charity-bazaar

Charity bazaar, St. Vincent infant asylum, November 14-25; Coliseum Chicago. 1901.
Photo: Library of Congress
Digital ID ppmsca.42803

State/Local Institutions 

 

In Colonial times, the care of the indigent (the poor, the aged, the sick, and others) who had no family to help them were the responsibility of the local community as it existed through kindness or mutual aid. As the size of local communities grew larger a more regulated system of caring for the indigent was needed and the pattern developed was similar to those of the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601.  A local tax was levied for the purpose and an Overseer of the Poor was charged with the responsibility. In 1824, New York State enacted the County Poorhouse Act, a measure that directed each county to erect one or more poorhouses to care for the “worthy poor.” Expenses for building and maintaining these institutions were to be paid by tax funds levied by the county government.  About the time the Civil War ended, a number of state institutions were being erected to care for specific populations deemed unsuitable for being cared for in county poor houses, e.g., the insane, the disabled, children, women. Below are entries describing some of these developments.

 


  • A Brief History of Government Charity in New York (1603 - 1900)“The first Legislature of the State of New York met at Kingston on September 10, 1777, and the first statute was enacted February 6, 1778. Of the great majority of the laws which have been enacted in this State affecting the administration of charity and the care of the poor, it is possible to give a brief abstract only, referring the student of these questions to the laws themselves for fuller information should such be desired. To facilitate reference, however, especially of those to whom the laws of the State may not be accessible, a few of the more important statutes, such as the general poor laws, are printed in full."
  • A Discussion of Public Relief: 1940Why have a private casework agency when there is a tax-supported public agency?Perhaps this question can best be answered philosophically. One either does or does not believe in public and private enterprise in business, in industry, in medicine, education etc, and in social work. Those who believe in relinquishing all responsibility to the State, retreating into large-scale programs, and who question the value of personal ideals or effort and the value of the individual himself, will see little use for private social work. Those who still have faith in the democratic process, in the individual, in the family, in mutual aid, in cooperative social enterprises towards a higher standard of living and greater, not less, human dignity, will have a renewal, rather than a denial of faith in private endeavor. A combination of public and voluntary activities in all fields seems to us desirable.
  • After Care for the Insane: New York State 1906‘Resolved, That in the opinion of this Conference, it is desirable that there shall be established in this State, through private philanthropy, a system for providing temporary assistance and friendly aid and counsel for needy persons discharged, recovered, from State Hospitals for the Insane, otherwise known as ‘After Care for the Insane.’'Resolved, That the State Charities Aid Association be requested, by this Conference, to organize a system of After Care for the Insane in this State, and to put it into practical operation.'Resolved, That the representatives of the State Commission in Lunacy and the managers and superintendents of the State Hospitals for the Insane, here present, hereby pledge to the State Charities Aid Association their earnest and hearty co-operation in the establishment and maintenance of a system of After Care for the Insane in this State.'
  • Asylum for the Deaf and DumbThe Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons, the first permanent school for deaf Americans, opened on April 15, 1817, in Hartford, Connecticut. At that time, "dumb" meant only "unable to speak" (as we still sometimes refer to someone being "dumbstruck") but in early America almost all those who were born deaf never learned to communicate with others except by home-made signs, and deaf people were often regarded as cognitively impaired as well. The initial impetus for a school for deaf people came from parents who wanted an education for their deaf children.
  • Care of the Filthy Cases of Insane: 1885“In all of the institutions for the insane in the State of New York there is a considerable number who are very properly classed as ‘filthy.’ They are found in largest numbers in the asylums for the chronic insane, in county asylums, and in the poorhouses. But, wherever they are found, they are a source of perpetual annoyance to attendants, and of disgust to the more intelligent and refined inmates. One filthy patient on a hall, or ward, will often require more of the time and work of the attendants than the remaining fifty. I have seen patients in the asylums of this State who were thoroughly bathed, and had a complete change of under-clothing, and two or three times of their external clothing, eighteen times in a single day...."
