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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son to beg from door to door. Usually emergency aid is given
at once and a more thorough investigation and treatment follow.

In order to prevent thorough demoralization the C. O. S.
seeks to call forth all the energy, courage, thought and will of
the applicant for relief, according to the maxim that the best
help is self-help. Hence the devices which have been invented
and employed to test the willingness and sustain the self-respect
of the applicants, so far as they are capable of labor: the employ-
ment agencies, woodyards, workrooms, salvage corps, stone-
yards, soap factories, vegetable gardens, laundries. When the
dependent person lacks industrial training he or she is directed
to a place of instruction, and charitable societies are encouraged
to multiply the agencies of this type.

In order to enable women to earn something they are relieved
in part of the care of young children by means of day nurseries
and kindergartens ; or, if they can do best for their children by
remaining at home, assistance is provided.

Since the spirit of independence is maintained by habits of
thrift, the schemes for encouraging savings are made known to
the poor and the pennies are collected until they amount to a



sum worth depositing in the bank or are large enough to pur-
chase coal or clothing or furniture at the lowest cash price.

Not seldom organized charity must employ the power of the
law and of the police to correct the vagrant, to enforce parental
obligations and to chastise the cruel. The man who deserts his
wife and children must be brought back or placed in a work-
house ; the wife beater must face the judge ; the truant must be
brought under the firm hand of a probation officer and the wise
direction and authority of the Juvenile Court. In such cases
special societies, as the society for preventing cruelty or the
bureau of justice, are invited to assist.

Personal influence is a vital element in the efficiency of charity
organization. It has been found very difficult to secure a suffi-
cient number of competent "friendly visitors" and to hold them
together; but some societies, as that of Boston, have had re-
markable success in this direction. Very often the agents of the
society, a member of the committee, the visitor of a church, a
pastor, a legal adviser, a rent collector, a penny savings collector,
a teacher or probation officer, or the custodian of a home library
becomes the confidential counsellor of a needy family. Family
quarrels are calmed, wayward youth are brought home, medical
wisdom is invoked, church ties are made firm, children are sent
to school, employment is found, moral energy and spiritual
aspiration are quickened. This personal factor is of increasing
weight and power.

This personal acquaintance with needy and suffering people
tends to awaken interest in larger schemes of social betterment.
The visitor soon begins to realize that the causes of poverty are
numerous and complicated ; that personal defects, as drunken-
ness, vice and indolence, are not the only occasions of suffering.
Out of this discovery, and especially in connection with settle-
ment residents, the people are organized to protect their rights
and perform their civic duties. Clubs are formed for the enforce-
ment of ordinances, to see that the streets and alleys are cleaned
by contractors and that the milkmen deliver pure and whole-
some milk. The C. O. S. easily secures the cooperation of phy-
sicians, associations of district nurses, hospitals, dispensaries and
boards of health in the effort to remove the causes of depressing
and mortal diseases. Committees on tenement houses are set


to work investigating conditions, urging public officers to per-
form their duties as inspectors and regulators, and moving legis-
latures for amendments to laws or ordinances. Leaflets on the
care of infants, on consumption and on other matters of hygiene
and sanitation are circulated in the various languages used by
our polyglot population. The municipal government, the boards
of education and benevolent societies are induced to provide
space for play, gymnasium, free baths, wash houses, and instruc-
tion in athletics. Daily newspapers and committees are per-
suaded to secure means to send children and weary mothers to
seaside or lakeside, to country and mountain for fresh and invig-
orating air.

Churches and missions are enabled to see the necessity for
enlarging the scope of their moral and uplifting activities. Ab-
stinence societies are formed ; industrial sewing schools for girls
are gathered ; young men are urged to form clubs of boys, bring
them together for innocent recreation and save them from the
contaminating influence of the street.

From these brief hints it may be seen that the C. O. S. is not
so much a specialized form of charity as an inspirer, director and
organizer of the philanthropic motives of the entire community.
The illustrations just used are all drawn from actual achieve-
ments of existing and living societies, and they might easily be
multiplied. The history of the C. O. S. movement in the United
States is the history of the development of science, good sense,
and a cooperative spirit applied to benevolent enterprises.

The machinery of organization is more complex as the city
becomes larger and the situation demands higher specialization
of function. In a small city a single office, with one salaried
secretary, is all that is required ; while in a large city there must
be several offices and many salaried agents.

The parent association is usually composed of members who
contribute an annual membership fee and are entitled to vote for
a board of directors. The board of directors acts through a
small executive committee. Or the association may be formed
of delegates from all the charitable associations of the city em-
powered to act for all within prescribed limits. The funds are
secured by solicitation through letters, public appeals and per-
sonal requests. The difficulty of raising money not rarely helps


the finance committee to sympathize with the poor who ever live
on the margin of want. Perhaps this is one of the advantages of
the voluntary system of charity.

