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JAMES J. DAVIS, Secretary



Bureau Publication No, 190

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


& \ C\Q

Letter of transmittal_____________ .________________________ r_________________ _
Introduction____ ____________________________________________
The problem and methods o f meeting it_________________________________
Purpose and method of study________ ________________ •
Policies of organizations that cooperated in study___________ _______________
Keeping mothers and babies together____________________________________
P la n s__________________________________________________________________
Attitude toward mother’s assuming status of legitimate mother______
Efforts to establish paternal responsibility____________________________
Supervision of cases after discharge from actual care____ _____________
The children and their parents________________________________________________
Plans for care of children__________________________________
Original plans________________________________________________
Permanency of plans_________________________________________________
Status of mothers and children in community__________________________
Sources of support of children__________________________________________
Assistance by agencies____________________
Support by fathers___________________________________________________
Outlook for children______________________________________________________
Case stories________________________________________________________________
Children whose mothers married__________________
Children whose mothers did not marry___________________________
Additional facts regarding children and parents________________________
The children________________________________________
The mothers___________________________________________________________
The fathers_____________________________________________________
Summary and conclusions________________________*____________________________
Appendix: Outline supplied by Children’s Bureau to organizations report­
ing case histories__________
h i
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis






Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



n it e d

S tates D

L abor,
C h il d r e n ’s B u r e a u ,

e p a r t m e n t of

Washington, July 22, 1928.

Sir : There is transmitted herewith the report of a study of the
care of children o f illegitimate birth whose mothers have been
enabled to keep the custody of their children. So little case record
material showing concrete methods of social provision of this sort is
available, that it i,s believed these case histories will prove useful to
agencies dealing with the problems o f illegitimacy and to training
The study was made by A. Madorah Donahue, formerly a member
of the staff o f the social-service division o f the bureau, who has writ­
ten the report. Assistance on the report was given by Mary E.
Milburn, also o f the social-service division. The case histories upon
which the report is based were prepared under Miss Donahue’s
supervision by staff members o f institutions and agencies, to which
the bureau is indebted for helpful cooperation.
Respectfully submitted.
G race A


J ames J. D

a v is ,

Secretary of Labor.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

bbo tt,

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Until recently social agencies and institutions in this country car­
ing for unmarried mothers during the first months of the child’s
life have followed one o f two general plans for practically all the
children born out o f wedlock for whom they have assumed responsi­
bility—either the child has been permanently separated from the
mother very soon after his birth, or the mother has been required to
keep him for a definite period o f time, nursing him if possible. A l­
though the experience or social workers who have observed these two
plans in operation over long periods of time must necessarily be o f
service in pointing the way to others, little has been done to make
available the results o f their experience.
It is difficult to follow the records o f any considerable number o f
children who have been separated from their mothers in early in­
fancy, but studies o f infant mortality rates tell the tragic story o f the
uneven chance for life itself that babies born out o f wedlock have in
contrast with those born in wedlock. A number of instances are
found o f suitable placements in foster homes, where the child’s inter­
ests have been protected. Instances are found, too, o f unsuitable
placements that have worked much injury to helpless children.
Adoption laws in most States fail to safeguard even those children
who are accepted by foster parents with full legal responsibility.1
It has been possible to obtain records o f children whose custody has
been retained by their mothers, because certain institutions and
agencies that advocate the plan o f keeping children of illegitimate
birth with their mothers and that have insisted on it in many cases,
have kept in touch with the children thus provided for and have been
able to supply information as to its results.
Study o f the origin o f institutions and agencies rendering service
to the unmarried mother reveals reasons for the development o f the
two distinct types o f policies. Practically all except those o f recent
origin were established with one o f two motives: The spiritual recla­
mation o f women who were immoral or the protection of women who
sought to conceal their maternity. Many of the latter type were
commercial institutions operated for profit. That the child may be
a factor in holding the mother to the path o f rectitude is obvious;
1 Adoption Laws in the United States; a summary of the development of adoption legis­
lation and significant features of adoption statutes, with the text of selected laws, by
Emelyn Foster Peck. U. S. Children’s Bureau Publication No. 148. Washington, 1925.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



hence the institutions and agencies whose primary motive was moral
rehabilitation usually tried to influence all the unmarried mothers
with whom they dealt to keep their babies. That the acceptance of
the baby by the institution or agency is an important means of safe­
guarding the mother from public knowledge of her motherhood is
equally clear; so the institutions and agencies that were concerned
chiefly with protecting the mother’s privacy usually developed a
policy o f accepting babies from unmarried mothers at birth or very
soon thereafter.2
There is now manifest a tendency on the part o f a considerable
number o f institutions and agencies in both groups to modify their
policies; and practically all those established in recent years, except
the purely commercial ones, have had as their primary motive the
protection o f the child. This purpose has been shown in their efforts
to assist the mother to adjust herself in the community, this adjust­
ment including the assumption o f responsibility for the child’s wel­
fare by his parents and their relatives.
The change in the policies o f institutions and agencies may be
ascribed to several causes, the first o f which, it seems safe to assume,
has been a realization of the high rate of infant mortality among
babies separated from their mothers at a very early age. A second
cause has been the awakening of the public conscience as to its respon­
sibility for safeguarding the unmarried mother as a result o f the
publication o f facts in regard to certain types o f commercial institu­
tions and agencies operated ostensibly to render assistance to unmar­
ried mothers but in reality conducted as profitable business enter­
prises.3 A third factor has been the demonstration by social case
work that individualized treatment usually results in placing the
responsibility for the child’s care on his parents and other relatives.
Modern study o f child psychology is developing an appreciation of
the influences brought to bear on the child by certain environmental
factors. Do children left in institutions or placed in foster homes with­
out information as to their families remain satisfied ? Do they accept
the stories invented not so much to insure their peace of mind as to
accommodate their relatives and their foster families? Are these
children subject to doubts and fears as to their parentage? What
o f the issues created in association with other children—in school,
at play, in many other contacts? Are adopted children who have
been reared to believe that their foster parents are their own parents
really deceived, or does the knowledge of their true status ultimately
reach them? When it does, what is the effect on the child o f this
knowledge? What is the attitude o f the child who faces, with his
mother, the problems that frank recognition of the situation may
bring, and what of the child who remains with his mother or her
relatives, although an attempt is made, through some subterfuge,
to conceal the real situation? These are some o f the questions that
social workers and others have been asking. This report does not
answer these questions, but light is thrown on some o f them by the
histories upon which the study is based.
2 A Study of Maternity Homes in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. U. S. Children’ s Bureau
Publication No. 167. Washington, 1926.
8 The Welfare of Children of Illegitimate Birth in Baltimore as affected by a Maryland
law of 1916 governing the separation from their mothers of children under 6 months old.
Part I. Mortality among infants born out of wedlock in 1915 and 1921, by Rena Rosen­
berg. Part II. Effect of the law on the policies and work of social agencies, by A.
Madorah Donahue. U. S. Children’s Bureau Publication No. 144. Washington, 1925.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis






The child born out of wedlock is entitled to the same opportunity
as any other child. But the child born out o f wedlock belongs to
a group o f children in whose interest special effort must be exerted
if they are to have this opportunity.
In recent years desire to provide necessary protection for children
handicapped by illegitimate birth has found expression in two types
o f legislation: (1) Enactment of laws declaring it to be the respon­
sibility o f the father to furnish the child with the necessary main­
tenance and support and providing improved legal procedure for
the enforcement o f this responsibility; and (2) enactment of laws or
formulation o f policies by public departments, which have for their
object keeping mothers and babies together during part, at least, of
the nursing period.
The Minnesota children’s laws that were enacted in 1917 contain
far-reaching provisions for the protection o f the child born out of
wedlock. The law providing for establishment o f paternity states
that its purpose 4 is to safeguard the interests o f children bom out
of wedlock and to secure for them the nearest possible approxima­
tion to the care, support, and education that they would be entitled
to receive if born o f lawful marriage. This law stands in strong
contrast to the laws in some other States, which have as their pur­
pose the protection o f the State or county against the child’s becom­
ing a public charge.
Minimum* standards for the protection o f children born out of
wedlock were adopted in 1919 by the child-welfare conferences called
by the United States Children’s Bureau.5 As a result of regional
conferences called the following year to consider standards o f legal
protection for children born out o f wedlock, the National Conference
of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws was requested to take this
subject under consideration. After two years of work by a com­
mittee o f the conference a uniform illegitimacy act was approved in
1922 and was recommended to the States for adoption. This act
places the responsibility for support and maintenance o f the child
upon both parents, makes the father liable for the expenses of the
mother’s pregnancy and confinement, and makes the obligation o f
the father enforceable against his estate. The provisions o f this act
were adopted substantially by North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevacja,
and New Mexico in 1923, and by Iowa in 1925.
The first of the legal provisions for keeping mothers and babies
together was the Maryland law of 1916 that prohibits the separa­
tion of a child younger than 6 months from his mother except under
specified conditions. In 1917 North Carolina passed a similar law;
South Carolina in 1923 passed a law applicable only to counties of
90,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, prohibiting removal of a child under
6 months o f age from his mother for the purpose o f placing in a
foster home without written consent o f certain officials, and in 1924
passed a law requiring that persons, agencies, or organizations re­
moving a child under 6 months of age from his mother report to the
child-placing bureau of the State board o f public welfare the names
4 Minn., Laws of 1917, ch. 210, sec. 3225 ( d ), as amended by act of Apr. 23, 1921, Laws
of 1921, ch. 489.
' Minimum Standards for Child Welfare Adopted by the Washington and Regional Con­
ferences on Child Welfare, 1919, p. 13. U. S. Children’s Bureau Publication No. 62.
Washington, 1920.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



and addresses o f those taking the child and o f the parents o f the
child (this requirement does not apply if the child is known to have
been born in wedlock). The North Dakota laws o f 1923 also contain
a recognition of the State’s responsibility for safeguarding the child.6
In some localities having no legislative provision o f this kind,
public agencies concerned with the care o f unmarried mothers have
adopted regulations intended to prevent separation o f mothers and
babies during the first months o f the children’s lives. The Minne­
sota State Board o f Control and the State Board o f Health in 1918
formulated a policy by which maternity homes and hospitals are
required to use every possible means to insure breast feeding for the
babies in their care.7 Through this policy babies o f illegitimate
birth are practically assured of three months’ nursing by their
mothers. An example o f the efforts o f a municipality to protect
infants o f illegitimate birth is found in the regulations o f the depart­
ment o f health o f the city o f Milwaukee. This department in 1919
inaugurated a program for keeping mothers and babies together
during a three-month nursing period.8
The results o f these laws and policies have 'been to increase the
baby’s chances o f being breast fed and o f being kept by his mother
after the period required has passed; and this assumption o f responsi­
bility by the child’s mother has often led to the sharing o f it by the
father and by other relatives.
But in most places there are no laws nor official regulations for
preventing the early separation o f mother and baby. Plans have
been developed, however, in a number o f communities by which
agencies and institutions have decided upon policies that insure the
child protection and in many instances make possible his permanent
care by his relatives. In the course of this study several cities were
visited in which such definite policies for the protection and care o f
children born out o f wedlock were in effect or in process o f develop­
ment by social organizations. In Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit,
Kansas City, and St. Louis various institutions and agencies were
cooperating in working out plans to standardize the services rendered
to mothers and their children and to minimize duplication o f work.
These plans had been influenced considerably by local illegitimacy
conferences affiliated with the Inter-City Conference on Illegitimacy.9
This study, which is based on an analysis o f the histories o f chil­
dren o f illegitimate birth who have remained in the custody o f their
mothers or other relatives, was undertaken by the United States
®Md., act of Apr. 11, 1916, ch. 210, Laws of 1916, p. 416 (Bagby’ s Annotated Code
1924, art. 27, secs. 535-539, pp. 1135-1136) ; N. C., act of Feb. 26, 1917, ch. 59, Public
Laws o f 1917, p. 113 (.Consolidated Stat., 1919, ch. 82. sec. 4445, p. 1814) ; S. C., act of
Mar. 25, 1924, No. 728, sec. 7, Acts and Joint Resolutions of 1924, p. 1191 : N. Dak., act of
Mar. 2, 1923, ch, 152, Laws of 1923, p. 144.
7 Report of the [Minnesota] Children’s Bureau, State Board of Control [Jan. 1-Oct. 31,
1918], p. 10. St. Paul, 1918.
8 Illegitimacy as a Child-Welfare Problem, Part 3, p. 100. U. S. Children’s Bureau Pub­
lication No. 128. Washington, 1924.
9 The Inter-City Conference on Illegitimacy was established in 1915 during the meeting
o f the National Conference of Social Work in Baltimore. Its membership comprises social
workers and others dealing with the problem of illegitimacy. The purpose of the confer­
ence is the advancement of standards of case work with unmarried mothers. It provides
a cooperative exchange of information by correspondence and through the bulletin of the
Child Welfare League of America.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Children’s Bureau in response to the request o f a number o f social
agencies and institutions dealing with unmarried mothers and their
children. Its purpose was to ascertain the advantages and disad­
vantages o f carrying out the plan o f keeping these children in the
custody o f their mothers.
In selecting the cases for study only those children were included
who were well established in their communities, maintaining the
usual relationships that constitute the child’s world, such as those in
school, church, and Sunday school. The retention o f the child’s legal
custody by the mother rather than the provision o f actual physical
care or support by the mother constituted one o f the conditions of
inclusion. No child was included unless he was 8 years o f age or
over. In fact, many o f them had reached manhood and womanhood
when the histories were written, in 1925. It is reasonable to suppose
that in almost all, if not all, cases the plans for the child’s care may
be deemed to have covered a sufficiently long period o f time to
warrant judgment o f the wisdom o f the child’s being kept in the
custody o f his mother.
In obtaining the material for this report a number o f cities were
visited. Conferences were held with the directors o f institutions and
agencies; case records were read to determine the value o f the mate­
rial available; and arrangements were made for workers in each city
to write histories o f the cases. The number o f children of illegiti­
mate birth fulfilling the age requirements who had remained in the,
custody o f their mothers and about whom the cooperating organiza­
tions could give sufficient definite information to be of value in this
study was 253.10 Two hundred and forty-one mothers were repre­
sented by these 253 children.11 The histories were supplied by 27
organizations in 11 cities: Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia,
New York, Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Dallas, Kansas
City (M o.), and Detroit.
Reports o f the United States Children’s Bureau have treated
various aspects o f illegitimacy as a community problem,12 its bearing
In selecting the case histories for the study three cases were rejected because in each
one the child was bora in wedlock, though his mother was unmarried and pregnant
when she came into the care of the organization that supplied the history. It is the
status of the parents at the time of the child’s birth, not of his conception, that deter­
mines legitimacy. In all States of the Union intermarriage o f the parents at any time
prior to the child’s birth makes the issue of legitimate birth.
u Eleven of the mothers had more than 1 child considered in the study, 10 mothers
had 2 children, and 1 mother had 3 children. Seven of those who had two children
had had them by different fathers. The other three who had two children had had them
both by the same father. The mother with three children had had them all by the same
12 Illegitimacy as a Child-Welfare Problem— Part 1. A Brief Treatment of the Prevalence
and Significance of Birth Out of Wedlock, the Child’s Status, and the State’ s Responsibility
for Care and Protection, with bibliographical material (Publication No. 66, Washington,
1920) ; Illegitimacy as a Child-Welfare Problem— Part 2. A Study of Original Records in
the City of Boston and in the State of Massachusetts (Publication No. 75, Washington,
1921) ; Illegitimacy as a Child-Welfare Problem— Part 3. Methods of Care in Selected
Urban and Rural Communities (Publication No. 128, Washington, 1924) ; Illegitimacy
Laws of the United States and Certain Foreign Countries (Publication No. 42, Washington,
1919) ; Standards of Legal Protection for Children Born Out of W edlock; a report of
regional conferences held under the auspices of the U. S. Children’ s Bureau and the InterCity Conference on Illegitimacy (Publication No. 77, Washington, 1921) ; Infant Mor­
tality— Results of a Field Study in Baltimore, Maryland, based on births in one year
(Publication No. 119, Washington, 1923) ; The Welfare o f Infants of Illegitimate Birth in
Baltimore as affected by a Maryland law of 1916, governing the separation from their
mothers of children under 6 months old— Part I. Mortality among Infants Born Out of
Wedlock in 1915 and 1921— Part II. Effect of the Law on the Policies and Work of Social
Agencies (Publication No. 144, Washington, 1925) ; A Study of Maternity Homes in Min­
nesota and Pennsylvania (Publication No. 167, Washington, 1926) ; Analysis and Tabular
Summary of State Laws Relating to Illegitimacy in the United States in effect January 1,
1928, and the text of selected laws (Chart No. 16, in press).
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



on infant mortality and on child dependency and neglect, public
responsibility for care o f children born out of wedlock, and stand­
ards1and existing provision for legal protection. Inquiries have also
been made by the bureau into the methods and standards of typical
institutions and agencies rendering service to unmarried mothers
and their children. It was, therefore, decided that in this study data
concerning agencies and institutions should be obtained only on
policies that influence the practicability of plans designed to make
it possible for unmarried mothers to retain the custody o f their chil­
dren. The future opportunity of a child born out of wedlock is
affected materially by the policies o f the organization assisting his
mother—the thoroughness with which the organization investigates
the conditions and problems that affect the placement o f the mother
and child, the attitude o f the organization toward keeping babies
with their mothers and toward the mothers’ assuming the status of
legitimate mothers, its provision of material relief when needed, its
efforts to fix paternal responsibility, and its willingness to continue
assistance beyond the period o f actual care. Information on all
these points was collected from the cooperating agencies on schedule
forms prepared by the Children’s Bureau.
An outline for case histories was prepared also, and the workers
cooperating were asked to follow it in writing the histories. This
outline provided for data on the following points: The personal
history and the character o f the child’s father and mother, the chrono­
logical history o f the case, the status of the child at the time o f the
last information obtained, the outlook for the child, the attitude of
his mother and other relatives toward their own course in having
accepted the child and assumed responsibility for him, and also the
effect on the child o f the knowledge of his illegitimate birth if he was
aware of it. (See p. 108.)
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

As the organizations providing the histories were selected, in the
main, because they had a modern approach to their problems and
were therefore likely to render to their clients better than average
service, they can hardly be taken as representative o f the ordinary
agency working for the unmarried mother and her child. The 27
organizations included 14 maternity homes, 6 children’s agencies,
1 agency rendering special assistance and protective care to girls,
1 agency doing family-welfare work and child-welfare work, 2 pub­
lic departments doing family-welfare and relief work (both under
the same State department), and 3 juvenile courts. In recent years
hospitals, through their social-service departments, have been refer­
ring unmarried mothers to social agencies during pregnancy, when­
ever possible, to insure proper provision for them in case they can
not go back to their own people after the birth o f the child. O f the
mothers included in this study 79 per cent came into the care o f the
organizations during pregnancy or before their babies were 2 years o f
age. About half o f the cooperating organizations were maternity
homes. A number o f the mothers in the maternity homes had en­
tered the homes after their confinement in a hospital, coming to the
homes directly from the hospital. In most o f the cases in which the
child was 2 years of age or over when he came to the knowledge of
the organization, the mother or her relatives had applied for board­
ing-home care or institutional care. The children o f unmarried
mothers had come to the knowledge o f the juvenile courts through
some special circumstances other than the mere fact of illegitimacy.
In some instances the children were neglected, dependent, or delin­
quent; some o f these children were as old as 15 when they came to
the attention o f the court. The cases included from one city (De­
troit) had become known to the court because o f the mothers’ appli­
cation for assistance under the mothers’ aid law.
Twenty-six o f the twenty-seven organizations made some investiga­
tions for the purpose of obtaining information that would be o f value
in assisting the mother to make plans for herself and her child, and
one— a maternity home-—acquired only such facts as were necessary for
its records from contact with the girl’s relatives and friends during
her stay in the institution. The large majority o f the agencies (18 of
the 27) used case-work methods o f investigation, and 8— all ma­
ternity homes—limited their investigation to facts related by the
mother herself and those contributed by her visitors and gleaned
from her correspondence. Obviously the scope o f such investigations
depended largely on the personality and attitude of the workers in
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



contact with the mothers. Four of the eight maternity homes reported
that some o f the girls were received from social agencies making
investigations. One o f these institutions kept no records, considering
that they constituted a breach of confidence.

