of dependency, and a consistent effort to help him regain
his economic independence. Four cases are usually
assigned to each citizen almoner, who therefore knows
thoroughly the needs of each dependent family. He is
empowered to give relief according to a graduated scale
prescribed by law.
Modern organized charity is the twentieth century
development of what was known in earlier times as alms-
giving. It differs from its early form as much
point of as the modern locomotive differs from the
Yts'character P ra iri e schooner. The scientific spirit has
brought about as great a transformation in
the methods of charity as in the methods of transporta-
tion. Poverty is no longer regarded as necessary and
The Organization of Charity 451
saintly. It is viewed as a social disease resulting either
from a faulty social and economic environment or from
individual delinquencies. The* aim of organized charity is
no longer the mere giving of alms to relieve an immediate
distress which may shortly recur. The causes of poverty
are investigated in the hope that many of them may be
removed. A list of these causes has already been revealed
in the previous chapter.
On the physical side, the productivity of the natural
environment is being increased and such phenomena as
droughts and famines are becoming matters of The trend
scientific prevention. Maladjustments in the Qfy?* & ress ,-
economic environment are being gradually eliminated, and
experts in industrial management are attacking the
problem of unemployment. Unfortunately, however,
wages inadequate for efficient living still stalk, like gaunt
spectres, a land of fabulous riches. The social environ-
ment must also be remodeled. Unsanitary housing con-
ditions, the congestion of immigrants, and the slums of
our cities must disappear from the society of to-morrow.
Defects in our governmental and educational systems
must also be remedied. The feeble-minded and inherently
degenerate must be so segregated that they cease to propa-
gate their kind. Individual and social ideals of health
and efficiency must be raised to a higher level in order
that shiftlessness and indolence may be reduced to a
minimum. All this will not be accomplished by any
sudden or quick reform, but only by the long, slow process
of social evolution guided in a progressive manner by
human intelligence. But while these are our ideals for the
future of society, we must not neglect the practical problems
of distress which confront all civilized societies to-day.
452 Problems of American Democracy
The Almshouse. — The poor-house is the fundamental
institution in American relief. It cares for the destitute
General n °t otherwise provided for, and has been the
character. s } eve through which all forms of social derelicts,
except the duly convicted criminal, have passed. The
almshouse often contains the insane, the epileptic, the
feeble-minded, the blind, the deaf, the crippled, the sick,
and those destitute of friends. Here mingle old folks and
children, men and women, the honest and the dishonest.
The general characteristic of the almshouse is therefore
the heterogeneous character of its unclassified and unsegre-
Another characteristic of the almshouse, as it exists in
many communities, is the transient nature of the inmates
Special who are admitted and dismissed practically at
defects. their own option. The drunkard between sprees
and the tramp between seasons have found shelter within
its walls. A general exodus of the able-bodied from the
almshouse takes place in spring, but many return with the
advent of cold weather. Since little work is done, except
small jobs about the building, the very group which should
be taught habits of steady labor is given an excellent
training in idleness. The institutional life is deadening to
that very initiative which it should seek to kindle. The
administration of the building has often been inefficient,
because the remuneration of the superintendent is not
always sufficient to attract an able man. As official
requisites, affiliations with the political party in power are
usually more important than executive ability, or a knowl-
edge of social problems and of scientific methods of charity.
It was formerly common to pay no stated salary to the
superintendent, but to allow him the proceeds from the
The Organization of Charity 453
attached farm. This abominable practice led to innumer-
able abuses and to the exploitation of the inmates. The
assistants were also frequently incapable, and the especially
necessary medical service was often of the lowest standard.
If any system of inspection was required, it was admin-
istered in a most perfunctory, if not corrupt, fashion.
The very nature of these evils cries out for reform. The
almshouse should not be the "dumping" ground for all the
destitute classes of society. It should be used Needed
merely as the temporary clearing house for vari- reforms -
ous groups of defectives to be assigned later to special
institutions. The feeble-minded should be put under the
permanent custody of a special institution; the blind,
especially the young, should be sent to their own schools ;
and the tubercular inmates should be placed in sanitariums
or in special hospital wards. The building of separate insti-
tutions requires great expenditures of public funds, but it
is imperatively needed. Children should never be per-
mitted to grow up in this environment, and old folks, like-
wise, are deserving of better treatment. Again, the alms-
house should not be so easy of access and of departure.
