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

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By Brent Ruswick

Within the Eighteen Eighties, social reform leaders warned that the “unworthy” negative have been taking charitable aid meant for the really deserving. Armed with facts and careworn notions of evolution, those “scientific charity” reformers based enterprises rationale on restricting entry to reduction through the main morally, biologically, and economically not worthy. Brent Ruswick examines a popular nationwide association for medical social reform and negative aid in Indianapolis that allows you to know how those new theories of poverty gave start to new courses to aid the bad.

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

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59 Designed by the executives of the state boards of charity, it is unsurprising that the state boards exerted great influence on the development of the National Conference. Its first twenty-­one presidents were all state board members, in­clud­ing three state governors. Similar to the charity or­ga­ni­za­tion societies, the presidents of the NCCC hailed mostly from Introduction 23 the north Atlantic and north­ern Mississippi Valley states. From 1874 through 1946, New York State sent twenty-­seven men to the conference as presidents, whereas the entirety of the old South sent one, and west­ ern states sent five.

What happened to Big Moll? 2 “A r mi e s of V ice ”: Evol u t ion , H e r e di t y, a n d t h e Pau pe r M e nace The Biological Pauper In the late 1870s, the pauper became a threat not only to the nation’s economic and moral health but to its biological health as well. Ameri­cans learned of Darwinian biology and the vari­ous social implications that commentators drew from the “struggle for existence” at the same moment that economic depression threw more people deeper into that struggle. Chronic, intergenerational dependence could easily be ­explained as the consequence of charitable relief obstructing the natural course of evolution by unnaturally protecting humanity’s weakest mem­bers and allowing them to perpetuate that weakness, instead of strengthening them to better face life’s struggles.

While much of this work meant distinguishing the worthy from unworthy poor, Hill also insisted of her charitable volunteers that they get to know the poor, befriend them, and act as exemplars of frugality and responsibility. Not that this was to be a friendship among equals. Hill centered her analy­sis of poverty on the fear that charitable relief caused moral degeneration in its recipients. In an of­ten-­cited 1869 paper to the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, “The Importance of Aiding the Poor without Almsgiving,” she argued that it was more important to restore the poor’s spirit than to provide material goods.

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Almost Worthy: The Poor, Paupers, and the Science of Charity in America, 1877-1917 by Brent Ruswick


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