  • Care Of The Insane In New York (1736 - 1912)In the year 1736 a building known as the “Publick Workhouse and House of Corrections of the City of New York” was built on the site where the City Hall now stands, and under its roof the insane were confined, together with the unruly, the destitute, the aged and the infirm. In the description of its interior allusion is made to a strong room or cage for the refractory on the west side of the cellar. A newspaper of the year 1776 contains mention of an order from some one in authority whereby five or six English soldiers were sent to convey a crazy woman to the workhouse.
  • Chapin, John B., M.D., LL.D.A bill was drawn and passed on April 6, 1865, creating the new asylum, which was named the Willard Asylum in memory of Dr. Willard, who died just before its final passage. This bill was drawn by Dr. Willard and Dr. Cook at Canandaigua, and Dr. Chapin was often consulted as to its phraseology and scope. The title of the bill was ‘An Act to Authorize the Establishment of a State Asylum for the Chronic Insane and for the Better Care of the Insane Poor.’ Sections of the law stating its purpose to remove the chronic insane from the almshouses to the new asylum and making it mandatory to transfer and in future commit all acute cases to the asylum at Utica were mainly Dr. Chapin's own composition.
  • Cleveland Federation for Charity and Philanthropy: 1913From its inception, the Cleveland-area volunteers were the first in the country to set up a volunteer-driven system to study human care needs, to allocate funds, and monitor their use. The new organization added budgeting to the single campaign concept, i.e., funds were allocated to agencies on the basis of demonstrated need rather than on hopes for as much money as possible. This "citizen review process" became the model for United Way organizations across the country. The movement had begun. The benefits of a collective volunteer effort were realized dramatically during World War I as the War Commission and the Cleveland Welfare Federation joined the movement, and in 1917 together raised $4.5 million.
  • Colony For Epileptics (1914)Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. It’s also called a seizure disorder. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy.
  • Committee Of The Connecticut Asylum For The Education And Instruction Of Deaf And Dumb Persons (1817)It cannot be expected that any very interesting details respecting the pupils, should at this time be communicated: but it may be of use to record, in a very brief manner, the origin and progress of that institution, which takes the lead in this western world, in the instruction of those who have hitherto remained neglected and forgotten. About two years since, seven persons met in this city, and appointed a committee to solicit funds to enable Mr. Gallaudet to visit Europe, for the purpose of qualifying himself to become an Instructor of the deaf and dumb. The generous promptitude with which means were furnished, put it in his power to embark soon after for England. Not meeting with a satisfactory reception at the London Asylum, he went to Edinburgh.
  • Community Chest Movement: An Interpretation 1924The social service infant whose birth was so deplored among social workers ten years ago, whose early years were so beset with dangers, and whose early actions were so severely criticized, has grown and developed until it is today a giant holding in his grasp the destiny of American social work for at least a decade to come. The two or three cities with federations ten years ago have increased to nearly two hundred; the two or three hundred thousand dollars raised by federations ten years ago have increased to over fifty millions; the few thousand stockholders in the early enterprises now share the joy of service with millions of their fellow-citizens. More and more cities are adopting the plan and nothing seems likely either to stop its growth or to hasten greatly its continued spread. A few successes or a few failures will influence it but slightly. Its ultimate success or failure rests upon the soundness of its principles and the statesmanship of its leaders. No movement in the long history of social work has so quickly caught the popular fancy. Through community chest methods practically the entire population of many cities have become interested in social work. Social problems and ways of solving them have become popular topics of conversation. Social work in these cities is recognized as one of the vital forces in the life of the people. Hence more money has been raised for social service and charitable endeavor than was ever dreamed possible, and many of the results secured are outstanding.
  • Community Councils: What Have They Done And What Is Their Future?"I want to insist at once that Community Councils are independent, self -operating neighborhood organizations. As such they were instituted through President Wilson's call issued by the Council of National Defense. As such they remain, now that the war is over, to help in the work of reconstruction and in the upbuilding of a useful and beautiful leisure life. Even in wartime, the self-supporting and self-governing character of Community Councils was insisted on by the Council of National Defense. The clear vision of Edward L. Burchard and Elliot Dunlap Smith are to be thanked for this, but it was in the spirit of Secretary Baker, chairman of the council, and of the President...."
