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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state is generally represented by a certain number of members. Other
members are designated by the authorities of the territorial commu-
nity in which the public institution is located.

Thus it will be seen by comparison that private charity, repre-
senting, as it does, the activity of individuals or groups acting only
upon their own initiative and with their own resources, is much more
pliable than that created and controlled by the community. While
public charity, by reason of its impersonal character, is particularly
apt to create and maintain large institutions, private charity by virtue
of its very personal element tends to smaller efforts for more diverse



Benevolent Associations. — Associations of men and women work-
ing- together or separately play a very important role in the dispensa-
tion of charity. They carry on muhiform activities in behalf of chil-
dren, the aged and the destitute in general. Founded in a spirit of
kindness and unselfishness, the members of such associations are able
to get a very vital hold upon those whom they would help.

The Societe philanthropique was formed in 1780, before the time
of the first revolution. This very powerful organization commenced
its work by giving an annual stipend to twelve octogenarian laborers,
and as the years passed it added new beneficiaries. As early as 1786,
the society gave to 316 persons and had a membership list of 186 of
the most prominent people in France. Political events compelled the
society to disband in 1793, but in a few years it was reorganized with
renewed life and was recognized as a public utility in 1839. From
its creation it has been supported by annual subscriptions and gifts
sufficiently liberal to enable it to extend its work continually, and no
record of private charity is complete without a recognition of the
invaluable services of this far famed society. In 1900 the Societe
philanthropique owned and operated the following charities :

(i) Thirty soup kitchens. The first was opened in 1800. In
these one may get a portion of soup or a cup of cofifee for five cen-
times (one cent), and other food at a similar rate. They distribute
annually three million portions of food. (2) Thirty dispensaries for
adults. Free medical treatments, and consultations are given to the
annual number of 3,000 of the former and 25,000 of the latter. (3)
Four special dispensaries for children. Over 12,000 are cared for
each year. (4) A surgical hospital. This was opened in 1896, and
patients pay a small fee. (5) Rewards given to honest and indus-
trious workers. About five thousand francs a year are distributed.
(6) Three night refuges for women and children. Twelve thousand
women and 2,500 children are admitted each year. Work is obtained
for about twenty-five per cent, of the women. (7) Home for women
enciente. About 250 women are received annually. (8) Home
for mothers with young children. The annual average admission is
700 women with their children. (9) Homes for aged and infirm
women. The first one was opened in 1882. (10) Improved dwell-
ings. The first building, with accommodations for 35 families, was
erected in 1888. The society had housing accommodations for over
300 families in 1900. The Societe philanthropique is directed by a


council of administration under the presidency of the prince of Aren-

The "Oeuvre de Bienfaisance," founded by Miss de Broen in
1871, is notable in many ways. Its many activities aim at lessening
the hardships of the poor dwelling in the most populous districts of
Paris. Miss de Broen has herself directed this work for over thirty
years at a cost of about two million francs. She procures all the
funds, which come mainly from her own fortune and from friends in
England. A list of the institutions included in her work is given
below : ( i ) Home for old, unemployed women. They are given a
certain quantity of bread or meat for three hours' work. (2) Free
dispensary. (3) Oeuvre for conferences on morality, temperance
and other important social questions. (4) Evening courses, held
twice a week for young men and women. (5) A day school from
1873 to 1899. (6) School open twice a week to instruct children in
general morals. (7) Organized friendly visiting among the sick and
destitute. (8) Free distribution of food. About 300 people are fed
each day. (9) A trade school for young girls. Closed in 1878.
(10) Orphanage for little girls. (11) A maritime sanatorium for
delicate children. (12) Free library of 2,000 volumes. (13) Dis-
tribution of moral tracts and pamphlets.

