13. Girls Town Housed Unwed Mothers in Cincinnati
Convent of the Good Shepherd was a Catholic religious order, organized in 1857, and did much more than prepare females for devout service. By 1896 it was called Girls Town of the Good Shepherd and operated as an orphanage and reform school for delinquent or pregnant girls. Orphans and unwed mothers lived inside the convent walls. Shammed family members sent their daughters and sisters to the convent to have their babies. Upon entering the convent, pregnant women began their religious education. They learned to sew and tailor clothes while the nuns and convent staff and inmates provided these women food and shelter in the weeks leading up to giving birth.
Nuns and young orphaned girls cared for the newborns while mom worked. Within a few weeks, the infants were adopted out to married and respectable couples in Cincinnati. Birth moms returned from fulfilling their duties in the laundry, cooking and cleaning supper, and nightly prayers to find their child gone. Depression overtook some women and then never left the convent. After Girls Town closed, the buildings were torn down to make room for modern development. Records for the inmates and the children they bore and were adopted out were either not kept or remain under tight-lipped control of the Catholic Church.