  • Eighth Report Of The Directors Of The American Asylum For The Education And Instruction Of The Deaf And Dumb (1824)During the first half of the nineteenth century, deaf educators saw their primary goal as ensuring that deaf students learned the Christian gospel. Like educators of blind children and those labeled as idiotic, teachers of deaf children had several other goals, including teaching basic academic skills and providing vocational training. This report also discusses some of the challenges faced by educators of deaf children and their counterparts at schools for blind and idiotic children: strict limits on how long students could stay at the school and unrealistic expectations from family members.
  • Family Service In The Charity Organization Society, 1935The concern of the family department, which has felt the practical limitations of having no descriptive title for some time, has become more acute because of the creation of new relief agencies in the community. In reality the distinctive functions of caseworking agencies have continued through the changes in the community relief program. Two general principles that are basic in casework philosophy help in differentiating the specialized service of a caseworking agency: (1) that individuals react differently to the problem of need and dependency (2) that casework services have not been limited to persons in economic difficulty.If a person who is dependent because of the loss of work is able to live through the experience with calm and fortitude, he may need chiefly assurance that relief will be extended to him until he again finds a place in the economic world. The service attached to relief giving, which includes a legitimate check of resources, an acceptance of the individuals right to plan his life, an approach to him that will foster independence and self-respect, is itself a technical and skilled one. But to some persons the loss of a job, the need to ask for help, the actual receiving of relief are overwhelming experiences resulting frequently in morbid brooding, in a desire to escape from life’s uncertainties and in unwarranted self-accusations. The professional worker in a caseworking agency has a recognized technical service to offer to persons whose problem of relief need is complicated by reactions of strain, worry, over-anxiety.
  • Family Service: Community Service Society 1940Last year the Family Service had 19,373 children in the families under its care. Who are these children? They are the children of the unemployed, the widow, the widower, the father in prison, the mother who has deserted, the parent who is mentally or physically ill, the parents who are estranged, or the otherwise happy parents who are socially or economically handicapped.Some of these children are loved and wanted, some are unloved and unwanted. Some are "good" and some are "bad". Some are well and some are sick. But they are all children and upon them and their lives depends our future civilization. Are these the children of the poor? Yes, the children of the poor in spirit and in heart -- of all classes, of all races, and of all creeds and colors.
  • First Annual Report Of The Trustees Of (Mass.) State Lunatic Hospital: 1833Other institutions, both in Europe and America, which have exhibited the most remarkable proportion of cures, have discriminated in their admissions, receiving the more hopeful cases only. The inmates at Worcester have been a more select class than were ever before assembled together; but unfortunately for success in regard to cures, it has been a selection of the most deplorable cases in the whole community. Of the one hundred and sixty-four individuals received, considerably more than one half came from jails, almshouses and houses of correction, and about one third of the whole number had suffered confinement for periods varying from ten to thirty-two years.
  • Hindrances To The Welfare And Progress Of State Institutions (1883)"...I feel constrained not only to request that my name be dropped from the list of members of the standing committee which was appointed at the last meeting of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, but to raise my feeble voice against the injustice of classifying the schools for the blind with charitable, penal or reformatory institutions."
  • Hoyt, Dr. Charles S.Some of the most severe physical strains upon Dr. Hoyt were in connection with the exemption of counties from the operation of the Willard Asylum act of 1865, designed to relieve the almshouses of their insane. The Willard Asylum was opened in December, 1869, for the chronic insane and was soon filled to overcrowding from the county almshouses.
  • Indoor And Outdoor Relief (1890)At what precise time these terms came into use-Indoor Relief and Outdoor Relief--we cannot say; but they sprang up in England long ago, and were used to signify relief given to the public poor inside the parish workhouse, as distinguished from relief given to the same class outside the workhouse. Now, the whole universe could surely be divided into two (very unequal) parts; namely, the inside of the parish workhouse (at Barton-Regis, for instance) and all the rest of the world outside of that little edifice. Consequently, so far as the Guardians of the Poor in that parish were concerned, all aid given to their beneficiaries, except within their workhouse, was technically Outdoor Relief. But, then, they might be supporting insane persons in a county asylum, sick persons in one or more hospitals, blind and deaf persons in special schools, and others of the public poor in other places where they would be subject to restraint and discipline, perhaps as careful as that given in the parish workhouse; and the expense of the support of these different classes might be as strictly under the eye of public officers as if it were paid in the workhouse itself.