The experience o f social workers, physicians, and others in contact
with unmarried mothers shows that care of the baby by his mother
during the early months o f infancy usually results in the assumption
o f responsibility for his permanent care by his mother or by other
relatives. A ll except one o f the organizations cooperating in this
study had a definite policy o f fixing the permanent responsibility for
the care o f the child upon the mother whenever possible, and thev
tried also to develop resources for the child with his relatives. The
majority o f the maternity homes and other organizations giving as­
sistance to unmarried mothers during the first months of the infant’s
life required breast feeding for a specified period; the others required
it to whatever extent seemed practicable, but did not specify any par­
ticular period o f time. The one maternity home that made no definite
effort to influence the mother’s decision as to keeping her child re­
ported that two-thirds o f the 75 mothers cared for by the institution
during the year preceding that o f the study took their babies with
them when they left the institution.
In one city two maternity homes required a minimum period
o f six weeks o f breast feeding, and in the same city an agency that
accepted children for boarding-home care would not accept babies
under 6 weeks o f age. Thus the child-caring agency, by this require­
ment, had assisted in putting into practice this health-conservation
measure, influencing the policies o f the two maternity homes and
probably helping to save the lives of many infants. In another
city it was found that most agencies and institutions required six
months’ residence o f the mother with the child. This was due, doubt­
less, to a State law that controls earlier separations o f babies from
their mothers.1
One hundred and nine o f the 191 mothers with children under 2
years o f age at the time o f application to the agency had clearly
conceived plans in regard to keeping their children, and only 8 o f
them wanted to give the children up. The majority o f these 109
mothers planned to care for their babies personally, but in order to
make this possible many o f them needed financial relief or help in
finding employment. A few mothers had planned to place their
children in relatives’ homes or in boarding homes. Apparently, with
a few exceptions, the mother’s decision to keep the child was not
influenced by the organization. Many o f the mothers who came
into the care o f the agencies and institutions during pregnancy were
determined to keep their babies, and so expressed themselves, even
before the babies were born; many o f them were willing to make
sacrifices for this purpose. In some cases the plan o f the mother was
to provide for her baby temporarily in the hope that a relative would
1 Md., Laws of 1916, ch. 219, pp. 416-418.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



become interested and later take the child into her home; in others
the mother was unable to meet the financial burden o f supporting
her child and asked help in order that she might retain his custody.
The fact that the 82 mothers who apparently had no plan for their
babies and the 8 mothers who planned to give them up kept them
ultimately was, in all probability, due to the influence o f the workers
who dealt with the cases.

Although not all unmarried mothers who come to social agencies
and institutions for care are in need o f material assistance the
majority o f them are not able unaided to pay the expenses entailed by
their pregnancy and confinement and to provide for themselves and
their babies. Kecords o f maternity homes usually show a consider­
able proportion o f cases in which the mother or her relatives pay
none o f the cost o f the maternity care given by the home, or only
part o f it. As most maternity homes require mothers to work in
the institutions it is fair to assume that most mothers earn at least
part o f their way. The need for material assistance, however, is clear
from the very fact that so many women seek shelter in maternity
homes; if they had adequate means many o f them could find methods
o f adjusting their own problems, even if their plans were not in
accordance with such sound social principles as would insure ade­
quate protection for the children.
In the course o f this study workers in the institutions and agencies
commented frequently on the need in their communities for financial
resources to meet the actual needs o f the mothers and their children
after the period o f care by maternity homes. Though some assistance
was rendered by these organizations themselves their contribution in
many cases was felt by their own workers to be inadequate. Usually
this contribution took the form o f giving the mother a start by pro­
viding her with necessary clothing for herself and her baby when
she left the institution to go to work. Arrangements for temporary
care o f the baby were made also in some instances.
In 18 o f the 27 organizations studied the staff undertook responsi­
bility for giving or developing such relief. In several o f these, how­
ever, relief was limited to accepting the child for care free of charge
or at a rate o f board that the mother could pay. The agencies and
institutions that were able to meet the relief problem adequately rep­
resented only a small proportion o f the number studied. Eight or­
ganizations did not give any relief but referred cases to relief
From one maternity home the only information on this point was
the statement o f the superintendent that all the mothers discharged
either went to relatives with their babies or took employment where
they could provide for the babies. This worker appeared not to
appreciate the possibility that the status o f the mother and child
might change at some later time. '
Certain methods of assistance used by some o f the organizations
indicated a real appreciation of the problem that the mother meets
in adjusting herself in her community. Four maternity homes had
departments of child care in which for certain periods o f time mothers
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



could board their babies. Other homes made arrangements with
child-caring institutions for this service. Usually these maternity
homes and child-caring institutions were willing to care for the babies
at a rate that the mothers were able to pay, even though it did not
meet the entire cost. Instances were noted in which babies were cared
for without any charge when the mother appeared to be unable to
pay anything. Some of the institutions encouraged the mother to
return for assistance, accepting both the mother and the child re­
peatedly when the mother was out o f employment or in poor health,
or for some other reason was unable to meet her financial obligations.
It is generally assumed that a mother in good health should be able
to support herself and one child. It is the experience, however, of
persons working with unmarried mothers that because of circum­
stances that militate against their opportunities to obtain employment
a mother with a child of illegitimate birth finds more difficulty in sup­
porting the child than a mother who has been married.
Besides finding it difficult to obtain employment, the unmarried
mother finds it difficult to obtain relief, for both private agencies and
public departments administering relief appear to give preference to
the married mother over the unmarried one. Also, the unmarried
mother sometimes hesitates to bring her case to the attention of a
relief agency because she does not wish to disclose her true status.
At the present time public aid to children in their own homes
(“ mothers’ pensions” or “ mothers’ allowances” ) is provided in 44
States, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii.2 The stat­
utes regulating the granting of this aid vary in their provisions for
granting aid to married and unmarried women. The laws of 3 States
specifically authorize aid to unmarried mothers, and in some other
States the law may be so interpreted. Among the statements con­
cerning relief for unmarried mothers made in the course of this study
by social workers were several that emphasized the importance of
united effort by all persons concerned for the welfare o f the child
born out of wedlock, to obtain for this group of children the full bene­
fit o f mothers’ assistance funds in all the States where such funds are
The importance of facilities for financial assistance to mothers
attempting to provide for children born out of wedlock was empha­
sized in the regional conferences on standards of legal protection
for children born out of wedlock held under the auspices of the
United States Children’s Bureau in 1920 in Chicago and New York.
The resolutions o f the Chicago conference included the follow ing:
“ In cases where there is inadequate support from the father we
recommend careful consideration as to ways and means by which
the mother of a child born out of wedlock may receive assistance in
supporting her child from other sources.” The resolutions o f the
New York conference included the following: “ The mother should
be persuaded by good case work to keep her child at least during the
nursing period whenever possible. When necessary, steps should be
A Tabular Summary of State Laws Relating to Public Aid to Children in Their Own
Homes in Effect January 1, 1925, and the text of the laws of certain States. Revised
Edition. U. S. Children’s Bureau Chart No. 3. Washington, 1925. (See also mimeo­
graphed addenda to chart, 1928.)
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



taken to secure for mother and child the benefits o f the so-called
mothers’ pension acts.” 3
No general system of acceptance of unmarried-mother cases for
relief by private family-welfare agencies was found in any of the
cities visited. The policy of most o f these agencies appeared to be to
accept those cases in which the mother was one o f a family group,
although the mother who was alone often presented a more urgent
problem. A tendency toward centralizing the care o f unmarried
mothers was observed in several cities, one result of which was the
assumption by a specified agency of responsibility for providing relief
in the form o f boarding-home care for children. This was noted in
Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Cleveland. Assistance in providing
boarding-home care was especially common in Boston. In several
cities it was the policy of agencies to provide boarding homes for the
mothers with their children, although the more usual plan was to
place the children without their mothers.
Much has been said about the stigma that rests on the child born
out o f wedlock and on his mother. By many persons an attitude of
discrimination against them is justified as a necessary means of safe­
guarding the interests of the legal family. This attitude has been
stated by Mrs. Ada E. Sheffield, as follow s:
The stigma which rests upon the mother and the child is inseparable from
society’s respect for monogamy. A s for this stigma— just so long as it adds
to our self-respect to think of our own parents as having observed custom and
the moral law, just so long will it be impossible for us to feel an equal respect
for those persons whose misfortune it is to have had parents who did not
observe the moral law.4

Taking another point of view Prof. Ernst Freund has said:
The view that the interest of the child is the paramount interest to which
all other considerations should yield is not only attractive but socially sound.
The view, on the other hand, that in the interest of the institution of marriage
the fruit of illicit relations must be penalized and made odious is intrinsically
abhorrent. But it is clear that intense prejudices prevail upon the subject.5

Inequality of opportunity growing out of the attitude of discrimi­
nation in the interest of legal marriage and the stigma itself have
been responsible for attempts on the part o f the mother and others to
conceal the facts. The experience of most workers is that the mother
fears to face the community with the truth and that her family is
usually anxious to conceal the truth by providing for the child among
persons to whom his parentage is not known.
Throughout the histories ran the story o f deception. It was prac­
ticed by the parents of the child, by other relatives, and by the agency
workers themselves. It was the policy of a few organizations to
refuse to cooperate with mothers in their assumption of the status of
legitimate mothers. The ethical problems presented in case work
with unmarried mothers are very grave, and they are fraught with
3 Standards of Legal Protection for Children Born Out of W edlock; a report of regional
conferences held under the auspices of the U. S. Children’s Bureau and the Inter-City
Conference on Illegitimacy, pp. 15, 19. U. S. Children’ s Bureau Publication No. 77.
Washington, 1921.
4 Ibid., p. 99.
6 Ibid., p. 27.

1112- 28-

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



perplexing difficulties on every hand. Social workers often honestly
desire to refrain from cooperation in these deceptions, yet they feel
powerless to direct the mothers in a wiser course. To say that in
order to be successful and enduring relationships must be established
on a basis o f truth is one thing, but to go so far as to assume respon­
sibility for engineering the lives of human beings toward this end is
a different matter. The conscientious social worker who seriously
contemplates the position o f the mother and the child will usually
hesitate to go further than to advise—perhaps insist on—honesty in
intimate relationships, such as with close relatives, families who em­
ploy the mothers in their homes, and prospective husbands.
There is a difference of opinion among social workers and other
persons as to their obligations to the public and to those directly in­
volved—the mother, her child, and her family—in the matter o f con­
cealing the true status o f the mother and the child. As a means o f
ascertaining the extent to which organizations that assist unmarried
mothers deem it expedient to help them with plans for concealment,
an effort was made to learn the practice in the organizations cooperat­
ing in this study.
Representatives o f 19 o f the 26 organizations which gave informa­
tion on this point stated that they would cooperate with a mother by
recognizing her as a legal mother if she chose to assume that status.
Two o f these 19 persons were court workers. One spoke only for
herself, the court having no policy on this point, and the other stated
that the policy o f the court was to advise mothers to admit their true
status but that the workers addressed the mother as “ Mrs.” when she
insisted on this. One worker stated that her agency was decidedly
opposed to such subterfuges and yielded only when a mother was
insistent. It was noted that almost all these workers felt that the
truth should be told to employers, immediate relatives (in most in­
stances), and prospective husbands. The policy o f one organization
was to suggest to mothers that they assume a legal status for their
protection and that o f their children. Representatives o f six organi­
zations would not assist in any plan for deception; they insisted that
each mother with whom they dealt live the truth, and they refused
to cooperate in any other plan. One o f the workers in this group
stated h'er own position only, as the organization that she repre­
sented (a court) had no policy on this point.
The statement by the worker in charge o f one o f these organiza­
tions, that it refused to cooperate in any plan for deception, was con­
tradicted by a statement given in one o f the case histories supplied
by this organization. According to the history, the status o f the
child and the mother, both o f whom had lived for some years in this
institution (the mother being employed there), was not known, either
in the community or at the school attended by the child. The in­
ference was that this mother had assumed the status o f a legal mother
to conceal the facts regarding the status o f her child and that the
institution had cooperated with her.
The following quotations from the statements o f some o f the
workers are significant:
You will see that we pursue the via media.
F ir s t: W e put pressure upon the girl to acknowledge her condition to those
people immediately concerned with, h e r ; i. e., parents, or, if she is planning to
marry, the man himself.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Second : W e do not put pressure on her to call herself wife or widow, but
we do cooperate with the concealment by addressing her as “ Mrs.” when writ­
ing or in other ways where we feel that a knowledge of her true station would
expose her to aggression on the part of the community.
I realize fully that this compromise may retard the education of the public
at large and so share in the evils of the old-fashioned policy of concealment, but
at the same time I feel that the girl is by public opinion placed at such a disad­
vantage in her upward struggle that she deserves some privileged treatment
for her protection.
W hilst consenting to this, however, we really do try to get over to the girls
the essentials of the square deal, both with relatives and with the prospective
husbands, and the paramount importance of facing close relationships on an
honest basis.
Many times we have found that the girls have assumed on their own respon­
sibility the title of “ Mrs.” and wear a wedding ring, giving as a reason to us
that they find it protects them and saves many questions. I f a girl wishes to
do this we do not object, but we do insist upon the truth existing between her
and the employer, or her own family with whom she is intimately connected.
W e do not address our mothers as Mrs. on their mail, unless they have been
known in the community as Mrs. and have found occupation independently of
this office.
I f a girl works without her child she almost never assumes the title of “ M rs.”
In many instances we have permitted the girls to find their own positions, and
we have not told of the existence of boarded children to employers with whom
we felt sure it would make a difference in the girls’ status. W e believe in the
truth and in facing the facts. These are general policies, but every case must
be decided according to the individual mother’s circumstances. It is very ev i­
dent to us that if girls live constantly under a falsehood it is very definitely
weakening to their character, in that they are constantly falsifying their whole
life ; therefore, for those who are intimately connected with the girls, as in
their own families or at work, we demand that the truth be given; to the casual
neighbor or visitor we do not consider it necessary to explain a girl’s situation.

I approve of the girls putting “ Mrs.” to their own names but never taking
an alias. In getting them positions I either give the impression that they have
been deserted or the husband is dead, giving the same impression in the homes
where the girls board. I have tried letting them go under their true colors
and have found that the landlady or superintendent over them in the factories
or stores has sooner or later referred to this in a way which has hurt the
girl’s self-respect.