The charity organization societies have very generally sought
to give information to the benevolent public or to individual
contributors relating to solicitations for gifts. Naturally the
methods and resources of the charitable associations and insti-
tutions become known to the central bureau in the course of its

One of the most interesting attempts to protect the generous
from deception is the Charities Endorsement Committee of San
Francisco, organized in 1900 by the Merchants' Association and
the Associated Charities. In order to form a judgment certain
principles or standards were adopted and applied to the in-
vestigation of institutions which apply for endorsement of the
committee. Thus the standard for the collection of funds in-
cludes the requirements: (i) That no endorsed charity shall
lend its name to any charity promoter or benefit by any enter-
tainment got up by such promoter. (2) That no such charity
shall pay its solicitor a commission greater than 15 per cent.
(3) That the endorsement card of every authorized solicitor shall
state the purpose for which he is collecting and the sum needed,
and that donors shall enter in a subscription book the amount
contributed under their own signature.

Child-placing societies must furnish full details in regard to
all children placed in homes so that they can be visited and the
work of the society tested. Rules are also made for orphanages
and similar institutions. Relief agencies must adopt a certain
investigation blank, provide for investigation of all applicants,
and register all cases with the Associated Charities. The results
are said to be encouraging; impostors are driven away: methods
of securing funds are improved; less money is wasted and more
is available for legitimate charities.

Education and Professional Training of Charity Workers.^ — In
this field progress is now so rapid that any statement will be
antiquated before it can be printed. Discussion and experiment
seem to have brought charity leaders in the United States to

^ See J. R. Brackett, Supervision and Education in Charity, 1903, with refer-
ences there.


see clearly the essential factors in a course of study and training,
although there is great diversity of devices. The curriculum
must vary with the requirements of the person and the particular
calling in view. In a general way the professional work of phil-
anthropy calls for three classes or ranks of members : subordinate
assistants, administrators and investigators, although there is no
fixed barrier at any point and promotion is always in prospect
for capable and vigorous persons. At present the requirement of
education of assistants for entrance upon training is about
equivalent to graduation from a high school, at the end of the
course of secondary instruction. The methods of preparation
now in use vary greatly. Most of the visitors and agents of the
societies have been trained by the older and more experienced
officers, and many of these have become very useful and efficient
simply by careful observation, general reading, daily experience
and attendance upon the State and National conferences. The
C. O. S. of New York City has for several years conducted a
summer school at which lectures are given by competent experts
and visits are made to institutions. In the autumn of 1903 this
society began to provide a two years' course of more systematic
instruction and training. In several cities classes have been
formed for the study of books on the general field of charity to
widen the knowledge of those under training. Thus trained nurses
have found that their direct technical preparation in hospitals
requires to be supplemented by study of practical sociology, eco-
nomics, civil government and law, in order that they may under-
stand the conditions of life among the poor and the resources of
help in the community.

Not without interest and value, even from the professional
standpoint, are the studies of the women's clubs in the cities and
towns of the United States. Almost always a committee on
philanthropy and civic betterment organizes studies, directs dis-
cussion and instigates investigations which lead toward improved
legislation and administration.

Many colleges, theological seminaries and universities have,
since 1884, introduced lectures as regular courses, designed to
awaken interest and educate social leaders in relation to the
best methods of charity and social amelioration, and one result
of this effort has been to attract to the profession of philanthropic


work many very capable graduates, and to furnish intelligent
leaders in other callings.

Almost at the same time in several institutions of highest rank
the problem of a special training school for charity administra-
tors has been seriously considered, and at this writing various
. experiments are planned. The school may be a branch of uni-
versity extension for those who are too busy for continuous aca-
demic discipline ; or a special school in close connection with the
university ; or a college course in which historical and sys-
tematic instruction is given along with other studies and the
student is trained in the actual office work by persons of experi-
ence. It is already apparent that there must be in this grade of
education a close cooperation between teachers and trainers ; for
the class room cannot give technical practice, and the busy ad-
ministrator has not time for giving scientific instruction.

The universities will prepare investigators who, either as
teachers or administrators, will enlarge knowledge, suggest in-
vention of new methods, and prepare the way for improved leg-
islation or institutional practice. But here again there must be
vital and friendly cooperation between the trained teachers and
the trained experts in practice. Fortunately in the United States
there is a cordiality of relations and a sincerity of purpose which
promises well for the future of this movement.

