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 was placed upon the parishes in which they resided at the

There has come to be a great dissimilarity in the scope and method
of poor-relief due to the changes of conditions. In the large cities
there are old institutions with large and increasing endowments.
Here also are large parish contributions, extensive private beneficence
and abundant means of employment. In the rural districts all these
are lacking. In the poorer parishes the legal provision for poor-
relief falls far short of that which in the more prosperous parishes
would be secured through private benevolence alone. Moreover,
there has been a gradual shrinkage of the provisions made by the
church. This shrinkage is made up, not by the public, but by insti-



tutions of private beneficence. Of the total expenditures for charity
in 1854, 40.1 per cent, was made by public, 50.4 per cent, by religious,
and 9.5 per cent, by private institutions. In 1896 the proportions
were, public, 41.8 per cent. ; religious, 43.4 per cent, and private, 14.8
per cent. It is estimated that there are in all 7,476 charitable insti-
tutions in Holland. Of these, 1,198 are under civil administrations,
3,057 are controlled by churches and exist for the general care of the
poor, and the rest, including 710 for the aged and 712 for the sick,
offer relief for special classes of dependents.

While these three classes of institutions do not specialize, each
treating certain sorts of cases, there is a tendency toward such spe-
cialization. In Amsterdam, for instance, where there are 105 insti-
tutions and organizations of a charitable character, those controlled
by the civil authorities have charge of 82 per cent, of the cases need-
ing medical aid, and but 20 per cent, of the orphans who receive
support, while religious institutions care for over 70 per cent, of the
orphans and but 10 per cent, of the sick and infirm. Similarly, but
in a less marked degree, cases for permanent support go to religious
and those calling for temporary assistance to the public institutions.
There are certain private organizations which have the special func-
tion of finding work for the able-bodied needy.

The share which the civil parish has in the support of the poor
varies in different cities. In Amsterdam the levy is about $.88, in
Groningen it is about $1.04 per capita, while in Rotterdam and The
Hague it is only $.60 and $.64, respectively. The civil parish is the
basis of public charity organization. The mayor alone or the mayor
aided by the council or a regular relief officer transacts the business.
Sometimes the means of a private association are placed at the dis-
posal of the public officials. The almshouses and hospitals are sup-
ported almost entirely by the civil parishes. The name diaconate
(Diakonie) is the technical term for all sorts of provisions for poor-
relief made by the evangelical churches. This name is used in all
cases, whether there are special members of the congrgation ap-
pointed for this work or whether the parish vestry itself assumes this
duty. The Catholic church works according to parishes with one
or more parish boards. In Amsterdam, however, the city is di-
vided into fifty administrative districts. Extensive aid is given
by the Society of St. Vincent of Paul, and that of considerable
variety and extent. In this association the religious conduct of



the indigents is of great importance, unchristian conduct leading
to exclusion from aid.

The aims of private charities are very numerous, practically
every cause being represented among them. The purposes and
methods of a few of the many private organizations will be described
below. District nursing is established in Deventer. Whenever the
physician believes that the woman of the house is unable to take
proper care of the sick he may call for a trained nurse. These nurses
are chosen with great care, so that only those of approved moral
character and skill are employed. Their work is supervised by a
woman overseer who visits each house unexpectedly several times a
week. The family is expected to maintain the nurse during her
stay, which is not to extend beyond six weeks.

A society recently established at The Hague has for its object
the saving of broken food. All otherwise worthless leavings from.
the tables of the wealthier houses are collected and worked over to
be sold to the poor. In order to prevent an undesirable competition
the rule of the society is to sell only to the poor people who could
not otherwise obtain similar food.

Several organizations assist the poor by securing for them an
opportunity to work. Sometimes temporary or permanent employ-
ment is found in the cities and sometimes the poor are sent to the
farm labor colonies. Of particular importance is the work of the
"Society for Beneficence" which will be described later. The rural
colony of the Salvation Army rents land at low rates in order to
allow its tenants to become free land owners. In Friesland, where
the soil is of unusually poor quality and the people correspondingly
poor, there is a unique association, the Door Arbeit tot Verbeetung,
which aims to improve the soil, otherwise almost or quite useless, by
means of the labor of those who otherwise would be unemployed.
Many parishes have joined in this enterprise with most beneficial
results, the number of needy persons being considerably reduced.

