By Matthew A. Crenson

This publication examines the relationship among the decline of the orphanage and the increase of welfare. Matthew Crenson argues that the prehistory of the welfare procedure was once performed out now not at the level of nationwide politics or classification clash yet within the micropolitics of institutional administration. New preparations for baby welfare coverage emerged steadily as superintendents, vacationing brokers, and charity officers spoke back to the problems that they encountered in operating orphanages or growing structures that served as choices to institutional care. Crenson additionally follows the decades-long debate concerning the relative benefits of relatives care or institutional take care of established childrens. Leaving negative youngsters at domestic with their moms emerged because the most widely applicable substitute to the orphanage, besides an formidable new perception of social reform. rather than sheltering weak youngsters in associations designed to remodel them into virtuous electorate, the reformers of the innovative period attempted to combine terrible teenagers into the bigger society, whereas retaining them from its perils.

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Extra info for Building the Invisible Orphanage: A Prehistory of the American Welfare System

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This accomplishment also hinted at an even greater achievement. So long as charity remained the business of religion, it could not be the business of American government. The religious neutralization of charity was to open the way for the development of an American welfare state. But it might not supply the motive power needed to reach this end. The formula proposed by Jane Addams, however, suggested how to drive the engine of reform. By calling for the return of poor children from orphanages to their own households and communities, the White House Conference provided a warrant for Addams’s “devices” of social engineering and for 36 The Decline of the Orphanage and the Invention of Welfare their deployment in a comprehensive system designed not simply to protect children from an unwholesome environment, in the fashion of an orphan asylum, but also to transform the environment itself through state-sponsored social welfare policy.

But the 1904 census took care to distinguish orphanages from other types of children’s institutions, and it included information about the date of each orphan asylum’s founding and the auspices under which it was established. 16 The classification of orphanages by sponsoring organization requires some guesswork.

1 Instead, Americans came to regard the ceaseless social and geographic mobility as a threat to the familiar restrictions that helped to assure responsible conduct. An erosion of family discipline, they thought, was producing not just willful children, but vagrant or criminal adults. Insanity originated in the frantic pace and flexible principles of the marketplace, in unrestrained religious enthusiasm, in runaway ambition, and in immoderate philosophical or scientific speculation. For those overstimulated, deranged, seduced, uprooted, or left homeless by life in a hyperactive society, there was the curative isolation 37 38 The Institutional Inclination and routine of the penitentiary, the poorhouse, the insane asylum, and the orphanage.

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