  • Insanity in the Middle States: 1876Insanity is, in the middle states, as in the other states, increasing disproportionately to the increase of population; and it also seems to be appearing at an earlier age than formerly, which latter fact is probably due to hereditary influences, which have gradually become intensified by violation of physical laws in early life, want of proper training, or too high pressure in education. Next to hereditary predisposition, which is the first and great predisposing cause of insanity in the middle states, as elsewhere, comes the great mental activity and strain upon the nervous system that appertains to the present age and state of civilization. This feverish haste and unrest which characterize us as a people, the undue predominance of the nervous temperament and the want of proper recreation and sleep tend to a rapid decay of the nervous system and to insanity, as a necessary sequence. It is much to be deplored that intemperance is operating more and more, each succeeding year, as a formidable cause in the production of insanity. It is not too much to say that twenty-five per cent of all cases of insanity admitted into the asylums of our middle states is due either proximately or remotely to intemperance which has produced a permanently diseased state of the brain, due to the interference in the nutrition, growth and renovation of the brain tissue.
  • Institute of Family Service, C.O.S.The recent period of social and economic change has affected the programs and functions of many social agencies in the community. The Institute of Family Service has constantly adjusted its program in relation to the total community situation, making such revisions of practice and procedure at various times as seemed indicated. Its relief program, which was greatly enlarged prior to the establishment of the new governmental agencies, has been somewhat reduced, but it is still maintained at a point higher than that of the pre-depression period. Its present relief program has become more clearly defined during the past few years in relation to the new relief agencies in the community as they have assumed a more definite responsibility for meeting general maintenance needs.
  • Kirkbride, Thomas StoryIn 1854, Thomas Story Kirkbride published his widely read book, "On The Construction, Organization and General Arrangements Of Hospitals For The Insane." If you’ve ever done any research on historical insane asylums, you have probably heard the term, “Kirkbride Buildings.” This book or manual, was used as the blueprint on how to correctly construct and arrange hospitals for the mentally ill during the nineteenth century.
  • Life In The Asylum (1855)The Opal was published by the patients at the New York State Insane Asylum in Utica during the 1850s. It contained comments on current events, literary essays and book reviews, poetry, and descriptions of events at the asylum, including the dramatic and musical productions of the patients themselves. This flurry of cultural activities was itself part of moral treatment. Such a therapeutic approach would become unthinkable just a few decades later.
  • Listening to Patients: The Opal as a SourceCompared to the overall patient population, contributors (to the Opal Journal) were well-educated, came from comfortable backgrounds, and lived in the “first ward” of the asylum, which was reserved for non-violent residents and convalescents, and was disproportionately occupied by paying patients. As in many public asylums, the Utica managers promoted the idea that their institutions were not simply glorified poorhouses, and so they allowed well-off patients to occupy more comfortable accommodations than others. Additionally, these first-ward contributors seem generally to have been spared the more onerous kinds of labor that many other patients performed: working on the asylum’s farm or its blacksmith shop, sewing clothes and linens, maintaining the ground, even operating and maintaining the press. Writing for the Opal, then, was a privilege – both in that it was often a reward for good behavior and medical progress, and in that it seems to have been more available to paying patients than to wards of the state.
  • Lowell, Josephine ShawShe was also a founder of the Consumers’ League of New York (1890), the Woman’s Municipal League (1894), and the Civil Service Reform Association of New York State (1895). In addition to Public Relief and Private Charity, Lowell published some 40 reports and addresses on welfare topics. She was also involved in such issues as the labor movement. Lowell’s list of affiliations and accomplishments is lengthy. The highlights of the causes for which she fought during her lifetime are as follows: improved care for the insane; benefits for dependent children and widows; improved reformatories; police matrons for women prisoners; the emancipation of labor; advocacy of settlement houses; civil service reform; consumer’s rights; and anti-imperialism.
  • Massachusetts Report On Public Charities: 1876There is one class of the poor, however, which constantly increases in numbers and in cost, whether the times are good or bad -- the chronic insane. We have a great number of this class in Massachusetts and it is steadily growing larger. We do not find that recent insanity is any more common than formerly, it may be so, but there is no conclusive evidence. But that the chronic insane are more numerous is self evident, and the proper place and means of providing for them are continually under discussion in our State Board of Charities...
  • Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital: New York - 1891It is claimed by the friends of the Middletown State Hospital that medical liberty has been encroached upon by the passage of the State Care act. It is difficult, however, to see wherein this effect has been produced. The free and unrestricted right of the Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital to give homeopathic treatment has not been abridged in any manner, nor, so far as it is known, is it claimed to have been abridged. But while by the passage of the bill under discussion this liberty demanded in the name of homeopathic profession will have been extended even further than as it was held before the State Care act became law, an equal measure of the same liberty is practically denied to all other schools of medicine.
  • Moral TreatmentMoral treatment was a product of the Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century. Before then people with psychiatric conditions, referred to as the insane, were usually treated in inhumane and brutal ways. In France, England, and the United States, people who cared for the insane began to advocate for more kindly treatment. In France Philippe Pinel instituted what he called traitement moral at the Bicêtre hospital in Paris. According to Pinel, insane people did not need to be chained, beaten, or otherwise physically abused. Instead, he called for kindness and patience, along with recreation, walks, and pleasant conversation....
  • New York State Care System For The Insane Completed: 1896Now the Manhattan State Hospital act is a law of the State. This will bring the dependent insane of the whole State, now numbering 18,898, under one uniform, enlightened, and effective system of care and maintenance. For this gratifying result much credit is due to the State Charities Aid Association and the Commission on Lunacy, which worked persistently and zealously together for years, and the completion of the system will redound to the honor of the State of New-York.
  • New York State Charities Aid Association: 1873“The objects of our work are of a twofold nature. 1. To promote an active public interest in the New York State Institutions of Public Charities, with a view to the physical, mental and moral improvement of their pauper inmates. 2. To make the present pauper system more efficient, and to bring about such reforms in it as may be in accordance with the most enlightened views of Christianity, Science and Philanthropy....
  • New York State's County Poor Houses: 1864"...The investigation shows gross want of provision for the common necessities of physical health and comfort, in a large majority of the poor houses where pauper lunatics are kept. Cleanliness and ablution are not enforced, indeed, very few of the institutions have even the conveniences for bathing, and many of the buildings are supplied inadequately with water. In a few instances the insane are not washed at all, and their persons besmeared with their own excrements, are unapproachably filthy, disgusting and repulsive. In some violent cases the clothing is torn and strewed about the apartments, and the lunatics continue to exist in wretched nakedness, having no clothing, and sleeping upon straw, wet and filthy with excrements, and unchanged for several days...."
  • One Means Of Preventing Pauperism (1879)These women and their children, and hundreds more like them, costing the hard-working inhabitants of the State annually thousands of dollars for their maintenance, corrupting those who are thrown into companionship with them, and sowing disease and death among the people, are the direct outcome of our system. The community itself is responsible for the existence of such miserable, wrecked specimens of humanity. These mothers are women who began life as their own children have begun it, inheriting strong passions and weak wills, born and bred in a poorhouse, taught to be wicked before they could speak plain, all the strong evil in their nature strengthened by their surroundings and the weak good crushed and trampled out of life.
  • Our New York State Charities: 1873“The State Board of Charities, of which Dr. Charles Hoyt is the Secretary, and Prof. Theodore W. Dwight the President, has just issued its fifth annual report. The duty of this Board is to inspect the public charities of the State, and make such recommendations to the Legislature as they deem best on their management. Few who have not studied the subject can have an idea of how broad is the field of work of our charities receiving aid from the State. Their property interest alone is enormous, amounting during the past year to $20,450,272 of real estate, and $3,727,602 of personal property. The aid they received from the State Treasury reached the sum of $1,635,558, and from municipalities the large amount of $3,341,762, while their total annual receipts were $7,832,902, and their expenditure $7,259,568. The whole number of persons in these institutions during the year was 92,741; the number temporarily relieved, 98,368; the number receiving outside free medical and surgical aid, 294,364, and the number under gratuitous educational training, 70,339.
  • Over The Hill To The Poor-House (1872)A Poem Written in 1897Over the hill to the poor-house I'm trudgin' my weary way -- I, a woman of seventy, and only a trifle gray -- I, who am smart an' chipper, for all the years I've told, As many another woman that's only half as old.
