Social Welfare A History of the American Response to Need

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  • Edition: 9th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2017-01-29
  • Publisher: Pearson

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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


For courses in History of Social Welfare or Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations.

Note: This is the bound book only and does not include access to the Enhanced Pearson eText. To order the Enhanced Pearson eText packaged with a bound book, use ISBN 0134303733. 

Examines the most current social welfare issues in historical perspective.

Social Welfare: A History of the American Response to Need enables students to place current issues of social concern in their historical contexts. It examines the comprehensive history of social welfare from the 18th century to the present, while exploring the ideas—as well as the economic and political forces—that have shaped policy development. Using numerous original documents to provide a clearer picture of historical periods, the authors show how social conditions, ideas about dependency and poverty, and institutions have shaped social policy and the efforts of voluntary organizations and individuals who work with at-risk populations.


This book is part of the Connecting Core Competencies Series, which helps students understand and master CSWE’s core competencies with a variety of learning aids that highlight competency content and critical-thinking questions for the competencies.


 The Enhanced Pearson eText is:

  • Engaging. The new interactive, multimedia learning features were developed by the authors and other subject-matter experts to deepen and enrich the learning experience.*

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Author Biography

Mark Stern is professor of social welfare and history and co-director of the Urban Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania. He has authored or co-authored five books, including One Nation Divisible: What America Was and What It Is Becoming (co-authored with Michael B. Katz).


Before her death, June Axinn was professor emeritus of social welfare at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Table of Contents



1. Introduction: How to Think About Social Welfare’s Past (and Present)

2. The Colonial Period: 1647—1776

3. The Pre—Civil War Period: 1777—1860

4. The Civil War and After: 1860—1900

5. Progress and Reform: 1900—1930

6. The Depression and the New Deal: 1930—1940

7. War and Prosperity: 1940—1968

8. Conservative Resurgence and Social Change: 1968—1992

9. Social Welfare and the Information Society: 1992—2016




1. Introduction: How to Think About Social Welfare’s Past (and Present)

DOCUMENT: Introduction

              An Act for the Relief of the Poor, 43 Elizabeth, 1601


2. The Colonial Period: 1647—1776

The Poor Laws in the Colonies

Conquest, Expansion, and Population Growth: Native Americans, Immigration, and Slavery

Social Change and the Challenge to the Poor Laws

Veterans: A Special Class

DOCUMENTS: The Colonial Period

              An Act of Supplement to the Acts Referring to the Poor, Massachusetts Bay, 1692

              The Binding of Moses Love, 1747


3. The Pre—Civil War Period: 1777—1860

Social and Economic Conditions

              Population Growth and Migration

              Slavery and Free Labor

Reform and Social Change

              Labor Unrest

              Religious Reform and Jacksonian Democracy

              The Expansion of Public Education

              The Expansion of Suffrage

              Moral Reform

Social Welfare Programs and Services


              Child Saving

              Retreat from the Almshouse

DOCUMENTS: The Pre—Civil War Period

              The First Annual Report of the Managers of the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism in the City of New York, 1818

              Constitution, By-Laws, &c., of the Female Orphan Asylum of Portland, Maine, 1828

              President Franklin Pierce: Veto Message–An Act Making a Grant of Public Lands to the Several States for the Benefit of Indigent Insane Persons, 1854


4. The Civil War and After: 1860—1900

Changing Economic and Demographic Realities

              Population Changes

              Naturalization and Citizenship

              Regional Shifts

              The Aging: The Group That Was Left Behind

Innovations in Social Welfare Services

              The Welfare of Soldiers and Veterans

              Social Welfare: Reconstruction and the Freedmen’s Bureau

              Social Welfare and Urban Expansion

              The Charity Organization Movement

              The Settlement House Movement

              A New View of Child Welfare

Social Movements During the Late 19th Century: The Reform Impulse

              The Social Welfare of Women

              The Labor Movement

              The Agrarian Movement


DOCUMENTS: The Civil War and After

              An Act to Provide for the Relief of Indigent Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, and the Families of Those Deceased, 1887

