Welfare Politics in Boston, 1910-1940

By Susan Traverso | Go to book overview
Save to active project


PUBLIC POOR relief entered the fray of municipal politics in Boston during the 1920s. Mayors and city councilmen discussed poor relief policy as they never had previously, and for the first time, the city's welfare program was debated within a democratic forum. By and large, the debate divided along ethnic lines. A mixed assortment of Irish politicians, by no means allies, began to champion the cause of the city's poor. Claiming to speak for all poor ethnic groups, they demanded an enlarged and politically accountable public welfare program. In contrast, Yankee politicians associated increases in public welfare spending with political corruption and patronage. In order to curb welfare expenditures and to reaffirm their political control over poor relief, they wanted to remove welfare policymaking from the democratic arena where Irish politicians enjoyed the majority. These contesting political agendas produced a disjointed public welfare program that was pushed and pulled between policies meant to enlarge the department and others intended to control its growth.

The debate over public relief spending and administration, however, affected the Overseers' two relief programs differently. After the passage of the Mothers' Aid program in 1913, the Overseers of the Poor began to divide relief cases into two categories, Mothers' Aid and Dependent Aid. Mothers' Aid provided financial support to poor mothers with dependent children. Dependent Aid was the “all other” category of relief, aiding the needy elderly, the intemperate, the unemployed, the sick and disabled, and poor mothers who could not qualify for Mothers' Aid. Between 1913 and 1919, Mothers' Aid accounted for most of the public welfare budget; however, after 1920, Dependent Aid grew to overshadow Mothers' Aid as expenditures on this program, particularly for unemployed families, surpassed the outlays for Mothers' Aid and pushed the Overseers' budget to unprecedented levels. 1

While neither Irish nor Yankee politicians set Mothers' Aid against De


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Welfare Politics in Boston, 1910-1940


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 164

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?