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Polio

Polio is caused by a virus; it affects the body by attacking the central nervous system, specifically those neurons essential for muscle activity. The first U.S. polio epidemic swept across the country in 1916, and then again in the late 1940s and 1950s.

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Organization of Municipal Charities and Corrections (1916)

Paper presented by L. A. Halbert, General Superintendent, Board of Public Welfare of Kansas City, Missouri
at the National Conference Of Charities And Correction Held In Indianapolis, 1916. “If we were able to ascertain the activities of all incorporated towns and cities, it would show a tremendous volume of activity and an expenditure of many millions of dollars.”

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Public Assistance–Values and Lacks

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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Case Work in the Administration of Public Relief: 1935

In your citation from the Mayor’s Committee on Unemployment Relief the statement occurs – “The one million men and women who are unemployed today in New York City as a result of the depression cannot be regarded as maladjusted individuals in need of case work.” This is another version of the old “worthy” and “unworthy” concept, which holds that ordinary poor are to be regarded as just maladjusted people who may be subjected to an unpleasant discipline called case work; but the new or worthy poor, or the poor “through no fault of their own” must be protected against this case work.

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A Discussion of Public Relief: 1940

This report was prepared by Anna Kempshall, Director of Family Service, and most likely to have been presented to the Board of Directors of the Community Service Society November 4, 1940. The subject of relief was very timely because a number of the New Deal programs enacted in 1935 created the nation’s first universal social safety net that included federal and state funding for financial grants to poor individuals and families.

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Social Responsibility for Individual Welfare

When sometimes I hear it said that in my husband’s time we started something dreadful, something which they called “creeping socialism,” I wonder whether instead we didn’t really face the fact that a democracy must meet the needs of its people, and whether what we did was not actually to save democracy, to save free enterprise, to keep for ourselves as much freedom as we possibly could. Had we not met the needs of the people, we might have waked up and found ourselves not just in creeping socialism, but perhaps going actually to the far extremes of either fascism or communism, because we could not find a way to meet the needs of the people.

As I have been around the world it has seemed to me that we in this country, when we talk of capitalism or free enterprise, should explain what we mean, because there are many areas of the world in which it is not at all understood what we actually mean when we talk of our own capitalism, of our own development in the past thirty years or forty years, let us say.

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Flint, MI, November 30, 1934, A Report to Harry Hopkins

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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Report from Flint, Michigan, November 30, 1934

What to me was of outstanding interest here is the way the unemployed are behaving about relief. The workers on the whole are “hard babies,” the living conditions are bad, the struggle for existence has been terrible even before the depression, but the place is to a certain extent a yardstick of behavior in depressed, deflated conditions….I spent a day visiting homes with investigators. They tell me that relief is actually raising standards in some of these shack lives. One of the leading doctors told me that medical care in the City was now better than it had ever been before. In the homes that I visited less than 25 per cent were “unemployables.” All, except a very few, asked for clothing or other articles such as a new stove, that neighbors had received from relief. I certainly had a feeling that few would choose to stay on relief but there was little feeling that it was a painful process to ask for relief.

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Report, Flint, Michigan, November 30, 1934

As one investigator said, “The workers in Detroit used to run up debts between employment,–run a rent up for several months, owe a grocery bill for several months and borrow on the furniture. They don’t do that any more. When their money is exhausted they come to relief.” While several men said to me with evident satisfaction that they had no debts, others pointed out that the grocers and landlords no longer feeling so optimistic about the economic possibilities of their debtors will not extend credit as they used to.

An old Ford worker said, “I used to be able to pick up odd jobs such as washing cars. My wife did, too, then. We used to worry along.” A Chevrolet man said “Each year my savings grew lean and less until now I am at rock bottom.” These men are both applying for relief for the first time this Fall. They expect to get jobs by the first of the year if not before.

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You Can’t Pauperize Children

First let us review the past. Before the Social Security Act was passed, most of the states had what was called Mothers’ Aid laws or Widows’ Pensions. The effect of the Social Security Act was that the legislatures revised and broadened their laws because they had to comply with the more liberal provisions of the Social Security Act.
The difference between the old laws for assistance to dependent children and the Social Security law is that in order to get the money, the assistance must be made statewide. In the past, the assistance was not statewide, and one city or county would give assistance here and there.

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