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Poor Relief and the Almshouse

Written by Dr. David Wagner, University of Southern Maine. “Poorhouses (almshouses were simply the same thing with the old English word “alms” for charity used) started out rather small, sometimes in private homes, and at first were scattered in America. But in the 1820s, when America ceased being a completely agricultural society and began to receive more immigration, reformers such as Josiah Quincy in Massachusetts and John Yates in New York led a drive to build almshouses or poorhouses in every town and city. Their purposes were deeply steeped in a desire to not only save money but also to deter the ‘undeserving poor.””

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Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital: New York – 1891

This is a lengthy “Letter to the Editor” of The New York Times written by “Index Medicus,” a medical society and journal. If New York State was transferring patients out of their district to another state hospital, why couldn’t the State pay for the transportation of patients whose family and friends wanted them to receive homeopathic medical care as opposed to allopathic medical care?

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Our New York State Charities: 1873

“At present these petty criminals spend their time in complete idleness in the county jails, and go out worse than they entered. To improve this class there should be a separate department in the State work-houses proposed, and the criminal statutes should be changed, so that the magistrates could commit them to these, and for longer terms than is at present the custom.”

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Willard Asylum for the Insane: Steward’s Report 1900

Steward’s Report by Captain Morris J. Gilbert, 1900. According to Dr. Robert E. Doran, Jr., author of “History Of The Willard Asylum For The Insane And The Willard State Hospital,” “…he was totally responsible for all purchasing as well as overseeing the farm and maintenance work.”

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State Board of Charities of New York: Reports 1878-1884

n 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. Below are reports from the New York representative at the conferences held from 1978 to 1884.

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Insanity in the Middle States: 1876

This entry is from the Proceedings of the third Conference of Charities held at Saratoga, New York, September 6, 1876. by Mr. Sanborn. “Insanity is, in the middle states, as in the other states, increasing disproportionately to the increase of population…”

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Treatment of the Insane: 1876

The “Preface” is from the Proceedings for the third Conference of Charities held at Saratoga, New York, September 6, 1876. It is followed by a paper titled “The Treatment of the Insane” delivered paper by Dr. Nathan Allen, of Lowell, Mass.

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New York State Charities Aid Association: 1873

The following First Annual Report of the State Charities Aid Association was addressed to The Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities of the State of New York in 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.”

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