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Frances Perkins, Secretary
CH ILDREN’S BUREAU - - - - Katharine F. Lenroot, Chief




Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The State and its administration_____________________________________
Development of State welfare administration________________________
State agencies concerned with dependency, mental defect, and mental
disease_____ __________________________________________________
Board of State charities___________ jl_______________________ _
State board of health, lunacy, and charity_____________________
Board of lunacy and charity and board of insanity____________
Board of charity__ __________________
Commission on mental diseases_______________________________
State agencies concerned with penal affairs______________________
Board of commissioners of prisons______________________ j.____
Bureau of prisons_________________
Commission on probation____________________________________
Reorganization of the State government__________________________
State institutions___________________________________________
The department of public welfare_____________________________________
Development of services_________________________________________
Organization of the department___________________________________
Commissioner of public welfare______________________________
Advisory and administrative boards__________________________
D ivisions_________________
Activities of the department_____________________________________
Division of aid and relief__ _________________________________
Bureau of old-age assistance_________________________________
Division of child guardianship_______________________________
Division of Juvenile training-________________________________
Subdivisions under direction of the commissioner______________
Supervision and administration of State institutions___________
Publications and educational activities_______________________
Personnel of the department_____________________________________
Method of appointment and qualifications_____________________
State services for children___________________________________________
Development of local public services for children_________________
Care of dependent and neglected children________________________
Children accepted for State guardianship_____________________ :
Supervision of public services for dependent children_________
Supervision of private- agencies_____________________________
Services to special, groups of. children__ ______________ 1______
Services foi* delinquentSjfidfeji^k^f^^L'j'^JÉÀ^.___________________
Institutional care
Probation________ ____________ ;_i __ _______________________
Services for mentally handicapped and problem children___________
Department of public welfare_______________________________
Department of mental diseases_______________________________
Services for physically handicapped children______________________
Crippled children____________________________________________
Blind and deaf children_____________________________________
fl*" ,

•*: 1
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

This publication is intended for students of public-welfare admin­
istration who wish to understand the development of State welfare
programs. Several States were studied, and the report for each
State is being issued separately.
Material changes have occurred during the past few years in
organization and services in Massachusetts but the present program
has developed from past experience. I t is believed that this report
of the development of State services for children will be of value to
students of the subject. The picture given is of Massachusetts in the
spring of 1934 at the time an extended field visit was made to the
State, and it should not be understood to represent the present
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

A Historical Summary of State Services for .
Children in Massachusetts
Massachusetts, although forty-fourth among the States in land
area, ranked eighth in population in 1930. According to the 1930
census the population of the State was 4,249,614, or 528.6 persons per
square mile. Only Rhode Island and New Jersey exceeded Massa­
chusetts in density of population. The State is distinctly urban. I t
includes nine cities of more than 100,000 population and seven other
cities of more than 50,000 population. The census classifies only 10
percent of the population as rural and only 2 percent as rural-farm.
The population is predominantly white (99 percent); 74 percent is
native white, although only 34 percent of the population was born
of native white parents. Until nearly the end of the eighteenth cen­
tury the population was unusually homogeneous, but with the intro­
duction of manufacturing there was an influx of immigrants. Immi­
gration continued for many years, the Irish and the Italians coming
in the greatest numbers, with the result that the composition of the
population has changed materially.
Massachusetts is one of the richest States of the Union, its estimated
wealth in 1930 amounting to $3,144 per capita.1 In 1931 the State
ranked fifth in the number of wage earners in manufacturing indus­
tries and seventh in the value of manufactured products. The State
has since its early days been a leader in the textile industry, and this
is still the foremost industry of the State, although there are also
important shoe factories and tanneries, foundries and machine shops,
electric-equipment works, paper mills, and printing and publishing
houses. In 1931 the United States biennial census of manufactures
reported 9,305 manufacturing establishments with 434,440 wage earn­
ers. The wages of the employees for the year amounted to $474,189,000 and the value of the manufactured products to $2,157,450,000.2
The constitution was adopted in 1780 before the State officially
entered the Union and is the oldest of all State constitutions still in
force.8 There had been 71 amendments to the constitution up to Jan­
uary 1,1933. The Governor and other elected State officials serve for
a 2-year term, and the legislature has an annual session. A council to
advise the Governor in the executive part of the government was
provided for in the constitution. The council is made up of eight
persons in addition to the Lieutenant Governor. These councilors
are elected from eight districts, each composed of five contiguous
1 Conference Board Bulletin [National Industrial Conference Board], No. 62 (February
20. 1932), p. 496.
•Biennial Census of Manufactures, 1931, p. 1223. U. S. Department of Commerce,
Washington, 1935.
•Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 181 (September
1935), pp. 184-187.

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senatorial districts. The Governor is responsible for calling the
council together to discuss the general affairs of the Commonwealth.4
One of the primary duties of the council has been to approve all
appointments made by the Governor.
The number of divisions and departments in the State government
gradually increased until more than 100 were in existence. As a re­
sult a reorganization of the State government was authorized by an
act of the 1919 legislature, which became effective December 1, 1919.
By this act the State agencies were reorganized into 20 departments.
The general executive and administrative functions of the State, ex­
cept those directly under the Governor or under the Governor and the
council, were placed in four departments headed by constitutional
elective officers; namely, department of the State secretary, depart­
ment of the State treasurer, department of the State auditor, and de­
partment of the attorney general. In addition the following 16
specialized departments were created by the act: Civil service and
registration, corporations and taxation, education, public works,
public health, public welfare, mental diseases, corrections, agriculture,
conservation, public safety, labor and industries, industrial accidents,
public utilities, banking and insurance, and the metropolitan district
Local government in Massachusetts has been conducted on the
“town” or township basis since early in the history of the State.
There are 316 towns in Massachusetts, of which 247 have populations
of under 6,000. The addition of 39 cities to the towns gives the State
355 local governmental units.6
Town government as it functions in Massachusetts and a few other
New England States is carried on by an assembly (town meeting)
of the qualified voters resident within the town. At least one town
meeting is held each year, and additional meetings are called when
necessary. The assembly has the power to elect officials and to pass
legislation. I t chooses the selectmen and the committees, approves
their accounts, and makes the tax levy for the following year in
accordance with the need as presented by the committees. Its powers
cover the management of town lands and other property and all local
matters, including police protection and sanitation. Because the
open town meeting proved unwieldy for some of the larger towns,
provision has been made for the adoption of a limited town-meeting
plan. A number of towns have adopted this arrangement, under
which the town is divided into precincts, aijd each precinct elects
representatives to the town meeting to conduct the town’s business.
Only these delegates have the right to vote, but any resident of the
town has the right to speak at the meeting.7
The executive authority of a town consists of three or five select­
men who serve for terms of 1 or 3 years.
The selectmen may be called the general administrative board of the town.
But they differ from county boards in having no authority to levy taxes, and
their powers are limited to those conferred by statute or the town meeting.
* Constitution, ch. II, secs. I-III, amendments, acts XVI, LXIV.
8 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, chs. 0-28.
« Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930, Vol. 1, Population, pp 497-508 Wash­
ington, 1931.
J°hn A., and Charles N. Kneier: County Government and Administration, pp.
430—434. Century Co., New York, 1930.
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Their functions are manifold and vary from town to town. They issue war­
rants for holding a town meeting; they lay out highways and drains; they
grant licenses ; they make arrangements for elections ; and they have charge
of the town property. They may act as assessors, overseers of the poor, and
health officers. They appoint some minor town officers, and can fill vacancies
in most of the elective town offices. They adjust claims against the town and
draw orders on the treasurer for payment.8

There is also the town clerk, who attends to all details of elections,
keeps the records and the minutes of the town meetings, and gen­
erally serves also as registrar of births, marriages, and deaths, as
treasurer, assessor, and tax collector, and performs such other minor
duties as the town demands. Each town also has certain elected
officers, the number of which vary in the different towns. Some of
these officers are paid a salary ; others receive only the fees paid for
their actual services.
The administrative plan for cities differs from that of towns, as
each city is authorized to select one of several forms of government.9
Four possible plans are set forth in the statutes. Under plan A
government is by the mayor and a city council composed of nine
persons elected irom the city at large. Under plan B government
is by the mayor, elected from the city at large, and a council com­
posed of 11 persons in cities that have not more than 7 wards and
15 persons in cities that have more than 7 wards, one member to be
elected from each ward and the remaining members of the council
to be elected from the city at large. Under plan C government is
by a council composed of five members: The mayor, who serves as
commissioner of administration, and four commissioners—of finance,
health, public works, and public property—all elected from the city
at large. Under plan D government is by the mayor, elected from
the city at large, a city council of four members, elected by the people,
and a city manager, appointed by the council.10
Welfare services are the responsibility of a local board of public
welfare composed of three or five members who serve for a term of 1
or 3 years, unless the town votes to authorize its selectmen to act as
the board. To this board is delegated the administration of relief
in the towns, including aid to dependent children, outdoor relief, and
institutional care. The duties of the board of public welfare were
administered by “overseers of the poor” prior to 1927, when new
legislation gave these officers a more modern appellation.11 The
board of public welfare may appoint a paid secretary who need not
be one of its members, a plan which makes it possible for the board
to have professional assistance.12 This had been done, however,
only by some of the larger towns.
The 14 counties of the State are in the main judicial districts to
which judges are appointed by the Governor for life terms. In each
county except Nantucket and Suffolk, three county commissioners
are elected, who are salaried officials and have the management of
county buildings, such as courthouses and prisons, with power to
« Ibid., p. 435.
8 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 41, sec. 1; ch. 43, secs. 1—13.
10 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 43, secs. 1, 50—
11 Laws of 1927, ch. 165.
12 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 41, secs. 1, 31—
34; chs. 117-118A.
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lay out new highways from town to town, to estimate the amount of
taxation needed to defray county charges, and to apportion the
county tax among the towns and cities by which it is to be levied.18
Only to this extent has the county authority any power over the
towns. There is no county council or other assembly with legislative
“ General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 34, secs. 4-8, 14.
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The earliest State provision in Massachusetts, as in other States,
for the care of delinquent, dependent, and physically and mentally
handicapped persons was institutional. Hospitals for the insane,
the first of which was established in 1834,14 and the State schools for
delinquent boys and for delinquent girls established in 1847 and
185416 were placed under the administration of boards of trustees
for each institution, who appointed the superintendent of the insti­
tution. The plan of administration of the three State almshouses
and the paupers’ hospital established in 1852 included the appoint­
ment of the superintendents by the Governor, who also appointed
a board of three inspectors for each institution, each inspector to be
paid $100 a year.16 State responsibility for care of blind, deaf, and
mentally subnormal children was discharged by annual grants from
the State treasury to privately controlled institutions caring for
these groups.17
By the middle of the nineteenth century State expenditures for the
care of aliens and dependent persons who had no legal settlement
in the cities or towns of the Commonwealth became a problem. A
board of alien commissioners was created to supervise the operation
of all laws relating to the introduction of aliens into the Common­
wealth and relating to the support of State paupers. The board
was composed of a member of the State council, the auditor of State
accounts, and the superintendent of alien passengers of Boston.
The commissioners were authorized to appoint persons to inspect all
almshouses in which State paupers were kept and therefore had a
limited supervisory authority over the State almshouses, which cared
for the majority of the State poor. The commissioners were also
responsible for obtaining information about aliens coming or brought
into the State, and, if such aliens became dependent, for obtaining
their support or removal by persons responsible.16

Successive investigating committees appointed by the assembly
of the Commonwealth emphasized the need for a more adequate plan
of supervision of State institutions and control of State expenditures
for persons who had no legal settlement.19 In 1863, a board of State
MLaws of 1834, ch. 150.
is Laws of 1847, ch. 165 ; 1854, ch. 52 (Resolves) ; 1855, ch. 442.
1®Laws of 1852, ch. 275.
, . ,
ii Breckinridge, Sophonisba P. : Public Welfare Administration in the
pp. 142-143. Select Documents. University of Chicago Press, Chicago,
w Laws of 1851, ch. 342.
i* Breckinridge, Sophonisba P. : Public Welfare Administration in the
pp 123-Î29, 134-141, 142-148. Select Documents. University of Chicago
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

United States,
United States,
Press, Chicago,




charities was established, the first in the United States. The board
consisted of five members appointed by the Governor for overlapping
terms of 5 years. Board members received no compensation for
their services except their actual traveling expenses incurred in
supervisory visits and in attendance at the required monthly meet­
ings. The law gave the board the power to investigate and super­
vise the whole system of the public charitable and correctional insti­
tutions of the Commonwealth, and to recommend such changes and
additional provisions as it deemed necessary for their economical
and efficient administration.20 In addition, it was given full power
“to transfer pauper inmates from one charitable institution or lunatic
hospital to another,” and to grant admissions and discharges to
such pauper inmates. The duties of the board of alien commis­
sioners were transferred to the new board, and the general agent
of State charities was authorized to perform these duties. The
statute also provided a paid secretary, who, under the direction of
the board, was authorized to examine the reports of cities and towns
on the support of paupers and to obtain from the State institutions
data that would show the causes and extent of pauperism, crime,
disease, and insanity.
The noteworthy accomplishments of this board in studying social
conditions and needs, in furthering constructive legislation, and in
improving administrative practices in the institutions under its
supervision made this type of State agency a pattern for other States,
so that by 1887, 12 Eastern and Midwestern States had set up similar

After 16 years of service the board of State charities was abol­
ished, and its work became part of a more comprehensive program.21
In its dealings with the State poor, the board of State charities found
that it came in close contact with situations and conditions materially
affecting the public health.22 The desire to have an administration
that would more successfully coordinate health and social problems
was largely responsible for the abolition of the separate State boards
of health arid charity and the creation of a single board to act as
commissioners of lunacy as well as to administer services relating
to health and charity.
The State board of health, lunacy, and charity consisted of nine
persons appointed by the Governor for overlapping terms of 5 years.28
To this board were transferred all the powers and duties of the board
of State charities, including supervision of all State insane asylums,
the State almshouse, the State workhouse, and three State schools
for delinquent and dependent children. As commissioners of lunacy,
the board had power to investigate the sanity and condition of any
person committed to any hospital or retained elsewhere by reason of
alleged insanity. The board was made responsible for visiting and in­
specting every private asylum for the insane within the Commonwealth
90 Laws of 1863, ch. 240.
91 Laws of 1879, ch. 291.
99 Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Conference of Charities held at Chicago, June 1879,
p. 29. Boston, 1879.
98 Laws of 1879, ch. 291.
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at least once every 6 months. This was the first permanent commission
of lunacy in Massachusetts.24
During the years of service of the board of State charities the
State institutional program for children and dependent adults had
developed. The existing boards of trustees of the institutions were
abolished by the act creating the State board of health, lunacy, and
charity, and new boards of trustees were appointed by the Governor.28
A board of seven persons, two of whom were women, was appointed
to serve as trustees of the State primary and reform schools. This
board was responsible for the two schools for delinquent children
and the school for dependent children, which had superseded the
State almshouse at Monson and provided care for most of the
dependent children who were State charges. Five persons, including
two women, were appointed as the board of trustees of the State
almshouse, and another board of five was created to serve as trustees
of the State workhouse. These were all administrative boards and
had authority to appoint the superintendent. Previously the ap­
pointment of the superintendents of the three State almshouses had
been made by the Governor, the superintendents of the other institu­
tions being appointed by the trustees.
The board of health, which was abolished with the creation of the
State board of health, lunacy, and charity, had been established in
1869.26 I t consisted of seven persons appointed by the Governor
and constituted a board of health and vital statistics. I t was its
duty to take cognizance of the interests of health and life among
the citizens of the Commonwealth, to make sanitary investigations,
and to study the causes of disease, sources of mortality, and the ef­
fects of localities, employments, conditions, and circumstances on
the public health. This was the first State board of health in the
United States.27 After 1879, the health functions of the State board
developed to such an extent that in 1886 a separate State board of
health was once more established to administer the health services of
the State.28

