Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) System Illinois State Archives

County Home

Public care of the poor in Illinois began in 1819. In that year, the General Assembly passed a law mandating public care and maintenance of those unable to support themselves and without family support. County overseers of the poor farmed out care of the destitute to private citizens.1

In 1839, this system was reauthorized. County commissioners' courts were also authorized to establish county poorhouses, at their own discretion, to replace the farm-out system; to hire keepers of the poor, and to levy a property tax for poorhouse support.2 This poorhouse authorization was renewed in 1845 and 1861.3

An 1874 law required all keepers of county poorhouses to keep books of account.4 In 1917, counties were authorized to establish joint poorhouses and poor farms with other counties; and in 1919, the county poorhouses' names were changed to county homes.5 The county home law was renewed in 1935 and 1945.6

In 1949, the Public Assistance Code was passed, making relief of the indigent a function of the new county departments of welfare. County homes were reauthorized only for care of infirm or chronically ill persons; counties were specifically forbidden from placing destitute but physically healthy persons in county homes.7 In 1967, the Public Aid Code repealed the county home laws and deauthorized the county homes remaining in Illinois.8

Record Descriptions

1L. 1819, p. 127.
2L. 1839, p. 138.
3Rev. Stat. 1845, p. 402; L. 1861, p. 181.
4Rev. Stat. 1874, p. 754.
5L. 1917, p. 638; L. 1919, p. 698.
6L. 1935, p. 1055; L. 1945, p. 1139.
7L. 1949, p. 404.
8L. 1967, p. 118.