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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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 65 of 73)
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districts at least the community is considered responsible for its
own members.

B. Most of the work of public assistance rests with local
administrative bodies, under the jurisdiction of the Minister of
the Interior. There is, however, no central organization, no uni-


formity of regulations, no system of general reports. To under-
stand the situation it is necessary to have in mind the general
forms of local government in European Russia. The country is
divided into 50 "governments" or provinces, each with a gov-
ernor at its head, and these provinces are divided into from 5 to
15 districts. Each district and province has its Zemstvo, or
popular assembly. That of the district, presided over by the
marshal of the nobility, is elected by the property owners of the
district and in turn elects the provincial Zemstvo. The cities
have somewhat similar councils presided over by the mayor.
The rural units of government are the volosts or cantons, com-
posed of communes, and the mirs, or communes, which number
some 30 to 35 families. Both volosts and mirs have their assem-
blies. They have charge of the aged, orphans and cripples and
of such endowed institutions as exist. These are few in number.
Most peasant charity takes the form of almsgiving or family
care of an unfortunate neighbor. Upon the Zemstvos and city
councils rests the care of schools, hospitals, charitable institu-
tions, public granaries and sanitary service. They appoint spe-
cial committees of charity administration which work in connec-
tion with the heads of institutions. In the provinces which have
no Zemstvos, the old bureaus of charity continue to act, less
efficiently than the Zemstvos.

In addition to the public assistance thus organized under the
Minister of the Interior, there are special forms of charitable
works under the direction of the Holy Synod, the Minister of
Justice, the Minister of Finance, as well as charity schools under
the Minister of Instruction, the Minister of War and the Min-
ister of Ways of Communication. In times of public calamity,
moreover, as the last great famine, special commissions are
formed to direct and unify the work of relief. It is difficult to
learn the amount of outdoor relief given by Zemstvos and cities
because it is seldom separated from the reports of indoor relief.
Miinsterberg estimates the proportion of the poor aided outside
of institutions as 26 per cent. He does not say how the aid is
given nor how much is medical relief, probably a considerable
amount. In 1899 Moscow cared for 393,933 people out of insti-
tutions, 18,000 of them in their own homes, but again the pro-
portion of medical aid is not stated. The only special form of


help referred to anywhere is in a general report that says some
Zemstvos and cities give pecuniary aid to emigrants and to work-
men in search of employment. Bureaus of charity seem to give
very little outdoor relief.

C. Private charity is not to be distinguished from public by
its forms nor even by a greater spirit of originality, as in Western
Europe and the United States. It is true that new lines of effort
have been opened up at the suggestion of members of the royal
family, to whom Russian charity owes much of its development,
but many Zemstvos and cities show a higher degree of specializa-
tion in charitable organizations, and more modern types than the
private associations. Private charity again is marked by neither
more nor less division of labor and absence of an impersonal,
mechanical spirit than public charity. Many private societies
carry on as great a variety of but slightly related departments
of work as the Zemstvos and cities, and like these act through
committees, so that they seem equally exposed to the evils of
bureaucracy. All private organizations must be authorized by
the Minister of the Interior and in many cases, as for example,
hospitals, are subject to state inspection. The most conspicuous
private charities in Russia are those founded or directed by mem-
bers of the royal family. The Czar has two special cabinets to
deal with such matters. The Cabinet of Benevolence grants pen-
sions, provides pecuniary aid, places orphans in schools and sup-
ports a special asylum for widows and orphans of meritorious
civil servants (Statesman's Handbook). The second cabinet has
charge of the "Institutions of the Empress Marie." This carries
out the orders of its director-in-chief and the decisions of the
"Council of Guardians." The latter body deals with legislation
affecting the institutions, with important economic and financial
matters and with the extension of the work. This group of
organizations is supported by the income from certain banks,
from the sale of playing cards and from the tax on tickets to
amusements, and by gifts. Of another type are the benevolent
associations directed by Councils of Guardians which usually
have a member of the royal family at their head. Such a coun-
cil is "The Curators of Industrial Homes and Workshops" under
the direct patronage of the Czarina. These councils are some-
times made up of the holders of certain official positions, some-


times they are named by the patron. They serve to coordinate
in some degree the work of groups of societies and institutions.
Many benevolent societies are connected with schools and hos-
pitals. They often confine their work to a certain parish and
are composed of both men and women. The St. Petersburg
"Ladies' Patriotic Society" is one of the oldest societies of women
devoted to educational charities. In many cities corporations
or guilds of men, the merchants, bourgeois and artisans contrib-
ute to charity funds, but they do not seem to organize institu-

