Charles Richmond Henderson.

Introduction to the study of the dependent, defective, and delinquent classes, and of their social treatment online

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Copyright, 1893 and 1901,


This book is an elementary introduction to the systematic
study of the nature, condition, and social relations of dependents,
defectives, and delinquents. The theoretical discussion describes,
defines, and explains the facts in a certain group of phenomena
in associated life. Its purpose is to promote an understanding
of the reality under consideration, and its goal is knowledge.
The later parts of the treatise are chiefly practical. They deal
with social conduct, with institutions and organizations for better-
ment, alleviation, and correction. We seek the ethical basis of
charity, the ideals of philanthropy, and the social mechanism for
attaining in larger measure what ought to be. Social institutions
are described ; their adaptation to ends is judged and valued ;
better methods are proposed according to the teachings of

In the text the aim has been to state the essential factors, law^s,
tendencies, forces, or methods. Statistical data are used very
sparingly. In the appendix will be found some brief summaries
of measurements believed to be reliable within the limits defined,
and full references to the sources and authorities. Where recom-
mendations of practical measures are made, the purpose has been
to give both reasons and authorities.

There is a common saying among practical workers that " there
are no two cases alike; each must be treated on its own merits."
This maxim contains a very important truth, but it may be used
in a very dangerous and misleading way. In the living objects
of nature and among the members of the human race there is,
indeed, great variety. Variation from type is a fact, and the
beginning of new developments, good and evil. There is so


iv Preface.

great difference between individuals that the practical worker
must constantly use discretion, tact, judgment, common sense ;
and for these qualities there is no substitute in scientific laws.

But variety is not the whole truth ; there is likeness, similarity.
The child resembles the parents ; there is a family look ; there
are common features in a class ; there are race characters. On
the basis of likenesses we found laws and principles. The business
man discriminates classes of employees and of customers. There
are such general laws of life that very much of relief work and
penal administration can be directed by statutes and rules. Even
in a particular office of charity, cases are classified for conven-
ience, and the classification would be impossible if there were no

The main governing and guiding principles of philanthropy are
the same in all countries having the same essential ideals. The
methods in Germany and England are studied by us because we
can learn what is common to us with them. We transfer a suc-
cessful administrator of charity organization or prison or school
from one city or state to another, and confidently expect similar
success in the new location. Why ? Because there are principles
of success, and when these are discovered a man, with suitable
personal tact, can apply them anywhere. It is not true that every
case is absolutely new, that we must begin without stored intel-
lectual capital with each fresh problem. Life is no such gambling
with chance and luck as this would imply.

The practical worker who acts without principles and who
never discovers any general laws remains a hopeless floater all
his fife. All the real leaders in our field of philanthropy were
men and women of mental power and comprehension, capable
of detecting the wide law in the single fact or situation. John
Howard, S. G. Howe, E. C. Wines, were illustrations, and others
could be named among the living.

" All theoretical investigations based on a large practical expe-
rience must lead to the same conclusions, at least in all essential
points, and it is a matter of indifference whether this experience

Preface. v

is gained in England or in America, in Germany or in France.
We are not dealing with an empty phrase when we speak of uni-
versal principles, founded, not upon territorial and local customs
and conditions, but on human nature ; though a considerable im-
portance does, of course, attach to these customs and conditions."^

This volume is nominally the second edition of a book some
time out of print, and it is almost entirely a new book. Since the
first edition, a pioneer in this field, the matter and form have
been tested and sifted by criticism, by wider reading and further
practical experience in charity organization work, and by class-
room instruction. It is hoped that the corrections and additions
will increase the usefulness of the volume.

To all who have assisted in the preparation of this volume the
writer offers his thanks. They have been many and they have
been kind.

1 E. Muensterberg, American Journal Sociology^ January, 1897. ^f same
Journal, January, 1901, article " Social Technology," by C. R. Henderson.



Preface , iii




I. The Problem Stated .......,, i

11. The Evolution of Inferior and Antisocial Elements . . .12

III. Explanation of Dependency by Nature and Situation ... 23

IV. Inheritance, Education, and General Conditions ... 32



I. Directive Aims of Philanthropy ....... 40

11. The Public Budget and Poor Relief 48

III. Outdoor Legal Relief 52

IV. Principles of Administration of Poor Relief in Families . . 62
V. Public Indoor Relief: the Poorhouse . . . . • 7^

VI. The Unemployed and the Homeless Dependents ... 83

VII. The Relief and Care of Dependent Children .... 98

VIII. Medical Charities 121

IX. Voluntary Charity of Individuals and of Associations . . . 138

X. The Charity Organization Society . . . . . • 151






I. Education and Care of the Blind and of Deaf Mutes

11. Education and Custody of the Feeble-minded

III. Social Treatment of the Insane ....

IV. Further Specialization of Institutions for Defectives
V. State Boards and Federal Functions .







I. Data of Criminal Anthropology 215

II. Causes of Crime .......... 237

III. The Criminal before the Law 262

IV. Elements of Prison Science 276

V. Preventive Measures . 308

VI. Social Treatment of Juvenile Offenders 322

Survey and Outlook 339

Appendix 349

Index 395


Theoretical : The Phenomena of Dependence
and Their Explanation.