One worker stated that she had been concerned as to the proper
course for her to pursue in this matter. After much consideration
and consultation with persons who were, she felt, competent to advise
her, she decided that it was proper for her to cooperate with a
mother who assumed the status o f a legal mother. In addition to
the protection afforded the mother and the child this worker was
actuated in her decision as to her policy by her feeling that she was
obligated to refrain from giving information about persons which
in her judgment might cause injury to them.
In contrast to these points o f view is that o f the superintendent
o f a maternity home whose policy was to insist that mothers face
the world with the truth. Here the policy was to address all the
mothers as “ M iss” while they were in the home and afterwards.
This worker has followed up the cases of a number o f children who
have gone to the public school while living in the institution, as
well as after discharge, and is emphatic in stating that none o f them
has ever been discriminated against. In general, the experience of
this worker has been that only good results have come from the
policy o f open admission of the true status o f the mother and child.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Dr. Richard C. Cabot, in discussing the obligation of the social
worker to base his dealings and relationships on the truth and not
on falsehood, has referred to the policy of cooperating with unmar­
ried mothers in deceiving the public in regard to their status. He
says: “ But so far as we take any part at all we are bound to deal
fairly with the public and not actively to assist in foisting a lie
upon it.” 6
It will readily be seen that the motive of these workers was chiefly
a desire to help their charges. That their policies were inspired by
a conscientious consideration o f the problem can not be doubted. Is
the experience of the majority to be taken as an indication that the
treatment accorded the child of known illegitimate birth is such as
to necessitate concealment o f illegitimacy ? Are these subterfuges ac­
tually necessary to insure the child and his mother a place in the
community ? Many persons appear to think they are. On the other
hand, there is the experience of those workers whose policy has been
to insist that these mothers live the truth, and workers in this group
frequently point to successful results of their policies.
It appears that the matter resolves itself into a question o f the
personal approach to the mother and the care taken to insure that
she and her child have a protected position in the community in
which they begin their ordeal of reinstatement in society.
Since the observation o f a considerable number of workers in the
field of social help for unmarried mothers and their children is that
the need for relief is pressing, it is to be expected that these workers
would utilize all practicable means of providing financial help for
their charges. Foremost among the potential sources o f support
is the father o f the child. Adequate provision for maintenance
has an important bearing on the child’s opportunity for a perma­
nent home with his own people. A number of mothers who had
received no help from their families had asked assistance in pro­
viding for institutional and foster-home care because they could not
pay for boarding care without help.
As the maternity home as a rule had contact with the mother
either before or very soon after the birth o f her child one would
naturally expect that these agencies would make a uniform practice
o f endeavoring to establish paternity, either through their own
efforts or through close cooperation with other agencies equipped to
do this. Only 6 of the 14 maternity homes from which histories
were obtained followed a definite routine in attempting to fix
paternal responsibility. Five o f the 6 child-caring agencies and 6
other agencies—courts, public relief agencies, and family-welfare
agencies—undertook as a matter of routine to establish paternity.
The one protective agency cooperating had no routine method of
One maternity home made absolutely no effort to fix paternity; it
was significant that this organization reported a high proportion of
6 Cabot, Richard C., M. D. : “ Veracity in social work.”
15, 1924), pp. 67-67, 113-117.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Survey, vol. 52, no. 2 (Apr.



cases in which babies were surrendered for placement by their mothers
soon after birth (during the year immediately preceding the year of
the study, 25 babies were surrendered out of 75 cared for). Nine
organizations had considerable limitations in their plans for attempt­
ing to fix paternal responsibility. In one of these this effort was
limited to bringing about marriage if it was desired by both the girl
and the man and if it gave promise of being permanent. One
organization made a rule of sending for the man to come to its office
to confer on the matter; if this did not bring results the effort was
dropped. The superintendent of one maternity home endeavored to
ascertain whether the alleged father was in the city, and if he was she
tried to induce the mother to initiate court proceedings to compel him
to support the child. This worker had a conviction that to proceed
otherwise would induce failure, as she was sure that in all such cases
the men would leave the State if privately approached. Five organi­
zations left the question to the mother, following whatever plan she
chose—whether private approach to the man, court procedure, or
effort to arrange marriage. One organization did not go quite so
far in complying with the mother’s wishes; but if she asked that the
man .responsible for her child be communicated with, this was done,
and if she wished to have the case taken to court she was shown how
to proceed. Beyond these points this organization did not go because
it was the opinion of the management that to do so would tend to
foster the association between the girl and the man, in all probability
with disastrous moral consequences for the girl.
The influence of the organizations was probably an important
factor in many of the 86 cases in which paternal responsibility was
established, either by court action or by voluntary agreement.
Only a few of the histories of cases in which paternal responsi­
bility had not been established gave reasons why action for this pur­
pose was not taken. The reasons given are the same as those gen­
erally given by case-work agencies for their failure to fix paternal
responsibility in a greater number of cases than they d o : Insufficient
information given by the mother; absence of the man from the State
or lack of knowledge of his whereabouts; unwillingness of the mother
that the man be approached at all; sexual promiscuity or other con­
duct o f the mother that would preclude probability of establishing
paternity if action were taken.
Granted that the mother’s wishes should be given due consideration
in the matter of approaching the man it would seem that many
mothers unwilling to risk the embarrassment or the publicity of court
procedure might be persuaded to permit an interview with the alleged
father of the child at least. The gratifying results of suitable private
approach to the man in some of these cases, which are typical of the
experience of many case-work agencies, recommend the measure as an
essential step. Aside from the helpful results accomplished by the
establishing of paternity and the obtaining o f financial support for
the child, contact with the man is advisable from the standpoint of
the social investigations. An interview with the man named by a girl
as the father of her child has sometimes been most helpful in planning
for the future o f the mother and the child.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Earlier inquiry by the United States Children’s Bureau into this
matter o f effort to procure for the mother assistance from the father
o f her child has also revealed the fact that agencies and institutions
engaged in work for this group o f mothers and children are not avail­
ing themselves o f this resource so fully as is desirable.7
Comparison o f the histories supplied by two case-work agencies that
were organized at about the same time and that apparently had similar
standards and policies disclosed great difference in the information
recorded concerning the fathers. In 19 o f the 26 histories contributed
by one o f these agencies there was information from which some idea
could be formed o f the man’s general character, his ability to sup­
port the child, and the possibility o f legal establishment o f paternity.
Three o f the 7 histories that gave no information stated the reason
why it was lacking. In none o f the 16 histories obtained from the
other agency was the information on the father o f the child at all
complete. Only 1 history contained fairly adequate information ; 7
contained very little information ; and 8, none. The difference in the
kind o f records kept by the two organizations can be explained only
on the ground that more intensive effort was made in the first agency
than in the second one.
In 35 per cent of the total number o f histories information in
regard to the fathers was completely lacking, and in many more it
was very limited. IIow is the meager information on the fathers o f
these children to be interpreted? Does it indicate an utter lack o f
appreciation, on the part o f many organizations working for unmar­
ried mothers and their children, of the importance o f information
about the father in making plans for the child’s future ? Considered
from the standpoint o f case work the omission is not understandable
except among certain older organizations, whose motive has always
been moral reclamation o f the mothers and whose workers have had
a sincere conviction that their aims would be accomplished best by
discouraging any association between the girl and the man involved
with her. For this reason these workers have tried to avoid any
reference to the man while the girl was in their care.
Although some unmarried mothers who come to social agencies for
assistance need definite supervision for considerable periods o f time
after discharge from actual care, many need only the friendly rela­
tion that gives the mother the assurance that she may turn to the
organization for direction and help.
Thirteen organizations, including 5 maternity homes, continued
contact until they felt that the mother and her child had completed
their adjustment in the community; 1 (a child-placing agency) con­
tinued contact indefinitely; 8 (maternity homes) maintained in7 ^legitimacy as a Child-Welfare Problem.— Part 2. A study of Original Records in the
City of Boston and m the State of Massachusetts. Part 3. Methods of Care in Selected
Urban and Rural Communities. U. S. Children’s Bureau Publications Nos. 75 and 128
Washington, 1921 and 1924.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



formal contact though they lacked definite plan and equipment for
this service; 3 (juvenile courts) supervised the case only as long as
the mother and child were being dealt with by the court; 1 (the
children’s division o f a State department) gave no after-care super­
vision ; and 1 (a maternity home) made no effort to keep in touch with
the mother or child, apparently failing to appreciate the necessity
for such effort.
The unmarried mother who plans to keep her child with her with­
out moving to a new place is confronted with a difficult task in
making adjustments to her community. The various circumstances
that affect her interests in matters o f employment and residence
require that in most cases she have further assistance from the organi­
zation that has sheltered her immediately before and after the birth
o f the child. Although many o f the maternity homes maintained only
an informal friendly relation it is safe to assume that this contact,
indicating as it does the helpful spirit o f the organizations, has been
the means of assisting some o f the mothers over crises in the ordeal
o f fitting themselves and their children into their communities.
Those organizations whose policies indicated an appreciation o f the
future needs of the mothers and their children were found to have
provided for continuing contact with them by means that insured
their protection, with due consideration for the delicacy of the task.
The success of the method depended on the worker’s willingness to
interpret the service to the mother in terms of sympathetic help,
rather than a,s an effort to control her life. A few organizations had
aftercare workers who undertook this continuing contact as their
definite task. By gradually becoming acquainted with the mother
during the time when the organization was caring for her one of these
aftercare workers would take over the case from the original worker
without the mother’s being aware o f the transition.
Undoubtedly the failure of some organizations to keep in touch
with children who have come under their care, as shown by the small
number o f histories o f children that were obtainable from them, was
sometimes due to respect for the desire o f the mother and her family
that as a means o f protecting the privacy of their plans for the child
association with the organization be ended as soon as possible. There
are cases in which workers are unable to continue contact with the
mother because o f her attitude. Such cases, however, are rare with
those organizations whose work is o f high standard. The lack of
information on the fate o f many children whom the agencies and
institutions had assisted appeared to be due chiefly to changes in the
personnel of the organizations. The difficulty in attempting to
have after-care work done by a staff o f changing workers is easily
apparent. Whenever one worker had remained with an organization
through a long period o f years it was found that a considerable
proportion o f the cases were known to the agency, and it was by such
workers that the greater number o f the histories studied in this
report were supplied.
Althqugh much that is done by private and public agencies in the
field o f social service can not be measured in terms of actual results,
it is evident that a considerable portion of their work can be so meas-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ured. Organizations that render assistance to the unmarried mother
and her child in accordance with advanced standards are providing
definitely for continuing contact, which serves the double purpose of
furnishing advice and assistance to the mothers and o f preserving the
record o f service rendered. This record, continuing through the life
o f the children, will show oftentimes the wisdom or unwisdom of the
plans formulated for them by the organizations. Some o f the older
organizations, as has been shown, were able to provide definite infor­
mation on the children years after rendering service to them. This
contribution has served to point the way to newer organizations.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Although only a small proportion of the children were permanently
adjusted by the first plan made with the assistance of the organiza­
tion caring for them, this first plan is worth studying, as it shows
the means by which the mothers were enabled to retain the custody
o f their children. O f the children who had been adjusted success­
fully by the first plan the majority had been kept with their mothers.
The plans made for the 61 children who were beyond their infancy
when referred to the organizations are considered, as secondary plans,
rather than original ones.
Study o f the first plans for the 192 children who were infants
when they were referred to the organizations shows the variety of
arrangements that were necessary to meet the needs o f these children
and their mothers. Although certain types o f homes were used more
generally in some cities than in others, it was apparent from the
records that more or less individual treatment was given, accord­
ing to the particular needs o f the case.
The most significant placements were those of the 44 children
provided for either with or without their mothers in the homes o f
grandparents or other relatives, where they shared the family life.
Three other children were provided for in homes maintained by the
mother alone or by the mother and father, who married soon after
the child’s birth. Fifty-three children were placed first in family
homes where the mothers did housework. The advantages of this
arrangement, which enables the mother to be self-supporting and to
nurse her baby, have led many social workers to use this plan rather
generally for unmarried mothers. Forty-eight children were
boarded first in family homes. A large majority of them were
boarded without their mothers, the mother either taking a position
at domestic service elsewhere or returning to her parents’ home,
where for various reasons it was not possible for her to have the
baby with her. In most o f the cases in which mothers and babies
were boarded together the mother returned to the kind of employ­
ment that she had had before pregnancy and the boarding mother
cared for the baby while the mother was at work. Some o f the
mothers paid in full for the child’s board, others paid part of it, the
agency helping either by obtaining a reduction o f rates to an amount
the mother could afford to pay or by paying part o f the board itself.
Thirty-eight children were cared for in institutions, mostly mater­
nity homes, where the children stayed either with or without their
mothers. For most of these children the mothers paid full or par­
tial board; in only a few instances was the entire expense met by the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



institution. One child was placed in a free foster home but was
later returned to his mother. The original arrangements for placing
the remaining five children were not reported.

For some o f the children included in the study successive changes
in living arrangements over a period o f years ended with the mother’s
marriage or with the acceptance o f the child by relatives. These two
arrangements, milestones in the life o f a mother and her child, were
often found to mark the ending o f temporary arrangements and the
beginning o f a settled plan o f care. The stabilizing influence that
these arrangements exerted proved them to be a desirable outcome
for most o f these children.
The very fact that a considerable proportion o f the children con­
sidered in this study had to be provided for in homes away from their
relatives after discharge from actual care by the organizations that
assisted their mothers during pregnancy and afterwards indicates
the shifting from place to place which is characteristic of the type
o f care given to many children o f illegitimate birth. While no
authoritative data are at hand for comparison o f the changing
environment o f this group o f children with that o f any other com­
parable group o f children in need o f special care, the question arises
whether on the whole children born out of wedlock who are under
the supervision o f the best type o f social agencies really are subjected
to a changing environment to a greater degree than dependent, neg­
lected, and delinquent children in general who are under similar
Although some of the children were moved only in order to go to
the mother’s home when she married or to go to the home o f rela­
tives who had decided to accept them, a large proportion o f the
children were moved from one type o f home to another or from
one home to another o f the same type because the earlier arrange­
ment was not satisfactory. For some children several changes were
necessary before a more or less permanent adjustment was made for
them in an institution, in a boarding home, or in the mother’s place
o f domestic employment. A few were constantly shifted around
from place to place until they became old enough to make their own
Information was obtained as to the number of placements of 186
of the 192 children who were under 2 years o f age at the time they
came to the attention o f the agency.
A relatively small proportion o f these 186 children (12 per cent)
were found to be well adjusted in the first placement made for them
by the organizations. Most of these children were either with rela­
tives who had taken them into their homes during very early in­
fancy or with their mothers, who had married. Approximately
three-fourths o f the children who had had only one placement were
from 8 to 10 years o f age, the remainder being from 11 to 14. A ll
of them had lived in the homes where they were placed for a sufficient
time to indicate that the plan was likely to be permanent.
A considerably larger proportion (85 per cent) o f the 186 chil­
dren were well adjusted by a second plan, one change being made
after the original arrangement. For more than half o f these chil
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



clren this change was caused by the marriage of the mothers. Some
o f the children in this group were accepted by relatives after a
period o f care in boarding homes or of living with their mothers in
domestic positions; others remained in boarding homes or were
transferred to institutions. More than half the children in this group
were from 8 to 10 years o f age at the time of the last information;
a slightly smaller group were from 11 to 17, and three children were
from 18 to 20.
Twenty-five per cent o f the 186 children appeared to be adjusted
with promise o f permanency by the third plan made for them. Here,
too, changes were caused by marriage o f the mother, acceptance of
the child by relatives, changing o f boarding home, or placement in
an institution. About one-third of these children were from 8 to
10 years o f age, and the same proportion were in each o f the other
two age groups— from 11 to 17 and 18 and over—the oldest being 30
years o f age.
Twenty-seven per cent o f the children were placed more than
three times. This group of cases included some in which it was
stated that the mother had been in Kseveral ” or “ many ” domestic
positions with the child or that the child had been in “ a number ” of
boarding homes. Nearly half o f these children were finally adjusted
by the marriage o f the mother. This group was about equally
divided as to age, nearly half being from 8 to 10, and half from 11
to 17. Three children were 18 and over, the oldest being 31 years
o f age.
Three o f the histories were remarkable on account o f the number
o f changes recorded: One history stated that the mother had had
10 domestic positions in 4 years, keeping the child with her; one,
that because o f the mother’s poor health the child had been boarded
in institutions or families while the mother was in hospitals, involv­
ing 14 changes in 7 years; one, that the mother had had 26 domestic
positions in 15 years, keeping the child with her.
It was evident that many o f the mothers sought advice and assist­
ance from the organizations in making new arrangements for their
children. Instances were noted in which children were changed
from one boarding home to another in an effort to improve the health
o f the child. Several children were moved because o f behavior diffi­
culties. In all probability the histories in which information con­
cerning changes in living arrangements was lacking included some
in which changes from home to home were made for the child with­
out the guidance essential to a wise choice o f plan. The dependence
o f some o f the mothers on the judgment o f others was apparent.
Some, actuated by a, desire to do the best possible for their children,
consulted the agency workers before making arrangements. There
were cases in which the child had been removed from the care o f his
mother through persuasion or by court order, but these were very
A number o f the children were grown at the time o f the last in­
formation, and nine had established their own homes. That some of
the children whose mothers had married were not in homes main­
tained by the mothers was due to various causes, such as unsuccessful
marriage, death o f the mother or stepfather, neglect by the mother,
or mental defect or delinquency o f the child.
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Because of the marriage of a large proportion of the mothers
(about 60 per cent) and the adjustment of many children into the
homes of relatives during the early years o f their lives, it is not
surprising to find that the great majority of the children included
in the study were known to their communities as legitimate children;
in only 13 of the histories was it specified that the child’s true status
was known to anyone except immediate relatives. In these few
cases the history stated that the child was treated kindly and that
he suffered no discrimination among other children.
The moral support of relatives and of other families with whom
unmarried mothers and their children find homes looms large as a
factor in the acceptance of these mothers and children into the life
of the community. Obviously the status o f the mother and her
child born out of wedlock has an important influence on the position
o f the child during his early life. Forty-two o f the children who
were under 2 years of age when first placed by an agency went with
their mothers to the homes of relatives and 2 were placed with rela­
tives without their mothers. It is probable that some deception was
practiced in keeping from neighbors and friends the truth in regard
to the status of many of these children; some of the families moved
into new neighborhoods, the child’s mother posed as a widow, or the
family represented the child as being adopted or as belonging to a
relative or friend living elsewhere. A few o f the mothers returned
to the homes of relatives soon after the birth of the children and
acknowledged their true status in the community.
Although certain mothers were willing to make sacrifices for their
children, even to the extent of cutting themselves off from their
families, in a much greater number of cases relatives were sympa­
thetic and cooperated with the mother in providing for the child.
The financial assistance given by relatives and their kindly interest
went far toward reestablishing the mother in her own self-respect.
A ll but six of the mothers were reported as being glad they had
accepted the responsibility for their children and had retained close
contact with them.
The following list summarizes the attitude of the mothers’ rela­
tives toward the children:
Number of
Total— — — ________________ — ------------------------------------------------ 253

Friendly throughout— — ----------------------- — L------------------- — --------Child received into home at once ,-------------------- ~J|---------Child received into home later---------------- :— ----------------- jju
Child not received into home—
------------------- -— — -----Friendly at first, unfriendly la ter; child received into home
at once___— — _ -----------1
-------u_—•--------------------------------------Unfriendly at first, friendly later--------.---------------Child received into home later_---------------------------------------Child not received into home----------.------------------------ -----------Unfriendly throughout; child not received into home-----------No contact with child------------------------ »- j------------ iiSll-J--------------Not reported-______ ___j---------— i ------------ >------------------- -------------1 Includes children whose mothers’ relatives were not in the United States.
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The practice of deception in regard to the child’s status was not
confined entirely to the cases o f children who went to live with rela­
tives. Some children were placed at board, their mothers returning
to the homes o f their parents. The records afford little information
concerning the status o f such a mother in the home where the child
was boarded. What did the child surmise about the home o f his
mother and about the reason why he did not live with her as did
other children? Is it possible to deceive a boy or girl for any
length o f time with scant mention of a supposedly dead or deserting
father ? Justice to the child requires that his demand for knowledge
of his parentage be met with information that will satisfy him.
Increasing interest in the men involved in cases of illegitimate
births is characteristic o f organizations caring for unmarried
mothers and their children in accordance with modern standards.
In many cases it is probable that the father’s family did not know
of the existence of the child. It is quite conceivable that this is
the situation with regard to many children born out o f wedlock.
In only 12 cases was it stated definitely that there was any contact
between the child and the father’s family. In 6 of these cases the
contact was due to relationship between the mother and the father,
the father o f the child being the mother’s own father, brother,
brother-in-law, or other family connection.
Only 18 children were reported as being aware of their illegitimate
birth (doubtless the information o f the social agency was incomplete
on this point in many cases). The reactions of these children to
the knowledge o f the circumstances of their birth differed. On 9
the knowledge did not appear to have a harmful effect. On 3 the
effect was bad at first, but their feeling later changed, and they
adopted a normal attitude toward life with an affectionate relation
to those with whom they were living. One girl appeared to be
indifferent at first but later became immoral, possibly as a result o f
emotional stress caused by learning o f her illegitimate birth; on 2
other children also the effect was bad. Three histories did not show
the effect o f this knowledge on the child.
Most o f these children learned o f their illegitimate birth when
they were between 12 and 15 years of age, and in some cases this
information came later. Those who learned the facts about their
birth during the earlier years seemed to be affected less by the
revelation than those to whom the knowledge came later.

