The Search for Solutions

Edward Rohs and Judith Estrine

in Raised by the Church

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780823240227
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240265 | DOI:
The Search for Solutions

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Throughout U.S. history people of good have debated the issues of how to best serve the most vulnerable children in the population: How can society give impoverished, orphaned, and abandoned children the tools to become contributing members of society? Where should they live? Who will care for them? What will it cost? Who will pay? Chapter 1 describes a variety of early attempts, e.g., the Dutch Orphans Court in New Amsterdam and the first colonial poorhouse in Boston—which included the aged, alcoholic, disabled, mentally ill, unemployed, widowed, as well as children, and became the template for poorhouses built across the United States. The chapter explains the 1800s debate of “undeserving” vs “deserving” poor and the failed attempts to create a state-supported system of providing an ideal environment for every needy child. It discusses the grim results of this failure on the vulnerable children who were placed in their care.

Keywords: colonial poorhouse; poorhouse; Dutch Orphans Court; deserving poor; undeserving poor

Chapter.  1312 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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