When the administration of health services had been removed
from its jurisdiction, the State board continued its supervisory ac­
tivities and services for dependent persons, delinquent children, and
mentally defective persons under the name of the State board of
lunacy and charity. These combined services were the responsi­
bility of the board for 12 years, when its work was again limited by
the establishment of another agency to supervise the care of the.
insane and mentally deficient. '
Growing realization of the need for a board that could do more
intensive study and research in the field of mental diseases and in
methods of caring for mentally afflicted persons than was possible
for a board with varied interests resulted in the creation m 1898of a State board of insanity, under which were placed all State serv M First Annual Report of the Massachusetts Board of Health, Lunacy, and Charity«
January 1880, p. xix.
Laws of 1879, ch. 291.
24 Laws of 1869, ch. 420.
87 Vincent, George E .: Public Welfare and Public Health. Annals of the America»
Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 105, No. 194 (January 1923), p. 36.
88 Laws of 188Q, ch. 101.
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ices affecting the mentally ill or defective.29 This board of five
persons, appointed by the Governor for overlapping terms of 5
years, was authorized to appoint an executive officer, who was re­
quired to be a physician and an expert on insanity, and who might
be a member of the board. The board was also authorized to appoint
other necessary agents and officers. I t was given general supervision
over State institutions caring for the insane or feeble-minded, as well
as over local public or private institutions caring for these groups.
It was also the responsibility of the board to encourage scientific
investigation by the medical staff of the hospitals and to publish
reports of research. All duties of the commissioners of lunacy, orig­
inally vested in the State board of health, lunacy, and charity, were
given to the board under the new name, commissioners of insanity.

With the withdrawal of its mental-hygiene services, the State board
was renamed the State board of chanty. During the remaining 21
years of its service (1898-1919) the activities of the board were cen­
tered on its rapidly expanding work for dependent adults and for
dependent, delinquent, and physically handicapped children. Its
supervisory responsibilities were increased during this time to in­
clude supervision of all private charitable organizations and of the
State medical charities, including the State hospital school for crip­
pled children, the State sanatoria, and other special hospitals for
In spite of changes in name and realinement of services, the con­
tinuity of the board remained unbroken from its original appoint­
ment in 1879 as a State board of health, lunacy, and charity until
its abolition at the time of the reorganization of State government
in 1919. The board inherited from the earlier board of State chari­
ties (1863-79) many of its policies, standards of service? and pro­
cedures, and its service is generally considered as having begun
in 1863.

In 1916 the State board of insanity was abolished, after 18 years
of service, and its duties were transferred to a commission on mental
diseases. This commission represented a new form of administrative
board in the welfare plan o f the State, that of a paid director ap­
pointed by the Governor, who with four unsalaried associate direc­
tors, also appointed by the Governor, constituted the commission.
The director was appointed for a term of 5 years, at a salary not
to exceed $7,500. The director and at least two of the associate
directors, who were appointed for a 4-year term, were required to
be physicians and to be expert in the care and treatment of the
insane.80 The commissioners had general supervision of all public
and private institutions caring for mentally handicapped persons
and were authorized to license annually all private homes or hospi­
tals caring for such persons.
Since the plan for direct appointment of the director was in accord
with the method of appointing commissioners of departments, which
88 Laws of 1898, ch. 433.
*° General Laws 1916, ch. 286.
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was adopted at the time of the reorganization of State government
in 1919, no changes were necessary in the administrative set-up when
the department of mental diseases was established.

The law reestablishing the State prison at Charleston in 1827
provided that three inspectors of the State prison should be appointed
by the Governor for terms not exceeding 4 years, at a yearly salary
of $100 each.81 One or more of the inspectors were required to visit
the prison weekly or oftener, to inspect the books, and to ascertain
whether the laws and the rules and regulations formulated by the
board were being carried out by the officials of the prison. An
annual report to the Governor on all matters of prison administration
was required. As other State penal institutions were established
this plan of supervision was extended to them.
Central supervision of local jails and houses of correction was not
undertaken until 1870, although the appointment of county or city
overseers for these institutions was authorized in 1834. The laws of
1870 provided for the appointment by the Governor of three com­
missioners of prisons, to serve for overlapping terms of 3 years.
The commissioners were authorized to elect an executive officer, who
became a member of the board and received a salary of $2,000 a year.83
I t was the responsibility of the commissioners, with an advisory
board of women visitors, created by the same act, to provide general
supervision and inspection of all jails and houses of correction. The
three women visitors limited their services to institutions in which
women were confined.

The first State board with general authority over all penal institu­
tions in the Commonwealth was created in 1879. This board, which
superseded all previously appointed inspectors, commissioners, and
women visitors, consisted of five persons, two of whom were women,
appointed by the Governor for overlapping terms of 5 years. The
board, which received no salary, was authorized to elect a secretary
to serve as its executive officer at a salary of $2,000 a year.83
The board was given authority to prepare rules and regulations
for the conduct of State prisons, to approve all appointments of
employees of the State prisons other than the wardens or superin­
tendents and assistant watchmen, and to inspect and supervise the
government, discipline, work, and instruction of the convicts. Gen­
eral supervision over all jails and houses of correction was also
authorized, including the right to transfer persons from local institu­
tions to the State prison, reformatory, or workhouse.

The bureau of prisons, established in 1916 as the successor to the
board of prison commissioners, was the first State welfare agency in
Massachusetts having administrative authority vested in a director.
a Laws of 1827, ch. 118.
32 Laws of 1870, ch. 370.
83 Laws of 1879, ch. 294.
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The director of the bureau was appointed by the Governor for a term
of 3 years, at an annual salary not exceeding $6,000. The director was
authorized to appoint two deputy directors to assist him in his work.
Provision was also made for an advisory board of five members, two
of whom were women, to visit and inspect the prisons, to investigate
questions arising, and to propose measures for improvement in serv­
ice.9* A board of parole, appointed by the Governor, whose members
received an annual salary of $1,200, superseded the separate boards of
parole of the State prison and reformatory and the State reformatory
for women.
The prison bureau had been in existence only 3 years when its work
was taken over by the department of correction.35 The advisory
board was not continued under the new department. The new parole
board, however, became a more integral part of the department, as
one of the two deputy commissioners appointed by the commissioner
on approval of the Governor served as a member.

The first probation law in the United States was passed in Massa­
chusetts in 1878.88 I t directed the mayor of Boston to appoint an­
nually “either from the police force of said city or from the citizens
at large” a probation officer for the criminal courts of Suffolk County,
who was to be under the general control of the Boston police chief.8’
In 1880 authority to establish the office of probation officer was given
to the aldermen or selectmen in any city or town except the city o f
Boston.38 The system developed slowly but steadily, and by 1898
the elements of a State-wide probation system could be found.
statute enacted in 1891 made it mandatory for the presidingjustice of each lower court to appoint a probation officer,39 and in 1898
the superior court was authorized to appoint its own officers,40
An attempt to coordinate the work of the probation officers in the
several courts was made in the law of 1880, which required probation
officers to make returns to the prison commissioners. Twenty years
later provision was made for these commissioners to be the channel of
communication between the probation officers of the several courts
and they were given authority, duties, and powers similar to those
*?lven -tQ the board of probation.41 In their annual report for
1907 the prison commissioners admitted their inability to obtain “a
high degree of coordination in the work of probation officers ” and
suggested the appointment by the superior court of an officer “who
should observe the work of other courts.” 42
In his message to the legislature in January 1908, the Governor
There should be a central clearing house, so to speak, for probation officers,
under the control of the courts, to which detailed information should be given
and from which information should be disseminated alike to all probation
officers and to all courts.
84 Laws of 1916, ch. 241.
86 Laws of 1919, ch. 350.

88 Laws
80 Laws
40 Laws
41 Laws

S M fp t s


4s s .r B .r



1880j ch! 129.’
1891, ch. 356.
1898, ch. 511.
1900, ch. 449.
° l the Prison Commissioners, 1907. Quoted in part in Annual Report of theBoard of Probation for the Year Ending September 30, 1933.
report or tne-
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All probation officers are appointed by the courts. The commissioner or com­
missioners in charge of this office should be appointed by the supreme judicial
court, that the Massachusetts tradition of separating the judiciary from any
hint of political influence may be maintained."

The Governor’s suggestions were accepted by the legislature of 1908,
which provided for a commission on probation, composed of five
unpaid members, each appointed by the chief justice of the superior
court for a term of 5 years.44 It was intended that this commission
would organize and coordinate the probation system in Massachusetts
and make possible an exchange of information between the courts.
To this end provision was made for reports to the commission on pro­
bation from the probation officers, trial justices, commission of cor­
rection, penal institutions, commissioner of Boston, and county com­
missioners of counties other than Suffolk, the information to be ac­
cessible at all times to the justices and officers of the courts, to the
police commissioner of Boston, and to all chiefs of police and city
. .
The commission was authorized to appoint a deputy commissioner
of probation as its executive officer, to hold office during its pleasure.
His duties were prescribed by the commission, and he was to receive
such salary as the commission should determine.
# .
In the reorganization of State services in 1919 the commission on
probation was continued as an independent unit with the same re­
sponsibilities, but in 1929 its name was changed to the board of

Reorganization of the State government in the interest of economy
and efficiency became an important issue in Massachusetts during the
second decade of the twentieth century. Some of the proposals made
were strongly resisted,46 but in 1919 a law was enacted that provided
for a complete reorganization of State government under 20 adminis­
trative and executive departments. Centralized control was achieved
by giving the Governor authority to appoint the administrative head
of each department except the four departments under the direction
of elective constitutional officials. (See p. 2.)47 Twelve departments
were headed by commissioners;48 the department of civil service was
under the joint administration of a commissioner in charge of civil
service and a director in charge of registration j the department of
banicing and insurance was divided into three divisions with a com­
missioner in charge of each; the department of industrial accidents
was administered by a board of seven members, and the department
of public utilities by a commission of five members.
The plan for the welfare services of the State followed in general
the existing distribution of work under the board of charities, the
commission on mental diseases, and the bureau of prisons, the three
43 Laws of 1908, p. 883.
44 Laws of 1908, ch. 465.
48 Laws of 1929, ch. 179.
_ .
. „. ,
40 Breckinridge, Sophonisba P. : Public Welfare Administration in the United States,
pp. 401—419. Select Documents. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1927.
4TConstitution, Art. XVII of the Amendments ; Laws of 1919, ch. 350.
48 Agriculture, conservation, corporations and taxation, education, correction, public
welfare, public safety, public works and public health, mental diseases, labor, education,
metropolitan district.
68321—38------ 3
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departments created being the department of public welfare, the de­
partment of mental diseases, and the department of correction.

Each State institution and its administrative board when such ex­
isted was placed in one of three welfare departments (correction,
mental hygiene, and public welfare) or in the department of public
health. The State sanatoria and special hospitals previously un­
der the supervision of the State board of charity were placed under
the department of public health. The State farm, with its varied
population of misdemeanants, criminal insane, and State poor need­
ing infirmary care, had been supervised by the State board of char­
ity; it was placed now under the department of correction, which
was given complete administrative control over all penal institutions.
Within the department of mental diseases were placed the boards of
trustees for the State hospitals for the insane, the schools for the
feeble-minded, and the hospital for epileptics, and general supervi­
sion over these institutions was delegated to the department. Boards
of trustees of the three schools for delinquent children, the State in­
firmary, and the State hospital for crippled children were placed in
the department of public welfare.49
The executive and administrative head of each of the welfare
departments was a commissioner appointed by the Governor. Never­
theless the contribution that had been made to the State by the un­
salaried boards in the 56 years they had been responsible for its wel­
fare program was recognized in the plans for reorganization. The
commission on mental diseases was continued within the department
of mental diseases,50 and an advisory board was provided to assist
the commissioner of public welfare.
No change was made in the organization of these departments after
1919, although their services were developed and expanded with con­
sequent change in internal organization. I t is of interest to note,
however, that a proposal for further consolidation of State services
was made in 1922 by a commission on State administration and ex­
penditures. This plan suggested consolidating in one welfare de­
partment the departments of correction, mental diseases, and public
welfare, and the institutional activities of the department of public
health. The apparent aim of this proposed action was the develop­
ment of central business administration of institutions and State aid.
It was also suggested that State aid could be reduced if the settle­
ment law were amended so that local settlement could be acquired
in less than 5 years.
40 Laws of 1919, ch. 350, secs. 8, 79—95.
60 This commission consisted of four unsalaried persons designated as associate commis­
sioners. General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 19, secs. 1—3.
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Some of the services of the department had their beginnings under
the original board of State charities, whereas others were authorized
after the creation of the department. The gradual evolution of State
services for dependent adults and children, from the almshouse pro­
gram initiated during the middle of the nineteenth century to the
method of granting assistance to adults in their own homes when
possible and of caring for children in family homes, shows the prog­
ress made in Massachusetts on problems of dependency. The devel­
opment of procedures and resources for the care of dependent and
neglected children has been of special interest.
In its first annual report the board of State charities protested
against the practice of caring for large numbers of children in the
three State almshouses and attempted to bring the children together
in the almshouse at Monson. In 1866 legislative authority was given
to the board for this action,51 and in September of that year the
State primary school at Monson was opened. Although indenture
of children had become an established practice, it was not until the
same year that a visiting agent was employed by administrative
action of the board to visit children placed out in family homes from
the primary school and from the almshouse at Tewksbury. In 1869
statutory authority for this service was provided52 and extended
to include all children maintained wholly or in part by the Common­
wealth. The visiting agent was required to visit placed-out children
and to investigate the homes of persons applying for children. Three
visitors were employed in 1869 to assist the agent with the wTork, two
of them temporary employees.
The same year marked the beginning of a State program of foster­
home care for delinquent children. An agent of the board was re­
quired to be present in court on behalf of any child about to be
committed to a reformatory; and if it was found to the interest of the
child the court was authorized to put him in charge of the board of
State charities for placement in a family home, the cost of care not
to exceed that in one of the State reformatories. This provision
originally applied only to boys, but by the next year it was extended
to include girls.
The high mortality among infants cared for in the State almshouse
became a serious problem, and in 1876 the trustees, at the advice of
the State board of health, lunacy, and charity, refused to receive
infants without their mothers. Arrangement was made for all in­
fants to be removed from the almshouse at Tewrksbury and cared
for either at the primary school or in families, and in 1882 a law
was passed providing that all infants should be cared for directly
« Laws of 1866, ch. 209.
» Laws of 1869, ch. 453.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



by the State board, which had authority to place them at board in
private families.68 In order to supervise the homes in which chil­
dren were placed, the board supplemented its small paid staff by
appointing a large number of interested women as auxiliary visi­
tors.64 This plan was continued until about 1918, when all super­
vision was transferred to paid employees.
The placement of children in family homes developed rapidly
after 1882, when the State board was authorized to provide for neg­
lected children under 14 years of age and to care for indigent chil­
dren under 16 years of age who had no legal settlement.66 That
year also marked the first appropriation to the board for boarding
children in family homes. With the development of the State
boarding-home program the need for care of children in the primary
school decreased, and in 1895 the buildings were given over to the
State to be used as a hospital for epileptics.66
Of the three State almshouses and the paupers’ hospital established
in 1852, the only one that has continued to accept indigent persons
is the, State infirmary at Tewksbury. The infirmary is a State hos­
pital for the care of acutely or chronically ill persons who have no
legal settlement in the cities or towns. State aid in their own
homes to poor persons who had no legal settlement was first author­
ized in 1877.67 Many amendments to the original act were made,
but this plan for aid has been continuous.
As early as 1863 local public officers were required to report to
the State board on the aid given to indigent persons, but supervision of
private charitable corporations was not authorized until 1909.68 The
enactment of the mothers’ aid law in 1913 gave-another administra­
tive responsibility to the State board of charity.69 With the organ­
ization of the department of public welfare in 1919, several addi­
tional activities, which will be discussed later, were added to the
duties of the department.

