Photo of orphanage in early 1900s


Protestant Widows' and Orphans' Asylum

The orphanage is formed by a group of concerned citizens, including Sarah Leath and Judge Pettit.

Read more 1850

The First Orphans Asylum

The orphanage escapes bohemian downtown Memphis for a more suitable place for young children.

Read more 1854

Jane Ward Becomes Matron of Leath Orphan Asylum

Jane Ward becomes the new matron of the relocated orphanage.

Read more 1856

Orphanage Building Completed

An Orphanage is Built.

Read more April 6, 1856

Leath Orphan Asylum

With founder Sarah Leath's death, her legacy begins, establishing the foundation for the future.

Read more 1858

The Civil War and Porter-Leath

Porter-Leath continues helping children despite the harshness of the ongoing Civil War.

Read more June 6, 1862 - September 4, 1865

The Yellow Fever Epidemic

The Yellow Fever ravages Memphis, creates surge of orphans.

Read more 1873 - 1879

The Asylum Grows Again with the help of the Odd Fellows

Memphis rebounds from Yellow Fever, the Odd Fellows provide major assistance to orphanage.

Read more April 1876

Turn of the 20th Century

20th Century Technology comes to the orphanage.

Read more 1900

The Porter Home and Leath Orphanage

With the passing of a second great leader, Dr. David T. Porter, the orphanage is renamed.

Read more 1903

The Orphanage Expands

The Detention Ward is built on the Porter Home & Leath Orphanage grounds.

Read more 1923

The Formation of the Children's Bureau

Children's Bureau serves foster children, working in tandem with the Porter Home & Leath Orphanage.

Read more 1926

Mr. Edwin Gould & the Building of Gould Cottage

Railroad magnate Edward Gould provides a cottage for orphaned girls.

Read more 1926

Help from the Exchange Club

From 1927 onward, the Exchange Club of Memphis mentors, helps and encourages hundreds of orphans.

Read more 1927

The Great Depression

Just like the Yellow Fever Epidemic, the Great Depression brings scores of orphans to the agency.

Read more 1929 - 1939

The 1940s and WW II

World War II prolongs the stay of some orphans from the Depression, brings more with soldiers abroad.

Read more 1940 - 1945

The Porter-Leath Home: a vital member of the community

With the War and Depression over, the orphanage returns to normalcy.

Read more 1951

The 1950s Bring Change to the Porter Leath Home

Due to code changes, the orphanage receives a major face lift and renovations.

Read more 1952 - 1959

Porter-Leath & the Children's Bureau First Merger Attempt

The Children's Bureau and Porter-Leath Home merger talks sprout.

Read more October 1960 - 1963

The Declining Need for Orphan Services

Despite the dire need for more space twenty years prior, the 1960s saw the end of the true orphanage.

Read more 1961

Porter-Leath Continues to Renovate

The rest of campus is renovated to complete the rejuvenation of the campus.

Read more 1962 - 1964

The First Group Home in Memphis

With the need for an orphanage in the past, the orphanage becomes a group home.

Read more 1962

The Birth of Porter-Leath Children's Center

After previous talks, the merger of the Porter-Leath Home and Children's Bureau materializes.

Read more November 20, 1969

Foster Grandparent Program Begins at Porter-Leath

Porter-Leath becomes host site for Foster Grandparent Program

Read more 1985

Porter-Leath Recognized by Shelby County Historical Commission

Porter-Leath buildings are named historical properties by the Shelby County Historical Commission.

Read more December 11, 1985

Sarah's Place

Sarah's Place, a shelter facility for neglected and abused children, is opened.

Read more November 1993

Home Visitation Services Begin

Porter-Leath begins home visitation services for pregnant and parenting families.

Read more 1996

Campus Makeover

Over a 5 year span, the buildings and grounds undergo massive renovations, repairs and rejuvenations.

Read more March 1998 - May 2003

Early Head Start Launches, Porter-Leath selected as first grantee.

Porter-Leath is selected as the first Early Head Start grantee in Shelby County, providing services for 0-3 year olds and their families.

Read more 1999

Porter-Leath Enters Head Start

Porter-Leath begins Head Start services with the opening of Douglass Head Start.

Read more August 2001

Porter-Leath Opens American Way Head Start

Porter-Leath expands Head Start services with the opening of American Way Head Start.

Read more October 2002

Porter-Leath Adds Golf Scramble to Rajun Cajun Festivities

Porter-Leath builds upon success of the Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival and adds Golf Scramble to crawfish-related festivities.

Read more April 2007

Porter-Leath Receives G. Bradley Wanzer Jr. Award for Excellence

Annual United Way of the Mid-South Award highlights partner agency that best displays four standards of excellence.

Read more 2010

Porter-Leath Expands Preschool Programming

Porter-Leath leverages experience to provide Pre-K for 4 year olds, beginning at KIPP: Memphis Collegiate Elementary.

Read more August 2012

Porter-Leath Acquires Frayser Head Start and Child Development Center

Porter-Leath expands Head Start services with the acquisition of Primary Prep.

Read more January 2013

Porter-Leath Breaks Ground on Early Childhood Academy

Porter-Leath begins construction of its first Early Childhood Academy.

Read more March 16, 2016

Porter-Leath Launches Teacher Excellence Program

Porter-Leath adds programming to provide professional development for early childhood educators.

Read more February 2017

Books from Birth Joins Porter-Leath

Books from Birth merges into Porter-Leath, adding to scope of services offered by agency.

Read more July 1, 2017

Porter-Leath Opens Early Childhood Support Center

Porter-Leath moves corporate headquarters for first time in 163 years to accommodate growing workforce.

Read more 2017

Early Success Coalition Moves to Porter-Leath

Early Success Coalition moves to new home at Porter-Leath.

Read more July 1, 2018

NEXT Memphis Launches

NEXT Memphis launches, increasing the number of high-quality child care providers.

Read more July 1, 2020

Porter-Leath Opens Early Childhood Academy in Frayser

Second Early Childhood Academy opens in Frayser, reinforcing message that all children deserve a high quality early childhood education.

Read more March 26, 2021

Porter-Leath & University of Memphis Open Early Childhood Academy at Orange Mound

Third Early Childhood Academy opens in Orange Mound, partnering with the University of Memphis to provide quality early childhood education and expanded training space for current and future early childhood professionals.

Read more March 4, 2022