Of special importance is the great Amsterdam benevolent society,
Tiefdadigheit naas Vermogen (Charity according to means). This
society has existed for forty years. Its work embraces the whole
city, which is divided into thirty-four districts, each with a superin-
tendent at its head. The superintendent is assisted by helpers, both
men and women. The society has 2,881 members, each of whom
pays about $1.60 annually, and 3,298 friends who have contributed



to its support. The society gives help by obtaining work, by tem-
porary or permanent support, and by loans without interest. The
amount of a loan may not exceed eighty dollars. Moreover, this
society aims to cooperate with all other organized charities, to com-
bat the habit of indiscriminate almsgiving and to educate the public
as to the best methods of relief work. For its district workers it
publishes careful directions with a view to individual relief. The
greatest stress is laid upon personal visits and the help of man to
man. The good offices of private individuals are thought to be very
important. Those familiar with charity organization work in
America will recognize that the aim of this society is to a consider-
able extent similar to that of the Charity Organization Society in our
larger cities. The income of the society in 1900 was about $66,000.
The number of needy persons helped was 2,067, at an expense of
about $38,240.00. In the proportion of income devoted to material
aid the society differs from the Charity Organization Society, which
aims to use its income chiefly for administrative purposes, that is,
for forms of assistance which help persons to support themselves.

In recent years there has been considerable effort made toward
reform. The present system of providing for the poor in Holland
is far from satisfactory to those who are most familiar with the situa-
tion. The board of directors of the society mentioned above, in its
report for 1900, is unanimous in recommending reforms. The
grounds of opposition to a regular system of charities are considered
in the same report. This opposition has its origin in the general
ignorance as to the extent of poverty and the best methods of treat-
ing it, and in the hopeless disorganization of Dutch relief methods.
There is no unity between the individual institutions. Each goes
its own way without reference to the others. General leadership is

Public care of the poor is closely restricted by the existing law.
Through the lack of a strong central organization there may be estab-
lished institutions that are absolutely superfluous and injurious, while
many others which are doing the most valuable and necessary work
are hindered in their development. Then, too, lack of organization
leads to the waste of money through the multiplication of administra-
tions. Falkenberg and Smissart express similar opinions.

The efforts toward reform are along the line of strengthening
the public relief, the introduction of regular supervision and the



establishment of a rational union between the various charitable
organizations. An encouraging feature of the situation is the growth
of public opinion in favor of reform founded upon expert knowledge.
In 1897 the political parties declared in favor of reform. In 1895
the Society for Public Welfare through its delegates, men of high
standing in Holland, reported very minutely concerning the present
condition of poor-relief. In the second part of this report there is
a detailed outline for a new poor law.

In January, 1900, Dompierre de Chaufepie, Blankenberg, and
Smissart established a periodical, Tijdschrift voor Armenzorg, the
purpose of which is to enlighten public opinion and give information
to existing organizations. This periodical, which appears bi-monthly,
undertakes the observation of all existing organizations, follows
critically the transactions of law-givers, giving needed advice, and
furnishes information concerning the poor-relief of foreign countries.
The same men have published the Gids der Nederlandsche Weldadig-
heit (Guide of Netherland Charities). This contains a description
of all the arrangements for the public, religious and private care of
the poor, and is indexed according to subjects and provinces, so
that it is easy to find out whether in a certain place there is an organi-
zation of a certain kind or not. Altogether 7,476 organizations are
considered in the work. These various efforts toward reform have
met with some success. In June, 1891, the government submitted
to the second chamber an outline of a new system of poor laws.
While this has not been accepted as yet it may be worth while to
notice its provisions. In the first place the law is not radical in
character. Its purpose is to strengthen the position of the govern-
ment with reference to the existing institutions. It is not intended
to limit the religious and private charities further than is necessary
in order to secure the general welfare. Without prejudice to their
principles, which may be quite different from those of the civil organi-
zations, they must keep the government more fully informed as to
their doings. The government shall have authority to require infor-
mation of each institution as to its means, the terms of its constitu-
tion, the composition of its board of directors, etc., and to punish
failure to comply with such requirements by fines.

It is further provided that in every parish there shall be a central
office at which may be found information concerning all the needy
poor of the district. The records of the reputable and those of the



disreputable poor are to be kept separate. The information is to be
sent from the different institutions to the central office and correc-
tions made weekly. It is recommended that local associations be
formed where the representatives of all the different charities may
meet for the exchange of experiences. These of course must be

