The Social Welfare History Project 12.10.2014

This was a previously posted page that I have decided to turn into a post. The only thing that makes me sad is that Dr. Hansan removed much of my commentary before he “reprinted” my research. Keep in mind that historical research takes hours and hours of reading and transcribing. It was not an easy task but well worth the effort. ALL of these blog posts can be found on this blog in their original form.

“I am very proud and honored that John E. Hansan, Ph.D., creator of THE SOCIAL WELFARE HISTORY PROJECT website, has chosen to share 24 articles from my blog, THE INMATES OF WILLARD. I don’t normally blow my own horn, but what the hell, I’m thrilled that my research has been shared on this educational website. Thank You, Dr. Hansan! (Page Created 12.10.2014)

The Social History Welfare History Project

The Social Welfare History Project

The Social Welfare History Project – Contributor Bio – Linda S. Stuhler 11.11.2013.
Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital: New York – 1891 1.20.2014.
Our New York State Charities: 1873 1.18.2013.
The Willard Asylum for the Insane: Steward’s Report 1900 1.18.2014.
New York State Charities Aid Association: 1873 1.6.2014.
Colony For Epileptics: 1914 12.3.2013.
New York State Care System For The Insane Completed: 1896 1.18.2014.
Deportation of the Insane Aliens: 1907 1.14.2014.
Schuyler, Louisa Lee 1.3.2014.
Syracuse State Institution For Feeble-Minded Children: 1916 12.3.2013.
Care of the Filthy Cases of Insane: 1885 11.23.2013.
State Care of the Insane: New York 1901 11.22.2013.
Hammond, Dr. William A. 11.21.2013.
New York State’s County Poor Houses: 1864 11.20.2013.
The Care Of The Insane In New York (1736 – 1912) 11.18.2013.
After Care for the Insane: New York State 1906 11.22.2013.
Chapin, John B., M.D., LL.D. 11.21.2013.
Hoyt, Dr. Charles S. 11.21.2013.
A Brief History of Government Charity in New York (1603 – 1900) 11.18.2013.
The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda 11.18.2013.
Willard, Sylvester D. 11.12.2013.
Kirkbride, Thomas Story 11.11.2013.
Scientific Charity Movement and Charity Organization Societies 11.10.2013.
Brigham, Amariah 11.12.2013.
Poor House Conditions: Albany County, New York – 1864 11.11.2013.”

A Brief History of Charity in New York 1603 to 1900

A Brief History of Charity in New York State as it relates to the creation of
Public Work Houses, County Poor Houses, Insane Asylums, Orphan Asylums,
Houses of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents, Care of Aged, Decrepit and Mentally Enfeebled Persons who are Not Insane, Indigent Children, etc. Many appropriations for The Willard Insane Asylum are included as well.
Researched by Linda S. Stuhler – October 21, 2011

I have reprinted some outlines and a few passages from Documents of The Senate of the State of New York, One Hundred and Twenty Seventh Session, 1904, (compiled by Edward H. Leggett, Esq. of the Attorney General’s office and his assistant, Mr. Wellington D. Ives, Chief Clerk in the office of the Board of Charities), that shows the history of charity for the poor in New York State from 1603 to 1900.

Coldbath Fields Treadmill - Wikipedia

Coldbath Fields Treadmill – Wikipedia

The Dutch Colony of New Netherland from 1603 to 1664

“Comparatively little of importance has been found with relation to the administration of charity under the Dutch in the colony of New Netherland. Not, however, that ordinances and customs did not exist, following those of the mother country, but the records are fragmentary and give a partial view only of the charitable work of the colony. Possibly many of the missing records were part of the documents of the Dutch West India Company, which it is said, were sold at public auction in 1821, and could not be found when Mr. John Romeyn Brodhead, the agent of this State, made his investigation in 1841-43 of the archives of the Hague in search of material relating to the History of New Netherland. The following chronological references to Dutch ordinances and documents relating to the relief of the poor are taken from various works relating to the history of the early colonial settlements in this State, to which credit is given in each case:

1630–1635 – Poor people not permitted to participate in the exemptions, privileges and freedoms granted to the patroons.

1649 – Poor supported by collections in the churches, fines and voluntary offerings-No hospitals or asylums for children or for old men.

1650 – No asylums for children or the aged in New Netherland.

1651 – In order not to subject the poor to inconvenience, particular inhabitants requesting it may be privileged to lay in small beer free of excise with liberty to retail the same at a reasonable advance by small measure. (“Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland.” P. 122. O’Callaghan.)

1652 – The Director-General grants site for almshouse at Beaverwyck (Albany.) (“Annals of Albany,” Vol. VII, pp. 232, 233. Munsell)

1653 – Burgomasters were ex officio the chief rulers of the city; the principal church wardens, guardians of the poor and of widows and orphans. They held in trust all city property and managed the same. (“History of New Netherland.” Vol. 2, p. 211. O’Callaghan.)

Schepens (city magistrates) provided for the burial of friendless strangers. (“History of New Netherland.” Vol. 2, p. 212. O’Callaghan.)

1654 – Dependent children sent from the almshouse at Amsterdam to New Netherland.

The Director General and Council resolve to hire a house in New Amsterdam, and lodge there the children sent over by the poormasters from Holland. (“Documents Relating to the History of the Early Colonial Settlements.” Vol. XIV, p. 296. Fernow.)

1655 – More dependent children sent from the almshouse at Amsterdam, in Holland, to New Netherland.

Goats found south of the “fresh water” to be seized and sold for the benefit of the poor. (“Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland.” P. 201. O’ Callaghan.)

One-third of penalty for firing guns or planting May poles on New Years and May days to go to support of the poor. (“Laws and Ordinances of New Nether land.” P. 205. O’ Callaghan.)

1656 – One-third of certain penalties to be applied to support of the poor. (“Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland.” P. 263. O’Callaghan.)

1658 – Children from almshouse in Holland arrived and being in demand, were all bound and others requested to be sent over. In New Netherland, men of large families when they die ‘do not leave a stiver behind. The public must provide the coffin, pay all the debts and feed or maintain those who survive.” (“Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York.” Vol. II, p. 52. O’Callaghan.)

1661 – First law enacted in New Netherland providing for the support of the poor. (Passed 22 October 1661).” (Senate Pages 3-9).”


The earliest English laws governing the administration of affairs, charitable and otherwise, in the Colony of New York are known as the “Duke of York’s Laws.” These laws were “Establisht by the Authority of his Majesties Letters patents, granted to his Royall Highnes James Duke of Yorke and Albany: Bearing Date the 12th Day of March in the sixteenth year of ye Raigne of our Sovereign Lord King Charles the Second. Digested into one Volume for the publicke use of the Territoryes in America under the Government of his Royall Highnesse. Collected out of the Several Laws now in force in his Majesties American Colonyes and Plantations.

Published March the 1st Anno Domini 1664 at a General meeting at Hemsted upon Longe Island by virtue of a Commission from his Royall Highnesse James Duke of Yorke and Albany given to Colonell Richard Nicolls Deputy Governor, bearing date the Second day of Aprill 1664.

These and other Colonial laws of New York from the year 1664 to the Revolution were republished by the State of New York in 1894, and the volume and page references herein given relate to the volumes and pages of such republication.

1664 – Bond slavery of Christians forbidden, but not to prejudice indenture nor taking as apprentice. Eight overseers to provide for church and poor. Certain penalties to be applied to support of poor.

1665 – Disbursements for the poor and the support of the poorhouse at Albany. Distracted persons to be provided for by contributions from each town in the riding. Persons holding in trust property of orphans to render inventory annually Disbursements for the poor and the support of the poorhouse at Albany.

1671 – Deacons of the Reformed Christian church complain to the Mayor’s court of the administration of charity by the deacons of the Lutheran church.

1678 – “Noe beggars but all poore cared ffor.” (From Answers of inquiries of New York Rec’d from Sr Edm. Andros on the 16th of Apr 1678.” “Documentary History of New York.” Vol. I, page 62. O’Callaghan.)

1683 – Provides for care of poor, and prevention and discouragement of vagabondage.

1684 – Persons holding in trust property of orphans, to render inventory annually to court of sessions. Provides penalty for stealing by apprentices.

1687 – Towns and counties maintain their own poor and no vagabonds or beggars allowed in the Province of New York.

1691 – Public workhouses directed to be provided by Governor Fletcher.

“You are to endeavor with the assistance of our Councill to provide for the raising and building of Publique Work Houses in convenient Places for the employing of Poor and Indigent People.” (Instructions to Governor Benjamin Fletcher of the Province of New York from Lord Nottingham by Her Majesty’s command, March 17, 1691. “Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New York,” Vol. III, page 824.)

1695 – Annual appointment of five overseers of the poor and public works in New York city and defining their duties relative to the support of the poor.

1697 – Public workhouses directed to be provided by Governor Bellomont.

“You are to endeavor with the Assistance of the Councill to provide for the raising and building of public workhouses in convenient places for the employing of poor and indigent people.” (Instructions to Governor Richard Bellomont of the Province of New York from His Majesty by James Vernon, August 31, 1697. “Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York.” Vol. IV., page 290.)

1699 – No such thing as a beggar in New York.

“A Bill to enforce the building of publick workhouses (which is another instruction from his Majesty) to imploy the poor and also vagabonds I offered to the Assembly, but they smiled at it, because indeed there is no such as a beggar in this town or country: and I believe there is not a richer populace any where in the King’s dominions than is in this Town.” (From the Earl of Bellomont to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, April the 27th 1699.

“Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York.” Vol. IV, page 511. O’Callaghan.)

1701 – Repeals former statutes and provides that each town or parish shall care for its own poor. Justices of the peace to audit accounts.

1702 – Provides for the care of the poor in New York city, and limits annual amount to be raised for such purpose to 300 (pounds).

Act for the better maintenance of the poor in New York.

Making provision for the execution of poor felons and the burial of the poor.

1703 – Explaining previous laws relating to the poor and vagabonds. “An Act for the better Explaining and more Effectual putting in Execucon An Act of General Assembly made in the third yeare of the Reign of their late Majties King Wm. and Queen Mary Entituled An Act for defraying of the Publick and necessary Charge thro’out this Province and for mainteining the Poor and preventing Vagabonds.

1708 – Surplus of penalties collected in suppressing immorality given to the overseers of the poor for support of the poor.

1719 – Certain part of penalties collected by pound keepers to be applied to support of the poor.

1721 – Vagrant and idle persons to be apprehended, brought before a justice of the peace or mayor, and returned to their lawful settlements.

Providing for the equitable assessment of taxes for the support of the minister and the poor in New York, Queens, Richmond and Westchester counties.

1729 – Moiety of certain penalties to he paid to overseers to be applied to the support of the poor.

1732 – An act for the speedy punishing and releasing of vagrant and idle persons. Moiety of certain penalties to be applied to the support of the poor.

1737 – An act to restrain tavern keepers from selling liquors to servants and apprentices. Moiety of penalty for peddling without a license to go to support of the poor.

Moiety of sales and fines on impounded swine to be applied to support of the poor.

1740 – Moiety of fines collected under act to prevent abuses in the repacking of beef and pork to be applied to support of the minister and the poor in New York city.

Providing for support and burials of the poor in county at the expense of the county.” (Senate 11- 30)

Fast forward to 1771:

1771 – “The Society of the Hospital in the City of New York in America.”

