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Brigham, Amariah

In the summer of 1842, Dr. Brigham was appointed Superintendent of the New York State Lunatic Asylum, at Utica. The institution was opened on the 16th of January, 1843. From this time, until the period of his death, he was unceasing in his devotion to the great cause of humanity in which he was engaged….Dr. Brigham was not only desirous of establishing an institution which should be creditable to the State, but, in order that our citizens should avail themselves of its advantages, he labored to diffuse a more extended knowledge of the subject of insanity. This he did by popular lectures, and by embodying in his reports details of the causes, the early symptoms, and means of prevention.Continue Reading »

Poor House Conditions: Albany County, New York – 1864

In 1824 the New York State legislature enacted the “County Poorhouse Act,” a measure that called for one or more poorhouses to be built or established in each county. Thenceforth, all recipients of public assistance were to be sent to that institution. All expenses for building and maintaining the poorhouse(s) and supporting its inmates were to be defrayed by the county out of tax funds. The Act also created a new body of relief officials: County Superintendents of the Poor.Continue Reading »

Scientific Charity Movement and Charity Organization Societies

“Scientific charity built on Americans’ notion of self-reliance, limited government, and economic freedom. Proponents of scientific charity shared the poorhouse advocates’ goals of cutting relief expenses and reducing the number of able-bodied who were receiving assistance, as well as the moral reformers’ goal of uplifting people from poverty through discipline and religious education via private charity. In this model, individuals responded to charity and the government stayed out of the economic sphere. Continue Reading »

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