The National Conference of Charities and Correction has
been the most active and influential of all agencies for the popu-
larization of advanced ideas of method. The proceedings will
show that the discussions cover a wide range of topics and many
degrees of proficiency in the science and practice of benevolent
method. No resolutions are passed and no attempt is made to
formulate conclusions reached. Therefore the debates have not
even the appearance of seeking to win a majority of votes and
and parties are not formed. There may be disadvantages in this
form of organization, and a foreigner may at first have some dif-
ficulty in discovering the tendency of thought among the most
competent. There is also much repetition of statement, and the
absence of funds compels the committees to pursue their investi-
gations at their own expense. In spite of all these limitations
the volumes of papers and addresses constitute a precious record
of serious study and costly experience. Sometimes the resources



of State governments have placed at the service of committees
the results of official investigations and statistics. The secre-
taries and members of the State boards of charities have often
been leaders and instructors of the Conference, and their contri-
butions have enriched the records. But the humblest beginners
are welcome and those who have any kind of personal experience
are free to relate their story.

Dr. Brackett gives accounts of other national organizations
which have exerted a direct and helpful influence on the practice
of charity: the American Social Science Association founded in
1865, the National Prison Association (1870), the American
Academy of Political and Social Science (1889). Other national
societies which discuss some branch of relief and prevention are
the American Association of Medical Superintendents of Institu-
tions for the Insane (1844), the Association of Medical Officers
of Institutions for the Feeble-Minded (1876), the Association for
Study of Epilepsy (1901), the National Conference of Hebrew
Charities (1900), and the Superior Council of the St. Vincent de
Paul Society.

Expositions. — The charity agencies of the country were very
inadequately noticed at the Centennial Exposition at Philadel-
phia in 1876; while the exhibit at the World's Fair at Chicago,
in 1893, though very much scattered, was suggestive and inspir-
ing. One of the interesting features of the department of social
economy at Paris in 1900 was the American exhibit. The activi-
ties of Charity and Correction are represented at the Louisiana
Purchase Exposition at St. Louis (1904) in a systematic display
arranged by the officers of the exposition who have called to their,
aid an advisory committee who, in some sense, represent the
National Conference of Charities and Correction.

F. Indoor Relief.^ — On June i, 1890, there were in the alms-
houses of the United States 73,045 paupers (40,741 male and
32,304 female). This does not tell the total number received
during the year, but only the inmates at a given date. The ratios
to 1,000,000 of population were: in 1850, 2,171 ; i860, 2,638; 1870,
1,990; 1880, 1,320; 1890, 1,166. These are diminishing ratios, and
would indicate a relative decrease of pauperism. But during
the years since 1850 a process of specialization has been going

* By C. R. Henderson.



forward and dependents who would formerly have gone to the
poorhouse are sent to schools for the feeble-minded, to hospitals
for the insane, to private asylums and homes, and children are
placed in families. The facts for private institutions could not
be ascertained, but it was known that their growth has been
rapid, absolutely and relatively.^ On June i, 1890, there were
in the benevolent institutions of the United States 111,910 bene-
ficiaries (55,245 male and 56,665 female). Of these 65,651, or
58.67 per cent., were in institutions primarily intended for the
care of children; 17,661, or 15.78 per cent., in institutions for
adults; 22,473, or 20.08 per cent., in hospitals; 6,125, or 5.47 per
cent., in miscellaneous institutions.

Missouri, being on the border between North and South, is an
interesting field of study. We have a recent account of the con-
ditions of ninety of the ninety-three county almshouses of that
State. The total number of inmates is 3.348 (1,819 male, 1,529
female, 3,056 white, 292 colored). Of these, 1,262 are over 60
years of age, and 92 between 2 and 14 years; 1,177 are insane, 551
feeble-minded, 181 epileptic, 114 blind, 263 crippled, 98 paralytic.
The cost per week per inmate is from 90 cents to $2.25. Re-
ligious services are held in 35 of the houses and are not held in
55 establishments. Of all the insane 884 (75 per cent.) are in
the St. Louis City Poorhouse. There is a tendency to turn the
county poorhouse into a local asylum for the insane, since it is
cheaper for the county to support its chronic pauper insane at
home than in the large State institutions.^ "The inevitable
result of such care everywhere is various degrees of inadequate
and brutal treatment ranging downward to the sheerest cruelty.
. . . Fifty-four out of the ninety almshouses reporting have cells
for the incarceration of the violent insane. Some even have a
cell-house which they go so far as to call a 'jail'." Mechanical
restraint was used in thirty-seven houses out of forty-eight re-
porting. Superintendents and investigators report that the in-
sane paupers are chained to the wall till they are quiet, put in
cells, tied with ropes, confined with block and chain. One report
declares the conditions to be filthy beyond description. The

^ Crime, Pauperism and Benevolence, Eleventh Census.