“This Society was incorporated June 13, 1771 by a charter granted by King George the Third. This was the result of a subscription set on foot for the purpose of erecting a public hospital in the City of New York, and the King in view of the beneficial tendency of such an institution ‘calculated for relieving the diseases of the indigent.’ granted the charter.” (Senate 37)

1772 – The Society of the Hospital of the City of New York in America to receive an annual appropriation of 800 (pounds) to be paid from excise duties laid on strong liquors retailed in New York city. Hospital to receive and treat all sick poor persons who are residents of any county within the colony, without compensation. (Senate 37)

1773 – An Act for the Settlement and Relief of the Poor (Passed March 8, 1773). (Senate 39)”


“The first Legislature of the State of New York met at Kingston on September 10, 1777, and the first statute was enacted February 6, 1778. Of the great majority of the laws which have been enacted in this State affecting the administration of charity and the care of the poor, it is possible to give a brief abstract only, referring the student of these questions to the laws themselves for fuller information should such be desired. To facilitate reference, however, especially of those to whom the laws of the State may not be accessible, a few of the more important statutes, such as the general poor laws, are printed in full.

1778 – Appointing Commissioners in Tryon, Saratoga, Albany and Charlotte counties to collect and distribute charitable donations among distressed inhabitants on frontiers of eastern and western districts of State who, during late campaign, were obliged to abandon their homes by devastation of the enemy.

Appointing a Commissioner to superintend the poor removed from New York into Dutchess county, and appropriating 600 (pounds) from State treasury to each of the Commissioners for superintending poor removed into Dutchess, Westchester and Ulster counties.

Providing for the election of overseers of the poor at the annual town meetings in August. Directing Justices of the Peace to furnish the necessaries of life to the families of soldiers in Continental service at moderate prices balance to be paid by State.

Appropriations to commissioners over poor removed from New York city-in Dutchess county 1200 (pounds), and in Ulster county 600 (pounds).” (Senate 49-50)”

Fast Forward to 1784:

1784 – An Act for the Settlement and Relief of the Poor. Chapter 35 Laws of 1784. (Senate 52)

1788 – Overseers of poor to bind out poor children as apprentices and servants; proceedings where persons refuse to be bound; emigration of poor regulated-contracts of service. (Senate 70 & 71)

An Act for the Better Settlement and Relief of the Poor. Chapter 62 of the Laws of 1788. (Senate 78)

An Act for Dividing the Counties of This State Into Towns. Chapter 64 of the Laws of 1788.

“All counties divided into towns. Poor in town of Goshen, Warwick and Minisink, Orange county, and in Cortlandt, Yorktown, Stephentown, Greenburgh and Mt. Pleasant, Westchester county. In every town in the State two overseers of the poor to be elected. Overseers of poor in Albany and Hudson. Oaths of office of overseers. One-half of penalty for refusal of certain town officers elected to qualify to go to poor fund. Powers of town meetings.” (Senate 95) (57)

1824 – An Act to Incorporate The Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in the City of New York. Chapter 126 Laws of 1824. (Senate 236)

An Act To Provide For The Establishment Of County Poorhouses. Chapter 331, Laws of 1824, Passed 27th November 1824.”

The American Revolutionary War began in July 1776 and ended in October 1781. There was a flurry of activity of charity for the poor during and after the American Revolution. Once America became the United States, with its own sovereign government, New York became a state on July 26, 1788.

After the Civil War and by 1870, there were hundreds of charities partially funded with appropriations from the state. I have included a synopsis from Documents of The Senate of the State of New York, from 1865 to 1900, of anything having to do with Willard, state institutions, the pauper insane and the poor in general. There were hundreds of entries that I could not possibly include. (L.S.Stuhler)

New York State Timeline

1865 – Authorizing establishment of Willard State Asylum for the insane paupers. $75,000 appropriation therefor. (Senate 1865, Chapter 342, page 556)

1867 – Annual Supply Bill. $14,300 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate 1867, Chapter 481, page 582)

1870 – Appropriating $49,250 to pay present indebtedness of the Willard Asylum for the Insane. (Senate 1870, Chapter 380, page 636)

$118,000 for Willard Asylum, for extension or completion of wing, building for idiots, dock, fuel and salaries; $25,000 for furniture and maintenance of Willard Asylum. (Senate 1870, Chapter 492, page 641)

Making appropriations for certain public and charitable institutions: For orphan asylums, homes for the friendless and other charitable institutions of like character for their maintenance, $150,000 to be divided among the counties for the several state charities. (Senate 1870, Chapter 704, page 642).

1871 – In relation to the chronic pauper insane. Act authorizing Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities to hear and determine applications made to them by county superintendents of poor of the several counties of this State, and said board may file determination relieving counties from sending pauper insane to Willard Asylum. Said board may revoke such determination and must file same in office of county clerk making such application and notice thereof must be given to poor superintendents. Commissioners may direct removal of chronic pauper insane to Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate 1871, Chapter 713, page 658)

Supply Bill. $170,500 for Willard Asylum. (Senate 1871, Chapter 715, page 658) Appropriation Act. $28,000 for Willard Asylum. (Senate 1871, Chapter 715, page 659)

Amending section 11 of chapter 474, Laws of 1870, establishing a Homeopathic Asylum for the Insane at Middletown, NY. (Senate 1871, Chapter 237, page 652).

1872 – Appropriation Act. $9,000 for salaries for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate 1872, Chapter 541, page 681)

Section 9 of chapter 342 Laws of 1865 relating to price for board at Willard Asylum amended. (Senate 1872, Chapter 541, page 681)

Supply Bill. $131,000 for Willard Asylum for the Insane. (Senate 1872, Chapter 733, page 683)

Act to establish and maintain an institution for the relief of indigent and disabled soldiers and sailors of New York State. “The New York Soldiers’ Home” incorporated. (Senate 1872, Chapter 873, Laws of 1872, page 686)

1873 – Authorizing the trustees of Willard Asylum for the Insane to appoint a fourth assistant physician. (Senate, Chapter 443, page 694)

Act further defining the powers and duties of the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities and to change the name of the Board to “The State Board of Charities.” Chapter 571, Laws of 1873. (Senate 695)

Appropriation Act. $10,500 for Willard Asylum for the Insane (Senate, Chapter 643, page 701) Supply Bill. $60,000 for Willard Asylum for the Insane (Senate, Chapter 700, page 702) Legalizing the adoption of minor children by adult persons. (Senate, Chapter 830, page 703)

Concurrent resolution directing the Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities to examine into the causes of the increase of crime, pauperism and insanity and report statistics to the next Legislature, passed May 29, 1873. (Senate 704)

1874 – Supply Bill. $140,000 for Willard Asylum for the Insane. (Senate, Chapter 323, page 706)

Appropriation Act. $250 for support of Susan Green, an insane Indian, at Willard Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 398, page 708)

Act to revise and consolidate the State Statutes, relating to the care and custody of the Insane, the management of the asylums for their treatment and keeping, and the duties of the State Commissioner in Lunacy. (Senate, Chapter 446, page 709)

Amending act providing for the support and care of State paupers, chapter 661, Laws of 1873. State Board of Charities authorized to contract with authorities of not more than 15 counties or cities in State for the reception of State paupers in poor houses of such counties or cities, and to make rules and regulations for their care and discipline. Said board may transfer paupers from one almshouse to another as it shall deem advisable. Passed June 7, 1873. (Senate 709)

1875 – Annual Appropriations Act. $11,000 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 373, page 721)

Annual Supply Bill. $56,000 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate 1875, Chapter 634, page 727)

Act providing for a better system of records of the inmates of poorhouses and almshouses. Copies to be sent to State Board of Charities. (Senate, Chapter 140, page 713)

An Act to Provide for the Better Care of Pauper and Destitute Children. Chapter 173, Laws of 1875. Section 1. On and after January first, eighteen hundred and seventy-six, it shall not be lawful for    any justice of the peace, police justice or other magistrate to commit any child, over three and    under sixteen years of age, as vagrant, truant or disorderly, to any county poor-house of this State, or for any county superintendent or overseer of the poor, or other officer, to send any such child as a pauper to any such poor-house for support and care, unless such child be an unteachable idiot, an epileptic or paralytic, or be otherwise defective, diseased or deformed, so as to render it unfit for family care; but such justice of the peace, police justice or other magistrate, and also such county superintendent or overseer of the poor, or other officer, shall commit or send such child or children not above exempted to some orphan asylum or other charitable or reformatory institution, as now provided for by law. (Senate 714)

An Act to Authorize the Establishment of a Female Department to the Western House of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents. Seventy-five thousand dollars appropriated. Chapter 228, Laws of 1875. (Senate 716)

An Act to Authorize the Various Associations and Societies Incorporated Under the Laws of the State of New York, For the Purposes of Taking Care Of and Protecting Destitute Infant Minor Children, To Bind Out by Indenture Destitute Children Who Are In Their Care and Keeping, Chapter 522, Laws of 1875. (Senate 724)

1876 – Annual Appropriations Act. $10,500 for Willard Insane Asylum (Senate, Chapter 192, page 730)

Supply Bill. $100,500 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 193, page 730)

Act to prevent and punish wrongs to children. Occupation of children in theatrical and certain other employments made a misdemeanor. (Senate, Chapter 122, page 728)

An Act providing for the Removal from office by Governor of any County Superintendent of the Poor charged with misconduct. Offender to be given a copy of charge against him and opportunity to defend himself. The Governor to direct testimony or examination. Chapter 133, Laws of 1876. (Senate 729)

1877 – Annual Appropriations Act. $12,000 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 123, page 738)

Supply Bill. $100,378 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 276, page 740)

Act for the protection of children and to prevent and punish certain wrongs to children. Minors under 14 years not to be allowed in drinking or concert saloons, etc. Begging by children prohibited. (Senate, Chapter 428, page 742)

Concurrent Resolution. Relating to the Soldiers Home for the State of New York. Official returns of 35 of the 60 counties of State show that there are 641 veteran soldiers and sailors in the county poor-houses of the State. A farm of 240 acres in vicinity of Bath, Steuben county having been purchased for home for disabled soldiers and sailors and private subscription raised for erecting buildings thereon…$100,000. (Senate 744)

1878 – Appropriations Act. $12,350 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 29, page 744) Supply Bill. $53,000 for Willard Insane Asylum (all laws authorizing appointment of Building Superintendent and fixing salary of Building Superintendent of Willard Asylum, repealed) (Senate, Chapter 252, page 748)

Act providing for the support, treatment and care of pauper, destitute and delinquent children under sixteen years of age. Not to be committed to poor houses but to be placed in families or orphan asylums. Powers of State Board of Charities in connection therewith defined. Chapter 404 Laws of 1878. (Senate 1878, page 750)

1879 – Appropriations Act. $12,100 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 148, page 755) Supply Bill. $100,000 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 272, page 758)”

In 1880, New York State started cracking down on insane alien paupers. Expenses for Willard were growing along with the pauper insane population which, by law, required the state to provide additional institutions to be built in order to provide for their care and support. By 1883, there were at least 27 state institutions, including Willard, supported by tax payer funds. New charitable institutions sprang up all over New York State for the care of the insane, idiots and feeble-minded, deaf and dumb, blind, sick and crippled soldiers, orphans, indigent children, juvenile delinquents, abandoned women, etc. This number did not include the poor houses or the prisons in all the various counties that also required tax payer funds. (L.S.Stuhler)

1880 – Appropriations Act. $12,100 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 141, page 763)


Section 1590. “Partition by guardian of infant, committee of lunatic, etc.” Section 1591. “Contents of petition.”

Section 1592. “Court may authorize partition of infants and lunatics’ interest in lands.” Section 1593. “Effect of releases by such guardian or committee.”

Section 1638. “An infant or incompetent person cannot bring an action to compel determination of a claim to real property.”

