Private Wealth and Public Life: Foundation Philanthropy and the Reshaping of American Social Policy from the Progressive Era to the New Deal

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JHU Press, Apr 21, 1997 - History - 349 pages

In Private Wealth and Public Life, historian Judith Sealander analyzes the role played by private philanthropic foundations in shaping public policy during the early years of this century. Focusing on foundation-sponsored attempts to influence policy in the areas of education, social welfare, and public health, she addresses significant misunderstandings about the place of philanthropic foundations in American life.

Between 1903 and 1932, fewer than a dozen philanthropic organizations controlled most of the hundreds of millions of dollars given to various causes. Among these, Sealander finds, seven foundations attempted to influence public social policy in significant ways—four were Rockefeller philanthropies, joined later by the Russell Sage, Rosenwald, and Commonwealth Fund foundations. Challenging the extreme views of foundations either as benevolent forces for social change or powerful threats to democracy, Sealander offers a more subtle understanding of foundations as important players in a complex political environment. The huge financial resources of some foundations bought access, she argues, but never complete control. Occasionally a foundation's agenda became public policy; often it did not. Whatever the results, the foundations and their efforts spurred the emergence of an American state with a significantly expanded social-policy-making role.

Drawing on a wealth of archival materials, much of it unavailable or overlooked until now, Sealander examines issues that remain central to American political life. Her topics include vocational education policy, parent education, juvenile delinquency, mothers' pensions and public aid to impoverished children, anti-prostitution efforts, sex research, and publicly funded recreation. "Foundation philanthropy's legacy for domestic social policy," she writes, "raises a point that should be emphasized repeatedly by students of the policy process: Rarely is just one entity a policy's sole author; almost always policies in place produced unintended consequences."

 

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Contents

FoundaTION PHILANTHROPY AND PUBLIC Policy MAKING
1
FoundaTIONS THE RURAL CRISIs AND THE BIRTH
35
THE LAURA SPELMAN RockFFELLER MEMORIAL PARENT
79
THE RUSSELL SAGE FoundaTION AND THE TRANSFORMATION
100
FoundaTION5 CHILDHELPING AND THE JUVENILE
128
FROM ANTIPROSTITUTION
160
FoundaTION5 RECREATION AND THE PUBLICs MORAL
189
CoNCLUSIONTHE FoundaTION COMES OF AE
217
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Page 334 - An Act to provide for the promotion of vocational education; to provide for co-operation with the states in the promotion of such education in agriculture and the trades and industries; to provide for co-operation with the states in the preparation of teachers of vocational subjects; and to appropriate money and regulate its expenditure...
Page 341 - Price, 15c. 112. Supervised Practice in Agriculture, including Home Projects. Aims and Values of Such Practice and Responsibilities of Pupils, Teachers, State Administrators, and Local Boards of Education.
Page 333 - States for the purpose of cooperating with the States in the preparation and payment of supervisors and teachers of physical education, including medical examiners and school nurses...

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About the author (1997)

Judith Sealander is professor of history at Bowling Green State University. She is the author of As Minority Becomes Majority: Federal Reaction to the Phenomenon of Women in the Work Force, 1920-1963 and "Grand Plans": Business Progressivism and Social Change in the Ohio Miami Valley, 1890-1929, and co-author of Women of Valor: The Struggle against the Great Depression as Told in Their Own Life Stories.

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