Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Erring Women's Refuge
Erring Women's Refuge

Erring Women's Refuge

In 1863, 24 white, middle-class, Protestant women opened the refuge, which found a permanent home two years later at 3111 South Indiana. Challenging the legal and social inequity of the double standard of sexual morality which punished women—but not men—for extramarital sexual relations, they provided prostitutes the support and resources necessary to leave the sex industry: education, job training, obstetric care, and the influences of Christian motherhood. The philosophy of the home was revolutionary for its time, stressing the reformability of prostitutes and the transforming spiritual power of women. By 1890 the mission of the refuge had changed. The word “Erring” was dropped and the institution became a home for delinquent girls.

Chicago Erring Women's Refuge for Reform. Annual Reports. Chicago Historical Society and Newberry Library.
Linehan, Mary. “Vicious Circle: Prostitution, Reform, and Public Policy in Chicago, 1830–1930.” Ph.D. diss., University of Notre Dame. 1991.