Section 1647. “An action against a widow to determine her dower interest cannot be brought against an infant or incompetent.”

Section 1743. “An action may be brought to have a marriage contract declared void when one of the parties was an idiot or lunatic, or when one or both had not attained the age of legal consent.” Section 1744. “An action to annul marriage contract may he maintained by infant or by its parent or guardian.”

Section 1746. “Such action may be commenced by any relative of an idiot.” Section 1747. “When such action to be commenced where party was a lunatic.”

Section 1749. “A child of a marriage annulled on ground of idiocy or lunacy of one of its parents is a legitimate child of the other parent of sound mind.”

Section 1755. “How next friend of infant or lunatic allowed to sue.”

Section 1926. “Actions by overseers and superintendents of the poor to recover penalties and damages and enforce liabilities or duties under contract made with them.”

Section 1927. “Actions against overseers and superintendents of the poor.”

Sections 2320 to 2344. “Proceedings for appointment of a committee of a lunatic, idiot or habitual drunkard.”

Section 2324. “Duties of overseers and superintendents of the poor to apply for appointment of such committee when incompetent has property which may be endangered and no relative has applied.”

Sections 2345 to 2364. “Proceedings for disposition of real estate of an infant, lunatic, idiot or habitual drunkard.”

Section 2382. “Effect of lunacy in arbitration proceedings.”

Sections 2530 and 2531. “Proceedings for appointment of special guardians of infants and incompetents in Surrogates Courts.”(Senate, Chapter 178, pps. 763-766)

Supply Bill. $3,000 for the removal of infirm alien paupers to the countries whence they came and authorizing State Board of Charities to remove alien paupers. “Chapter 272, Laws 1879, amended as follows: Hereafter no pauper who has not resided within the State for at least one year next prior to application for his or her admission into any State asylum for the idiotic, blind, insane or deaf and dumb, shall be admitted as an inmate therein.” (Senate 772)

1881 – Appropriations Act. $12,100 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 185, page 775)

“In relation to the officers and medical staff of Willard Insane Asylum, and to provide for the appointment of a committee for the discharge of patients in said asylum.” (Senate, Chapter 190, p 776)

An Act To Confer Upon The State Charities Aid Association the Power to Visit, Inspect and Examine any of the State Charitable Institutions, County Poor-Houses and Town Poor-Houses and City Alms-Houses Within the State. Chapter 323, Laws of 1881. (Senate, Chapter 323, page 778)

“Act for the inspection of alien emigrants and their effects by the commissioners of emigration to ascertain who among them are paupers or otherwise liable to become public charges, and to retransport such emigrants.” (Senate, Chapter 427, page 780)


Section 239. “A grand juror may be challenged if a minor or insane.” Section 375. “A trial juror may be challenged if a minor or insane.”

Sections 658 to 662. “Inquiry into insanity of the defendant before trial or after conviction. If found insane, defendant to be sent to State lunatic asylum at expense of county from which he was sent, but the county may recover such expenses from his estate or from a relative, town, city or county, bound to provide for him.” (Senate, Chapter 442, page 781)

Supply Bill. $10,000 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 475, page 783)

“Amending chapter 460, Laws of 1879, to amend chapter 123, Laws 1854, promoting medical science. Governors and managers of hospitals may deliver bodies of deceased persons to professors of medical colleges for dissection in certain cases, if bodies are unclaimed, etc.” (Senate, Chapter 550, page 784)

“Amending chapter 482, Laws 1875, conferring on board of supervisors further powers of local legislation and administration. Supervisors authorized to purchase real estate for establishments for care of paupers, idiots, paupers incurably insane and other indigent persons, for whose support the county is responsible, and issue bonds for payment therefore.” (Senate, Chapter 573 page 784)

THE PENAL CODE, Chapter 676

Section 20. “An act done by an idiot, imbecile, lunatic or insane, is not a crime. A person cannot be tried or punished for a crime while in a state of idiocy, imbecility, insanity or lunacy, so as to be incapable of understanding the proceeding or making his defense.” (785)

Section 21. “But a person is not excused from criminal liability on such ground except upon proof that at time of committing the act, he did not know the nature and quality of the act or that he was doing wrong.” (785)

Section 377. “Unlawful confinement or unkind treatment or neglect of duty towards any idiot, lunatic or person under confinement a misdemeanor.” (788)

Section 445. “Maintaining private insane asylums without a license a misdemeanor.” (788)

1882 – Annual Appropriations Act. $11,850 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 270, page 792)

“Supply bill. The officers of each State hospital, asylum, charitable or reformatory institution and the State Commissioner in Lunacy, the State Board of Charities and the State Board of Health shall render to the Comptroller, annually, a detailed, itemized account of all their several receipts and expenditures.” (794)

Annual Appropriations Act. $13,800 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 362, page 794)

Section 2042. “Commissioners of emigration to inspect all foreign immigrants, to ascertain and arrest habitual criminals, paupers, incompetents or imbeciles or destitute deaf, dumb, blind or infirm or orphans or persons having infectious or contagious diseases.” (Senate, Chapter 410, page 807) Section 2064. “All lunatic, idiotic, deaf, dumb, blind, maimed, infirm or sick indigent persons over sixty years, who are passengers on vessels arriving at port of New York, shall be cared for at expense of captains, owners or agents of the vessels under penalty of $500 until delivered to commissioners of emigration.” (Senate, Chapter 410, page 807, 808)

1883 – “Amending chapter 446, Laws of 1874, revising and consolidating the statutes of the State relating to the care and custody of the insane, the management of the asylums for their treatment and safekeeping and the duties of the State Commissioner in Lunacy.” (Senate, Chapter 193, page 810)

Annual Appropriations Act. $11,850 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 243, page 810)

ARTICLE I. “Persons exempt from military duty. Section 6. Idiots, lunatics, paupers, vagabonds, habitual drunkards and persons convicted of infamous crimes.” (Senate, 813)

“Amending chapter 550, Laws of 1881, to amend chapter 460, Laws of 1879, which amends chapter 123, Laws of 1854, to promote medical science. It shall be lawful for officers of public hospitals and almshouses to deliver dead bodies to medical colleges for dissection under certain conditions herein named. Relatives however may claim bodies.” (Senate, Chapter 443, page 814)

Supply Bill. $6,000 for Willard Insane Asylum. $2,000 for the removal of infirm alien paupers. (Senate, Chapter 491, page 814)

1884 – Authorizing the trustees of Willard Insane Asylum to purchase a farm of 134 acres at a price not exceeding $75 per acre. (Senate 1884, Chapter 27, page 816)

Annual Appropriations Act. $13,500 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 550, page 827) Supply Bill. $3,000 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 550, page 827)

$2,000 for the removal of infirm alien paupers. (Senate, Chapter 551, page 827)

“Concurrent resolution passed May 14, 1884, relating to the business and financial management of all the State charitable institutions. Attorney-General, Comptroller and President of State Board of Charities to devise plan for reorganization of business and financial management of all State charitable institutions and for a central purchasing agency and to report to next legislature.” (Senate, Chapter 551, page 828)

1885 – “Act making an appropriation of $11,746 for certain extraordinary repairs and improvements at Willard Asylum for the Insane.” (Senate, Chapter 99, page 830)

“Act in relation to the discharge of patients from the Willard Insane Asylum on their recovery.” (Senate, Chapter 178, page 832)

Annual Appropriations Act. $13,500 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 240, page 833) Section 210. “The board of estimate and apportionment is authorized to appropriate from time to time all moneys derived from fines and penalties, and all license fees provided for in this act, to such benevolent, charitable or insane institutions as may seem deserving by said board.” (Senate, Chapter 249, page 833)

Supply Bill. “The proper officers of each State hospital, asylum, charitable or reformatory institution, the State Commissioner in Lunacy, the State Board of Charities and the State Board of Health must render to the comptroller quarterly a detailed and itemized account of all receipts of expenditures with sub vouchers.” (Senate, Chapter 525, page 838)

1886 – “Amending chapter 446, title 5, Laws 1874, to revise and consolidate the statutes of the State, relating to the care and custody of the insane, the management of the asylums and the duties of State Commissioner in Lunacy.” (Senate, Chapter 27, page 839)

Appropriation of $35,200 for completion of two buildings on grounds of Binghamton Asylum for Chronic Insane, provided to be erected by chapter 525, Laws 1885. (Senate 841)

Authorizing the trustees of Binghamton Asylum for the Chronic Insane to appoint additional assistant physician. (Senate, Chapter 215, page 841)

Authorizing the appointment of commissioners to locate an asylum for the insane in Northern New York. (Senate, Chapter 238, page 841)

Providing additional accommodations for the insane at the Hudson River State Hospital and to provide for the construction thereof. (Senate, Chapter 318, page 842)

Supply Bill. $77,000 for Willard Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 330, page 843)

Annual Appropriations Act. $13,500 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 413, page 845)

Name of the Western House of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents or the House of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents in Western New York changed to “The State Industrial School,” and relating to discipline and instruction therein and commitments thereto and making an appropriation therefor of $10,000. (Senate, Chapter 539, page 846)

Act for the better preservation of the health of children in institutions. (Senate, Chapter 633, page 848)

1887 – Annual Appropriations Act. $14,700 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 195, page 852)

1888 – Annual Appropriations Act. $14,700 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 269, page 863)

Annual Supply Bill. $43,375 for the Willard Insane Asylum. $5,000 for the removal of in firm alien paupers. (Senate, Chapter 270, page 863)

1889 – “An act to establish and organize the “State Commission in Lunacy,” and to define its duties.

$15,000 appropriated to carry out the provisions of this act.” (Senate, Chapter 283, page 873)

“Empowering the trustees of Willard Insane Asylum to grant a right of way to the Geneva and Van Ettenville Railroad Company through the lands of the State appurtenant to said asylum and under the charge and management of said trustees.” (Senate, Chapter 439, page 876,877)

Annual Appropriations Act. $14,700 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 569, page 877)

Annual Supply Bill. $30,000 for the Willard Insane Asylum. $5,000 for the removal of in firm alien paupers. (Senate, Chapter 570, page 877)

1890 – Annual Appropriations Act. $14,700 for Willard Insane Asylum. (Senate, Chapter 84, page 880)

Changing the name of several State asylums for the insane. “The State Lunatic Asylum” to “The Utica State Hospital;” “The Willard Asylum for the Insane” to “The Willard State Hospital;” “The Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane” to “The Hudson River State Hospital;” “The Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane” to “The Buffalo State Hospital;” “The State Homoeopathic Asylum for the Insane at Middletown” to “The Middletown State Homoeopathic Hospital;” “The

Binghamton Asylum for the Insane” to “The Binghamton State Hospital;” and “The St. Lawrence Asylum for the Insane” to “The St. Lawrence State Hospital”

(Senate 1890, Chapter 132, page 882)

An Act to Provide for the Employment of a Woman Physician in the State Asylums and Hospitals. Chapter 243, Laws of 1890. “The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. It shall be the duty of the superintendent or chief medical officer of each state asylum or hospital for the care and treatment of the insane, except the State Asylum for Insane Criminals, to appoint a competent resident woman physician, who is a graduate of some legally incorporated medical college to perform such medical duties in and about the care and treatment of the women insane, as such superintendent or chief medical officer shall direct.

Section 2. Each resident woman physician, so appointed, shall be in addition to the number of resident physicians and officers of the said state asylums or hospitals now employed, and shall receive as compensation an annual sum of twelve hundred dollars.

