By Kenneth L. Kusmer
Overlaying the full interval from the colonial period to the past due 20th century, this e-book is the 1st scholarly background of the homeless in the United States. Drawing on resources that come with files of charitable companies, sociological experiences, and various memoirs of previously homeless individuals, Kusmer demonstrates that the homeless were an important presence at the American scene for over 200 years. He probes the heritage of homelessness from a number of angles, exhibiting why humans develop into homeless; how charities and public experts handled this social challenge; and the varied ways that diversified classification, ethnic, and racial teams perceived and answered to homelessness. Kusmer demonstrates that, regardless of the typical conception of the homeless as a deviant crew, they've got constantly had a lot in universal with the typical American.Focusing at the thousands who suffered downward mobility, Down and Out, at the street offers a special view of the evolution of yankee society and increases annoying questions on the repeated failure to stand and remedy the matter of homelessness.
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Additional info for Down and Out, on the Road: The Homeless in American History
These societies were much less bureaucratic and professionalized than the larger philanthropies. For this very reason they left few records, and often what knowledge we have of them is filtered through the eyes of officials or reformers who viewed them as unnecessary or even pernicious. 37 Such individuals rejected the new “scientific” approach to poverty and were much less concerned than the more prominent reform groups with modifying the behavior of the poor to conform to a particular ideological agenda.
Illegal train-riding was never a safe practice, but by the s the risks that it entailed had at least become more predictable. These factors, and the increasing interconnectedness of rail lines, made possible the emergence of a new type of mobile homeless man. Vagabonds did not cease entirely to walk from town to town, but increasingly they would view travel on foot more as an adjunct to train riding than as an acceptable alternative to it. ”14 The sudden increase in the number of homeless, coupled with their adoption of the railroad as a means of travel, lifted the vagrancy issue to a level of social significance that it had not previously been accorded.
Obviously, Virginians at the time did not take the crime of vagrancy very seriously—provided the offender was white, of course. Contrary to proslavery propaganda of the antebellum period, the existence of slavery did not eliminate poverty among whites. By the mid-eighteenth century some southern cities had erected almshouses for THE ORIGINS OF HOMELESSNESS 17 indigent, sick, and homeless persons. Partly because it was a seaport, Charleston attracted a larger number of vagabonds than most southern communities.