Charles Richmond Henderson.

Modern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods online

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An Account of the Systems of Reliefs Public

and Private, in the Principal Countries

Haviitg Modern Methods






■^U rights reserved

Copyright, 1904

Set up and electrotyped. Published December. 1904

The Mason Press
Syracuse, New York





^ Preface vii

Tables of Money Values xiii, xiv





Germany i

Austria-Hungary 76

%^ Switzerland 138


The British Empire:

Section i — England 165

Section 2 — Scotland 235

Section 3 — Ireland 272

Section 4 — India 287

Section 5 — Australasia 302

Section 6 — Canada 316

Holland 332



Sweden and Norway 35°

Denmark 3^3

The United States of America 380



France 512

Italy 556

Belgium 610


Russia 631


The Jews.

Section i —European 656

Section 2— American 676

Bibliography 689

Index 703


Since the appearance in 1870 of the valuable work of Emming-
haus on Poor-Relief in the Different Countries of Europe, we
have no compendium which presents the essential features of
public and private charity in the Western world, and important
changes have occurred since that volume was published. A com-
parative treatment of this subject is desirable for students, prac-
tical workers and travelers who visit institutions and need to
"orient" themselves in each land. The editor's experience as a
university teacher, as a lecturer before mixed audiences and as
an executive officer in a metropolitan society of charity organiza-
tion has brought this need very vividly and constantly before
his mind. Ignorance of what other people are doing means
blundering experiment, opinionated obstinacy in antiquated
methods, and waste of energy and resources.

Thoughtful actors in philanthropy are not seeking an atomic
mass of isolated facts or personal tricks of benevolent invention,
but general laws, rational results of experience and reflection
which, like valuable merchandise, will bear transportation over
sea. Gossip is for the idle hour and the winter fireside; science
is the common theme of the republic of letters and the fraternity
of competent leaders, — current as pure gold even when melted
down and coined in different mints. Emerson, in his Represen-
tative Men, said: "1 go to a convention of philanthropists.
Do what I can, I cannot keep my eyes off the clock. But if there
should appear in the company some gentle soul who knows little
of persons or parties, of Carolina or Cuba, but who announces
a law that disposes of these particulars, and so certifies me of
the equity which checkmates every false player, bankrupts every
self-seeker, and apprises me of my independence on any condi-
tions of country, or time, or human body, that man liberates me ;
I forget the clock." The comparative method of dealing with



isolated phenomena of the same class leads by the most direct
path to the discovery of the law, the principles of explanation and
the principles of regulation and progress.

"We know that science is the handful of ultimate principles
gathered out of the tufted mass of facts; but what gropings to
discover them ! Centuries of research are often condensed into
a principle that a line may state. "^

The attempt has been made to present facts without bias,
yet with careful selection of phenomena which seem to be really
significant and decisive. In each chapter will be found, in very
condensed form of statement, the facts relating to the extent of
each kind of social need, the law governing state activity on be-
half of the classes of dependents, the methods of public organiza-
tion and administration, the cooperation of public and voluntary
agencies, the provision made for defectives, helpless children and
misguided youth, and the recent ministrant functions of govern-
ments which have a tendency to diminish appeals to charity.

Quite as important are the facts relating to the judgments of
experts in each country, and considerable space has been given
to these. Popular opinions, sentiments and prejudices, even
superstitions are often influential ; as, for example, the crude
religious feelings which maintain the custom of indiscriminate
almsgiving and the survival of street mendicancy. When the
opinions are those of persons with scientific education, modern
ideals and long practical experience, they are facts of positive
value. The recommendations of bodies of experts, made after
protracted and repeated discussion, even if they have not yet been
adopted in customs, regulations and laws, have a claim to be con-
sidered ; they also are social facts.

