Mothers Pension Fund
Application for Relief
According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, the Illinois state legislature passed the first statewide mothers’ pension law in the United States in 1911. It was intended to provide a universal subsidy to families with dependent children but without an adult male income. The pensions were supported by child welfare reformers, women’s clubs and juvenile court judges as an improvement over the existing options that sent families to the poor house, forced mothers to give up their children, or turned children into wage earners. By 1920, forty states had mothers’ pension programs.
The information contained in the Mother’s Pension files could prove to be very helpful to a family historian. The reasons for requesting assistance from the county include death, divorce and desertion. Information that may be included in the file are birth, marriage and death dates as well as religion, name of church attended, occupations and the names and addresses of relatives and employers.
If you would like a copy of the file, please read our Research Assistance Policy.
For more information about mothers’ pensions, visit www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org