The records show that comparatively few of the mothers were able
to support their children unaided. Various types o f assistance were
given by the organizations in addition to maternity care. Arrange­
ments were made for the care of children in institutions either with
or without their mothers; some of these children remained in the
institutions for extended periods at little or no expense to the mothers.
Boarding homes were provided in which the children were cared
for at the expense o f the agency or at such rates as the mothers were
able to pay. Agencies frequently helped mothers to obtain employ­
ment, especially in domestic service, with families where they kept
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their babies with them. Assistance was given in getting help from
relatives or from the fathers of the children. In many cases the
marriage o f the mother helped to solve the problem of the child’s
support. Although about two-thirds of the mothers married and the
husbands o f most of them assumed responsibility for the child, very
few of the marriages occurred during the child’s infancy. Then, too,
some o f the children whose mothers married did not go to the home
o f the mother and stepfather immediately, and a few never did.

Although the importance o f requiring the father to contribute to
the support o f his child born out o f wedlock is generally recognized,
in many cases no effort was made by the agencies to obtain this type
o f assistance. Reference has been made to the fact that some o f the
agencies cooperating in this study failed to assume any responsibility
in connection with obtaining support from the fathers. Only 86
men—the fathers of 90 of the 253 children—were ordered to con­
tribute to the support of their children or assumed voluntarily the
obligation to do so.
Responsibility was fixed on 33 of these fathers through court
action, 30 o f them agreed voluntarily to contribute to the child’s sup­
port, and 23 married the mothers.
Many o f the histories indicated that the men had little sense o f re­
sponsibility in connection with their payments. Those who entered
into voluntary agreements met their obligations more regularly than
those who had been placed under court order; some o f these men did
this in order to avoid publicity or to protect their reputations. Only
19 o f the 63 fathers who were ordered to pay or who agreed to pay
without marrying the mothers met their obligations satisfactorily
or fairly well; 44 did not. Thirteen of these 44 fathers made cash
settlements at one time, 1 o f whom paid confinement expenses only.
Fifteen made periodical payments for a short time or irregularly.
Twelve failed to pay anything; 5 o f these were unable to pay be­
cause o f imprisonment, 1 was imprisoned because of his failure to
pay. No information was obtained as to whether the other 4 met
their obligations.
The amount that the court ordered the men to pay depended some­
what on their circumstances, consideration being given to the obliga­
tions o f married men to their families. The amounts ordered and the
period o f time for which the orders were effective varied in accord­
ance with the statutory provisions in the different States. The
amounts ranged from $2.50 a month to $4 a week, but few o f the
orders provided for a sum approaching the maximum. For the
majority o f the fathers the orders ranged from $1 to $2 a week, or the
equivalent in monthly payments. In one case a cash settlement o f
$125 was made. There were two cases—both reported by the same
agency—in which $2.50 a month was ordered, the small amount being
due to a statutory provision that fixed the sum in such cases. How­
ever, the law in the State concerned was changed some years ago.
O f the 27 fathers for whom the amount ordered by the court was
reported all but 4 were ordered to pay weekly or monthly. In one
court case the order of $1.25 a week was faithfully paid to the end
o f the time set, 16 years.
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In a large majority of the 30 cases in which the father assumed
some responsibility for the support o f the child without court order
his action was brought about through an appeal by the girl and her
family or by a social case worker. It seems clear that in a few in­
stances such an appeal was not made, the men voluntarily assuming
responsibility, presumably from a motive of self-protection.
Most o f the men who entered into private agreements adjusted the
matter by paying a stated sum, varying from $50 to $500. Only
five settlements of more than $200 were reported—three of $300
and two o f $500. The largest amount reported in any continuing
arrangement was $25 a month. The original agreement had been
for $3 a week, which was increased several times; regular payments
had been made for more than 10 years. In one case o f a private
agreement the man paid the stipulated amount, $8 a month, regu­
larly for 12 years, the period of time provided by law in this State.
In another agreement the man paid the amount, $10 a month, with
regularity until his death, five years after he entered into the
agreement. An 18-year-old boy who entered into a private agree­
ment for $4 a month kept faithfully to its terms for the 12 years
A cash settlement was obtained in one case in which the mother
had “ two or three ” older children by different fathers; and in two
cases, in which the mother had an older child, the father o f the
second child married the mother, one of these fathers receiving
the older child into the home with his own child. One man who
had volunteered to make monthly payments continued his payments
regularly, even after the mother had a second child by another
Not all the histories in which settlements were recorded stated
that a definite plan for controlling expenditures had been made. It
seems essential that when settlements are accepted there should be
some arrangement by which the money is safeguarded for the child,
with supervision o f expenditures or a stated allowance drawn by
the mother at regular intervals.
Although privacy in making arrangements for support is highly
desirable, protection of the child’s rights is equally important. An
official record o f the transaction should always be made. In addi­
tion to the financial consideration, agreements for support should
contain admission of paternity. The social significance of this pro­
vision is in itself important to all persons concerned— the child, his
mother, and his father.
A t the time of the last information 42 of the 253 children were 18
years o f age or over; most o f these were self-supporting, married,
or living in their parental homes. It was evident in the histories
that these young people were capable of supporting themselves
and required no more supervision or assistance than any other
young people of the same ages. For 121 o f the 211 children under
18 the future promised at least a fundamental education; and for a
considerable proportion of them further advantages were expected,
including training to equip them for suitable employment. It was
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stated in some o f the histories that the child was to have training for
a profession. The outlook for the future o f 21 children was un­
certain. For only 23 children were the prospects sufficiently unfavor­
able to warrant the expectation that the child would not be equipped
for self-support and that he might possibly become dependent upon
the public. Mental defect o f the child or of his mother was responsible
for the unfavorable outlook for a few children. It was found neces­
sary to remove some children from their relatives because they were
not properly cared for, and the future of others was being
jeopardized by their false positions in homes in which they were
It Avas n ot possible to hazard a forecast o f the fu tu re fo r 46 ch il­
dren, either because their histories did n ot g iv e sufficient in form ation
about the relatives to m ake it possible to ju d g e whether th ey m ig h t be
relied u pon to protect the ch ild or because the status o f the ch ild was
such as to indicate the pro b ab ility o f som e change before lon g.

The following case stories are presented not necessarily as ex­
amples o f excellent work by social agencies but merely as examples
o f what has been done by certain agencies in dealing with unmarried
mothers and their children. It will be noted in the plan for pre­
paring this material (p. 103) that the aim was not merely to collect
cases in which the results had been successful but to give a crosssection of the case work done by the agencies cooperating in the
study. In the main the 253 stories show good case work by the
agencies and a successful outcome for the child. In preparing these
stories names have been changed, and any other points that might
lead to identification of the children or their parents have been

The marriage of the mother either to the child’s father or to some
other man was the most important influence in the lives o f many
children. One hundred and forty-three of the two hundred and
forty-one mothers were married after the birth o f the child. These
marriages even in cases where normal family life did not persist
gave the mother the benefit of the status of a married woman and
assured the child’s acceptance as a member o f a family group.
Almost invariably if children were born of the marriage the child
o f illegitimate birth appeared to share equally with his half brothers
and sisters in the father’s affection and in the opportunities provided
for the children in the home.
Seventy-two o f the one hundred and forty-three mothers who mar­
ried did so before the children were 5 years o f age. As a rule these
marriages resulted more happily for the children than those con­
tracted later. A child who is not old enough to question why he
does not live with his mother, nor why his father is absent, nor why
he has no relatives becomes adjusted into a step-parental home with­
out any o f the bad results in after years that are the lot of an older
child who has lived in a foster home for several years and who is
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compell^/A to modify aill of his family relationships after the mar­
riage f 'l his mother.
O f/th e 143 who married, 13 married more than once; 1 married
¿ out times. Twenty-three o f the mothers married the fathers o f
their children. Four of these mothers were married twice, three
marrying another man after divorcing the father o f the child and
one marrying the father after the death of her first husband. In
addition to these 4 mothers who married another man as well as
the father, 120 mothers married other men, 9 marrying more than
Marriages' between the mother and the father of the child were
not usually so successful as marriages between the mother and an­
other man. Through remarriage after divorce or after the death o f
the husband these 143 mothers contracted 158 marriages—23 mar­
riages with the fathers o f the children and 135 marriages with other
men. Out o f 23 marriages of parents, 4 were broken off by divorce
and 1 by separation; and in one case a divorce was pending at the
time of the study. Out o f 135 marriages o f the mothers with other
men, 7 divorces and 8 2 separations were reported, the situation in
one family not being reported. The proportion o f marriages broken
through divorce, separation, and desertion was not large for the
group as a whole.
In addition to the families broken up by divorce or separation, a
number o f families were broken up by the death o f the father or
mother. A t the last information 16 parental homes and 103 stepparental homes were still being maintained. There were, however,
28 children o f illegitimate birth in these families who for some cause
were living elsewhere. In some cases this was due to some difficulty
o f the child with his parents or step-parent; in others' to physical or
mental handicap o f the child; in a few to successful adjustment pre­
viously in a foster home. In addition to these were several older
children who were married and maintaining their own homes or who
were working and boarding away from home.






Legitimation o f children born out o f wedlock by subsequent inter­
marriage o f their parents with acknowledgment o f the child by the
father has been provided for in all the States of the United States.3
The marriage o f parents does not always prove a satisfactory solu­
tion o f the problem of providing care for the child o f illegitimate
birth. Seven o f the 23 mothers (representing 28 children) married
after court action had been started to establish paternity or under
pressure o f a public department charged with the care o f the child.
Four of these seven marriages were characterized as successful; the
other three as unsuccessful, the mothers later divorcing the fathers.
Thirteen of the 16 marriages contracted voluntarily were successful.
The father’s attitude toward the child was favorable in all but four
marriages. In two of these the parents never lived together after
marriage, and in another there had always been much family fric2 Including two separations because of bigamous marriages. :
_ 3 Illegitimacy Laws of the United States and Certain Foreign Countries, by Ernst
Freund. U. S. Children’s Bureau Publication No. 42. Washington, 1919.