In addition to those cited, the Oeuvre de la Chaussee du Maine,
the Societe frangaise de Bienfaisance de Tunis, and the Hospitalite
Universelle a Nantes et a Paris are maintaining multiform activities
differing but slightly in character and extent. These are all illustra-

^ In its report for 1901-2 it showed that it had 30 popular kitchens which
distributed in the year 2,230,494 portions of food for orders or cash. They sup-
ported 30 dispensaries in various parts of Paris, and these treated 3,091 sick in
40,041 consultations. Hospital accommodations for surgical cases were provided
for men and women, and for children. The four dispensaries for children
treated 18,237 children in 34,476 consultations, and 30,584 articles of clothing
were given to children. In three lodging houses 10,150 women and 1,126 chil-
dren were temporarily sheltered, and of these women 3,010 were given employ-
ment, and many articles of clothing were distributed. In a special house for
women about to become mothers 578 women were lodged and fed for 5,144 nights.
Other forms of help were: Aid given for the settlement of 31 skillful young
workmen, 5,475 fr. ; education of children, 4,476 fr. ; pensions and rent payments ;
the Hotel Marjolin for self-supporting working women, with 60 beds.^

^Zeitschrift fiir das Armenwesen, April, 1903, p. 117.



tive of the fact that private benevolence is a very important factor in
relief work in France.

Red Cross. — "La Societe de secours pour les blesses et les malades
des armees de terre et de mer," organized about the middle of the last
century, was recognized as a public utility in 1866. This society gives
to wounded and sick soldiers, and to their families, financial aid when
it is needed. Hospitals and ambulances are provided for the wounded
and in recent years France has organized and incorporated hospital
volunteer aid until the service is now most efficient.

Settlements. — The social settlement idea is gaining ground in
Paris, but existing institutions are not "settlements" in the English
and American acceptation of the term. Three have adopted the name
"Universite Populaire," but, strictly speaking, they have little in
common with university extension, which has existed in France for
more than a generation. These institutions have, with one exception,
no residents, but their aim is primarily social, and the relationship
existing between the classes of people meeting at these centers is
mutually advantageous. The Universite Populaire at 19 Rue de
Belleville is a very close approach to the English settlement. Here a
number of university students dwell in a workingman's tenement
house, and seek to elevate community standards. The following is a
list of the Paris settlements : Universite Populaire, de la Rue
IMouffelaret; Universite Populaire, 127 Fauborg St. Antoine; Uni-
versite Populaire, 19 Rue de Belleville, — students in residence ; Ora-
toire St. Phillipe de Neri, 14 Boulevard Tuckerman, — a sisters'
house ; Oeuvre de Popincourt, 72 Rue de la Foli Regnault, — four

D. Ecclesiastical Charity. — Religious societies generally are
interested in the care of children, and so it is not surprising that an
enumeration of their charities would be almost entirely confined to
relief for children. The aged, too, are a care of the church, but they
are insignificant in number compared with the children and so have
never aroused sympathy to the same extent.

Catholic. — The Catholic church plays a most important part in
private charity in France. From its large funds emanates relief to
thousands. There is practically no field of effort left untouched by
this church. We find homes for the young and the aged, the morally
diseased and the physically defective. The magnificent organization
of the Catholic church makes simple the support and management of



institutions of mercy. One of the tenets of the CathoHc faith is that
each church should care for its poor, and so the church becomes a
distributor of alms not much inferior to the state. Some of the most
illustrious relief societies in the world owe their inception to the
French Catholic church. Notable among these is the St. Vincent de
Paul Society with its ramifying branches. The early history of
French charity is only a record of Catholic charity. The church was
the early almoner of the poor, and now, even though the state has
assumed a duty toward the destitute, the church continues its multi-
form works of mercy. The numerical and financial strength of the
Catholic church in France makes possible the distribution of charity
on a large scale.

An old and notable church society is the Little Sisters of the Poor.
The work of this sisterhood is too well known throughout the world
to need special discussion here.