The executive and administrative head of the department is the
-commissioner of public welfare, who is appointed by the Governor
for a term of 5 years at a salary not to exceed $7,000.6° From the
reorganization of the State government in 1919 to the time a repre
tentative of the Children’s Bureau visited the State in 1934 the de­
partment had had only two commissioners. The first was the former
secretary of the State board of charity, who had been appointed in
1910. He continued to hold office after the reorganization in 1919,
but refused reappointment in 1920. The second commissioner took
office on January 1, 1921, and was reappointed in 1925 and 1930.61
68 Laws of 1882, ch. 181, sec. 2.
« Richardson Mrs. Anne B : The Massachusetts System of Caring for State Minor
,p- 55-. History of Child Saving in the United States; report of the committee on
tOB Ste0 » T Sn9tSieth N a,l0M l C on te“ ' e °f
“ Laws of 1882, ch. 181.
Macmillan Co^New YorkC1911°f Destitute* Neglected, and Delinquent Children, p. 153.
57 Laws of 1877, ch. 180’.
“ Laws of 1909, ch. 379.
59 Laws of 1913, ch. 763.
“ In 1933 this was cut to $6,627 and in 1934 only $5,950 was appropriated for this


91A new commissioner, the third, was appointed in 1935.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The Governor’s term of office is 2 years, and the 5-year term of the
commissioner means that his appointment seldom occurs at the be­
ginning of the Governor’s term, when greatest political pressure
is likely to be exerted.


An advisory board of six members, of whom two must be women,
to be appointed by the Governor for overlapping 3-year terms, was
provided for the department in the statutes. The commissioner serves
ex officio as chairman of this board. Of the members of the advisory
board serving on November 30,1932, two had been appointed in 1906
and 1909 as members of the board of charity and were retained on the
new board of public welfare. Two others had served since the crea­
tion of the board in 1919 and the remaining two were appointed in
1929 and 1931. The board met monthly. It considered and approved
all policies formulated by the department and made recommendations
with regard to its services and the administration of its several
The board was given authority to revise, amend, or affirm rules and
regulations for the conduct of the department.62 Any revision of such
rules and regulations must be presented to the board annually. Al­
though the board had no responsibility for the appointment of the
commissioner, its recommendations to the Governor in the two ap­
pointments made thus far have been carried out. The statutes» also
provided that when so directed by the Governor, the commissioner
and the board might assume and exercise powers and perform the
duties of the boards of trustees of any institution under the super­
vision of or included in the department, but there had never been
occasion for them to do this. The members of the board served with­
out pay, although compensation was allowed for their expenses in
the discharge of their duties.
According to the commissioner, the advisory board was of real
assistance in the administration of the department. Appointments
had been carefully made, so that the support of the members of the
board in the development of policies was of much value. One member
of the board served on the old-age appeal board. At one time there
were subcommittees on aid and relief and on child guardianship, but
these were later discontinued.
Massachusetts was one of four States63 in which the department of
public welfare included administrative boards responsible for the
actual administration of the State institutions in the department. The
general relation of the department to these institutions was super­
visory, but the commissioner was responsible for the actions of the
several boards of trustees. He signed all monthly bills and building
contracts, approved the budgets, and had authority to aprove appoint­
ments made by the boards of trustees in the institutions.
In 1934 there were three such boards, whose members were appointed
by the Governor. The board of trustees of the State infirmary con­
sisted of five men and two women appointed for overlapping terms
of 3 years. A single board of trustees administered the three State
82 Laws of 1919, ch. 350, sec. 94; or General Laws (Ter. Ed ) 1932, ch. 121, sec. 4.
68 Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
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correctional institutions, the Lyman school for boys, the industrial
school for boys, and the industrial school for girls, and the parole
services from these schools. This board was composed of nine persons,
two of whom were required to be women, appointed for overlapping
terms of 5 years. The board of trustees for the Massachusetts hospital
school was composed of five persons who served for a 5-year term.64
In 1933 a State board of housing was created in the department,
consisting of five unpaid members appointed by the Governor.65 This
board was given power to appoint its employees without the approval
of the commissioner.

The board of State charities, whose services were transferred to the
department of public welfare, had two major administrative divi­
sions—the division of State minor wards and the division of State
adult poor. In the law creating the department of public welfare,
these divisions were transferred to it and renamed the division of
child guardianship and the division of aid and relief. In addition a
division of juvenile training was created under the administration of
the board of trustees of the Massachusetts training schools. This
board became a part of the department.66 The department of public
welfare as organized in 1934 included the three original divisions, a
bureau of old-age assistance, and three subdivisions for whose work
the commissioner was directly responsible—the subdivision of private
incorporated charities, the subdivision of town planning, and the
subdivision of crippled children.

This division administered State aid to needy persons, except oldage pensions. This included aid given to persons who were the re­
sponsibility of the State because they had no legal settlement in the
cities and towns and aid given by the State to local public units for
mothers’ pensions. The division arranged for transfer of nonresidents
to their towns or States of settlement and supervised all temporary
homes for transients. I t also provided social services for the State
infirmary at Tewksbury.
The work of the division was organized under four subdivisions in
1934, of which two provided special services to children. The staff,
in addition to the director and an assistant director, was composed of
the superintendent of old-age assistance, 5 supervisors, 16 aid and
settlement workers, 37 social workers, 18 junior social workers, a hos­
pital medical visitor, an attorney who served part time, and necessary
clerical assistants. In addition, 4 social workers and 24 junior social
workers were employed temporarily in the subdivision of relief.
Subdivision of settlement.

The workers from this unit investigated the settlement status of
patients admitted to the State infirmary, the hospital school for crip­
pled children, and the State sanatoria, although the latter were
64 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 18, secs. 10-13.
85 Laws of 1933, ch. 364.
88 Laws of 1919, ch. 350, secs. 89—91.
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under the administration of the department of health/” In addi­
tion all special settlement problems in the division of aid and relief
were referred to the subdivision of settlement. Although the depart­
ment had no legal responsibility for the State sanatoria, the investi­
gation of settlement of patients, which was started under the State
board of charity, continued after administration of these institutions
was vested in the department of health in 1919, as the department of
health had no machinery for it.
In 1934 about 78 percent of the investigations made by the sub­
division involved patients admitted to the State infirmary. A worker
from the subdivision of settlement spent 2 or 3 days a week there.
Although patients were admitted if they had a proper certificate
from a city or town showing that they had no1settlement and were
therefore the responsibility of the State, an investigation was made
after their admission in order to confirm this. The staff of the unit
in 1934 consisted of a supervisor and three workers, all of them men.
Subdivision of relief.

This unit supervised public relief and health services rendered
by local boards of public welfare and boards of health to persons in
their own homes and in hospitals who were without legal settlement.
According to the statutes such persons are a charge upon the State, and
reimbursement is made to the local board for their care after approval
by the State department of public welfare. Poor persons with legal
settlement who were cared for in their own homes were also visited
by the workers of this unit even though their maintenance was paid
for by the local board.
The staff of the unit in 1934 consisted of a supervisor, a hospital
social worker, 13 regular visitors, and 28 emergency workers, most of
whom were designated as junior social workers, who were added to
the staff in 1931 to meet the steadily mounting case load resulting
from the depression. The work of the unit had been organized on
a district basis. The districts, which included the city of Boston,
increased during the economic depression from 13 to 20. The workers;
spent practically all their time in the field except 1 day a week, when
they came in to dictate their reports. A few of the workers in dis­
tricts some distance from Boston lived in their districts and hired
stenographers by the hour. Certain members of the staff were desig­
nated as supervisors in districts having more than one worker.
Although services to poor persons without legal settlement were
given in 'their town of residence by the local board, the State visi­
tors visited the homes to supervise the care given. Continued visits
were made if a family received aid for some time, and after each
visit a recommendation wasi made to the local board of public wel­
fare as to the amount of aid to be given. No uniform budget had
been prepared by the division, but the State visitors had a guide by
which family food budgets could be estimated in accordance with the
fluctuation of prices in the cities and towns of the States. The gen­
eral average allowed was $8 per week to feed a family of five per­
sons. Fuel and rent were sometimes added to this amount, depend47 Before 1932 a large number of indigent persons were cared for in the infirmary de­
partment of the State farm (under the department of correction). Since this institution
is primarily responsible for the care of delinquents, indigent persons have been transferred
gradually to the State infirmary. Investigation of the settlement of the few indigent per­
sons cared for at the State farm are made by the subdivision of settlement.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ing on the local situation. For families receiving recurrent reliefy
a new notice was sent to the State department each time relief was*
renewed, and a visit was made to the family with a report that
often duplicated much of the information included in previous
reports. An individual record was kept in the State department for
each family.
Policies governing the granting of aid to persons without legal
settlement were adopted by the commissioner and the advisory board.
Local boards were advised to follow these same policies for persons
who had legal settlement. The division had also prepared a set of
forms that all local boards of public welfare were urged to use in
order that uniform records might be kept. The division could
require the use of these forms if it desired, but it has preferred that
they be adopted voluntarily, as its service to local boards of public
welfare was advisory only. Over 100 cities and towns were using
at least some of the forms in 1934.
Subdivision of social service.

This unit was organized to provide social-service facilities for the
fetate infirmary at Tewksbury. I t was, however, called upon for1
many other social services needed by the division of aid and relief.
Before the organization of a State service for transients! under the
federal Emergency Relief Administration, this unit did practi­
cally all the public work for transients in the State.
The staff of the unit in 1934 consisted of a supervisor, six social
workers, and two junior social workers, all of whom were women, and
an attorney who gave part-time service. Practically every person ad­
mitted to the infirmary, which had an average population of 2,96 >
during 1934, was seen by a member of the staff, but intensive serv­
ice was given only to women and children and to men who requested
or needed special service. About 100 of the 224 minors in the insti­
tution at the end of the year were infants or small children with their
s; Many of these were children born out of wedlock for whom
aid had to be given in establishing paternity and in planning for their
care. U± the men and women admitted, many were acutely or chroninfirmar needmg social service °n discharge or long-time care in the
Subdivision of mothers’ aid.

This unit administered State funds for the support of families reheí S aJ d ai\d
the care given to these families
by local boards of public welfare. About one-seventh of the 4 123
to ilie sw u fe r Care™ November 30,1934, had no local settlement Lnd
were being supported entirelv from State funds. The State reim­
bursed the towns and cities for one-third of the funds provided to
the remaining families.68
The staff of the unit in 1934 consisted of a supervisor and 11 visitors
to 3 4 mlIleS recelvlng mothers’ aid are described in detail on

This bureau was established on July 1,1931, after the passage of the
old-age assistance law in 1930.68 In 1934 its staff was composed of the
ment to the cities and towns to the exten^ofm onies rPoPivPH°h1<Je+h f0£ further reimbursethe Federal Government for this Durnose ' °f onies recelved by the Commonwealth from
89 Laws of 1930, ch. 402.
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superintendent, a supervisor, and 36 visitors, of whom 13 were men
and 23 were women. This bureau of the department of public welfare
supervised the administration of old-age assistance through the local
boards of public welfare and administered State funds that were used,
to reimburse cities and towns for one-third of the amount of aid given
to persons with legal settlement and for the whole amount given to
persons without legal settlement. The superintendent of the bureau
also supervised licensed boarding homes for aged persons, inspected
city ana town infirmaries, and compiled statistics ox poor relief.
The methods of granting relief under the law were founded on
social-service procedures. Investigations were made and allotments
for care were based on the need of the individual and on standards of
living in the community. The weekly expense per person varied from
approximately $2 to supplement funds provided by relatives up to $15
for full payment of care and hospitalization for invalids and chron­
ically ill persons.

This division cared for all dependent, neglected, delinquent, and
wayward children accepted or committed as wards of the department
of public welfare. I t also investigated petitions for adoption referred
by the courts and supervised infants’ boarding homes and maternity
homes. Another activity of the visitors of the division was to visit
all children boarded in family homes by town and city officials. In
addition to the director of the division, the staff in 1934 included 6
supervisors, 38 social workers, 11 junior social workers, 15 visitors and
guardians to older bovs, 5 nurses, a doctor, a part-time attorney, a
chief administrative clerk, and clerical assistants. The work of the
division was organized in seven subdivisions, five of which cared
directly for State wards.
Subdivision of investigation.

This unit, which had a supervisor and seven social workers, made
investigations of the families of dependent children referred to the
department either through the applications of parents or guardians
or of boards of public welfare 70 and of families of neglected children
who had no legal settlement and who were committed to the depart­
ment by boards of public welfare.71 All applications for discharge
were also referred to this subdivision. No effort had been made to
assign the workers in the division to districts; the staff all worked
throughout the entire State.
Subdivisions caring for children of different ages.

