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Children’s Aid and Family Services of Hampshire County Inc.

Children's Aid and Family Service Records

1910-ca. 2001
10 boxes 8 linear feet
Call no.: MS 008

Children’s Aid and Family Service was an agency providing traditional child and family service and extensive mental health services. Working closely with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, CAFS was a member of the Child Welfare League of America and the Northampton representative for the National Association of Travelers Aid Societies.

This collection includes ten versions of the CAFS constitution, typed personal recollections from the 25th anniversary, annual reports, minutes, and the correspondence of president Miriam Chrisman (1952-1957). Of special note, Mrs. Calvin Coolidge was the chair of the Home Finding Committee of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which helped to found the CAFS.

Historical Note

In March 1910, the Home Finding Committee of the
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children, with Mrs. Calvin Coolidge as Chair, met to discuss
the establishment and management of a temporary home for
children in need of such assistance. With an initial gift of
$250 from Mrs. Arthur Curtis Jones, the first house was
outfitted. Private contributions funded the
Committee/Association’s operations until 1921 when it became
a member of the Community Chest Association of Northampton,

The committee’s conviction of the necessity of its
becoming a child placing agency in addition to providing care
in the Home, led to its resigning from the SPCC and to its
being granted a charter in January 1911, as the Children’s
Home Association, serving Franklin and Hampshire counties.
The first officers were: President, Mrs. William Ganon; Vice
President, Mrs. A. L. Sessions; Secretary, Mrs. L.M.
Scoville; and Treasurer, Miss Clara P. Bodman. The directors
themselves sought foster homes for the children who were to
be “placed out” until 1913, when a professional placing agent
was hired with funds donated by one of the directors for the

Among those serving on the first Advisory Board were: L.
Clark Seelye, F.W. Pitcher, John Skinner, Collins H. Gere,
Robert L. Williston, and William E. Shannon.

The opening of the New England Home for Little Wanderers
in Greenfield, Massachusetts in 1914 left the Association
free to concentrate on Hampshire County. The spacious new
Temporary Home at 425 Prospect Street, Northampton, purchased
in 1915, made possible the provision of the increasingly
sought-after services of the Association. As a result of this
increased activity, the first trained Executive Secretary was
hired in 1917. This same year brought the first financial
drive and the appointment of Association Directors in every
county town. In an effort to clarify the scope of its
activities to include foster care, the Association changed
its name in 1919 to the Children’s Aid Association.

Until mid-century the nature of the CAA remained
essentially unchanged, though greater emphasis came to be
placed on foster care than on institutional care in the Home.
The 1927 Annual Report indicates that the loss of the town of
Enfield to the Quabbin Reservoir project meant to CAA the
loss of many foster homes upon which the Association had
relied. During this time, in addition to its usual
operations, the CAA was called upon for aid in World War I,
influenza epidemics, the Depression, the flood of 1936, the
hurricane and flood of 1938, and World War II, when the US
Committee for the Care of European Children asked for its

Through the years the CAA worked closely with the SPCC,
maintained membership in the Child Welfare League of America,
and became the Northampton representative for the National
Association of Travelers Aid Societies. In addition, locally,
the Association was a member of the Northampton Council of
Social Agencies, the Community Chests of Amherst,
Easthampton, Southampton, and Ware, and, later, the Hampshire
United Way.

In 1954, the closing of the Temporary Home signaled
another change in the CAA’s focus — from child-placing to
counseling, which came to be reflected in the name adopted in
1962, The Children’s Aid and Family Service Association. This
change was accompanied by growth in an increasingly
professionalized staff. In 1966, in a move indicative of its
future course, CAFS contracted with the Northampton School
Department to provide social work service in the Headstart
Program and in the School Adjustment Counselor Program. New
contracts in 1972 called for the provision of social work in
the Hampshire County Chronic Disease Hospital and in private
nursing homes, and a service for drug users. By 1976, CAFS
had evolved into an agency providing both traditional child
and family service and extensive mental health services.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of the Children’s Aid and Family Service
Association of Hampshire County, Inc., deposited in the
Archives at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in
1985 by Jerrold Aspengren, Director, document the activities
and nature of the agency from its volunteer beginnings to its
layered, professional 1981 structure.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

There are no restrictions on access to the records;
however, the confidentiality and anonymity of all clients
mentioned in the records must be maintained in published
works that reference the records.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Children’s Aid and Family Service Records (MS 8). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

The records of Children’s Aid and Family Service of
Hampshire County, Inc., formerly Children’s Aid
Association, were placed on deposit in the Archives of
the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in October,
1984, by Jerrold Aspengren, Director of CAFS.

