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not being met, and they should be the natural co-workers
and allies of public officials, legislators and political organ-
izers when these are sincerely committed to the public in-
terest; equally, social workers must stand out against them
when they are not.

OUR next natural area of common concern broadens out
from immediate succor of families in distress to environ-
mental conditions which bear down on life and well-being.
Take housing because there is so much to do at this very
moment and so disgracefully little has as yet been done to
clear out either our urban or our rural slums. Are not
social workers constant callers at the shabbiest doors in
America? What profits it, if we help move some family
under our care from quarters that are dark and damp but
take no thought of the next door neighbors who are left
behind ? It is precisely at this point that case work should
and can merge with social planning; that group work can
and should become part of the democratic process. We can
help make families conscious that they too have a role to
play in their own salvation a role in which they can count
for better homes for everybody. There is a driving force
in our knowledge of the need as social workers, but there
is even more in the dramatic realism which the tenants
themselves have brought to city halls and state capitols and
to Washington. And it is our job to help them bring this
to bear on the situation.

As housekeepers, even more than as tenants, the women of
our settlement neighborhoods approach life from the angle
of consumers. Thus the members of the mothers' clubs at
Henry Street Settlement have been very much interested in
milk. They discussed and followed developments with me
four years ago, when I served as a member of the State
Milk Advisory Committee. There I was supposed to repre-
sent the consumer one of two on a committee of eighteen
but as one of the majority members put it to me, "Why
should we consider consumers anyway, when they are not
organized?" Since then, a new civic body, The Milk Con-
sumers Protective Committee, has done its best to help
fill that organization vacuum.



Hut let me trace the sequence of neighborhood activity.
First, the New York settlements made a study of milk
consumption in relation to income. This covered some 23,-
000 families and for the first time we had figures and
charts to show that it was not until the family was earning
K much as $50 a week that they drank all the milk they
\\.inted or needed.

In each neighborhood, members of our mothers' clubs
took part in the study, supplying much firsthand data; and

I between us all, we became pretty milk-conscious. After one
of our discussions one of the women said, "Let's do some-
thing, not just talk." Today she is one of the organizers of
the Housewives' Milk League which started on the Lower
East Side but which has spread to mothers' clubs in other
parts of the city. The members themselves have gone from
club to club explaining and organizing.

Last spring a legislative committee was appointed to hold
hearings on the milk question in different parts of the state.
When the committee got to New York City, the House-
wives' Milk League turned up two hundred strong. White
arm-bands showed who they were as they filed in and they
had speakers ready to voice their feelings. They had just
made an intimate study of milk consumption among the

I members of their own clubs which gave them fresh ma-
terial to bring to the hearing, showing that in their own
homes they were able to afford only half as much milk as

i the minimum set by health authorities for growing families.
We had walked down from the East Side, picking up

i delegates at the different settlements as we went, and ar-
rived right on time, only to be greeted with the discouraging
words that no consumers were to be heard that morning.
U treat everyone alike," said the chairman, a state sen-

iator, "we hear the distributors first; then the producers;

' then the consumers. We always do it that way, treat every-
one alike." No appeal to logic would have made an im-
pre>sion, but the sight of our earnest delegation with the

i arm-bands finally did. That day, consumers got second place
and had their say.

There was great satisfaction when, shortly afterward,
minimum price fixing was abandoned and milk dropped

several cents a quart. But three price rises occurred in the
next few months. One of our league members remarked

whimsically, "Don't it seem like the price of milk went up
every time we have a meeting ; hadn't we better quit meet-

ling?" "No," said another, "it shows what a lot of work

I we got ahead of us." At a later meeting, one of the women

(came in with the news that the price of bread had risen a
cent a loaf. "Let's make this a Bread and Milk League,"
-hr <aid.

' I A HUS, as social workers, we are confronted with factors
i. entering into the standards of living of people we
iservr. with our responsibility toward these people and the
(parts which they themselves can play. This responsibility.
las in food or housing, may take the form of spreading
(awareness and encouraging action among neighbors or par-
ticipants who, after all, are most deeply affected by adverse
(conditions. Among group workers it may take the form of
(educational activities which equip young people to play an
(effective part as citizens and as workers. In movements
I that spring up spontaneously in our community life we may
(be called on for counsel and cooperation. Our responsibility

may be to increase public understanding through fact find-
ling and interpretation ; or it may mean the defense of our
(American rights of meeting, speech and organization. Some-

MAY 1938


Listed by LILLIE M. PECK

National Federation of Settlements, Inc.

etta O. Burnett. Houghton, Mifflin. 1919.

Because it is a meticulous statement of how the first settle-
ment came into being.


