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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persons, nearly all serving without pay, were active in poor-relief,
when previous to the adoption of the district system there had been
little or no popular interest in the subject, is the most gratifying re-
sult of the new system. The chief objects of the law were to in-
crease the personal element in the care of the poor and especially to
equalize the burden of poor-relief among the towns by grouping
together districts with heavier and lighter burdens. The district
system has, however, shown itself open to serious objection. With
reference to the first object sought there has been difficulty in secur-
ing competent and even honest overseers. With reference to the sec-
ond object it is found that needy persons feel free to apply for aid
to a patron so rich and impersonal as the district, and that they

^Blatter fiir das Armenwesen der Stadt Wien, March, 1903,
Zeitschrift fiir das Armenwesen, April, 1903, p. 115.


quoted in


secure it. The expenditures in 1896 were greater than those of 1895
164,645.77 flor., the total for 1896 being 1,856,595.67 flor. More-
over, the administration is too bureaucratic, aid comes too tardily,
and in too large a proportion of cases is given in cash. Thus 'j}^
per cent, of the aid granted in 1895 was in cash. The existing sys-
tem has been a subject of great difference of opinion, of emphatic
commendation and quite as emphatic condemnation. Some hold that
it requires only modification to remedy its admitted defects, others
that it should be entirely abolished, while experts agree that frequent
and radical changes in the poor laws are sources of mischief. A law
has been proposed to supersede the district system and to restore the
care of the poor to the separate municipalities, while retaining the ex-
tensive contact between overseers and beneficiaries.^ The proposed
law, while dropping out the district authorities, would introduce
more effective provincial supervision and give to municipal commis-
sions legislative and executive authority in local affairs. The care
of defectives in institutions is not affected by the district system, but
is an affair of the province, as in the case of neglected children.

The total number relieved by public charity in Lower Austria in
1899 was 39,000 persons. Indoor relief has increased since the dis-
trict institutions were erected. The expenditures for outdoor relief
in 1900 were 3,166,356 kr., for indoor relief 868,332 kr., total 4,034,-
668 kr. The administrators of poor- relief are now 1,153 members of
the district poor councils, and 7,429 visitors.^

In Upper Austria, by a law of 1849, ^^e parish ceased to be a
political unit and the old system of Pharrarmen-institute became less
adapted to the situation than before. By a law of 1864 a double
system was recognized, appeals could be made either to the clerical
or to the political authority. The municipality was required to pro-
vide funds but had only partial control of their expenditure. A law
of 1869 finally suspended the parochial system and turned over all
the sources of income for poor-relief to the municipality. An addi-

^ This proposed bill has not yet become law, and there does not seem to be
much prospect of its adoption.

'^ Zeitschrift f. d. Armenwesen, April, 1904; review of F. Gerenyi, Der gegen-
wartige Stand der n.-6. Armengesetzgebung, in Der barmherzige Samaritan,
1903, Heft 3-5 ; Berichte des n.-6. Landesausschusses uber den Zustand der offent-
lichen Armenpflege ; J. Bunzel, Zur neueren Armen und Heimatgesetzgebung in
Oesterreich, 1901.



tional law was passed in 1880, which had these provisions. In case
of non-resident poor the home municipahty is to be notified, when-
ever it can be determined readily, and expenditure in which the tem-
porary abode is involved because of delay on the part of the home
municipality to the call is legally collectible from the latter. If the
legal residence cannot be legally determined investigation is to be
referred to the political authorities. Eight kinds of poor-relief are
mentioned: (i) Placing in a poorhouse, (2) doles of money and
supplies, (3) boarding with private persons, (4) care of the sick,
(6) transportation, (7) burial, (8) bringing up children. Munici-
pal poorhouses are at the foundation of the system and the law with
regard to them requires separation of the sexes, avoidance of crowd-
ing, separation of the sick and those suffering from disgusting dis-
eases, and light occupation for those still capable of it. Begging is
forbidden both to resident and non-resident poor on pain of imprison-
ment not over eight days. But the municipal council has the right
in exceptional cases on recommendation of the poor commissioners,
to grant individual residents the privilege of gathering gifts upon
specified days and within the limits of the municipality. These per-
sons must provide themselves with a permit from the poor commis-
sion. This is a concession to rural neighborhoods.

