The number of helpless poor in Massachusetts increased during the period of the 1840s, and the problem was greatly magnified by Irish immigration to the United States. Too large a problem to be solved on the local level, the Board of Commissioners of Alien Passengers recommended, in 1852, that the State establish three almshouses. Accordingly, the institutions were established at Bridgewater, Monson to the west, and Tewksbury to the north of Boston, and were opened in May 1854. By the end of the first year the number of inmates far exceeded expectations.

Note on the Author

Lucille O’Connell is Professor of History at Bridgewater State College and a Research Associate at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.