Section 3. This act shall take effect the first day of July, eighteen hundred and ninety.” (Senate, Chapter 243, page 884)

Amending, revising and consolidating certain acts relating to the State Commission in Lunacy and the care and custody of the insane and the management of asylums for their treatment and safe- keeping, as provided in chapter 446, Laws of 1874, and chapter 283, Laws of 1889, and repealing sections 9, 10 and 11 of chapter 342, Laws of 1865, and chapter 713, Laws of 1871. (Senate,

Chapter 273, page 884)

Annual Supply Bill. $25,000 for the Willard Insane Asylum. $5,000 for the removal of infirm alien paupers. (Senate, Chapter 295, page 885)

1891 – Act to change the name of The Asylum for Idiots to the “Syracuse State Institution for Feeble-Minded Children.” (Senate, Chapter 51, page 889)

Making an appropriation of $454,850 for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of chapter 126, Laws of 1890, relating to the State care of insane. Said sum to be apportioned by the board for the establishment of State insane asylum districts and for other purposes, in such a manner as to provide accommodations in the following hospitals for not less than the number of patients named: At the Utica State Hospital, 150 patients. At the Hudson River State Hospital, 200 patients. At the Middletown State Homoeopathic Hospital, 200 patients. At the Buffalo State Hospital, 150 patients. At the Binghamton State Hospital, 127 patients. (Senate, Chapter 91, page 890)

Annual Appropriations Act. $16,900 for the Willard State Hospital. (Senate 892)

An Act to Prohibit, Except on Conviction for Felony, the Commitment of Children Under Twelve Years of Age to the State Industrial School at Rochester or the House of Refuge on Randall’s Island. Chapter 216, Laws of 1891. (Senate 893)

Annual Supply Bill. $5,000 for the removal of infirm alien paupers. $37,700 for Willard State Hospital. (Senate 894)

1892 – Annual Appropriations Act. $16,900 for the Willard State Hospital. (Senate 902)

Providing for the appointment of a committee to locate an institution for epileptics in New York State. The commissioners of the State Board of Charities are directed to select a suitable site for said institution; $1.500 appropriated for the expenses of the commission. (Senate, Chapter 503, page 905)

1893 – Appropriating $104,621 for the purchase by the State of certain lands heretofore purchased by Oneida county, for the purpose of being used as a county asylum for the insane in city of Rome. (Senate, Chapter 43, page 914)

Amending chapter 278, Laws of 1881, authorizing such girls and women as are vagrants or convicted of misdemeanors as a first offense, to be sent to the Shelter for Homeless Women in the city of Syracuse, and to change the name of such corporation to The Shelter for Unprotected Girls. (Senate, Chapter 53, page 915)

Establishing the “Matteawan State Hospital.” (Senate, Chapter 81, page 915)

Appropriating $50,000 for the purchase by the State of certain lands heretofore purchased by Erie county in town of Collins, for the purpose of being used for a county asylum for the insane. (Senate, Chapter 91, page 915)

Appropriating money for the care, medical treatment, clothing, support and transportation to State hospitals of the insane poor, under provisions of chapter 126, Laws 1890. (Senate, Chapter 214, page 917)

Act relative to committees of the property of lunatics, idiots or habitual drunkards and to provide for the presentation, proof and payment of claims against the estates of such persons, and accountings of such committees. (Senate, Chapter 697, page 929)

Annual Supply Bill. $5,000 for the removal of infirm alien paupers. $31, 350 for Willard State Hospital. (Senate 930)

1894 – Amending section 3 of chapter 438, Laws of 1884, to revise and consolidate the statutes of the State relating to the custody and care of indigent pauper children by orphan asylums and other charitable institutions. Institutions to keep record of children. (Senate, Chapter 54, page 932) Annual Supply Bill. $5,000 for the removal of infirm alien paupers. $20,434 for Willard State Hospital. (Senate 937)

Establishing the “Craig Colony” for epileptics and making an appropriation of $140,000 therefor, to be placed under the supervision of the State Board of Charities. (Senate, Chapter 363, page 938)

Amending chapter 348 of Laws of 1893, establishing an institution for the care and custody of unteachable idiots known as the “Rome State Custodial Asylum.” (Senate, Chapter 382, page 938)

Appropriating money for the support of the insane under the provisions of chapters 126, Laws of 1890, and 214, Laws of 1893. A State tax of thirty-three one-hundredths of a mill to be imposed, beginning on October 1, 1894, on each dollar of real and personal property of the State, which is in aggregate a sum of 1,385,000, to pay the expenses of State hospitals, the Oneida State Custodial Asylum and the State Commission in Lunacy. (Senate, Chapter 383, page 938)

Providing for the compulsory education of children. (Senate, Chapter 671, page 944)

Establishing the “Collins Farm State Homeopathic Hospital for the Insane.” (Senate, Chapter 707, page 945)

1895 – To continue the “Thomas Asylum for Orphan and Destitute Indian Children” on the Cattaraugus reservation, and to provide for its management and maintenance. (Senate, Chapter 38, page 948)

Providing for the discharge of insane patients from State Hospitals, and to amend section 24, chapter 446, Laws 1874. (Senate, Chapter 172, page 948)

Act to protect human life by the erection of fire escapes on the outside of hospital buildings over two stories high and not fireproof. (Senate, Chapter 381, page 950)

Legitimatizing children whose parents marry after the birth of such children. (Senate, Chapter 531, page 953)

Act to protect public institutions of the State and the inmates of said buildings against destruction by fire. Stand pipes, hose, fire extinguishers and fire escapes to be provided. Use of lights and inflammable substances regulated. (Senate, Chapter 535, page 953)

A State tax of one mill on each dollar of real and personal property of the State shall be imposed for the fiscal year beginning on October 1, 1895, for the State Commission in Lunacy, for the maintenance of State hospitals, including salaries of those employed,… for the purchase of supplies and general maintenance of patients, etc. (Senate, Chapter 693, page 959)

1896 – Act to revise and consolidate the laws relating to the State Board of Charities; powers and duties defined. (Senate, Chapter 771, page 962)

Supply Bill. $1,000 for Willard State Hospital. (Senate 966)

Converting the New York City Insane Asylum into a State Hospital to be known as the “Manhattan State Hospital.” (Senate, Chapter 2, page 968)

An Act in Relation to the Poor, Constituting Chapter 27 of the General Laws (The Poor Law), Chapter 225, Laws of 1896. (Senate, page 973)

Authorizing the sale of ale and beer upon the premises of the New York State Soldiers and Sailors’ Home of Bath, N.Y., and providing for the expenditure of the net proceeds therefrom. (Senate, Chapter 960, page 1063)

An Act to Provide for the Care of Aged, Decrepit and Mentally Enfeebled Persons who are Not Insane, Chapter 914, Laws of 1896. (Senate, page 1065)

Supplemental Supply Bill for Willard State Hospital, $1,000 for the clergymen. (Senate, page 1067)

1897 – Appropriating $4,500,000, a sum raised by State tax, for the support of the insane under the provisions of chapter 545, of Laws of 1896. (Senate, Chapter 460, page 1092)

1898 – The Military Code, constituting chapter 16 of the general laws: Section 1. Officers and assistants of hospitals, idiots, lunatics, paupers, vagabonds, habitual drunkards and persons convicted of infamous crimes to be exempt from military duty. (Senate, Chapter 212, page 1101)

Supplemental Supply Bill for Willard State Hospital, $1,000 for the clergymen. (Senate, page 1107)

1899 – Amending the State charities law relating to licensing and regulation of dispensaries by the Board of Charities, Chapter 368, Laws of 1899. (Senate, page 1116)

Incorporating the “Salvation Army in the United States,” to establish and maintain, subject to the written approval of the State Board of Charities, when established in New York State, hospitals for the sick and convalescent, and homes for children, the aged and fallen women. (Senate, Chapter 468, page 1120)

Supply Bill. $1,000 to Willard State Hospital. (Senate, Page 1121)

Amending chapter 182, Laws 1898, relative to government of cities of the second class. Section 227. Health physician to attend indigent sick who are certified as such and a proper charge upon the city by the poor officers. (Senate, Chapter 581, page 1123)

1900 – Making an appropriation of $1,000,000 for buildings, repairs and improvements at the state hospitals for the insane. (Senate, Chapter 364, Page 1130)

An Act to Establish the New York State Hospital for the Care of Crippled and Deformed Children, Chapter 369, Laws of 1900. (Senate, page 1130)

Supply Bill. $1,000 for the Willard State Hospital. (Senate, page 1143)” (57)

As late as 1912, poor children in orphan asylums were still being bound out as apprentices, clerks and servants, as long as the child had been “absolutely surrendered.” Boys were bound until age twenty-one and girls were bound until age eighteen. (L.S.Stuhler)

“Every such child shall, when practicable, be bound out or apprenticed to persons of the same religious faith as the parents of such child. The indenture shall in such case be signed:
1. In the corporate name of such institution by the officer or officers thereof authorized by the directors to sign the corporate name to such instrument, and shall be sealed with the corporate seal;
2. By the master or employer.
Such indenture may also be signed by the child if over twelve years of age.” (58)

SOURCE: 57. Reprinted from Documents of The Senate of the State of New York, One Hundred and Twenty Seventh Session, 1904, Vol. XIV. No. 22, Part 4, Annual Report of the State Board of Charities for the Year 1903, In Three Volumes with Statistical Appendix to Volume One bound separately. Volume Three Charity Legislation in New York 1609 to 1900. Transmitted to the Legislature February 1, 1904. <>

SOURCE: 58. Reprinted from Documents of The Assembly of the State of New York, One Hundred and Thirty Sixth Session, 1913, Volume XXVII., No. 48, Part 1, Commissioner of Labor 1912, page 309. <


“While there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.”
Margaret Sanger – 1920.

Margaret Sanger and Her Sons.

Margaret Sanger and Her Sons.

In 1916, Margaret Sanger, a nurse and Progressive Activist, opened a clinic in Brooklyn, New York, to provide women with health education on Birth Control, prevention of venereal diseases, and the use of prophylactics. It is hard for us in the 21st Century to understand why information about contraception was illegal, but it was. The Comstock Law of 1873 “was a federal law that made it a crime to sell or distribute materials that could be used for contraception or abortion, to send such materials or information about such materials through the federal mail system, or to import such materials from abroad.” My particular beef with all the fanfare about what a great woman Margaret Sanger was is the fact that virtually all bloggers intentionally leave out the fact that she was a fervent supporter of the Eugenics Movement in the United States who advocated for the FORCED STERILIZATION of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.

Was it a good thing to educate women and men about contraception? Yes. Was Margaret Sanger‘s intent to educate women based on the belief that she cared so deeply for them? No. Margaret Sanger was appalled and disgusted by the lower classes, the newly arrived immigrants, prostitutes, mentally ill, blind, crippled, developmentally disabled, and criminal types. Her intent was to rid these defective, delinquent, and dependent people from the American Melting Pot once and for all in order to produce a hearty, healthy, literate breed of educated Americans who would only bring children into this world that they could support and who didn’t drain the economy. She saw the devastation and mutilation to women’s bodies by self-inflicted and botched abortions and thought that abortion itself was barbaric; “that an educated society would never need to resort to such drastic measures.”

Was Margaret Sanger a great woman? You decide. As always, I present the facts and the historical documents FOR YOU TO READ FOR YOURSELF! To learn more about this issue and the history of Eugenics, click on the RED links below.

“The American Birth Control League, Margaret Sanger, President, The Birth Control Review, Volume VI, No. 8, Page 162, August 1922.