The poor commission is made up of the chief executive of the
borough, a priest and the overseers {Armenvdter) . Of the last there
must be three and may be as many more as the municipal council
thinks necessary. The poor commissioners are unpaid officials.
They administer all endowments and incomes available for the poor,
oversee the charitable institutions, prescribe the methods of relief,
and are expected, as far as possible, to guard against pauperization
of persons hitherto self-supporting, and to indicate to the courts
persons who by extravagance give reason to fear that they will be-
come impoverished, in order that appointment of guardians or
trustees may be considered (Oesterreichs W ohlfdhrts-Einrichtungen,
I 45). The commission must report to the municipal council its pre-
liminary budget and its annual accounts, and secure approval of the
same for extraordinary expenditures. The duties of the overseers
(Armenvater) correspond to those of the armenpfleger in Lower
Austria. They have the immediate personal care of the poor, re-
ceive applications, make visits and investigations. They are not
paid and the office is obligatory upon those appointed, except for cer-


tain grounds of excuse legally specified. As in Lower Austria
women may be appointed to care for women among the poor ; but
women are not required to accept office. The proposal to introduce
the district system prevailing in Lower Austria did not meet with
favor, but the law of Upper Austria allows municipalities of the same
political district to unite for certain purposes of poor-relief, particu-
larly the erection and maintenance of poorhouses and hospitals.
Exercise of this privilege is subject to the approval of provincial
authorities, and in 1898 had been exercised only in one instance.

The province of Styria, like Upper Austria, has not followed the
example of Lower Austria in the policy of transferring the burdens
of poor-relief from municipalities to larger districts. The law in
force dates from 1896. It devolves the chief activities upon local
overseers. Here also the poorhouse occupies a prominent place in
public relief. The reason for giving special mention to the adminis-
tration of the province of Styria is its extensive application of the
"Einlage" system, mentioned above as one of the forms of poor-relief
in vogue in Upper Austria. This system is not relief of paupers in
their own homes, but a substitute for institutional care. The indigent
person is assigned to a house to which during a certain period he
goes for food, or to several houses, among which he circulates, a day
at each house. Sometimes lodging as well as food is received at
these houses, and sometimes lodging is otherwise provided by the
borough. About one-fifth of all cases are thus provided for in Styria
and formerly the proportion was still larger. In 1892 the number of
those thus fed was 4,271. It is chiefly in the country that this custom
obtains. The recipients of this form of entertainment do for their
hosts such work as they are able to perform, and a very friendly
relation often exists. Aged and partly broken-down persons are by
this means maintained in comfort. According to the new law the
"Einlage" system is not applicable to children, to the criminal poor,
the intemperate, nor to persons over 70 years old unless they declare
their willingness. Well as it works in the case of poor persons who
have grown old in the community, it works very badly when paupers
accustomed to the city are sent to a country place which is their
legal residence, to meet among strange surroundings a grudging
reception. The system is far more popular with the taxpayers than
any would be which required a poor fund raised in money, because
in the customs of the rural population of Styria the use of money has


as yet but partially replaced the ancient traffic in kind. The law pro-
vides, however, that any citizen who can and wishes may discharge
his "Einlage" obligation in money not given to the poor, but paid to
the municipal treasury.