The Catholic charities are naturally the most important of all
church activities since the Catholic people are by far most numerous.
The number of persons assisted (assistes hospitalises) by their socie-
ties, in 1901, in the Department of the Seine alone, was 23,396; in all
France, 107,400; children, 83,000; girls and women in refuges, 700;
aged people, 17,000; insane, 6,700. Abbe Gayraud declared that
there were over 4,000 religious charitable societies. The law of July
I, 1901, introduced some changes in methods. Before that time the
right to organize a private charitable society and give it corporate
rights had been restricted. The religious orders are still subject to
administrative regulations, and they may be dissolved by decree.
Here we discover the signs of the general conflict of clericals and
anti-clericals. The tendency, M. Riviere thinks, will be to diminish
the sums given to church societies and throw this burden on the public
tax-supported agencies. The secular institutions are growing.

Protestant. — In France Protestant charities are naturally few in
number compared with those under the control of the Catholics.
Conspicuous among the former are those conducted by the Order of
Deaconesses. LTnstitution des Diaconesses des figlises evangeliques
de France maintains a hospital, charitable institution and a school of
correction in Paris, rue de Reuilly 95. The society was founded in
1841 and has continued to do excellent work. The cost for attending
the School of Correction is 25 francs a month, with an entrance fee of
25 francs, payable but once. Then there are always many children


taken without charge through the kindness of charitable people. The
number cared for during the year is at least seventy.

Another Protestant charity, founded at Nimes in 1857, consists of
an asylum of two parts, the family and the refuge ; in the former are
received young orphaned or deserted girls, regardless of belief ; in
the latter fallen or vicious girls are taken. The latter are admitted
on request of parents or guardians for a fixed period, and the cost,
except in cases of great need, is twenty-five francs a month.

La Reunion protestante de Charite was founded in 1871 for the
care of children rendered orphans by national or civil wars. It owns
three homes and takes girls between the ages of seven and twelve
years of age and boys between five and ten whose mothers at least are
Protestants. Now any destitute orphans are taken and cared for.
In 1897 the number in the three homes varied from 58 to 65.

The "Reunion protestante de Qiarite a Paris" was founded in
1872 and recognized as a public utility in 1891 and designed to aid
persons belonging to the reformed church. It maintains : ( i ) A
charity clothing club. (2) A boarding school for girls. (3) An
orphanage for boys. (4) A home for young children. A small fee
is charged by some of these institutions, and this, together with the
proceeds of an annual charity sale, more than pays expenses.

The foregoing serve as types of Protestant undertakings. These
are rather limited in their field, and do not justly represent charitable
acts of adherents of the Protestant religion, for many contributions go
to charities not distinctively Protestant.

Salvation Army. — Paris was the scene of the first missionary ven-
ture of the Salvation Army and the methods were well adapted to
capture an emotional people fond of military display. Yet the
struggle for regeneration has been difficult. The Army maintains
the usual activities, and now has about three hundred officers at work.

E. Co-operation and Co-ordination of Public and Private
Reief. — If we except the city of Paris, where a powerful administra-
tion groups under its direction all the relief institutions and unites
them in a body of great strength, there does not exist among the dif-
ferent societies which in different ways are working toward the same
end any coordination, any bond, any understanding or any solidarity.^

Charity Organisation Society. — Properly speaking, there is in

^Derouin, Traite Theorique et Pratique d'Assistance Publique, Tome I, p. xi.



France no charity organization society. There is a method which
combines voluntary effort and official management. "The right to
relief is recognized only in the cases of lunatics and deserted children ;
all other relief may be described as organized charity distributed by
public bodies. Institutions such as hopitaux for the sick, hospices for
the aged and infirm are supported by endowments and voluntary
contributions and managed by unpaid bodies constituted and con-
trolled by the state. ^ The Bureaux de Bienfaisance consist of elected
and nominated members and give outdoor relief in the commune. In
1898 there were in France 15,827 such bureaux, and they extended
aid to 1,531,780 persons. The funds distributed are derived almost
wholly from endowments and voluntary contributions, and a small
proportion from taxation. Very searching inquiry is carried on and
faithful records are kept. This work is mainly in charge of the
Sisters of Charity and is very accurate. No aid is given without in-
vestigation. Each bureau consists of : ( i ) The mayor of the arron-
dissement; (2) deputies; (3) municipal councillors of the arron-
dissement; (4) at least four governors per quarter; (5) a secretary-
treasurer. Besides these, there are friendly visitors who serve gra-
tuitously and in addition some salaried officers. By means of this
thorough organization, it becomes increasingly difficult for the un-
worthy to obtain aid.