On the basis of the different services needed by children of dif­
ferent ages, a plan had been adopted for placing dependent, neg­
lected, or delinquent wards of the division who were mentally normal
under the supervision of staff members assigned to work exclusively
with children of certain age groups. Each subdivision so organized
placed children of one age group in family homes and supervised the
care given. As the children became older, supervision was transferred
to other subdivisions. A district plan ox staff organization was used
for all subdivisions except the one caring for the youngest children.
70 Gen. Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 119, sec. 38.
71 Ibid., sec. 22.
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In 1934 the children under 3 years of age were under the care of five
nurses and a supervisor, who also licensed boarding homes and in­
spected maternity hospitals. These children were all placed within a
radius of 40 miles from Boston, and assignment of the staff to districts
had not seemed necessary; therefore the same nurse supervised a child
for the entire time he was in the care of the subdivision.
Children from 3 to 12 years of age were under the care of a staff
composed of a supervisor and 22 visitors. In this subdivision definite
districts had been set up and district lines were followed carefully.
Five workers in this subdivision also supervised older girls living in
their districts, but this plan had not proved entirely satisfactory and
there was some doubt of the wisdom of continuing it.
Girls over 12 years of age, except the few noted above, were under
the care of a supervisor and 13 visitors. An attempt had been made
to follow a district plan in this subdivision, but it was necessary to
disregard district lines occasionally in order that a worker might
continue supervision of a girl who for some reason needed to be placed
outside the district. Effort was made to have the same visitor super­
vise each girl from the time she was transferred to the subdivision
until her discharge.
The plan for the care of boys over 12 years of age was like that for
older girls, and the same difficulty in maintaining rigid district lines
had been encountered. A supervisor and 15 visitors, all men, super­
vised this group.
Subdivision for mentally retarded children.

Children under the care of the division who were mentally deficient
to such a degree that they could not profit by attendance at regular
schools and who required specialized care were transferred to this
unit, which had two workers.
Subdivision of adoptions.

This unit investigated adoption petitions referred to the depart­
ment by the courts of the State in accordance with the provision of a
law passed in 1931.72 Four workers in addition to a supervisor were
employed in this subdivision in 1934.

Unlike the other divisions in the department, this division was
headed by a board of nine trustees, of whom two were required to be
women, appointed by the Governor for 5-year terms. Although the
board members were unpaid, they served as an administrative board
rather than an advisory one. The statute provided that one member of
the board of trustees designated by the Governor should serve as
director of the division without compensation. Nevertheless, the
trustees were authorized to appoint a paid secretary for an indefinite
term to direct the activities oi the division. This division adminis­
tered the three State training schools, including parole from these
schools, which was organized under two subdivisions, the girls’ parole
branch and the boys’ parole branch. The girls’ parole branch had 10
visitors and a superintendent of parole in 1934. Eight visitors worked
according to a district plan; one, whose work was State-wide, had
» Laws of 1931, ch. 342.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



charge of girls attending school; and another investigated petitions
for discharge and supervised a few cases scattered over the State.
The boys’ parole branch had 15 visitors and a superintendent of
parole. A district plan was followed insofar as it was possible.

Social service for crippled children.

The nurse in charge of this work directed the taking of the annual
school census of physically handicappel children and arranged for the
care and treatment of children who were found through the census or
whose cases were reported to the department by agencies or interested
Supervision of private charitable corporations.

Supervision of incorporated charities was conducted by three super­
visors of equal rank. There was no strict division of work, but in
general one supervisor visited children’s agencies, another relief agen­
cies, and the third agencies for the aged. The commissioner served
as chief of this subdivision and conducted monthly staff meetings with
the three supervisors.
Town planning.

Massachusetts had recognized the economic and social value of town
planning, including zoning for industrial and residential areas and a
definite program for public improvements and land development. A
temporary homestead commission was established in 191178 and be­
came a permanent commission in 1913.74 This commission was abolished
in 1919 and its functions transferred to the department of public
welfare. A consultant on town planning had charge of this service
and was engaged in furthering the organization of town-planning
boards and in developing zoning plans for the cities and towns of the
State. At the end of the fiscal year 1934, 121 cities or towns had
planning boards and 78 cities or towns had adopted some plan for

Administration of the five State institutions in the department was
vested in administrative boards of trustees, one in charge of the in­
firmary, another in charge of the hospital school, and a third in charge
of the three schools for delinquent boys and girls. Each board of
trustees selected the superintendent of the institution under its con­
trol with the general approval of the commissioner of public welfare.
Although, in general, positions in the institutions were under civil
service, the positions of physicians and nurses, cottage masters and
matrons, industrial instructors, and common laborers were exempt
from civil-service requirements. Selection of personnel for such po­
sitions was the responsibility of the superintendent and the board of
The relation of the commissioner and the department to the institu­
tion was supervisory. The law specified that visits to the State in­
firmary and the Lyman school for boys should be made at least once
a month. I t was the duty of the commissioner also to make an annual
w Laws of 1911, ch. 607.
u Laws of 1913, ch. 595.
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report to the legislature from reports submitted to him by the trustees
of the State hospital school and the three State training schools. All
plans and specifications for new buildings at the five institutions under
its supervision had to be approved by the department of public wel­
fare. The department also examinee! and analyzed each institution’s
expenditures,, keeping in mind the function of the institution and the
relation of its business to the care, education, and welfare of the
inmates. A financial report of the five institutions was published in
the annual report of the department.
The character and extent of the supervision given by the depart­
ment varied greatly with the different institutions. The State in­
firmary was closely related to the division of aid and relief, in which
it was placed when the department was established. Members of
the staff of the division were in daily contact with the institution.
They had charge of the intake and discharge of inmates and pro­
vided social services when they were needed.
The relation of the Massachusetts hospital school for crippled and
deformed children of the State to the division of child guardianship,
of which it was legally a part, was not nearly so close, although the
hospital gave medical and surgical treatment to minor wards who
were under the care of the division. The highly specialized services
for crippled children bore little relation to the general work of the
division, and as a result the hospital was practically under the direct
supervision of the commissioner.
The State training schools for boys and for girls were such an
integral part of the division of juvenile training, which was headed
by the trustees of the training schools, that the director of the
division administered rather than supervised these institutions.
Constant contact with the institution was also maintained by the
staff of the parole boards of this division.

A report of the work of the department is published annually.
In addition to general information in regard to the activities of the
divisions and institutions in the department, this report includes
information on the financial situation and number of persons under
the care of each charitable organization supervised by the depart­
ment; a summary of relief given by city and town boards of public
welfare; information on population of almshouses and recommenda­
tions for equipment of almshouse throughout the Commonwealth;
and a summary of welfare legislation enacted during the year. The
policies and regulations adopted by the advisory board of the
department are printed and issued to anyone concerned. The
department also has made available copies of the laws relating to its
The department had not issued a popular welfare bulletin, such
as several State departments of welfare publish monthly or quar­
terly, as a means of informing the public on welfare problems. It
had, however, issued at various times a single sheet called “News
About the Department,” which presented matters of interest in regard
to public welfare.
In its educational work with public-welfare agencies the depart­
ment relied largely upon the work of its field staff rather than upon
an organized plan for the development of standards of service.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



However, the department cooperated closely with the two regional
organizations of local public-welfare officers that had been estab­
lished in the eastern and western sections of the Commonwealth.
Belief officials, members of boards of public welfare, and others
engaged in relief work in these areas held monthly conferences, and
frequently the commissioner and other members of the State
administrative or field staff met with them.
In Massachusetts there are a large number of private welfare organ­
izations, and many of them have done outstanding work in develop­
ing specialized types of care and high standards of services. The
department of public welfare was concerned with the need for coor­
dinating the services of private agencies and public agencies, but it
had no active program such as group discussion of common prob­
lems and the formation through such group discussions of minimum
standards of care. A few members of the staff were active as
individuals in the State conference of social work.
The department for several years maintained a short-course train­
ing school for new members of the staff and for agents or represent­
atives of local boards of public welfare or of private agencies. The
need for new workers to meet the steadily mounting unemployment
relief load greatly increased the demand for such training. In a
course given during December 1933, 120 workers from the Civil
Works Administration received an introduction to social-service
During the period 1928 to 1932 a number of studies that led to
recommendations to the legislature were made by the department or
through special commissions with the cooperation of the department.
These studies included such widely varied problems as the needs of
crippled children; the probable cost of administering old-age assist­
ance if the minimum age were reduced; the desirability of reducing
the frequency of payments of accounts to cities and towns for reim­
bursement of “State cases” ; the work of the county training schools;
and the needed changes in laws relating to dependent, delinquent,
and neglected children and other children needing special care.

Except for the commissioner and the directors of the three major
divisions the staff was selected according to civil-service rules. The
director of the division of aid and relief and the director of the divi­
sion of child guardianship were appointed by the commissioner with
the approval of the Governor and the council. The Governor desig­
nates one of the members of the board of trustees of the Massachu­
setts training schools as director of the division of juvenile training.75
Staff members of the department were selected from civil-service lists
by the division directors.
Civil service was adopted in Massachusetts76 in 1884, just a year
after the Federal civil-service law was passed. I t functions not
only in the State government but also in city governments. The
reorganization law provided for a department of civil service and
registration composed of a division of civil service and a division of
n General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 18, secs. 7-12.
» Laws of 1884, ch. 320.
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registration. The division of civil servce is under the supervision
and control of a commissioner of civil service and two associate
commissioners of different political parties, who are appointed by the
Governor for a term of 3 years. These three officials constitute the
civil-service board, which makes the rules and regulations governing
the selection of persons for positions.
No general qualifications for personnel had been adopted by the
division of civil service, with the result that standards varied with
different examinations. At the time this study was made the highest
qualifications ever set for socal workers in the department of public
welfare were those set in an examination given in August 1929, which
specified for such workers an education equivalent to that required
for graduation from a standard 4-year high school and either 1 year’s
experience in social-service case work, 1 year’s training in an ac­
credited school of social work, or graduation from a university»
Similar qualifications were prescribed for social workers in an ex­
amination held in April 1931, but for junior social workers the
requirement was merely education equivalent to graduation from a
standard 4-year high school.
Qualifications for “supervisor of incorporated charities,” set in
an examination in April 1931, included “education equivalent to col­
lege education plus 2 years’ experience in social case work or suc­
cessful completion of a 2 years’ course in a school of social service
and 1 year’s experience in social case work or education equivalent
to standard high-school graduation plus 4 years’ experience in socialservice work, of which 2 years shall have been in a supervisory ca­
pacity.” In 1934 a committee of the American Association of Social
Workers was preparing more satisfactory qualifications to be pre­
sented to the civil-service board for adoption. The commissioner
of public welfare was of the opinion that civil service had on the
whole proved satisfactory, although the cooperation of the civilservice ooard with the department had differed with changes in the
personnel of the board. Occasionally the commissioner of public
welfare was asked about necessary qualifications for appointees and
for suggestions as to examiners. Examiners in the field of social
work were usually qualified persons with experience in social service.
With such requirements, it was not surprising that a number of
the staff members had limited educational backgrounds. Recent ad­
ditions to the department were more often college graduates than
older members who had been admitted when civil-service qualifica­
tions were even lower. In the subdivision of investigation it was the
rule that workers entering the service without training in social work
should take case-work courses at the Simmons College School of
Social Work. Other staff members had also taken training at this
school. However^ it was difficult to obtain workers from the school
because no additional credit was allowed in the examinations for
special training in social work. Although selection was limited to
the three highest on the eligible list, war veterans had preference over
others, and disabled veterans had special preference in all civilservice lists.

salary scale was not high. In March 1934 the directors of
the divisions received $4,140 or $4,350. The 15 supervisors received
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



from $1,980 to $3,450, but only 1 received $3,450 and 1, $1,980,
the majority receiving $2,340 to $3,030. There was considerable
variation in the salaries of regular staff members in the different
divisions. One hundred and forty-three staff members received from
$1,230 to $2,220 annually, the largest single group receiving $1,980,
although 22 received $1,290; 20, $1,620; 13, $1^860; and 16, $2,220.
Twenty-eight temporary employees in the division of aid and relief
who were not under civil service were paid $1,290 to $1,500 annually,
but 24 of these workers were paid $1,290.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The department of public welfare was the agency with the major
responsibility for State services to dependent, delinquent, and neg­
lected children, and it shared responsibility for the care of mentally
handicapped children with the department of mental diseases and for
the care of physically handicapped children with the department of
health and the department of education. The need for coordination
of these and other activities of the different departments and for
discussion of common problems had been recognized and the com­
missioners of these departments and of the department of correc­
tions met for this purpose about once a week. The commissioners
had also made joint studies of certain child-welfare problems. This
interrelation of services has been of great value in the development
of a comprehensive program for children.
The following statement from the report of a special commission
on child-welfare problems, which was issued in 1931, gives a general
picture of the extent of the needs of the children of the Common­
wealth and the services given to them:
There are within the State over 24,000 children cared for away from their
own homes and families during a year, of whom approximately 7,000 are in
the care of the State, 1,200 in the care of the city of Boston, 750 in the care
of other cities and towns, 10,000 in private orphanages and institutions, and
5,800 placed out in foster homes by private agencies. More than 9,000 delin­
quent children were brought before the courts last year, and there are 1,075
such children in the three State juvenile training schools. During the same
year more than 15,000 neglected children were reported as in need of pro­
tection. Nearly 2,000 children are born out of wedlock annually. There are
yearly 1,000 adoptions, of which 60 percent are of illegitimate children. It is
estimated that there are over 60,000 mentally defective or retarded children
in the State, of which 7,500 are in special classes in the public schools, 3,800
in the State schools for the feeble-minded, 2,000 on these schools’ waiting lists,
and the largest number in the community. It is estimated that there are
6,000 physically handicapped children in the State.77

In Massachusetts local administration of welfare work is the
responsibility of the cities and towns. The large number of boards
of public welfare serving small populations and the requirement of
5 years of residence before legal settlement could be acquired in
cities or towns were two factors that had greatly affected the extent
to which the State gave direct care and had limited its efforts to
build up local services through the employment of qualified social
workers in local administrative units.
There has been' general agreement among child-welfare workers
that every community should have available the services of a quali­
fied case worker to deal with problems of dependency, delinquency,
77 Report of the Special Commission Established to Investigate the Laws Relative to
Dependent, Delinquent, and Neglected Children, and Children Otherwise Requiring Special
Care, pp. 14, 15. Mass. House No. 1200. Wright & Potter Co., Boston, 1931.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




and neglect when they first appear in order to prevent the develop­
ment of more serious situations that may lead to separation of chil­
dren from their parents or to complete dependency. That each
town can support such a worker is of course improbable. The reali­
zation of this fact has been the basis for the development of county
or district welfare services in a number of States.78 In Massachu­
setts the State provided many of the specialized services needed for
handicapped persons and attempted to safeguard the care given by
local officials by inspecting and visiting the persons aided. Impor­
tant as such work was in raising the standards of public care through­
out the State, it probably delayed the development of local preven­
tive services.79
Another interesting feature of the Massachusetts program wasr
that a large part of the State department’s activities in the care of
dependent and neglected children was carried on in large cities that
might have provided a qualified public staff. An illustration of this
was the assignment of 4 of the 11 State workers supervising mothers'
aid administration throughout the State to supervise the work of
the Boston department, which employed a special staff of mothers’
aid workers. Although questions of legal residence and a program
of State eare for seriously neglected children affected the situation,
it is interesting to note also that out of the 1,197 dependent, neglected,
and delinquent children accepted under the guardianship of the
department of public welfare in 1934, 50 percent came from cities
of 100,000 or more population, and another 12 percent came from
cities of 50,000 but less than 100,000 population.80
The department realized the need for preventive work and the
importance of having members of the State staff closely associated
with the problems of the area in which .they were working. This
resulted in the use of a district plan for most services, each visitor
working within a circumscribed area. Unfortunately, the responsi­
bility for the great numbers of children already separated from their
parents and the need for inspecting the care given to children by
local public officers had overburdened workers and handicapped them
in the development of preventive work.

