The Filson has many wonderful and intelligent researchers, but every so often one comes in that really grabs your attention. Such was the case with Jennifer Armstrong. Over the past year, Armstrong has repeatedly visited The Filson archives, researching on behalf of the Home of The Innocents, a community institution dedicated to caring for abused, abandoned, and neglected children. Between 1882 and 1920, 220 infants and young children who died while at the home were buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in unmarked graves. When the current president of The Home of the Innocence as well as concerned citizens became aware of these long-forgotten graves, they immediately began raising money to erect a memorial marker. It has been the work of volunteers, namely Jennifer Armstrong, to discover the names of “Louisville’s forgotten children” to be engraved on the granite memorials.
A loan analyst by day, Armstrong volunteered countless hours at the Filson piecing together historical clues to identify hundreds of children. She searched in the Protestant Episcopal Orphan Asylum Records, scrutinized microfilm of vital records, and dug through Pearson Funeral Home records, all the while deciphering nineteenth century handwriting and keeping tedious notes on her findings. In the end Armstrong identified all but one child, who she says will remain “known only to God.”
A public unveiling and dedication of the two memorial markers will be in Cave Hill Cemetery this Sunday, November 1 at 2:00 pm.
Thank you Jennifer, for not letting these children be forgotten in death, as they often were in life.