Paupers should be regarded as socially diseased and an
attempt made to reestablish in them a normal life and pur-
pose. In comparatively few states are they deprived of
the right to vote, with the result that at elections they go
forth to swell the majority of the political organization in
power. Women frequently use the almshouse as a mater-
nity hospital, in which are born the illegitimate and feeble-
In order to establish the almshouse on a scientific basis,
careful records of admission and discharge should be kept
so that each case may be studied individually. At present,
454 Problems of American Democracy
few accounts are filed except those dealing with financial
expenditures. The almshouse, which should provide a great
The amount of valuable clinical material, has offered
remedies, little i n f orma tion f wor th for the student of
social conditions. Work of sound economic or educational
value should be afforded those inmates that are physically
or mentally capable of such labor. The administration
must also be reformed through efficient governmental super-
vision. Private institutions, which assume the respon-
sibility for the lives of inmates and which appeal to the
public for support, should not be exempt from government
inspection. Salaries should be adequate and competent
officials appointed. An efficient corps of medical and social
workers should be added according to the size and needs
of the institution. The best system of inspection seems to
be that of a commission of responsible persons appointed
by the governor, without pay, but employing a salaried
secretary and a body of paid inspectors. A separate sal-
aried board should be charged with the centralized business
administration of the various state institutions, whose
activities must be correlated.
Outdoor and Private Relief. — In general it would
seem that institutional, or indoor relief, should be under-
The taken by the State. Many private and religious
Church. associations, however, maintain their own homes,
asylums, and other charitable institutions. Many also
receive large state appropriations, although in most cases
there is a legal proviso that the institutions so subsidized
must be of non-sectarian character. Outdoor relief, on the
other hand, has been left for the most part to private
charitable associations. Many of these agencies for the
relief of the poor in their own homes are administered in
The Organization of Charity 455
connection with the activities of various church organiza-
tions. There are in America three main divisions — the
St. Vincent de Paul Societies of the Roman Catholic
Church, the United Hebrew Charities, and the various
societies of the different Protestant sects. There are also
other independent religious organizations for philanthropic
work, some of which are most estimable. It is nevertheless
true that sometimes even the most sincere church charity
is given in a haphazard fashion. Professional beggars are
known to have taken advantage deliberately of numerous
church societies, which make but little investigation of the
ultimate effects of their donations. Furthermore, different
sects should cooperate, rather than discriminate, in their
charitable activities. The unfortunate man who meets
with an accident upon the street is driven to the nearest
hospital, Jewish or Gentile, and no questions are asked
regarding his creed. More of the same spirit in charity
work is needed. At present, however, it would seem that
distinct charity organizations based upon religious sects
have certain inherent advantages. Each religious organi-
zation understands better, and meets more effectively, the
needs of its own group. It is also natural for dependents
to seek help first from members of their own religious sect.
The most direct aim of medical charities is the relief of
the physical distress of the poor. The gain is social as
well as individual, for the community is thereby Medical
spared the expense involved in the care of an chanties -
otherwise dependent member of society. Missionaries
have found that medical assistance is the quickest way to
reach the hearts and minds of those among whom they
work. Social workers in our own slums have found this
fact to be equally true. Many of our large city hospitals
456 Problems of American Democracy
have a social service department, whereby the social work-
ers supplement the work of the surgeon and nurse by follow-
ing up the cases discharged from the hospital as cured.
Medical charity is also a means of diffusing information
regarding health, hygiene, and sanitation. Organized
medical charity protects the public health. A municipal
hospital is primarily designed to care for contagious dis-
eases, and similarly adequate provision should be made for
tubercular patients. Maternity hospitals or wards have
been established for the poor, while orthopedic hospitals
correct the deformities of growing children. It is also pos-
sible for the poor to have their eyes examined free and thus
to correct faulty vision. Finally, there are free dis-
pensaries for the dressing of wounds and for the care of
other physical ills, as well as free wards for undergoing
surgical operations and for treatment during serious illness.
Although medical charities have been taken advantage of
by many individuals who are able to pay for medical aid,
their benefits far outweigh any well-founded objections
charged against them.
Private charitable associations are especially needed
when experiments are to be tried and pioneer work
attempted. Much of the charitable work that
associa- is now done by government institutions, was
™™r e first undertaken by a group of individuals who
proved, by practical experimentation, what could
be done along certain lines. All kinds of philanthropic work
are carried on by private associations. There are homes for
orphans, for crippled children, and for the aged, founded
by benevolent individuals. There are also private asylums
for certain classes of defectives for whom the State has
made no adequate provision. There are an infinite
The Organization of Charity 457
number of large and small associations for the relief of the
poor in their own homes. Free employment bureaus,
housing commissions, and settlement houses in poverty-
striken quarters have been founded by private philanthropy.