1112— 28------3
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tion. The last case was a very unusual situation. The parents did
not marry until the child was several years old, and the$\ never
acknowledged her as their own child. In several cases, o f which the
story o f James is given as an example, the father’s attitude toward
the child was kindly, but the mother was too unstable to assume entire
care, and the child was provided for in other types of home.
O f the 28 children whose parents intermarried the histories o f 6N
are given:
Sophie.— Sophie’s mother, Belinda, had been deaf and mute since
early childhood. During her pregnancy her parents asked the agency
for assistance in making some plan by which the girl and her coming
baby might be cared for away from home until they could decide
what to do. They hoped that some plan might be made whereby
mother and child could be kept together later:
It would have meant untold sacrifice for the family to bring the
unmarried mother and her child into the neighborhood, where they
were much respected. They had lived in the same house for many
years, and Belinda’s mother had been born there. A t the same time
the parents’ love for their child never wavered, and mother and
daughter wept together over the misfortune. The girl’s character
can be described best by quoting her mother, who said, “ She was
the joy and happiness o f our lives.” Her education had been received
at the State institution for the deaf, where she had been taught “ lip
speech.” It was difficult to understand her, though she was intelli­
gent and quick to grasp the conversation o f others. Her love for
the father o f her coming child governed her love for the child—she
had no thought of separation.
The father o f the child, a deaf-mute from birth, had worked at
the same place as the mother and had become acquainted with her
there. He had visited her home and had been welcomed by her
parents, and he had said they would be married. He was born in
another State, where his relatives still lived. He was well educated
but had not learned lip speech. He left the city after he was told
o f Belinda’s pregnancy.
A position as wet-nurse was found for Belinda in the hospital
where her baby, Sophie, was born. In the meantime pressure was
brought to bear on the prosecuting attorney’s office to bring the man
back to the city, and this action was taken finally. When the de­
tectives arrived in the city with their charge he was willing to marry
the girl, whom he said he had always loved. He wrote a letter to
Belinda, telling her that he was eager to right the wrong. Belinda
went home to her parents at once, and the young couple were married
the next day.
The family are now in their own home. The husband has an
excellent position as a machinist. The marriage is happy, and three
other children have been born. Sophie is now 8 years old. She
is normal in speech and hearing, and so are the other three children.
The outlook for her future is promising.
The agency had formal contact less than one year, but a friendly
relation has continued between the mother and a former worker.
James.—When this case was referred to the agency Etta was a girl
o f 16 with a baby boy, James, o f 9 months. After leaving the
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maternity home where the baby was born Etta had had two domestic
positions in succession, in both o f which she had worked for her
board only. In each o f these homes she had kept the baby with her,
the baby’s board being paid by .Etta’s mother, Mrs. W . Mrs. W.
was sympathetic and willing to do all in her power to help her
daughter. Her husband, however, was unsympathetic. Mrs. W .’s
sister and a cousin were willing to help but could do little financially.
Etta’s plan was to board her baby, to whom she was devoted, and to
learn a trade, as she disliked housework and as persons interested in
her felt that she was too bright and intelligent a girl to make it her
life work.
Etta herself was o f illegitimate birth, and she passed, even at the
time o f her application to the agency, as her mother’s younger
sister. Her mother had been married when Etta was 11 years old.
A t about that time Etta’s grandfather (her supposed father), fear­
ing that she might hear the story from an outside source, told her
that he was really her grandfather and that her supposed sister was
her mother. After this she never felt that she belonged to the family.
Later her grandfather’s home was broken up, and she went to live
with her mother. She felt that her stepfather, who knew about her
birth, disliked her; and she did not respect her mother, who she
felt should have acknowledged her. She continued to pass as her
mother’s sister.
Etta had been a bright, attractive child, rather spoiled. She
made a good record in the elementary school, and she entered high
school at the age o f 13. During her second year in high school
Etta had become pregnant by a boy who was an older pupil in the
same school and who came frequently to her home. Mrs. W. was
often away at clubs and lectures and gave her daughter much less
protection than a “ boy-crazy ” girl with a bad inheritance needed.
Etta had decided before her baby was born to keep it and acknowl­
edge it, as she felt that so many of her own troubles were due to her
mother’s attitude toward her.
The father o f the child was the son o f a prosperous saloon keeper.
His father was dead, and he and his brothers and sisters lived with
their widowed mother. At 19 he was in the third year o f high school
and was more prominent in football than in scholarship.
The young man acknowledged that he was the father o f the child;
but before court proceedings could be taken he disappeared, aided
by his own family who for financial and religious reasons objected to
his marrying Etta. When he married her three years later he had
never seen his child nor contributed to his support.
Shortly after the case was referred the agency assumed guardian­
ship o f both Etta and her child James and placed them together in a
foster home, Etta to do housework for both her own and the baby’s
board. Even then, however, she was interested in every man and boy
she met and had sex relations with them when there was an oppor­
tunity. She was separated for a time from the child, as she was
obliged to have two surgical operations. A fter this she studied
dressmaking, at which she was very successful. While she was learn­
ing dressmaking and working at it her baby was boarded in the
country with a Mrs. A. and Miss A., where Etta had been before with
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A young man having a family history of epilepsy and feeble-mind­
edness became interested in her, and even after his most undesirable
physical inheritance had been explained to Etta it was with difficulty
.that she was dissuaded from marrying him. When James was 3, Etta
went to a neighboring city and there renewed her intimacy with his
father. In a few weeks they were married, he being 23 and she 18
at the time. About this time a mental examination by a psychiatrist
showed her to be o f normal intelligence.
: Little was heard from them until about a year after the marriage,
when they returned to the vicinity o f their home city. The husband
worked steadily, earning good wages, and the couple lived in fur­
nished rooms. The agency continued to keep J ames until his parents
should establish a suitable home for him. The parents desired to have
him, and he was permitted to spend a holiday with them occasionally.
The father reimbursed the agency for the support of his child. The
couple continued to live together apparently amicably for about three
years, when Etta was brought into court on a charge of adultery.
She was put on six months’ probation. A t the end o f the hearing
she announced that she was suing her husband for divorce on the
ground of cruel and abusive treatment. He immediately filed a cross
bill for divorce on the ground of adultery. He began to take more
interest in the child, went to see him, and asked whether there was
anything that he could do for him. Six months later a divorce was
granted to the husband on the ground of desertion, the question of the
guardianship o f the child being left open. James remained mean­
while in his foster home with the A .’s. A fter some months the pater­
nal grandmother petitioned for the guardianship and was awarded it.
James has always been healthy, with an unusually good physical
and mental development. When he was 6 he was given a mental ex­
amination, and the examiner found that he was a child of superior
intelligence, with an intelligence quotient o f 121. Some of his excep­
tional development is doubtless due to the type o f foster home in
which he spent his early years. Miss A. had been trained in kinder­
garten and Montessori methods, and she taught the little boy at home
until he was 7, when he entered the third grade in a public school.
A t present James is living in his paternal grandmother’s home
and seems perfectly happy in his new environment. Etta’s mother
and Miss A. both visit him. His father does not live with him much
o f the time, but from the child’s report is again living with Etta,
who has a furnished room and is working. The little boy sees both
his father and'his mother frequently. He does not know that his
mother’s marriage was subsequent to his birth; and all his relations
with his father and mother, as well as with his grandparents, have
been that of a legitimate child, as are also his social relations outside
the family. He will be given a good education and will be fitted for
business or professional life.
Etta, as she was legally married to her child’s father, has a pro­
tected status. She is very fond of her child and would not give him
up but is too unstable ever to assume the entire care and responsibility
o f rearing a child.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for eight
Sidney and Lillian.—Two children, Sidney and Lillian, of the
same father and mother are considered in this study. The mother,
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Laura, 18 years old, applied to the agency during the early month»,
o f the life of the first child, Sidney, for help in finding a home where?
she might live with him and work in a factory, as she had done before
the child was born.
; M r?
Laura had little education but considerable intelligence and ability.
She was living in a boarding house. Her father and a married sister
were living in the same city. She saw them occasionally, but appar­
ently there was no close bond between them. Her mother had died
when Laura was a small child, and the family had been held together
for a few years by the father and then had disintegrated. Laura had,
begun work at 15.
Charles, the father o f the baby, made his home with his parents,
respectable working people. He was a machinist and earned goodi
money. So far as could be learned he was the only man with whom
Laura had had much association, and it seems certain that she had not
had sexual relations with any one except him. For several years he
had been paying her attention, and they expected to marry. In a<
quarrel they had separated. After several months he had come to
her and told, her that he was responsible for the pregnancy o f another
girl but that he loved Laura and still wished to marry her. Laura
refused his advances and insisted that he marry the other girl for
whose coming child he was responsible. He did so. The child did
not come to term, and the couple did not live together.
There was no attempt on the part of either Laura or Charles to
conceal the fact they were very much in love with each other. In
a signed contract in which he acknowledged paternity he readily
agreed to support the baby and to make the payments through the .
Laura and the child, Sidney, were placed in a boarding home, and
Laura resumed her employment as a factory operative, at which she
made excellent wages. Though all possible persuasion was used by
the agency to induce her to break off the association with Charles,
and though he, too, was urged to see the injustice to Laura and to his
wife, they continued to meet. Charles was devoted to the baby, and
he visited the boarding home, but he promised the agency worker
that he would go there only in the mother’s absence.
When the baby, Sidney, was nearly 2 years old Laura disappeared.
The boarding mother insisted on keeping Sidney without compensa­
tion, saying that she had often promised his parents that he would
always have a home with her. Naturally it was supposed that she
was in the confidence of the parents and that they visited the child.
After several months Laura called at the agency office, looking far
from well. She evaded all queries as to where she was living. Sev­
eral weeks later the agency worker, in dealing with another case,
found her by accident in a miserable attic room, with a second baby,
Lillian. She had been living with Charles, who was drinking heavily
and working irregularly. Laura was supplementing their income by
doing part-time domestic work. The baby was being nursed and
was in excellent condition,
Laura was induced to leave this home and to stay for a while in
another of the agency’s boarding homes with the baby. When the
baby no longer required nursing Laura returned to the boarding
home and resumed factory work. She then went into domestic serv­
ice, keeping the baby with her. Charles had agreed willingly to
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support the second child by payments made through the agency, as
with the first child. He was very careless about his payments for the
children, and the mother seemed to be changing her attitude toward
Laura was a faithful mother. She would sew and do laundry
work until late at night after working all day, and she kept both
children well and attractively clothed. Sidney continued to live with
the boarding mother who had kept him from the first; but under no
circumstances would Laura relinquish her claim to him, and she vis­
ited him often. Her father and sister she seldom saw, and they
would not do anything for her unless she would give up the children.
Even though Sidney received free care from the first boarding
mother and though some little assistance was given by the agency,
the burden became too great for the mother, and she decided to make
their father responsible for their support, through court order.
Lillian was then nearly 2 years old and Sidney 4. Charles was
indicted and was ordered to pay $3 a week for each o f the two
About a year after this Laura met an older woman o f very bad
reputation, who introduced her to men o f means and education—
contacts that she had not had hitherto. She went out repeatedly
on parties with this woman and her friends and when Lillian was 3
years old gave birth to a third child. This matter came to the atten­
tion o f the agency through the attorney for the father o f the third
baby, whom the mother had had arrested. After a preliminary hear­
ing this man paid the mother $600, though he was unwilling to
admit that he was the father o f the child; he had borne other expenses
amounting to nearly $200. The man’s attorney had sought the serv­
ices o f the agency partly as a protection for his client and partly to
insure that the money paid would be used for the child.
The third child was placed in the boarding home with the mother
and Lillian. No one associated with the mother ever suggested
removing any of her children from her care.
A ll this time Laura had been living in the agency’s boarding
home. The boarding mother had not given the agency any hint of
Laura’s conduct, o f her long absences from home—late at night and
all day on Sundays. This kind o f conduct was new to her, as her
life had been entirely centered in her children. It was learned that
the man responsible for the third baby had frequently entertained
her, with the older woman and another man, in his parents’ home
while the family were out o f town for the summer.
Throughout these experiences the mother was extremely ashamed
of her conduct and apparently was grateful for the assistance of the
agency. The father of her third child had given her money for an
abortion, which she refused to have performed, saying that it was
a sin to take the life of an unborn child. She had kept the money
and used it for the new baby.
About a year after the court settlement regarding the third child
the entire case was transferred (except for a friendly interest on
the part o f the agency’s workers) to a court worker who handled
the money paid by Charles, the father of the first two children. This
worker was particularly interested ip the mother and had assisted
her in many ways, and she now asked to be permitted to take full
responsibility for the case.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The first agency had no further information until recently, when
inquiry revealed that the mother had lived with another man five
years ago and had given birth to twins. She had been seen by a psy­
chiatrist, who said that no formal mental examination was necessary,
as he believed her to be o f normal mentality. She brought the twins
to live in the boarding home with Lillian and the third child. A ll
this time Charles had paid, fairly regularly, for the support o f
Sidney and Lillian. The mother had drawn a fixed amount monthly
from the money belonging to the third child, and she and fpuc o f
her children continued to live in the boarding home, the third home
she had lived in. The boarding mother was o f excellent character ;
her home '.was comfortable, though none too well kept. She was
extremely kind, and she made a great effort to give the mother and
her children a real home. She was impressed by Layra s devotion
to her children and by the readiness with which she would make any
personal sacrifice for them. Sidney had remained with the first
boarding mother, according to the plan made years before.
Five years ago the wife o f Charles, the father of the first two
children, died; and two years later he married Laura. They left
Sidney in his foster home. The other four children are with Laura
in her husband’s home. The family appears to be happy. Charles
supports the household, and the children are well cared for by their
mother. The court worker is in close touch with the family ana
visits them, as a real friendship has been maintained between her and
the mother, who is friendly with the original agency worker also,
sending her messages from time to time. The three older children
have made normal progress in school; the twins are too young to
go to school.
. ....
The final report from the court worker says, “ The mother is still
very attractive. She dresses conservatively and keeps her children
well dressed. The children apparently know nothing o f their
mother’s [former] promiscuous life and are very happy in their
. . .
P n
The agency kept in contact with the case for five years con­
tinuously; then it was transferred to the court worker, who has main­
tained contact to the present time.
Alexander.— Alexander was born within 24 hours after his mother,
Constance, had entered a private maternity home, expecting to be
confined a month later. She gave the maternity-home worker a
wrong name and other misinformation about herself, wishing to con­
ceal her identity, as she felt disgraced by her illegitimate pregnancy.
She said that she had no near relatives living, but it was found later
that she had several, including two sisters who had stood by her
when they learned o f her trouble.
Constance was 20 years old. After finishing high school she had
taken a two-year course at the nurses’ training school o f a large
hospital in the city where she had always lived, and after graduation
she was employed in this hospital. About a year before her gradua­
tion her parents had died within a few weeks of each other. Her
father had been a laborer employed by the city.
The father of the child was a medical student, 25 years old, who was
serving as interne at the hospital where Constance was employed.
She was in love with him, but he cared nothing for her.
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Constance intended to keep the baby with her, and the agency,
whose policy it was to favor keeping mother and child together
whenever possible, assisted her in doing this.
A month after her confinement Constance took the baby, Alex­
ander, to the home of a friend who knew her circumstances. Mean­
while the agency was exerting its influence to bring about a marriage
between Constance and the father o f her child, and when the child
was 2 months old the marriage took place. The man had consented
to the marriage to legitimatize the child only on condition that he
would not be expected to live with the mother. From time to time
he contributed small sums o f money toward the child’s support, but
he showed no other interest ini him or the mother.
Soon after the marriage Constance found employment as a nurse
and went to Jive with her sister, placing Alexander in a boarding
home. Two years later she obtained a divorce, which was not
contested. *
For six years these arrangements continued. During these six
years Constance constantly regretted that she could not have her bov
with her. She wrote, “ It just kills me to go and see little Alexander.
I know he is getting the best o f care and is happy, but he is getting
away from me. Very soon I will mean no more to him than a
She finally took him to live with her and her sister; and
the boarding mother^ who loved the boy as though he were her own
son, was broken-hearted.
About this time Alexander became curious about his father and
asked many questions about him. Later he wrote letters to the
father, with the mother’s encouragement, but never received an
When Alexander was 8 years old Constance married again. Her
husband accepted the child, and the family o f three moved to another
section o f the country. It is not known whether the stepfather
adopted the child. Constance has always loved her boy, arid now
that her life is happier she is glad that she was able to keep him with
her. She supported herself and him throughout the eight years
before her second marriage.
The agency had about six years’ continuous contact with the case,
and one o f its ex-workers had informal contact for two years longer.
Benjamin.— Carrie, a foreign-born girl o f 23, the mother o f Ben­
jamin, was the daughter o f a couple who were in fairly comfortable
circumstances. They owned a grocery store and were well known in
the community. The girl was devoted to her parents, and she could
not bear to tell them of her pregnancy, so she applied for shelter to
a maternity home. In her native country Carrie had received an
elementary-school education. She was a good-natured girl, healthy
and intelligent, and she had a refined manner. She worked at the
millinery trade and was competent at it, and she also helped her
parents m the grocery store.
The father of the child had been a schoolmate of Carrie’s in their
native country, and a year after she came to the United States he
followed her here and went to live in her parents’ home. At that
time the man was not yet in a position to marry, as he was still an
apprentice at his trade, millinery, but the young couple were con­
sidered engaged by their friends and by the girl’s parents. Though
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Carrie had been very much in love with this man when they were in
Europe, she began to grow cold toward him after they came to this
A worker at the maternity home told Carrie’s parents that she was
being cared for at the home, and they went to see her and took a
kindly attitude toward her. Carrie had planned to keep the baby
but not to marry the man. However, her parents were anxious that
she should be reinstated in the community, and accordingly she con­
sented to marry the man. The marriage took place when the baby,
Benjamin, was 5 months old.
Carrie and her husband and baby went to live with Carrie’s
parents, as the husband was not earning enough money to enable
them to start a home of their own. They remained there several
years, but they were not happy together. The older couple were
kind to them, but Carrie did not love her husband; and although he
loved her he was quarrelsome.
During these years they had saved enough money to buy a grocery
store o f their own, and they left the child’s grandparents and set up
housekeeping. Carrie helped her husband in the store. Working
together seemed to accentuate the incompatibility of the couple, and
they quarreled a good deal.
After about seven years o f married life Carrie and her husband
separated, and she and Benjamin went back to live with her parents,
who are devoted to them. This arrangement has continued for about
two and one-half years. Carrie is doing well financially as agent for
a sewing-machine company, and she is highly respected in her
The husband, who had gone to live in another city when the home
was broken up, has returned to the city where Carrie lives. He is
still fond o f her, but she is against a reconciliation, for she believes
that it is impossible for them to live harmoniously. The fact that
she has such a good home with her parents undoubtedly contributes
to her attitude.
The father sees Benjamin occasionally. The boy is now 10 years old
and is in the second half of the fourth grade at school. He attends
religious-instruction classes after day-school hours and also takes
violin lessons. Carrie and her parents are devoted to Benjamin and
plan to give him a college education.
The agency had contact for 10 years intermittently.


One hundred and twenty-three mothers, representing 128 children,
married men other than the fathers of their children, and 3 of these
mothers married both the fathers and other men. On the whole the
majority o f these marriages might be characterized as successful.
Only three of the histories definitely stated that the stepfather o f the
child knew nothing about the child’s parentage. The basic under­
standing o f the truth between the mother and the stepfather in most
o f the marriages was probably one o f the reasons for the happy rela­
tionship o f the stepfather and the child.
In only 20 o f the 123 cases in which the mother had married a man
other than the father o f her child was the step-parental home not
being maintained, and in a number o f instances where the child was
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not living in the home the relationship o f the child and the stepfather
was a happy one. A child who is not taken into the mother’s home
at the beginning o f her married life or who for several years has
lived in a relative’s home or foster home rarely attains a strong feel­
ing of family unity or security even though thei stepfather may be
Although some o f these children did not live in their mothers’
homes continuously, and others were not satisfactorily adjusted in
their stepfathers’ homes, the majority o f them were afforded the bene­
fits o f a family home and normal adjustment in the community by the
marriage o f the mothers.
Many o f the stepfathers accepted the children into their homes, and
some o f them gave the children the added assurance o f permanence
in their family relationship by adopting them. Fourteen of the 128
children whose mothers married men other than the fathers o f the
children were legally adopted by their stepfathers. Three other step­
fathers who had been married to the mothers o f the children only a
few years when the histories were written were planning, as was
Dick’s stepfather (p. 38), to adopt the children legally. When legal
adoption occurred it was usually on the suggestion of the men them­
selves and for the protection o f the children, although the story of
George (p. 59) indicates that in this case at least there existed another
less altruistic motive.
Effect of early and o f late, marriage of mothers.

The early adjustment o f the child when the mother marries dur­
ing the early years o f the child’s life is illustrated by the story of
Emily. The case of Nina (p. 39) suggests some o f the misgivings
that a mother has who undertakes to bring into the step-parental
home a child who has been left in a boarding home for many years.
Em ily.— Emily’s mother, Nathalie, 17 years old, had been referred
to the agency during pregnancy by a maternity home. She was
entirely without funds. Her immediate needs were met by the ma­
ternity home, where she was not required to pay any of her expenses.
Her mother was able to give a little assistance by providing a few
articles for the girl and some clothing for the coming baby. A t that
time the girl’s plan was to give up her baby for adoption at birth or
as soon thereafter as possible. Her mother approved o f this plan.
Nathalie was one of a family of four children that had been sepa­
rated in early childhood when their father divorced their mother,
charging her with unfaithfulness. The court had given the father
the custody of the one son and two o f the daughters, leaving to the
mother one daughter who was an imbecile and unable to walk. After
several years the three children who were in the father’s custody
were taken from him on account o f neglect and were placed in family
homes, one o f them, Nathalie, in the home o f a married cousin, who
was addicted to the use of drugs and whose grown son was feeble­
At an early age Nathalie had been employed in a cheap candy
shop at low wages. , She had spent very little time in school, but her
father, a well-educated man, had taken her and her sister from place
to place with him on his journeys as a civil engineer and he had
taught them to some extent. Although Nathalie lacked formal edu
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cation, she had excellent command o f English and had read consid­
erably and she wrote a fair letter in good handwriting. She seemed
unusually intelligent; no mental examination was made. After she
had been placed in the cousin’s home she had come into contact with
her mother.
There was no information as to the father o f the child. It seemed
clear that the feeble-minded cousin was not the father, though
Nathalie’s mother thought he was.
Breast feeding was insisted on in the hospital where Emily was
born and also in the maternity home where the mother and baby
went for after-care. This probably influenced the girl to keep her
Considerable time was required to prepare Nathalie to take a posi­
tion with her baby. She decided to go into a family home, at least
while nursing the baby. A home in a large town was selected, the
family consisting o f a man and his wife. The wife wanted a com­
panion and Nathalie’s refinement and attractiveness made a strong
appeal to her. The girl was happy in this household; but it became
necessary for business reasons for the family to leave this location
and they moved to the country. When they had been living in the
new home a short time the worker from the agency visited Nathalie
and her child. Both were in excellent physical condition and the
relation between them and the family was all that could be desired.
However, the loneliness o f the situation, together with other features,
decided the worker to suggest a change, which was soon made.
The mother and child returned to the city and were placed in a
boarding home with a Mrs. Roe. The baby had been weaned by this
time and so a new type o f occupation was sought for the mother.
A position as attendant in the reception room o f a large corporation
was obtained for Nathalie at a salary ample to provide for her and
the baby. Her contacts at this place were desirable. With a little
help, made possible by the manager o f the business, Nathalie soon
learned to fill the position creditably. She accepted responsibility
well and her development was gratifying. Her true status was
known to her employer and to the Roes. With all others Nathalie
assumed the status o f a widow.
After two years in this position, living a normal home life with
the Roes and associating with her mother and her brother (he had
been located by the agency after a separation of some years), Nathalie
married the son o f the boarding mother, Richard Roe, an unsettled
youth earning a small salary. Emily was then nearly 3 years old.
Five children have been born o f this marriage. The house has
not been kept well, and the family has moved frequently. Nathalie
has shown poor judgment in expending money for attractive but
unnecessary furniture. Several times she has bought expensive
articles on the installment plan, only to lose them after a considerable
sum had been paid because she could not meet the payments. This
same experience was undergone in the attempted purchase o f a house.
Nathalie’s mother, who has married again, has been a steadying
influence on the family, a source o f strength and o f financial help,
though her means are limited. Assistance has been given also by the
husband’s mother. Relief has been given several times by a social
agency. Emily has done well in school, though during her early
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school years her attendance was much interrupted by unsettled con­
ditions in the home. > o-ov n
In the light o f the family history and o f Nathalie’s irresponsh
bility in some matters a mental examination seemed desirable, but
it was not practicable.
After, nine years the family moved into their present home, where
they have lived for nearly three years. This has been their longest
stay in one location, and this home gives promise o f permanency.
Conditions have greatly improved. Emily’s stepfather receives a
better salary than he had been receiving, and he has been entirely
supporting the family. Emily has the same status and the same
place in the affections o f her stepfather and his relatives as the other
children have. The children are all healthy and attractive. The
atmosphere o f the home is a happy one, with really affectionate
family ties. Emily is athletic, and she and her stepfather are com­
panionable f enjoying swimming and other sports together. The
mother is gratified by this association because her household duties
prevent her from going out with her husband as much as she would
like to. His even disposition and real affection for his wife and for
all the children have doubtless made possible the holding together
o f the home through its many crises.
Emily has not learned the truth about her birth. She believes that
her stepfather is her father. (Nathalie never told the agency worker
who the father was.) The sudden reunion of her mother with a
brother and sister after years of separation (Nathalie’s sister, on
reaching her majority, promptly located her people), the knowledge
that her maternal grandmother is divorced and remarried, and her
mother’s marriage constitute a combination o f circumstances that
might have disturbed the child. That it has not done so may be due
to the affection she has had from so many persons. She has always
had the influence o f two well-established, secure homes, that o f
Nathalie’s mother and that of the husband’s mother, both of whom
love the child. (It will be remembered that the husband was the son
o f a boarding mother with whom Nathalie and Emily had lived.)
An influence o f practical religion pervades the latter home, which
has carried over to some extent to the son’s home. Now well over
15 years o f age, in high school, Emily seems happily adjusted.
Nathalie believes that she will not ask further questions about her
antecedents. Except for the possibility o f having to leave school and
go to work before completing high school the prospects for the future
are good. Her position in her school and other relationships are
Recently Emily wanted to go to work in order to have “ silk stock­
ings and a fur coat, like other girls.” The mother was alarmed at
the thought o f applying for an employment permit because o f the
questions that would have to be answered as to the girl’s parentage.
The stepfather has insisted that she remain in school.
The mother has always been glad that she kept Emily.
The agency had continuous contact with the case for five years.
From the time this contact ceased until the present a friendly visitor
has been in close touch with the mother and child.
Dick.—Dick’s mother, Mollie, a 19-year-old girl of foreign birth
employed in a factory as forewoman o f a department, was referred
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during her pregnancy to the agency reporting the case, by a social
worker connected with the factory. She had come to the United
States when 3 years old and had attended the elementary school,
completing the sixth grade. '
The father of her coming child had planned that they would go
to another city and be married. Mollie told her family o f the plans,
and her father gave her $75. The day they were to leave the man
refused to go, saying that he would join her later. Her father took
her to another city and placed her with a family he knew. The
young man wrote to her, telling her to arrange for her confinement in
a hospital and afterwards to place the child somewhere and return
home. These plans were not carried out. She had now no plans for
the future, but she did not consider giving up the baby. Her family
was still friendly and sympathetic.
The father o f the child was a youth of little intelligence, an un­
skilled mechanic. He had completed the fifth grade in the elementary
school. He had been Mollie’s childhood playmate and later her ac­
cepted lover, whom she expected to marry. He was an only child,
and he lived with his parents. His character may be judged by his
complete failure o f the girl at this critical time. Later he was
ordered by a court to pay $12 a month, after all attempts at private
settlement had proved fruitless.
After the birth of the baby, Dick, Mollie and he lived with her
parents, and the little fellow made a place for himself in the family.
Mollie returned to her position in the factory and continued to live
at home until Dick was 2 years old, when she married.
Mollie has been married six years. Dick is now in the second grade
at school, and he is a healthy, normal child. It is unlikely that he
will ever know o f his illegitimate birth, as his stepfather intends to
adopt him legally. This step was decided on when the child entered
school and his birth certificate was called for. Getting this certifi­
cate brought out the truth about Dick’s birth, and this disturbed his
mother to such an extent that her husband decided on the adoption
to avoid a repetition of this unhappy incident in the future, when
an employment certificate may be required. The boy already goes by
the stepfather’s name.
It is interesting to note that the boy spends more time with the
parents o f his stepfather than with his maternal grandparents.
The father o f Dick married another woman, who found it neces­
sary to seek court assistance in obtaining support for herself and two
The agency had contact with the case for three years continuously,
and five years o f inform al contact through a former worker.
Nina.— Nina, 2 years old at the time the case was referred to the,
agency, had been for about a year and a half in a boarding home in
the suburbs, in the vicinity o f a hospital where her mother, Helen,'
was in training to be a nurse. A t this time Helen had just given,
up this training course on account o f difficulty with her supervisor,
She now needed help in finding work and in placing Nina in a
boarding home in the city. Helen told the agency worker that the
father o f the child was a few years older than she, a close friend of,
one o f her brothers. He and Helen had grown up together. They
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



