By Brent Ruswick
Within the Eighteen Eighties, social reform leaders warned that the “unworthy” negative have been taking charitable aid meant for the actually deserving. Armed with facts and pressured notions of evolution, those “scientific charity” reformers based agencies reason on proscribing entry to aid via the main morally, biologically, and economically undeserving. Brent Ruswick examines a well-known nationwide association for clinical social reform and negative aid in Indianapolis as a way to know the way those new theories of poverty gave delivery to new courses to help the terrible.
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Extra resources for Almost Worthy: The Poor, Paupers, and the Science of Charity in America, 1877-1917
58 Considerably less has gone to the organiza tion that initiated the exodus, the National Conference of Charities and Correction. The state board members who created the ASSA soon felt that the scholarly direction of the association crowded out their interests in reform and charity and looked to create a group more amenable to their focus. Representatives of the state boards of charity from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Wisconsin met in New York on 20 May 1874, where they organized the first Conference of Boards of Pub lic Charities within the ASSA.
Oscar McCulloch conducted an often-cited genealogical investigation that purportedly demonstrated the hereditary nature of pauperism, a study later appropriated by the Eugenics Record Office as proof of the need to sterilize the feeble minded. Some scientific charity reformers recommended programs of negative eugenics, like sequestering these groups in institutions during their childbearing years, while a few speculated about sterilization. 76 Efforts to segregate poorhouses by age and by sex grew from the same logic.
As the visitors of the COSs produced data on poverty to be consumed first by their own society’s leadership and then by the NCCC, a hail of complaints came pouring down about the visitor’s reliability as a scientific observer. If she were not reliable, how could the movement ever have confidence that it had identified and eliminated root causes of pauperism like bad heredity? From the 1890s to about 1910, a scientific charity also meant one where charity volunteers had adequate training in the use of statistics and application of sociology.