The public provision for the care of the poor is to be granted
only in case the individual is unable to obtain aid elsewhere. Thus
the strictly subsidiary character of the public system is retained.
One important advance, however, is made. The public institution
will not be restricted as much as formerly in its efforts to aid. Even
in cases where other agencies have given aid the public institution
may assist, providing there is an agreement between those interested,
as to the amount and kind of help. It is prescribed that the public
system must have an organization in each parish adequate to its needs,
so that help may be given wherever necessary. Each parish must
see to it that physicians are provided for the sick, and midwives for
cases of confinement. The compensation for physicians and mid-
wives is determined by the council after the sanitary officials and
the official overseers report. The pay shall be in the form of a stated
fee or compensation according to services performed. In places
where there is no druggist other means are taken for supplying medi-
cine. Each parish is required to maintain a workhouse in which the
able-bodied poor who are responsible for their own need may find
admission. Such persons are aided only on condition that they do
the work allotted to them. When an inmate of a workhouse leaves
without permission the police and poor officers must be notified.
Should anyone refuse to accept the help which has been given him
under the conditions of his admission to the workhouse and, leav-
ing the workhouse without permission, should not endeavor to sup-
port himself and family, he may be sent to the penitentiary for a
term not to exceed three years.

These and many other specifications give the character of the
proposed law. At all points the effort to individualize the systems
is evident. The regulations concerning poor boards met the demands
of this principle. In the large cities poor boards are to be estab-
lished, while in the smaller the mayor and councilmen shall have
charge of the poor administration. In case the city is large enough
to have a poor board it may be divided into administrative districts.


Beside the district superintendents there are to be deputies who may
be either men or women. These deputies may be compensated in
case a sufficient number of persons do not volunteer to serve with-
out pay. Deputies who receive pay are not permitted to follow any
trade or business in the district in which they act.

The entire system is to be placed under the control of one or
more inspectors acceptable to the Minister of the Interior, Each
charitable institution is to be subject to permanent supervision. The
superintendent must place at the disposal of the inspector all ma-
terials bearing on the conduct of the institution. Furthermore, all
almshouses and workhouses are to be under the control of the parish.
In case any institution is not being administered according to the
official regulations, it is given six months to make the necessary

In recent years have been enacted several laws which have to do
do with the protection and care of children. One law provides for
compulsory education. Another has to do with the punishment of
children. The power of the parents is limited and the child may be
taken from the parent on account of abuse, gross negligence or dis-
solute conduct.

The Dutch Home Colonies. вАФ A notable experiment in charitable
methods in Holland was that of Maatschappy van Weldadigheit
(Society of Beneficence). The idea of the founders of this society
was that pauperism might be prevented to a large extent by pro-
viding agricultural training and employment to able-bodied deserv-
ing destitute persons. In more recent years the Salvation Army
in England and America has made use of the same idea. In Hol-
land the scheme originated with General van den Bosch and the
society was organized in 1816. According to the rules of this
society each member paid a little more than a dollar a year. The
membership grew rapidly, reaching twenty thousand within a year.
The society established two sorts of colonies, the free and the beggar.
Frederiksoord, Wilhelmsoord and the Forest colony were for free
colonists. The colonies at Omerschans and Veenhuisen were for
beggars. Frederiksoord, the first colony established, had at first
twelve hundred acres of heath land of very poor quality. It was flat,
dry, and sandy and ill suited to agricultural purposes. To this colony
were taken fifty-two families, three hundred and fifty-six persons.
Each family was provided with a house, a stable and cattle. It was


expected that the colonist would pay for the cattle after a little time,
but the hope was not realized. Those members of the colony who
were not members of families were taken into families as boarders
and paid for their board out of their wages. Families also received
orphans as boarders, the society or parish paying for their support.
The members of the colony were employed in two ways. Some were
employed by the day and paid wages. Others were given a plot
of ground to cultivate, paying a small rental. These two classes
were known as laborers and free tenants. It was the desire of the
society to have as many free tenants and as few laborers as possible,
but it was necessary to employ most of them as laborers at first be-
cause they were not competent to manage any independent business.
It was expected that the colonist would be self-supporting in either
case or that he would soon become so. As a further inducement to
good conduct and industry there were medals offered. In general
the plan of Frederiksoord was the plan of the other free colonies.
The results were very disappointing. Very few of the colonists
showed any ambition to better their condition. They were sure
of a living in any case and the desire for a superior status was not
strong enough to produce effects in the way of industry and econo-
my. Only a few were self-supporting, only a few became free
tenants, and the laborers were very inefficient. A better soil with
its richer harvests might have induced larger numbers to try free
tenantry, but the fundamental difficulty lay in the character of the
colonists and in the plan.

Nearly all of the colonists were from the cities and consequently
they knew little or nothing about farming. Furthermore, farming
is not an industry in which it is easy to superintend the work of a
large number of incompetent workers, nor is it suitable for the most
inefficient workers. Farm labor does not consist in a few simple
processes which may be repeated indefinitely. In the variety of its
occupations, with the changing seasons, planting, cultivating, reap-
ing, etc., there is great educational value for the worker as com-
pared with that of the laborer which merely repeats irksomely a
simple process throughout the year ; but when we consider the value
of the product the tables are turned, especially if the laborer is de-
ficient in energy and intelligence.