The great importance of poor-relief in Vienna, metropolis and
capital of the Empire, entitles its administration to special description.
(Municipal Government in Continental Europe, by Albert Shaw, p.
410 ff.) The municipal legislative council (Gemeinderath) of 138
members, elects from its own membership an executive council {Stadt-
rath) of 25, who appoint the men who fill all the offices created by
the larger body. The heads of departments thus appointed are sal-
aried experts who hold office permanently or during good behavior,
and together form the mayor's cabinet, spoken of as the magistracy.
The head of the poor department may make suggestions for general
legislation to the Gemeinderath through their standing committee
on his department. Administrative policies he may introduce for
discussion and action by the magistracy. Vienna is divided into
19 permanent districts or wards, each of which elects a district com-
mittee through which local needs find expression. Each district com-
mittee elects a board of commissioners for the poor (Armenrdthe)
within its district, subject to the approval of the Stadtrath. The men-
bers of the Gemeinderath, among whom are professors, economists
and publicists of national and international reputation, and business
men of the first rank, serve without pay, as do also the district com-
mittees and commissioners for the poor.

There is a second separate municipal department for orphans,
under which foster parents ( Waisenvdter und M Utter) who have
charge of the education of dependent children. These officials are
unpaid and appointed by the magistracy on nomination of the poor
commissioner for the respective districts in which they serve. The
various officials in this complicated system are governed by printed
instructions. Each of the district poor commissioners has assigned
to him a subdivision of his district and within that subdivision all
applications come to him and he must convince himself personally of
the truth of the representations made. As a rule each commissioner
refers each case within his subdivision requiring temporary relief
and minor expenditures, to the district board of commissioners, while
cases that require expenditure above a certain sum or more perma-
nent relief from a fund or admission to an institution go up to the


magistracy for action. Moreover, each commissioner is required
periodically, at least twice a year, to visit all the poor within his sub-
division to learn their condition with reference to earning self-support.
In 1894 a rule was made that an overseer should have charge of not
over 10 "regulars." The number of overseers in 1898 was 1,799,
varying from 16 to 190 in a district. In addition to these were the
foster parents for orphans, 4 to 60 in a district. The chairman of
the district poor commissioners calls a meeting at least once a month
to consider cases which because of their urgency have been treated
since the preceding meeting by individual commissioners consulting
only with the chairman, to consider also the cases to be sent up to
the magistracy and to learn the action of the magistracy upon
cases previously sent up. The district chairman thereupon puts
into execution the prescriptions which have been sent down by
the magistracy. Each district chairman is also responsible for
having a house to house canvass for poor funds within the one
of the 19 districts which he represents. At least once a year there
is a conference of all the district chairmen, presided over by the di-
rector of the magistracy and attended by the heads of the departments
for the poor and for orphans. Appeals on behalf of absent citizens
go, not to district commissioners, but direct to the city executive de-
partment for the poor, and the sums allowed are paid at the mayor's
office. In other cases they are paid at the offices of district treasurers,
as each of the 19 district committees has a treasurer, or to convales-
cents about to be discharged they are paid at the hospital. When
complete permanent support is granted to persons 60 years old or
more the amount is regularly 5 flor. a month. But to persons over
80 years old, the blind, or crippled, and others totally unable to
add anything to that amount by their own exertions and who might
otherwise be in a public institution 8 flor. a month may be allowed,
and in some cases 10 or 12 flor., usually to persons who after a year
in such an institution express willingness to give up their places in
the institutions. Ordinarily any pension or other regular income
which the person receives is deducted from the amount of aid allowed,
but sometimes to persons who have surrendered indoor support
enough has been allowed to make a total of 15 flor. when added to
the pension or other income. If it is discovered that a beneficiary,
at the time of receiving his allowance, had property that yielded
24 flor. or more a year, and concealed the fact, he then has to pay back


all that he has received in public aid. District overseers have a cer-
tain amount of care of the lodging of the poor and allowances for
rent are often considerable in amount.

