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Social Welfare Policy and Services: From the 19th Century to Obama

Resources that you can use when seeking information on current and historical social welfare policies, issues, and services in the U.S.

What's Here?

In addition to articles, papers, and web sites that you may find useful, this section also includes a collection of "primary sources"--reports, works of literature, articles designed to acquaint the general public with social issues, photographs, and other documents that were produced in the late 19th and 20th centuries. These can give you a sense of how issues were viewed and reported at the time.

How They Saw It

Brace, Charles Loring. The Dangerous Classes of New York and Twenty Years' Work Among Them. New York, 1872.
"My great object in the present work is to prove to society...that the cheapest and most efficacious way of dealing with the 'Dangerous Classes' of large cities, is not to punish them, but to prevent their growth; to throw the influences of education and discipline and religion about the abandoned and destitute youth of our largest towns; to so change their material circumstances, and draw them under the influence of the moral and fortunate classes, that they shall grow up as useful producers and members of society, able and inclined to aid it in its progress."

Riis, Jacob. How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1890.

The Slums of Baltimore, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia
Carroll D. Wright. Seventh Special Report of the Commissioner of Labor. Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1894.

On the Lower East Side: Observations of Life in Lower Manhattan at the Turn of the Century
A collection of turn of the century articles and other documentary sources accompanied by introductory materials.

Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York, Doubleday, 1906.
Novel focusing on the Chicago stockyards at the turn of the 20th century and often credited with being the catalyst for the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration and the subsequent meat industry inspection standards. An audio version also available.

Addams, Jane and Lillian D. Wald. Forty Years at Hull-House; being "Twenty Years at Hull-House and "The Second Twenty Years at Hull-House" New York, Macmillan Co., 1935.

Addams, Jane. The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1912.

Survey Graphic
Survey Graphic began publication in 1921 as a companion to The Survey, the premier social work journal in the 1920s. Written in a style that was accessible to the general public, Survey Graphic focused on important social issues such as race, housing, labor, unemployment, education and healthcare, and had considerable influence on public policy.
Dana Library has volumes 16-37, 1929-1948, of Survey Graphic downstairs in the Lower Level (Shelved by Title).

Volumes 22 to 37 (1933-1948) of the Survey Graphic are available online from the Internet Archive.

Selections from Survey Graphic are also available at the following sites:

The New Deal & the World War II Era

New Deal Network
Virtual library of over 20,000 photographs, political cartoons, and texts (articles, speeches, letters, and othe documents). Includes a Document Library organized by topic, a New Deal Photo Gallery, selections of the press conferences of the various New Deal Work Relief agencies, and a Labor in the 1930s Bibliography.

Why Social Security?
Booklet published by the Social Security Board in 1937 to explain the rationale underlying the new Social Security program.

Gerber, Larry G. "World War II and the Expansion of Government in America," National Forum 75(4), Fall 1995, 30-33.
Essay on the impact of World War II on the growth of the federal government, and its new iniatives in the areas of health, education, welfare, and civil rights.
Off-Campus Access Rutgers-restricted Access

Knapp, Gretchen. " Experimental Social Policymaking During World War II: The United Service Organizations (USO) and American War-Community Services (AWCS)," Journal of Policy History 12(3), 2000, 321-338.
Off-Campus Access Rutgers-restricted Access

The 1950s and 1960s

Reese, Ellen. "The Politics of Motherhood: The Restriction of Poor Mothers' Welfare Rights in the United States, 1949-1960," Social Politics 8(1), 2001, pp.65-112.
Off-Campus Access Rutgers-restricted Access

Proposal for a Nationwide War on the Sources of Poverty
Lyndon B. Johnson's Special Message to Congress, March 16, 1964. From the Modern History Sourcebook.

Aleshire, Robert A. "Power to the People: An Assessment of the Community Action and Model Cities Experience," Public Administration Review 32 (Special Issue), September 1972, 428-443.
Dana Call Number: Periodical, Shelved by Title

Flanagan, R. M. " Lyndon Johnson, Community Action, and the Management of the Administrative State," Presidential Studies Quarterly 31 (4), December 2001, 585-608.
Off-Campus Access Rutgers-restricted Access

The War on Poverty: Unfinished Business
New England Journal of Public Policy, 20(1), Fall 2004/Winter 2005, Entire Issue.
Forty years later, the successes and failures of the War on Poverty.
Off-Campus Access Rutgers-restricted Access

The War on Poverty 50 Years Later
A House Budget Committee Report. March 3, 2014.
From the House Budget Majority Staff.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

The 1970s and 1980s

Danzinger, Sheldon. Welfare Reform Policy From Nixon to Clinton: What Role for Social Science?
1998 conference paper; revised December 1999.

King, Desmond. "Sectionalism and Policy Formation in the United States: Presdent Carter's Welfare Initiatives," British Journal of Political Science 26(3), July 1996, 337-367. Rutgers-restricted Access

Stoesz, David and Howard Jacob Karger. "Deconstructing Welfare: The Reagan Legacy and the Welfare State," Social Work 38(5), 1993, 619-28.
"This article provides a retrospective examination of the major conservative social victories of the 1980's."
Off-Campus Access Rutgers-restricted Access

O'Connor, John. "U.S. Social Welfare Policy: The Reagan Record and Legacy, Journal of Social Policy 27(1), January 1998, 37-61.
Off-Campus Access

Thomas, Alexander R. "Ronald Reagan and the Commitment of the Mentally Ill: Capital, Interest Groups, and the Eclipse of Social Policy," Electronic Journal of Sociology, 1998.

The Reagan Record: An Assessment of America's Changing Domestic Priorities. Edited by John L. Palmer and Isabel V. Sawhill. Cambridge, Mass., Ballinger Pub., 1984.
Dana Call Number: HC106.8 .R42 1984

The 90s and Beyond

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996: Summary of Provisions. August 1996.
From the National Association of Social Workers.

Weil, Alan and Finegold, Kenneth. "Introduction," IN Welfare Reform: The Next Act. Washington, D.C., Urban Institute Press, 2002.

Assessing the New Federalism
For over a decade this Urban Institute policy center tracked "how children and families are faring and how program structure, financing, and administration are changing as the federal government transfers authority for health and social welfare programs to states." The ANF project has changed focus to become Low Income Working Families project, with a new emphasize on "the private and public sector context for families' success or failure." You can browse reports by issues, sectors, places, or affected populations.

Linhorst, Donald M. "Federalism and Social Justice: Implications for Social Work," Social Work 47(3), July 2002, 201-208.
Off-Campus Access Rutgers-restricted Access

Whitener, Leslie A., Weber, Bruce A., and Duncan, Greg J. "Introduction: As the Dust Settles: Welfare Reform and Rural America," IN Rural Dimensions of Welfare Reform. Kalamazoo, MI, 2002.

The Obama Agenda
The Obama Administration's position on the social and political issues facing the U.S.