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Not long after The Salvation Army was formed, the first homes for women were established in London, England, under the leadership of Mrs. Bramwell Booth, the young daughter-in-law of the Founder, William Booth. In 1884 these were primarily for destitute women, and many who came were young, expectant mothers.
The Army soon realized that pregnant women needed different care and opened a small "rescue home." By 1887 rescue homes had made it to America. The first was opened in Brooklyn, NY and within seven years 15 homes were operating across the United States.
The Western Territory established its first home in 1887 in Oakland, California. During their peak, there were 10 institutions across the West in Anchorage, Alaska; Boise, Idaho; Denver, Colorado; El Paso, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Los Angeles, California; Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon (White Shield); San Diego, California (Door of Hope); and Spokane, Washington.
A shift in society's mores lessening the stigma of unmarried births and the introduction of the birth control pill and abortion diminished the need and practicality for the homes and hospitals. Exorbitant costs, maintaining hospital standards, as well as legal constraints and considerations arose. By the mid-70s Booth Hospitals in the Western Territory had either closed or revamped their services to meet the needs of a new generation.
Limited information from the records of the former maternity homes and hospitals can be made available to birthmothers and children born at Booth with documentation of their identity. It should be understood that The Salvation Army never served as an adoption agency. Mothers were referred to an adoption agency of their choice and worked with these agencies independently of Booth Maternity Home. Hence, the only information in our records that may be useful in tracing the whereabouts of a child placed for adoption is the name of the agency that made the placement.
Records from the following maternity homes are now located in our corporate office in Long Beach, California:
- El Paso, TX
- Honolulu, HI
- Los Angeles, CA
- Oakland, CA
- Portland, OR
- San Diego, CA
- Spokane, WA
- Anchorage, AK
With regard to these records, the following services are now available:
- Reunion Registry
- Non-identifying information
- Counseling and Referral
- Confidential search to locate birthmothers
The Salvation Army did not operate the Tacoma, Washington White Shield Home. We do not know who operated this home, nor do we have information regarding those records.
If you are interested in obtaining information regarding the Salvation Army Maternity Home and Hospital Records, please email Lois.Sellars@usw.salvationarmy.org, or call our toll free number 1-800-698-7728, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time and ask for Booth records. A form will be sent to you for notarization. This form must be on file before any acknowledgement of records is given. A processing fee may be charged.