Nancy and Allen Mason were pioneers in Normal–
moving here just after the Civil War. Nancy Mason opened her home to be used by the active and retired Methodist Deaconesses that operated Deaconess Hospital – now Advocate BroMenn Medical Center.
The local Deaconess women saw a growing need in our community – care for orphaned and abandoned children. Orphan trains dispatched from the east coast brought children to towns all across the US. At each stop the children would get off and stand on the platform while families – typically farm families – selected the children they wanted to take home. This provided homes for many older children who could help on the farm, but not for infants and toddlers. In 1905, the Deaconess Society sent a new graduate of their Training School, Nellie Randle, to Normal to get the Mason home organized as a home for young children.
Today The Baby Fold is a multi-faceted agency specializing in the care of children and youth with emotional and behavioral disabilities, or at risk for a variety of reasons. They work through foster care, adoption services, special education, and family and community services. (Excerpted from the Baby Fold website history, Dec 2017.)
The collection includes newsletters, annual reports, newspaper articles, fundraiser fliers, etc.