A. Woods and Albert J. Kennedy. Russell Sage Founda-
tion. 1922.

Because it is a competent analysis of the collective experi-
ence of the settlements in this country.

versity of Chicago Press. 1930.

Because it commems on civic and social action from a
settlement base.


Addams. Macmillan. 1930.

Because it gives a significant record of Miss Addams'
thought and work.

WINDOWS ON HENRY STREET, by Lillian D. Wald. Little,
Brown. 1934.

Because it gives a vivid commentary on life on the Lower
East Side, and the currents that have eddied through the

times the agency may not be concerned with what is urged
by the groups themselves or necessarily approve what is
said, but that the people we serve are allowed freedom of
speech is sometimes much more significant than what they
have to say.

Those of us who work with groups do not have ready-
made answers that will cover all our own responsibilities,
whatever the situation ; much less answers that we can
apply unerringly in attempting to guide the actions of others.
We are not dealing with the static in our groups, in our
times, or, I hope, in ourselves. When troubled board mem-
bers look for a rule of thumb that will fit all cases, or some
irate critic tries to put group work on the spot, I find my-
self reminded of a visit paid me by a committee from the
unemployed locals of my neighborhood. They had a number
of "demands," one that I felt was impossible for the settle-
ment to concede, along with several we might readily agree
upon. As most of the committee were older men and
seasoned friends, we were getting along to a working basis
when a new and very young member of the committee
belligerently interjected, "And now, Miss Hall, we want
to know, categorically, what will you do?" I think he must
have just learned this as a bit of pressure group technique,
and I was his first victim. As embarrassed as the older men
were, they could not quite suppress his insistence from then
on, as each point came up, for categorical answers. He car-
ried it to such a length that at last their laughter broke the
tension. I was touched some months later to have him ask
me rather wistfully whether there wasn't some settlement
club he could join "just for sociability." Thus you see the
need for "sociable action" and social action may go hand in
hand, and I find both are apt to be most effective when
they are interweaving parts in group association.

The most bitter controversies social workers have to face
arise in the area of industrial relations where the people we


deal with are directly concerned as wage earners. It is here
that civil liberties are most often at stake and here that we
need to do our hardest thinking.

Let me put the problem first in its simplest terms. A case
worker is asked to take under her care a woman who is
earning much below a living wage and is working hours
too long for health. Should her agency supplement the in-
adequate wages? Should she try to get the woman a better
job and let it go at that? But now that the case worker
knows the facts, hasn't she some responsibility toward
remedying those conditions under which other women, too,
must work? Hasn't her agency itself a responsibility, all the
clearer if its support comes in part from the very industries
which are paying low wages to their employes and working
them long hours? An affirmative answer may lead worker
and agency alike into a movement for a shorter day for
working women ; into a campaign for a minimum wage

Next take the more harassed position of a group worker
in that same community. To her agency come girls working
under these same low wages and long hours. Should the
group worker just try to take their minds off their strain
and deprivation by supplying recreational and cultural ac-
tivities? Or along with these, should they be helped not
only to improve themselves but the conditions under which
they work ? This may mean courses in workers' education
to help young people understand their own problems and
possibilities as wage earners. These young people may de-
cide to take part in union activities. The line may not
always be direct or simple, but may lead us from one situa-
tion to another in which the integrity of social work, and
our old rights to freedom of thought, expression and par-
ticipation must be maintained. Not only are these recurring
problems, but they must recur if fundamental improvement
of living, and working conditions, is to be an integral part
of social work.

IN confronting these problems, we have to reckon with
various reactions on the part of the public. In one city,
a community chest asked an agency to stop a play which was
to be given by one of its groups. The play depicted a famous
labor case. One of the large contributors to this chest had
threatened not only to withdraw if the play went on, but
to persuade others to stop giving to the community fund.
There were long conferences and discussions before the
demand was withdrawn. While that took care of the
immediate issue, it did not solve the question of whether
there is anything inherent in a community chest which sub-
jects social agencies to a form of control at variance with
the democratic process.

That this is not necessarily so; that, given breadth of
leadership, chests and welfare federations no less than so-
cial agencies can count on the side of civil liberties, is illus-
trated by another case. Here some members of the board of
a social agency insisted that two of the staff should with-
draw from a local committee on workers' education which
had been organized under the auspices of the Affiliated
Schools for Workers. The community fund of that city,
however, refused to be disturbed by an attack on this same
agency, brought to them on the same grounds. The result
of the agency's trying experience was final gain. On the
one hand, the most difficult board member resigned ; on the
other hand, the incident led to a more thorough understand-
ing between the board and the young people the agency


While we will still find opposition here and there to
the workers' education movement, it is apt to take lodge-
ment in the narrowest minds, or crop up when the program
itself is poorly handled or handled in a partisan way. In
various parts of the country, social workers sit on ad-
visory committees for workers' education projects along
with representatives of labor unions and educators. And
that is where we should be if we wish to have a hand in
fashioning this scheme of training which can be of value
to the people we serve and to the communities in which
they live.

