Almost Worthy: The Poor, Paupers, and the Science of Charity by Brent Ruswick

By Brent Ruswick

Within the Eighteen Eighties, social reform leaders warned that the “unworthy” negative have been taking charitable reduction meant for the really deserving. Armed with records and pressured notions of evolution, those “scientific charity” reformers based businesses reason on proscribing entry to reduction by way of the main morally, biologically, and economically not worthy. Brent Ruswick examines a in demand nationwide association for medical social reform and bad aid in Indianapolis that allows you to know the way those new theories of poverty gave beginning to new courses to aid the negative.

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Additional info for Almost Worthy: The Poor, Paupers, and the Science of Charity in America, 1877-1917

Sample text

Most of this story seeks to explain why the pauper suddenly provoked such a strong and organized response and the nature of that response, but just as important, to explain why that response, like the pauper, evaporated. America has not since witnessed the sort of mass-­movement interest in addressing poverty and chronic dependence that characterized this period. Neither has it seen much of the pauper. Although the distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor extends back in west­ern history at least to the Middle Ages, the pauper, like those who would either eradicate or reform him, has disappeared from the modern Ameri­can landscape.

44 The London COS articulated this mission most coherently in its fifth annual report. It declared that improving the poor would come through cooperating with both the Poor Law and charitable agencies so as to thoroughly investigate and consider every request for relief. Those judged deserving would receive “judicious and effectual assistance” from one of the cooperating agencies.  . social and sanitary principles” among the poor and work to repress “mendacity and imposture” among paupers. ” 45 Although an English creation, charity or­ga­ni­za­tion’s greatest success would come in America.

Faced with shocking numbers of sick and wounded north­ern soldiers, the commission worked as a comprehensive voluntary or­ga­ni­za­tion possessing the legal authority to coordinate medical relief, make sanitary inspections of army hospitals, provide nursing, hospital, and ambulance services to augment the army’s, and finally, to gather vital statistics. Run by members of the highest rungs of north­ern society, commissioners’ motives involved more than a noble or sentimentalized humanitarianism; it advanced what historian George Frederickson described as a “dollars-­and-­cents approach” to medical relief and their interest in using their work to impose order and discipline on the unwashed mass of north­ern troops.

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