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

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Indiana University Press, Dec 17, 2012 - History - 288 pages

In the 1880s, social reform leaders warned that the "unworthy" poor were taking charitable relief intended for the truly deserving. Armed with statistics and confused notions of evolution, these "scientific charity" reformers founded organizations intent on limiting access to relief by the most morally, biologically, and economically unfit. Brent Ruswick examines a prominent national organization for scientific social reform and poor relief in Indianapolis in order to understand how these new theories of poverty gave birth to new programs to assist the poor.

 

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Contents

Big Moll and the Science of Scientific Charity
1
Evolution Heredity and the Pauper Menace
35
3 Friendly Visitors or Scientific Investigators? Befriending and Measuring the Poor
70
4 Opposition Depression and the Rejection of Pauperism
105
Environmental Reform and Radicalism in the Scientific Charity Movement
143
Professional Social Work Psychology and the End of Scientific Charity
179
Epilogue
204
Study Class in Social Science in the Department of Charity
211
The Class for Study of the Friendly Visitors Work
215
Notes
217
Selected Bibliography
245
Index
259
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About the author (2012)

Brent Ruswick is Assistant Professor of History at West Chester University. He is currently researching a book on the "mutual aid" theory of evolution in American reform.

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