The complex problems now confronting America as the result of the practice of reckless procreation are fast threatening to grow beyond human control. Everywhere we see poverty and large families going hand in hand. Those least fit to carry on the race are increasing most rapidly. People who cannot support their own offspring are encouraged by Church and State to produce large families. Many of the children thus begotten are diseased or feeble-minded; many become criminals. The burden of supporting these unwanted types has to be borne by the healthy elements of the nation. Funds that should be used to raise the standard of our civilization are diverted to the maintenance of those who should never have been born. In addition to this grave evil we witness the appalling waste of women’s health and women’s lives by too frequent pregnancies. These unwanted pregnancies often provoke the crime of abortion, or alternatively multiply the number of child workers and lower the standard of living. To create a race of well-born children it is essential that the function of motherhood should be elevated to a position of dignity, and this is impossible as long as conception remains a matter of chance.

We hold that children should be:
1. Conceived in love;
2. Born of the mother’s conscious desire;
3. And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health.

Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied. Every mother must realize her basic position in human society. She must be conscious of her responsibility to the race in bringing children into the world. Instead of being a blind and haphazard consequence of uncontrolled instinct, motherhood must be made the responsible and self-directed means of human expression and regeneration. These purposes, which are of fundamental importance to the whole of our nation and to the future of mankind, can only be attained if women first receive practical scientific education in the means of Birth Control. That, therefore, is the first object to which the efforts of this League will be directed.

AIMS: THE AMERICAN BIRTH CONTROL LEAGUE aims to enlighten and educate all sections of the American public in the various aspects of the dangers of uncontrolled procreation and the imperative necessity of a world program of Birth Control. The League aims to correlate the findings of scientists, statisticians, investigators and social agencies in all fields. To make this possible, it is necessary to organize various departments:

RESEARCH: To collect the findings of scientists, concerning the relation of reckless breeding to delinquency, defect and dependence.

INVESTIGATION: To derive from these scientifically ascertained facts and figures, conclusions which may aid all public health and social agencies in the study of problems of maternal and infant mortality, child-labor, mental and physical defects and delinquence in relation to the practice of reckless parentage.

HYGIENIC AND PHYSIOLOGICAL instruction by the Medical profession to mothers and potential mothers in harmless and reliable methods of Birth Control in answer to their requests for such knowledge.

STERILIZATION of the insane and feeble-minded and the encouragement of this operation upon those afflicted with inherited or transmissible diseases, with the understanding that sterilization does not deprive the individual of his or her sex expression, but merely renders him or her incapable of producing children.

EDUCATIONAL: The program of education includes: The enlightenment of the public at large, mainly through the education of leaders of thought and opinion—teachers, ministers, editors and writers—to the moral and scientific soundness of the principles of Birth Control and the imperative necessity of its adoption as the basis of national and racial progress.

POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE: To enlist the support and co-operation of legal advisors, statesmen and legislators in effecting the removal of state and federal statutes which encourage dysgenic breeding, increase the sum total of disease, misery and poverty and prevent the establishment of a policy of national health nd strength.

ORGANIZATION: To send into the various States of the Union field workers to enlist the support and arouse the interest of the masses to the importance of Birth Control so that laws may be changed and the establishment of clinics made possible in every State.

INTERNATIONAL: This department aims to co-operate with similar organizations in other countries to study Birth Control in its relations to the world population problem, food supplies, national and racial conflicts, and to urge upon all international bodies organized to promote world peace, the consideration of these aspects of international amity.” SOURCE: Birth Control Review, Volumes 5-6, 1920, Page 162.

Captive Mother by Stephen Sinding.

Captive Mother by Stephen Sinding.

The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda by Margaret Sanger

“[The following brief statement of the dependence of any sound and effective program of Eugenics upon BIRTH CONTROL, in view of the Second International Congress of Eugenics, recently held in New York at the Museum of Natural History, assumes a peculiar timeliness.]

Seemingly every new approach to the great problem of the human race must manifest its vitality by running the gauntlet of prejudice, ridicule and misinterpretation. Eugenists may remember that not many years ago this program for race regeneration was subjected to the cruel ridicule of stupidity and ignorance. Today Eugenics is suggested by the most diverse minds as the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems. The most intransigeant and daring teachers and scientists have lent their support to this great biological interpretation of the human race. The war has emphasized its necessity.

The doctrine of BIRTH CONTROL is now passing through the stage of ridicule, prejudice and misunderstanding. A few years ago this new weapon of civilization and freedom was condemned as immoral, destructive, obscene. Gradually the criticisms are lessening-understanding is taking the place of misunderstanding. The eugenic and civilizational value of BIRTH CONTROL is becoming apparent to the enlightened and the intelligent.

In the limited space of the present paper, I have time only to touch upon some of the fundamental convictions that form the basis of our BIRTH CONTROL propaganda, and which, as I think you must agree, indicate that the campaign for BIRTH CONTROL is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal with the final aims of Eugenics.

First: We are convinced that racial regeneration, like individual regeneration, must come “from within.” That is, it must autonomous, self-directive, and not imposed from without. In other words, every potential parent, and especially every potential mother, must be brought to an acute realization of the primary and central responsibility of bringing children into this world.

Secondly: Not until the parents of the world are thus given control over their reproductive faculties will it ever be possible not alone to improve the quality of the generations of the future, but even to maintain civilization even at its present level. Only by self-control of this type, only by intelligent mastery of the procreative powers can the great mass of humanity be awakened to the great responsibility of parenthood.

Thirdly: We have come to the conclusion, based on widespread investigation and experience, that this education for parenthood must be based upon the needs and demands of the people themselves. An idealistic code of sexual ethics, imposed from above, a set of rules devised by high-minded theorists who fail to take into account the living conditions and desires of the submerged masses, can never be of the slightest value in effecting any changes in the mores of the people. Such systems have in the past revealed their woeful inability to prevent the sexual and racial chaos into which the world has today drifted.

The almost universal demand for practical education in BIRTH CONTROL is one of the most hopeful signs that the masses themselves today possess the diving spark of regeneration. It remain for the courageous and the enlightened to answer this demand, to kindle the spark, to direct a thorough education in Eugenics based upon this intense interest.

BIRTH CONTROL propaganda is thus the entering wedge for the Eugenic educator. In answering the needs of these thousands upon thousands of submerged mothers, it is possible to use this interest as the foundation for education in prophylaxis, sexual hygiene, and infant welfare. The potential mother is to be shown that maternity need not be slavery but the most effective avenue toward self-development and self-realization. Upon this basis only may we improve the quality of the race.

As an advocate of BIRTH CONTROL, I wish to take advantage of the present opportunity to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the “unfit” and the “fit,” admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation to the mentally and physically fit though less fertile parents of the educated and well-to-do classes. On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the overfertility of the mentally and physically defective.

BIRTH CONTROL is not advanced as a panacea by which past and present evils of dysgenic breeding can be magically eliminated. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupidly cruel sentimentalism.

But to prevent the repetition, to effect the salvation of the generations of the future-nay of the generations of today-our greatest need is first of all the ability to face the situation without flinching, and to cooperate in the formation of a code of sexual ethics based upon a thorough biological and psychological understanding of human nature; and then to answer the questions and the needs of the people with all the intelligence and honestly at our command. If we can summon the bravery to do this, we shall best be serving the true interests of Eugenics, because our work will then have a practical and pragmatic value.”
SOURCE: The Birth Control Review, Dedicated To Voluntary Motherhood, Margaret Sanger, Editor, Volume V., No.10, October 1921, Page 5 (43).

Propaganda – 1. Information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
2. The deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
3. The particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement. (1)

Race Suicide – The extinction of a race or people that tends to result when, through the unwillingness or forbearance of its members to have children, the birthrate falls below the death rate. (1)

Infanticide – The practice of killing newborn infants. (1)

Abortion – Also called voluntary abortion. the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy. (1)

Feticide – The act of destroying a fetus or causing an abortion. (1)

Eugenics – Selective breeding. The study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics). (1)

Birth Control – Voluntary limitation or control of the number of children conceived, especially by planned use of contraceptive techniques. (1)

Privation – 1. Loss or lack of the necessities of life, such as food and shelter.
2. Hardship resulting from this. 3.The state of being deprived. (1)

Progressive Movement – A movement for reform that occurred roughly between 1900 and 1920. Progressives typically held that irresponsible actions by the rich were corrupting both public and private life. They called for measures such as trust busting, the regulation of railroads, provisions for the people to vote on laws themselves through referendum, the election of the Senate by the people rather than by state legislatures, and a graduated income tax (one in which higher tax rates are applied to higher incomes). The Progressives were able to get much of their program passed into law. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were associated with the movement. (1)

Prophylactic – A protective measure against disease. A device, usually a rubber sheath, used to prevent conception or venereal infection; condom. (1)

Venereal Disease – Any of various diseases, such as syphilis or gonorrhoea, transmitted by sexual intercourse. (1)

Neo-Malthusian – Designating, or pertaining to, a group of modern economists who hold to the Malthusianism doctrine that permanent betterment of the general standard of living is impossible without decrease of competition by limitation of the number of births. (2)

SOURCES: 1., 2. Fine

Additional Reading:

Woman And The New Race by Margaret Sanger, 1920.

The Birth Control Review, Volumes 1-3.

Birth Control Review, Volumes 5-6.

The Trend Of The Race by Samuel J. Holmes, 1921.

Definitions In Political Economy by Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus, 1827.

An Essay On The Principle Of Population by Rev. T.R. Malthus, 1888.

Studies In The Psychology Of Sex by Havelock Ellis, Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company, Publishers, 1922.

Planned Parenthood 2013.

1907 Eugenics.

1912-1920 Eugenics in New York State.

1922 Eugenics New York State.

Good Bye!

I started this blog on July 10, 2011, thinking that maybe 5 people would actually read it and find the posts interesting. Five years later, I have created 12 pages, written 211 posts including countless PDF files, published 739 comments, and received 352,795 views. I self-published The Inmates of Willard 1870 to 1900: A Genealogy Resource, on December 17, 2011, with my own money, to further the cause of restoring dignity to the forgotten people who lived and died at New York State Hospitals (Insane Asylums), who had been buried on New York State property in anonymous, unmarked cemeteries and graves for over a century. New York State Senate Bill S840A-2015 became a law on August 18, 2016, but it did not include provisions for a searchable database available to the public as New York State lawmakers and the Office of Mental Health believed that if they did so, they would be sued. Their belief is that putting a name on a memorial or a headstone in public is different than publishing the names on a specific public website (as if no genealogy geek in the future will photograph the graves along with the names and publish them on the internet). This makes no sense to me. I believe that the New York State Office of Mental Health did not want to disclose the names of deceased patients because the burial ledgers may have been carelessly lost or destroyed. They would also have to explain why these cemeteries had never been marked in over 150 years, why they fell into such a state of neglect and disrepair in the first place, and why Kings Park State Hospital Cemetery is being used as a youth baseball field. The following states took a different approach and put searchable databases on the internet available to the public: Kansas; Minnesota; Nebraska; Ohio; TexasMaryland; Florida; Washington; and even Binghamton State Hospital of New York has a searchable list on line.

Monument For The Forgotten-Museum of disABILITY History, Buffalo, NY.

Monument For The Forgotten-Museum of disABILITY History, Buffalo, NY.