All honor should be accorded such public-spirited citizens
and the spirit of altruism which impelled them. Such
institutions represent one of the noblest characteristics of
Private charities, however, have their own peculiar
dangers. They are so easily formed that there is a con-
stant temptation to multiply them. It there- Their
fore happens that some fields are overcrowded, an ^ ers -
while others are neglected. Again, the funds of a small
association are inadequate to carry on the work proposed,
but would be effective for a stronger organization doing
similar work. Among these numerous good societies, it is
easy also for fraudulent ones to flourish and to collect
money for supposedly benevolent purposes. Again, money
may be spent sincerely, but foolishly, according to the
eccentricity of the donor. Public-spirited individuals, who
wish to make bequests, would do well to consult some
official in the local society for organized charity. In this
manner a good perspective of the field would be obtained,
as well as expert advice from a professionally trained
Charity organization societies — or similar associations
known by slightly different names — exist in most of the
large cities of Great Britain and the United Charity
States. The pioneer American organization in organiza-
this field is the Society for Organizing Charity, societies:
established in 1877, in the city of Buffalo.
Its purpose may be regarded as that of a central
458 Problems of American Democracy
clearing house for all forms of outdoor relief. Its aim is
not so much to furnish material aid to the destitute as to
help restore them to economic independence. The causes
of poverty are studied in order that conditions in the
environment may be improved. Cases requiring imme-
diate need are referred to a particular charity to care for
them. Thus, the central organization acts as a directive
agency rather than as a means of distribution of material
help. If an individual is out of work, employment is
sought at one of the employment agencies; if sick or
diseased, admission is secured to a free ward in a hospital
or in a special asylum. If a family seems in need of help,
the society sends a trained worker to make a careful study
of the case, which is duly recorded in a card index system.
Recommendations are made to benevolent societies likely
to give aid, or the aid of the former employer, of relatives,
and of friends is solicited in order to help the unfortunate
to regain his economic independence.
The Society for Organizing Charity has been criticized
because so small a proportion of its funds is spent for
actual relief and so large a proportion for
red tape. Again, some object to its alleged
sense of superiority which seeks to direct other societies.
Answers to these objections are unnecessary. In the matter
of real social service there can be no such thing as an
assumption of superiority. The need of organization and
investigation is so great as to make imperative a central
society for that particular purpose . Its case records are open
to other charity societies which seek to give aid, but which
have neither the time nor ability for investigation. The
so-called "red tape" prevents the success of impostors.
Hence, all individuals or private associations for the dis-
The Organization of Charity 459
pensing of charity will do well to seek this central society
for information as to the relative needs of their various
applicants. The Society for Organizing Charity seeks also
to prevent overlapping and waste of energy. If all the
charities of a city would report to this one central clearing
house all that they are doing, they could easily learn from
how many sources any given applicant is receiving help.
Beggars upon the street should be referred to this society,
and solicitors for funds should produce its written endorse-
ment before receiving favorable consideration.
The first principle of relief would seem to be the securing
of adequate knowledge before giving aid to the applicant.
Is the family in actual need, or is it seeking to Principles
live as a parasite upon the community? What of rehef -
kind of aid and what amount is needed? The habit of
indiscriminate almsgiving on the street is a most pernicious
practice. Many beggars are impostors, while others should
be placed in special institutions for defectives. It is wise
to remember that indiscriminate help may eventually injure,
rather than aid, the recipient. In the second place, the
aim of relief should be to secure as far as possible the eco-
nomic independence of the needy. Thus, the remote cause
of poverty must be removed, not merely the immediate dis-
tress. The terms ' ' worthy and unworthy ' ' should be replaced
by "needy and not needy." No relief should be given to
those who are capable of supporting themselves. In some
cases discipline of the applicant is needed rather than any
relief. Legal measures must also be taken in such cases as
that of the husband who deliberately deserts his wife and
children. A third principle of relief is to teach the helpless
how to help themselves, rather than actually to help them in
the most direct manner. A fourth principle of scientific
460 Problems of American Democracy
relief is the careful supervision of the recipient of charity.
This is well done by what is known as "friendly visiting,"
a principle to which separate consideration will be given.
In conclusion, let it be stated that scientific charity does
not seek to do less but more for the poor. It might
seem, from what has been said, that organized relief tends
to suppress the impulse of generosity. Nothing, however,
could be farther from the truth; for scientific charity
simply seeks to make relief more effective by a better
direction of its usefulness. Thus there arises a science of
philanthropy which emphasizes service rather than mere
In order to investigate the cases, and to supervise the
work of organized charity, a corps of social workers is
necessary. These are known as "friendly vis-
Friendly itors." They do more than merely supply food
visiting in . .
the family and clothing to the needy. Their aim is the
rehabilitation of the family life and the restora-
tion of normal standards of health, efficiency, and morality.
This new profession of social service requires infinite tact,
sound judgment, common sense, an attractive personality,
and a considerable knowledge in a particular field. A
knowledge of local means of medical relief, of laws of land-
lord and tenant, of hygiene and food values is essential to
the success of such work. The friendly visitor must
become personally acquainted with the individuals in the
family and must not pose as the agent of a charity organiza-
tion. Personal supervision of the dependent and his
family has been the secret of success of the Elberfeld System.