  • Poor House Conditions: Albany County, New York - 1864In 1824 the New York State legislature enacted the "County Poorhouse Act," a measure that called for one or more poorhouses to be built or established in each county. Thenceforth, all recipients of public assistance were to be sent to that institution. All expenses for building and maintaining the poorhouse(s) and supporting its inmates were to be defrayed by the county out of tax funds. The Act also created a new body of relief officials: County Superintendents of the Poor.
  • Poor Relief and the AlmshouseGradually American reformers hoped to move those they considered the “undeserving poor” into almshouses or poorhouses, if they gave them any help at all. Aid for those who received help at home was called “outdoor relief,” as you did not have to give up your home and independence to move into an institution, which was called “indoor relief.” Settlement was extremely hard for poor people to achieve. Particularly after the great immigration of the mid-nineteenth century, many states raised the number of years a person had to live and pay taxes in one town to as high as seven years to qualify for residence. Women, who were not seen as citizens, could gain settlement only if their husbands or fathers had this record of settlement. Of course, no recent immigrant could achieve such settlement, so they were often denied aid by the Overseers of the Poor, and if they got aid at all, it would be in a poorhouse.
  • Schuyler, Louisa LeeTo say that Louisa Lee Schuyler was a humanitarian and a pioneer in social work would be an understatement. Miss Schuyler was the driving force in the movement to reform the poor house system in New York State. She was born into a life of wealth and privilege on October 26, 1837, the daughter of George Lee and Eliza (Hamilton) Schuyler; and great-granddaughter of General Phillip Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton. She founded The State Charities Aid Association on May 11, 1872, which was based in New York City and consisted of volunteer members; men and women, from all walks of life.
  • State Board of Charities of New York: Reports 1878-1884In the early years of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, representatives of the states in attendance were invited to share reports on their experiences, problem areas and achievement in connection with the charities and institutions in their respective states. Here are reports from the New York representative at the conferences held from 1978 to 1884.
  • State Boards Of Charities: A Report Of The Committee - 1889"...It is sufficient to say in this connection that a board of charities is a balance-wheel to steady the motion of the charitable machinery of the State. It is its office to promote the wise founding and the safe running of public charities, to correct and prevent abuses, to check extravagance, to promote economy, and to rebuke niggardliness."
  • State Care of the Insane: New York 1901Prior to 1843, when the first considerable effort to properly care for the insane by the opening of the New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica was made, little had been done to alleviate the condition of the insane in New York State. It was the almost universal practice, so far as public care was provided, to place them in jails and poor houses. Toward the end of the first quarter of the last century the Hospital of the City of New York made a commendable beginning by the establishment of the institution which is now known as Bloomingdale, located at White Plains. For many years, however, the number which could be cared for was limited and the accommodations were inadequate.... During the next quarter of the century, through the efforts of various philanthropy and charity only - Miss Dorothea L. Dix being the most notable, the subject began to receive wider consideration.
  • Syracuse State Institution For Feeble-Minded Children: (1916)The first attempt in this country to found a public institution for the feeble-minded was made in New York State in the year 1846 through legislation introduced by Frederick F. Backus, of Rochester. The measure, however, was not successful until 1851, when the institution was established in Albany on an experimental basis. The State of New York thus became the first one in the United States to make separate and special provision for the feeble-minded.
  • Technical Training And Industrial Employment Of The Blind In The United States (1908)As advocates for blind people debated how best to solve the problem of unemployment among blind people, they realized that state schools for the blind failed blind people in two ways. First, schools for the blind did not teach their graduates the necessary skills for supporting themselves in a rapidly changing economy. Second, schools did not serve the majority of blind people.Most blind people became blind as adults, but most schools barred adults from attending. Sheltered workshops could employ only a small fraction of blind adults, leaving most without any recourses other than relying on relatives or entering a poorhouse.
  • Tewksbury Almshouse InvestigationAs can be seen in this excerpt from the Lowell Weekly Sun’s coverage of the Tewksbury investigation, people with disabilities made up a significant proportion of the population of poorhouses. By the 1860s, many states had established institutions to educate deaf, blind, and cognitively disabled children and people deemed temporarily insane. People with other impairments—and especially disabled adults—whose families could not support them had no recourse other than the poorhouse. Moreover, conditions within almshouses often proved disabling or even deadly.