1. The Attitude of the Student. — Even for the bare under-
standing of the phenomena a certain measure of human sympathy
is essential to insight and to patience. True benevolence is not
inconsistent with steady nerves, clear vision, sound judgment, as
we see in the case of many surgeons. John Howard measured
the dimensions of prison cells as accurately as an architect, even
while he was laying down his life for prisoners and infected
invalids. The dry light of science is focused in the lens of
affection. Feeling may disturb, blind sentiment may lead
astray, and passion may urge rash measures; but the unfeeling
are dead to the revealing touch.

Progress will be promoted by asking ourselves : Why should I
take up this difficult and somewhat repulsive theme? What are
the sustaining motives of interest in this mournful subject?
Let no one enter this field who is not prepared to encounter
obstacles. A sustaining purpose of high order is required for
the study of dependency, because it is a condition of thorough
knowledge that we submit our senses of sight, hearing, and smell
to very disagreeable facts. Investigation cannot be made by
proxy. Sympathy is a personal experience of fellow-feeling with
pain; it is suffering. Indignation, disgust, and pity follow each

2 The Phenomena of Dependence.

other in rapid succession. The subject is full of intellectual
difficulties. There are frequent disappointments in the quests
of science. There is no ready-made solution of social problems.
If careful thinking and boundless self-denial and sacrifice could
remove pauperism, the world ere this time would have been clear
of beggars.

Yet if one is fond of knotty questions that put thought to
strain; if horrors fascinate the philanthropic disposition; if
there is much of "the mind that was in Christ Jesus," — then the
study of dependency will arouse curiosity and will sustain an
eager interest. "During twenty odd years of eventful toil in
the great city, I never found a depth of misery so deep, a pov-
erty so rank, a crime so atrocious, a despair so black, that some
humble follower of Christ did not find it out " (A. C. Wheeler,
"Nym Crinkle").

Only as we visualize misery in concrete, sentient persons can
we measure the data of our problem. Masses must be analyzed
into their human units. "Masses indeed; and yet, singular to
say, if, with an effort of imagination, thou follow them, over
broad France, into their clay hovels, into their garrets and
hutches, the masses consist all of units. Every unit of whom
has his own heart and sorrows, stands covered with his own skin,
and if you prick him, he will bleed. Dreary, languid do these
struggle in their obscure remoteness, their hearth cheerless, their
diet thin. For them in this world rises no Era of Hope.
Untaught, uncomforted, unfed " (Carlyle).

2. Paths of Interest and Knowledge. — Personal experience is
one path to personal interest in the abject poor. King Lear, in
his prosperous days, forgot the poor; but when he was cast out
from his palace and left shelterless in the cold, beating rain,
with a fool for his sole companion, images of those who ever
bide the pelting of pitiless storms came to his recollection, and
there on the barren heath he thought of " looped and windowed
raggedness," and urged the rich to "shake the superflux to
them, and show the heavens more just."

The Problem Stated. 3

The spectacle of suffering is a guide to intimate knowledge.
"Josiah Flynt" equips himself for the study of tramps by asso-
ciating with them. Wyckoff's "The Workers" came from a
period of thorough identification of the author with the fortunes
of wandering men. Paul Goehre's "Three Months in a Ger-
man Workshop " supplied pictures of real scenes, and gave the
authority of an eye-witness. Residence in a settlement trans-
figures the dead pages of description and statistics into living

The biologist, studying the phenomena of life, development,
heredity, filiation, degeneration, atrophy, crossing, environment,
habitat, comes upon various aspects of pauperism and crime.
The psychologist, pursuing his laboratory methods with the
normal and abnormal manifestations of mental life, becomes
acquainted with the feeble and perverted. The economist finds
his calculations disturbed by the facts of industrial inefficiency,
observes and explains the remote effects of commercial disasters,
notices the item for public relief or prisons in the budgets of
the commonwealth. The lawyer and legislator are compelled to
consider dependence, insanity, and crime in the formation and
the administration of statutes. And the sociologist, simply as
theorist, cannot ignore the existence of the defectives and the
institutions which society has provided for them. In his view
of society and in his coordination of all the factors of ameliora-
tion he must conjoin the varied elements of knowledge in a con-
sistent and practical scheme of social conduct. All the religious
beliefs which are within the range of our experience include a
demand for charity.

