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Ulster County Poorhouse

For those of you interested in the history of poverty and how people who could not take care of themselves were treated, I put up an exhibit for the Ulster County Clerk’s Office called The Ulster County Poorhouse Project.

Between the years 1828 and 1976, the Ulster County Fairgrounds was the site of the Ulster County Poorhouse. A poorhouse was a tax-supported residential institution to which people were required to go if they could not support themselves without community assistance. Thousands of individuals, including the indigent, the destitute, the insane, the intemperate, transient farm workers, freed slaves, unemployed canal and aqueduct builders, “debauched” women, unwed mothers, the friendless, the elderly, the disabled and the sick, called this site their home.

A Scene at the Poorhouse

I spent several years compiling information for the site and eventually created a curriculum for middle and high school students. If any of you teach these grade levels, you can get a free copy by calling the Ulster County Hall of Records at 845-340-3415 and asking for it.

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