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The Widows’ Pension Movement and its Connection to Orphanages

Widows and Waifs: New York City and the American Way to Welfare, 1913-1916 by June Hopkins, Ph. D. Associate Professor, Armstrong Atlantic State University Background In New York City, during the early decades of the 20th century, progressive reformers made deliberate use of the child-saving impulse to initiate a new welfare methodology. This had a… Continue Reading »

Employment Services: A Brief History

President Warren Harding called a Conference on Unemployment in 1921. This Conference, of which Mr. Herbert Hoover (at that time Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce) was chairman…In commenting on the need for such a service, Secretary Hoover said, “One of the causes of ill will that weighs heavily upon the community is the whole problem of unemployment. I know of nothing [more important] than the necessity to develop further remedy, first, for the vast calamities of unemployment in the cyclic periods of depression, and, second, some assurance to the individual of reasonable economic security–to remove the fear of total family disaster in loss of the job. . . . I am not one who regards these matters as incalculable. . . There is a solution somewhere and its working out will be the greatest blessing yet given to our economic system, both to the employer and the employee.” Continue Reading »

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) were developed from two sources Occupational Social Work and Occupational Alcoholism. Although Occupational Social Work had its beginnings in the early 20th century (Masi, 1982; Maiden, 2001), it has now evolved into EAPs as a practice model. Social Work schools continue to call specializations Occupational or Industrial Social Work.Continue Reading »

Child Welfare

Child Welfare: A Brief History by Linda Gordon, Ph.D., New York University, New York, NY Children have been central to the development of welfare programs in the United States. Indeed, sympathy for poor and neglected children was crucial in breaking through the strong free-market individualism that has been mobilized repeatedly to condemn public aid to… Continue Reading »

Jane Addams’ and Rev. Edgar Murphy’s Views on Child Labor Reform in 1903

Introduction: At the 1903 annual meeting of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections held in Atlanta, GA May 6-12, an entire section of presentations was devoted to child labor issues. Miss Jane Addams, Director of Hull-House, Chicago, IL presented the first paper: “Child Labor and Pauperism.”  In the second presentation on child labor Rev…. Continue Reading »

The History of Child Care in the U.S.

The History of Child Care in the U.S. by Sonya Michel, Ph.D., University of Maryland   In the United States today, most mothers of preschool and school age children are employed outside the home. American mothers have invented many ways to care for their children while they work. Native Americans strapped newborns to cradle boards or… Continue Reading »

Aid To Dependent Children: The Legal History

For its first three decades, AFDC operated much like a private charity, with its case workers given discretion in investigating clients, cutting off benefits to those determined to be unsuitable, and reducing benefits to those found in violation of any of AFDC’s myriad regulations. Starting in the mid-1960s the National Welfare Rights Organization, built primarily by African American women and functionally a part of the civil rights movement, began organizing to defend welfare recipients’ rights. Continue Reading »

Aid for the Aged (OAA) 1935

Title I of the 1935 Social Security Act created a program, called Old Age Assistance (OAA), which would give cash payments to poor elderly people, regardless of their work record. OAA provided for a federal match of state old-age assistance expenditures. Among other things, OAA is important in the history of long term care because it later spawned the Medicaid program, which has become the primary funding source for long term care today.Continue Reading »


Written by Professor Ellen Herman, University of Oregon. “Since ancient times and in all human cultures, children have been transferred from adults who would not or could not be parents to adults who wanted them for love, labor, and property. Adoption’s close association with humanitarianism, upward mobility, and infertility, however, are uniquely modern phenomena.”Continue Reading »

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