were not engaged. She had seen the man only twice since she had
left home and she had passed him on the street without speaking.
This was in her home town, during two o f her occasional visits
Helen was an attractive girl o f 22 who, during her pregnancy,
had come from a small town to the city to conceal her condition from
her family. She had a good reputation in her home town, and she
had intended to place the child in an institution or a family home
and to return to her home and resume her place in the community,
telling no one o f the child. This plan had been defeated by the
maternity home’s policy of investigating resources among the child’s
relatives; one o f the staff had written to Helen’s parents telling o f
the baby’s birth. The parents did not answer this letter, nor a second
one, but they wrote to Helen, telling her to place the baby for adop­
tion and to come home. They said they would not accept the child
nor assist the mother in caring for her.
Helen did not go home (although later she visited her parents
from time to time, concealing the existence of the child from her
younger brothers and sisters). The maternity home had a policy o f
insisting on breast feeding, so Helen remained with the baby1until
she could wean her safely. She then entered upon the nurses’ train­
ing course mentioned previously. While in training she incurred
little expense, and by rigid economy she was able to pay the child’s
board and other expenses, but she had not been able to save any
money. In her home town she had been a teacher; but as she had
not had a complete teacher’s training course she could not get a
teaching position in the city. Now, when the little girl was 2 years
old the mother frankly blamed the home and still wished that she
had given up the baby. Her reason as given by herself was that it
would have been better for Nina; but her attitude in certain ways
indicated that she would prefer not to have the responsibility of
providing for her. Nevertheless she was a faithful mother, and an
affectionate relation existed between her and her daughter. As
Helen’s intention to keep her family from knowing about the baby
had been frustrated she had no other reason for giving up the child.
Besides, she said that she would not have done so after the child
had come to know her, on account of the bad result this might have
for Nina.
When the case was referred to the agency, the plan of boarding
care for the child had been in effect for many months, and so the
agency advised continuance of this plan and placed Nina in one of
its boarding homes. Helen registered as an undergraduate nurse
and took cases. She was successful in this work; and when she
was employed her earnings were adequate to pay her expenses and
those o f her daughter, but her work was not continuous. She
developed a condition that required hospital care. Two surgical
operations were performed. After six years she was obliged to give
up nursing. She then took a clerical position in a town near the
home of her parents. She was unable to pay the child’s board at
this time, and the agency paid it.
Nina was a very attractive child, so bright as to be almost
precocious, and she caused many problems for the boarding mothers.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The record of the boarding homes is no longer available; but it is
known that the child was destructive at times, and that great diffi­
culty was found in the selection of a suitable boarding mother.
Under the guidance o f a psychiatrist the troubles were corrected,
and the child remained in her last boarding home for several years
with satisfaction to the boarding mother and to the agency. She
was happy here, but she always preferred to be with her mother
rather than in the care of any other person (it was Helen’s custom
when she was not on a case to stay in the boarding home with the
child). Nina had been told that her father had died when she was
a baby. The boarding mothers had asked no questions. The child
was accepted without question by other children in the neighborhood
in which she lived and in school. Nina had no association with
any friends of her mother’s; Helen had no close friends in the city,
Nina was very nervous, and she contracted practically all the
usual “ children’s diseases.” These made her lose much time from
school and retarded her progress. Her naturally keen mind enabled
her to retrieve some of her loss. Her mother at one time had plans
for placing her in a superior school— an endowed institution— but
the child was barred by her illegitimate birth, though the president
o f the board o f trustees was interested in obtaining her admission.
When Nina was 9 years old (she was still living in a boarding
home) her mother married a steady, refined man, a skilled mechanic,
about two years younger than Helen. He had been told all about
Nina, and he was quite willing to accept her as his child; so a year
after the marriage, soon after the birth o f a baby, Nina was taken
to Helen’s new home by the agency worker who had known Helen
and Nina since they were first referred to the agency. The child was
overjoyed that she could now live with her mother. She had been
much hurt by her mother’s failure to visit her for two years. To the
boarding mother she had confided her belief that her mother no
longer wanted her, since she had a husband to love. The new home
was a comfortable, attractive house in a mountain town. Nina was
received with affection by her stepfather. Helen had told her hus­
band’s relatives that Nina’s mother was a cousin who had died at
the time o f the child’s birth, and that her father had died a little
later; that she, because of her devotion to this cousin, had looked
after the child, using the money that the father had left for the
purpose. Helen expressed to the worker her misgivings about hav­
ing Nina with her, as she feared that suspicion would arise and cause
the child suffering.
The last information available was in letters from the little girl
and her mother to the worker, written during the second year o f the
child’s residence in the new home. Helen’s letters gave no reason to
suppose that trouble had arisen for the child; they were simply
friendly letters. Those from Nina told of her happiness in her
home and interest in her school work and described her interests and
pleasures. It had been her mother’s intention to place the child in
a boarding school as soon as she had the money to do so. She felt
that the opportunity for the child would be more favorable there
than in the local public school; that is, there would be less probability
that the child’s history would be suspected. This had not been done,
however, up to the receipt o f the last letter. A note o f thanks from
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



the child for a remembrance at the time o f her second Christmas with
her mother was the last contact. Helen had ceased to write before
this. When two personal notes were unanswered the worker dropped
the correspondence, in the belief that the mother thought it better
to end contact with the agency. It had been made clear to Helen
when she took the child to her home that both the worker and the
agency would always be ready to assist in plans for the child if the
need should ever arise.
The outlook for the child seems fairly favorable, though her
mother’s flimsy story about her parentage may not be effective in
protecting them. One favorable point is the location o f their home.
Although it is not far from the town in which Helen’s parents live it
is in a location difficult o f access. None o f the husband’s people live
there. The little girl herself must at some time have questioned her
status. The child has a reticent nature, and it is probable that she
would conceal as long as possible any fears or doubts she might have.
It is highly improbable that so bright a child could fail to be affected
by the story o f her relationship to her mother as given by the mother
to relatives and others, when she knew herself to be the true child of
her mother.
The agency has had contact for nine years.
Adjustment of children of unstable mothers.

The favorable outcome o f the mother’s retaining the custody o f her
child may be attributed in some instances to the kindly attitude of
an intelligent stepfather rather than to a mutual working out of
family problems by the mother and the stepfather.
Most of the mothers who failed to cooperate were either emo­
tionally unstable or of limited mental ability. Several of these
mothers had more than one illegitimate child by different fathers.
The stabilizing effect of the mother’s affection for her children, as
well as the special consideration shown the children by their step­
fathers, is brought out in the stories on pages 42 to 48.
The story o f Catherine illustrates the successful development of
a dependent mother whose greatest asset was deep affection for her
children. Eirst, under the intelligent guidance o f an agency, and
later under the stimulation o f a happy marriage she successfully
maintained a home in spite o f her limited intelligence.
Emotional instability o f the mother rather than low mentality was
the problem in the case o f Louis (p. 44). This story not only shows
the successful development of a satisfactory step-parental home for
the younger child but also illustrates the sprt o f case in which the
child remains in a foster home even after the mother establishes a
satisfactory home o f her own.
The mother o f Rita (p. 46) was emotionally unstable; she deserted
her husband and child several times. During the mother’s absence
the child was left to the care o f her stepfather, who had adopted her
when she was 5 years old.
Catherine.—A maternity home had suggested that Catherine, 10
years old, and two younger half sisters, all three of illegitimate
birth, be taken from their mother, Martha, an unmarried woman of
30 (another child, also of illegitimate birth, had been adopted by
a fam ily). Although Martha was making a struggle to take care
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



of her children she was not able to provide them with food and cloth­
ing, as her earning ability was small and she had no help. The last
man with whom she had lived had deserted her. Her family were
antagonistic. Her church had dropped her from membership, and
her friends had ostracized her. Martha was embittered by her posi­
tion but was determined to keep her children with her and showed
marked devotion to them.
Catherine’s father was a brass molder. Martha had left her home
to live with him in the home o f his people, who believed them mar­
ried. They lived thus for a year and a half. Six months after
Catherine’s birth he deserted and has never been heard from since.
Martha stated that he was alcoholic, indolent, domineering, and abu­
sive, and that she believed that he was- sexually promiscuous while
she lived with him.
Martha had attended a public school, going as far as the fourth
grade and leaving school, at the age o f 14, to work, first in a factory
and later as a servant. According to her own statement she was first
misled through an unfortunate friendship with a woman of question­
able character. Her four children had different fathers. She lived
with one man at a time, keeping the children with her, hoping always
to marry and have a permanent home. Examination by a psycho­
pathic clinic showed her to be o f low intelligence. The diagnosis
was “ subnormal, emotional type, psychopathic personality.” The
examiner found her nervous, easily up,set, apprehensive, and quick
to take offense but was able to gain her confidence and cooperation.
Until Catherine was 10 years old her mother had managed somehow
to get along without help. But when the fourth child was born and
the three children then with her showed the effects of lack o f care,
the hospital where Martha was confined referred the case to the ju­
venile court with the recommendation that the children be taken from
The psychopathic clinic recommended that for a trial period
Martha be given a “ mother’s allowance ” from the county fund and
that she be established in a separate home and entrusted with the care
of the two youngest children, Catherine to be boarded with a cousin
until it was apparent whether the mother would be successful. The
allowance was granted, and the mother was supervised* by the clinic.
She did no work outside her own home. She responded promptly and
well to supervision. Her record shows a notation as follow s:
After one year’s supervision the adjustment has been complete. There has
been no repetition of any of the former troubles. She keeps her home clean
and takes good care of the children. H as been thoroughly cooperative with
the doctors, nurses, and clinics as well as the supervisor. She apparently is
contented at home with her fa m ily ; and now that the oldest child has also been
given to her, she has no complaints and is perfectly happy. She is most appre­
ciative o f what has been done for h e r ; the children show good care. The family
feeling here is very strong. The friends and family have again accepted the
patient and she was recently readmitted to her own church.

During the short period that she lived with her cousin, Catherine
was reported to be doing well in school; her attendance was regular
and her class work satisfactory. Her health was good. A ll this
time, although she had a good home, she was anxious to return to her
1112— 28------ 4
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When Catherine was 12 the mother married a widower with one
child (he was not the father o f any o f her children). Marriage has
completed her reinstatement in her social world. Her husband is a
man of property, o f good earning ability, and o f good standing. He
seems as devoted to her children as to his own child. Martha is
finding a serious problem in controlling his child, who is troublesome,
but she is standing up to her difficulty well, determined to make a
success o f this problem as well as her own.
Catherine seems not to know of her illegitimate birth. She is de­
voted to her stepfather and to her mother. She seems to get on well
in her present situation, and, of course, will continue living in her
mother’s household.
The paternity of Catherine was never established.
The agency had contact one year and a half; then the case was
Louis.—Nellie, herself o f illegitimate birth, was 23 when she ap­
plied to the agency for a domestic position where she might keep
her baby, Louis, 17 months o f age. She used the title “ Mrs.,” and at
this time the agency was not sure whether she was married or not.
Her own mother also had been of illegitimate birth. Nellie was
penniless, and her relatives would not help her in any way; they
would have nothing to do with her. She had no plan except to earn
a living for her child.
Little was known o f the baby’s father. He was a fireman, 33 years
old, living with his mother.
Nellie had lived in an orphanage until she was almost grown,
when she was taken by her mother’s relatives, who offered her a
business education. They found, that she was inclined to be wild
and that she would listen to no one, so her uncle-in-law forbade her
the house, and she had had nothing to do with her relatives since
then. She had been in domestic service before the birth of Louis.
Nellie was o f frail appearance, but she had good health. She al­
ways resented being a servant and was never satisfied until, against
the advice o f the agency, she obtained a place as housekeeper in a
home where she was one of the family. The household consisted of
two unmarriejd men and their aged mother. Nellie and Louis were
together in this household until the child was 4 years old, when the
mother again became pregnant, this time by one o f the men o f the
family. He gave her money and sent her to a near-by city, where
she had an abortion performed. She then returned to his home.
Later she showed signs of a severe emotional disturbance; and this
man sent her to a psychiatrist, by whose arrangement she was placed
in a mental hospital. Tests showed that she had a mental age of
15 years, and she was judged emotionally unstable. She left the boy
in the home where she had been employed, as the family desired to
keep him. He has remained with them ever since under supervision
o f the agency. As Nellie has had no contact with her relatives the
boy has not known them.
The mother was in the mental hospital for about three months.
While there she met a man of 25, who was being treated for drug
addiction. After both were discharged from the hospital Nellie
lived with this man as his wife in his mother’s home. She became
pregnant but did not allow the child to be born. After a while the
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man’s mother learned that Nellie was not married to her son; and
she compelled the young woman, who was again pregnant, to leave
the home. A second child, Jessica, was born soon after this; and
Nellie obtained a domestic position where she could keep the child
with her.
. ,
A year and a half after the birth o f the second child Nellie married
a man whom she had met while working as a housekeeper in the
country. In this community she was known as a widow, but she
told the man the truth about her two children, and he still wished to
marry her. The husband has a trade and makes excellent wages.
He has always been very devoted to Jessica, and she goes by his name;
and as they are now living in a new community Jessica is thought to
be the child of her stepfather. She is now 9 years old and is in the
third grade. She did not begin school as soon as she should have be­
cause she was living in the country.
Nellie has always been industrious, honest, and scrupulously neat,
and, according to her ability, she has always been a good mother.
When asked why she kept her first child she answered that until he
was born she had never known what love was like. It is not known
whether Louis has ever been told o f his illegitimate birth. He is
still with the family that kept him when his mother went to the
mental hospital, and he writes to his mother frequently. His mother
has visited him at intervals, and he is under the supervision o f a
children’s agency. He is in the seventh grade o f the elementary
school. The boy has a good home, and the mother believes that he
will inherit from the two men o f the household.
The father o f the first child never supported him at all. The
father o f the second child signed an agreement to pay $12 a month
toward her support for 12 years. His payments have lapsed fre­
quently, and the agency has checked him up. After a lapse of two
years the payments have been resumed, and the mother is now re­
ceiving $30 a month.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for 14 years.
Elsie.— The case of Florence, Elsie’s mother, was referred by a
court when she was placed on probation after her mother had charged
her with incorrigibility. Florence had been doing housework for a
very poor type of family. When referred she was dependent upon
friends. She was pregnant with her first child (not Elsie', the child
whose history is given) but apparently was not aware of the fact at
the time. She was 19 years old.
When Florence’s mother, a widow, learned that her daughter was
pregnant she felt that she could not keep her and the baby. The
girl went to an institution for maternity care. The baby died when
2 months old.
Florence was very weak in character. She was inclined to be un­
truthful and willful, and at times she was subject to spells o f stub­
bornness. When she was 18 she was given a psychological examina­
tion and was found to have a mental age o f 9.6 years. Though not in
ill health she was not robust.
After the death of the baby Florence held a position as a domestic.
Later she worked in a factory and lived in the home o f her sister.
While living with her sister, who was not leading a moral life,
Florence became illegitimately pregnant the second time. When
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the second baby, Elsie, was about 4 months old she was removed
from Florence’s care by a child-protective society, on the advice o f
the agency, because o f neglect. The baby had institutional care for
a short time and was later boarded in foster homes.
Little is known o f the father o f Elsie. He was of foreign birth
and was about 40 years old. He was a steward on a yacht and made
a good salary. Some time after the birth o f the child he was known
to have served a prison term.
About one year after Elsie was removed from her mother’s care, the
mother married, and 18 months later Elsie was placed with her again.
In the meantime Florence had given birth to the first child of her
marriage. Since then she and her husband, with the two children,
have lived together practically continuously, although n o t. always
without difficulty. The husband has at times been domineering, not
realizing his wife’s limitations; or, when he has realized them, he has
made decisions concerning the family without consulting her. On
her part, Florence has been developing resourcefulness and strength
in meeting situations, but she sometimes has shown emotional in­
stability. Twice after family quarrels she left home. With the help
o f the agency the situations were straightened out and the family
reunited; for under their surface disagreements both husband and
wife have a real desire to preserve the family life, and they realize
its value to the children. Maternal affection and responsibility are
now apparent in Florence’s attitude, although these characteristics
were not noticeable earlier. She seems to have developed gradually
in character, and she now shows resourcefulness and forethought in
making her plans.
Since her mother’s marriage Elsie has been accepted by relatives.
The husband has shown a very fine attitude toward his stepchild.
He takes a special interest in her and often is wiser and more patient
than her mother, and the child shows affection for him and trust
in him.
The mother has affection for Elsie and interest in her, but has been
unable to meet certain difficult behavior problems that began to
develop a year ago. Elsie did not study, and her teachers complained
that she was untruthful and that she frequently took money from
others. Under observation in a ‘child-guidance clinic she has im­
proved. Florence has done her best to cooperate with the clinic, and
her husband has been a real help in the special interest he has shown
in Elsie and in the understanding he, has given her. There are en­
couragingly fewer complaints regarding her conduct. A t 8 years o f
age she is in the second grade at school. She does not know of her
illegitimate birth.
The agency has had contact with the case for 10 years, with two
Rita.—After discovering her pregnancy, Lurline, a 17-year-old
girl, went to the home of a married sister in another city. The sister
received her, sheltered her before and after confinement, and later
helped in making plans. A church referred her to the agency after
the baby, Rita, was born.
Lurline said she would be “ beholden to nobody,” that she could
wash and cook, and that she expected to work and keep her baby with
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis





her. She had not been employed before the birth of the child but
had lived with her parents.
She was quick tempered, sensitive, willful, independent, selfreliant, and resourceful. She had completed sixth-grade work in the
public school. From the first she was determined to keep her child,
toward whom she showed affection and a sense of maternal responsi­
bility. A t this time she was mentally normal, according to the
impression of a number o f people who had continuous contact with
her (later she manifested emotional instability for a time).
The alleged father o f the child was an apparently decent, weak
boy o f 17, not employed, who bore a good reputation in the country
town where he and the mother lived. He lived in a good home with
his stepmother.
The case was taken into court but was dismissed because of the
testimony o f character witnesses against the girl.
On account o f Lurline’s youth institutional care for a year was
considered, but this plan was finally abandoned on account o f her
desire to maintain herself and the baby, Rita. She took a position
with the baby in a physician’s family, the members o f which took a
great deal o f interest in her. While here she had an emotional dis­
turbance; she finally was able to tell the doctor and the agency
worker of details o f early family life which had preyed on her mind.
For several years from the time she was 11 her father had forced
her to have sex relations with him. This went on with the knowledge
o f her mother, who made no effort to meet the situation because o f
the family’s subjection to the father, due to his violent temper.
Later Lurline left the physician’s home for a position with some
patients of his, simple working people in comfortable circumstances.
She and her baby were received as members o f the family. Here
she met and married the brother o f her employer, a man 15 years
older than herself. He knew her history and was attracted first by
her affection and care for her child under difficulties.
For a time the young couple and Rita lived on with the husband’s
relatives; but later they moved to a flat o f their own, and still later,
to the country.
After she had been married two years Lurline left Rita with her
husband and returned to her home town, saying that she was going to
see the father o f her child. Rumors reached the agency that she was
associating immorally with a number o f men, and through the help
o f a State agency she was returned to the city. Her home was re­
established, but Several months later she again deserted it. For
five months both she and her husband continued in touch with the
agency but lived apart with their respective relatives. A t length a
reconciliation was effected, and they again established a home in the
city, which has been maintained ever since without a break.
Two children have been born of the marriage, both sturdy little
boys. Another child is expected in a month. A true family spirit
has developed after the many trials, and there seems to be a real
understanding and devotion between husband and wife, in addition
to their common interest in the children and devotion to them.
Except for the brief time during the period o f emotional instability
after marriage. Lurline has shown real devotion to Rita. Much
affection has existed between them, and now that the child is older,
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considerable companionship. When the mother deserted, leaving
Rita with the husband, he boarded her with friends for a time. No
regular boarding homes or institutions were used.
Some o f the relatives accepted the child from the first, and after
Lurline’s marriage, all did so. Rita is attending the public school.
Her health is good, although it is not robust. Judged by her school
progress and by the impression she has made on agency workers, she
is mentally normal, and no special mental tests have been given her.
Rita is living in the home of her mother and stepfather, in a com­
fortable flat in the suburbs. The home is attractively furnished, and
both take pride in it. The child was only 11 months old at the time
of the marriage, and the husband legally adopted her when she was
5 years old. She believes her stepfather to be her father. He has
always been very devoted to her, and there is real affection and under­
standing between them.
The child will have the protection of a good type o f workingman’s
home. She probably will be given some trade training or other
educational opportunity beyond the elementary school.
Except for the brief period o f emotional instability shortly after
her marriage, the mother has never considered a separation from
The father o f Rita has had no contact with either mother or child
since the court dismissed the case against him, eight years ago.
The agency has been in contact with the case for eight years,
Lack of adjustment in step-parental homes.

Even though their mothers had married some o f the children
never became an integral part o f family life in the step-parental
home. In a few instances this was due to active dislike for the
child or lack of interest in him on the part o f the stepfather, in
others to behavior difficulties o f the child or to lack o f frankness
o f the mother as to her relationship to the child.
O f the 128 cases in which the child had a stepfather a definitely
unfavorable attitude on the part o f the stepfather was shown in
only 6, although in a number o f histories the information was
insufficient to indicate the child’s place in the stepfather’s affections.
That the wise assistance of an interested agency may be o f great
value in helping a child who is disturbed emotionally on account
o f his unsatisfactory family relationship is shown in the story of
Bertram (p. 50). The stepfather o f Corinne was one o f the few
men who exhibited active dislike for his wife’s child of illegitimate
Corinne.— Angela applied to a child-welfare agency for advice in
planning for her baby, Corinne, as her father wanted her to have
nothing to do with the baby’s bringing up. Her parents were foreign
born. Her father was a stern, unkind man, who denied his children
all pleasures at home and outside, as much as he could. Her mother
was kind, and Angela and the other children loved her. Angela’s
father expected her to pay board for the child in his home and
live there herself. The young mother had refused to go home,
but she had permitted her family to make the plans for the baby.
Angela’s mother had taken the baby into the home, and Angela
had continued to work as nursemaid in a family.
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Angela was a tall, slender girl o f 18 with high color and every
evidence o f health. Her mentality seemed to be above the average;
but she had finished only four grades o f the elementary school,
having left school when she was only 11 years old.
The baby’s father was a waiter. He signed an agreement to pay
$8 a week for 12 years toward the baby’s support.
Before the child, Corinne, was 2 years old, Angela gave birth to
another child. She would not name the man whom she believed
to be responsible for the child, saying that there was a possibility
o f mistake on her part. Before the second child’s birth Angela
had contracted syphilis and had spent several months in a hospital.
After this child’s birth she entered domestic service, keeping the
second baby with her, while Corinne still remained in the home of
her grandparents. After a year the second baby died. A ll this
time Angela had been keeping in touch with Corinne, visiting
her at the grandparents’ home without the grandfather’s knowing it.
After her second child died Angela obtained a position as nurse­
maid for three little children and remained there two years. She
was still under medical treatment, and the physician considered her
case as at a stage where there was no danger o f infecting others.
While away for the summer with this family Angela met a man
whom she married a year later. She told him about Corinne but
not about her second child.
A t the beginning of her married life Angela wanted to have
Corinne with her and, with her husband’s consent, she brought her
into the home; but the child was so difficult to manage that she was
returned to her grandmother. Again and again the husband and wife
tried to keep the child, but each time the plan was given up and the
child was returned to her grandmother. The grandmother died
about 15 months ago; and the home was broken up, as the grand­
father had died several years before. So Corinne now lives with her
mother and calls her “ aunt.” Angela does not know whether or not
Corinne knows the truth about their relationship, as the child had
formerly called her “ mother.”
Corinne now goes to school regularly. She was two years in one
grade, but the mother believes that this was due not to any lack in
the child but to carelessness on the part o f her grandparents in
not seeing that she attended school regularly. Her temper does not
seem to be bad now, and she gives no trouble in the home.
Angela now has three children o f her marriage and lives in a
suburb o f a large city, where she was recently visited by the former
agency worker. Ever since the marriage she and her husband have
been buying their house and a good-sized lot. In two years they
will have completed the payments. She told the worker, with some
pride, that she belonged to the literary club of the town, also to the
woman’s club and also to a national fraternal organization. Her
husband objects to all these outside activities, but she will not accede
to his wishes and remain entirely at home. He is head porter in a
large hotel, where he . has been long employed. He is industrious
and a good husband and is a good father to his own children, but
not to Corinne. He resents her presence and grudges her every­
thing that she must have. He will not speak to her, and she is so
afraid of him that the mother never even sends him a message by her.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



So far the mother has been fair and treats the girl as she treats her
other children. The situation is difficult, as the mother says she
has no real affection for this child as she has for the others. The
little girl is impulsive and affectionate, and Angela can not respond
as she should. The constant friction between her husband and herself
about the child is making trouble in the home, and she does not
know what to do.
Up to the time o f the worker’s visit the mother had no plans, but
was just letting things drift. She realized that it was very bad for
the child to be brought up in this atmosphere, yet she did not know
what to do. She consented to the agency worker’s suggestion that
her youngest brother be seen by the worker and the situation talked
over, in the hope that some of the family will be willing to take the
child. I f this plan is not feasible it may be possible to put her in
a good school where she may be trained to earn her living.
Corinne’s father contributed fairly regularly to her support for
the 12 years agreed upon.
The agency has had contact for 12 years. The last few years it
has been only a friendly relation through a former worker, until
a crisis has called for action.
Bertram .—When Bertram was 3 years old his mother, Frances, 24
years old, asked a child-caring agency to find a boarding home for
him, as she was about to be married, and she intended to continue her
work as bookkeeper.
Frances was a refined girl, whereas her mother appeared to be
coarse, with indications of mental deficiency. The family were o f a
rather ordinary, vulgar type, except Frances’s father and grand­
mother, and Frances herself, who had a particularly sweet, fine strain
in her, characterized by loyalty, devotion, self-sacrifice, perseverance,
and lack of suspicion or resentment. She had graduated from high
school and had fitted herself for clerical work.
The father of the child was o f good family and bore a good repu­
tation. He had a high-school education, and he held a good business
position. He was single and lived with his mother. Because he
considered Frances’s family beneath his he had refused to marry her.
By private agreement he paid her $300 at the time o f the child’s birth.
Frances and the child were living with' her family, who were kind
and sympathetic to her and devoted to the child. She planned that
she and her husband should live with her relatives.
Bertram was not placed in a foster home but lived for seven years
with his mother and stepfather in the home o f her relatives. A year
after the marriage a child was born to Frances and her husband.
Frances continued to work as bookkeeper. Throughout her married
life she has practically supported her relatives, with a little help
from her husband and his relatives, who are o f a very superior type.
There has always been a cordial relationship between these relatives
and the mother and child.
Knowledge o f the mother’s history seemed to have little effect on
the community’s attitude toward her. She had no intimate friends,
but she was liked and respected.
Bertram’s stepfather, a man o f really superior mentality and tastes,
was high-strung and extremely nervous, and in poor health. He got
into bad. company and. for a time was unlucky in business. Frances
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was indulgent to Bertram and weak in discipline, and when at the
age of about 8 years the boy developed behavior difficulties, consider­
able friction developed between the stepfather, whose attitude toward
the child had been good on the whole, and the mother and boy.
Bertram, a highly sensitive child, above normal mentally, became
disobedient and dishonest, was a truant from school, as a result spend­
ing three years in one grade, had severe fits o f crying and despond­
ency with occasional outbreaks of stealing, and caused so much fric­
tion and distress that there was 'danger o f the home’s being broken up.
For these reasons, when the boy was 10 years o f age the agency
recommended that he be placed at board in a foster home. It was
thought that by this plan Bertram would find it easier to overcome
behavior difficulties and adjust himself to life, and the stepfather
might be encouraged to procure steady work, eventually making pos­
sible the reestablishment o f the home and the giving up of outside
employment by the mother. It was also recommended that Frances
and her husband establish a home apart from her relatives, who
had a bad influence on the husband. It was a sacrifice for Frances
to pay part o f the boy’s board and provide clothing, and a hard
struggle for the mother and boy to part, but this was accomplished.
A t the time the decision as to placement was being made, Bertram
was studied by a psychiatrist. It was then discovered that most o f
the boy’s behavior difficulties were due to severe mental conflict. He
did not understand about his illegitimate birth; but when he was
about 8 years old his status became known in the community, and
he overheard queer things about himself and his mother, and was
called names by his playmates. A t one time his grandmother, in a
fit o f anger, called him “ bastard.” These experiences made him
feel that he was different from other boys, and he worried constantly.
On the advice o f the psychiatrist he was told the truth about him­
self and his father. His reaction at first was one o f great anger
toward his father. This soon changed to increased affection and
remarkable devotion for his mother. He became adjusted well in
the boarding home, where he remained two years, and later he was
placed on a farm, where for two years he has been earning his own
board and attending school. At 14 he is in junior high school. Oc­
casional week ends and holidays are spent at home. He is still re­
garded by his relatives as belonging to the family as truly as any
other member, and his great-grandfather adores him. He is fast
developing into a fine, manly, trustworthy boy, with the greatest
love for home and mother. He is very fond o f his little half-brother,
who is also living in a foster home.
Home conditions have greatly improved, the health and morale of
the stepfather are much better, and real companionship and mutual
liking are developing between Bertram and his stepfather. It is
hoped that in another year the family can be reunited and the
mother give up work outside the home. The parents now live in
another community, where their history is not known.
Frances has never for a moment wavered in her determination to
keep her child. The determining factor may have been her sense of
duty and loyalty (so strongly seen since in relation to her husband),
as well as her natural affection toward her child, toward whom her
attitude has been that o f any good married mother. Doubtless the
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affectionate attitude o f her relatives and their somewhat lax morals
made it easier for Frances to keep the boy, but apparently she never
seriously thought o f doing otherwise. She has, however, confessed
recently to the agency worker that she has “ been through fiery agony
and suffered till she could suffer no more, but that is all past and the
hurt is gone.”
Bertram’s father has had nothing more to do with the mother or
the child. He is now. a successful business man, is married, and has
three children.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for 11 years.
Step-parental homes broken up.

In some cases the mother’s marriage was not successful, and it
failed to establish a happy family life, yet it had been o f some
service through providing a definite status for the mother and her
child in the community. In other cases the stepfather died.
In the following stories of Maud and W inifred the mother and
stepfather did not continue to live together, but the child benefited
by the marriage to the extent o f being recognized as belonging to a
normal family group. Although Estelle’s stepfather died when she
was 12 years of age the mother was enabled to maintain a home
until her death by a grant from a State mothers’ pension fund. The
mother o f Robert (p. 57) was o f too low-grade mentality to maintain
her own home. The wise guidance o f the agency and o f interested
foster parents have been the dominating factors in the boy’s life.
Maud.— Maud’s mother, Ethel, a girl of 17, had syphilis and
gonorrhea, and therefore could obtain maternity care only at a
municipal hospital. She had entered during pregnancy and soon
after admission had been referred to a children’s agency. For a year
she had been a nursemaid in a family in moderate circumstances,
where her wages were about the average for this work, and she had
saved no money. Her plan, as stated by herself to the worker, was
to put the baby away and enter a house o f prostitution. Ethel said
this quite frankly, adding that she understood that that was all a girl
in her circumstances could do.
Her mother had died when she was 7 years old, leaving several
children, each of whom was placed by their father with a different
family. For years Ethel had known nothing of her relatives. She
had been reared by a kind woman who had little education and who
gave the child no opportunities, chiefly because her own limited ex­
perience included no vision for any child beyond the required number
o f years in school, then work. Ethel did not recall when she began
work, but it was when she was very young, doing errands and chores
for neighbors. The work as nursemaid that she had been doing
when she became pregnant was the first for which she had received
regular wages. No mental examination was given, as the girl was
judged to be o f normal mentality, somewhat above the average, con­
sidering her lack o f opportunity.
A few years before the birth of the child Ethel’s father had re­
turned to the city. He had been married for some years, and he
was in comfortable circumstances, but he had no thought of any
obligation to his daughter. Ethel’s brother, two years older than she,
was boarding with his father.
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I ■i l y.juy w






