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The Government Hospital for the Insane established (later became St. Elizabeth’s Hospital of Washington, D.C.)
The first municipal pension fund established, providing disability and death benefits for New York City police.
Female garment and textile workers in New York go on strike due to low wages, long working hours, inadequate pay, inhumane working conditions and the lack of the right to vote.
The Columbia Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind is founded (later became Gallaudet College).
Dred Scott decision by Supreme Court denies any possibility of citizenship for African Americans, imperils fugitive slaves, and sets back cause of abolition.
The first YWCA Association in the U.S., the Ladies Christian Association, is formed in New York City. In 1860 The first boarding house for female students, teachers and factory workers opened in New York, N.Y. The name “YWCA” was first used in Boston, Mass in 1866.
John Brown’s unsuccessful raid at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia fails to incite slave rebellion heightens tension over slavery.
The United States Census reports 849,000 persons 65 and over (2.7% of the United States population).
The Dashaway Club is founded in Harford, CT. It marks the beginning of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
On December 20, the state of South Carolina secedes from the Union after Abraham Lincoln’s election as president. Ten other states seceded by May 1861. In April, Confederate forces fired on U.S. troops at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, an act President Lincoln called an “insurrection” in the South, thus beginning the Civil War.
In February, the seceding states established the government of the Confederate States of America and created a constitution endorsing slavery but prohibiting slave trade.
In Ohio, passage of the first state law mandating the removal of children from county poorhouses.
Creation of the U.S. Sanitary Commission.
On September 22, President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, granting freedom to slaves in areas of the South in active rebellion beginning on January 1, 1863.
President Abraham Lincoln appoints a chemist, Charles M. Wetherill, to serve in the new Department of Agriculture. This was the beginning of the Bureau of Chemistry, forerunner to the Food and Drug Administration.
New York Catholic Protectory established. It became the largest single institution for children in the U.S.
The Massachusetts Board of State Charities is created in order to investigate and supervise its alms houses, prisons and mental institutions.
Kate Mullany founds the all-female Collar Laundry Union—the first woman’s labor union in the United States
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution is approved, abolishing slavery in the U.S.
The Freedmen’s Bureau (Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands) is founded as a joint effort of the federal government with private and philanthropic organizations. The bureau provides food, clothing and shelter for freed enslaved persons (freedmen) and for refugees; administers justice to protect the rights of Black men; protects freedmen and refugees from physical violence; and provides education.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution is adopted. It defines a citizen as anyone born in the U.S. (except Native Americans) or naturalized, thereby extending all rights of citizenship to African Americans.
Creation of the nation’s first municipal board of health in New York City.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866, which broadly defined and legally codified citizenship and equal protection under law without regard to race or color, is passed. The law is overturned in 1883.
Federal Department of Education is established.
The first major industrial medical care prepayment program, the hospital department of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, is organized in Sacramento, California.
The first State Board of Health in the United States is formed in Massachusetts.
Appointment of the first Supervising Surgeon (later called Surgeon General) for the Marine Hospital Service, which had been organized the prior year. For more information go to U.S. Public Health Service.
The American Public Health Association is founded by Dr. Stephen Smith, a physician, attorney and commissioner of New York City’s Metropolitan Health Board. During its early years this organization was composed largely of administrative health officers who were concerned with public health in cities, States, and with the responsibilities of the Federal Government in this field.
The Freedmen’s Bureau is abolished.
Charles Loring Brace, founder of the New York Children’s Aid Society, publishes The Dangerous Classes of New York and Twenty Years Work Among Them, a summary of his observations about children living on the streets of New York City (colloquially known as “street rats”) .
Representatives of the State Boards of Charity of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Wisconsin meet and organize a Conference of Boards of Public Charities. The name changed to National Conference of Charities and Corrections in 1879 and later to the National Conference on Social Work.
The first private pension plan in American industry is adopted by American Express. It provided benefits for employees 60 years of age or over who had 20 years service with the company and were incapacitated for further performance of duty.
