Gertrude Spinger (1879-1953) — Journalist, Author, Advocate and Creator of “Miss Bailey Says….”

Gertrude Springer was born Gertrude Hill, the daughter of ranchers on the Kansas frontier. Her skills in observation and writing were put to use at the University of Kansas where she combined liberal arts course work with editing the University’s newspaper. After working on papers in various rural communities, she went to the Kansas City Journal and met her future husband, Louis A. Springer, a career journalist whose editorial position at the New York Sun brought her east in 1903.

During World War One, Springer supervised Red Cross services for war refugees in Italy. Returning to the U.S., she moved into New York City’s social welfare circle with employment at the Bureau of Advice and Information of the Charity Exchange, as editor of the Girl Scouts’ magazine, then as managing editor of Better Times (1921-1930), published to facilitate inter-agency information and co-operation.

In 1930, Paul Kellogg, the editor of The Survey announced to readers, “Gertrude Springer has sprung from Better Times to The Survey. With this issue of the Mid-monthly, she takes over, as associate editor, the Social Practice Department…. ” (15 October 1930, p. 106.) Springer undertook field trips and initiated contacts to determine the lay of the social welfare landscape beyond New York. In pithy writing about social issues, policy, and services across the country, she never neglected to explain how things came down to affecting individuals. “Amelia Bailey,” — “Miss Bailey” to most people — was a 1930s-style virtual-reality public relief supervisor. “Miss Baily Says…” columns dealt with issues such as: “When Your Client Has a Car,” “Are Relief Workers Policemen?,” “How We Behave in Other People’s Houses.” She gave common-sense advice to questions such as what to do when the relief worker observes situations such as bootlegging, clients with a bank account, a family on relief seen attending a movie, the daughter of a family on relief sporting a new permanent wave. Her celebrated contribution to social welfare journalism, made this consistent concern explicit.

SourceUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Social Welfare History Archives. Minneapolis, MN. Materials drawn from information originally compiled by Beverly A. Stadum for “Gertrude Hill Springer,” in Biographical Dictionary of Social Welfare in America, edited by Walter I. Trattner, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986: pp. 683-686.

 

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