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Seidman, 1985.

Additional Information
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Series Descriptions

Series 1 includes 10
versions of the constitution, 1910-1968, reflective of the
changing mission of the Association. Included in the
histories are typed personal recollections from 1935, the
25th anniversary of the Association, by Ruth Sessions
(covering 1910-1918) and Agnes Hinckley (covering 1918-1920).
In addition, a pamphlet tracing the Association’s history
by quoting from the personal recollections and the annual
reports and minutes is included. A later, mimeographed
one-page overview, pre-1954, highlights significant
moments in the Association’s early history.


The annual reports not only
provide narratives by executive officers of the year’s
activities as well as statistics and financial reports,
but also, particularly through 1940, evoke prevailing
attitudes and customs in Northampton and surrounding
towns, especially with respect to the family, children,
ethnic groups, volunteerism, and social work. While the
richness of the reports diminishes thereafter, and by
1974 comprises only a brief brochure, the growing
complexity of the agency is evident nevertheless,
particularly when the reports are used in conjunction
with the minutes, which continue to be revealing.


Series 3comprises a nearly complete run of
minutes from the first meeting in 1910 until 1981,
including some correspondence when minute-books were
used, and including as well, reports from various
committees (Clothing, Case, County, for example) not in
the Annual Reports. The minutes detail the work of the
Association and its volunteers and staff.


The correspondence in Series 4, CORRESPONDENCE,
years 1952-1957, and was for the most part that which was
kept by President Miriam Chrisman during her tenure.
Other correspondence was originally filed at the
appropriate date in minute-books and was left there in
processing. On the whole, however, correspondence for
this collection is sparse.

The bulk of the reports in this series are those
prepared for accreditation visits by the Child Welfare
League of America and the study of CAA done by the
Northampton (Hampshire County) Council of Social Agencies
in 1950. The miscellaneous records are a record book of
the County Committee, 1949-1951; the Children’s Home
Building Fund records, 1915-1919; and a record of
presentations of “A Door is Open” for 1966-1969.

Contents List
Series 1. Constitution and Histories
Constitution, various versions,
Box 1:1
Histories of CAFS
Box 1:2

Series 2. Annual Reports
Annual reports,
Box 1:3-26
Annual reports,
Box 2:27-44

Series 3. Minutes
Box 3:45-52
Box 4:53-58
Box 5:59-72
Box 6:73-87

Series 4. Correspondence, Reports, and Miscellaneous Records
1952-1957, n.d.
Box 7:88
Miscellaneous records:
Box 7:89-91
County Committee record book,
Box 7
Children’s Home Building Fund records,
Box 7
“A Door is Open” record of presentations,
Box 7
Box 7:92-100
CAA Study Committee, Northampton Council
of Social Agencies,
Box 7
Child Welfare League of America,
1959, 1962, 1967
Box 7
Box 7
Northampton Community Chest, minutes and
annual report,
Box 7


Child mental health services--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--HistoryChild welfare--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--HistoryChildren--Institutional care--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--HistoryCoolidge, Grace Goodhue, 1879-1957Floods--MassachusettsFoster home care--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--HistoryFranklin County (Mass.)--Social conditionsHampshire County (Mass.)--Social conditionsHomeless children--Massachusetts--Franklin County--HistoryHomeless children--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--HistoryHurricanes--MassachusettsNorthampton (Mass.)--Intellectual life--HistoryNorthampton (Mass.)--Social conditionsSocial service--Massachusetts--Hampshire County--HistoryVoluntarism--Massachusetts--History


Children's Aid Association (Hampshire County, Mass.)Children's Aid and Family Service of Hampshire County (Hampshire County, Mass.)Children's Home Association (Franklin County, Mass. and Hampshire County, Mass.)Chrisman, Miriam UsherMassachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Home Finding Committee