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NCSW Part 5: A Century of Concern 1873-1973: Leisure-time Needs

Actually, the role of concerned citizens in providing public recreational programs began in the United States as far back as 1885. Unfortunately, although the history of this involvement is spotted with some progressive movement, on the whole lackadaisical developments have failed to keep pace with changes in cultural and social patterns that occur when one ethnic group moves into a community replacing another. In 1885, for example, the first efforts to improve recreational facilities for the underprivileged were led by Joseph Lee, who was shocked to see boys arrested for playing in Boston streets; George E. Johnson was moved at the pathos of the attempts of little children to play in the narrow crowded alleys in Pittsburgh.Continue Reading »

NCSW Part 6: A Century of Concern 1873-1973: Provision and Management of Social Services

Imagine a network of rural villages and surrounding farms — populations of 2,000 are large. Slow transportation makes them physically isolated and economically and socially self-sufficient. Most citizens are called yeoman farmers: they own and work their land. They are militant Protestants, likely to be of a single denomination and congregated in a single church. They are democrats, proud of their revolution, jealous of their rights, scorning the pretensions of European aristocracy. They are said to be friendly and gener­ous with neighbors and strangers, but acquisitive and zealous for the main chance. Such communities were most clearly realized in the New England towns that Alexis de Tocqueville described in 1835 and in the settlements of religious groups, such as the Mormons. In many places settlers were too few and scattered to establish close ties, but where they could they did.Continue Reading »

NCSW Part 7: A Century of Concern 1873-1973: Societal Problems

This paper will trace certain con­tinuities in the responses to poverty and social problems in America over the past cen­tury. It will show that despite the emphasis on “novelty,” “discovery,” and “invention,” there have been continuities in the treatment of dependency and poverty in America, which have affected the development of the social welfare system, especially where the traditional attitudes have handicapped creative responses to social problems.Continue Reading »

NCSW Part 2: A Century of Concern 1873-1973: Economic Independence

Far-reaching changes have occurred in social work during the last century. When the National Conference was created in the early 1870’s the common idea was that, for the most part, poverty (and dependency) was the result of personal failure, a flaw in the moral character of the individual; the individual, therefore, not society, was responsible for economic independence. Indeed, it was widely believed that the economic and social order could not operate successfully if the state, through its poor laws, undermined the work incentive by providing citizens a degree of security through public assistance.Continue Reading »

NCSW Part 8: A Century of Concern 1873-1973: Bibliography

This bibliography was an important part of the pamphlet published by the National Conference of Social Welfare on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary. The bibliography covers the Introduction written by Clarke Chambers as well as the six essays written by leaders in the field of social welfare.Continue Reading »

NCSW Part 1: A Century of Concern 1873-1973: Table of Contents, Introduction

In emphasis, the National Conference of Social Welfare – like the serving professions themselves who constituted its membership – has swung between the pleas of social action and social service. Its presidents have been selected from among those who can best be understood as social prophets – Jane Addams and Whitney Young, for example – and from among those who had made technical contributions of surpassing importance to the better service of health, education, and welfare – Homer Folks, for example, and Dr. Richard Cabot. Its leaders­ Conference Presidents and Conference Secretaries alike, and all that great host of program committee members, panel participants, and executive officers – have most often, how­ever, combined a concern for the reform of social evils with a commitment to more effective service. Such persons engaged in attempts to create a synthesis between the two phases on the grounds that they were not, ultimately, mutually exclusive or contra­dictory, but mutually supportive and complementary.Continue Reading »

Roots of Social Security – Frances Perkins

Before I was appointed, I had a little conversation with Roosevelt in which I said perhaps he didn’t want me to be the Secretary, of Labor because if I were, I should want to do this, and this, and this. Among the things I wanted to do was find a way of getting unemployment insurance, old-age insurance, and health insurance. I remember he looked so startled, and he said, “Well, do you think it can be done?”

I said, “I don’t know.” He said, Well, there are constitutional problems, aren’t there?” “Yes, very severe constitutional problems,” I said. “But what have we been elected for except to solve the constitutional problems? Lots of other problems have been solved by the people of the United States, and there is no reason why this one shouldn’t be solved.”

“Well,” he said, “do you think you can do it?” “I don’t know, ” I said But I wanted to try. “I want to know if I have your authorization. I won’t ask you to promise anything.” He looked at me and nodded wisely. “All right,” he said, “I will authorize you to try, and if you succeed, that’s fine.”Continue Reading »

Lindeman, Eduard C.: A Letter

In order to make matters more explicit, I shall now state my chief reasons for being an anti-Communist: (1) on philosophical grounds I belong to the American tradition of pragmatism of which William James and John Dewey were the chief exponents. This philosophy is experimental and non-authoritarian and is definitely opposed to the dogmatic German philosophy of Hegel, and out which Marxism arose. (2) on moral grounds I am opposed to Communism because it teachers the immoral doctrine that good ends may be achieved through the use of evil means; it practices conspiracy and falsehood and thus, through the employment of such means, produces gross immorality; (3) I am a believer in cultural pluralism while Communism advocates the cultural uniformity. I believe in diversity because I believe in freedom. (See THE DEMOCRATIC WAY OF LIFE BY T.V. SMITH and EDUARD C. LINDEMAN, published last year by The New American Library.) (4) I believe in what may be called the Judeo-Christian ethics which is founded upon the conception of human brotherhood and love. Communism, on the contrary, preaches hate and conflict. There are many other reasons for opposing this malevolent movement which has perverted so many millions but the above are fundamental.Continue Reading »

Perkins, Frances: The Roosevelt Years

The Labor department that Perkins found called into play all her research and political skills. It was corrupt and inefficient and hadn’t accomplished much. Many were removed and some eventually went to jail. No detail was too small. In her shabby offices cockroaches were found. This was because black employees were not allowed to use the department cafeteria and brought their lunches to work. She and her secretary cleaned the office and soon ordered the cafeteria to be integrated.Continue Reading »

Perkins, Frances, Change Agent

In 1913 Perkins married Paul Caldell Wilson. He was handsome, rich and a progressive. She defied convention and kept her maiden name. After several attempts at conceiving a daughter was born. Life did not treat Frances well. Both husband and daughter were depressed and institutionalized for long periods. While she had some help with living from her wealthy friends Frances paid their bills until they died. She also dealt with a myriad of stresses they introduced into her life. She did not believe in divorce. Despite her personal miseries Frances continued to develop her political skills.Continue Reading »

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