Of other Austrian cities it is to be remarked that a number, in-
cluding Trantenau, Reichenberg, Karlsbad, Tetschen, Liebenau,
Warnsdorf, Troppau and Salsburg, have adopted the "Elberfeld
system," at least with respect to the districting, the assignment of
cases to unpaid visitors, the attempt to introduce a personal element
into public relief, and to adapt it to individual conditions. The result
is that in spite of larger permanent aid to certain cases expenditures
have not increased but diminished, that there are fewer cases and
that street begging in these cities has been very nearly abolished.
Among the maxims current in connection with this system of poor-
relief, though not peculiar to it, are these : Every excess of charity
to one means shorter allowance to another; the duty of responsible
relations should be insisted on ; as much as possible should be left
to private charity ; the sum of that which one receives from public
and private charity should not exceed that which those receive who
depend on public charity alone ; individual earning power should be
conserved and made to go as far as it can ; to promote morality, in-
dustry, cleanliness and economy is the best aid to the poor. The ad-
ministration is in some cities complicated. As a rule district poor
commissioners are formally inducted into their office by a ceremonial
hand grasp of the mayor at a special session of the Gemeinderath.
The "Elberfeld system" aims to substitute for impersonal bureaucratic
administration of public relief the agency of citizens working unpaid
in their respective neighborhoods, to educate the citizens themselves
to lay aside the immorality of thoughtless almsgiving, which is in-
duced only by actual contact of many with the work of relief, and to
secure a knowledge of individual cases, so as to fit the aid to the need,
remove causes of suffering, and especially to supplement gifts of
money and commodities with personal aid and counsel through fre-
quent visits.

C. It is difficult to draw a clear line between public and private
charity in Austria-Hungary because of the practice of uniting public
and private funds to be administered by public agency. This belongs
to the essence of the system called Pharrarmen-institute. Much of the
cost of Austrian charities is met by the income from endowments.
These are largely public funds voted in honor of some anniversary


or other event in the royal family or some other noble household. At
the end of 1898 there were in Vienna 951 endowments, mostly under
municipal administration, with a combined capital of 6,140,939 gulden,
annually yielding 247,548 gulden. According to the provisions of the
various foundations 136,892 gulden of this income went for tem-
porary relief, 90,365 for permanent aid, 15,975 fo^ care of inmates in
city institutions, 3,710 for the same purpose in non-municipal insti-
tutions, 606 for the sick poor. The persons who received temporary
aid from this source numbered 11,069 ^^^ those who received regular
aid numbered 1,618. These endowments cannot be classified strictly
as private charity. But in the same year, 1898, there were in Vienna
136 societies with 32,229 members engaged in private charity. That
year by their own funds they gave temporary aid to 25,695 males, and
37,368 females, to the amount of 482,087 gulden. Enough other pri-
vate contributions to the same purpose were reported to raise the
sum to 574,807 gulden, and the number of those aided to 68,897.
In a number of Austrian cities the activities of private charity equal
or surpass those of public charity. The financial contributions of
private charity in the province of Lower Austria, including income
from private endowments, in 1896 amounted to 696,495.91 flor. The
invested property of private associations amounted to 2,258,283.21

Private charitable societies exist in 184 of the municipalities of
Lower Austria, namely in 33 cities, 92 market towns and 59 villages.
The number of such societies is 264, and they maintain about 100
charitable institutions. Though they are very considerably developed
in the Alpine province of the southwest, and Jewish ecclesiastical so-
cieties play an important part in the Polish northeast. In Bohemia
and the other provinces of the extreme northwest they are less numer-
ous, and are very slightly represented in the Greek provinces of the
southeast. Where they exist the voluntary associations supplement
public charities in attending to the forms of need least adequately met
by official activity, and especially, in that they are not limited by regu-
lations as to legal residence, though many of them are limited by
creed or some other social distinction. Like public charity, they afford
emergency aid in money and supplies, and meet special requirements
of particular cases. There are societies devoted to the care of crip-
ples, convalescents, poor school children, and neglected or abused
children. They maintain hospitals and homes, stations for render-



ing- aid in case of accident or sudden illness, soup kitchens that save
from theft or despair the poorest of the poor, warming rooms, lodg-
ings, employment bureaus, schools for training servants, vacation