  • The Boarding System For Neglected Children (1894)The Children's Aid Society of Pennsylvania exists chiefly to take care of that other kind of child. Whenever we hear of a child that nobody wants, that every institution closes its doors against, that is unlovable, incorrigible, full of bad habits, that is sickly, diseased, nervous, with sore eyes and sore head, —a poor, maimed, halting thing that the world shoves out of sight,-we say, " This is a case for the Children's Aid Society, for we know how to take care of it." This is the kind of child that most needs family life, that is most injured by the institution. The longer it remains in the institution, the less fitted is it to enter the family.
  • The Duty Of The States Toward Their Insane Poor: 1874"...Recognizing the fact that the sentiment of a community conforms itself to its written statutes, it is of the first importance that the State, in its sovereign capacity, should clearly define the legal status of an insane dependent in accordance with the principles we have stated. It should not be discretionary with a public officer, before whom a case is presented for action, to send an insane person to an asylum, or to an almshouse and jail. With such formalities as may be deemed requisite, there should be no discretion in the case; but the public officer should, in unmistakable language, be required by the statute to order the transfer of the insane dependent to a public asylum established and managed upon accepted and approved principles..."
  • The Management Of Almshouses In New EnglandTHE poorhouses of New England are generally called almshouses, and have been since their first establishment, more than two centuries ago; using the old English name which in England is now given to private charitable establishments, while what in New England is called an almshouse is in the mother country termed a workhouse. Like the English "workhouse," our "almshouses" were originally parish establishments, the New England town and parish having formerly been the same jurisdiction, although there may now be fifty parishes in a single large town like Boston.
  • The Moral Treatment of the Insane: 1847That some cases of insanity require medical treatment we believe, but we also believe that a large majority of the patients in Lunatic Asylums do not. There is much analogy between many of the patients found in all such institutions, and the passionate, mischievous, and what are called bad boys in a school, and there is about as much propriety in following the example of Mrs. Squeers, and physicing and medicating the latter as the former, in order to cure them or to change their propensities. Rational hopes for the improvement of either, should we believe, be founded on moral management alone.
  • The Organization of Municipal Charities and Corrections - 1916The organization of municipal charities and corrections should be carried out in line with the principles of efficiency. The cities' activities for social welfare should all of them be administered by a permanent staff of well qualified experts. This means a fair and practical merit system for the civil service. There is an increasing tendency to recognize the professional character of social work and to admit that training and experience are necessary, and this will receive increasing recognition on the part of all people who appoint workers to social service positions, whether they are civil service boards or not. One difficulty at the present time is that there is not an adequate number of qualified people seeking these positions or of people qualified to hold them if they got them. There must be increased training for public service. The difficulties connected with establishing the civil service of cities on a higher plane are not insurmountable and nobody is justified in dismissing this problem as a hopeless one. In fact, it is the special duty of social workers to see that the public service is improved and elevated in every possible way.
  • The Organization, Powers, And Duties of State Boards of Charity (1892)In pursuing her benevolent work Miss Knapp visited the Albany Almshouse, and was shocked at the state of things she found there. It was the old story,-- utter indifference to sanitary laws, promiscuous association of the young and old of both sexes, disregard of the rules of common decency, brutal treatment, dirt, cold, foul air, putrid meat, insufficient clothing, etc. Miss Elizabeth Knapp remonstrated earnestly with the keeper against these abuses. He responded by shutting the door in her face and forbidding her ever to enter the place again. She appealed for aid to her friend, Miss Anna Parker, an accomplished young lady and a favorite of Albany society. Miss Parker carried the complaint to a leading magistrate of the city, and implored his interposition. To her astonishment and chagrin, instead of taking some considerate action in the matter, he rebuked her for interfering with county officials and for listening to telltale busybodies. He directly intimated that a young lady of wealth, occupying a high social position, could better employ her time than by meddling with the administration of public relief to paupers. In spite of every discouragement, Miss Knapp continued firm in her determination to protect the poor creatures at the almshouse; and, as she could gain admission there in no other way, she formed the heroic resolution of entering the place as a pauper, which she soon did under commitment obtained on her own application. A sharp controversy followed. Miss Knapp was upheld by Miss Parker, who enlisted other friends in the cause; and a reformation was soon begun at the county-house, which was followed, at the next election, by the choice of officials favorable to reform.