The reason why New York State Hospitals / Insane Asylums, Feeble-Minded and Epileptic Custodial Institutions are so important to the world is because there were 26 of them, possibly more. These institutions housed many newly arrived immigrants during the mid 19th and early 20th centuries from all over the world, especially Western Europe. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who would like to know the final resting place of their long, lost ancestor. It just doesn’t seem fair to me that this one stigmatized group of people are being denied the one and only thing that we really have to be remembered by; our name. Even though I initiated the original bill in August 2011 and it was introduced to the New York State Senate by Senator Joseph E. Robach in March 2012, I was never allowed to write it. This is the bill that I would have written:

“This bill is important and necessary in order to restore the dignity and personhood of the thousands of people who were incarcerated and died at former New York State Insane Asylums, (later renamed State Hospitals), Feeble-Minded and Epileptic Custodial Institutions. When the bodies of the inmates were not claimed by family members, they were buried in anonymous, unmarked graves, or, their bodies and brains were given to medical colleges for research. These forgotten souls deserve to have their names remembered and available to the public by means of a searchable internet database. Some of these deceased patients were undoubtedly United States Veterans who served during the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, who suffered from PTSD and Shell Shock. Their graves deserve to be marked with the American Flag and honored like any other veteran’s grave.

The list of these former New York State Hospitals includes but is not limited to: Binghamton, Buffalo, Central Islip, CreedmoorDannemora, EdgewoodGowanda, Hudson River, Kings Park, Long Island, Manhattan, Marcy, Matteawan, Middletown, Mohansic, Pilgrim, Rochester, St. Lawrence, SyracuseUtica, and Willard

The Feeble-Minded (Intellectual Disabilities) and Epileptic Custodial Institutions of New York includes but is not limited to: Craig Colony for Epileptics, Letchworth Village for Epileptics & Intellectually Disabled, Newark State School for Intellectually Disabled Women, Rome State School for Intellectually Disabled Adults & Children, and Syracuse State School for Intellectually Disabled Children. There may be more.

There is no good reason why these long deceased souls need to be punished and stigmatized in death for an illness or intellectual disability that they lived with in life. The great majority of these former state hospitals closed in favor of smaller group home settings or changed their names to Psychiatric Centers in the early 1970s. This in turn led to many patients being thrown onto the streets to live in cardboard boxes, or thrown into jail with no psychiatric services, just as they did 150 years ago. I do not understand why anyone would need to have their name withheld from any cemetery list until 50 years had passed after their death. This requirement in the bill only serves to feed the stigma.”

Well, the bill that I wanted didn’t come to pass. I will keep this blog up and running for the purpose of historical research and I might post something now and then but there is nothing left for me to blog about, and I will not continue to bang my head against the wall trying to convince New York State lawmakers and the New York State Office of Mental Health to change their position. So, I will say, Good Bye! A few years ago, I donated $100.00 dollars to the Willard Cemetery Memorial Project and I cannot afford to give any more. If you are so inclined, please donate to the cause or start a cemetery organization of your own. The saddest part of this law is that by the time this organization raises enough money to mark 5,776 graves, I will be too old to care, and I am not aware of any other cemetery organizations for the other 25 New York State institutions. Thank you for all of your support over these past five years! May God Bless You and Your Loved Ones!!

Sincerely, Linda S. Stuhler

QUESTIONS & CONCERNS: CONTACT JOHN ALLEN, Director, Office of Mental Health, Office of Consumer Affairs, Central Office Staff, 44 Holland Avenue, Albany, New York 12229, Phone: (518) 473-6579, Fax: (518) 474-8998.

Photo by Roger Luther at

Photo by Roger Luther at

1921 Duffy’s Malt Whiskey – Nostrums For Good Health!

Sometimes I think that I’ve run out of things to blog about and then, I come across an old forgotten book that I think people might enjoy reading. This article concerns Duffy’s Malt Whiskey, made in Rochester, New York, in the early 1900s. Duffy’s claimed to cure everything from consumption to epilepsy. Of course it didn’t cure anything and was nothing more than a low grade whiskey. It is one story among many pertaining to nostrums: a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.” (1) The American Medical Association tried to bring the “evils of nostrums and quackery” to the attention of the public by pointing out that these remedies didn’t work even though the companies selling them used testimonials as proof that their remedies did work. The testimonials were always proven to be fake. The following excerpts and pictures are from the book, Nostrums and Quackery.

Duffy's Malt Whiskey

Duffy’s Malt Whiskey

What is this widely advertised nostrum sold as a ‘consumption cure,’ claimed to be the ‘greatest known heart tonic’ and a preparation that ‘builds up the nerve tissues, tones up the heart, gives strength and elasticity to the muscles and richness to the blood?’ The answer to this question will be found to depend, apparently, on when it is asked. During the Spanish-American war Duffy’s Malt Whiskey qualified as a ‘patent medicine’ by the payment of the special tax that was put on nostrums as a means of raising revenue. In a circular issued at that time by the Treasury Department it was stated: ‘The Duffy Malt Whiskey Company have, by evidence under oath filed in this office, shown that their compound called ‘Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey’ is composed of distilled spirits in combination with drugs. The claim made by the Duffy Malt Whiskey Co. that their nostrum ‘cures consumption’ is as false as it was cruel. On the other hand, even while the Federal Government was declaring the stuff a ‘medicine,’ the Supreme Court of the state of New York decided that Duffy’s Malt Whiskey was not a medicine but a liquor and that persons selling it would be required to pay the same excise tax and to procure the same liquor-tax certificate that were required of the sellers of any other whiskey. The way in which the New York courts came to pass on this question is an interesting chapter in ‘patent medicine’ history.” (2)

DUFFY’S PURE MALT WHISKEY CURES CONSUMPTION. All druggists and grocers, $1 a bottle. Medical booklet free. Duffy Malt Whiskey Co., Rochester, N.Y.”

Consumption Cured

Consumption Cured

“ ‘I will be one hundred and six years old,’ writes Mrs. Tigue, ‘on the fifteenth of March, and really I don’t feel like I am a day over sixty, thanks to Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey. Friends say I look younger and stronger than I did 30 years ago. I have always enjoyed health and been able to eat and sleep well, though I have been a hard worker. Even now I wait on myself and am busy on a pretty piece of fancy work. My sight is so good I don’t even use glasses. Am still blest with all my faculties. The real secret of my great age, health, vigor and content is the fact that for many years I have taken regularly a little Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey, and it has been my only medicine. It’s wonderful how quickly it revives and keeps up one’s strength and spirits. I am certain I’d have died long ago had it not been for my faithful old friend ‘Duffy’s.’ August 10, 1904.” (2)

Mrs. Nancy Tigue - Age 105

Mrs. Nancy Tigue – Age 105

“The sincere and grateful tribute of Mrs. Tigue to the invigorating and life-prolonging powers of Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey is one of the most remarkable and convincing on record. She sews, reads and is dependent upon no one for the little services and attentions of old age. Mrs. Tigue’s memory is perfect, and her eyes sparkle with interest as she quaintly recalls events that have gone down into history of the past hundred years. Instead of pining, as many women half her age, she is firm in the belief that with the comforting and strengthening assistance of Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey she will live another quarter of a century.” (2)

“The following is the statement referred to, made by Mr. Tigue: Lafayette, Nov. 21, 1905.
‘To Whom it May Concern: I am the son of Mrs. Nancy Tigue, who is now an inmate of the St. Anthony’s Home, and I am 58 years old. My mother is one hundred and five years old, was born in Ireland. Our home is, or was, 413 S. 1st St., Lafayette. Mother is almost blind, and she has been cared for by the Sisters about four years – one year at the Old People’s Home. My mother never drank any intoxicating drinks at all. She does not know what Duffy’s Malt Whiskey is. She was imposed on in order to obtain the advertisement of Duffy’s Malt Whiskey, being nearly blind was influenced to sign a false affidavit by Duffy’s solicitor, which was published without our knowledge or consent.
Michael G. Tigue.'” (2)

“We may accept the statement of the state chemists of North Dakota that the stuff is plain alcohol with syrup added to give it ‘smoothness’ and coloring added to make it look like whiskey; or we may believe the federal chemist who declared it simply ‘whiskey of a very poor quality’; or we may think that Chemist DeGuehuee was right when he said it was ‘whiskey, with a little cane sugar added to it’; or we may prefer Dr. DeGuehuee’s later pronouncement that the stuff ‘is free from added sugar’; again we may feel that Dr. Curran’s early declaration is worthy of attention and that Duffy’s Malt Whiskey contains drugs and is ‘a medicine’ or possibly we may take Dr. Curran’s later statement that the product is merely a whiskey as defined by the Pharmacopeia. But whether we consider Duffy’s Malt Whiskey a ‘patent medicine’ or a low grade ‘booze’ makes little difference. As we have said elsewhere: A high grade whiskey has but a limited place in therapeutics; Duffy’s Malt Whiskey has none. – (From The Journal A. M. A., Nov. 23, 1912.)” (2)







“In the latter months of 1905 the first of a series of articles appeared in Collier’s, dealing with what was well named the Great American Fraud – that is, the nostrum evil and quackery. These articles ran for some months and, when completed, were reprinted in booklet form by the American Medical Association. Tens of thousands of these books have been sold and there is no question that the wide dissemination of the information contained in the Great American Fraud series has done much to mitigate the worst evils of the ‘patent medicines’ and quackery. How hard these forces of evil have been hit is indicated by the organized attempt on their part to discredit and bring into disrepute the American Medical Association by means of speciously named ‘leagues,’ organized by those who are now or have in the past been in the ‘patent medicine’ business, ostensibly to preserve what has been miscalled ‘medical freedom.'” (2)

Consumption Cure

Consumption Cure

Alcoholic Cure

Alcoholic Cure

Epilepsy Cure

Epilepsy Cure

“Many of the articles that have appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association during the last few years, dealing with quackery or ‘patent medicines,’ have been reprinted in pamphlet form for distribution to the laity. As the number of these pamphlets increased, it was thought desirable to bring all this matter together in one book. The present volume is the result. Mr. Adams’ ‘Great American Fraud’ articles aimed to cover the whole subject of quackery and the nostrum evil in as broad and general a way as possible. From the nature of the case, it was impossible to give very much space to any one fraud. The present book differs in just this respect from the Collier’s reprint. While but comparatively few concerns are dealt with, they are shown up with special reference to the details of their fraudulent activity. By this means light has been thrown into the innermost recesses – the holy of holies of quackery. It is believed that a perusal of the cases here presented will so plainly show the fraud, the greed and the danger that are inseparable from ‘patent medicine’ exploitation and quackery that the reader must perforce be protected in no small degree from this widespread evil.” (2)

Epilepsy Scare Tactics

Epilepsy Scare Tactics

Nasal Douche

Nasal Douche



“Just a word as to the distinction made between proprietary medicines and ‘patent medicines.’ Strictly speaking, practically all nostrums on the market are proprietary medicines and but very few are true patent medicines. A patent medicine, in the legal sense of the word, is a medicine whose composition or method of making, or both, has been patented. Evidently, therefore, a patent medicine is not a secret preparation because its composition must appear in the patent specifications. Nearly every nostrum, instead of being patented, is given a fanciful name and that name is registered at Washington; the name thus becomes the property of the nostrum exploiter for all time. While the composition of the preparation, and the curative effects claimed for it, may be changed at the whim of its owner, his proprietorship in the name remains intact. As has been said, a true patent medicine is not a secret preparation; moreover, the product becomes public property at the end of seventeen years. As the term ‘patent medicine’ has come to have a definite meaning to the public, this term is used in its colloquial sense throughout the book. That is to say, all nostrums advertised and sold direct to the public are referred to as ‘patent medicines’; those which are advertised directly only to physicians are spoken of as ‘proprietaries.'” (2)

Women Problems

Women Problems



Female Weakness

Female Weakness

1. Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.

2. Cramp, Arthur J. M.D., Nostrums and Quackery, Press of American Medical Association, Five Hundred and Thirty-Five North Dearborn Street, Chicago, 1921, Duffy’s Malt Whiskey, Pages 499-510. Preface, Pages 5-6.