Aside from the "Institutions of the Empress Marie" the most
important private body in Russia appears to be the Red Cross So-
ciety. This was one of the earliest organized after the signing of
the Convention of Geneva, dating back to 1867. In 1899 it re-
ported 549 stations, including hospitals, asylums, dispensaries,
2,344 nurses and over 20,000 members. It has become very popu-
lar throughout the country, M. V. Botzianovsky reports, and has
stations so distributed, even on remote frontiers, that it can reach
any desired position quickly. In all the recent wars it has done
efficient service, offering its services to both contending forces.
It aids in all epidemics and calamities, floods, fires, famines ; it
instructs nurses and sends sanitary missions into rural districts
in times of plagues, among emigrants starting for Siberia, and
into Siberia itself. Its doctors and nurses are found in leper
hospitals. It has an accident corps in cities composed of so-
called "Brothers of Charity." For sick wounded soldiers the
society provides a hospital as well as care at baths and health
resorts. It also supplies artificial limbs, and it has two schools
for the children of wounded soldiers. In addition to all these
forms of social service it contributes valuable reports to inter-
national congresses. In 1898 it expended 4,254,000 rubles. Its
efficient provincial organization that enables it in times of emer-
gencies to spread like a network over every district and volost
makes it especially valuable in a country like Russia, where so
many regions are ordinarily without charity. Private charity is
not of course confined to the form of societies. Very much of
it is expressed in gifts to organizations and individuals, an
amount which it is impossible to measure. Tn 1893 nearly 2,000,-
000 rubles were given to the Minister of the Interior, but there is



no report of the amount received by the Zemstvos, cities and pri-
vate institutions. Very large sums are also given as direct alms.
In Moscow alone it is estimated that 1,000,000 rubles are thus
given yearly. Often large properties are left by will for distri-
bution among beggars. The peasants, too, in the country dis-
tricts are almsgivers, as indeed are most of the people in the less
developed parts of the empire.

D. Very little information can be obtained regarding eccle-
siastical charity. The orthodox church alone receives notice
and that very briefly. At the close of the nineteenth century the
Holy Synod was reported as having under its charge 3,558 insti-
tutions, chiefly for the sick and children. There are parish com-
mittees that dispense funds. In 1898 Bravudo reports the sum
of 487,834 rubles. Monasteries still exist in an enfeebled condi-
tion and are said, with churches, to conduct 198 hospitals, 841
dispensaries, and to have assisted 13,062 people. In so far as
these figures are inclusive they indicate that present day charity
is distinctly secular, so far as the Russian church is concerned.
Conditions may be quite different among the Dissenters, Catho-
lics, Jews and Mohammedans. The really important benevolent
work of the Holy Synod comes rather under the head of edu-
cation than charity, though it is preventive work. The 40,000
elementary schools among the peasants are justly reckoned
among the humanitarian eflforts of the nation. They will be re-
ferred to again. The Salvation Army is the only international
Protestant organization for charitable work which has ap-
proached Russia and it has not yet succeeded in getting nearer
than Finland.

