When I was in graduate school the first time, I developed a course to study social movements of the 19th century, including abolitionism, womens’ rights, etc. There were a lot of women’s groups formed to help more unfortunate women. But today, I finished cataloging the treasurer’s records for a charitable fund created by a MAN. Charles Larrabee, in his will, established a fund to care for the “lame, deformed or maimed females” of Hartford. His property reportedly was worth several thousand dollars. His 1847 will bequeathed all of his real and personal estate to the Mayor, Aldermen and Selectmen of the town of Hartford, that the annual income may be appropriated for the relief and benefit for the needy. What his motivation was remains a mystery. I am sure the women whose names are listed in our recently acquired account book (1865-1973) were most appreciative, no matter what his motive.
Well, maybe or maybe not, on that last phrase (not everyone is "most appreciative" of being the target of a charity, eh?). But this might be a terrific source for someone looking for a disability history project to do, especially if you're already in New England and interested in women and 19c. philanthropy. The Larrabee Fund itself may have morphed into the Greater Hartford Larrabee Fund Association, which "serves older women in the Greater Hartford area." (Found a mention of it on this page.) I should add that the blog of the Connecticut Historical Society Library is a gem--what interesting collections come past that librarian's desk!