Industrial School of Reform (Louisville, Ky.) Records, 1869-1958 

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator: Industrial School of Reform (Louisville, Ky.)

Title: Records, 1869-1958

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Collections Department.

Size of Collection: 3 volumes

Location Number: Mss. BJ I42

Scope and Content Note

Three volumes of admittance records for the Industrial School of Reform dating between 1869-1908. The three volumes are a part of an incomplete set and each date from: 1869-1872, 1901-1903 and 1906-1908 respectively. Attached to some pages are letters of inquiry from family members looking for information several decades later regarding past residents of the school. These attached letters date between the 1940s and 1950s.

These records are for white males, the only exceptions being a few entries in Volume 3 labeled “colored boy” that have a line drawn through the page, but are still legible. Each entry includes the boy’s name, age, date and terms of admittance, parentage, family history, physical description, weight, religion, education, employment, Sunday school attendance, cause of delinquency, terms and dates of release, as well as assessments of physical and personal condition.

Many entries list crimes of homelessness, loitering, truancy, theft, boarding trains, and incorrigibility among others. Some boys are listed as sent to the school by court order, while others are turned in by their guardian. Family histories are described with some detail with information such as siblings and parents’ names, addresses, employment and past crimes listed.


Historical Note

The Industrial School of Reform, originally known as the House of Refuge, was founded in 1854 by the Kentucky Legislature as a result of a rise in juvenile delinquency. The house was founded to reform juveniles and give religious, moral, and educational instruction. The home began admitting children in 1865 and was intended for boys ages 7-18 and girls ages 7-16. The institution grew in the decades after its founding to include separate buildings for various ages, a building for girls, and a building for “colored” boys as well as a library, workshops and other facilities.

The House of Refuge officially changed its name to the Industrial School of Reform in 1886. In 1920 following a merger with the Parental Home and School Commission, the institution became known as the Louisville and Jefferson County Children’s Home and moved to a larger property in Lyndon. The organization closed in 1968.

References: “House of Refuge.” Encyclopedia of Louisville, edited by John Kleber.


Volume List

Volume 1: Admission Record (white boys), 1869-1872

Volume 2: Admission Record (white boys), 1901-1903

Volume 3: Admission Record (white boys), 1906-1908


Subject Headings

African American children – Institutional care – Kentucky.

Child welfare – Kentucky – Louisville.

Homeless children.

House of Refuge (Louisville, Ky.)

Juvenile detention homes.


Louisville and Jefferson County Children’s Home.

Orphanages – Kentucky – Louisville.

Orphans – Kentucky – Louisville.


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