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Guide to the San Diego Center for Children Records MS 227
MS 227  
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Collection Details
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  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Scope and Content

  • Title: San Diego Center for Children Records
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 227
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 10.75 Linear feet (20 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1887-2000
    Abstract: This collection contains the records of the San Diego Center for Children of which includes details of registered children, scrapbooks, photographs, and documents regarding internal operations.
    creator: San Diego Center for Children.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Aimee Santos on December 19, 2011.
    Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Preferred Citation

    San Diego Center for Children Records, MS 227, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.


    Collection is arranged into six series:
    Series I: Administration
    Series II: Reports
    Series III: Finances
    Series IV: Correspondence
    Series V: Membership, Development, and Publicity
    Series VI: The Children
    The items in each series are arranged by subject.

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    In 1887, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, San Diego Chapter, invested $1000 in a “home for indigent gentlewomen.” On February 17, 1887, the Center, located at 1365 16th Street, began as the Women’s Home Association for poor, aged and destitute women. In 1888, the Women’s Home Association created a Day Care Nursery as a service for working mothers and widowed fathers. The County began placing more and more children in the Day Nursery due to a surge of disadvantaged people. San Diego businessman and philanthropist, Byrant Howard, proposed a union of the Woman’s Home and Day Nursery and his Children’s Industrial Home which was an organization to serve the needs of homeless, abused, and delinquent children in San Diego. The Home and Day Nursery accepted the proposal which qualified the establishment for state aid. The San Diego Children’s Industrial Home, relocated to the present site of the Naval Hospital. In 1898, the name was changed to the Women’s and Children’s Home of San Diego and then the name was changed once again in 1904 to the San Diego Children’s Home Association. Finally, in 1975, the San Diego Children’s Home Association changed its name to the San Diego Center for Children. In an agreement with the City in the 1950s, the Home received an eight-acre building site in Kearny Mesa and $160,500 in cash in exchange for its 16th Street property which would be bisected by freeway construciton in 1957. An additional amount of $130,000 was raised through a fundraising campaign for the new Home, and on January 9, 1959, construction began of the Home at its present location on 3002 Armstrong Street in Kearny Mesa. The new Home consisted of three child care cottages, a classroom, a utility building, and a treatment building, which housed administration offices. The classroom, called the Cosgrove School, was the Home’s first on-grounds classroom with a capacity for nine children at a time.
    Many women were involved in the prosperity of the Center beginning with founders Mrs. George Marston, Mrs. E.S. Babcock, Mrs. W.W. Stewart, Mrs. Carl S. Murray, and Miss E.M. Chapin. Women who served as presidents included Mrs. H.P. Davison, Mrs. M.H. Lesem, Mrs. Julius Wangenheim, Mrs. B.J. O’Neill, and Bernice Cosgrove. Another woman, Mrs. Winifred Lee Percival, served as Superintendent. It is also noted that George Horne served as Superintendent and Executive Director for some time.
    The Center is San Diego’s oldest accredited non-profit organization and depends largely on the support from organizations and the San Diego public for funding. Promotional events such as the first Charity Ball in 1905, held under Mrs. Lena Sefton Wakefield, also contributed to the Center’s financial needs. Much later, a Gala party was thrown at the Hotel del Coronado on April 16, 1977 to celebrate 90 years of the Center’s success in San Diego. In 70 years, the Center took in approximately 6,000 homeless and neglected children.
    The Center was known to provide care, affection, and understanding for children and it was never a disciplinary institution. According to the circumstances, the Center provided temporary or permanent housing for orphans, half-orphans, and abandoned children. Children were also taken in, in the case of sickness or an emergency in the family. Ages of children ranged from a few weeks to 14 years old.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession number 911024.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains records from the San Diego Center for Children since its inception in 1887, including admission and medical records on the children admitted to the Center as well as general administrative and operational documents. Administrative documents include Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, reports, internal and external correspondence, and financial records. There are also newsletters, brochures and pamphlets regarding community outreach. Documents pertaining to the central focus of the Center, the children, include admission registers and medical history cards of children admitted as early as October 6, 1888, as well as a visitor’s book dated from 1911 to 1991 and scrapbooks containing photographs and newspaper clippings. Also included are photographs of the children, the Center’s buildings and grounds, and events.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Babcock, E. S., Mrs.
    California. Dept. of Social Welfare.
    California. State Relief Administration.
    Chapin, E. M., Mrs.
    Child Welfare League of America.
    Chojnacki, Frank
    Community Chest.
    Cosgrove, Bernice
    Crosby, Bing, 1903-1977
    Daugherty, Charles
    Davison, H. P., Mrs.
    Day, Horace B., Mrs.
    First Women's Christian Temperance Union of San Diego.
    Fischer, Adam, 1888-1968
    Gary, Cary, Ames and Driscoll.
    Gill, Irving, 1870-1936
    Holly Sefton Memorial Hospital.
    Howard, Bryant
    Jennings, F.S.
    Kelcher, Louis
    Lesem, M. H., Mrs.
    Marston, George White, 1850-1946
    Marston, George, Mrs.
    Murray, Carl S., Mrs.
    Neyes, Charles
    O'Neill, B. J., Mrs.
    Percival, Winifred Lee
    San Diego (Calif.). Dept. of Public Health.
    San Diego Center for Children.
    San Diego Chargers (Football team).
    San Diego Trust & Savings Bank (Calif.).
    Sefton, Joseph W., 1882-1966
    Sefton, Joseph, Mrs.
    Stewart, W. W., Mrs.
    Stewart, W. W.
    United States. Food and Drug Administration.
    Wakefield, Lena Sefton
    Wangenheim, Julius, Mrs.
    Wangenheim, Julius
    White, Ed
    Whitney, W. W., Mrs.
    Zarelli, George
    Abandoned children
    Child mental health
    Child welfare
    Children -- Institutional care
    Day care centers
    Mental health
    Non-profit organizations
    San Diego (Calif.)
    Social service