Unheralded and Unknown, They Sleep: Salem's Forgotten Almshouse Burial Ground

Frank Cousins, Almshouse on Salem Neck, c. 1890. Digital Commonwealth, Phillips Library.
 Frank Cousins, Almshouse on Salem Neck, c. 1890. Digital Commonwealth, Phillips Library.


The Pickering House
Sunday, March 14 at 5:00 p.m.

Jen Ratliff: Unheralded and Unknown, They Sleep
Salem's Forgotten Almshouse Burial Ground

Salem is often celebrated for its history of millionaire merchants and their mansions, but there is another side to the city’s past, that of Salem’s poorest residents: the aged, disabled, ill, or transient, that were relegated to a harsh life at the City Almshouse.

The last almshouse built in Salem, opened in 1816 on Collins Cove to provide housing and support for the city’s impoverished, many of whom were expected to work the adjacent City Farm to offset the cost of their stay. This site was active for over a century and included a small burial ground which would have served as the only option for those who were unable to afford a funeral or that had no family to claim their remains.

Unfortunately, few know of this land’s former purpose and significance, as there is very little evidence of the Almshouse or its burial ground. Join us to learn more about the important history of this site and how we can preserve its memory.

Salem historian Jen Ratliff has dedicated herself to uncovering and sharing the forgotten stories of our collective past. While earning a B.A. from Salem State University in Public History, she created multiple exhibits and digital projects for both Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Salem State University, spotlighting items from their archives and the unique stories behind them. Jen is currently pursuing an M.S., concentrated in Archives Management, from Simmons University. She shares her love for local history on her blog, History by the Sea, as well as her Facebook group, Salem History Exchange.



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