              The Economic and Moral Effects of Public Outdoor Relief, 1890

              An Act to Prohibit the Coming of Chinese Laborers to the United States, September 1888, and Supplement, October 1888


5. Progress and Reform: 1900—1930

Changing Economic and Demographic Realities

              An Urban and Industrial Society

              Poverty and the Working Class

              African Americans, Native Americans, and Immigrants

Innovations in Social Welfare

              Regulating Working Conditions

              Expanding Public Welfare

              Protecting Vulnerable Families

              Social Work and the Black Population

              The Social Welfare of Veterans

              Professionalizing Social Work

Social Movements in the Early 20th Century

              Coalitions for Reform

              Regulating Business

              Organized Labor

              Women, Work, and Suffrage

The End of Reform

DOCUMENTS: Progress and Reform

              The Family and the Woman’s Wage, 1909

              Funds to Parents Act, Illinois, 1911

              Public Pensions to Widows, 1912


6. The Depression and the New Deal: 1930—1940

Changing Economic and Demographic Realities

              The Economic Collapse

              Agricultural Crisis

              Family Life

Innovations in Social Welfare

              The Hoover Response to Crisis

              FDR and the First New Deal

              Public Money for Relief

              Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA)

              The Second New Deal

              The Social Security Act

              Expanding Social Security: The 1939 Amendments

              Public Assistance

              The Changing Role of the Social Work Profession

              New Alignments in Social Welfare

Mass Movements During the 1930s

              Veterans and the Bonus

              Older Americans

              Labor and Social Welfare

              Setbacks for Women

              The Eclipse of Reform


DOCUMENTS: The Depression and the New Deal

              Monthly Reports of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, 1933

              Social Security Act, 1935


7. War and Prosperity: 1940—1968

Changing Economic and Demographic Realities

              Population Shifts

              Technology, Productivity, and Economic Insecurity

              World War II

              Wartime Economic and Social Advances

              Postwar Optimism

Innovations in Social Welfare

              Veterans and the GI Bill

              The Attack on Public Welfare

              Poverty and the Reform of Welfare

              The War on Poverty

              Expanded Benefits for the Aging

              Controlling Public Assistance

Social Movements and Reform After World War II

              Expanding the Civil Rights of African Americans

              A Renewed Feminist Movement

              Civil Rights and Juvenile Justice

DOCUMENTS: War and Prosperity

              Message on the Public Welfare Program, 1962

              Economic Opportunity Act, 1964

              In re Gault, 1967


8. Conservative Resurgence and Social Change: 1968—1992

Economic and Social Trends

              A Struggling Economy

              Changing Employment Patterns

              The Changing Family

Poverty and Income Distribution

Innovations in Social Welfare

              Expenditures for Social Welfare

              Challenging the Welfare State: Welfare Reform

              Child Welfare and the Aging

              The Unemployed


              Personal Social Services

Social Movements

              The New Right

              The Expansion of Civil Rights



DOCUMENTS: Conservative Resurgence and Social Change

              Message on Reform in Welfare, 1969

              Standard of Review for Termination of Disability Benefits, 1984


9. Social Welfare and the Information Society: 1992—2016

Social and Economic Change

              The Economy: Productivity, Growth, and Employment


              Changes in Family Composition

              America’s Changing Demography

Innovations in Social Welfare

              The Fall and Rise of Health Care Reform

              The Failure of Comprehensive Reform in the 1990s

              Achieving Comprehensive Reform in 2010

              Addressing Poverty and Dependency: The Scope of Welfare Reform

              The Changing Dynamics of the Welfare Debate

              The New Consensus over Welfare Reform

              The Impact of Welfare Reform

Social Movements and Grassroots Change

              Welfare Reform and “Immigration Control”

              The Return to Voluntarism and the Rise of Privatization

              The Continuing Battle for Social Justice


              Affirmative Action in the Labor Market

              Abortion and the Right to Privacy

              The Great Lockup


DOCUMENTS: Social Welfare and the Information Society

              Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, 1996

              State of California, Proposition 187, Illegal Aliens–Public Services, Verification, and Reporting, 1994

              U.S. Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas, 2003

Rewards Program

Reviews for Social Welfare A History of the American Response to Need (9780134449913)