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

. (page 43 of 73)
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 43 of 73)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

is whether the State shall be without a supervisory agency, and
be content simply with a board of control, as for example, in
Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Without hoping to present
all the considerations a few of the arguments may be briefly men-
tioned, arguments which have been convincing to a majority of
those who have studied the subject and presented it before the
National Conference of Charities and Correction.

The arguments in favor of a central board of control are that
it is compact, efficiei-t and businesslike; that it can purchase sup-
plies to the best advantage ; that it can correct abuses in institu-
tions by administrative orders or regulations; that it can sys-
tematize and unify the charities of the commonwealth. Let this
argument be granted and the plea accepted, it does not prove
nor tend to prove that a supervisory board is unnecessary. Many
of these advantages claimed for a central board of control have
been obtained, however, under the advice of boards of super-

The board of control in a State without an independent and
unsalaried board of supervision exposes the charitable and cor-
rectional institutions to serious dangers. A board which in-
spects, audits and passes on its own deeds, without check, soon
comes to feel that it is infallible and omniscient ; or, if it escape
this foible, it is more than human. One who is never contra-
dicted may be excused if he rapidly acquires profound confidence
in his own judgment.


Secrecy, the cloud which hides all perils and abuses, is un-
avoidable with a board of control without a legal method of
supervision independent of it. Reports on forms provided by
statute are deceptive ; there is no substitute for the inspection of
living persons.

Under our representative government, strongly democratic
in spirit, the people need to have information from a source inde-
pendent of the managers. A democracy is competent to judge
of policies and results, if it has means of information ; and it
will not long tolerate gross evils if they are simply brought to

If we consider the reasons for providing a legal means of edu-
cating and expressing public sentiment about policies and results
they may be summarized in the form of maxims of experience.
Helpless invalids, insane patients, paupers in remote poorhouses,
feeble-minded persons, cannot defend themselves, cannot reach
the organs of influence, cannot plead for themselves in courts of
justice. A humane society will provide for a hearing in the
forum of publicity. History teaches us that when abuses are
possible they will occur; that professional officers are not to be
trusted to inspect and report on their own conduct in office and
be permitted to exercise irresponsible power. When officials
in a bureaucracy resent interference "from outside" the alarm
should be sounded from every home. A democracy cannot dic-
tate a system of medical practice, but it can judge of a policy
when its fruits are made known in comparative tables of sick-
ness and mortality. The great public is awkward enough, and
sometimes foolish, but it has no private bias, no mean personal
interest in abuses, and it is competent to see the difference be-
tween bad and good management of an institution by comparing
the use made of severity and violence to secure order, and in the
increase or decrease of disease due to filth or neglect.

It is probable that a board of control or a commissioner for
each great group of public institutions, penal, sanitary, educa-
tional, charitable, agricultural, etc., may prove to be a wise
measure, and experiments are already on trial to test this
hypothesis. But the intelligent friends of the poor, the helpless
and the prisoner must hold together in making the demand that
the voluntary service of benevolent and devoted representatives


of the public shall also be legally recognized; and boards of con-
trol, as they desire to retain public confidence, should be the first
to insist on this principle, just as an upright treasurer of funds
demands that his accounts be audited.

There is always in a community a large number of people who
may become helpful to public charities, whose study, thought and
labor may be utilized to public advantage, and whose enlightened
sympathy may aid those in trouble. The board with only super-
visory powers is much more apt to enlist such persons than a
central board of control. Up to the present time the supervisory
boards have done immensely more for awakening and educating
public opinion than bodies of the other type. It is singular how
quickly those qualities of formalism and mechanical routine,
which Germans complain of in their bureaucracy, take root
even in American soil when the conditions are favorable.

The functions of a board of supervision, according to experi-
ence in the United States, may be summarized as follows :^ The
governor appoints the members. These members receive only
actual expenses of service, and their secretary and inspectors are
paid. It is made the duty of the board to inspect all the chari-
table and correctional institutions in the commonwealth, both
general and local, which receive public money. The board is to
ascertain whether the laws governing the institutions are com-
plied with; whether the objects of those institutions are accom-
plished; whether their methods are best adapted to the needs of
the inmates; whether any persons are improperly confined; and,
generally, whether the officers are efficient and reliable. The
board is empowered to require the managers to correct abuses,
evils or defects. The governor may require the board to make
special investigations and lay the results before him. The board
is empowered to collect statistics relating to dependents and de-
linquents and their care, and to prescribe forms of registration
and reports. It may request similar information from private
establishments. Plans of buildings used for charitable and cor-
rectional purposes must be approved by this board in advance
of their adoption. The legislature may require statements from

^ These powers are recited in the draft of a bill defeated in the legislature of
New Jersey in 1904, but a bill so vital and wise that its acceptance is only a matter
of time.


the supervisory body relating to the appropriations for the sup-
port of institutions.

