The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study

By W. E. B. Du Bois | Go to book overview

V.
SAVINGS AND EXPENDITURE.

The question of the savings of Seventh Ward domestics would naturally be discussed here. Table XII shows the facts upon this point. It is based upon the records of those who have been personally interviewed. In this table the "societies" referred to are either sick benefit, death benefit, or insurance societies, which are all very popular with the colored people. Their tendency to use this method of saving rather than to deposit in the bank is shown in many ways. They frequently express their distrust of banks and banking. One girl sums up her philosophy by saying, "I save in my pocket. I'm a very poor spender, but I bank a little too, only the banks are so shaky I'm afraid of them. A friend of mine lost $600 in the Keystone and I lost $100 and came near putting in $50.00 just the day before the bank broke. Yes, I'm afraid of banks." A waiter working on Spruce near Broad says, "I've quit banking. I lost $300 in the Keystone." This distrust of banks is traced by excellently qualified judges as far back as the Freedman's Bank trouble, and it seems probable that that first wave of distrust has been followed by a second one, and that to the Philadelphia colored people the failure of the Keystone stands for the same thing nearer home.

Table XII shows proportion of colored domestics who are saving and who, therefore, not only are not a burden to the community, but are adding something to the sum total of its power. It shows also the methods of saving employed.

It will be noticed that the men do more banking in proportion than the women do, and less saving "at home" or by means of the benefit societies. Three men use the bank where one woman does, while three women save at home to one man who does. It is also noticeable that the percentages of those who do not save at all are about equal in both columns of Table XII.

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