Poverty and Policy in American History

Poverty and Policy in American History

1st Edition - May 28, 1983

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  • Author: Michael B. Katz
  • eBook ISBN: 9781483273891

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Poverty and Policy in American History is about people who needed help in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is about the ways in which the perception of poverty and other forms of dependence affected the development of public programs and the conduct of voluntary reform. It also about the ways in which people have written about welfare. The book contains three chapters and opens with a description of the life and death of a poor family in early twentieth-century Philadelphia based on case records. It attempts to show many of the themes in the lives of the poor through the close analysis of one extended example. The second chapter moves back in time and consists of four case studies drawn from the project's empirical research. The first case study takes up the history of a neglected institution, the poorhouse. The second case reports on a survey of the causes of pauperism undertaken by the New York Board of State Charities in the mid-1870s. The third case analyzes a sample of the seven special schedules of the 1880 U.S. census, which enumerated the ""defective, dependent, and delinquent"" population. The final case uses a register of tramps from various places in New York State during the mid-1870s to assess the relation between popular images of tramps and what appeared to be their actual characteristics. The third chapter uses the results of the project's research and other recent work on related topics to examine American historical writing about dependence as a field and offers a sympathetic critique.

Table of Contents

  • Preface



    Chapter 1 Families and Welfare: a Philadelphia Case

    The Sullivan Family

    Themes in the History of the Sullivan Family

    Chapter 2 Poorhouses, Paupers, and Tramps

    Part I From Family Refuge to Old Age Home: the Demographic History of the Erie County, New York, Poorhouse from 1829 to 1886

    Aggregate Trends in Poorhouse Composition


    Part II Early Social Science and the Causes of Pauperism

    The Design of the Report

    The Sample

    Institutional Demography: Age, Sex, Birthplace

    Hoyt and the Causes of Pauperism

    The Act of 1875 and the Creation of Poorhouse Records

    Poorhouse Demography


    Part III "The Morphology of Evil"

    The Problem of Social Categories

    The Demography of Dependence


    Part IV New York's Tramps and the Problem of Causal Attribution in the 1870s

    The Tramp Problem

    The Characteristics of Tramps

    The Problem of Causal Attribution

    Chapter 3 American Historians and Dependence

    Historians and Philanthropy: Urban Masses and Moral Order in America as the Culmination of a Historiographical Tradition

    Historians and Institutions: David Rothman and Asylums

    The History of Public Welfare: Roy Lubove on Social Insurance

    Epilogue: The Significance of Welfare History



Product details

  • No. of pages: 304
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 1983
  • Published: May 28, 1983
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9781483273891

About the Author

Michael B. Katz

About the Editors

Charles Tilly

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Michigan, U.S.A.

Edward Shorter

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Toronto, Canada

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