The society gave most aid to those most in need, that is, to those
who were least industrious and thrifty. As fast as the colonist began



to do more for himself the society did less, and consequently the col-
onist felt that there was little or nothing gained through industry.

After experimenting with farming, the society introduced other
industries into the colonies. Among these spinning and w'eaving
were the most important. In some respects these were more success-
ful than farming. For several years the product was sold at a
profit. But the profit was more apparent than real, since the product
was sold to the government for more than the ordinary price, thus
balancing the society's profits with a government loss. The labor
of these industries was certainly better suited to the capacity of the
colonists than was farming. It consisted in the constant repetition
of a simple and mechanical process and permitted the introduction
of piece wages instead of time wages. But this was a time when
even the thrifty and industrious textile workers were being forced
to abandon hand methods. Home industry was already doomed.
Handworkers could not compete with the great factories with their
machinery driven by water or steam. Little wonder then that these
industries failed in the pauper colonies. As a result of the indus-
trial inefficiency of the colonists, the debts of the societies increased
from year to year until 1859, when the colonies were turned over
to the government. At that time the total indebtedness was about
$3,200,000, while the resources amounted only to about $1,200,000.
So far as self-support was concerned the colonies had proved to
be failures. They had not only failed to be self-supporting but had
actually increased the cost to the public of maintaining paupers.

But there are considerations other than those of a financial char-
acter. What was the effect of the system upon the pauper colonists
themselves? Here again the verdict must be unfavorable. In 1853,
out of many thousand colonists only twenty had become free tenants,
the renters being contented to go on working for the society, earn-
ing part of their support and being given the rent. They did not
become efficient laborers in any field nor did they make a reason-
able eflFort to become such. Practically, none were rescued from
pauperism and sent back into society as self-supporting workers.
The certainty of support removed the stimulus to work. The chil-
dren did not learn self-reliance. Brought up in an atmosphere of
pauperism they received the training to fit them for a life of pauper-
ism. This is a very serious criticism upon the whole system. It
is right that society should provide for the support of its inefficient



members, securing from them such labor as they are able to render,
but it is not right that society should encourage the growth of a per-
manent pauper class by maintaining the paupers in families under
conditions that pauperize the children. If it is conceded that any
persons are so inefficient that they must receive permanent support
they should receive that support under conditions that will render
the propagation of their kind impossible.

After the colonies passed under the control of the government,
important reforms were introduced. Regulations were adopted
which had the effect of decreasing the inducements to labor for
wages and of increasing the inducements to free tenantry. Model
farms were established. Weaving was abandoned and other indus-
tries substituted. Colonists were allowed to keep all of their earn-
ings and piece work was substituted for time work. As a result
of these various improvements a better spirit prevails among the
colonists. Their labor is somewhat more efficient and a larger num-
ber are free tenants. Still it must be admitted that the colonies
have not solved the problem of caring for paupers. It is still true
that they are better adapted to the rural poor than to the poor of
cities, although nearly all of the residents are from the cities. An-
other serious objection lies in the fact that they are able to take in
but very few families from year to year. One large colony takes
in less than six families a year. This is because very few if any
are fitted for independent support.

The Beggar Colonies have a different plan. Mendicants are
sentenced to these colonies as a penalty for begging. While in the
colonies they are required to work. These colonies likewise have
failed to secure the desired results. Sir T. McNeil reported in 1853
that it took fifteen colonists to do as much work as one good laborer
would do. The cost of keeping the mendicants in the colony was
greater than it would have been without the colony. Furthermore,
the colony has no reforming influence. There is at present very
little mendicancy in Holland, but this is not due to the deterrent influ-
ence of the penalty imposed in connection with the colonies. They
are too pleasant places of residence. Large numbers of beggars
return time after time. Some have been known to beg for the very
purpose of being sent to a colony.

There is this to be said in favor of the colonies, both free and
beggar, that they do provide support for the poor who are helpless


or nearly so and that the treatment is humane. Their failure Hes
in their inability to make self-supporting those individuals who might
become so through proper treatment. The cause of this failure
might be stated in a general way as follows : The colony plan, if
adapted to any class of paupers, is best adapted to those who are but
little below the plane of self-support. Such persons might be
made self-supporting under suitable supervision and with proper
encouragement, and, becoming self-supporting, would become self-
respecting, and thus the social purpose would be subserved. Many
of the paupers sent to the free colonies were so far below the plane
of self-support that the society felt under obligation to adapt its
methods to the needs of this lower class. These methods were of

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 36 of 73)