The department of public welfare, through the division of child
guardianship, accepted five classes of children for care under the
provisions of the law. The board of public welfare of a town and
the superintendent and board of trustees of the State infirmary were
authorized to commit to the custody of the department any indigent
or neglected “infant” having no known settlement in the State.8*
The department was permitted to accept for care children under
21 who were dependent on public charity upon written application


78 The development of such services In New York, Alabama, and Minnesota Is described;
in parts 2, 3, and 5 of A Historical Summary of State Services for Children (Children s
Bureau Publication No. 239, 1937-38).
■re Since June 1936 Massachusetts has been cooperating with the U. S. Children S
Bureau, in accordance with the provisions of the Social Security Act, in providing protec­
tive and preventive services for children in rural areas.
Commonwealth of M assachusetts: Annual Report of the Department of Public Wel­
fare for the Year Ending November 30, 1934, p. 33. Public Doc. No. 17. Boston.
81 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 119. sec. 22.
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of the parent or guardian, or, if there was no parent or guardian,
the application of a friend or the board of public welfare of the
city or town in which the child was found.82 The Boston Juvenile
Court or th® district courts had authority, after an adjudication
of neglect, to commit children to the custody of the department until
they reached the age of 21 years or for less time.83 Two classes of
delinquent children, “wayward” and “delinquent,” might be com­
mitted to the department. A wayward child was defined as a child
between 7 and 17 years of age who habitually associated with “vicious
or immoral persons,” or who was growing up in circumstances expos­
ing him to the danger of leading an immoral, vicious, or criminal
life. A delinquent child was defined as a child between 7 and 17
who had violated any city ordinance or town bylaw or committed
an offense not punishable by death or imprisonment for life.84 A
child adjudged “wayward” might be dealt with by the court in the
same manner as a neglected child, which made it possible to commit
him to the department. A child adjudged “delinquent” could with
the consent of the department be placed “in charge of any person,”
and when he was so placed the department was authorized to provide
for hig maintenance in whole or in part.85
Most of the children received by the division were dependent and
neglected. Of the 7,298 children under care on December 1, 1934,
3,589 were neglected, 3,459 were dependent, 242 were delinquent,
and 8 were wayward.
Reception of children.

Social investigations were made by the subdivision of investigation
before any dependent child was accepted for care by the division of
child guardianship. Applications for care of dependent children
were made directly to the 'division of child guardianship and an in­
vestigation was made of the need for care and available resources
for meeting the problems presented. During the fiscal year 1934
only 455 children were accepted for care from the 1,528 applications
considered. Relatives assumed the care of a large number of the chil­
dren for whom State guardianship seemed unnecessary, and others
were accepted for care by private or local public agencies.
The procedure was the same in the acceptance of neglected children
and the small number of delinquent children. A court contemplat­
ing commitment of a neglected or delinquent child to the department
was required to notify the division of child guardianship in order
that a representative of the division could be present in court to
accept or to show cause for refusal to accept the commitment. If
additional information seemed necessary after commitment, this was
obtained by the subdivision of investigation.
All children were given the same type of treatment after accept­
ance, no matter how they had been received. Pending assignment
to a visitor for placement in a foster home, the child was cared for
in one of the temporary foster homes selected by the division of child
guardianship. Seven temporary homes were maintained for children
3 to 12 years of age, six for girls over 12, and three for boys over 12.
82 Ibid.,
83 Ibid.,
84 Ibid.,
* Ibid.,


52. •
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The average time spent by children in one of these temporary homes
before placement was about 3 weeks. While the child was in this
temporary home, he was given a physical examination by the doctor
on the division staff. If a condition was found that indicated a need
for continued medical care, surgery, -refraction, dental care, or other
treatment, the child was then referred to the proper agency for such
service. Although the temporary homes were realty only enlarged
foster homes, the supervisor of the subdivision using each home
supervised its management more closely than other foster homes.
Special attention was given to diet and general home management.
The division maintained its own nursery for babies, but it was seldom
necessary to keep a baby for more than 1 night until placement could
be made.
• .
At a monthly staff meeting held by each of the special-age divisions,
children were assigned to individual workers for care. Apparently
there was no regular system by which assignments were made, except
that an attempt was made to keep the case loads of the workers
relatively uniform.
The plan for the division of work in the department did not pro­
mote consideration of a family as a whole. For instance, a family
of four children—a boy 15, a girl 13, a child 8, and a baby 2 years
old—would be the responsibility of five workers. The worker from
the subdivision of investigation would make the original visit to the
home and each child would be assigned to a different subdivision
according to his age. The division of child guardianship recognized
the value of family ties, and its policy was to place children of the
same family in the same home or in the same neighborhood whenever
possible. Parents were permitted to visit their children, although
they were required to have a permit from the central office for each
visit. However, the plan of having the subdivision of investigation
responsible for all preliminary and later contacts with the family
and other subdivisions responsible for the care of the children made
it difficult to develop a coordinated family program. Better coordi­
nation might have resulted if the volume of work had not been so
heavy as to preclude constructive planning by individual workers.
Home finding and supervision.

For the most part each worker found foster homes for the children
under her care. All applications from persons desiring to care for
children went to one worker in the division^ who decided whether the
application had merit and, if so, referred it for investigation to the
supervisor of the subdivision caring for children of the age specified
by the applicant. The supervisor in turn passed the application
on to the worker ¡in the district in which the home was located.
Although the important principles of foster-home investigation
were recognized in general and were stated in a “policy book”
kept on the desk of the division director, reports of the visitors
on the foster homes did not indicate that these principles were always
observed in practice. However, it was possible that the visitors had
a much more complete knowledge of the attributes of the homes^ than
the reports indicated. Unless the use of a home was discontinued
for some reason, no additional information was added to the original
record even when a home had been used for years. This meant that
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a new worker had to learn for herself the particular strengths and
weaknesses of the foster homes in her district.
No attempt was made, except by individual workers, to provide
an educational program for foster mothers. Group meetings had
not been held, although about two-thirds of the children under care
of the division were in boarding homes and a fairly large number of
boarding homes were often concentrated in one town. It had al­
ways been a principle of the division that the financial return to
boarding homes should be secondary to the service to the children,
but it was apparent that in some of the boarding homes used by the
department the board paid for the child’s care was a primary motive.
This was shown by the increase in the number of available boarding
homes in less prosperous times. It should be noted, however, that a
very happy relation existed between many of the children and the
foster parents, and it was not unusual for a child to remain in the
same home over long periods of time so that he became, for all
practical purposes, a member of the family.
Each child was given a complete outfit from the clothing room in
the central office when he was first placed in a foster home. A fter
that the foster mother was paid a clothing allowance of $4 a quarter
for a child under 3 years old, $5 for a child from 3 to 6, and $8 for a
child over 6. An additional allowance was given every other year
for a winter coat or suit. A special allowance of $15 was made to
purchase clothing for graduation from high school. Certain other
additional expenses were allowed for the children, such as two hair­
cuts each quarter, tooth brushes and tooth powder, and medical
supplies. For infants provision was made for any food that had
to be purchased from a drug store.
The need for economy during the economic depression made it nec­
essary to reduce the regular rate paid for board from $4 to $3.50 a
week for infants and from $3.50 to $3 for children over 3. However,,
at the time the Children’s Bureau representative visited the State in
1934, $6 a week was being paid in one home for children who had
special physical disabilities. Foster mothers caring for children
under 3 were paid monthly, but others were paid quarterly.
Children under the age of 3 were supervised by nurses instead of
social workers, as it was felt that physical care was of greater impor­
tance for this group. On November 30, 1934, 438 children under 3
years of age were under care, and 734 children under 3 had been
cared for. during the year. Each nurse had about 100 children under
her supervision. She visited each child once a month to observe
his food, clothing, development, and general health and welfare.
I t was the policy of this subdivision not to place more than four
children in one foster home, and when it was necessary to have
as many as four in one home not to have more than two of the
children under 2 years of age. When a child reached the age of 3
years he was given a second general physical examination and trans­
ferred to the visitor who cared for the next older group of children so
that he could be placed in another foster home.
The group composed of children 3 to 12 years old was the largest
group under the care of the division of child guardianship, the num­
ber on December 1,1934, being 3,576. The average case load of each
visitor was about 180; the largest was 195 and the smallest 121. The;
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



-visitor made quarterly visits to each home and saw the child, the
foster home, and, the teacher if the child was in school. Each worker
was in the field only 4 days a week, but it was necessary for her to
visit about 40 children a week in order to keep her work up to date,
with the result that some visits were of necessity very brief. I t was
unusual for a child to be left in the same foster home after he reached
the age of 3 and was transferred to the subdivision caring for the next
age group, but it was not uncommon for him to remain in the same
foster home after he reached the age of 12, even though he was transferred to the supervision of another agent.
Boys over 12 years of age were under the care of the subdivision of
older boys, and girls over 12 were under the care of the subdivision
of older girls. On November 30, 1934, 1,734 boys over 12 and 1,550
girls over 12 were under care. The average case load of visitors in
the subdivision of boys was 118, in the subdivision of girls, slightly
less than 100. I t was the policy of the division not to pay board for
normal children over 14 years of age, but the difficulty of finding
work for them had necessitated payment of board for a number of
children, sometimes up to the age of 16 years. Every effort was made
to keep the older children in school as long as they could profit by
additional schooling. On December 1, 1934, 336 boys and 332 girls
were attending high school, special vocational schools, continuation
schools, evening schools, or college.
Placement for adoption.

State wards placed for adoption were supervised by one worker in
the division of child guardianship. Three classes of children were
placed in adoptive homes: Dependent children whose custody had
been voluntarily relinquished by parents or guardians; deserted chil­
dren who had been under care for 2 years and whose parents had not
been located; and neglected children in whom the parents showed no
interest and who had been under the care of the State for a least 2
years. As a rule foundlings were also kept 2 years before adoption
was considered, although they were sometimes placed in adoptive
homes before 2 years had expired. Children who were to be available
for adoption were referred bv the visitors of the different subdivisions
to the adoption worker, who made an investigation to determine
whether or not adoption was desirable and if so placed the child in
the adoptive home best suited to his needs. The investigation of an
adoptive home was somewhat more extensive than the investigations
of foster boarding homes but emphasis was placed on the physical
aspects of the home and the economic status of the family. A good
deal of dependence was placed on written references, although a few
persons given as references were usually seen.
The division usually insisted that a child be in a home for at least
a year before final adoption was permitted. Occasionally children
placed to board were later sought for adoption by the foster parents.
When this happened, the case was immediately transferred to the
adoption worker, who made the final decision. During the year ended
November 30,1934,29 adoptions of State wards were completed.
Medical care.

Medical care for State wards was provided in several ways. As a
general rule, children in foster homes were treated by local physicians,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



the foster mother calling the physician of her choice. No schedule of
fees had been adopted, but an effort was made to prevent bills from
becoming exorbitant. The subdivision caring for infants made a,
practice of investigating the medical records of physicians selected by
the foster mothers in order to make sure that they were in good
standing, but this was not usually done by the other subdivisions..
Whenever practicable, children who needed prolonged medical care
or surgical treatment were sent to the Massachusetts Hospital School
at Canton. Children needing intensive treatment for venereal disease
were sent to the State infirmary at Tewksbury. The infirmary also
provided care for pregnant girls, for children with tuberculosis and
chronic diseases, and for feeble-minded children who could neither
be admitted to the State schools for the feeble-minded nor cared for
in boarding homes. The services of local dentists were used, but the
approval of the division of child guardianship was required in ad­
vance for dental work costing more than $5. Most refractions were
cared for by an oculist in Boston.
Cost of maintenance.

The appropriation for 1934 for care and maintenance of State
wards amounted to $1,400,000.86 Although it was necessary to in­
clude a deficiency item in the 1934 appropriation for expenditures
made in 1933, this amount probably approximated actual State ex­
penditures, because funds collected from parents and from cities and
towns were paid into the State treasury rather than into the fund
available to the department. Cities and towns were responsible for
the maintenance of dependent children committed to the State who
had legal settlement in the city or town. The State paid for the
care of neglected and delinquent children committed to the depart­
ment of public welfare and for dependent children who had no legal
settlement.87 If parents or relatives were able to pay for the support
of children, they were expected to do so. During the fiscal year
1934 the department collected $22,221 from parents and relatives and
$186,458 from the cities and towns. The department did not report
serious delinquencies in payment, so that apparently no great diffi­
culty was experienced in making collections from the cities and
In addition to board and medical care the department paid for
the tuition of every child under its care who attended the publicschools of the State. The tuition charge varied from $1 to $3 a week,,
depending upon the school costs of the respective cities or towns.
During 1933 and 1934 an annual appropriation of $300,000 was made
to the department for this purpose. This represented the lowest
amount possible to meet expenditures for the year. In fact, the 1934
appropriation act carried a deficiency item of $861.46 for expenditures
made in 1933.88

The records of all children from one family accepted by or com­
mitted to the division of child guardianship were kept in one folder.
The report of the family investigation made by the subdivision of
investigation was made on blue sheets so that it might be readily
88 Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Annual Report of the Department of Public Welfare
for the Year Ending November 30, 1933, p. 70. Public Document No. 17. Boston.
87 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 119, secs. 38, 45, 58, 76.
88 Laws of 1934, ch. 162, p. 33 (item 487) and p. 46.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



distinguished from the records of individual children^ A visible
index contained cards for all children cared for since its installation,
about 10 years before this study was made. Records were restricted
to the briefest possible recital of conditions found and undoubtedly
failed to give much of the information possessed by the worker. In ­
sufficient stenographic service wTas probably to a great extent respon­
sible for the brevity of the records, because visitors were allowed only
an hour a week for dictation of records and correspondence.

Mothers’ aid (aid to dependent children).

