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The Mothers' Pension Program was a needs-based program, established on a state-by-state basis between 1911 and 1931. The first state to pass the program was Illinois in 1911, and by 1931, all but four states had passed a program to aid mothers with dependent children. Mothers in need of pensions applied for them at the county-level. At present, 80,000 individual case files have been collected. For some states, the full universe of counties that provided MP benefits have been collected if found, while for others only a subset of counties have been found—but if a county has records, the universe of records has been collected by the researchers of the Mothers' Pension Project. For an historical account of the Mothers' Pension program in each state, click here.

Records have been collected for the following 14 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. Data collection for the state of South Dakota will begin in the fall of 2014. In some states, all or nearly all records are no longer extant due to short retention schedules set by states or privacy restrictions. The researchers of the Mothers' Pension Project initially set out to collect all extant Mothers' Pension records for each of the forty-six states that had a program.

For a county-level summary of data located and/or collected by the researchers as well as lists of counties where records are no longer extant, please click here.

The research team has not collected all of the records that were thus far found for a variety of reasons. In some cases, information from case files proved to be too costly to collect. In other cases, the case files did not contain information that was pertinent to the research agenda such as the number of children in the household or the age of each child.