The American Dole: Unemployment Relief and the Welfare State in the Great Depression

By Jeff Singleton | Go to book overview

and that was thus vulnerable to periodic political attacks and failed efforts at "reform." 46


NOTES
1.
Gladys L. Palmer and Katherine D. Wood, Urban Workers on Relief, Part 1 (WPA Research Monograph IV) ( Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1936), 9-12, 24-25. This is not to suggest that the depression had no impact on families headed by single women or on the mothers' pension programs inherited from the Progressive era. Spending for the latter may have increased by as much as 40 percent between 1929 and 1933. Furthermore, as the federal government came to finance most relief, the general relief caseload increasingly absorbed these families. See Emma Winslow, Trends in Different Types of Public and Private Relief in Urban Areas, 1929-1935 (Children's Bureau Publication 237) ( Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1937), 38, 69-70; Linda Gordon, Pitied but Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare ( New York: Free Press, 1994), 184-186. The statement that families on general relief were "headed" by males is certainly problematic. Feminist historians have recently marshaled a good deal of evidence that shows that the economic crisis and relief disrupted traditional gender roles within families. See, for example, Lois Scharf, To Work and to Wed: Female Employment, Feminism and the Great Depression ( Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980); Ruth Milkman, "Women's Work and the Economic Crisis: Some Lessons from the Great Depression," in Nancy F. Cott and Elizabeth Pleck, eds., A Heritage of Her Own: Toward a New Social History of American Women ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), 507-541; Lizbeth Cohen, Making a New Deal ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 246-248; Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound ( New York: Basic Books, 1988), 49-51.
2.
James T. Patterson, The New Deal and the States ( Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981), 74; Michael Katz, Improving Poor People ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), 20; Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare ( New York: Random House, 1971), 80. For an analysis that stresses the historical continuities in welfare policy Michael Katz, In the Shadow of the Poorhouse ( New York: Basic Books, 1986), ix. Linda Gordon, on the other hand, argues in Pitied but Not Entitled that "in two generations the meaning of welfare has reversed itself," suggesting that changes in public assistance policies created the negative connotations associated with the word. I argue that attitudes toward means-tested relief have remained constant and generally quite negative. Welfare was once a positive term because it was not closely associated with relief. See Chapter 2.
3.
The most detailed account of relief policy during the Great Depression remains Josephine Brown classic Public Relief, 1929-1939 ( New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1940). The best recent studies are William R. Brock Welfare, Democracy and the New Deal ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) and Edwin Amenta, Bold Relief ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998). Brock treats relief policy primarily as an episode in state-federal relations, following the tradition of Patterson's seminal The New Deal and the States. Patterson's monograph stimulated a number of valuable state and local studies that cover

-18-

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The American Dole: Unemployment Relief and the Welfare State in the Great Depression
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in American History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter 1 - Unemployment Relief and the Welfare State 1
  • Notes 18
  • Chapter 2 - The "Rising Tide of Relief" 27
  • Notes 48
  • Chapter 3 - The Myth of Voluntarism 57
  • Notes 82
  • Chapter 4 - The National Dole 93
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter 5 - Work Relief 131
  • Notes 160
  • Chapter 6 - Ending the Dole as We Knew It 173
  • Notes 199
  • Conclusion 209
  • Notes 217
  • Appendix - Relief Estimates and the Children's Bureau Series 221
  • Notes 224
  • Bibliography 227
  • Index 239
  • About the Author 245
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