Stephen Humphreys Gurteen


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(1836–1898) Stephen Humphreys Gurteen, founder of the first Charity Organization Society in the United States, was born near Canterbury, England. After graduating from Cambridge University in 1863, he emigrated to the United States and worked as a lawyer and a teacher of Latin. In 1875 he was ordained as an Episcopal priest and appointed assistant minister of St. Paul's Church, Buffalo, New York. Buffalo was in the midst of the depression of 1873–1878, and Gurteen was put in charge of the church's relief work. He spent the summer of 1877 in England observing efforts to assist the poor, including the London Charity Organisation Society, and on his return proposed a Charity Organization Society (COS) for Buffalo that would involve prominent businessmen representing a variety of religious faiths. The Buffalo COS, launched in December 1877, differed little from the English model except for its policy of strict nonsectarianism, on which Gurteen had insisted.


From Encyclopedia of Social Work in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Social Work.

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