Even before they grow up into citizenship, our young
people make their start in the workaday world. In that
world hours and wages, skill, advancement, and the right
to organize and bargain collectively are current realities.
Sometimes they are fighting issues. Our young people need
to know about them just as they need to know about the
issues of citizenship if they are to take a responsible part.

SOCIAL workers can testify to industrial cleavages and
hot situations up and down the industrial map of the
United States. Last year, in a certain city where a white
collar union had been organized, a strike caused a bitter
division of opinion. The Chamber of Commerce organized
a committee to influence the public in favor of the employ-
ing corporations involved. In contrast, a citizens' commit-
tee was formed in an attempt to get at the facts in order
to determine whether the right of the workers to organize
was being denied. Two social workers and a leader in one
of the clubs in their agency joined that committee. When
this became known some members of the agency's board
were horrified and contended that no one connected with
the organization had a right to join such a citizens' com-
mittee and involve the agency. They should be asked to re-
sign from the staff. Other members of the board success-
fully contended that membership on such a_ committee was
a personal matter and entirely permissible so long as those
who joined made it clear that they did not represent or
speak for the agency; which seemed consistent if the agency
as a whole had taken no stand.

Some of us go further and feel that social agencies them- .
selves, no less than business and labor organizations, have
a part to play and should play it responsibly. Certain it is '
that to accord our neighbors places to meet to discuss what
concerns them deeply, to get at facts and to interpret them,
to work for negotiation when the whole community is torn I
by conflict, to stand for civil liberties and press for social
legislation these things are essentially within the province
of social work. To attempt to constrict the right of social
workers and social agencies to function in these ways would
be a waste no less than an intolerable denial of individual

Thus social work is on the firing line in a time of change.
All of us, as social workers and board members, have a
role to play in American advance. We can bring insight and
responsibility and courage to bear in crucial situations; but
often we can also anticipate emergencies and plan to meet
them with responsible leadership. If we are wise, we will
see to it that there are organized, in advance, groups and
individuals who understand our work and share in our ob-

Fortunately we can count on the growing body of
people who are willing to have democracy questioned
wherever it breaks down but who really believe in it enough
to go on trying to hammer out a good life by that process.


Whose Job Is What?


TWO decades have produced more change in our
society than most of us can comprehend. Obvious
enough in international affairs, the sweep of this
I tide has reached all areas of our national life as well, in-
I fluencing the intimate methods of government and the
I political philosophy that justifies them. The great central
I fact of the need of relief has been an important factor in
I tnese changes. In response to this widespread need, we are
I now trying to operate a powerful set of administrative units
I in fields which twenty-five years ago were so insignificant
I that the average citizen didn't know of their existence. We
I call them Public Welfare. But really to meet today's prob-
I lems we ought to have a new alliance of all social work,
I administrative ability, fiscal competence, and political ef-
I fectiveness. Public welfare, as it functions today, is not the
I outgrowth of social work alone.

One doesn't need to travel back twenty-five years to re-
I call that under the old order cooperation between the public
I and private social agencies was non-existent and non-antici-
| pated. The relationship scarcely took as much of our time
I as the weddings of staff members.

In those old days, the county commissioner operated the
almshouse and other minor indoor facilities. Like his count-
erpart, the city poormaster, he reached his post through be-
inu faithful in little things, aged-in-the-wood politically
and, of course, in need of being "looked after." The city
poormaster officially occupied a half basement room in a
public building with an old desk, a swivel chair and a spit-
toon as his chief articles of office equipment. The town wel-
fare officer was apt to take in his hay first and then deal
with the pauper after all, wasn't his official job part time ?
With the opening of the present decade a new stage set-
ting became necessary for what turned out to be a new mass
action play. Private social agencies still could continue on
their essential basis of parochial neighborliness but the pub-
lic field became bedeviled and confused by the crisscross of
new forces pressure groups, labor organizations, citizens'
leagues, social technicians and the like. The task that has
emerged in the public field includes reconditioning and in-
forming the minds and opinions of governors, mayors, legis-
lators, supervisors, public groups of special interest, the re-
cipients themselves and, by no means least in this list, the
| social workers. We as a group have not yet been able en-
tirely to untangle ourselves from, the private agency tradi-
tion and techniques we carried over to the task of 1931.

