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1920s - The Great Depression

By 1934, with the country in the throes of the Great Depression, 356 children, ranging in age from 2 to 21 years, were living at the Home and another 155 were in foster care. Ten adoptions were completed.

Children and staff celebrate the 4th of July in 1920. the Maumee River is in the background.

Not surprisingly, the population of the Home was greater during the Depression than during any other time in its history. Despite the economic ills gripping the country, the children at the Home were well looked after. A story from the February 17, 1935 edition of the Toledo Times notes that in the previous nine years, only one child had died while residing at the Home, "and that of an incurable disease contracted elsewhere." The Times cited a survey listing children in the Lucas County home as having the best teeth among children in similar institutions across the country. The story also referred to the daily regimen of 27 square feet of coffee cake and 200 loaves of bread made in the kitchen.

Among the approximately 70 employees were a physician, six nurses who ran the Home's hospital, and a visiting dentist. At this time, children of grade-school age were educated at the Home. Those of junior-high age attended school at Ft. Miami, and high school students went to Maumee High.

Residents of the Home enjoy a cookout in 1922.
The photo is labeled "at the reservation"
indicating these boys were likely participating
in a day away from the Home.

By 1934, the Home's operating budget had grown to nearly $125,000. The federal Social Security Act of 1935 established, among many other programs, significant federal aid for child welfare. Federal grants were contingent upon states developing organized, comprehensive methods for caring for their dependent children.

In August 1920, a new recreation building was completed at a cost of $100,000. Twelve years later, three additional cottages were constructed as replacements for dormitories that had existed since the 1880s. The new cottages had living space for 24 children each. Several special tax levies were passed to finance these improvements.