Observation is the prime source of real knowledge. He who
would have genuine impressions, the percepts and concepts
corresponding to reality, out of which valid reasoning grows,
must go into the homes of the extremely poor and have actual
dealings with them as a friend. One may go with visitors of
relief societies and almoners of public relief in town or city; or
with a physician called to treat a "county case "; or resort to

4 The Phenomena of Dependence.


free hospitals, dispensaries, and poorhouses; or walk in forlorn
regions with mission workers who know the haunts and ways of
the destitute.

Personal observation is necessarily restricted to a narrow field
of vision and must be supplemented by the records of multitudes
of observations. Science is a social work, and its structure is
built by the associated labors of the entire fraternity of theorists
and practical workers. The general government has long been
collecting and arranging statistics through the census bureau, the
consular reports, and other agencies. The states have printed
for the information of the tax paying public the records of the
service rendered by charitable institutions. The Charity Organ-
ization Society in many cities has steadily developed and
improved the modes of gathering and tabulating the results of
experience in dealing with urban destitution. Interviews with
experts and practical administrators must always be a large part
of the education of the student of charities and correction.

To deepen, widen, and refresh the fading impressions of
observation the representations of art are valuable. Painters
and sculptors stir jaded spirits to feel the reality of poverty.
Writers of fiction suggest new fields of research and intensify
the moral reaction against morbid social conditions. "Ginx's
Baby" stings us with satire; Dickens attracts us to descend with
him into the Inferno and Purgatory of human sorrows; Bellamy's
" Looking Backward " has at least the merit of arousing the selfish
from dreams of luxury; Mrs. Browning's "Cry of the Children"
thrills the sensitive heart, and her "Aurora Leigh" opens all
philosophies, all wounds, all modes of cure; Hood's "Song of
the Shirt " does not become antiquated so long as sweaters toil
in noisome tenements. Hugo's "Les Miserables" still creep
along the alleys of our huge towns to unhealthy dens; still the
"Children of Gibeon" appeal to us as if they were crouching at
our doors; and "All Sorts and Conditions of Men" are our con-
temporaries. Such is the power of strong imagination that we
can go with Meriwether or Josiah Flynt or Wyckoff and learn the

The Problem Stated. 5

mysteries of tramp life. Mr. J. A. Riis, in "How the Other
Half Live," "Children of the Poor," "Out of Mulberry
Street," leads us by pictures, though reluctant, to converse with
the wretched denizens of the metropolis.

It is true that such works of art have their limitations. They
may describe scenes which no longer exist. The artist seldom
offers scientific analyses of causes or provides adequate remedies.
The novelist is free to fly in air, while the statistician, economist,
and sociologist must walk on solid earth, close to facts, and the
successful reformer is limited by the conditions of actual life.

3. Limits of this Discussion. — It is impossible to give techni-
cal instruction for administrative officers in lectures and books.
Nurses of the sick, physicians to the insane, secretaries of charity
organizations, may be aided to theory, but must gain discipline
and technical training in the actual daily work of their offices.
It is our effort here to aid educated social leaders to enter upon
a method of study which will conduct them to codified results of
wide experience and investigation, so that they may think more
effectively, observe more shrewdly, and cooperate in the wisest
methods of action. Those who shape and direct public opinion,
and who are inspired to zeal by philanthropic motives, need the
sociological outlook upon complicated problems. While experts
are not equipped by mere reading, yet they may receive a more
scientific direction than if they confined themselves to the narrow
field of a single institution and its traditions. Professionals in
many departments of relief and corrective work should consider
the common aims and relating principles revealed by social
science, which give unity and dignity to isolated branches of
humane service.

We are studying a science, and not practising an art, although
these are closely related. Between the mechanic who rivets the
bridge and the physicist who experiments with the strength of
steel, mediates the mechanical engineer and architect who con-
struct a plan. The merely "practical worker" who affects to
despise history and theory becomes obstinate, infiexible, and a

6 The Phenomena of Dependence.

slave of his own little past; while the student of historical
methods is more apt to be fresh, inventive, and open to new
ideas. But there is no academic substitute for institutional
experience under successful managers.

Theoretical social science attempts to ascertain and present
the phenomena of a group in completeness, and to account for
them by tracing their causes. Practical social science aims to
ascertain and present in systematic form an adequate account of
the social ends which govern the dealings of society with defec-
tives, and with the organized means for realizing these purposes.
Theory leads to truth, to knowledge ; practical, science leads to
conduct in accordance with truth. But beyond both are the arts,
trades, special callings, the business of administration, the tasks
of the warden, superintendent, and assistants.