Friendly visiting has been an essential part of the work
of inmates of settlement houses established in the slum
districts of various cities. Hull House in Chicago, for
The Organization of Charity 461
example, has been a center of ennobling influences radiat-
ing throughout a very dark section of the city. Open
house is maintained and various forms of recrea- social set-
tion and games appeal to the young and old. tlements -
The spirit is fraternal and the inhabitants of the section
are not dealt with in a patronizing manner. Higher ideals
of morality, of family life, of industrial efficiency, and of
personal health and cleanliness are continually upheld.
Advice is not superimposed, but given incidentally wher-
ever possible. Such a social settlement ministers to a much
larger group than paupers and dependents; for many inde-
pendent and self-respecting people of the poorer class are
helped by such means to higher standards of living. The
social settlement not only acts as an antidote to the dangers
of the big city, but also offsets the baneful influence of the
streets. Police magistrates and the juvenile courts have
recognized the value to the delinquent child of such insti-
In conclusion, one word may be said concerning the care
of dependent children. No child should be permitted to
remain for any length of time in the poor-house.
Unfortunately many orphanages are but little dependent
better; for the institutional atmosphere of such
places is deadening to the growing child. The cottage
system, consisting of a number of small houses each under
a house mother, is immeasureably superior to the insti-
tutional plan. The securing of homes in real families is
undoubtedly the best plan, although it requires great care
in selection. Since it is fairly easy to secure adoption,
some method of visitation should be maintained afterward.
The child of the depraved home presents a more complex
problem than the orphan. Where great cruelty is prac-
462 Problems of American Democracy
ticed, or where the parents are immoral or habitually
intoxicated, the courts may take the child out of the home
and place it elsewhere. This is only done in extreme cases,
because one important principle of relief is to keep the fam-
ily intact and the child under the influence of its mother.
For that reason, the state of Illinois inaugurated the system
of pensioning widows with children. Under such a system,
the poverty-stricken mother is not compelled to part with
her child whose support might otherwise have been prob-
lematical. The opponents of this law maintain that it
cannot be administered without abuses. Day nurseries
have been established in some districts, where poverty
compels mothers to work for long hours in factory, shop,
or domestic service. While this plan is a dangerous invita-
tion to many to shift the care of their children from the
home to the nursery, the only other alternatives are to
confine the little ones in the close rooms of the tenement
or to allow them to roam the neighboring streets and alleys.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1 . Tell of the effects of the free distribution of grain in Rome.
2. What was the medieval attitude toward charity?
3 . Explain the effects of the English Poor Law.
4. Give the arguments for and against public outdoor relief in
5. What has been its history in this country?
6. Why do you think it has succeeded in some German cities?
7. Describe the Elberfeld system.
8. How does the modern point of view regarding poverty and
charity compare with the older?
9. What is the outlook for the future?
10. What are the chief characteristics of the almshouse?
11. What reforms can you suggest?
12. Discuss the strong and weak points of church charities.
The Organization of Charity 463
13. What charitable associations have you ever seen at work?
14. Justify medical charities as a community function
15. What are some dangers of numerous private charitable associ-
16. What is the purpose of the Charity Organization Society?
17. Show its relation to other charitable organizations.
18. Why is the work of a "friendly visitor" difficult?
19. Why is it necessary to investigate cases and why does the
dependent family need supervision?
20. When is it necessary to remove children from their homes?
Is this a usual policy?
21. What should be your attitude toward beggars upon the street?
TOPICS FOR SPECIAL REPORT
1. The charitable work of the medieval monks.
2. The charity work of your church or club.
3. The work of your nearest Society for Organizing Charity.
4. Outdoor relief in your community.
5. The work of Hull House or some other social center.
6. The work of some orphanage. (A personal visit should follow
the study of the institution's published report.)
7. How a group of students might best cooperate in some form of
valuable- social work.
8. Local laws upon begging and their enforcement.
9. Principles of scientific relief.
10. The work of Herbert Hoover during the World War.
Addams, J. Twenty Years at Hull House.
Devine, E. T. Principles of Relief.
Devine, E. T. The Family and Social Work.
Henderson, C. R. Dependents, Defectives and Delinquents. Part II.
Henderson, C. R. Modern Methods of Charity.
Mangold^ G. B. Child Problems. Book V.
Richmond, M. E. Friendly Visiting.
Smith, S. G. Social Pathology.
Warner, A. G. American Charities.
The Problem of Crime
I. Nature of crime
i. Its character:
a. In early days
b. In modern times
2. Crime and the law:
a. Early development
b. Changing social standards
3. Extent of crime
4. Cost of crime