Conferences and Congresses. — An international Congress of
Charity met in Paris in 1855. This was the first of the kind, and all
countries in Europe were represented. The discussions proved to be
of inestimable value, and the congress established then has met in
Paris three times since, during the exposition years of 1878, 1889,
and 1900. Its next meeting will be held in Milan, September, 1905.

The Societe Internationale pour I'etude des questions d'assis-
tance is a learned society doing a practical work ; and the Societe
Generale des Prisons is doing much to improve conditions in the
prisons throughout the land.

In 1878 the Congres Universel pour I'amelioration du sort des
aveugles et des sourds-muets met in Paris, and has held meetings at
intervals since.

In addition to the foregoing, the various national societies inter-

* Palgrave, Dictionary of Political Economy, article on Charity Organization
in France.



ested in some phase of philanthropy and maintaining charities meet
to discuss needed changes in method. The Societe des Creches may
be mentioned as one conspicuous among these.

Expositions. — Each international exposition held in Paris has
resulted in the organization of congresses to deal with the subject of
charity in some of its many phases, and this in turn has led to exhibits
from various countries illustrative of development, character, and
methods of relief. In 1900, the exhibits were more numerous than
ever before, and at the same time better organized.

Charity Directories. — A directory of French charities may be
found in various year books^ published by individuals and societies,
and the annual reports of separate charities contain complete lists of
a particular class. In this way, it would be possible to obtain a
knowledge of all the charitable institutions or societies in the country.

F. Indoor Poor Relief.^ — Institutional relief is afforded all
classes of destitute persons from those needing permanent care to
those who require only temporary relief, subject to the general rule
that none shall be admitted to institutions who can be cared for out-
side. This has long been the policy of public relief in France.

The splendidly organized hospitals and institutions of various
kinds receive within their doors persons who have no homes or who
for good reasons must be given institutional care. Hospital treat-
ment comes almost entirely within the domain of public relief. The
hospitals of Paris alone afford accommodation for about thirty
thousand people. Domiciliary regulations are carefully observed
in the admission of each person applying for aid. Indoor relief
is given in public institutions only after the most searching investi-
gations. In private institutions no such stringent regulations exist.
In general, private indoor relief is given on a smaller scale, and
in institutions designed to meet special needs. Public funds must
be distributed in a way to satisfy the public, while the distribution
of private funds concerns only the donors.

G. Vagrants. The giving of relief to able-bodied adults raises
some of the most complex and delicate problems of modern charity.
The difficulty of distinguishing between the professional beggar and
the deserving poor is great and much cumbersome machinery is nec-

^ Hachette, Annuaire.

' Derouin, Traite Theorique et Pratique d'Assistance Publiqiie. Larrive, lAs-
sistance Publique en France. Fleury, De I'Assistance Publique a Paris.



essary to carry out satisfactory investigations. Philanthropists and
sociologists are agreed that the best method of checking vagrancy is
to furnish no aid except where a return of work is given. Excep-
tional cases, however, need special treatment. Among its various
charitable undertakings, the city of Paris includes three institutions
where aid is given in return for work. These are : ( i ) Le Refuge-
ouvroir Pauline-Roland for women, (2) Le Refuge, Nicolas-Flamel,
for men. (3) La colonic agricole de la Chalmelle, also for men.
These have all been organized since 1889, and at considerable cost.
The establishment for women has 157 beds and accommodations for
40 little children. This is designed for strong women who are tem-
porarily out of employment. They pay expenses by sewing, washing,
ironing or doing other work given them in the home. Provision is
made for small children in the creche and the kindergarten. The
director is very successful in finding permanent employment for a
large proportion of the women who seek shelter with her. The home
for men has accommodations for 207. This is not only a night
refuge, but has workrooms where those desiring work may obtain it
for a time. The duration of a sojourn is supposed to be three days,
or four if a Sunday intervenes. Financial aid is sometimes given to
the most needy. It is only since 1893 that the municipal work rooms
have been open. The regulation sojourn in the work rooms is 20
days, but may be prolonged in exceptional cases.