" A Bulletin on the Conditioii of the County Almshouses of Missouri, by C. A.
Ellwood, 1904.



presence of feeble-minded and epileptic persons in such estab-
lishments is the cause of disturbance and misery. Only two
almshouses in the State have nurses for the care of the sick, and
these are not trained nurses. Practically the only nursing is
done by the paupers themselves, with some direction from the
superintendent or matron. It seems probable that at least one-
third of the county almshouses have cost to build them less than
$1,500. Only five almshouses may be said to have fully modern
arrangements for heating, lighting, ventilation, bathing facilities,
closets and sewerage. There is generally so much land con-
nected with the poorhouse that the superintendent must give
more time to the farm than to the inmates, and few of the in-
mates are able to work. Most of the almshouses are leased to
the lowest bidder who meets a minimum requirement for ability
and character. Only in thirty-five counties is the almshouse
superintendent paid a fixed salary. Naturally the superintendent
is tempted to starve the paupers in order to make out of his con-
tract all that is possible. Classification is generally very
imperfect; only in three almshouses is there a classification ac-
cording to sex, race, age and character. Only in sixteen houses
is the work test applied; in seventy-four labor is optional. The
discipline regulating admission is ill-defined and the management
of discharge is still more lax. Only a single almshouse has a
library ; amusements and recreation for the inmates seem almost
entirely lacking; and even work is not systematically provided
for all who wish to work to pass away the time.

These conditions in a single State are given in some detail
because they are only too typical of many other States where
the modern ideals of relief have not been enforced through suit-
able legislation and central supervision and control. These evils
which disgrace a splendid and generous people are the natural
and inevitable products of a system which leaves the duty of the
State to be performed by local administrators.

Missouri has recently made laudable progress in the right
direction. An act of the legislature of 1903 requires the circuit
judge to appoint a board of visitors upon the petition of fifteen
citizens. It is the duty of this board to visit and inspect the
county institutions and report to the State Board of Charities,
the County Court and the circuit judge. The laws of New York,



Ohio, Illinois and other States have similar provisions. Mr.
Ellwood recommends, as necessary means of improvement, visi-
tation by local boards of visitors, inspection by expert State of-
ficials, and centralized legislative and executive control, and in
this he represents the most enlightened opinion of the country.

Wherever the local almshouses have been brought under the
State Boards of Charities, whose functions have already been dis-
cussed, improvement may be noted, and in the most advanced
States the worst abuses are imknown. But the reports of such
States as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio reveal conditions
which are unworthy of a civilized people, and this is sometimes
true in spite of the fact that the abuses were made public in
official documents in some cases many years ago. These facts
prove that publicity is not a panacea, and that a central board
must be armed with power to reform a local institution and not
merely to report on it and give some good advice.

Statistics, descriptions and reports from many States prove
that changes are rapidly going forward and, as a rule, in the
right direction. Children are either not sent to the almshouse or
are speedily removed to special institutions or placed in families;
and gradually the States are enacting laws which forbid local
authorities to send children to these places.

There is a tendency toward separating tramps, disorderly per-
sons and other misdemeanants from the almshouse population
and bringing them under the severe discipline and training of
genuine workhouses.

The protest against retaining the chronic pauper insane in
county almshouses is growing stronger and more influential.
Some States are transferring all their insane to central hospitals
or colonies (as Massachu-setts) and others are placing county
asylums for the pauper insane under State supervision (as Wis-
consin). In a few years we may hope to see all the insane under
some form of State control.

The movement to provide for epileptics in State colonies is
gaining momentum, and we may hopefully look for the time to
come when this disturbing and dangerous element of poorhouse
population will be segregated and given more suitable and hu-
mane treatment. Feeble-minded persons will be provided for
in special custodial colonies, and all will be trained to productive



industry as far as possible; as is already done in New York and
in other States. Long ago the States have built schools for the
deaf and the blind, but provision for dependent adults whose in-
firmities cripple them in competitive industry, is as yet entirely

G. Vagrants.^ — As already indicated, the vagrants are not
properly admissible to the help of the poor law, but are punishable
for criminal acts. "It seems that the criminality rests upon a
combination of these circumstances : the absence of lawful means
of support, the neglect to seek employment, and the offensive
public exhibition of such condition."- The vagrant has been
found and regarded for ages as a public enemy. The difficulty
of dealing with him lies first of all in the fact that he pleads des-
titution and misfortune, and numbers himself among the depend-
ents on charity or among the honest workmen who are tem-
porarily unemployed. The methods of sifting out genuine va-
grants from the other classes all turn on the "work test" applied
to able-bodied persons, either by private or public agencies.

The most common method of the charitable society in
America is a lodging house which provides some simple industry,
frequently a woodyard, and gives shelter, meals and laundry in
return for labor. These measures are fairly effective with really
honest men who are seeking occupation, and they would help
discourage indolent tramps were it not for the persistence of
indiscriminate and unquestioning almsgiving on the street.

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 46 of 73)