Assistance to mothers with dependent children was accepted as a
public responsibility in Massachusetts in 1913,89 after a report on the
support of dependent minor children of widowed mothers made by a
commission appointed in 1912.90 Administration of mothers’ aid was
made the responsibility of local boards of public welfare, but the cities
and towns were reimbursed by the State to the extent of one-third of
the amount paid to each family if the mother had a local settlement
and for the entire amount paid to each family if the mother had no
local settlement.91 On November 30,1934, 4,123 farfiilies were receiv­
ing aid, of which about 85 percent had local settlement. Reimburse­
ment was made to the cities and towns annually. For new cases re­
imbursement was made from the time aid was given by the local
board, not from the time the grant was approved by the State, but
was not allowed for more than 10 days prior to the mailing of the
local board’s notice of application. Bills from the cities and towns
were due on the first of each October.
In addition to administering State funds, which involved investi­
gation of each family before acceptance for State aid, the subdivi­
sion of mothers’ aid supervised the care given by the local boards and
was required by the statutes to visit each family at least twice a year.
Since there were only 11 visitors in the subdivision, each visitor was
responsible for 400 families. Because of the large case load in Boston,
four visitors were assigned there.' Policies and rules governing the
conditions under which State aid could be granted had been adopted
from time to time by the advisory board of the State department.
These covered such matters as eligibility, desertion, money possessed
or property owned by applicant, provision for emergencies, insurance
and burial expenses, medical aid, male lodgers, illegitimate children,
aid to a mother with one child, part-time work, type of aid and meth­
ods of disbursement, and adequacy of aid. The subdivision recom­
mended the use of a family budget that took into consideration not
only the number of persons in thq family, but also the health, age,
and capabilities of each member, the former standard of living of
the family, and the standards of self-supporting families in the
neighborhood in which the applicant lived.
Applications for mothers’ aid were made directly to the local boards
of public welfare, and relief could be given immediately, although
before reimbursement each case had to be approved by the department
89 Laws of 1913, ch. 763.
90 Under chapter 82 of the Resolves of 1912.
91 Chapter 413, Laws of 1936, amended the mothers’ aid law to bring it into conformity
with the provisions of the Social Security Act for aid to dependent children. On Septem­
ber 26. 1936, the Massachusetts plan for aid to dependent children was approved by the
Social Security Board.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



of public welfare. After notice of an application a State worker
made an investigation of the needs and resources of the family, and
then on the basis of a carefully drawn budget made a recommenda­
tion to the local board. The department did not have power to com­
pel a board of public welfare to increase the amount of aid given to
a family, even when the family received State aid only, but an effort
was made to persuade the board to give adequate relief. Grants were
paid weekly and were relatively adequate. As the law set no limit
on the amount that could be given, a liberal interpretation was the
rule, and not infrequently the regular weekly grant was supplemented
by aid to meet certain emergency needs, such as burial expenses for a
child, medical care, extra bedding, or other necessities not covered
by the grant. Fuel and rent allowances were made quite often, in
addition to the weekly cash grant. Occasionally when a mother was
first granted aid the living conditions of the family made a fairly
large initial expenditure necessary in order to establish a satisfactory
Boards of public welfare were expected to see that each mother re­
ceiving aid was visited quarterly, either by one of their own members
or by a duly appointed agent. A record of this visit was kept in the
files of the board and a report was sent to the State office. In the cities
paid employees were appointed to administer mothers’ aid and super­
vise the families. In the towns the number of mothers aided was
usually not large, and the board members often knew them personally
and had a real interest in them.
Children boarded at local expense.

Cities and towns were required to report to the department of public
welfare all children placed out in family homes at local expense and
all children in city and town infirmaries, and it was the duty of the
department to visit such children at least once a year. This duty was
assigned to the visitors in the division of child guardianship, who
made the “town visits” in the course of their supervision of State
wards. The result of this plan was that some of the visitors were
required to make many more visits than others, depending on the
extent to which the individual towns had placed children. All visitors
had heavy case loads, and the additional burden of inspecting local
placements necessarily had one of two results—either their work for
State wards was neglected or the inspections were superficial. When
a particularly unsatisfactory condition was found, the visitor usually
discussed it with the board of public welfare in the town, and the
director of the division wrote later to the local officials, urging that
other plans be made for the child. The visitors made brief reports
of the inspections on special blanks, from which the commissioner’s
statistical department compiled certain facts for the annual report of
the department. During the fiscal year ended November 30, 1934,
2,167 children outside the infirmaries and 90 children in infirmaries
were visited.

Incorporation of charitable organizations.

The department of public welfare, through the subdivision of pri­
vate incorporated charities, was required by law 92 to investigate all
9S General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1930, ch. 180, sec. 6.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



applications of charitable agencies for certificates of incorporation
ana to make a report to the State secretary. Upon the receipt of
an application for incorporation the State secretary decided from
the information given whether or not it was for a charitable organi­
zation and, if so, referred the application to the department of public
welfare. The statutes limited the investigation of the department to
a determination of the suitability of the applicant and of the purposes
of the proposed incorporation. Accordingly the department had con­
cluded that a consideration of the need for the organization could not
be included in the investigation or in the recommendation to the
State secretary. The State secretary had authority to grant a char­
ter in spite of the disapproval of the department of public welfare,
but this rarely happened if the department had adequate facts in sup­
port of its recommendations. Not until 1934 was a case appealed to
the Supreme Court after the State secretary had refused to grant a
charter. A charter granted could not be revoked, and it was, there­
fore, to the interest of the Commonwealth that charters be granted
with caution.
During 1934, 37 applications for incorporation were acted upon by
the secretary of the Commonwealth ; 29 of these were granted and 3
were disapproved.
Inspection of private charitable corporations.


Massachusetts has no special provision for the supervision of insti­
tutions and agencies caring for children, such as is provided in the
laws of other States. The department of public welfare, however, is
responsible for the inspection of all private charitable corporations
and is authorized to receive reports of their financial status and activi­
ties.98 During 1934,1,273 corporations furnished such reports to the
department. Only 145 of these were providing services for children.
The other corporations were hospitals or other institutions caring for
the sick, family-welfare agencies, homes for the aged, and other or­
ganizations doing community, neighborhood, or club work. Practi­
cally all these agencies had accepted State supervision, but there were
only three supervisors in the department and annual visits, in accord­
ance with the law, were impossible. I t was estimated that a staff
triple the size of the actual one was needed to do the work according
to the standards the subdivision had set for its work. During the
fiscal year 1934 only 128 agencies were visited. The basis for selecting
agencies to be visited was as follows: (1) Agencies that were known
to be below standard; (2) agencies to which the attention of the divi­
sion had been called, either by the agencies themselves or by some
interested agency or individual; (3) newly incorporated agencies;
and, (4) agencies that at certain times had an especially urgent situa­
tion to cope with, such as the problem of relief during the economic
The kind of visits made for inspection differed according to the
situation in the agency. The inspection of a small institution or a
family agency rarely required more than a few hours, but a visit to
a large institution or to an agency having many problems took days
and involved numerous conferences with board members, the staff,
social agencies, and other interested people.
General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 121, sec. 7.
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The department did not submit a written report of its findings to
the institution or agency visited. This was done at one time, but it
created such ill feeling in certain institutions that the plan was dis­
continued, and reports were open only to the director and the super­
visors in the subdivision. However, the findings of a former visit
were sometimes discussed during a visit to an institution or agency,
and the staff was also willing to discuss the findings of an official
visit with representatives of the agency or institution who come to the
office for information. The subdivision had extensive information
about private social work in the State and often received inquiries
not only about particular agencies but about general matters in the
field of private charity.
Every charitable corporation was required to make an annual finan­
cial return on or before the first day of November, and if for 2 succes­
sive years a corporation failed to make such a report, the supreme
judicial court upon application of the department had authority to
dissolve the corporation.94 A summary of these financial reports is
published in the annual report of the department. These reports
give financial data for the institution or agency, the average number
of paid employees, and the total number of individuals and families
to whom service or relief was given.
Maternity hospitals.

Prior to 1910 the licensing of maternity hospitals was the respon­
sibility of local boards of health. Legislation passed in 1910, however,
made this a duty of the State board of charity, later the department
of public welfare.95 At first the details of licensing were in the
hands of the attorney for the division of child guardianship, but in
1920 the work was transferred to a nurse on the staff of the division so
that more attention could be paid to the medical standards of hospitals
under supervision. At the time of this study the nurse who was
the maternity-hospital supervisor was also the supervisor of the sub­
division for infants.
Inspections of maternity hospitals were more or less routine. The
supervisor noted especially the methods used by the hospital for
marking the clothes of an outgoing infant so that they might be used
as a means of identification later in case of abandonment and for
making reports to the department of public health regarding un­
healthy eye conditions of discharged infants. Regulations for mater­
nity hospitals were adopted in 1910 and revised in 1916 and again in
1923. They had been printed on cards so that they could be posted
in the hospitals. Shortly before this study was made some additional
regulations had been adopted, which included a provision that the
licensee of an unincorporated hospital must be a physician in good
standing or a graduate of an approved school of nursing. These
unincorporated maternity homes constituted a special problem, and
as much attention as possible was given to them. The regulations also
stated that at least one nurse who was a graduate of an approved
school of nursing must be on the premises at all times when a maternity
case was in the house. All buildings must be approved by the local
board of health; and if there was any doubt about fire hazards, build­
ings must also be approved by the State department of public safety.
94 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 180, sec. 12.
95 Laws of 1910, p. 369.
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The statutes prohibited placement of infants for financial returns.
A parent or guardian who permitted a child under 2 years of age
to be placed in the control of another person for “hire, gain, or re­
ward” could be found guilty of abandonment, and a person receiving
a child under 2 years of age for “hire, gain, or reward” could be
found guilty of aiding and abetting the abandonment of an infant.98
The statutes also required that any person who received an infant
under 2 years of age for adoption or care or who accepted such an
infant for the purpose of placing him in a home must notify the
State department of public welfare.97 These two measures have been
helpful in controlling the activities of maternity hospitals that were
inclined to encourage unmarried mothers to give up their babies for
Boarding homes.

As early as 1889 legislation was enacted in Massachusetts provid­
ing for the licensing and supervision by the State of boarding homes
for infants under 5 years oi age.98 In 1892 the statute was amended
to read “under 2 years of age.” 99 In 1931 an effort was made to raise
the age limit and to remove the words “for compensation” so that
State protection might be extended to all children under 7 years of
age who were placed in foster homes.100 The proposed measure failed
to pass; therefore, a home unable to meet the requirements for a
license to board children under 2 was permitted to receive older
children. However, when a child under 7 cared for away from his
parents was reported to the department as not receiving proper care,
an agent of the department was authorized to investigate the home,
and if the agent considered removal necessary to protect the child
from neglect or abuse he could be transferred to the custody of the
department.101 Although this provision had been construed to mean
such serious neglect or abuse as almost to endanger the life of a child,
six children were removed in accordance with it during the fiscal
year 1934.
All boarding homes caring for two or more infants under 2 years
of age were required to be licensed by the department of public wel­
fare.102 During the fiscal year 1934, 586 boarding homes in 100 cities
and towns of the Commonwealth were licensed to care for children
placed by the State department, private agencies, and individuals.
Regulations adopted by the department stated that it was not the
policy to license any person to care for more than two infants under
2 years of age or to license any person under 20 or over 70 years of
age. The regulations also stated that the person licensed should
keep a record of the name of every baby received and the name and
address of the parents and should report within 2 days the reception
and discharge or death of every child under 2 years of age. If the
proposed foster home was outside the city of Boston, it had to
be approved first by a majority of the members of the local board
96 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 119, secs. 9 and 10.
97 Ibid., sec. 14.
88 Laws’of 1889, ch. 416.
88 Laws of 1892, ch. 318.
100 Report of the Special Commission Established to Investigate the Laws Relative to
Dependent, Delinquent, and Neglected Children, and Children Otherwise Requiring Special
Care, p. 156. Mass. House No. 1200. Wright & Potter Co., Boston, 1931. (General Laws
(Ter. Ed.) 1930, ch. 119, sec. 6.)
General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 119, sec. 28.
108 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 119, secs. 1—2.
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of health. The usual requirements for proper ventilation, sanita­
tion, and facilities for refrigeration of food were also included in
the regulations.
Licensed boarding homes were visited by nurses in the division of
child guardianship. Semiannual visits were usually made to foster
homes caring for children other than State wards, although if there
was any suspicion about the type of care given in a home, visits were
made more frequently.
Homes boarding only one child were not licensed, but a foster
mother receiving a child under 2 years of age was required to notify
the department of public welfare of the presence of the child within 2
days after she received him, together with the name, age, residence of
the infant, his parents, and the persons from whom and by whom
he was received.108 I t was then the duty of the department to visit
the home in order to make sure that the child was receiving proper
care. As a rule semiannual visits were made to such homes.


Although it has been generally agreed that Massachusetts was the
first State to provide for legal adoption of children, the early laws
did little more than provide legal sanction for the transfer of par­
ental rights.104 Legislation enacted in 1907 105 provided that notice
was to be sent to the State board of charity if the child had been
supported by a town or by the State, and in 1915 the law required
such notice if the child was of unknown parentage or a foundling.108
Although these laws applied only to public wards and failed to
specify the action to be taken by the State department, it was never­
theless a forward step, since it placed upon the agency that had
assumed care of the child the responsibility for his future when
permanent separation from his family was involved. As a result of
the recommendations made by the special commission concerned with
child-welfare legislation, the adoption law was again amended in
This latest amendment provided that “upon the filing of a petition
for adoption of a child under the age of 14, notice shall be given to
the department of public welfare which shall make appropriate in­
quiry to determine the condition and antecedents of the child for
the purpose of ascertaining whether he is a proper subject for adop­
tion, and to determine whether the petitioners and their home are
suitable for the proper rearing of the child.108 The provision did
not apply “in the case of a petition for adoption presented, spon­
sored, or recommended by any charitable corporation organized
under general or special laws of the Commonwealth for the purpose
of engaging in the care of children and principally so engaged.”
The probate court in which the petition was filed made the deci­
sion as to which agencies were to be exempted, hence practice was
108 General'Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 119, sec. 8.
1<MLaws of 1851, ch. 324.
105 Laws of 1907, ch. 405.
104 Laws of 1915, ch. 53.
107 Report of the Special Commission Established to Investigate the Laws Relative to
Dependent, Delinquent, and Neglected Children, and Children Otherwise Requiring Special
Care, p. 224. Mass. House No. 1200. Wright & Potter Co., Boston, 1931. (General Laws
(Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 210, sec. 5A.)
108 Laws of 1931, ch. 342.
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not uniform throughout the State. Some courts referred practically
all petitions to the department for investigation; others exempted
almost any incorporated agency. As incorporation in Massachusetts
did not necessarily mean that an agency had been approved by the
department of public welfare, this exemption in the law weakened
it considerably.
Investigations in adoption cases were made by the subdivision of
adoptions of the division of child guardianship. According to the
law the department had 30 days in which to make its investigation
and report. This was considered ample time in most cases, but when
necessary an extension of time could be granted. The investigation
included “clearance” in the social-service exchange; verification of
all births, marriages, divorces, and deaths that were in any way
related to the adoption proceeding; a visit to the home and inter­
views with both petitioners; and interviews with some of the persons
given as references. No rule had been made about references. In ­
formation was usually obtained from the husband’s employer, a
neighbor of the family, and the minister. In addition the family
doctor was often seen. A letter was sent to the court giving the
results of the investigation and indicating the attitude of the depart­
ment in regard to the adoption, but no specific recommendation was
made. No provision had been made for an agent of the State de­
partment to represent in person the interests of the child in the
court proceedings. After the hearing it was the practice of the
court to send the department a report of the final action in the form
of a copy of the decree, a post-card notice, or in some other form
adoptea by an individual court.
During the fiscal year 1934, 707 investigations were completed,
with the following results:
Approved_______________________________ <-------- 651
Disapproved _________________________________ 54
Withdrawn after investigation-------------------------2

Disapproval by the State department did not always affect the
decision of the court. Nevertheless the experience of the depart­
ment showed the great value of this service, as during the 2y2 years
in which the law had been in operation investigations disclosed unde­
sirable conditions in approximately 9 percent of the proposed
Children of illegitimate birth.

