Second Home: Orphan Asylums and Poor Families in America

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1997 - Social Science - 297 pages
0 Reviews

As orphan asylums ceased to exist in the late twentieth century, interest in them dwindled as well. Yet, from the Civil War to the Great Depression, America's dependent children--children whose families were unable to care for them--received more aid from orphan asylums than from any other means. This important omission in the growing literature on poverty in America is addressed in Second Home.

As Timothy Hacsi shows, most children in nineteenth-century orphan asylums were "half-orphans," children with one living parent who was unable to provide for them. The asylums spread widely and endured because different groups--churches, ethnic communities, charitable organizations, fraternal societies, and local and state governments--could adapt them to their own purposes.

In the 1890s, critics began to argue that asylums were overcrowded and impersonal. By 1909, advocates called for aid to destitute mothers, and argued that asylums should be a last resort, for short-term care only. Yet orphanages continued to care for most dependent children until the depression strained asylum budgets and federally-funded home care became more widely available. Yet some, Catholic asylums in particular, cared for poor children into the 1950s and 1960s.

At a time when the American welfare state has failed to provide for all needy children, understanding our history in this area could be an important step toward correcting that failure.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Acknowledgments
1
The Changing Nature of Orphan Asylums
54
Managers and Funding
75
Through the Asylum Doors
104
Routine Discipline and Improvements in Asylum Life
148
Education and Building Character
173
Play Holidays and Vacations
196
Conclusion
213
Notes
231
Bibliography
269
Index
283
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1997)

Timothy A. Hacsi is a Lecturer in the History Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Bibliographic information