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Forms Created to Combat “Social Evils”

Permits Developed Circa 1910 by the Kansas City Department of Public Welfare to Assist in Controlling “Social Evils”

Dance Halls, Carnivals, Pool Halls & Theaters

On April 14, 1910, Kansas City, Missouri authorized the creation of the nation’s first Board of Public Welfare.  Leroy Allen Halbert was selected as the first Superintendent.  He later wrote: “…I assisted in drafting the plans for the Kansas City Department of Public Welfare, which was established by the expansion of the functions of the Board of Paroles and Pardons. I then became General Superintendent of the Department of Public Welfare, which was the first organization using that name in the country.

In a presentation at the Forty-Fifth Annual Session of the National Conference of Social Work in 1918, Mr. Halbert described some of the responsibilities and accomplishments of this new organization.  Among them was the department’s efforts to raise the moral standards of activities deemed “Social Evils.”  He said:  “…During the first year of the board, an ordinance was passed requiring all dance halls to have a permit signed by the president of the Board of Public Welfare before they could operate and, under this general supervision, the board established a thorough system of inspection and supervision over all public dances. Soon followed an ordinance extending this supervision to skating rinks. A couple of years later, the censorship of all motion picture films exhibited in the city was established and the same superintendent employed by the board to supervise dances and skating rinks was chosen censor and now every film exhibited in Kansas City is run in the board’s projection room before it is shown in Kansas City. Only a few months ago, an ordinance was passed requiring all pool halls to have a permit from the board before they can operate and prohibiting them all gambling and forbidding the halls to permit minors to frequent them and the supervision of these is under the same department. Under this ordinance, over 115 pool halls have been closed for gambling or other violations of the law and these constitute more than half of all the pool halls in the city. All this supervision of the commercial amusements is to raise their moral tone….”

Below are copies of the original documents created by the Kansas City Board of Public Welfare during the first several years of its existence: Permits for a Dance Hall — Carnival — Pool HallTheater

PUBLIC DANCE HALL PERMIT,

and stipulated conditions upon which same is granted.

*****

This certifies that ___________________________ is granted a permit to conduct (a public dance or public dances in ________________ either date of single dance, or limited time asked for, or for _______________________________, ) and that further the said __________________________ accepts and agrees to the following stipulated conditions on which this permit is granted and the revoking of this permit.

1st.       The room shall be clean and well ventilated.

2nd.      The room shall be kept well lighted at all times during the dance, and the so called moonlight dances shall not be permitted.

3rd.       There shall be no boisterousness permitted, nor the use of vulgar or unbecoming language.

4th.       No one whose breath or action indicates the use of intoxicating liquors shall be permitted in the room.

5th.       Youth, boys or girls, under the age of eighteen shall no be permitted to the room unattended by a parent.

6th.       The manager shall be responsible to see that no improprieties are indulged in either on the floor during the dance, or in or account the hall during the dance.  He is also responsible to see that due propriety is sustained on the floor, that there shall be no hugging or bodily contact between dancers on the floor.

7th.       The dance shall close not later than 12 o’clock midnight, unless a special permit is granted for some special purpose or occasion.

8th.       Any member or officer of the Board shall at any time be admitted to the hall or room in which the dance is being held, or the Board may appoint special investigators who shall be admitted and recognized as representing the Board.

The above stipulated conditions have been read and agreed to by me.

 

Signed __________________________ Manager

 

_______________________________ President

 

_______________________________Secretary

 

City Board of Public Welfare

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INDIVIDUAL SHOW TROUPE or CARNIVAL PERMIT

and stipulated conditions upon which same is granted.

******

This certifies that ___________________________ Manager of  (Name of show or carnival) is granted to conduct a _______________________________________________ for __________ days

(date), located at __________________________, and that the said ____________________ accepts and agrees to the following stipulated conditons on which this permit is granted, and that upon the

violation for the same, the _________________________________________ shall forfeit the financial receipts for the performance in which such violation was committed.

 

1st.       There shall be no boisterousness, vulgar or unbecoming language used at any time by any one in the employ of said show or carnival.

2nd.      There shall be nothing lewd, immoral, or suggestive either in pun, work, action or costume, during the performance.

3rd.       The management shall be held responsible to see that all persons in any way connected with said show or carnival are in their proper quarters when the evening performance is over, and that they conduct themselves with proper decorum at all times while in the city.

 

The above stipulated conditions have been read and agreed to by me.

 

Signed:

_____________________________

Manager

 

_____________________________

President

 

_____________________________

Secretary

 

City Board of Public Welfare

****************************

POOL HALL PERMIT

and stipulated conditions upon which same is granted.

 

This certifies that ________________________________________ is granted a permit to conduct a pool hall _______________(Name)_____________ located at

________________________________, for the year ending ________________________, and that the said ____________________________ accepts and agrees to the following stipulated

conditions on which this permit is granted, and that the violation of the same shall constitute grounds for the revoking of this permit.

 

1st.       Said pool hall shall at all times be kept clean and properly ventilated.

2nd.      There shall be no boisterousness permitted, and the use of rough, lewd, vulgar and indecent language shall be absolutely prohibited.

3rd.       No intoxicants of any kind shall be sold or given away, in or about the premises of said pool hall.

4th.       No gambling or games of chance of any kind shall be permitted in or about the premises of said pool hall.

5th.       Tobacco or cigarettes in any shape or form, or cigarette paper, shall not be sold or given away to persons under the age of eighteen in or about the premises of the pool hall.

6th.       All persons under the age of eighteen shall not be permitted to be in or loiter about the pool hall.

7th.       The above stipulated conditions have been read and agreed to by me.

 

Signed:

_____________________

Manager

_____________________

President

_____________________

Secretary

City Board of Public Welfare

*************************************************

THEATER PERMIT

and stipulated conditions upon which same is granted.

 

This certifies that ______________________________ is granted a permit to conduct a moving picture theater, _____________________, located at __________________________, for the year

ending ______________________, and that the said _________________________ accepts and agrees to the following stipulated conditions on which this permit is granted, and that the violation of the same

shall constitute grounds for the revoking of this permit.

1st.       Said theater shall at all times be kept clean and properly ventilated.

2nd.      That the aisles and exits shall conform to the state law.

3rd.       That the theater at all times, when in use be sufficiently lighted so that the people may be seen in any part of the building.

4th.       That the program for the week or any part of the week, and all advertising matter, both descriptive and display, shall be presented to the Secretary or any member of officers of the Board so designated for the ispection at least one week in advance of presenting.  No advertising may be distributed or posted without the approval of the Board, and any film or reel shall be thrown on canvass for the inspection by the Board when requested.

5th.       In the event of vaudeville act or show troup performances the manager of this theater is held responsible for same, that there shall be nothing lewd, lacivios or immoral in word or action, either in pun, suggestion or costume.

The above stipulations have been read and agreed to by me.

 

Signed:

________________________

Manager

________________________

President

_____________________

Secretary

 

City Board of Public Welfare

Source:  Original materials provided by Mary Mall, granddaughter of Leroy Allen Halbert.

 

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