The West Oakland Home was the first racially integrated orphanage and foster home in northern California, founded in the 1880s by Rebecca McWade. It was also referred to as the West Oakland Home for Foundlings and Needy Children or the West Oakland Home for Destitute Children. It was located for many years at 973 (907 after renumbering) Campbell St.
In 1930, the home moved to two newly completed cottages at 4368 Lincoln Avenue, and the name was changed to Lincoln Home for Children.
They've refocused over the years on families, education, and well-being rather than orphans. In 2011 the Lincoln Child Center leased a large building in West Oakland and moved back to its roots. In 2016, they rebranded as Lincoln Families.
In March of 1883, Rebecca McWade (1840-91) decided to instruct her daughter, Ada McWade and some of her friends on the merits of Christian charity. As a dressmaker by trade, she invited the girls to form a sewing circle, the called their circle "The Little Workers of East and West Oakland." The sewing circle went to work inside their East Oakland home at 1549 (1277) 12th Ave. Miss Ada McWade was named the president of the circle.
In late 1884, McWade incorporated the charity to ensure her goals prevailed. The young officers step aside to make way for the new Board of Lady Managers.
- Rebecca S. McWade, President
- Belle Cobbledick, Vice President
- Eliza Learn, Treasurer
- Mrs. Lennox
- Mrs. Laws
Without a male advisory board, gifts from the managers and their families, especially their spouses, would sustain the charity.
In 1885, McWade opened her family home as a refuge for abandoned children and illegitimate babies Describe by McWade "a Noble work for life-saving", the foundling home opened without any fanfare or celebration. As noted in McWade's record book:
"The First Baby came to the Residence of Rebecca McWade in December 1885 his name is George McGuire. The McWades had already moved the family to new home at 1670 Taylor Street in West Oakland, just around the corner from the future home on Campbell Street.
As the public became aware of the charity, so did the requests for shelter. McWade noted in the record book:
"In January 1886 the second baby came. She was Crisend Maggie Sullivan. Then the Society rented a building at 1322 - 12th Street, hoping to "Stop the Murder of Babies in our City asking God to Help us cary (sic)the Noble work of life-saving". Baby Crisend died of tuberculous soon after she arrived.
- 1883 - The Little Workers of East and West Oakland is founded
- 1886 - Little Workers Home is incorporated and accepting infants and children. It is the first integrated orphanage in Northern California.
- 1888 - The Little Workers" named had been changed to the West Oakland Home
- 1888 - The Little Workers becomes the West Oakland Home. The Crocker (Mary) family donates funds to help purchase a large house on Campbell Street in West Oakland for use as a foundling home and orphanage.
- 1888 - The first dues are collected making the West Oakland Home a membership agency.
- 1890 - The West Oakland Home is serving eighty to ninety children, and the Crocker family steps in again to help build a larger home
- 1891 - Founder Rebecca Wade dies
- 1916 - Property is purchased in Crow Canyon for a summer camp where 50 children live the first summer. The camp runs until 1929.
- 1918 - The orphans, known as Little Workers, number 103. The endowment grows to $8,525.
- 1919 - The West Oakland Home is greatly impacted by the influenza epidemic, with the remains of the deceased going to rest at Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery.
- 1925 - The West Oakland Home catches fire and is condemned.
- 1928 - With the help of Mary Crocker and the Bushell families, more than 7 acres of property is purchased on Lincoln Avenue for $25,29
- 1930 - Children move into the two newly completed cottages at 4368 Lincoln Avenue.
- 1940-50 - The name is changed to the Lincoln Home for Children
- 1950-60 - Lincoln Home for Children changes its name to Lincoln Child Center
- 2016 - Rebranding launched with a new logo, website, and new organization name changed from Lincoln Child Center to Lincoln Families
Links and References
- Lincoln Child Center History
- West Oakland Home records, 1885-1924 Oakland History Center, Oakland Public Library
- A Year at the Home of the Little Workers Oakland Tribune February 23, 1888
- Mrs. McWade's Dream Oakland Tribune February 19, 1961
- Foster Care Home Here Grew From Sewing Circle Oakland Tribune June 13, 1952
- Plans For West Oakland Home Tag Day Launched Oakland Tribune April 21, 1910