I HAVE BEEN PLOTTING this history of modern public welfare in the United States for many years. My first job, as a stenographer at the southern district office of the Baltimore Family Welfare Association (FWA) began in 1936, about a year after passage of the Social Security Act. The FWA, a Community Chest agency, had only recently transferred relief to the needy to the city's Department of Public Welfare. Mary E. Richmond ( 1861- 1928), a Baltimorean and the author of Social Diagnosis ( 1917), a leading text, had started out in this very office building. By my day the trend toward psychoanalytically based counseling and verbatim recording of interviews with clients had taken hold.
As an undergraduate at Goucher College and later at the College for Teachers, Johns Hopkins University, I commanded the highest clerical rate from the National Youth Administration, the agency that Lyndon Johnson headed in Texas. Always the writer at heart, I dipped into memories of problem families to produce, for example, a tearjerker about juvenile delinquency that attracted favorable attention from the student marker in English 1. My senior paper, "Basic Concepts in American Charities," helped me qualify for a graduate tuition scholarship in the Hopkins history department.
As a graduate student I was the lone historian among economists working part-time preparing a subject index and critique of some fifty official publications selected from the extensive Hopkins collection dating back to the organization of national unions and federations. Trade Union Publications ( 1944) got my name in print, and, as a huge bonus, an introduction to lifelong friends.