E. As w-e have seen, public and private relief agencies are
occasionally coordinated by means of specially appointed councils
of supervision, but the only complete cooperation is found in
those cities which have adopted a modification of the Elberfeld
system. Moscow was the first to introduce this, in 1894. The
city is divided into 28 sections, each with a director, appointed
by the City Council, and a committee of from five to ten. Vol-
unteer visitors, usually young men and women, receive contri-
butions and investigate the cases of applicants for relief. In 1897
there were 1,924 helpers who received 250,000 rubles and aided
12,097 people, mostly old and sick. Indoor relief was chiefly


given to children. There is, in addition to this organization, a
municipal council of charity and a municipal section of informa-
tion on charitable affairs. Karoff has a similar system and St.
Petersburg, Odessa and Voroniga contemplate adopting it. The
charity organization society and national conferences of charity
are not yet found in the country. The nearest approach to the
latter is in the meetings of special commissions instructed to
study the problems connected with the particular charities
which they supervise. Representatives of the government and
of private societies are also found at the international confer-
ences, often taking part in the discussions.

F. Indoor relief is the usual form which organized charity
takes in Russia. Three-fourths of all public and private relief
is given through institutions, which are for the most part to be
classed under the heads of hospitals, orphan asylums and asylums
for the aged. There is no division of labor as between public
and private institutions, and the administration is similar for
both types. There is either a board, a director or both combined,
under the control of the City Council, the Zemstvo or a Council
of Guardians according as it is public or private. One-half of
all the institutions opened during the last ten years have been
private foundations and many which are now under public ad-
ministration were turned over to the city or Zemstvos by the
individual founders. The funds are obtained from gifts, city
and Zemstvos budgets and, in many cases, state subsidies. As
there are no requirements in regard to reports, there is no uni-
formity in the time or form of publication and it is difficult to
obtain any accurate idea of the number of institutions. Miinster-
berg gives it as 7,505, but he does not say just what he includes
under charitable institutions ; whether schools and hospitals are
partially in the list or not. The total amount spent on these
institutions he estimates at 36,000,000 rubles a year.

In the provinces still having bureaus of charity indoor relief
is given almost wholly to the sick and to children, in hospitals
and schools. The Zemstvos and cities have developed in addi-
tion to these more specific forms of help, such as creches, lodg-
ing houses, workshops, cheap restaurants, — forms which are also
found among private institutions. These will be considered


more fully under special topics, medical aid, care of children, of
vagrants, etc.

G. The beggar is one of the great problems in the social
life of Russia. His characteristics and ways of living afford a
most interesting field of study to the sociologist, for in many
ways he is unique in Europe. As far back as the time of Peter
the Great the extent to which begging was practiced was con-
sidered alarming and social reformers find it greater to-day than
ever, in spite of the efforts of sundry "Commissions to Control
Begging" that have been established at different times. In 1877
one of these estimated the number of beggars at 300,000. To-
day, if we take the figures for St. Petersburg as a basis of calcu-
lation, there are at the minimum twice as many. Men are much
more numerous than women and are younger. The maximum
number of the former are between 30 and 35 years of age, of the
latter 50 to 55. By far the greater number are found to be strong
and able-bodied, though there is a class of cripples, blind and
feeble-minded. Naturally the greater numbers of the profes-
sional beggars are found near cities where there are crowds and
relief funds, but companies of peasants go begging in country
districts, especially at the close of the late harvest and in the
early spring. In certain parts of Russia, around Moscow and in
the southern provinces, whole villages, men, women and chil-
dren, go out on begging tours when the farm work is over, often
covering long distances. Their excuse for vagrancy is that they
are seeking work, but in truth they make begging a by-occupa-
tion, resorted to regularly. In Vologda, for example, Loewen-
stimm says that one-fourth of the population live upon alms,
so, too, in the vicinity of Moscow. In the government of Pensa
4,000 people in Golizino are beggars, in Voronish 8,000. The
gains used to be as much as 100 to 200 rubles a year, but now
they are not more than 40 rubles.

