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In the depth of the Great Depression, the March 1933 issue of Survey Midmonthly journal carried the first in a series of columns that would continue for a decade. The subject of the columns — Amelia Bailey — “Miss Bailey” to most people — was a 1930s-style virtual-reality public relief supervisor. It is interesting to note that Miss Bailey existed on paper only; she was created at the typewriter of Gertrude Springer, an associate editor at the Survey magazine in New York City.
This copy of Survey Midmonthly may also be read through the Internet Archive.
- But the Children Are Earning: 1935Miss Bailey Says... We have to park our principles sometimes in the face of the realities of family situations where the only cash is what children earn. What can a worker do, for instance, about:A ten-year-old boy who peddles pencils downtown at night to get money for movies, roller-skates and hot dogs?A family that bare-facedly lies about the ages of children too young to work but whose earnings are desperately needed?A boy of seventeen, oldest of a turbulent flock who gets his first job, and a pretty good one, and leaves home to live on his own?A docile girl of eighteen, oldest of six and only one working, who gives her father, for family purposes, every penny of her meager weekly wage??
- Miss Bailey SaysIn the depth of the Great Depression, the March 1933 issue of Survey Midmonthly journal carried the first in a series of columns that would continue for a decade. The subject of the columns — Amelia Bailey — "Miss Bailey" to most people — was a 1930s-style virtual-reality public relief supervisor.
- Miss Bailey Says...#1There is perhaps no point in the whole business of relief about which the public is so sensitive as in the matter of car-ownership. The question comes up even in the most car-conscious communities. Stories of abuses multiply at dinner and bridge tables and sooner or later magnify into newspaper headlines. More than once they have occasioned formal investigations of relief agencies and sweeping "reforms."
- Miss Bailey Says...#10 What can the relief worker do when:• Practically every relief family in a foreign-speaking neighborhood finds the price of a ton of grapes for its year’s supply of wine?• A family steadfastly refuses to give any information about a relative who regularly pays their rent and sends them occasional boxes of luxurious clothes?• The family of five which is suddenly augmented by three half-grown children who, it is calmly explained, have been visiting their “auntie,” hitherto unheard of?
- Miss Bailey Says...#2What shall the untrained investigator do when she observes in homes such situations as:Bootlegging? Deserted wife with children on relief, living in sin with a lodger? Father periodically drunk and (a) cheerful, (b) abusive to children? Father demanding shotgun marriage for reluctant daughter?
- Miss Bailey Says...#3What shall the untrained relief investigator do when she observes in homes such situations as:The family on relief that she "catches" filing into the movie theater? The girl in the family who blossoms out with a new permanent wave? The family that, at the morning call, was in rags and despair, and is all dressed up and going to a party when she returns at night with a food order? The family that supports a man‑sized dog?
- Miss Bailey Says...#4What about relief investigators who, when visiting families:Smoke if they feel like it Holler upstairs Pump the children and the neighbors Look under the bed for extra shoes and into the cupboard for food?
- Miss Bailey Says...#5 What about relief investigators who, in visiting families: • Find a public‑health nurse also on the job? • Opine that codliver oil is an old wives' tale? • Predict the goryness of approaching tonsillectomies? • Report prenatal patients when the stork is on the wing?
- Miss Bailey Says...#6What can an unskilled home visitor do when she finds that in families where relief is as adequate as conditions permit: • Children, under threat of parental whipping, are coming to the office to make special pleas? • Children and grown‑ups too are making a practice of begging? • Children are being permitted, even sent, to hang around restaurants and explore garbage‑cans?
- Miss Bailey Says...#7 What should relief workers do when:What should relief workers do when: • A waiting client suddenly throws a paper‑weight across the office and begins to scream • A client disrupts the waiting‑room with loud threats of what he proposes to do to the interviewer? • A delegation with banners and baby‑carriages demonstrates noisily under the office windows? • A large and voluble committee, with police hovering in the background, demands a hearing for its protest against the relief system?
- Miss Bailey Says...#8 Families with bank accounts, families with cars, families never before touched by social agencies, now figure large in the “relief population” of these United States. How the new problems they bring, rarely encountered by case workers of a few years ago, are being treated, how workers without extensive training are being prepapred to meet situations calling for quick and discriminating judgment, are the subjects of a series of Survey articles, of which this is the eighth, drawn from day-to-day experience in busy relief offices.
- Miss Bailey Says...#9What shall the home visitor do about:• The unemployed son of the house who brings home an unemployed bride? What shall the home visitor do about: • The girl who holds out her slender earnings from the family budget and takes title to a cheap fur coat the day the family is dispossessed? • The able-bodied youth who refused to go to a refestation camp and who has since kept himself in cigarettes by bartering the tidbits of the family grocery order? • The mother who persistently and successfully connives to swap essentials of the food order for cream to satisfy the “weak stummick” of her 200-pound son? • The mother who supports her stalwart eldest in his refusal to take a job that requires him to get up at six o’clock in the morning?
- Springer, Gertrude"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.”