The department of public welfare gave case-work services to chil­
dren of illegitimate birth only when they were wards of the depart­
ment or had been born in the State infirmary. The need for public
protection for these children was recognized as early as 1889, when a
law was enacted requiring any person receiving a child under the
age of 3 years for board to notify the State board of health, lunacy,
and charity if the child was of illegitimate birth.109 This provision
was extended in recent lawTs to include all children under 7 placed
in homes for board or for adoption, and the department was author­
ized to visit the homes to see that proper care was given.110 How­
ever, the department assumed no responsibility for planning for the
i® Laws of 1889, ch. 309. 1899, ch. 276 (General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 119, sec. 20).
u»Laws of 1931, ch. 195 (General Laws (Ter. Ed.) ch. 119, secs. 22 and 28).
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



child born out of wedlock unless it accepted guardianship because
of neglect or inadequate care.
Maternity care was given in a building of the State infirmary at
Tewksbury. During the fiscal year 1934, 178 women and girls were
given care, most of whom were unmarried mothers. Nearly half of
them had been transferred from other State institutions, including
the reformatory for women, the State industrial school for girls, the
State school for the feeble-minded, and the defective-delinquent
colony. All mothers were kept at the infirmary long enough to give
the baby a good physical start and until a satisfactory social plan
could be worked out for both mother and child. Responsibility for
social planning for unmarried mothers and the initiation of proceed­
ings to establish paternity of children born in the State infirmary
was divided between the social workers of the division of aid and
relief and the staff of the institution from which the girls or women
had been transferred for care.
The reformatory for women maintained a nursery for children
born during the incarceration of the mother, and children were trans­
ferred there from the infirmary. Social services for these children
were provided by the social workers of the reformatory. The in­
dustrial school for girls had no provision for infants. When court
action seemed advisable to establish the paternity of a child, the
executive secretary of the division of juvenile training initiated
proceedings. Often the permanent separation of a child from a
young mother seemed desirable, and the child was transferred from
the infirmary to the care of the division of guardianship.
The social-service unit of the division of aid and relief accepted
responsibility for social planning for all other mothers of children
born out of wedlock who were under care at the infirmary. Statu­
tory authority had been given to the department of public welfare to
institute action in cases of illegitimacy if the indigent mother had no
settlement in the State.111 An attorney on the staff of the depart­
ment represented the child throughout the entire legal proceeding.

Institutional care for delinquent children committed by the courts
began in Massachusetts in 1847 with the founding of the State reform
school for delinquent boys, now known as the Lyman school for
boys.112 This institution was followed by a similar one for delin­
quent girls in 1854, called the industrial school for girls.118 In 1908
a second institution for delinquent boys was established, the indus­
trial school for boys.114
The three schools and the parole service which constitute the divi­
sion of training of the department of public welfare are under the
control of the trustees of the Massachusetts training schools.115
Boys and girls committed to the schools remain under the jurisdic111 General Laws 1931, ch. 121, sec. 8.
112 Laws of 1847, ch. 165; Laws of 1884, ch. 323 (changed the name from State reform
school to the Lyman school for boys).
“ s Laws of 1854, ch. 52, made an appropriation for the establishment of a State reform
school for girls. Laws of 1855, ch. 18, provided for incorporation of the institution as the
industrial school for girls.
114 Laws of 1908, ch. 639.
118 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 120.
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tion of the school until they become 21, unless previously paroled,
transferred, or discharged. The two schools for boys are differen­
tiated on an age basis, the Lyman school accepting boys under 15
years of age and the industrial school accepting boys over 15 but
under 18 years of age. The girls’ industrial school accepts girls
under 17 years of age. The length of time that boys or girls remain
in the institutions varies somewhat in the different schools. The
average period of residence of boys paroled for the first time was
reported in 1934 as about 13 months in the Lyman school and^ about
9 months in the boys’ industrial school. The girls in the girls’ indus­
trial school remained for a longer time, averaging about 1 year and
9 months.116
The programs of all the schools emphasized coordination of aca­
demic and vocational training and individualization in training to
meet the particular needs of each boy and girl. During 1934 the
educational program of the Lyman school was completely reorgan­
ized in order to reduce the size of classes, to provide for individual­
ized work in tutoring classes, and to broaden the experience of the
boys through increasing the amount of nonacademic instruction
given. Specific vocational skills were emphasized in the training of
older boys and girls. Special attention and careful direction was
given to recreational activities in all the schools.
Parole services were provided through two divisions, the boys’
parole branch and the girls’ parole branch. Applications for parole
were submitted to the hoard of trustees by the executive secretary,
and a decision was reached by the board on recommendations made
by a subcommittee on paroles. As soon as possible after a child’s
commitment to any one of the institutions, a member of the parole
staff made a visit to the child’s home to investigate the conditions
leading to his commitment. This information, with a cumulative
record of the child’s behavior at the training school and a report of
the physical and mental studies made at the institution, served as the
basis for the subcommittee’s recommendations and the board’s deci­
sion with regard to parole.
In planning for parole, emphasis was placed on the needs of the
particular boy or girl. A large proportion of the boys and girls were
paroled to their own families or to relatives. Foster homes were used
for those having no home or when the situation in the homes or the
supervision given was not desirable. In 1934 about a fifth of the boys
and girls paroled for the first time were placed in foster homes where
they earned part-time or full-time wages. Another group of 129
younger boys and 6 girls had been placed in boarding homes. The
board of one girl was paid by her mother but clothing was furnished
by the girls’ parole board. A special appropriation was made to the
boys’ parole branch for board for boys from the Lyman school.
Board was paid from the general fund of the girls’ parole branch for
the few girls placed in boarding homes. The division also had funds
available to pay tuition for boys and girls in foster homes who at­
tended school. Parole supervision was continued until the boy or
girl reached the age of 21 years, unless he was honorably discharged
ii« Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Annual Report of the Department of Public Wel­
fare for the Year Ending November 30, 1934, pp. 52—56. Boston.
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because of satisfactory behavior or some other provision for care had
been made.
The board of trustees is authorized to encourage boys and girls on
parole to save from their earnings and to hold such savings m safe­
keeping for their use. A portion of the earnings of each child in a
wage home was sent to the division and deposited in a savings ac­
count for the child. The interest that had accumulated from un­
claimed savings accounts of children had been used to establish a
trust fund. This was occasionally drawn on to assist a child on
parole who had ability and wished to obtain further education or
trade training.

The board of probation, an independent board, was created in 1908
to further the development of probation throughout the Common­
wealth through conferences and uniform reporting and to maintain a
central register of all persons placed on probation and their subse­
quent police, court, and prison histories, for the exchange of informa­
tion between the courts. Additional authority was given to the
board a few years later to supervise the probation work for wayward
and delinquent children and to make recommendations in its annual
report for the improvement of methods of dealing with such chil­
dren.117 No special supervisor of juvenile probation had been ap­
pointed, however, and the activities of the board in developing stand­
ards of probation were the same for all courts. Juvenile cases have
constituted about 10 percent of the total cases of persons placed on
probation reported annually to the board.118
Probation officers in Massachusetts are appointed by the court they
serve. The board of probation had no authority to select or remove
such officers, and it could not require that appointments be made
according to prescribed qualifications.119 However, through visits to
the courts, assistance to judges in finding qualified persons to serve as
probation officers, regional conferences, and public addresses the stand­
ards for probation officers in the State had gradually improved.
Although the commissioner of probation realized that field service
was essential in the development of satisfactory probation work
throughout the State, relatively little field service was available. An
assistant commissioner at one time spent most of his time in field work,
but when he was appointed commissioner, a new assistant commis­
sioner was not appointed, and the only field service was that given
through visits of the commissioner. An effort was made to visit each
newly appointed probation officer as soon as possible to interpret the
philosophy of probation work and to apply it to practical problems.
Subsequent to this visit the officer spent part of a day in the central
office. In this way he was helped to obtain an idea of the State or­
ganization and the necessary and vital part each officer had in the
development of a preventive and reconstructive program.
117 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 119, sec. 64.
118 Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Annual Report of the Board of Probation for the
Year Ending September 30, 1934, p. 6. Boston.
, 119 hgws of 1926, ch. 360, strengthened the provisions relating to appointment of proba­
tion officers by requiring that all courts, except the Boston juvenile court, must have such
appointments approved by the administrative committee of the district courts after
consultation with the board of probation.
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A subdivision for mentally deficient children was responsible for
children referred to the division of child guardianship as dependent or
neglected and later found to be feeble-minded. During the year
ended November 30, 1934, this subdivision had cared for 401 feeble­
minded children, and at the close of the fiscal year 309 children re­
mained under care, of whom 170 were in foster homes, 26 were wage
earners, and 113, who could not be placed in the community, were be­
ing cared for in hospitals while awaiting commitment to State schools
for the feeble-minded.
The subdivision had been successful in developing specialized board­
ing homes for mentally deficient children. Usually 3 to 5 children were
placed in a single home, although two particularly successful homes
cared for as many as 10 children. Board was paid at the rate of $3.50
a week. Although these boarding homes were scattered over the en­
tire State, an attempt was made to have them situated in communities
that provided special classes for subnormal children. One of the great­
est difficulties the subdivision had was the lack of cooperation of some
local authorities in providing educational opportunities for these
children. In some towns the school authorities were unwilling to pro­
vide a special class unless the total number of children required for
such a class were residents of the town. In others, when special
classes had been formed, the subdivision was asked to withdraw the
State wards in order to lighten the load of the teacher.
The boys and girls who were employed received wages varying
from $2 to $10 a week. Through the cooperation of the employer with
the social worker from the division a financial plan was made for
each child in accordance with the amount of his earnings. Provision
was made whenever possible for the child to have an allowance for his
own use, money for necessary clothing and other incidentals, and a
monthly bank deposit. When a child became 21 his bank book was
placed in charge of the person or organization that assumed the
responsibility for continued supervision.
As a result of the activities of this subdivision some children made
a sufficiently satisfactory adjustment in the community so that insti­
tutionalization was not necessary. For others commitment was essen­
tial and periodical application for their admission was made to the
State schools for the mentally deficient. However, in spite of the
continued efforts of the subdivision, only 69 children were accepted
by the schools during 1934. Commitment to these institutions was
made by the probate court but as a rule was not arranged for until
the division had been notified that there was a place in the institution
for the child.
An effort was made to have a definite plan worked out for each child
before he was 21 years old and would be discharged from care. When
institutional care was not needed, an attempt was made to provide
supervision through either placement with responsible relatives or
referral to the department of mental diseases.

The department of mental diseases has major responsibility for
services for mentally deficient children, including institutional care
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



and training, supervision of persons paroled from the institution, and
community supervision of children and young persons who can
remain outside of an institution.
Institutional care of mentally defective children.

Three institutions have been established in Massachusetts to pro­
vide care for mentally deficient persons. The institution at Waverlv,
now known as the Walter E. Fernald State School, was opened in
South Boston in 1848120 and was one of the first State institutions for
the mentally deficient established in the United States. Because of
increasing demands for institutional care, the erection of an institu­
tion at Wrentham was authorized in 1906, and similar authority was
given for an institution in Belchertown in 1918.121 These institutions
are designated as schools, a name particularly applicable since a large
proportion of the admissions are of children. Although about 55
percent of the 4,998 persons in these schools on November 30, 1934,
were 20 years of age or older, nearly two-thirds of them were less
than 15 years of age at the time of their admission. An analysis of
the ages of persons on the waiting list for institutional care made at
this same time showed a similar proportion of young: children among:
those listed.122
Parole of mentally deficient persons from the schools was given
statutory sanction in 1922,128 although parole had been used by 1918
in both of the schools then existent.124 Supervision of paroled per­
sons was the responsibility of the staff of the social-service division
of each school, which in 1934 consisted of three social workers at the
Fernald school and at the school in Belchertown and two social work­
ers at the school at Wrentham. In addition to giving supervision to
the 247 persons on parole on September 30, 1934, the social-work staff
of the schools was also responsible for making investigations and for
social services for persons remaining in the schools. In order to
supplement the supervision of paroled persons given by the State
staff, local agencies or persons willing to give such service were called
upon to give the friendly assistance, direction, and leadership that
the mental defective needs and wishes to have.
Parole was seldom used for children, although some of them re­
turned to their homes for visits. Children able to profit from class
work often had short vacations at homo, but for the greater part of
the year they were kept in school. Even when formal school work
had terminated parole was not granted until stable habits were estab­
lished. On September 30, 1934, 106 children under 20 years of age
were away from the institution, 40 of whom were classified as idiots
or imbeciles.125
Community supervision of mentally defective children.

The State department of mental diseases is authorized to accept
guardianship of mentally deficient persons committed to the custody
Laws °f l848, ch 65 °f the Resolves; 1850, ch. 150; 1883, ch. 239 (changed the
name to the Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded).
121 Laws of 1906, ch. 38; Laws of 1918, ch. 224.
1MCommonwealth of Massachusetts: Annual Report of the Commissioner of Mental
Diseases for the Year Ending November 30, 1934, pp. 110, 434.
128 Laws of 1922, ch. 337.
Stanley P ow ell: Social Control of the Mentally Deficient, p. 203. Thomas Y.
Crowell Co., New York, 1930.
122 Commonwealth of M assachusetts: Annual Report of the Commissioner of Mental
Diseases for the Year Ending November 30, 1934, pp. 447-448.
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of the department for community supervision.126 The department is
also authorized to accept for supervision persons whose guardians
voluntarily ask for such services. Commitment for supervision was
seldom used except for mentally deficient wards of the department of
public welfare who had reached the age of 21 years. Of the 192 per­
sons under supervision at the end of 1934, only IT were legal wards
of the department. The supervision of persons accepted on a volun­
tary basis had been found to be the most satisfactory plan, since the
cooperation of relatives was assured by the conditions of acceptance.
At the time of the visit in 1934 the group under supervision of the
two social workers on the staff of the division of mental diseases con­
sisted of older girls who had been placed in the wage homes.127 Care­
ful investigations were made of prospective homes for these girls.
The employer’s understanding of the girl’s needs and limitations and
the opportunity afforded by the home for development of her par­
ticular abilities were considered of major importance in selecting a
home. Special attention had been given, during supervisory visits,
to the recreational activities and to the companionships of the girls
under supervision.
Traveling school clinics.