C. Voluntary Charity.^ — Mr. George J. Hagar has estimated
the individual gifts and bequests from individuals for philan-
thropic uses in the United States, excluding all items of less than
$5,000, all National, State and municipal appropriations, and all
ordinary contributions to regular church organizations and mis-
sionary societies. The amount set down for 1893 was over
$29,000,000, for 1903 over $95,000,000; the highest sum, 1901, was
$101,360,000; the aggregate for eleven years, $610,410,000.-

The Finances of Voluntary Associations of Charity. — Dr. Lee K.
Frankel, commenting on the deficits of the charitable hospitals
of New York City, touches a serious matter when he says : "It
may almost be said that the larger the institution or the society
the larger is the annual shortage. As a result, the thought and
the ingenuity of the directors are directed largely toward ob-
taining necessary financial aid, when they could be better em-
ployed in improving the work for which the societies were
organized." When men of affairs become identified with the
management of a society or institution their first and most essen-
tial duty is to provide funds to maintain it, unless there is an
adequate endowment or it has a contract with the Government.
Hence the time of meetings of boards and executive committees
is largely spent in discussing means of preventing or paying the
deficit in income. The gifts of the public are irregular, spas-
modic, uncertain ; while the demands are regular and usually
growing heavier with growth of population and rise of prices.
Sometimes managers become embittered and irritated or resign
in despair to escape responsibility, and the temptation to beg a
subsidy from a public treasury is constant and serious.

But positive advantages grow out of this difficult situation
of charitable agencies dependent on annual gifts for the continua-
tion of their work. A large part of benevolent service depends
on the education of the community. For example, indiscrimi-
nate almsgiving will be generally recognized as a large cause of
mendicancy only when citizens are systematically and perpetu-
ally reminded of the social consequences of doling out relief to
chance beggars. The conflict with tuberculosis and other dis-

* By C. R. Henderson. ^American Review of Reviews, April, 1904.


eases is carried on largely by means of information given to
the public. The care of neglected and morally imperilled chil-
dren and the improvement of their physical and moral surround-
ings can be promoted only after long and general instruction of
the people. So of the philanthropical service of settlements, mis-
sions, dispensaries, creches and of many others. Now there is
no way so sure and impressive to fix attention on a subject as
that of asking for money. No rational person will give his
means to objects which he has not studied. Hence, the directors
must become intelligent in regard to the need, scope, methods
and value of the charity which they represent, and they must
become teachers of benevolent people in the field of their activity.
This labor is not wasted, though it is often very irksome, disa-
greeable and exhausting.

As soon as an institution of charity has a sufficient endow-
ment or is supported by a public treasury its educational function
for the community either ceases or is greatly restricted. The
very necessities, anxieties and annoyances of private charity are,
therefore, not without important compensations ; and the im-
mense aggregate of gifts and legacies annually contributed by
individual citizens proves in a very striking way that these
methods of appeal to imagination, sympathy, conscience and
reason bring substantial results. Public charities themselves are
often kept from stagnation and perversion by partial dependence
on private initiative or liberality at some point, as in the pro-
vision for probation officers of juvenile courts and agents of help
for discharged prisoners, and child-saving societies which become
sponsors for neglected youth.

Endowed Charities. — It is very rarely that the commonwealth or
a municipal corporation is made trustee of an endowed charity.
Usually a board of trustees is named by the founder and legal
provisions are made for incorporation and perpetuation of this

The city of Boston is one of the exceptions to the rule. There
the Overseers of the Poor, in their report for 1902, give account
of 15 funds held by them in trust as the patrimony of the poor,
the oldest of which dates from the year 1701, while the total in-
come of all the funds for the year was $776,353. Philadelphia^

^Charities, May 21, 1904.



has 36 trust funds originating from various bequests, and usually
termed city trusts, which make up the most extensive series
of benefactions from wills on the American continent. They are
in charge of a board of directors. The earliest bequest now under
their management was that of William Carter, who, in 1739, left a
sum of money now grown to $1,274 "to and for ye use and service
of ye almshouses of Philadelphia. ..and for ye relief of ye poor
people in the same forever." To this have been added funds for
hospitals, the house of correction, schools, medals, loans, fuel
and food. Girard College is one of these trusts ; it is an orphan-
age which in 1903 was educating 1,519 boys. Usually rich
men like to have a distinct place for their gifts and they do not
have confidence in the partisan administrators of city govern-
ments. It has been estimated that the gifts of private persons to
public objects in 1901 was at least $123,888,732 ; of which $68,850,-
961 went to educational institutions, $15,388,700 to libraries,
$6,298,489 to churches, $22,217,470 to charity.

The famous Dartmouth College decision of the Supreme
Court was to the, effect that the terms of an endowment could
not be changed by the legislature of a commonwealth, and that
the charter of an institution is a contract which the State may
not change after the death of the donor. The State may of
course intervene to prevent a perversion of the original purposes
of the donor by trustees. The difficulty of amending charters
is now avoided in some States by reserving in the constitution
the right to amend any charter granted by the State ; and recent
legal decisions and discussions tend to approve action which will
secure the application of funds to different though similar pur-
poses when the original use is found to be detrimental or waste-
Societies of Women^

Naturally, a great part of the world of philanthropy, educa-
tion and reform belongs to women. As home-makers they are
interested in everything that leads to the betterment of the social
condition. For its advancement they have labored for a good
government, a higher standard of living, more efficient education,
better home-making and a more intelligent care and development
of children. Their organized efforts have been expressed

» By Miss Florence Ashcraft, A. B.



through their clubs, church organizations and miscellaneous

Federated Clubs. — The work that is done by the Federated Clubs
is shown by a recent report :

"The first and most general activity of the clubs has been
very properly directed toward cooperation with the established
agencies of education. There has been an effort to extend the
conditions, aims and methods of the schools, to further every
commendable w^ork that is being done, and also to supplement by
labor and wath money interests that the schools have been un-
able to initiate or support. These undertakings include exami-
nation of physical conditions as to hygienic aspects of buildings
and grounds with respect to ventilation, lighting, cleanliness,
overcrowding, toilet rooms, etc."

They call attention to noticeable tendencies to neglect in im-
portant lines of training, such as culture of the speaking voice,
use of good language, accuracy in spelling and computation ; they
supply, or supplement, teaching in music and art. They have
been instrumental in securing public kindergartens and depart-
ments of manual training and domestic science. They have
sought to establish a better understanding and better cooperation
between parents and teachers. Through their efforts vacation
schools have been supported; books, clothing and luncheons
provided for indigent children ; libraries and g}'mnasium ap-
paratus have been supplied to the schools ; rest rooms provided
for teachers, and scholarships maintained for the aid of young
women in schools and colleges.

State Federation. — In addition to what is done by the general
federation each State has work selected along lines determined by
its own conditions. The Committee on Philanthropy of the
Illinois Federation has urged upon its clubs the consideration of
the following subjects :

State care for the incurable insane pauper, that the alms-
houses of the State may not be filled with both sane and insane
paupers ; adequate support and care for feeble-minded persons,
and epileptics ; State homes for dependent and delinquent chil-
dren that they may not be housed with criminals ; the coordina-
tion of public and private charities ; the appointment of proba-
tion officers from club membership, or the maintenance of a



salaried officer; enforcement of child labor and compulsory edu-
cation laws ; the establishment and maintenance of manual train-
ing schools and cooking and sewing classes ; the support of va-
cation schools; the loaning of small sums of money without in-
terest to those wishing temporary relief; the establishment of
social settlements.

A special plea has been made for free baths, night and sewing
schools, respectable lodgings for girls out of employment, and
evening social and literary clubs for young women employed
through the day.

Each individual club also has its work. The Chicago
Woman's Club cooperates in the work of the Protective Agency.
It has its representative in the Juvenile Court and pays a salary
to one probation officer. It is interested in the university and
other social settlements. It has befriended the vacation schools,
raising one thousand dollars annually toward their support. A
committee of two works for the associated charities. The School
Children's Aid Society has its share of attention.
Miscellaneous Actiznties of the Clubs.

(a) Model Lodging House Association. — The miscellaneous ac-
tivities of the women's clubs cover extensive fields of philan-
thropic and educational work. In several of the large cities a
Woman's Lodging House Association has been formed by the
clubs of the city. Under the auspices of this association a lodg-
ing house is maintained for women and children in need. Lodg-
ings are furnished usually at the rate of 15c for the first night
and IOC for subsequent nights. Single rooms may be rented for
$1.00 per week. Five cents purchase the breakfast and ten
cents the dinner. When found necessary, food and lodgings are
furnished free of charge until the applicant can care for herself
or be otherwise provided for. The sick are sent to hospitals, and
all who are overtaken by misfortune are helped out of their

(b) Working Girls' Clubs. — The club women have taken an
active interest in establishing and fostering clubs for working
girls and business women. For the former they have furnished
rooms, supported vacation homes, created libraries, opened night
schools, provided social and literary occupation for evening enter-
tainment and instruction. To the young business women they



have given encouragement and assistance in the maintenance of
clubs organized and directed by their own efforts. The vakie of
such a chib is shown by the Chicago Business Woman's Chib.
The foundation of this organization was mutual benefit, with a
sick benefit for the members as a central idea. The club has
its own home equipped with bed-rooms, parlors, library, dining-
room and kitchen. A part of its work is devoted to an employ-
ment bureau, the object of which is to furnish positions for con-
scientious business women. For recreation and instruction the
club has established classes in languages, painting and gym-

(c) Boys' Clubs. — It has always been a part of the women's
work to provide places for boys and young men to spend their
evenings. For this purpose clubs have been established which
contain a gymnasium, library, reading-room and educational
class rooms.

(d) Working Women, — Provident Laundries have been con-
ducted by several clubs to provide a channel of work for able-
bodied women out of employment and desirous of becoming self-
supporting. In connection with the laundry is a training school
where superior work is taught, and the employment bureau
where permanent positions are secured for those desiring them.
The attention given to these working women is not yet as great
as it should be. This is one avenue just being opened to a
broad field of useful work.

(e) Traveling Libraries. — The traveling library and picture loan
departments have made the educational influence of the clubs'
work extend to rural and crowded city districts, where books and
pictures are rare. The management of these departments is sim-
ple. Stations are selected in the needy districts. To these stations
the city clubs send boxes of books or pictures. After the books
have remained two or three weeks they are replaced and shipped
on to the next station. Library and reading clubs are often
formed under the direction of the station agent.

Southern Clubs. — The work of the Southern club woman is di-
rected toward the protection of child labor and to the establish-
ment of industrial schools. The conditions of the rural schools
and the need of libraries have also claimed her attention. The
relief work she has done among the poor whites and freedmen


has been done amidst dire poverty, the most pitiful ignorance
and prejudice; but her efforts are being richly crowned and the
influence of her work is rapidly extending.

Church Women. — The work of the women of the churches may
be treated generally. Their organizations are usually designated
as the Minister's Aid, Ladies' Aid, Sewing Circles, Charitable
Unions, Friendly Societies and Guilds. Their first care is for
the aged ministers of their denominations, and the minister's
widow and children. The poor of the parish are their wards.
They take an active interest in the charitable work of the city and
community, and are usually active cooperators with the various
charitable institutions and organizations about them. In many
cases they have assisted in the founding and support of a social
settlement, or they have conducted sewing and cooking classes,
girls' and boys' clubs among the poor children of their neigh-
borhood. They have aided in their support of foreign and home
missionaries, and have given liberal donations to children's homes
and hospitals.

Sisterhoods. — The Sisters of the Roman Catholic Church should
be mentioned for the noble work they are doing among their own
people, and especially their poor. They enter the poverty-
stricken homes, alleviating suffering and ministering unto the
sick. They have special regard for the children, caring for their
education and training, providing homes for the orphan and
friendless and hospitals for the sick and crippled.

Deaconesses. — 'The charitable work done by the Deaconesses of
the Lutheran and Methodist Episcopal churches is well known.
The women who form these orders receive no salary. Their
board and clothing are furnished by the management of the home.
They serve as evangelists, and visit persons and hospitals, but the
greater part of their service is rendered among the poor. In one
city the order has established a social settlement which includes
in its work the kindergarten, girls' and boys' clubs, mothers'
meetings, sewing and cooking classes and day nursery. They

also maintain schools for the training of home and foreign mis-

Miscellaneous Societies. — Besides the societies of women con-
nected with the church and clubs there are numerous private
organizations which work in cooperation with the charitable



institutions. Among these are the associations whose objects
are to endow beds in the hospitals, or make annual donations to
them. There are also the sewing societies which send contribu-
tions of clothing to the Orphans' Home, and kindred institutions.
Private organizations of women have also maintained hospitals
and homes for women and children, and established training
schools for nurses.

The Protective Agency. — The importance of the work of the Pro-
tective Agency is sufficiently indicated by the purposes of the
society, which are to guard the rights of women and children, to
enforce the payment of wages unjustly withheld from working
women, or services to prevent exorbitant rates of interest on
loans and the violation of contract, to find homes for foundlings,
to take children from unworthy parents and to procure a divorce
for the wife who is maltreated, and to uphold a mother's right to
her children.

The Women's Educational Association. — The Women's Educa-
tional Association devotes its time to the promotion of better
education for women. It has aided many teachers and young
women to obtain a college training, it has established teachers'
clubs and rest rooms, it has assisted in introducing manual train-
ing, domestic science and kindergartens in the public schools and
encouraged the establishment of school libraries.

The Civic League is interested in the improvement of the city.
It has exerted its influence against corrupt city politics. It has
worked for the cleaning of streets, offices and municipal build-
ings. It is doing its utmost to find a solution of the housing con-
dition in the crowded quarters of the city.

The Recreation League is a promoter of public recreations for the

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 43 of 73)