, June 1908-June 1909 

2

1

      Cash Book, January 1891-August 1893

 

2

      Cash Book, May 1891-May 1897

 

3

      Cash Book, December 1895-December 1899

 

4

      Cash Book, March 1888-July 1893

 

5

      Cash Book, August 1893-May 1902

 

6

     Cash Book, June 1896-January 1901

 

7

      Cash Book, December 1899-June 1902

 

8

      Cash Book, February 1901-December 1907

 

9

      Cash Book, January 1908-May 1915

 

 

      Cash Journal, 1923-1934-OVERSIZED addition to Box 5

 

10

       Financial Statements of the Old Ladies Home, 1926-1930
          (OVERSIZED- Removed to Box 5, Folder 1)

 

11

       Furnishing Fund, Receipts & Disbursements, Contributors List, 1929

 

12

       Inmate Account Book, 1902-1908

 

13

       Miscellaneous Receipts, 1890’s

 

14

       Miscellaneous Receipts, 1920’s

 

15

       Journal, 1928-1937

 

16

       Ledger, 1928-1950’s

 

17

       Real Estate, Financial Bequests, 1902-1927

 

18

       Report of the Building Fund, 1929-1931

 

19

       Tax Statements and Receipts, 1889-1927

 

 

   Sunset House

 

 

     Cash Journal, 1935-1962-OVERSIZED addition to Box 5

 

20

     Correspondence, ca. 1940’s-1970’s

 

21

     Journal of Bills, August 1937-June 1945

 

22

     Journal of Bills, July 1945-August 1961

 

23

     Miscellaneous Receipts, 1930’s

 

24

     Real Estate Bequests, 1940’s-1960’s

 

 

S3. Ephemera/Memorabilia  

 

 

   Home For Friendless Women  

3

1

     Annual Party Invitations, 1886

 

2

     Newspaper Clippings, 1870’s

 

3

     Newspaper Clippings, 1880’s

 

4

     Photographs, Harriet Barlow, Founder (n.d.)

 

5

     Photographs, Home on Woodruff Ave., near LaGrange (n.d.)

 

6

     Photographs, Residents, 1909

 

 

   Old Ladies Home

 

7

     Newspaper Clippings, 1890’s

 

8

      Newspaper Clippings, 1910’s

 

9

      Newspaper Clippings, 1920’s

 

10

      Newspaper Clippings, Building Fund, 1929

 

11

      Photographs, Home on Collingwood near Central Ave. (n.d.)

 

 

   Sunset House

 

12

      Newspaper Clippings, 1930’s

 

13

      Newspaper Clippings, 1940’s

 

14

      Newspaper Clippings, 1950’s

 

15

      Newspaper Clippings, 1960’s

 

16

      Newspaper Clippings, 1970’s

 

17

      “Project Keep”--Newspaper Clippings and Brochure

 

18

      Photographs, Buildings and Grounds, (n.d.)
         (1 OVERSIZED photo moved to Box 5, Folder 2)

 

19

      Photographs of Residents

 

20

      Photographs of Staff and Volunteers

 

21

      Photographs of Unknown Persons

 

22

      Previous Histories/Chronicles of Events

 

 

      Proclamations from Government Officials
        (OVERSIZED, moved to Box 5, Folder 3)

 

23

      Programs from Residents’ Annual Tea, October 1976

 

 

 

4

1

      Scrapbook, Vol. 1, 1930-1953

 

2

      Scrapbook, Vol. 2, 1951-1958

 

3

      Slides (3 boxes)

 

4

      Slides (3 boxes)

 

 

 

5

 

Contains oversized materials as described above.    

 

 

 

 

Last Updated: 1/3/12