CWRU Links
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

TRAVELERS AID SOCIETY

TRAVELERS AID SOCIETY

The TRAVELERS AID SOCIETY, a free service for people in difficulty away from home, was established in Cleveland in 1920, 3 years after the National Travelers Aid Society. As a member of the Welfare Federation, the society was first supported by the Community Chest. The Travelers Aid Society was the idea of Brian Mullanphy, mayor of St. Louis, who died in 1851, leaving one-third of his million-dollar fortune to aid immigrants going west during the days of the Gold Rush. Services such as those provided by the society had been initiated locally by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese (see CATHOLICS, ROMAN) and Methodist deaconesses (see METHODISTS) as far back as 1890, when workers met and assisted newly arrived young women at the old UNION DEPOT.

In its early days, Travelers Aid operated 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, at 5 railroad stations, an interurban station, and a boat dock. Ten workers assisted travelers, taking a protective role toward young and inexperienced newcomers. In 1925 this function was taken over by the newly established WOMEN'S BUREAU OF THE CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT. That same year, the society began doing casework. The Depression saw an increased need as people traveled extensively in search of employment. Because of the strain on its funds, the society was taken over by the Federal Transient Program and the Cuyahoga County Relief Administration in 1933. This change meant a reduction to a 16-hour day and a concentration on youth, emotionally disturbed newcomers, and stranded travelers. In 1939 a Traveler's Aid field office was established at the Greyhound Bus Station. In the 1940s, the society served defense-plant workers and armed services personnel. After World War II, the society assisted a new wave of immigrants, including displaced persons and refugees (see IMMIGRATION AND MIGRATION). In the 1950s it aided and counseled AFRICAN AMERICANS who had migrated from the South, and Appalachian newcomers. In 1956 the society opened an office at CLEVELAND-HOPKINS INTL. AIRPORT. The Travelers Aid Society was part of the CENTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES from 1970 until 1985, when it joined the Emergency Services of the AMERICAN RED CROSS, CLEVELAND CHAPTER.


Center for Human Services Records, WRHS.