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Researching Ancestors Who Were Poor
7/2/2014
You might think your ancestor’s limited means resulted in limited genealogical records. That’s not necessarily true—and we’ll show you why with these five rich sources on poor ancestors.
Have you ever heard someone joke about ending up in the poorhouse? In times past, there actually was such a place. It may have been called the almshouse, orphanage, poor farm, county home, workhouse or soldiers’ and sailors’ home. It was where the government gathered and cared for those who couldn’t care for themselves.

Other methods of caring for the poor have been used in the past, too. Local officials sometimes handed out food or fuel, hired local residents to shelter the homeless, or paid for indigent burials. Less-compassionate strategies have included running the poor out of town or forcibly indenturing their children.
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