In the field of public welfare, confining it for the pur-
poses of this discussion to its relief and service aspects, our
present urgent problem is to arrive at some general agree-
ment on the scope of operation and on the most effective
type of organization. Closely allied to this problem is that
of exploring and clarifying the complicated administrative
relationships federal, state, county, community and of
creating the machinery through which they must function.
The need for this is especially apparent in the financial
and supervisory areas.

In addition to the administration of public assistance
there are two major divisional activities basic to the func-
tioning of public social work. The first of these may be
described as the non-relief social services. This involves

MAY 1938

child welfare in its several aspects, from the licensing of
boarding homes to the supervision of the child-caring insti-
tutions themselves. It also involves the supervision of insti-
tutions for adults and all general services of an individual
or collective nature which are in no way based on a means

The second major activity involves the translation of
the social work program to the individual and the commu-
nity through local units of government. It also involves the
problem of local functional bodies and their relations with
state and federal authorities to the end of achieving uni-
formity of administration and avoiding snarls that so easily
develop in fiscal interrelationships.

PUBLIC assistance, with its categories of relief the
aged, dependent children, the blind bristles with prob-
lems of administrative relationships. To the advantage of
the client himself as well as of the administrative unit, the
categories need to be closely integrated. Here we strike our
first controversial issue. Those who stress the development
of separate categorical relief and its administration do so
largely on the basis of protecting standards of service, in-
creasing efficiency through specialized techniques and more
easily securing appropriations all down the line from the
federal to the local unit.

Those who would develop a directed service to the fam-
ily rather than a specialized service to the individual in his
category hold that in addition to benefits to the client such
a unification also results in the administrative economy
properly demanded by legislatures and other appropriating

Those of us who have been in the public field in recent
years will probably testify ardently in favor of unification.
It seems evident also that the average citizen mistrusts
public social work which claims to use basic case work prac-
tices but limits their application to a specific type of prob-

A glance at the figures indicates the confusion attending
categorical assistance today. Average grants in eleven typi-
cal states vary so widely that there seems to be no reason
or logic in their determination. Grants for the blind range
from $48.06 a month in California to $14.04 in North
Carolina. In Pennsylvania, which ranks second to Califor-
nia, the grant is $29.92. Grants for dependent children
show Massachusetts at the top with $64.52, New York fol-
lowing with $45.83 and Oklahoma trailing with $15.85.
Average grants for the aged show Colorado leading with
$39.73 and North Carolina trailing with $9.16. In the field
of general relief New York heads the column with $38.72,
Indiana trailing with $13.65 and no reports whatever from
North Carolina, New Jersey or Oklahoma.

These averages are hard to explain, and the ratio of
grantees to population, even more difficult.

Of these eleven selected states, aid to the blind is given
to 107 per 100,000 of the total population in Pennsylva-
nia, to 12 in New Jersey; aid to dependent children goes to
38 per 1000 population in Oklahoma, 8 in North Carolina;
old age assistance goes to 594 per 1000 population in Okla-
homa as compared with 103 in New Jersey; general relief


cases are estimated at 2174 cases per 100,000 population in
New York, at 950 in Ohio. This is only a sampling and is
not meant to show the complete range of divergence.

An even greater range could be shown, in my judgment, if
we were to take a single state and compare the subdivisions
in which the grants are made. For example, general relief
in the state of New York shows extremes between counties
and between cities which are almost unbelievable. The lack
of uniformity therefore would appear to exist not only
among the categories themselves but within a single cate-
gory. It is impossible to view this social work parade with
the smug feeling that everyone is out of step but our

Administrative problems are further complicated when
we realize the basis on which reimbursement is made. In
general relief, the federal government now makes no con-
tribution whatever. Some states pay the entire cost, in some
it is a local matter, while in others the state and the local
units share responsibility. In old age assistance the federal
government makes 50 percent reimbursement on grants up
to $30. Other categories are reimbursed on other percent-
age bases. Merely as bookkeeping the set-up is full of com-

It would seem that the administrative difficulties inher-
ent in our present program would necessarily drive us into
the unification of our services if only for the sake of the
day's work. If the administration of relief is to have some
relationship not only to subsistence, but to the conservation
of personality and the stabilization of the economic and
social areas of community life, then any administrative
structure must be designed for public assistance as a whole
rather than for its special aspects.


Crime and Its Repression


Boys' Clubs of America

AMERICAN POLICE SYSTEMS, by Raymond T. Fosdick. Cen-
tury. 1920.

Because it courageously pointed out shortcomings of our
first line of defense against crime and delinquency.

PRISONS AND COMMON SENSE, by Thomas Mott Osborne.
Lippincott. 1924.

Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesSurvey midmonthly : journal of social work (Volume 74) → online text (page 43 of 109)