Libraries acquires Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota records

Gift allows Social Welfare History Archives to process collection

By Linnea Anderson
Archivist, Social Welfare History Archives

The Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota records include etched stamps used for producing publications. This photo shows a stamp with the image of the Children's Receiving Home ca. 1925-1940.
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota records include etched stamps used for producing publications. This one shows the Children’s Receiving Home ca. 1925-1940.

The Social Welfare History Archives (SWHA) has partnered with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota to archive the organization’s historical records.

SWHA has acquired over 50 linear feet of photographs, minutes, correspondence, newsletters, promotional materials, reports, and other records documenting more than 100 years of Lutheran Welfare Society and Lutheran Social Service history.

A generous gift will support the cost of arranging the records, preserving them, and creating an inventory of the files. These steps are important to making the records available for researchers, class projects, exhibits, and other uses. Work on the collection will begin this month.

The Social Welfare History Archives thanks for following donors for their contributions to this important work:

  • Lutheran Social Service CEO, Jodi Harpstead
  • Former Lutheran Social Service President and CEO, Mark Peterson
  • Mary Whiting Peterson, wife of Mark Peterson and daughter of Former Lutheran Welfare Society General Secretary, Henry Whiting
  • Cathy and Bryce Norelius, descendant

Records are significant addition to Social Welfare History Archives

The Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota records are a significant addition to SWHA’s holdings on the history of social welfare. The materials document many service areas and issues, including: child welfare, children’s institutions, domestic and international adoption, refugee services and resettlement, camping programs, single mothers, social assistance programs, and family services, as well as the administration of Lutheran Social Service and related agencies.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is one of the largest private, nonprofit human service organization in Minnesota.

Numerous agencies, most of which are now documented in the archives, merged to form Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.

These include:

  • The Lutheran Children’s Friend Society of Minnesota, which was organized in 1900. It also started The Twin City Mission Society that eventually became Lutheran Chaplaincy Services.
  • Lake Park (established in 1895) and Wild Rice (established in 1898), children’s institutional care facilities that merged in 1931 to form Lake Park-Wild Rice Children’s Home.
  • The Vasa Children’s Home, which was established in Vasa, Minnesota in 1865 when Reverend Eric Norelius took in four orphaned children and set in motion the eventual development of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.
  • The Lutheran Inner Mission Society (established in 1905) and The Colony of Mercy (established in 1919). These agencies merged in 1922 to form the Inner Mission Society, which became The Lutheran Welfare Society in 1927.
  • Lutheran Girls Home, which was established in 1912 and merged with the Lutheran Welfare Society in 1949.
  • The Bethany Children’s Home (established in 1916). 
  • Board of Christian Service Social Services Department, which was founded in 1923 and assumed jurisdiction over all the Swedish Lutheran charitable institutions in the area.

Lutheran Social Service founded in 1963

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota was founded in January 1963 through a merger of the Lutheran Welfare Society, the Board of Christian Service, and Lake Park-Wild Rice Children’s Home. In January 1969, Lutheran Children’s Friend Society and Lutheran Chaplaincy Services merged with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. This merger brought Swedish Lutheran affiliated child welfare, family counseling, chaplaincy, and residential treatment programs into one organization. The 1963 merger brought together many Lutheran affiliated programs. 

Thanks to Lutheran Social Service for entrusting the Social Welfare History Archives with this important collection!

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