Female Weakness

Female Weakness











Nerve Syrup

Nerve Syrup

1843 A Christmas Carol


My favorite story of all time is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The story revolves around Ebenezer Scrooge, a stingy old man of business who is worth a fortune but will not spend any of his money, not even on himself. He lives in his dead business partner’s home and eats gruel or oatmeal for dinner. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by four ghosts who come to persuade him to change his ways, and of course, he does. There is so much more to this story and the time period in which it was written (1843), but at this time, I am focusing on what Dickens was talking about when he wrote the words: Bedlam, Treadmill, Poor Law, and Surplus Population.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 1843

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 1843

“There’s another fellow,” muttered Scrooge; who heard him: “my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas. I’ll retire to Bedlam.”

The character Scrooge, along with political economists of 1843, felt that poor people had no right to marry. “Bedlam. A corruption of ‘Bethlehem,’ referring to the Hospital of St. Mary’s of Bethlehem in London, which was founded as a priory in 1247 but became a hospital for the insane as early as 1402. In 1547, after the dissolution of church property by Henry VIII, it was incorporated as a royal foundation as a madhouse. The term was current as early as the late sixteenth century…” (2)

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman. “I wish I could say they were not.”
The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
“Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoice. What shall I put you down for?’
“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge.” Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Coldbath Fields Treadmill - Wikipedia

Coldbath Fields Treadmill – Wikipedia

I found a reference to a treadmill while searching for historical information on my own hometown of Rochester, Monroe County, New York.

The Treadmill or Treadwheel resembled a giant water wheel and served no purpose other than to punish the inmates of the prisons and workhouses. The inmates would walk on the rotating steps for hours at a time. “As the village grew in size it seems to have become more immoral, for the Telegraph of February 10th, 1824, after making the rather rash assertion that “probably no place in the Union of the size of Rochester is so much infested with the dregs and outcasts of society as this village,” speaks of a meeting that had been held during the previous week, at which a committee was appointed to draft a petition to the legislature for the passage of a law to erect a tread-mill, or ‘stepping-mill’ as it was called. Although the journal applauded the scheme as being likely to inspire non-resident criminals with such terror that they would stay away from this region, the law was never passed, public sentiment being then, and ever since then, too strongly opposed to it in this country, though Great Britain retained that form of torture until five years ago.” (1)

The Treadmill-The Victorian Dictionary

The Treadmill-The Victorian Dictionary

The Poor Law of 1834 in England
 was different than the New York State Poor Law of 1824 but the basic premise was the same; you had to pull your own weight. No one was allowed to be idle. No one received their food and shelter unless they worked for it. In New York State, we had county poor houses where families were required to work on the farm and in the house in order to survive, in addition to workhouses or penitentiaries. It appears that in Victorian England, they had only union workhouses.

In 1853, a workhouse was built in Rochester, NY. Its purpose was to segregate the minor offenses of vagrancy, prostitution, drunkenness, and indebtedness, from the hardened criminals. This was a place for short-term confinement of at least three months but not over six months. Before this time, all prisoners were held in the county jail with no distinction as to their misdemeanors or crimes. In 1858, The Workhouse changed its name to The Penitentiary. The county poorhouses, workhouses, and penitentiaries were deplorable, filthy places, and were phased out with the Social Security Act of 1935 in the U.S., and modern social welfare in the 1940s in England.

The Poor Law of 1834 provided that two or more parishes unite to provide a home for the destitute where they might labor in exchange for their room and board. It divided England and Wales into twenty-one districts and empowered in each a commissioner to form ‘poor law unions’ by grouping parishes together for administrative purposes and to build workhouses to contain the poor. The able-bodied were worked in penury, and their dependents were kept in the house where as little as possible was spent on food and shelter. They were characterized by strict discipline; the sexes were segregated and classified, and preliminary inquiries into the private lives of the inmates were generally conducted. It was considered a disgrace to go to such a place. Dickens fiercely attacked these institutions…” (2)

The Last of the Spirits by John Leech 1843

The Last of the Spirits by John Leech 1843

An Essay on the Principle of Population
, by Thomas Robert Malthus, first published in 1798, foretold of the catastrophe that would occur when overpopulation caused a shortage of food supplies. The Surplus Population was the poor producing large families that they could not afford. I have mentioned Reverend Malthus, an economist, in a previous blog post about social welfare and eugenics. Although the term eugenics wasn’t coined until 1883 by Sir Francis Galton, it was definitely in use during the early nineteenth century in England and in the U.S. The whole point of rounding people up, dumping them in a union workhouse or a county poorhouse, and separating them, was done so that they could not breed. These places were intentionally made uncomfortable so that people would leave and seek employment. The problem was there were not enough jobs to go around. Many people would rather have committed suicide than to live in one of these places.

“This economist made clear ‘What the surplus is, Where it is’ when he wrote: ‘A man who is born into a world possessed, if he cannot get subsistence from his parents, on which he has a just demand, and if society do not want his labour, has no claim of right of the smallest portion of food, and, in fact, has no business to be where he is. At Nature’s mighty feast there is no vacant cover for him. She tells him to be gone…” (2)

1. Peck, William F., History of Rochester and Monroe County, New York, New York and Chicago, The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1908, Pages 165-180.

2. Hearn, Michael Patrick, The Annotated Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Illustrated by John Leech, Avenel Books, New York, 1976, Pages 64-65.

History of Rochester and Monroe County – Crime and Punishment – by William F. Peck 1908.

Thomas Malthus

The Victorian Dictionary

The Victorian Dictionary – The Mysteries of London, Volume II

1872 Scientific Charity Movement & Charity Organization Societies

On the surface, many of the key people who were involved in the Scientific Charity Movement during the late nineteenth century appear to be caring individuals who wanted nothing more than to lift the poor out of poverty with education and employment so that they could support themselves without government assistance. These charities did not receive state aid but depended on donations mainly from wealthy Americans. There is no doubt that these societies helped the plight of poor children, many of whom were under the age of 10 and working under terrible conditions in order to help out their families. But when it came to the defective, dependent, and delinquent classes, which was the label used to describe the insane, feeble-minded, blind, crippled, maimed, deaf and dumb, epileptic, criminal types, prostitutes, drug addicts, and alcoholics, the sincerity of their intentions to purely provide care to these individuals was overshadowed by the underlying goal of Eugenics.

@Columbia University 1

@Columbia University 1

Photo: Columbia University – Social Forces Visualized: Photography and Scientific Charity, 1900-1920.

They didn’t want to see these poor, unfortunate souls suffering in squalor on the streets and in the poor houses but their ultimate objective of eradicating poverty and the financial drain that it caused on society resulted in the building of more asylums for the sole purpose of removing the defective classes from society so that they could not procreate. The Charity Organization Societies wanted to isolate the defective class in asylums in order to stop them from “breeding,” Alienists wanted to study and experiment on them, Medical Students wanted their dead bodies, Pathologists wanted their brains, Anthropologists wanted their bones, and the general public was just happy that someone was taking care of the problem. With the passage of the Social Security Act of 1935, the Poor Houses were abolished. Insane Asylums thrived and many remained in operation for over one hundred years. For more information, click on the RED links below.

@Columbia University 2

@Columbia University 2

Photo: Columbia University – Social Forces Visualized: Photography and Scientific Charity, 1900-1920.

Scientific charity built on Americans’ notion of self-reliance, limited government, and economic freedom. Proponents of scientific charity shared the poorhouse advocates’ goals of cutting relief expenses and reducing the number of able-bodied who were receiving assistance, as well as the moral reformers’ goal of uplifting people from poverty through discipline and religious education via private charity. In this model, individuals responded to charity and the government stayed out of the economic sphere. Individuals were seen as rational actors who freely made decisions based on their own self-interest and who were responsible for how they fared economically. Scientific charity fit well with the post–Civil War concept of social Darwinism, which held that humans were in competition and the strong survived and thrived while the weak did not. Not surprisingly, Charity Organization Societies were generally opposed to unions.

Two of the leading advocates for Charity Organization Societies were Josephine Lowell and S. Humphrey Gurteen. Lowell, who was from a radical abolitionist family, believed that idleness was a major cause of poverty, and she advocated giving those who requested relief a labor test (such as breaking stones or chopping wood) before they received private charity. During her life, she developed several principles to guide her social reform work. One of her key principles was that “charity must tend to develop the moral nature of those it helps.” Lowell opposed both local government relief and almsgiving (individual giving directly to the poor) since she felt this practice did not morally uplift the people and created dependency. She felt that charity agents and visitors could provide a personal relationship conducive to helping needy individuals instead of treating them as “cases.”  Lowell thought “that each case must be dealt with radically and a permanent means of helping it to be found, and that the best way to help people is to help them to help themselves.”

Gurteen provided many practical ideas to implement organized Charity Organization Societies. Gurteen’s plan was to have various groups already providing services to the poor coordinate their efforts. There would be a central office that served as a charity clearinghouse where “friendly visitors” (COS agents) involved in investigating the poor would meet to compare notes to determine who was worthy of relief and who was an imposter. This collaboration would result in a complete registry of every person in the city who was receiving public or private assistance. The goal of this organized approach was to stop providing relief to the undeserving poor but continue to provide the deserving poor with the assistance to solve their own problems. Gurteen believed that COS would end outdoor relief, stop pauperism, and reduce poverty to its lowest possible level.”  SOURCE: Excerpted from “Social Solutions to Poverty” Scott Myers-Lipton, Pages 68-69 © Paradigm Publishers 2006.

@Columbia University 3

@Columbia University 3

Photo: Columbia University – Social Forces Visualized: Photography and Scientific Charity, 1900-1920.

Social Darwinism: “Theory that persons, groups, and “races” are subject to the same laws of natural selection as Charles Darwin had proposed for plants and animals in nature. Social Darwinists, such as Herbert Spencer and Walter Bagehot in England and William Graham Sumner in the U.S., held that the life of humans in society was a struggle for existence ruled by “survival of the fittest,” in Spencer‘s words. Wealth was said to be a sign of natural superiority, its absence a sign of unfitness. The theory was used from the late 19th century to support laissez-faire capitalism and political conservatism. Social Darwinism declined as scientific knowledge expanded.”

Breaker Boys by Lewis W. Hine

Breaker Boys by Lewis W. Hine

“An illustration of these times and the rise of a professional beggar class was described in 1880 by Reverend Oscar C. McCulloch, Pastor of Plymouth Church, Indianapolis at the seventh annual meeting of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. His presentation entitled “Associated Charities” detailed the need to organize charities:

“…Every worker among the poor in our cities finds himself saying, “Who is sufficient for these things?” Let him conscientiously attempt to dispense charity wisely in any one instance, and he is made sensible of the organization of pauperism, and of the complex problem of poverty; of suffering beyond his reach, and of setting tides of evil beyond his control. My own introduction to this work was in this wise: In a small room I found an old blind woman, her son, his wife and two children, his sister with one child. There was no chair, table or stool, a little ” monkey stove,” but no fire; no plates, or kettles, or knife, fork or spoon. Such utter poverty horrified me. I soon had coal, provisions and clothing there. Chance led me into the office of our township trustee, where the historical records of all applicants for public aid are registered. Here I found that I had touched one knot of a large family known as “American Gypsies.” Three generations have been, and are, receiving public aid, numbering 125 persons; 65 per cent. were illegitimate; 57 per cent of the children died before the age of five. Distinctions of relationship were ignored. In the case above cited, the child of the sister was by her own brother. Since then I have found that family underrunning our society like devil-grass. In the diagram which I hold before you, the extent of it is traced to over 400 individuals. They are found on the street begging, at the houses soliciting cold victuals. Their names appear on the criminal records of the city court, the county jail, the house of refuge, the reformatory, the State prison and the county poor asylum. I give this as an illustration of the organization of pauperism, which takes it beyond the control of the individual and of the single society, making necessary an organization of charitable forces if the evil is ever to be controlled….”

