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List of organisations    EN


The first lay philanthropic and charitable institutions appeared in modern Romania during the 19th century, according to several laws that also defined the social obligations of local authorities. The “Organic Statutes” referred to “charity boxes” which were to fund institutions supporting found children, sick children, poor children, beggars, widows etc. The law of 1864 concerning the organisation of local institutions mentioned the attributions of the municipality for social assistance. The 1894 law regarding unhealthy industries also defined such obligations of the local authorities, which were to take care of found children, infirm people, night asylums, social canteens, but most often than not these measures remained dead letters as Romanian municipalities, that of Galaţi included, did not have the necessary means to support all these disadvantaged categories. Under such circumstances, private associations, both religious and lay, undertook the social mission of supporting the poor and the helpless.

Among the important lay societies we should mention several which appeared in the second half of the 19th century. Ana Ghica, the president of “The Society of Galaţi Women” founded in 1860 an orphanage for poor young girls where they were also learnt to read and write[1]. The “Alleviation” Society (“Alinarea”) was founded in 1894 for caring found children[2], and there were two other hospices for found children. There was a society for clothing poor children, and at several schools there were canteens for the support of poor children[3]. At the same time there were hospices for poor people, while other charitable institutions supported the care of diseased people (such as TB) to be cared in the local hospitals.

In the same category can be included the numerous professional organisations of mutual help, which provided benefits to the subscribers or their descendents. They were extremely popular among the Jewish community, and also of retired people or officers.

A Canadian author who lived in Galaţi mentioned such private initiatives, which are worth presenting here: “Quite unexpectedly Princess Cantacuzene asked me one day last month if I would be one of a committee she desired to form in order to begin a sort of kindergarten for working women’s children. The idea originated in Bucharest, and friends had asked her to take up the work here. […] One hears the most heartrending tales of working women's children burning, drowning, or injuring themselves while their mothers are away from home. I like work for children – it is so full of hope and promise. […] The time is evidently ripe for more organized charities than has hitherto been the custom, for subscriptions have come in splendidly. We organized a cinema evening, selling the boxes for forty lei each (eight dollars), and had not enough for the applicants. That netted a very tidy sum. We got some porte-bonheur (lucky) medals, and I pressed B. into service to sell them at the club when the baccarat table was in full swing. The first man who bought one for twenty lei immediately began to win, so the last ones brought in one hundred lei each. The mayor gave us, rent free, a tumbled-down house in the poorest neighbourhood of the town – just where the need is greatest. It has a roomy courtyard, shaded with fine trees. Each member of the committee gave a piece of furniture to furnish a living-room for our superintendent, Miss Josif, a sister of the poet. We offered a policeman’s family shelter, and took three of his children into the Gradina de Copil (children's garden) in order to have his wife do the cooking and cleaning. It is very primitive, but a beginning – a step forward in children's welfare. We have just had the opening, with seventy children from three to seven years old. […] The mothers bring them at seven and leave them until six in the evening. Each child must bring ten banis (two cents) and a piece of bread. At ten they are given a glass of milk, and at twelve-thirty a dinner; after-wards the youngest are laid on straw mattresses on the floor of a darkened room for a siesta. They are taught to sing, to sew, to print, and so forth. Miss Josif is marvellous—how she keeps her head with so many of them I can't fathom. We are making them coloured pinafores to wear in school now, and preparing a Christmas-tree. I am dressing my dolls with clothes that come off, instead of the tight package they are accustomed to see in imitation of the babies in swaddling-bands”[4].

Another type of charity regarded the dowry given to poor girls. “Every year ten virtuous maidens are selected by the priest from those living on her property, and in the event of their marriage Madame G. [a wealthy Greek widow] presents each with a cow, a pair of oxen, a cart and a small sum of money. Naturally the girls are much sought after by the swains of the neighbourhood, and never a year passes without the ten “dots” being given”[5].

One of the most important institutions was the “D. I. Frigator” Asylum for Old People, built with the funding of a wealthy local merchant. The project was drafted in 1906, the construction started in 1907 under the supervision of M. Roman and I. D. Popovici, and the establishment was inaugurated in June 1909[6].

Other institutions attested were: The Society for Supporting Poor People, The Fortuna Society, Moldova Society of Mutual Help, The “Amiciţia” Philanthropic society of Galatziotes Ladies, “Furnica” Society of Charity, The Society for Cloathing Poor Children etc.


[1] Regulamentu a Societăţii filantropice de dame pentru înfiinţarea unui orfelinat de fete sermane în Galaţi (Galaţi: Tiphografie de Frédéric Thiel, 1860); Paul Păltănea, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918, second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008), vol. II, 314–315.

[2] Gh. N. Munteanu-Bârlad, Galaţii (Galaţi: Societate de Editură Ştiinţifică–Culturală, 1927), 181; Păltănea, Istoria, II, 315.

[3] Details in Păltănea, II, passim.

[4] Ethel Greening Pantazzi, Roumania in Light and Shadow (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1921), 95.

[5] Ibid., 52.

[6] Munteanu–Bârlad, Galaţii, 180; Valentin Bodea, Monumente istorice şi de arhitectură din oraşul Galaţi din a doua jumătate a secolului al XIX-lea – prima jumătate a secolului al XX-lea (Galaţi: Pax Aura Mundi, 2014), vol. 3, 17–22.



Archival sources:

Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Primăria oraşului Galaţi (The Municipality of Galaţi), files starting with 1831.


Bahamat, Elena Ingrid, “Timp liber şi mondenitate în Galaţii sfârşitului de secol XIX şi începutului de secol XX” [Leisure Time and Trendiness at Galaţi at the End of the 19th and in Early 20th Centuries], Danubius, 27 (2009), 97–125.

Bodea, Valentin, Monumente istorice şi de arhitectură din oraşul Galaţi din a doua jumătate a secolului al XIX-lea – prima jumătate a secolului al XX-lea [Historical and Architectural Monuments from the City of Galaţi from the Second Half of the 19th Century – the First Half of the 20th Century], vol. 3 (Galaţi: Pax Aura Mundi, 2014).

Munteanu–Bârlad, N. Galaţii (Galaţi: Societate de Editură Ştiinţifică–Culturală, 1927).

Pacu, Moise N., Cartea Judeţului Covurlui. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice [The Book of Covurlui County. Geographical, Historical and Mainly Statistical Notes] (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891).

Pantazzi, Ethel Greening, Roumania in Light and Shadow (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1921).

Păltănea, Paul, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918 [The History of Galaţi from Its Beginnings to 1918], second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008).

Prefectura Poliţiei Galaţi, Indicatorul oraşului Galaţi cuprinzând adresele tuturor autorităţilor civile şi militare, ale caselor mari comerciale şi ale tuturor instituţiilor etc. [The Indicator of the City of Galaţi Containing the Addresses of All Civil and Military Authorities, of the Large Commercial Houses and of All Institutions] (Galaţi: s.e, s.a).

Regulamentu a Societăţii filantropice de dame pentru înfiinţarea unui orfelinat de fete sermane în Galaţi [The Regulation of the Philantropical Society of Women for Founding an Orphanage for Poor Girls at Galaţi] (Galaţi: Tipographie de Frédéric Thiel, 1860).