Naturally interest in such practical subjects culminates in
the induction of a judgment called a "social imperative," be-
cause the ultimate object of the entire investigation is the founda-
tion of principles and rules for the guidance of conduct. The
reader has a right to ask at each step: What of it? How does
all this array of facts teach us to make a more economical use of
public and private gifts to the poor? Are there any guiding max-
ims which will help the benevolent visitor and administrator to
mitigate suffering, relieve distress, restore lost self-respect and

' Charles Wagner, The Simple Life, p. 19.



courage, save children from growing up paupers and criminals,
and preserve the race from degeneration? Such are the ques-
tions which serious minds asic in the presence of this inquiry.
And the materials here brought together from thousands of
sources and from all the most advanced nations of the earth have
a message of guidance as well as of explanation, sympathy and

There are social imperatives and they lift themselves com-
mandingly above the ranges of phenomena. Reason working
upon this vast body of experience arrives at conclusions which,
though not absolutely final for all ages and lands, are relatively
valid for given conditions. European civilization has not
emerged from centuries of struggle with error and poverty with-
out results, and it does not turn a face of stone to the duty of the
immediate future. A survey of the phenomena here placed in
order for comparison reveals certain tendencies of expert judg-
ment which, within the limits of our conditions, are reliable and
authoritative. If the metaphysician scorns these judgments as
lacking in the sublime qualities of eternity, universality and ab-
soluteness, we can at least affirm that they are useful and neces-
sary, even morally obligatory, in our time and in countries with
European civilization.

One who reads the descriptions and analyses of the various
systems of charity will naturally receive two apparently contra-
dictory impressions, — one of differences and the other of like-
nesses of methods. Deeper than all superficial variations and re-
semblances are the general and permanent causes which are at
work in all countries and the principles of administration which
underlie all systems, whether public or private.

Some readers are very much tempted to look for what is
startling and extraordinary, therefore the exceptional. Only
the unusual and the rare seems to them interesting. This child-
ish state of mind is one effect of excessive newspaper reading,
where the sensational, the striking, the astounding is made con-
spicuous on the front page, with all the help of stunning scare-
heads, red ink, caricatures and cartoons.

Yet the differences of methods are instructive and should be
noted. They are due to diverse stages of development, differ-
ences in climate and productions, racial traits, political history,


religious and educational institutions. If there were no differ-
ences it would not be necessary to give a separate chapter to
each country. But variations themselves, with sufficient knowl-
edge, may be traced to the working of general forces acting by
law. Nothing is accidental or isolated from the broad stream of
social evolution. We have not treated the unlikenesses scien-
tifically so long as we simply observe them, wonder at them, and
fail to bring them under some wide principle.

In the discovery of likenesses we are on the track of provis-
ional generalizations and safe deductions. In all civilized countries
which have become rich enough to afford the luxury a dependent
group appears. When the domestic group no longer suffices for
support, and slavery or serfdom has been abolished, the liberated
laborer becomes free to be a pauper. The parent, slaveholder or
landlord transfers responsibility to the commune or the nation.
As modern societies differentiated and developed their political
and ecclesiastical organizations the question of division of labor
and burden pressed for answer. The gradual separation of
church and state in modern times required an adjustment. Gen-
erally speaking the nations of Europe of the Latin type of insti-
tutions have laid emphasis on private and ecclesiastical agencies,
while the Germanic peoples have required their governments to
provide systems of relief. But the tendency is very manifest to
extend the political activity up to the point where every citizen
is provided by law with what is actually necessary to maintain
existence. Even in Italy and France this tendency has grown
stronger in recent years.

Gradually it has been made evident that public and private
charity are not rivals but parts of one system, and that they com-
plement each other, both being necessary. Hence there are
everywhere efforts to define the appropriate fields of pul)lic and
cf private agencies and to promote a good understanding and
effective cooperation between them.

Without attempting in a formal way to restate the principles
which have emerged from ])ractice and reflection we may refer
to topics which are treated with some degree of fullness in sev-
eral chapters. Thus the principle of individual treatment of de-
pendent persons and families is at the basis of the methods of
the German municipal systems, of the Catholic Societies of St.



Vincent of Paul and of the British and American Charity
Organization Society.

The recent methods of deahng with foundHngs are the result
of failure and success, of blundering good intention and of exact
scientific experiment. The ancient turning cradle has almost
disappeared; the medical men have drawn up rules for diet and
care ; the law grows more strict in the enforcement of parental
responsibility; the administration of relief seeks to save mother
with and by means of the child.

Modern medical charity has called to its help the discoveries
of laboratory and hospital ; has created the new profession of the
trained nurse ; has utilized the entire range of sanitary and hy-
gienic precepts.

In all countries a strenuous, hopeful and effective warfare has
been carried on against consumption, the physicians and admin-
istrators forming a holy alliance with charity workers.

In all countries where cities and industries have developed
with unparalleled rapidity, and the individual person and family
is dependent on social conditions, the necessity for a preventive,
protective and prophylactic policy has come to distinct recogni-
tion. Of this tendency toward providence and far vision of the
future this volume contains numerous and significant illustra-

The care of the insane has been based on accepted principles,
as freedom from restraint, adequate service of trained attendants,
purely medical control.

A note of explanation is necessary to make clear the share of
the labor done by the different persons whose names appear in
connection with this volume. First is placed the name of Dr. E.
Miinsterberg, City Councillor and Director of Poor-Relief in
Berlin, one of the first authorities in the world in this field.
Without having his consent to use the materials which he has
been for many years collecting and interpreting, the preparation
of this volume within any reasonable time would have been very
difffcult. Owing to the pressure of his offfcial duties Dr. Miin-
sterberg could not take direct part in the preparation of this book
nor in shaping its final form. He must not be held responsible
for more than is indicated in this statement ; but it would be
impossible to state too strongly my sense of gratitude for his



generous and patient interest in the work and his help in most of
the chapters.

In order to fill the gaps in the materials and to present the
story while it is fresh from life and its facts still significant, it
was necessary to secure a great deal of assistance in the labor
of translating, recomposition, discovery of recent changes, and
consulting hundreds of documents, reports, articles and books
bearing on the subjects. The editor invited to this task of co-
operative toil several 3'oung scholars and trusted students of for-
mer days who now occupy honorable and useful positions as
teachers, administratrators and writers. Their names are printed
in connection with the chapters which they wrote or to which
they contributed.

The editor has written certain chapters and carefully exam-
ined every line and every word in the articles furnished by others.
While no pains have been spared to make every statement abso-
lutely reliable, errors have probably crept into the text, and the
editor will be grateful to any person who will call them to his

The editor takes this most suitable occasion to thank the
host of kind fellow workers and students who have for thirty
years past helped him collect materials for this volume. In the
United States, in Canada, in England and in many places in Con-
tinental Europe where he has come as a stranger to the busy and
burdened superintendents of institutions he has found a sincere
and friendly welcome, he has been supplied with information,
and from every place has carried away pleasant and grateful
memories. Reports and documents, copies of forms, letters on
specific phases of work are in his library from all parts of the
world. Only a small part of this material could be reproduced
in a volume like this one, and the task of selection and rejection
was by no means easy.

It would be natural to inquire the reason for many omissions,
for example, the charity methods in Spain, Portugal, Greece. In
some instances satisfactory materials could not be obtained.
The Romance countries seemed to be represented in Italy,
France, Belgium and the French and Italian cantons of Switzer-


The University of Chicago, September, 1904



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In mediaeval times the church was the social organ for relief of
the destitute, those who were not supported by family or landlord.
Religious belief expressed itself in the casual gifts to beggars and
suffering neighbors, in the parish relief administered by priests, and in
the contributions to those who thronged the doors of monasteries in
times of misery. Everywhere the ancient local communal bond was
recognized even under ecclesiastical organizations, on the basis of ter-
ritory and possessions.

In the cities after the Reformation poor relief was the affair of the
commune which was regarded as at once civil and ecclesiastical, and in
this local circle outsiders and homeless wanderers had no recognized
rights. During the terrible Thirty Years' War all the institutions of
assistance went to ruin with other social organizations. Upon the
heels of devastating wars followed the world-plague of beggary. To
repress the insistent demands of the hordes of mendicants the author-
ities resorted to severe and cruel measures, — incarceration, flogging,
branding with hot iron, slavery. Only gradually were humane and
discriminating methods introduced, and a distinction made between
the public unfortunates and the sturdy rogues

Since the right to relief could be asserted only by a member of a
narrow commune, one was a fugitive if he became sick, crippled or
destitute in any other commune of his country. There was no national
system. If a man attempted to beg he was driven away, and it was


even difficult to secure employment when local craftsmen were jealous
of their market. Nothing remained but to perish in misery or join
thieves and robbers.

It was found in the process of time and trial that cruel and repress-
ive measures against beggary were ineffectual. Men must live in
some way, and if not wisely helped they will help themselves. When
the police become cruel the pity of the people is aroused and indis-
criminate alms defeat the law. Some method of sifting the unfor-
. tunate poor from the vagabonds must be found.

Modern industrial conditions compel men to move from place to
place according to the demand for labor and commodities, and the
market of a village is quite apt to be the capital city or a foreign coun-
try. No longer are all a man's customers and employers found in the
circle of his acquaintances and neighbors. Hence any workman is
liable to find himself a stranger, sick or injured, robbed, penniless in
a place distant from home. The system of relief must recognize the
new economic situation.

The political conditions have also changed ; and the local township
has come to be a part of a state, and, since 1870, each state a member
of the Empire, in which each citizen of a parish has the rights of a
German citizen wherever he travels ; and among his rights is that to
relief when in dire need.

The poor law must find a way to decide the strife of interests of the
communes. If a commune is required to relieve its own members it is
not willing to spend its income on citizens born elsewhere. And a
commune in which a pauper was born is unwilling to receive him back
after long years of absence in a place where he has spent the produc-
tive years of his life, only to carry his weight in useless old age. The
place of birth alone could not fix the ground for settlement, and corre-
sponding right to relief ; only the place where a man has lived, labored
and reared a family can be regarded as really his home. Modern
German legislation has accepted in a modified form the right of relief
at home ; and home is defined to be the locality where a man has resided
for a reasonable length of time, during which he has become incor-
porated in the life of the community, and has lost all real connection
with his former home, if he had lived elsewhere. This place where a
German citizen may appeal for relief in distribution is called the
"relief residence" (Unterstiitciingswohnsitc).

The North German Federation first introduced a general law on


this subject; but it was one of the first acts of the great German
Empire, June i, 1870, to enact a law protecting its weakest citizen in
every part of the realm. Bavaria and Alsace have their own methods ;
the former being very near the new German law and the latter having
a voluntary system inherited from its earlier French connection.

The first requirement of this law (not essentially modified by the
later legislation of March 12, 1894) is that a German citizen must be
helped in his misery where he chances to be at the moment ; and later
it will be determined who will pay the cost, — whether another com-
mune, or the state, or the Empire, or some sick-benefit fund, or a trade
union. This temporary assistance is a duty of the commune where
the disaster falls, and the administration of the relief is a civil duty of
the local officials for the poor. The district thus liable is the local
poor union (Ortsarmenverband) . When it comes to the question who
shall pay for the outlay the "relief residence" is decisive. The prin-
ciple obtains that every German citizen enjoys such settlement who
after his eighteenth year has resided continuously two years in a given
place and during that time has not received relief. A woman shares
the settlement of her husband, and children have that of the parents.
If a person has been absent more than two years, after reaching the
eighteenth year of age, without remaining in any one commune long
enough to obtain a settlement there, then the state or province must
assume the burden. The district thus liable is called a provincial poor
union {Landcsarmenverhand) . The district which supplied the tem-
porary relief in distress is repaid its costs by the district which is
legally liable. The law also provides for the erection of institutions
by the united means and efforts of several poor districts ; as for the
insane, the defectives, etc.

B.^ In order to understand German poor relief we must call to
mind the fact that throughout Germany, with the exception of Alsace-
Lorraine, the care for the poor is made a legal obligation. This
obligation is enjoined upon communes, municipalities, and communal
corporations in the way just described. Assistance granted to foreign-
ers invariably falls back upon the state. This system of reimburse-
ment, it must be distinctly understood, is merely a financial measure
for the purpose of equalizing the burdens of poor relief among the
several communities ; it does not give to the poor any legal right to

^Dr. E. Munsterberg, American Journal of Sociology, January, March, 1897.


claim the aid of a district. Whether, in any individual case, aid is
really necessary, and of what kind, and in what amount, — all of these
questions are decided by the authorities in whose district the applicant
is living. Complaint because of the refusal of aid can be registered
only with the officers of relief, not in a court of law.

In view of the great variety of organizations for poor relief, the
poor laws are content to make one general requirement, viz., that aid
is to be granted in case of need, within the range of necessity. Details
as to plan of work, organization, etc., are left for each community to
decide for itself. In what manner the work is to be carried on must
be determined by local conditions, such as the wealth of the church and
ecclesiastical orders, the wealth of the community at large, the extent
of the population, and the administrative system underlying the work.
In smaller communities and less densely populated localities, where
the entire field can be easily surveyed, a moderate fund is raised for
charitable purposes, the dispensation being left entirely in the hands of
a salaried official (mayor or alderman). Occasionally we find a com-
munity possessing such liberal endowments that public relief is hardly
necessary. In the poorer rural districts people generally prefer to

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 1 of 73)