By Kenneth L. Kusmer
Overlaying the whole interval from the colonial period to the overdue 20th century, this publication is the 1st scholarly background of the homeless in the US. Drawing on assets that come with documents of charitable companies, sociological reports, and various memoirs of previously homeless people, Kusmer demonstrates that the homeless were an important presence at the American scene for over 2 hundred years. He probes the historical past of homelessness from numerous angles, displaying why humans develop into homeless; how charities and public experts handled this social challenge; and the varied ways that assorted classification, ethnic, and racial teams perceived and replied to homelessness. Kusmer demonstrates that, regardless of the typical conception of the homeless as a deviant staff, they've got continually had a lot in universal with the typical American.
Focusing at the thousands who suffered downward mobility, Down and Out, at the Road presents a distinct view of the evolution of yank society and increases aggravating questions on the repeated failure to stand and resolve the matter of homelessness.
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Additional info for Down and Out, on the Road: The Homeless in American History
Soup societies did not only serve the homeless. Like some later, religiously oriented charities, they also fed the working poor to prevent them from becoming homeless. Unlike the AICP and, after , the Charity Organization Society, soup societies received little publicity. Considering that many such societies existed in a single city, however, their impact was far from insignificant. 41 The resiliency of these local philanthropies in the face of strong public criticism was only one example of the failure of proponents of the new “scientific” charity to carry the day.
The Puritan emphasis on a covenanted community and family government militated against single people living alone, much less wandering the highways, and in the seventeenth century people found living by themselves were required to board with families. If this concept of community demanded care for those within the bounds of the social order, however, it also allowed townspeople to disregard those defined as outside the community. As early as the process of “warning out” was instituted by selectmen in New England towns.
But young America had no equivalent of London or Paris, and as late as only percent of its population resided in cities. 13 The moderate level of homelessness in America prior to did not necessarily lead to public indifference. Colonial era attitudes toward the homeless would continue to influence public policy toward this group throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The preeminence of Protestantism in the British colonies insured that here, as in England, attitudes toward the homeless would be quite different from that of Catholic Europe.