Such an extraordinary condition of affairs has naturally led
to investigation of causes and some attempt at least, at remedies.
Neglecting now the uncertain proportion of deserving poor, tem-
porarily out of work or in misfortune, the majority are set down
as professional beggars, become such on account of: (i) Lack
of sufficient charitable relief. The convalescent and the feeble-
minded are often forced to beg for food and shelter, because


there is no place for them in asyhmis and they are not strong
enough to work, (2) Deportation. Exiles in Siberia are often
penniless when their terms expire, and they beg for means to
get home. Prisoners marching overland used to beg their food
and clothing, but better care and railway transportation have
nearly stopped this practice. (3) Vagrants without passports,
or those who wish to avoid the notice of officials beg their way
through country districts. (4) Great calamities force many into
beggary. War, floods, plagues and the burning of villages so
common in Russia, combine with the failure of crops to reduce
hundreds of people to pauperism, for which there is inadequate
relief through organized channels. (5) Permanent economic
causes. In many cases the father's allotment of land proves too
small when divided among a number of brothers ; in others the
rent is so high that agriculture becomes impossible for an ignor-
ant peasant and he gives it up. Factory labor, often turned to as
an alternative, frequently weakens the workman physically and
morally, and he finds begging the easiest means of supporting
life. (6) Ethnical traits. Certain peoples like the gypsies seem
to be beggars by nature. (7) The love of wandering in search
of luck is characteristic of Russian peasants, especially those in
the southern provinces and around the Black Sea. The nature
of the country helps to develop this — a boundless plain without
natural barriers ; and there is also a native spirit of fatalism which
is a powerful factor. (8) Customs and beliefs. Russians are
naturally sympathetic, quick to pity sorrow and misfortune, and
so it is the national impulse to respond to an appeal for aid.
Then, too, the church has always taught that almsgiving is meri-
torious, bringing spiritual reward to the giver, and has never
questioned the desert of the beggar nor the social value of the
gift. To refuse alms is to sin. The custom of giving alms in a
general distribution on certain days of the week, on festivals and
such occasions as royal birthdays is very common. The Old Be-
lievers are especially keen about observing this custom and recall
some of the Catholic nobles of the Middle Ages whose gates were
thronged with mendicant clients at the regularly appointed hours
for alms. Great sums are often left by will for general distribu-
tion among the beggars of the city. One man left 10,000 rubles
in this way; another 50,000 rubles. Something of almost sacra-



mental virtue appertains to gifts or aid lo beggars. Many of the
people cherish a legend that Christ was a beggar and some of
the religious sects follow his supposed example. The beggars
have been classified as church and cemetery beggars, false pil-
grims or "Jerusalem folk," "Sevastopolers," travellers on the rail-
road, collectors at houses, fire beggars, letter writers, women with
mutilated children or dolls to imitate children, cripples, church
collectors and the peasant companies. Many of these are com-
mon forms among professional mendicants everywhere, but some
are peculiar to Russia. The "Jerusalem folk" haunt the shrine
and pilgrim routes, often disguised as priests or monks. The
"Sevastopolers" claim to be old soldiers. The fire beggars ap-
pear after a village fire, often in numbers greater than the whole
village population, and represent themselves as having lost every-
thing. The notice writers take advantage of the custom of de-
scribing specially needy cases in the papers to draw contributions
to themselves. Church collectors ask aid for the erection of a vil-
lage or city church. The amount of money given to these differ-
ent classes has been estimated at 2 rubles for each of the popula-
tion. Most of it is worse than wasted, being spent in drink and
licentiousness. But the beggar is not only a great cost to the
country in money, he is also a center of disorder and a spreader
of disease.

The remedies for this social evil which have been suggested
by the commissions are, restriction of the sale of liquor, better
industrial training, more care for the deserving poor, together
with greater sternness in repressing professional begging, and,
above all, the stopping of indiscriminate almsgiving. This latter
practice, however, is so strongly entrenched in the customs and
beliefs of the masses that one fears that it will scarcely pass away
for many generations. The problem is likely to be of long stand-