COS leaders wanted to reform charity by including a paid agent’s investigation of the case’s “worthiness” before distributing aid. They believed that unregulated and unsupervised relief caused rather than cured poverty. The paid agent, usually a male, made an investigation and carried out the decisions of the volunteer committee concerning each applicant, including maintaining records. A volunteer or “friendly visitor” was recruited to offer advice and supervise the family’s progress. COS visitors sought to uplift the family and taught the values of hard work and thrift to individuals and families. The COS set up centralized records and administrative services and emphasized objective investigations and professional training. There was a strong scientific emphasis as the COS visitors organized their activities and learned principles of practice and techniques of intervention from one another. COS views dominated private charity philosophy until the 1930s and influenced the face of social welfare as it evolved during the Progressive Era.
SOURCE: The Social Welfare History Project – Charity Organization Societies: 1877-1893 by John E. Hansan, Ph.D.

The Social Welfare History Project – Progressive Era by John E. Hansan, Ph.D.

The Social Welfare History Project – Theodore Roosevelt.

The Social Welfare History Project – Josephine Shaw Lowell.

Unsentimental Reformer: The Life Of Josephine Shaw Lowell by Joan Waugh, 1997.

In Memoriam: Josephine Shaw Lowell, The Charity Organization Society Of The City Of New York, 1906.

Almost Worthy: The Poor, Paupers, and the Science of Charity in America, 1877-1917 by Brent Ruswick, 2012. (Info on Reverend Oscar C. McCulloch).

Reverend Stephen Humphreys Gurteen – The Charities Review, Volume 8, March-February 1898-99, Page 364.

Eugenics, Past and Future by Russ Douthat, June 9, 2012, New York Times.

Columbia University – Social Forces Visualized: Photography and Scientific Charity, 1900-1920.

1915 State Charities Aid Association News

The State Charities Aid Association, S.C.A.A., was founded in 1872. The S.C.A.A. inspected all charitable institutions that included all New York State Hospitals, Custodial Institutions for the Feeble-Minded, Prisons, Tuberculosis Hospitals, County Poor Houses, Polio Clinics, Houses of Refuge, and Orphanages. Charity Organization Societies (COS), were part of the “scientific charity movement” that began in the late nineteenth century. S.C.A.A. News, Volumes 3-11, 1915 through 1923 is a TREASURE TROVE of information and photographs!











“Brief Facts About State Charities Aid Association:

The object of the State Charities Aid Association, which is a voluntary body of citizens of New York State, is to improve conditions in public institutions and to promote public health and child care.

It is an incorporated body, State-wide, but without State aid.

Its budget is about $329,000 a year, and is met by voluntary contributions.

It has 12,000 members; it has local committees in every county. Its volunteer visitors visit and inspect all public institutions. The Association employs abut 95 persons in its Central Office, and about 20 in the field. It devotes itself to the following objects:

Finding homes for destitute or orphaned children.

Assisting mothers with babies.

Preventing mental disorders and securing better care for the mentally sick and defective.

Visiting public institutions in order to improve conditions, to promote with welfare and comfort of patients and inmates.

Helping to provide suitable occupations for sick persons in hospitals and institutions.

Assisting in securing wise laws about public health, care of the sick, institutions, and the expenditure of public funds for these purposes.”
SOURCE: S.C.A.A. News, Published Monthly by The State Charities Aid Association, 105 East 22nd Street, New York, N.Y., Volume X, No. 9, June, 1922, Page 13.

1872 Miss Louisa Lee Schuyler – The State Charities Aid Association.



















1850 In The Spirit of Halloween

I’m not a fan of Halloween but I know many of you are. While researching old documents, I often come across gruesome articles from old medical journals. This is one such article concerning a Frenchman, Sergeant Francois Bertrand, who suffered from Necrophilia, also called Thanatophilia, Necrolagnia, and Paraphilia.

Le Sergent Bertrand

Le Sergent Bertrand

Photo “Le Sergent Bertrand”

1850 Extraordinary Madness

“Physiological pathologists have of late been as much on the alert, in France, concerning the case of a sergeant of the line, as they have been, in this country, concerning Miss Nottidge. The two cases bear, however, no analogy to each other. Religious monomania is not rare; but the derangement of mind, leading to the frightful and disgusting acts of Sergeant Bertrand, is, as far as we can remember, perfectly unique in the annals of mental alienation. His mania consisted in exhuming the dead, and taking pleasure in mutilating the corpses; but, shocking to relate, there was an erotic tendency mixed up with these horrible deeds, and he took especial delight in raising the corpses of females, and satisfying his unnatural appetites upon their putrefying remains.

From the trial which lately took place in Paris, before a court martial, and from the confession written by himself, we learn that this unfortunate individual is twenty-five years of age. He first studied for the church, but suddenly enlisted, and, by his good conduct, obtained the rank of sergeant. When young, he was rather of a sullen and melancholy disposition, but nothing positively pointing to derangement was then observed. His hideous propensities appears only in February, 1847, when they were excited by the sight of a grave left unfilled after interment, the diggers having been compelled to desist by a heavy shower of rain. He then struck the corpse, which he had exhumed with the tools left by the grave, with the utmost fury; and being interrupted, fled to a neighboring wood, where, according to him, he remained for three hours in a state of perfect insensibility, after having been most violently excited.

From this time to the 15th of March, 1849, this wretched man desecrated burying-places eight or ten times, both by day and night, regardless of the severity of the weather, the dangers he was encountering on the part of the keepers, and the difficulties he had to surmount. By the aid of his small sword he used to raise eight or ten corpses in a single night; and he adds that he opened many graves, and refilled them again, with no assistance but his hands. He had not the courage of telling the whole truth in his written declaration; but he confessed to his medical attendant, M. Marchal, (de Calvi), the most repulsive part of this awful tale—viz., his preference for the remains of females, and his hideous propensity of satisfying sexual desires upon them. He was wounded when getting over the wall of the cemetery of Mont Parnasse, in Paris, brought to the hospital, and thus was unveiled this unheard-of train of disgusting acts.

The court-martial have not taken that view of the case which at first sight would have looked the most rational; and waiving altogether the possibility of monomania having impelled the man to these hideous deeds they looked upon the offence as a misdemeanor, and condemned him to one year’s imprisonment.

Different opinions have been given in the medical journals as to which of the two kinds of mania exhibited was the first in existence—viz., the destructive, or the erotic. M. Marchal, the sergeant’s medical attendant thinks the destructive prevailed: but M. Michea, a well-known mental pathologist, maintains that the second was, on the contrary, the strongest and only mania. The various circumstances mentioned by each of these gentlemen, to strengthen their respective positions, merely rest on the prisoner’s own declaration; so that it would appear that no very strong case can be made on either side. Indeed, the whole series of these shocking occurrences might well be called in question, as it seems that no direct and conclusive evidence has been brought forward besides the man’s own account. But assuming the latter as true, the existence of monomania can hardly be doubted, when we consider that a natural instinct was entirely set aside, that there was not the slightest prospect of gain, that the wish of visiting churchyards returned almost periodically, that the dangers incurred were entirely disregarded, that none of the vices which generally accompany depravity were present &c. There was, besides, a melancholy disposition, a total insensibility to the agency of physical agents, (such as cold, rain, &c.,) during the paroxysm, and the extraordinary amount of muscular and nervous energy in the accomplishment of the acts, &c. All these considerations would tend to prove that this man was irresistibly impelled to such unheard of abominations.

This disgusting case recalls at once that form of mental aberration which reigned so extensively, about a century and a half ago, in the north of Europe, and known under the name of vampirism. It will be recollected that vampires were suffering under a sort of nocturnal delirium, which was often extended to the waking hours, during which they believed that certain dead persons were rising from their graves to come and draw their blood; hence arose a desire for revenge, and burial-places were disgracefully desecrated. Bertrand’s case seems the very reverse of this; for we here see, not the dead rising to torment the living, but a man disturbing the peace of cemetries in the most horrible manner imaginable.—London Lancet.”

Buffalo Medical Journal and Monthly Review of Medical and Surgical Science, Edited by Austin Flint, M.D., Volume Fifth, Buffalo: Published by Jewett, Thomas & Co, 1850, Page 341-342.

1892 The Infliction Of The Death Penalty By Means Of Electricity

by Carlos F. MacDonald, M.D.,
President of the New York State Commission in Lunacy.

Electric Chair-Auburn State Prison

Electric Chair-Auburn State Prison

“The widespread interest manifested by the general public in the new method of inflicting the death penalty by means of electricity, and the interest which medical science would naturally be expected to feel in the humane and scientific aspects of the subject, especially with reference to the absence of conscious suffering, and the changes, if any, in the tissues and organs of the human body resulting from the passage through it of electrical currents of lethal energy, together with the fact that this method of executing criminals may now be said to have practically passed beyond the experimental stage, would seem to justify, if not indeed to demand, the presentation of an authentic summary of the practical results thus far obtained by some one whose data and conclusions would be derived from actual observation and experience in the application of the statute. The fact that the writer happens to be the only physician who has participated in all of the official preliminary experimental tests of apparatus, and witnessed all of the executions thus far had under the new law-not, however, from any zealous interest in the subject, nor even inclination to be present, but in obedience to the expressed desire of the chief executive of the State and other official superiors-furnishes the only excuse he would offer for undertaking what otherwise might well be regarded as an undesirable task.

In view of the wide publication of distorted and sensational accounts of the Kemmler execution, and the amount of adverse criticism and even condemnation based thereon of those who were called to act in an advisory capacity in the administration of the law, the writer, at the request of the Governor, prepared an official report of that event, some portions of which are necessarily here reproduced.

The execution of William Kemmler, alias John Hart, at Auburn prison, on August 6, 1890, pursuant to the statute in such case made and provided, marked the first case in the world’s history of the infliction of the death penalty by electricity. Since then six other condemned murderers have been legally killed by this method at Sing Sing prison-namely James J. Slocum, Harris A. Smiler, Joseph Wood and Schichiok Jugigo, on July 7, 1891; Martin D. Loppy, on December 7, 1891, and Charles McElvaine, on February 8, 1892, making in all seven cases of successful infliction of the death penalty by electricity in the State of New York.”

“In all the cases except Kemmler’s and McElwaine’s contact was broken for the purpose of wetting the electrodes. From the foregoing it appears that the time consumed in the preliminary preparations — strapping, adjusting electrodes, etc.— varied from four minutes in the first to less than a minute and a half in the last instance; that the number of contacts varied from two to four, and that the aggregate length of the contacts in each case varied from forty-five to eighty-seven seconds, at the end of which, if not before, in most instances, both conscious and organic life were absolutely extinct.

In other words, the length of time which elapsed from the moment the prisoner entered the execution-room until he was absolutely dead was, in Kemmler’s case, eight minutes; in Slocum’s, six minutes; in Smiler’s, four minutes; in Wood’s, four minutes and ten seconds; in Jugigo’s, three minutes and thirty seconds; -in Loppy’s, three minutes fifty-three seconds and a half; and in McElvaine’s, three minutes and fifty-eight seconds.”

SOURCE: Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, One Hundred and Sixteenth Session, 1893, Volume I, Nos. 1 to 6, Inclusive, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1893. Pages 279-280.