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Florence Crittenton Home of Norfolk Records

Collection ID: MG 13

Scope and Contents

The records of the Florence Crittenton Home of Norfolk contains the institutional records of the home during their eighty years service to Norfolk. Included in the collection are histories, business and financial records, studies, reports, memorials, testimonials, correspondence, scrapbooks, and newspapers clippings. Delivery room registers of mother and chld are also included but are restricted to only those described in the records (mother or child). The last name of both mother and child are redacted.


  • 1891-1978, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/13/1977



24.60 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to researchers with two exceptions. Boxes 5-12a are permanently closed to the researcher because they contain sensitive employee and personnel records. Secondly, delivery room registers are closed to all patrons except those mentioned in the records because they are health records. Please note that the last names of all mothers and children born at Florence Crittenton Home have been redacted from the records.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Biographical or Historical Information

The Florence Crittenton Association of America (FCAA) began in New York City in 1883. Mr. Charles Nelson Crittenton was a wealthy wholesale druggist whose four-year-old daughter, Florence, died in 1882. Six months later, on April 19, 1883, he opened the Florence Night Mission at 29 Bleeker Street as a memorial to her. Intended initially to help the prostitutes of that city escape from that lifestyle, its scope was gradually enlarged to include other women needing help. The name was changed to The Florence Crittenton Mission, and Congress gave its approval when, by a special act in 1893, it passed its articles of incorporation. The Florence Crittenton Home of Norfolk was certainly among the earliest ones found in this country. In 1891, Mrs. R. H. Jones, the president of the Virginia Women's Christian Temperance Union befriended one unwed mother in Norfolk. This action, in turn, was followed by the establishment of a little two-room house in the Huntersville area, which was later closed when a five-room area was located in the Brambleton area of the city. These two homes were both known as "The White Anchorage." At the 1893 National W.C.T.U. Conference in Denver, the Norfolk Chapter gave a report of its work and Mr. Crittenton was so impressed that he contributed one thousand dollars to aid their effort. As a result, the name of the Home was changed to Florence Crittenton and it was incorporated as such in Virginia in 1894. Largely because of Mr. Crittenton’s strenuous efforts in support of this new service, many Crittenton Homes were soon opened throughout the country. At first, these homes were also designed as “Rescue Homes” but the scope of services, particularly after World War I, gradually shifted to caring for unwed mothers and their children. The only exception to this was the Barrett Home in New York City, which was a residential treatment center for adolescent girls. The highwater mark of the National Crittenton Program came during the 1960’s when there were more than seventy maternity homes, the Barrett Home, and a non-residential service for unwed mothers in Lowell, Massachusetts. Though changing social patterns, customs, and laws led to a gradual decline in the total number of homes during the 1970’s, thirty-five homes, including one in Lynchburg, Virginia, remained in operation as late as 1978. For various reasons, the National Crittenton organization found it necessary to operate as two separate but cooperative agencies. The first, known as The National Florence Crittenton Mission, is primarily concerned with all financial matters affecting the individual homes and the national organization. The Mission coordinates the various levels of its work through “The Central Extension Committee” which derives its members from the Mission’s ranks and from each of the participating homes. This committee had as its initial task the establishment of the Florence Crittenton Association of America, an agency with the tasks of consultation, setting of standards, doing research for the member agencies, and developing relationships with similar organizations. In this structure, the member homes operated as cooperative but autonomous entities who, apart from certain qualification standards and financial matters, generally charted their own direction. While the National Association is staffed by professional social workers and is responsible for coordinating the activities of the various homes, the Mission administers an endowment left by Mr. Crittenton and expanded by Dr. Robert South Barrett, long time president of the Mission. This Mission also pays the largest share of the Association's expenses and keeps in reserve an amount to help the individual homes in building and alteration projects. Any requests for such funds, which were received by the Association, were passed directly to the Mission, whose president is a member of the Association's Executive Board. Mr. Crittenton died in 1911 and was succeeded as President of the Mission by Dr. Kate Waller Barrett; upon her death in 1925, her son, Dr. Robert South Barrett became president; and he, in turn, was succeeded by his son, Rear Admiral (Ret) John P. Barrett. In a brief ceremony on June 1, 1977, Mrs. John A. Byrd, President of the Florence Crittenton Board, turned over the deed to the Crittenton property to Old Dominion University. A resolution from that Board was read by Board member Mrs. Irving Salsbury, and a plaque recognizing the gift was unveiled by Mrs. James A. Howard; Mrs. Byrd; Dr. Charles O. Burgess, Vice President for Academic Affairs at ODU; and Mercer Davis, President of the ODU Educational Foundation. In expressing the University's appreciation for the Crittenton Board's generosity, Dr. Burgess said "Like the Crittenton Home, Old Dominion University is committed to serving the needs of the area - of this region. ODU's School of Continuing Studies will be located here, allowing continued growth in its programs that are already serving more than 20,000 persons each year in noncredit and off-campus credit programs." The subsequent 80-year history of the Norfolk Home was a rich and varied effort to meet the needs of unwed mothers and their children. The following is a brief chronology of the home: 1891: Founding of "The White Anchorage" 1893: The National Convention of W.C.T.U where Mr. Crittenton donated $1,000.00 to the Norfolk effort. Name changed to the "Florence Crittenton Home" 1894: Charter obtained in April 1897: Mr. Crittenton visited Norfolk Home 1899: Obstetrical ward added 1909: Clara E. Marshall began working at the Norfolk Home 1911: Day Nursery for working class children established 1920: Norfolk Home moved to 52nd Street ("Beth—Haven”) and Norfolk Day Nursery began to operate independently 1923: Became member agency of Norfolk Community Fund May 31, 1940: Clara E. Marshall died August 1941: Velma Mauk employed as new Superintendent (Here after designated Executive Director) 1945-59: Home consisted of two older houses connected by arcade. There were living facilities for 24 residents and all babies were delivered on the premises. 1950-54: West building condemned; a new and larger house built for residents; staff continued to use remaining old house. The obstetrical ward at the home was closed and new arrangements made with Norfolk General Hospital. 1954: Velma Mauk retired; Genrose Gehri employed as new Executive Director 1955-59: Staff increased and professionalized;  new dietary program established; new fee schedule introduced 1960-64: Nursery Closed; accredited school established in June 1963; registered nurse employed full-time February 26, 1964: Mrs. Chesley Lamb employed as Executive Director March 1, 1964: Miss Genrose Gehri retired as Executive Director October 10, 1965: Mrs. Chesley Lamb resigned, for personal reasons, as Executive Director; Miss Genrose Gehri returned as Temporary Executive Director. February 1, 1966: Mrs. Elizabeth Collins, ACSW, employed as Executive Director August 1, 1970: Mrs. Elizabeth Collins, ACSW, retired as Executive Director; Mr. Joseph Charon employed as Executive Director March 24, 1971: Name of Home changed to Florence Crittenton Services, Inc. October 1, 1971: Mr. Joseph Charon resigned, for personal reasons, as Executive Director October 19, 1971: Mr. Gerald Rosenmeier employed as temporary Executive Director December 15, 1971: New aspect of program initiated as limited intake of non-pregnant girls begun March 1, 1972: Mr. Milton Susco employed as Executive Director July 3, 1973: On the eve of closing, Mr. Milton Susco left as Executive Director December 31, 1973: Florence Crittenton Services, Inc. ceased operation January 1, 1974: Property rented to Tidewater Regional Detention Facilities to be used as Group Home for Girls January 22, 1975: Florence Crittenton Board of Directors placed on inactive status March 19, 1975: Florence Crittenton Services resigned from FCAA September 17, 1975: Florence Crittenton Services merged with Tidewater Children’s Foundation November 17, 1976: Florence Crittenton Services rescinded merger with Tidewater Children’s Foundation January 6, 1977: Security of the Norfolk Crittenton Home transferred to ODU Records of the Florence Crittenton Services partially transferred to ODU Archives. September 2007: Norfolk Crittenton Home which housed the Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography-Old Dominion University, was demolished to make way for waterfront homes.