Certain knightly orders, as Der Deutsche Ritterorden and Der
souveraene Malteser-Ritterorden, maintain charitable activities. The
former has ten general hospitals. It affords stipends or pensions to
over 70 needy persons ; it maintains 4 homes for 62 other persons, and
keeps free places at sanitaria. It has 12 schools and 2 kindergartens,
employing over 100 sisters of the order. The membership of the order
includes 80 priests. Its schools afford free instruction to some 3,000
children per year. The order participates in the sanitary service of
the army in time of action. The second of the knightly orders men-
tioned is likewise engaged in the service of the sick and wounded.
The Austrian societies of the White Cross and of the Red Cross are
efficient agents of relief in war and times of catastrophes. The first or-
ganization to aid wounded soldiers was formed in Vienna in 1859,
shortly after the outbreak of war with France and Italy. The pur-
pose of this original society was to supply money, underclothing, ban-
dages and medicines to wounded soldiers without distinction or rank,
creed or nationality, and to aid disabled soldiers and the widows and
orphans of the fallen. Austria was ready to take part in the move-
ment that centered in Geneva. The development of women's societies
of this character has been strong since an impetus received from the
empress in 1878. In 1880 the numerous societies formed a federa-
tion known as the Austrian Red Cross Society. The main purpose
is to be always ready to supplement government activity in the care
of the wounded in case of war. Depots of necessary materials are
maintained. The women prepare underclothing and bedding and
themselves receive instruction in volunteer nursing. In time of peace
the agencies care for widows and orphans of soldiers and meet emer-
gencies occasioned by flood, fire or other disaster. In numerous
emergencies the society has rendered great service. It possesses
property valued at over six million florins.

The Society of the White Cross founds and maintains homes for
the recuperation of soldiers and to make existing sanitaria accessible
to them. The health of the standing army is its care, but especially
of the officers of the standing army and militia, including also officials
of the war department, members of the families of such persons, their


widows and orphans, and students at military schools or at the insti-
tutions for the daughters of officers. The society has existed since
1882. Up to 1894 4,671 persons had received care in the societies'
sanitaria or in places supported by it in institutions. The society
owns a number of fine sanitaria equipped with every comfort.

D. The historical importance of ecclesiastical charity in Austria-
Hungary and its survival in the Pharrarmen-institute already men-
tioned can not be further dwelt upon. The activities of the church
and of other voluntary associations, together, nearly if not quite equal
those of the state and municipality. The Christian, especially Catho-
lic, church charity is largely characterized by the spirit of mediaeval
almsgiving, that is, not so much by discriminating and intelligent
adaptation of means to ends as by impulsive kindness, obedience to
religious duty, and sense of merit in the giver. The Hebrew chari-
ties, on the other hand, are a calculated effort to restore the power
of self-support where it has been lost and to prevent the loss of it
where it is imperilled. This is most often accomplished by loaning
capital, which may be in the form of a little stock of goods, tools, a
beast and cart. At other times a trade is taught. A family is pretty
thoroughly wrecked in which the agents of Hebrew charity can not
find some member with an earning capacity that can be nursed into

Although the system of Pharrarmen-institute went far to amal-
gamate Catholic poor-relief with public charity. Catholic societies
for special benevolent purposes continue. Once at least. May, 1900,
in Vienna, there has been a congress of the Catholic benevolent so-
cieties of Austria attended by representatives of almost every organi-
zation of the kind in Austria and participated in by high nobles as well
as ecclesiastics. Special attention was given to the care of children
and youth, foundlings, cripples, orphans, and the scope of the dis-
cussion was extended to include popular education, trade schools,
free libraries, and protective legislation for apprentices, girls, and

The Protestants of the Augsburg and of the Helvetian confessions
combined number in Austria (1898) 436,352 communicants. Their
charities consist mainly of parish relief. They support schools and
libraries, and in their- schools poor children are instructed free and
often receive a large part of their food and clothing. They maintain
eleven orphanages and they are active in caring for the sick, not


alone in ordinary parish charity. The "Inner Mission Society of
Upper Austria" maintains a hospital community with four depart-

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 10 of 73)