4. Theoretical and Practical Aims. — Complete theory, in rela-
tion to a concrete group of phenomena, demands a knowledge
of the facts in their relations of co-existence in space. For
•example, we must discover and chart the geographical distribu-
tion of crime or insanity. The national census gives us figures
by districts, divisions, states, counties, and cities.

The same facts must be studied and presented in the order of
their succession in time. Thus we may compare the statistics of
insanity at intervals of ten years, and judge whether the evil is
increasing or decreasing, in the several localities.

The tendency to uniformity, or the empirical law of the phe-
nomena, is an object of scientific examination. If we arrange
our data in their space and time relations, a certain uniform
order and degree will be observed. The "law " thus discovered
is not something like the decalogue, a decree of the Almighty;
nor a legislative statute, binding on all citizens and sanctioned
by penalties; but simply an order which is true of a set of con-
ditions and forces, and liable to change to some other order with
change of causes and forces.

Scientific method calls for classification by distinctive marks
or characteristics, and appropriate naming of each class. Thus

The Problem Stated. 7

the feeble-minded are distinguished by certain physical and
psychical traits from all others, and the institutional arrange-
ments for their care are made with reference to their number
and their peculiarities.

The culmination of theoretical science is explanation, ration-
ale, or the discovery of efficient causes. By a cause we mean
the sum of all the forces and conditions of an act or state within
the cosmic order. We are not discussing the First Cause, a
topic of theology; nor "final causes," the purposes of the Author
of nature; but natural or efficient causes, whether in physical or
social science.

Beyond theory is practical science, whose method is to proceed
through what is to what ought to be. This part of our discipline
involves standards of judgment, criticism of actual social con-
ditions and arrangements in the light of these standards, and
a system of correlated means for making conditions and forces
work toward our ideals of what ought to be.

The actual treatment of dependents, defectives, and delin-
quents is a social task. The existence and activities of paupers
and criminals affect the physical and spiritual welfare of every
member of the entire people; they influence every institution of
the community, industrial, political, educational, and ecclesi-
astical. The burden of support and punishment must be borne
by all. Therefore, the subject must be considered from the
standpoint of the whole community, and in full view of all its

The interests involved are economical, industrial, educational,
religious, aesthetic, political. The problems considered cannot
be studied without information from all the sciences which deal
with health, with industry, with commerce, with education, with
law, with religion. A merely economical discussion is mani-
festly inadequate, although the economic factor is essential, and
the science of economics must yield its verdict in every dis-
cussion. A merely legal consideration is inadequate, although
in the poor laws and labor laws we have a part of the social

8 The Phenomena of Dependence.

machinery of relief and control. Sanitary science and medical
science are tributary to our study, yet each covers only a section
of the field.

Without boasting that the name of science can yet be fairly
claimed for sociology, we may safely affirm that such a subject as
ours cannot logically be treated elsewhere, and that, if success
has not yet crowned their hopes, the sociologists are sincerely
working at the foundations of a method which is essential to
any satisfactory solution of every single problem which engages
the interest of every community.

5. Definitions and Classification. — " Dependents " are those
who, from any cause, exist by means supplied by the voluntary
acts of the community, by gifts from public funds or private
sources. We shall discuss "defectives" so far as their infirmi-
ties make them dependent on the community.

" Delinquents " are persons who derive their support, at least
in part, by imposing an involuntary burden or sacrifice upon the
community, and whose hurtful acts are forbidden by law.

We adhere to this grouping, in the face of adverse criticism,
for practical reasons. It is made the basis of actual social
arrangements, as census reports, and the divisions of functions
of charities and correction in public administration. It is
admitted that these groups are secondary formations and very
complex in composition, and that other methods of classification
are better for some purposes. But they are actual and definable
groups, recognized by common observation and fixed in habits
of thought and speech.

The group of dependents, as defined, is composed of mingled
elements, and its members stand in varied relations to society,
as they differ in nature, disposition, and ability. Some are unfor-
tunate, and their dependence is accidental; as, for example, old
persons who have been industrious and frugal but late in life
have lost friends and means. Others bear the marks of the
pauper spirit, the willingly dependent.

The epithet "pauper" has several meanings, and may imply

The Problem Stated. 9

mere legal dependence, without regard to character, or it may
signify degradation and mendicancy. Very worthy persons occa-
sionally are compelled to accept public relief, and thus come to
be on the lists of paupers.

The point at which dependence is recognized by the commu-
nity varies with conditions. Climate, stage of culture, local
customs of nourishment and dress, class standards, wealth of the
prosperous citizens, are factors which enter the problem. Where
all are poor, very few can be supported by neighbors, and that

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonIntroduction to the study of the dependent, defective, and delinquent classes, and of their social treatment → online text (page 1 of 35)