The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) is the first child protective agency in the world.
America’s first Charity Organization Society is established in Buffalo, NY.
The National Quarantine Act is passed, beginning the transfer of quarantine functions from the states to the federal Marine Hospital Service, forerunner of the U.S. Public Health Service.
The Salvation Army is founded in London by Reverend William Booth.
Clara Barton organizes the American Red Cross.
The first national convention of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) passes a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment.
The first major employee-sponsored mutual benefit association is established by the Northern Pacific Railway Beneficial Association which developed a program of complete medical care and other benefits financed by employer-employee payments.
Led by Samuel Gompers, the New York labor movement successfully sponsors legislation prohibiting cigar making in tenements where thousands of young children work in the trade.
Supreme Court overturns portions of the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 1875 in a case known collectively as The Civil Rights Cases. The court ruled rules that 14th Amendment does not apply to privately owned facilities, including hotels, restaurants, and railroads, leading to segregated “Jim Crow” laws, especially in the South.
The federal government opens a one-room laboratory on Staten Island for research on disease, thereby planting the seed that would grow into the National Institutes of Health, a part of the U.S. Public Health Service.
Jacob Riis’s classic “How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York” is published. A documentary and photographic account of housing conditions in the New York City slums, it helps initiate the public housing movement.
1891 Immigration legislation is passed, assigning the Marine Hospital Service the responsibility for medical examination of arriving immigrants.
The Democratic Party adopts a platform plank based on union recommendations to ban factory employment for children under 15 years of age.
Colorado becomes the first state to adopt an amendment giving women the right to vote.
Jacob S. Coxey starts his “Army” of jobless men on a march to Washington D.C.
The Pullman Railway Strike of 1894 was the first national strike in United States history. Before coming to an end, it involved over 150,000 persons and twenty-seven states and territories and would paralyze the nations railway system. The entire rail labor force of the nation would walk away from their jobs.
The first statutory retirement system for teachers is adopted in New York City.
A school health program is inaugurated in Boston as a means of controlling communicable diseases.
Publication of Amos Warner’s American Charities.
The Alumni Association of Hunter College opens a free kindergarten for indigent immigrants and the program evolved into Lenox Hill Neighb0rhood House.
Union Settlement is established in New York City by the Alumnae Club of Union Theological Seminary.
American Purity Alliance, a group dedicated to the “repression of vice,” is organized.
The first statewide legislation for teachers’ pensions is enacted in New Jersey.
The National Association of Colored Women is formed.
Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company becomes the first American life insurance organization to provide disability benefits.
The first State law to provide medical and surgical aid for crippled children is enacted by Minnesota.
Christina Isobel MacColl and Sarah Carson opened Christodora Settlement House in the Lower East Side of New York.
With assistance from the Society for Ethical Culture, the Down Town Ethical Society is established in New York City. The name was changed to Madison House and later merged with Hamilton Settlement House opened in 1902. Today, the organization is known as Hamilton Madison House.
The first State law in the USA providing pensions for the blind is enacted in Ohio.
Members of the Young Men’s Christian Association of the University of Pennsylvania organized University Settlement House in Philadelphia.
The New York Charity Organization Society establishes the first Summer School in Philanthropic Work at 105 East 22nd Street in New York. Twenty-five men and women attended the first classes. The Summer School continued as the primary training source until 1904. That year, it expanded the coursework as the first full-time course of graduate study at the newly renamed New York School of Philanthropy.
The National Consumers League is chartered in 1899 by two of America’s leading social reformers Jane Addams and Josephine Lowell. These two women were pioneers in achieving many social reforms in communities and workplaces across the country. Under the direction of its first general secretary, Florence Kelley, the National Consumer’s league exposed child labor and other scandalous working conditions.
Creation of the nation’s first juvenile court in Chicago, Illinois.
How to Cite this Article (APA Format): Social welfare developments, 1851-1900. (2011). Retrieved [date accessed] from /events/1851-1900/.