  • The Removal of Children From Almshouses (1894)As receptacles for adult paupers, the committee do not hesitate to record their deliberate opinion that the great mass of the poorhouses that they have inspected are most disgraceful memorials of the public charity. Common domestic animals are usually more humanely provided for than the paupers in these institutions. The evidence taken by the committee exhibits such a record of filth, nakedness, licentiousness, general bad morals, and disregard of religion and the most common religious observances, as well as of gross neglect of the most ordinary comforts and decencies of life as, if published in detail, would disgrace the State and shock humanity.
  • The Removal of Children From Almshouses in The State of New York (1894)A group of boys were found in the wash-house, intermingled with the inmates, and around the cauldrons where the dirty clothes were boiling. Here was an insane woman raving and uttering wild gibberings; a half crazy man was sardonically grinning; and an overgrown idiotic boy was torturing one of the little boys, while securely holding him, by thrusting splinters under his finger-nails. The cries of the little one seemed to delight his tormentor as well as some of the older inmates who were looking on. The upper apartment of this dilapidated building was used for a sleeping-room. An inmate was scrubbing the floor, which was so worn that water came through the cracks in continuous droppings upon the heads of the little ones below, who did not seem to regard it as a serious annoyance....The third group was in a back building, called the Insane Department. They were the most promising children of all, and yet the place was made almost intolerable by the groaning and sighings of one of the poor insane creatures. She was a hideous-looking object, and most of the time she was in an excited state. The children were not sent to school, nor was a school maintained upon the premises.
  • The Treatment of the Insane: 1876In the treatment of the insane formerly very little account was made of work or exercise, and even at the present day, it is considered by many persons of small consequence. Once it was thought that diseases could be cured by medicine alone, but, the better we understand the laws of the human system and the causes of disease, the less dependence we find upon medicine, but the greater upon the necessity of a strict observance of the laws of nature. Most emphatically is this true, in diseases of long standing, involving the nervous system and mental soundness. Accordingly we find in all asylums for the insane, that where wholesome exercise of body and mind has been most systematically and extensively introduced in these institutions, there has been found the most successful treatment of the insane, the best health, the least mortality, and the most recoveries. Of course, the measure of success varies, and is exhibited in different ways.
  • The Willard Asylum for the Insane: Steward's Report 1900The first report of the Trustees dated February 18, 1868, states that the sum of $1,000 had been received from the State Controller. Of this, $916.66 had been expended in preparing the ground, procuring the seed and sewing sixty acres of wheat. They hoped for a good crop. By the time the Asylum opened, there were 475 acres under cultivation. A Steward had been appointed and a Matron. The former was an ancient title for one who managed a feudal estate. His duties at Willard were many and important
  • Three Years In A Mad House (1851)"...I refused peremtorily to suffer this treatment; I refused to take the medicine. The attendant insisted that I should, and harsh words followed. I told him the medicine was destroying me and I would not take it. He then commanded me in a tone of authority, to take the medicine. I did take it. I took it from his hand and dashed it out of the window! In a moment this stalwart, muscular man struck me a violent blow upon my head which either knocked me down, or he instantly seized me and crushed me to the floor. I struggled, when he siezed me by the throat and choked me. I began to have fear that he had my death in view, and would murder me upon the spot. I begged for my life, when he harshly exclaimed. "I will learn you not to throw away your medicine when I give it to you!" I begged for mercy, and promised if my life was spared to take anything he might give me...."
  • Willard, Sylvester D.The he most important public enterprise in which Dr. Willard engaged was the establishment of an institution for the relief of the chronic insane. His mind had been directed to this subject for a considerable time, and he had collected a vast amount of information bearing upon it, which he had embodied in a luminous and elaborate report. That report had met with a most respectful attention from the Legislature, and everything indicated the speedy carrying out of the plan which he had proposed, when Dr. Willard found that his days of activity on earth were numbered. The Willard Asylum for the Insane, so named as a memorial of him, has been established since his decease.