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Paupers and Lunatics: Caring for Virginia's Poor

Lecture by Lynn Rainville

  • Date: 12/01/2019 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM  
  • Location: Thomas Balch Library
    208 W Market St
    Leesburg, Virginia 20176
  • Introduction: Lynn Rainville is an author, speaker, and public historian who studies ordinary Virginians doing extraordinary things in the past. After earning a PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology, she spent two decades studying historic cemeteries, gravestones, enslaved communities and their descendants, town poor f

For over two centuries, rural Virginian communities sponsored “town farms” that housed a wide range of dependent people. The goal was to provide room and board for individuals who were deemed socially or morally “unworthy” by their peers. Most of these facilities were closed by World War II; today the remains of these poorhouses are hard to find. This talk illustrates primary sources revealing the original distribution and function of poor farms throughout the Commonwealth, and conclude with an analysis of everyday lives of the Overseers of the poor and of inmates of this public institution.

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