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Rhode Island. Department of Social Welfare (1939-1970)



  • Existence: 1939 - 1970

Historical Note

The Department of Social Welfare (1939-1968) was established as part of a major reorganization of state government into departments in the 1930s (Public Law 1935, ch. 2218, 2250.) Although the department was only created in 1939, it inherited most of the programs and records of its immediate predecessor, the Department of Public Welfare (1935-1939) which had succeeded the State Public Welfare Commission (1923-1935), formerly known as the Penal and Charitable Commission (1917-1923), and the Board of State Charities and Corrections (1869 - 1917), the state government's first social welfare agency.

During its thirty year existence the department became responsible for an enormous range of social programs and medical services. By the late 1960s the state began the process of dismantling the Department of Social Welfare and parceling out its many programs and functions to two newly established departments: Its "correctional" and "community service" functions (as well as vocational rehabilitation from the Department of Education) went to a new Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services, and the programs concerning "mental retardation”, “curative services," and "mental health law" went to the new Department of Mental Health, Retardation, and Hospitals (Rhode Island. Supplement to Public Laws, 1970. January Session, 1970, "Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1970.") The Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services’ remaining responsibilities still encompassed a broad range of functions, which would eventually be distributed among several future departments, including Children, Youth and Families; Labor and Training; Probation and Parole; Elderly Affairs, Veterans Affairs, and Human Services.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Department of Mental Health Death Log Books, Undertaker Logs and Autopsies

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2005-41.7
Dates: 1965-2000

Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals historical files

 Series — Folder 1-21 MHRH historical files 1939-2002
Identifier: 2008-34
Dates: 1939-2002

Department of Social Welfare annual reports

 Series — Folder Department of Social Welfare annual reports, 1939-1941, 1945-1948, 1950
Identifier: 1636-1565
Dates: 1939-1955

Division of Parole: A Protective Agency for the Citizens of Rhode Island annual reports

 Series — Folder 4. Division of Parole: A Protective Agency for the Citizens of Rhode Island annual reports, 1936-1962 (1636-1020)
Identifier: 1636-1020
Dates: 1936-1940, 1943, 1949-1962