In the institutions for both men and women applicants upon en-
tering must be bathed and examined for general cleanliness. In
addition to the institutions mentioned, Paris maintains three munic-
ipal lodging houses, two for men and one for women. These, unlike
the English houses, are entirely free, providing not only a bed but
soup at night and bread in the morning. Men are allowed to stay
for three successive nights, while women may remain for a month if
it seems advisable. Every effort is made to prevent the admission of
unworthy characters. The system of disinfecting is very complete
and guests are required to wear municipal clothes while in the
houses. Thus the health of all is safeguarded. Institutions giving
temporary asylum to needy men and women are very numerous in
France. Some, like the municipal lodging houses, are entirely free ;
others require payment in work, while still others furnish a home for
a time and in addition money or clothes, or both. Thousands of per-
sons are aided every month in this way, and the great majority of


them find their way into some permanent occupation, thus justifying
the efforts made in their behalf. The institutions under discussion
entertain from three to five thousand a year each and at a great ex-
penditure of money. Private individuals and societies as well as the
municipalities have interested themselves in the unemployed and tem-
porarily homeless poor, with the result that new institutions are con-
stantly being added. Thus the movement, which dates back less
than a score of years, bears no insignificant part in the general char-
itable work of France.

Closely allied with the foregoing, yet differing from it in essential
details and method, is the movement toward colonization of the poor
in agricultural districts. The first municipal colony was started at
Chalmette in 1891 to provide home and work for many men originally
from the country who found themselves unable to cope with industrial
conditions in the city. At first only men between the ages of twenty-
five and fifty-five years and who had been resident in Paris at least
three years were eligible for admission. There are accommodations
for sixty men at the present time, but the intention of the council is to
make provision for men with families in the future, so that they as
well as single men may have the advantages of life on the model farm.
During the first ten years of its existence the colony received 850 per-
sons; of this number 491 were placed in good positions, 271 left vol-
untarily, 15 were sent to a hospital, 4 joined the military service, 2
died, while 37 were expelled for cause.

As types of colonies established by private parties the Colonic
Agricole de Mettray and the Colonic Agricole protestante de Sainte-
Foy may be mentioned. The former was founded in 1839 and the
latter in 1843, 3-nd they receive an average of 540 and 140 persons re-
spectively per year. They are both designed for young boys who need
correction, but who scarcely merit prison life, and so these colonies
differ from the more recent one founded by the city of Paris. They
perform a very valuable function in checking criminal tendencies in
the young.^

H. Medical Relief. Public. — The law of free medical aid^

' See Witt, La Charite a travers les Siecles. Witt, La Charite tn France.
Rapports du Jury International Exposition Universelle Internationalle de igoo;
Quatrieme partie, classe 112. Shaw, Municipal Government in Continental Europe,
"Law of July 15, 1903.



recognizes absolutely the right of the needy to aid, and the rendering
of it is now obligatory throughout France. The law provides^ that
every ailing Frenchman who has no resources of his own shall receive
gratuitously from the commune, the department, or the state, as the
case may be, medical aid at home, or if that is not practicable, in a
hospital. This law applies equally to women. Ill and needy for-
eigners will be treated as the native-born in every case where the
French government has a treaty of reciprocity in respect to relief
with the country of the needy strangers.

Free medical aid may be organized in the commune in two differ-
ent ways : ( i ) For needy residents of the communes, and in rare
cases strangers; (2) according to the needs of the different com-
munes. All of this is carefully regulated by the law of July 15, 1893.
It is noteworthy that the word "indigent"- does not appear in the law.
The wage worker who falls ill may need aid, but he is in no sense

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 54 of 73)