Building the Invisible Orphanage: A Prehistory of the American Welfare System

By Matthew A. Crenson | Go to book overview

8
The Perils of Placing Out

Cassville [ Ohio]
June 10, 1884

Dr. Byers -- Kind friend

You will doubtless be surprised, but I trust will remember when I tell you that I am the mother of the little baby that yourself and Mrs. Hughes took to the home. I cannot forget what you said to me in regard to it. It is on my mind continually and I cannot feel at rest until I know that he has a home, and a father & mother to love him. I have been to see the trustee to whom I had to go in order to get the home. He tells me that my child is well and growing. The one great objection that I have to the institution is that they let people take children from there without adopting them. But even in that case they are very particular as to the kind of home.

I would like to have you write to me, if you will, and tell me if you have any home in view yet . . .

In case your answer should fall into other hands than mine, please write in such a way that no one but myself will understand it. 1

By the end of the nineteenth century, the orphanage had become one of a multiplicity of places to call home. Child-saving charities had detached home from its traditional anchorage in the biological family. Child saving, after all, originated in the conviction that many families

-202-

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Building the Invisible Orphanage: A Prehistory of the American Welfare System
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Decline of the Orphanage and the Invention of Welfare 7
  • 2 - The Institutional Inclination 37
  • 3 - Two Dimensions of Institutional Change 61
  • 4 - Institutional Self-Doubt and Internal Reform 92
  • 5 - From Orphanage to Home 113
  • 6 - The Orphanage Reaches Outward 147
  • 7 - "The Unwalled Institution of the State" 171
  • 8 - The Perils of Placing Out 202
  • 9 - "The Experiment of Having No Home" 227
  • 10 - Mobilizing for Mothers' Pensions 246
  • 11 - Religious Wars 284
  • Conclusion: An End to the Orphanage 306
  • Notes 333
  • Index 375
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