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The Florence Crittenton Home

9/26/2017:

Florence Crittenton was the daughter of prominent New York businessman John Crittenton. Florence died of scarlet fever in 1882 when she was only four years old. Her father was heartbroken. Looking for meaning in life, he began attending prayer meetings. At one such gathering he met evangelist Smith Allen, who invited Crittenton to tour the red-light district of New York City. Crittenton was appalled at the condition of young girls living on the streets. He was dismayed when he realized the women had no alternatives in life. Even if they had wanted to leave the streets, there was nowhere for them to go. Crittenton immediately felt that something had to be done.

The wealthy businessman founded the Florence Crittenton Mission in memory of his beloved daughter. He devoted himself to helping homeless young women and unwed mothers. The first home was in New York City. The organization expanded to include homes in 76 American cities and in five foreign countries. There are still 27 Crittenton agencies in the U.S. Today, the Mission focuses on providing the tools that young women need to be successful. By improving parenting skills, the organization hopes to improve the lives of children.

On this date in 1918, the Weekly Times Record of Valley City reported on the visit of Miss E.C. Briggs. Miss Briggs was a national organizer for the Florence Crittenton Mission. She had come to raise money for the home in Fargo. It was her eleventh trip to North Dakota. She said city residents had always been generous, but it was difficult to reach those living in the countryside. In two days of canvassing she spent $20 to rent a car and only received $5 in donations. She expected the trip to be her last, as it did not pay. Instead, she would contact farmers by mail and encourage them to send in donations. Miss Briggs said the Fargo home was doing wonderful work, but it was very expensive and needed the support of the entire state.

From 1893 until the early the 1970s, the Florence Crittenton Home in Fargo provided shelter for unwed mothers. Today the building is the Butler House, providing permanent supportive housing for homeless young people ages 18 to 26.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Sources:

The Weekly Times Record. Valley City, North Dakota. “Wants Farmers to Help Out.” 26 September, 1918.

Inforum. “Helping the invisible population.” "http://www.inforum.com/news/4119538-helping-invisible-population-fargos-butler-house-offers-stability-homeless-young-adults" http://www.inforum.com/news/4119538-helping-invisible-population-fargos-butler-house-offers-stability-homeless-young-adults Accessed 15 August, 2017.

NDSU Archives. “Fargo, North Dakota: Its History and Images.” "https://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/?q=content/florence-crittenton-home" https://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/?q=content/florence-crittenton-home Accessed 15 August, 2017.

Florence Crittenton. “History.” "http://www.florencecrittenton.org/content/about-us/history/" http://www.florencecrittenton.org/content/about-us/history/ Accessed 15 August, 2017.