Note written by Special Collections Staff

Language of Materials



Established in 1894 to respond to the needs of unwed mothers and their children. Contains the institutional records of the home during their eighty years service to Norfolk. Includes histories, business and financial records, studies, reports, memorials, testimonials, correspondence, scrapbooks, and newspapers clippings.

Arrangement Note

The collection is divided into eighteen series: Series I: History, General; Series II: History, Financial; Series III: History, Payroll; Series IV: Admissions and Procedures; Series V: Studies and Reports; Series VI: State Licensing Procedure; Series VII: Office Procedures; Series VIII: Records of the President; Series IX: Records of the Treasurer; Series X: Records of the Board; Series XI: Committees and Supporting Agencies; Series XII: Grants and Consultant Services; Series XIII: Memorials and Testimonials; Series XIV: Closing of the Home; Series XV: Correspondence; Series XVI: Miscellaneous; Series XVII: Scrapbooks and Photographs; and Series XVIII: Memorabilia.

Source of Acquisition

Florence Crittenton Board, Louauna S. Byrd, President

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #A77-3

A Guide to the Florence Crittenton Home of Norfolk Records
Doug Wright; Sonia Yaco (Revised 2010); Mel Frizzell (Revised 2013)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the ODU Community Collections Repository

3000 Perry Library
4427 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk VA 23529 US