The Massachusetts system of traveling psychiatric school clinics for
the examination of retarded children is without doubt the most exten­
sive of any State in the Union. The first clinic was sent out from the
Waverly school on December 15, 1914. In 1917 the second traveling
clinic was sent out from the school at Wrentham. I t soon became
evident that these two clinics could not examine all the retarded chil­
dren in the public schools of the State, and in 1921 traveling clinics
were organized to operate from each ox the 14 institutions under the
department of mental diseases. Another clinic was added in January
The operation of these clinics in the public-school system was legal­
ized by the enactment of a law in 1919. This law was amended by
the legislature in 1922 and again in 1931. In its present form it
provides that—
The school committee of every town shall annually ascertain, under regu­
lations prescribed by the department [of education] and the department of
mental diseases, the number of children 3 years or more retarded in mental
development in attendance upon its public schools, or of school age and
resident therein. At the beginning of each school year, the committee of
every town where there are 10 or more such children shall establish special
classes for their instruction according to their mental attainments, under
regulations prescribed by the department [of education]. A child appearing
to be mentally retarded in any less degree may, upon request of the superin­
tendent of schools of the town where he attends school, be examined under
such regulations as may be prescribed by the department [of education] and
the department of mental diseases. No child under the control of the depart­
ment of public welfare or of the child-welfare division of the institutions
department of the city of Boston, who is 3 years or more retarded in mental
development within the meaning of this section, shall, after complaint made
by the school committee to the department of public welfare or said division,
im General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 123, sec. 66A.
(Enacted 1921, ch. 441, and
amended 1924, ch. 88.)
127 By 1937 the program of community supervision had been expanded to include younger
children remaining in their own homes. Educational services to the parents of the children
and home teaching of children excluded from the schools were undertaken.
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be placed in a town which is not required to maintain, a special class as
provided for in this section.“8

In the b e g i n n i n g only children who were 3 or more years retarded
were eligible for examination, but in 1931 the law was amended so
that any “child appearing to be mentally retarded in any less degree”
could be examined upon the request of the superintendent of schools
of the town where he attended school. Accordingly, examination for
two important groups was made possible: (1) Children retarded only
1 or 2 years in school work; and (2) children presenting behavior
problems that interfered with their school progress.
Each traveling clinic has a psychiatrist in charge, assisted by a
psychologist or psychometrist, and usually by a social worker. Dur­
ing 1934, clinics were held in 221 cities, towns, and villages. Although
about three-fourths of the 8,237 children examined in these clinics
were referred for examination because of retardation, the report of
the division of mental diseases showed that ah increasing proportion
children were being sent to the clinics for such problems as
difficulty with school work and conduct and personality difficulties.129
The laws relating to public education require the school committee
of every town in which reside 10 or more children who are retarded
3 or more years in school work to establish special classes for their
instruction.130 The work of the traveling school clinics has been a
significant factor in demonstrating the need for such classes in the
cities and towns where clinics have been held. Special classes were
available for retarded children in most of the cities and larger towns
visited in 1934, 313 special classes providing for 5,169 pupils having
been established. Some of the towns providing special classes had a
grade-school enrollment of fewer than 200 children.131 No State aid
is available to assist cities and towns in meeting the extra cost of
these classes. The average cost of education in the public schools was
estimated in 1933 as $90.40 a year for a pupil in the regular classes
and $130 a year for a pupil in special classes for retarded children.132
Child-guidance clinics.

Since 1922 the division of mental hygiene of the department of
mental diseases has conducted child-guidance clinics for preschool
children and children of school age. This service is given at clinics
(designated as habit clinics) held in different localities and at one
permanent clinic in which research is carried on. During 1934
weekly clinics were held in three localities in the Boston area and in
five other cities in the eastern section of the State. A semimonthly
clinic was held also at the State sanitarium for tubercular children.
The staff of a habit clinic consisted of a psychiatrist, a psychologist,
and a psychiatric social worker. More than three-fourths of the
children seen in the clinics during 1934 had been given comprehensive
treatment by the clinic staff and follow-up work by the five psychi­
atric social workers who were giving full-time services to the clinics.133
y»L aw s of 1919, ch. 277 as am. 1922, ch. 231, and 1931 ch 358 and 1919 ch 918
iGm nLaws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 71, sec. 46, and ch. 123, sec. 12). '
*“* 318
of Massachusetts i Annual Report of the Commission of Mpntal niq.
ea? e sf°r the Year Ending November 30, 1934, pp. 87, 88
Mental DisGenera1 Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 71, sec. 46.
181 Ibid., pp. 95—102.
,Massachusetts: Department of Education : Survey of Special Education for Atypical Children. January 1, 1934, pp. 1, 3-6. (Mimeographed)
“ Commonwealth of Massachusetts : Annual Report of the Commission of Mental Dis­
eases for the Year Ending November 30, 1934, pp. 60-61.
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Emphasis had been placed by the division on parent education in
the treatment of individual cases and in the general educational work
done with groups interested in problems of childhood. The treat­
ment given to children was broad in scope, including the development
of cooperative services with a wide variety of other agencies. Spe­
cialists on the staff were also undertaking services for children
having speech defects or reading disabilities.

In 1934 State services for crippled children were largely centered
in the department of public welfare, although some children who
were crippled and had other disabilities were under care in the hos­
pitals administered by other State departments.134 Special training
tor a few older crippled children was provided by the division of vo­
cational rehabilitation of the department of education, but other
educational facilities for these children were provided by local school
Massachusetts hospital school.

The Massachusetts hospital school consists of a school department
for the care and education of crippled and deformed children who
are mentally competent to attend school and a hospital department
which provides medical and surgical care for crippled children and
for minor wards of the department of welfare who need hospital
care. On November 30, 1934, there were 255 crippled children in the
school and 13 minor wards of the department in the hospital. The
period of care of minor wards is relatively short, 214 having been
admitted and 230 discharged during the year, whereas many of the
crippled children remain in the school as long as they are of school
age, a few remaining until they are 21 years of age.138 Academic
instruction in the school was given only through the eighth grade,
but in a few selected cases vocational and clerical work of highschool grade was provided. However, training was not limited to
the classroom, and the development of proper mental habits was one
of the primary aims of the school. Emphasis was placed also on the
development of recreational interests and handicraft activities. Ac­
tive participation in games and sports was encouraged by the physio­
therapist, who also gave individual treatment to the children needing
physiotherapy. Medical and surgical treatment played an important
part in the institutional program. The superintendent of the school
and one member of the board of trustees were physicians, and a
competent staff of nurses and doctors was employed. Dental care
was provided during the child’s stay in the institution. Although
the institution had no follow-up service for children, an active alumni
association did a great deal ft>r children who had been in the insti­
Parents able to pay for the care and education of children in the
school are required to do so. The maintenance cost of dependent
J*4 Under the Social Security Act, Federal funds are made available to assist the States
in the development of services for crippled children. The State department of public
health is cooperating with the United States Children’s Bureau in this program.
188 Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Annual Report of the Department of Public Wel­
fare for the Year Ending November 30, 1934, pp. 49, 50.
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crippled children having legal settlement is paid by the city or town
of residence, the amount paid not to exceed $6 a week. The entire
cost of care of crippled children having no legal settlement is paid
by the Commonwealth.186
School census.

In 1929 the department of public welfare made a survey of crippled
children to find the number of crippled children needing care and the
extent of need for further educational provisions for children unable
to attend school. During the progress of the survey the legislature
enacted a law requiring the cities and towns to take an annual census
of crippled children under regulations prescribed by the department
of public welfare. In 1932 the word “crippled” was changed to
‘ physically handicapped,” thus extending the benefits of the law to
children suffering from cardiac disease and other physical handicaps
that make it impossible for them to attend regular public-school
classes. In addition, the law made it mandatory for the cities and
towns to provide special instruction for these children when there
were more than five children in a city or town and permissive for
them to provide such instruction when there were fewer than five
children. Instruction could be given in the child’s own home or at
such places and under such conditions as the committee mav
arrange.” 187
The supervisor of the subdivision of social service for crippled
children in the department of public welfare directed the taking of
the annual census and made recommendations regarding the care and
treatment of the children reported. Investigations were made of all
children reported in the census and of a few others for whom reports
were received in other ways. From the information obtained recom­
mendations were made to educational authorities as to the need for
special educational opportunities, and children needing but not re­
ceiving medical care or social services were referred to the proper
agency for care. During 1934, reports of 1,080 physically handi­
capped children were investigated, of whom 498 were crippled chil ­
dren. Many of the crippled children were attending regular school
classes and others were under the care of special agencies. Kecommendations for home teaching were made for 210 children who were
^n^por&rily unable to attend school or who were so seriously crippled
that home teaching was the only educational opportunity for them.13*
The supervisor of crippled-children services also gave time to a
general educational program. An effort was made to reach all teachers engaged in the work of teaching children in their homes in order
that the education, social-service work, and physical care might be
coordinated and that close cooperation might be developed among all
persons interested in a child’s general welfare. tA course of lectures
on understanding the crippled child” was arranged for these teach­
ers and for others interested in the work of crippled children by the
division of university extension with the supervisor of the subdivision of crippled children as leader of the course. Lectures were given
by physicians prominent in the field of medicine and orthopedic
«•General Laws (Ter Ed.) 1932, ch. 121, sec. 31.
Laws of 1980, ich 368. Amended by Laws of 1932, ch. 159.
fare for the Y ^ a ? L d L ^ o v ^ r “ ! 1934? pp!
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P3 ? °f the DePartment o£




Educational opportunities.

Education for crippled children and children with other physical
handicaps who are unable to attend school was available through
instruction given in their own homes. In a survey of special educa­
tion for atypical children made in 1933 it was found that 39 cities
and towns were employing 94 visiting teachers for home instruction
of 598 physically handicapped children.139 Special classes in the
public schools for children able to attend school but needing special
physical care were also available in a few of the cities.140
The section of vocational rehabilitation of the department of edu­
cation had maintained close cooperation with the Massachusetts hos­
pital school and the supervisor of social services for crippled children
and had provided vocational training and placement services for a
few crippled children 16 years of age or older who needed such serv­
ice. When possible the bureau preferred to have information about
the child early in his high-school course, because it was often possible
to relate the high-school instruction to later training.

Although Massachusetts has no State schools for the instruction of
blind or deaf children. State funds are available for the care and
education of these children. The department of education admin
isters these funds, which are used for the board and tuition of chil­
dren in private boarding schools for blind or deaf children and for
the tuition of deaf children attending the Horace Mann school, a
special day school in Boston, or in special classes established by the
department in other localities. The statutes authorize the depart­
ment of education to provide instruction for these children for a
period not exceeding 10 years, but this time may be extended for
meritorious pupils on the recommendation of school officials.141
Blind children.

Blind children were given care and education in Perkins Institu­
tion and Massachusetts School for the Blind, a private boarding
school founded in 1829. The cost of board and tuition paid by the
State in 1934 was $600 per pupil, but parents, if financially able to
do, so, reimbursed the State for the cost of board in part or in full,
the cost to the parents in no case exceeding $6 per week.
The division of the blind in the department of education was estab­
lished in 1906 to provide services for blind persons and to assist in
the prevention of blindness and the conservation of eyesight.142 The
division maintained a register of blind persons which on November
30, 1934, included 571 minors, of whom 53 were under 5 years of
age.148 The division provided a great variety of services for children
who were blind or had defective vision. I t arranged for the admis­
sion of children to Perkins Institution and cooperated with many
agencies in providing eye examinations, medical and surgical care,
eyeglasses, special school books, and other forms of assistance. The
staff of the division gave assistance to more than 1,400 children duri89 Commonwealth of M assachusetts: Department of Education : Survey of Special Edu­
cation for Atypical Children, January 1, 1934, p. 7. (Mimeographed.)
mo Bienniai Survey of Education in the United States, 1932—
34, pp. 142—189. U. 8,
Department of the Interior Bulletin 1935, No. 2. Washington, 1937.
i*1 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 69, secs. 26-28 as amended by Laws of 1935,
ch. 286.
142 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, ch. 69, secs. 12-24.
142Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Annual Repdi^tL^be Department of Education for
the Year Ending November 80, 1934, p. 21.
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ing 1934 and visited homes, schools, hospitals, and other organizations
in the interest of these children.
As part of its preventive service the division of the blind had
furthered the development of sight-saving classes in the schools and
had supervised their work. Sight-saving classes were held for chil­
dren whose vision could not be improved beyond 20/50 and for those
whose visual defect was not greater than 20/200. In 1934, 39 such
classes were held in 20 cities and towns and more than 500 children
were enrolled in them. The State made a special grant of $500 for
each sight-saving class and also provided suitable reading material
for children in towns that had no such class.
Deaf children.

Deaf children needing care in a boarding school had been placed
by the department of education in four private schools using the oral
method of instruction. One of those caring for a small number of
Massachusetts children was in Connecticut. The cost of board and
education in these schools ranged from $600 to $850 a year, but parents
were expected, if financially able to do so, to reimburse the State for
the cost of board in part or in full, the amount not to exceed $6 a
The department is authorized upon agreement with the school
committee of the city government to establish day classes in not more
than six cities of the State in which there are 10 of more children
needing special education.144 For these classes the State pays the
cost of instruction and transportation, and the city supplies a class­
room, furniture, heat, and janitor service. Day-school classes were
operating in four cities in 1934. Classes were held in the school
buildings in which regular classes were held, so that the children had
an opportunity to mingle with children of normal hearing in the
academic program and in various school activities. However, this
valuable experience was limited to the primary grades. No attempt
had been made to continue the instruction of children in day classes
beyond the fourth grade and sometimes the second or third grade.
Upon completion of the work in the day classes, children were trans­
ferred to one of the boarding schools or to the Horace Mann school
in Boston. Pupils from the Horace Mann school and from the board­
ing schools often went to high school or trade school, studying with
children of normal hearing. The division of vocational education,
through its bureau of rehabilitation, trained a few deaf pupils in
During the special survey made in 1933 it was found that teachers
of lip reading were employed by the school committees of 15 cities
and towns to teach hard-of-hearing children in the public schools.
For this work the teacher went from building to building, teaching
groups of children for periods of 30 to 45 minutes, usually twice a
week. Often children in several smaller schools met at centrally
located buildings in certain parts of the city for these periods. In
1933,1,212 children were receiving such instruction at an average cost
of about $23 per child, which was paid entirely by the cities and
144 General Laws (Ter. Ed.) 1932, sec. 28.
145 Commonwealth of M assachusetts: Department of Education: Survey of Special Edu­
cation for Atypical Children, January 1, 1934, pp. 10—12. (Mimeographed.)

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis