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

By Brent Ruswick

Within the Eighties, social reform leaders warned that the “unworthy” bad have been taking charitable reduction meant for the really deserving. Armed with data and harassed notions of evolution, those “scientific charity” reformers based businesses reason on restricting entry to aid by way of the main morally, biologically, and economically undeserving. Brent Ruswick examines a trendy nationwide association for medical social reform and terrible aid in Indianapolis so one can know the way those new theories of poverty gave start to new courses to help 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

Reformers’ efforts to bring a scientific study to worthiness and dependence somewhat unwittingly introduced a more subtle and potentially radical critique of chronic dependence as a problem that remained one of morality, but that also might be open to social engineering by purportedly objective experts. Scientific charity’s most prominent proponents began advancing the proposition that poverty and pauperism were not just matters of distinguishing between one person’s bad circumstances and another person’s bad character.

60 The four most important founders of the conference, as identified by Bruno, were Sanborn, of the Massachusetts State Board of Charity; Frederick Wines, of the Illinois Board; Andrew Elmore, of the Wiscon­ sin Board; and William Letchworth, of the New York Board. Sanborn, the founder of greatest significance, also was the most radical. A Harvard-­ educated transcendentalist who studied with Emerson, he had helped finance John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, an act that necessitated his flight to Canada when summoned by the Senate.

McCul­loch, who helped define the scientific charity movement in the early 1880s, also informed its leaders’ biological understanding of pauperism. In addition to authoring a foundational paper concerning the philosophical basis of the movement and the proper work of charity or­ga­ni­za­tion societies, he produced one of the earliest and most influential inquiries into the biological basis of pauperism, known as the Tribe of Ishmael study. The Ishmael study helped construct the biological pauper, thereby justifying the movement’s forceful and dogmatic approach to ending indiscriminately given relief.

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