The present means of helping vagrants and the unemployed
is the organization of workhouses and workshops, cheap lodgings,
night refuges, public tables, etc. The modern form of work-
houses dates from 1881. In 1895 there was formed the Society
of Curators of Industrial Homes and Workshops whose func-
tions are to found industrial homes and support those already
existing, to help people discharged from hospitals and prisons, to



prepare children for self-support. It has an unlimited member-
ship of four kinds : elective, chosen for three years by the Czar-
ina ; honorary, members of the royal family ; benefactors, those
contributing loo rubles yearly or i,ooo rvtbles at one time; asso-
ciates, those contributing lo rubles yearlj or lOO rubles at one
time. The honorary members and benefactors serve as inspec-
tors of the workhouses and report on them. The support is from
the state funds and from gifts. The administration is in the
hands of the Czarina and a committee of ten members, together
with a vice-president, secretary and treasurer. The society
meets yearly. Since 1898 it has published a monthly review
(Troudovaia Pomocht), "Industrial Assistance." This paper in
1899 contained a report on the number of workhouses and the
persons assisted. According to this there were 109 houses, loi
in European Russia. The common form is that for all ages and
both sexes. This has separate workrooms for women with girls
and men with boys. There are also separate workhouses for
men, women and children, with common dining rooms. Those
in St. Petersburg not only provide work, but also teach trades,
in order to develop skilled workmen in wood and iron. There is
also in the capital a house for intelligent women of good birth,
who, after confinement, can only work a little and who need
nourishing food. One hundred and five of the workhouses have
room for 8,678 people, 96 of them actually aided 13.633 people in
a year (1897). There is thus twice as much help offered, appar-
ently as is asked for, a fact which would give color to the con-
clusion stated above that the majority of the beggars are pro-
fessionals. Besides the work of this group of industrial homes
there is that of the Imperial Society of Charity which has cheap
lodging houses, night refuges and people's kitchens. Alany of
the Zemstvos and cities make similar provisions for the unem-
ployed and in addition aid emigrants and those travelling in
search of work.

For homeless old men and women there are a number of
"homes" of different degrees of cost. Those in St. Petersburg
and Moscow are the best. The former city has three. The
Widows' or Old Ladies' Home occupies the old Elizabeth palace
and the cost per inmate is 280 rubles a year. Of this the widows,
who have separate rooms and their meals served in them, pay



250 rubles. Spinsters, who are placed two in a room and use a
common dining room, pay 200 rubles. The deficit is paid from
the funds of the "Institutions of the Empress Marie."

The Old Women's Home is for working women, who pay
part of the cost. The deficit is made up from charity funds.
The Municipal House, founded by Catherine H, has 3,000 old
women and 800 old men, a few of whom pay. The most beauti-
ful of these houses is the Heier Home in Moscow, which accom-
modates 33 women and 33 men at a cost of 180 rubles a year.
The Boew Institute has room for 300 men and women at a lower
rate, 120 rubles, and a third is intended for vagrants and has
something of a correctional character about it. Russia has not
yet opened colonies for the unemployed, but Finland has a num-
ber of them. They were originally intended for the able-bodied
alone, but now there are special rooms for the sick and insane and
asylums for children. The government makes loans to com-
munities to start such colonies and has made 50 in the last 10
years. The colonies are on farms and the aim is to keep them

H. Medical relief has long been a common form of charity
in Russia, though it is not adequate to the need even yet. The
general system is under the direction of the Minister of the In-
terior, working through the Department of Medical Afifairs.
Hospitals, which belong to Zemstvos, cities and bureaus of
charity, are under the immediate jurisdiction of the governor of
the province and the prefect of the city. Each province has its
medical inspector and special sanitary service, as have the dis-
tricts and cities. In 1900 the Zemstvos controlled 1,300 hospitals
with 30,000 beds, i. e., one bed for 2,000 people, and had one phy-
sician for 25,100 people. Twelve bureaus of charity have one
bed for 7,663 people and one physician for 77,296 people. The
pharmacies numbered one-half as many as the hospitals in 1887.
Their establishment is authorized in hospitals having over 100
beds. Most cities and Zemstvos have physicians for the poor
whose service is gratuitous. There are also midwives and "feld-
shero," both men and women, who have had a slight medical
training and are able to be of service in country districts where
physicians are few. The medical service in St. Petersburg is
probably the most highly developed in the country and therefore


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 65 of 73)