When the English-speaking colonists arrived in the New World they brought with them the ideas and customs they knew in England, including the “Poor Laws.” The first colonial poor laws were fashioned after those of the Poor Law of 1601. They featured local taxation to support the destitute; they discriminated between the “worthy” and the “unworthy” poor; and all relief was a local responsibility. No public institutions for the poor or standardized eligibility criteria would exist for nearly a century. It was up to local town elders to decide who was worthy of support and how that support would be provided. As colonial America grew more complex, diverse and mobile, the localized systems of poor relief were strained. The result was some limited movement to state financing and the creation of almshouses and poorhouses to “contain” the problem. For much of the 18th and 19th centuries most poverty relief was provided in the almshouses and poorhouses. Relief was made as unpleasant as possible in order to “discourage” dependency. Those receiving relief could lose their personal property, the right to vote, the right to move, and in some cases were required to wear a large “P” on their clothing to announce their status.

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Through provisions in the public assistance titles of the Social Security Act, great progress has been made in fulfilling the obligation of government to secure and protect human rights. For the first time in the United States, the legal right of a needy person to public assistance was established for four groups. Requirements for approval of state assistance plans included: the right to apply for assistance and to have prompt action taken on the application, and if eligible, to receive unrestricted money payments for as long as needed, to have personal information kept confidential, except as required for administration of public assistance, and to have the right of appeal to a state agency and the courts if denied assistance by a local agency. These provisions were all intended to prevent discrimination and humiliation and to help recipients maintain or rebuild their independence.

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The following pages present a detailed historical chronology of the development of social insurance, with particular emphasis on Social Security. Items are included in this compilation on the basis of their significance for Social Security generally, their importance as precedents, their value in reflecting trends or issues, or their significance in SSA’s administrative history. The information includes legislative events in Social Security and related programs. Our expectation is that this Chronology can be used as a reference tool and finding aid for important dates and events in Social Security’s long history.

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The rural social worker is confronted with a real dilemma in knowing how much of a family’s welfare is her responsibility. It is not unusual to find that man’y of our rural areas have been untouched by social working organizations, or, for that matter, by few if any community organizations. The rural worker is called on to provide for the health needs of the families in many instances where there is inadequate medical and nursing service. School attendance becomes her concern where the state laws are static in their effectiveness. She finds mental problems of long standing, or disturbances of an acute nature, in her families, and since she is the only representative of an agency in the area, securing treatment or institutionalization becomes part of her service to the family. Whether she is equipped for it or not, emergencies arise where the worker participates in removing children from the home, in institutional placement of delinquents, feeble-minded, or handicapped members of the family.

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One million undernourished children have benefited by the Works Progress Administration’s school lunch program. In the past year and a half 80,000,000 hot well-balanced meals have been served at the rate of 500,000 daily in 10,000 schools throughout the country.

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Washington Sweatshop (1937)

On September 26, 2014 By

by Robert S. Allen, The Nation July 17, 1937. Wage-hour legislation was a campaign issue in the 1936 Presidential race.

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A Radio Address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sunday, May 7, 1933.

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We Do Our Part–But… (1933)

On September 26, 2014 By

Article by Ira DeA. Reid in Opportunity, Journal of Negro Life (September, 1933). “Three million Negro workers, more than half of the total number of Negroes who must labor for their livelihood, will not be covered by the industrial codes now being formulated by the NRA!”

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THE FIRST benefit we received from the REA service was lights, and aren’t lights grand? My little boy expressed my sentiments when he said, “Mother, I didn’t realize how dark our house was until we got electric lights.” We had been reading by an Aladdin lamp and thought it was good, but it didn’t compare with our I. E. S. reading lamp.

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Since Flint lives and has its being through General Motors the staggered production-plan, by which fewer families will get work but they have more steady employment, will it is generally agreed make less high peaks in relief but by the same token prevent the minimum drops of last Spring and Summer here. The tentative production schedules of Buick and Chevrolet, on which Fisher Body and accessory companies depend, are based on “reasonably optimistic” plans. Those two companies expect to employ more than 8,000 less than they did last year at their peaks. Chevrolet, for instance, went up to between 18 and 19,000 last Spring. While now only at 3,900 it expects by the middle of December to have 10,000 employed. By February 1 it expects to have 13,000 employed. It will continue, according to present plans on that schedule.

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