When asked about the father of the child, Ethel gave a confused
story o f going out on a party with a girl friend and two men, of
being given something to drink, and later awakening in a room in a
cheap hotel. She disclaimed knowledge even o f the man’s surname.
Effort to get some information through the girl friend and the hotel
proved vain, and Ethel never gave any other story.
A fter the case was referred to the agency it was found that the
baby had congenital syphilis and gonorrheal infection o f the eyes.
Hospital treatment was provided before any attempt was made to
place the mother and baby. A fter several months of treatment they
both went to a maternity home, whose superintendent, when visiting
the hospital in the course of missionary work, had met the mother and
become interested in her. This home and the agency cooperated in
the plans for Ethel and the baby, and when placement could safely
be made she was given a position at domestic work, keeping the baby
with her.
Her father and stepmother did nothing for her. Her brother
claimed that he was unable to assist her because his father controlled
his earnings. Ethel’s foster mother was kind. She allowed Ethel
and the baby to visit her and rendered them a little assistance—as
much as was possible in her circumstances.
Both the mother and the child, Maud, were kept under medical
observation and treatment until discharged by the physician in
charge o f the clinic where they were treated. The child was dis­
charged much sooner than the mother, who remained under observa­
tion for six years. Through this period Ethel worked in several
homes, doing domestic work, and the medical problem was always
frankly explained to the employer. It is significant that in no case
did this prevent an employer from taking the mother and child. The
homes selected were always those in which the mother did not have
the status of a servant, but where she had somewhat, if not always
entirely, the position of one of the family. Due consideration for the
child was always insured.
In one home of this type where she and the child lived about two
years Ethel came to know a young man, a mechanic, who wanted to
marry her. As her employer and the worker of the agency were
both in her confidence she introduced the man to them and was quite
frank with him about their relations with her. For months he
visited her, and her employer was impressed with his sincerity. He
took Ethel to visit his family. They received her and Maud well,
and he appeared to be devoted to the child as well as to her mother.
When the child was 3 years old they were married, and they then
made their home with the husband’s family.
A ll had gone well for some months, when Ethel discovered that her
husband was a bigamist. She left him, and soon afterwards he was
arrested and convicted.
A ll through this time Ethel’s family had remained unfriendly,
and they now refused her any help. As it was necessary for her to
resume supporting herself and Maud, she returned to domestic work.
Within a year she married a man of a respected, thrifty family. He
was genuinely kind to his wife and to Maud. Two children were
born of this marriage. A t no time did Ethel’s husband discriminate
in any way in favor of his own children. However, serious difficulty
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confronted the wife in the fact that he was addicted to the use o f
drugs. He would go out daily to work,'spend his earnings for drugs,
and then say that he could not get work, while the wife was doing
housework by the day to support the family. The spectacle o f his
wife, not a robust woman, doing the housework of the home and
outside work in addition did not affect him. A t times his married
brothers gave some assistance ; but they urged his wife to leave him,
and they were unwilling to do much.
Ethel’s family had gradually become friendly and now were in
the habit of visiting her. Her brother left the father’s home and
came to board with her in order to help her, but their father gave no
assistance. Several times relief was given by a family agency, to
which the case had been transferred by the social agency that had
previously dealt with it. A t one time the husband was induced to
enter a sanitarium where he was treated for drug addiction, the
expense being paid by the city charities. For some time after this
he did well, but he finally reverted to the use of the drugs. Finally
Ethel became afraid to continue living with him. After the final
break the husband disappeared entirely.
With relief from the family-welfare agency and the friendly care
o f the visitor from the social agency the family has for several years
enjoyed normal home life. In spite of the vicissitudes through which
she has passed, Maud has been happy, and, even at the worst times in
her mother’s difficulties, has been at least fairly well cared for. A t
the time o f the birth o f the last baby she was placed temporarily
in a boarding home. Her revelations to the boarding mother regard­
ing the advantages in this home over the inadequate equipment and
means in her own home, which the child saw only in the light of thè
disadvantages to her mother, indicated the really deep bond between
the mother and child. This experience did much to hasten an appreci­
ation on the part of the agency of the need o f the family for some
definite change in plan.
Maud, though not a beautiful child, has always been attractive,
with an appealing personality. She developed rapidly during the
five years o f tranquil home life after her mother’s second marriage
was broken up. Her progress in school has been normal. According
to the plan of the family agency the mother earns some money fo r
the family support by working four hours a day as waitress in the
restaurant o f a department store; the family-welfare agency con­
tributes the remainder of the money required. A friendly visitor
from the social agency that first dealt with the case has taken great
interest in Maud. At one time the child alarmed her mother by her
unwillingness to take care of her two little brothers after school
and by what the mother termed | her wildness.” As it was feared
that her actions might be danger signals the child was seen by a
psychiatrist, by arrangement of the friendly visitor, with gratifying
results. His recommendation was that Maud be given greater oppor­
tunity for suitable recreation and for cultivation of her talent for
drawing. The friendly visitor promptly set to work to procure the
needed resources. Maud became a member of a swimming club and a
skating club. A scholarship in an art school was procured for her,
and she spends certain hours in the afternoons there, happily occupied.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Ethel, ever cooperative and intelligent in her efforts for the welfare
o f her children, has entered whole-heartedly into all these plans. She
has always been a good housekeeper and a fine mother. She was
originally a pretty girl, with refinement and delicacy of manner.
Naturally her experiences have left some trace. It was gratifying
to the agency worker who had first known her to note that recently
she appeared well—even robust—and that her manner confirmed the
satisfaction that she expressed in telling of the circumstances of her
Maud considers herself the child o f the first husband. She only
vaguely understands that some difficulty necessitated that her mother
leave him. She has always borne the surname o f her stepfather
since her mother’s marriage to him. The fact that her early recol­
lections include seeing the first husband so much in her home with
her mother prior to the marriage which ended in his conviction for
bigamy no doubt served to fix this impression in the child’s mind.
The mother apparently does not think o f the possibility that Maud
will ask for further information. The child is generally regarded
as legitimate and her position among other children is assured. Be­
fore Ethel’s first marriage she did not attempt to conceal her true
status. However, she had no associates in the neighborhoods in
which she worked, except the families with whom she lived, so it is
possible that she may be safe in her confidence that Maud will never
be disturbed as to her paternity.
One would expect that this child would have to go to work early.
Her exact place in school now has not been ascertained, but at 14 she
is still in school. The interest o f the friendly visitor and the child’s
talent for drawing will probably be the means o f assisting her to get
an adequate education. On the whole the prospects for Maud’s future
are favorable.
The agency had continuous contact for seven years (after which
the case was referred to a family-welfare agency), and a friendly
visitor has continued contact to the present.
W inifred.-—A penniless foreign-born girl of 19, Cornelia, was re­
ferred with her 16-day-old child, Winifred, to the agency (a mater­
nity home) by the hospital where the child had been born. She had
left a widowed mother in Europe and had come to the United States
less1than a year before to join her only brother. She was o f good
mentality and could read and write. She was a fairly capable and
reliable houseworker, though slow. Her plan was to remain in the
maternity home until the child, Winifred, could be placed at board
in a family.
Cornelia had known the father of her child two years. He worked
in a grocery store in the town where she had lived with her mother.
She said that he was o f good character. After her arrival in this
country, when she discovered that she was pregnant, she induced
her brother to send a steamship ticket for the young man. She was
corresponding with him and considered herself engaged to be mar­
ried to him. A few months later the young man left his home to
start for the United States, but on account o f a contagious eye con­
dition he was turned back before boarding the steamer. She then
expected that he would join her later, but on account of the World
W ar he was unable to do so.
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Cornelia’s brother was kind and did everything he could to help
her. However, he was in poor circumstances; and besides he married
about a week after her admission to the maternity home.
During her stay at the home Cornelia did well in school work and
showed ability in learning English. She showed a sense o f responsi­
bility and she seemed promising. Upon her discharge, two years
later, she was placed in a domestic position and her child, Winifred,
was placed at board in a family. After 10 months the mother left
the position and went to work in a restaurant. She rented two small
rooms and took the child to live with her. One o f her neighbors
cared for the little girl during the ‘day, receiving $5 a week for her
services. This arrangement lasted three months and then Cornelia
and another mother from the maternity home took a small apartment
together and both placed their children in a day nursery during
their working-day.
By this time the mother had given up hope that her child’s father
would ever join her and she married another man, a clothing opera­
tor. He seemed fond o f Cornelia and he accepted the child. Every­
thing appeared to go well. After three years Cornelia learned that
her husband had been married before and that his wife and three
children had recently arrived in the United States. He left Cor­
nelia and Winifred and returned to his former wife. He proved to
the satisfaction of the court that he had believed honestly that his
wife had died in Europe during the war and thus he escaped a
sentence for bigamy.
Cornelia resumed her former plan of sharing an apartment with
the aforementioned friend and still lives there. She is employed at
making paper boxes. Her earnings are small, but she is economical
and a fairly good manager. Living with her friend has helped con­
siderably in lessening expenses. She naturally suffered greatly from
the shock caused by the break-up of her marriage. However, the
love and interest of her child have helped greatly to sustain her in
Winifred, now 9 years old, is physically well developed and rather
tall for her age— a charming girl, well behaved and well mannered.
She is intelligent and she has a sense of responsibility, assuming
various little duties about the house. In school she is in a rapidadvancement class o f grade 4A.
Cornelia continues to pass in the neighborhood as a married
woman. Winifred believes that her father is the man that her
mother married. She thinks her mother and father have been
The agency has had contact with the case for 10 years, with one
intermission o f 3 years following the mother’s marriage.
E stelle.— The Jones family was referred to an agency for material
relief. Estelle, 10 years of age, the oldest o f the five children,- was
not the child o f her mother’s husband, but had been born out o f wed­
lock two years before her mother’s marriage. The family was' in
very poor circumstances and was being assisted by relatives and by
a church.
The mother, Nancy, had been reared in an orphanage until she
was 14 years of age, when she was taken out and cared for by her
father. A t the orphanage she received the ordinary training, but
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her mentality was reported as very low. When she was 16 years old
she gave birth to the child, Estelle. She would not tell who was the
father. Nancy’s father and sister helped her to care for the baby in
their home.
Two years after the birth o f Estelle, Nancy married a man not the
father of the child. The stepfather earned a small salary and was
able to give his family only the bare necessities o f life. Notwith­
standing all their difficulties, Nancy persisted in keeping her little
girl with her. They lived in a poor neighborhood amid squalid,
miserable surroundings. The mother was in poor health for a num­
ber o f years, and the little girl assisted in caring for her four younger
half-sisters. The stepfather was always good to Estelle and treated
her as his own, and she was entirely unaware o f the difference in
parentage. The mother worked, when she was able, going out even­
ings to scrub office buildings.
With the assistance of the church and the agency, the home con­
ditions gradually improved.
A year after the case was referred to the agency the stepfather
died o f influenza. Financial relief was obtained from a social agency,
and a “ mother’s allowance ” was granted by the county. This in­
come, with a little supplementary help, enabled the mother and
children to get along comfortably.
Estelle completed the eighth grade when but 13 years o f age and
was enrolled in a two-year commercial course. She had a superior
mind, and her teachers were much impressed by her high principles.
She graduated from the commercial course with the highest honors,
and a good position was obtained for her. When her mother attended
the graduation tears o f joy filled her eyes; she was justly proud of
the girl’s success.
There was a deep-rooted love on the part o f this child for her
mother and sisters. A t the death of the stepfather she assumed his
place in the family. The mother was mentally and physically in­
competent to manage the household. The daughter was o f a dis­
tinctly opposite type from the mother—very refined in her manner
and modest in her bearing, whereas the mother was loud and coarse.
But the mother had an outstanding love for her children and was
extremely proud o f Estelle’s ability.
The mother died shortly after the girl’s graduation, and the
children are now being cared for by their maternal aunt. Estelle
has a good position as stenographer, and she gives all her earnings
to her aunt for the support o f herself and her sisters.
Although the mother’s past history was known to a number of
people in her neighborhood her status in the community and in her
church was not lowered thereby, as she proved herself a good mother
to her children and lived down the mistake of her girlhood. So
far as is known Estelle is unaware of her illegitimate birth.
Estelle’s father never assumed paternal responsibility.
The agency has had continuous contact for seven years.
R obert.—When Robert was 4 years old his relatives applied to an
agency for help in placing him in a boarding home. The mother,
Minnie, 32 years old at this time, had had two children of illegiti­
mate birth before Robert was born, both of whom had been placed
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



in foster homes during infancy. W ith the third child the mother
remained in a maternity home for two years. Then she married
and took Eobert to her husband’s home. A fter two years the couple
separated, and Minnie found herself dependent on her relatives for
the support o f herself, Eobert, and another child born of the
Nothing was known of the father of Eobert.
On mental examination Minnie was pronounced an imbecile.
Eiforts were made to place her in a suitable institution, but this
was not done for several years. During the interval Minnie first
worked as a domestic servant; later she lived with her husband or
her relatives. Several times she disappeared after stealing rather
large sums o f money from employers. Finally she went to the
maternity home, where she had found shelter during her first three
pregnancies, and asked to be placed where she would be shielded
from temptation. She was then placed in a home for feeble-minded
During these years Eobert and the boy of legitimate birth were
boarded in foster homes under the supervision o f the agency, first
separately and then together, the husband contributing occasional
small amounts to their board. After four and a half years together
they were separated again for their mutual benefit. Eobert* was
then placed in the care of a superior type o f boarding mother, where
he remained four years, until he reached his fifteenth year.
After leaving this foster home the boy lived for nine months in
his grandmother’s home, his mother being still in the school for
the feeble-minded. The house was crowded, and the presence of a
big, active boy was too much for the family nerves; but the whole
household has always regarded him with affection. He was again
placed in an agency foster home, because, in spite of the kindly
attitude of his family, it was felt that he needed a more normal and
stimulating home atmosphere. In this last home he found a wise
and vitally interested foster father and mother, who became as sin­
cerely attached to him as he to them. They have seen him through
the crises of adolescence with understanding and affection and have
given him a real home.
He graduated with honor from a good technical school, having
earned enough while at school to help out substantially with his
expenses. He is above the average in intelligence.
As a very small boy Eobert had an attitude of contempt toward
his mother, due in part to his having heard adverse comment on her
character and intelligence from foster parents and from her own
family. By the time he was 16 this attitude had become one of
marked bitterness, and manifested itself in deliberate rudeness and
unkindness. The agency worker talked' the matter over with him
with unsparing frankness and scathingly rebuked him for his cruelty.
His attitude gradually changed, and he now treats his mother with a
kindness and consideration for which she is pathetically grateful.
By the time Eobert was 18 Minnie’s mother had become a chronic
invalid. One o f her half-sisters had married, and the other was
working. Minnie was then 42 and had improved so much in the
home for the feeble-minded that it was felt that she might safely
return to her family. So for four years she has been their hard
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working, efficient—but unpaid—housekeeper, earning enough money
for her few needs by doing work outside for some o f the neighbors.
Visits and telephone calls from her son, membership in the adult
Bible class in the church, and an occasional dinner and motion-picture
show with the agency worker are the high lights o f her daily round
o f unselfish service to her family.
A t 19, Robert, with the agency’s approval, set out to see the world.
He worked his way to a large western city and obtained work with
a public-utility concern. He took a night position so that he could
study at the local university by day. He is now back in his native
and holds a good position in the branch office of the western
company. He is a fine, clean, upstanding, gentlemanly lad.
He sees his stepfather occasionally and seems to have some regard
for him. The stepfather has always declared that he would never
tell the boy the circumstances o f his birth. He did, however, tell
him many details o f his mother’s past delinquencies, and it seems
likely that Robert knows of his illegitimate birth, though he has
never spoken o f it.
The agency has had contact with the mother intermittently, since
before Robert’s birth to the present time.
George.—When the case was referred to the agency Mary’s baby,
George, was 2 weeks old. The mother needed the agency’s help in
getting the father to pay something toward the child’s support.
She was 19 and had been a domestic worker, earning $8 a week. She
had completed the eight elementary-school grades, and she talked
well. Her mother was dead, and she had lived with her father and
sister. She had two brothers, who lived away from home. When
her father learned o f her pregnancy he turned her out. On the day
her child was born she had walked several miles in a heavy rain to
the home o f a former employer, a wealthy woman, who sheltered her
and sent for a physician. He rushed her to a hospital, where the
baby was born almost immediately. The mother and the baby were
later placed by this same kind woman in a maternity home, where
they remained for more than six months. Then they went to’Mary’s
home, peace having been made with her father by her brothers and
A year or two before, she and her sister, who was pretty (Mary was
not), had joined a theatrical troupe as part o f the “ multitude.”
They went with the company to another city for a time and then
home city. Having made some money, they es­
tablished themselves in an apartment on a notorious avenue and pro­
ceeded to entertain. According to Mary’s story they had many
Though these circumstances made it doubtful whether the
child s paternity could be fixed Mary insisted that she could prove
her case.
Little was learned about the alleged father, beyond the fact that
he was foreign born. He was well established in business and
boarded in an excellent' neighborhood, and appeared to have a con­
siderably higher social status than Mary. He was seen only twice
by the agency worker, both times with his attorney, in conference
with Mary, her attorney, and the agency worker. He was good
looking and well groomed, and he seemed well educated. Mary
1112— 28------- 5
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seemed amazed at His formal manner. The man did not deny the
He signed an agreement to pay $10 a month for the child. After
two or three payments he asked to close the case with a settlement
o f $350. This amount was refused, and $800 was suggested. A
compromise was effected for $500, and the money was paid in cash.
After the receipt was given to the man, in the presence o f both law*
yers and Mary, he dropped entirely out o f her life. Mary paid the
attorney who represented her a fee of $25.
Within the next year Mary married a widower with one child.
The money may have been an asset in the marriage. She attempted
to draw so heavily on it that the agency refused to advance any but
the monthly allowance stipulated. The agency worker visited the
new home and met the husband. He owned a small house, which
might have been attractive but which was instead untidy, dirty, and
ill ventilated. The husband was antagonistic to the agency. He
could not or would not see the justice o f protecting George’s money.
The agency finally agreed to turn over any unexpended balance after
the child was legally adopted, and this was done within a year.
Mary died from tuberculosis when George was 7. Her sister, who
had married a brother of Mary’s husband, took the little boy. He is
in their home at the present time.
The agency has had contact with the case, intermittently, for
nine years.
Adjustm ent of children before marriage of mothers.

The following story o f John is given by way o f contrast with the
preceding stories. The mother o f this child showed unusual sta­
bility, remaining in one place of employment for 15 years. She came
to this country only a few months before the child’s birth and appar­
ently had been known as a widow. She did not marry until her son
was 15 years of age. The story illustrates the kind of case in which
the child is well adjusted before the mother’s marriage in the house­
hold where the mother was employed in domestic service.
John.—A 19-year-old mother o f foreign birth, Gertrude was re­
ferred to the agency by a hospital when her baby was about 1 year
old. She had been employed by the hospital after leaving the mater­
nity ward, and she now was seeking household employment in a home
where she could keep the child, John.
Gertrude had been two years in the United States, having left her
native country when she was pregnant. She knew little o f American
ways but proved quick and adaptable. She never mentioned her
relatives, and probably they were all in Europe. Her baby attracted
the interest and attention o f all who saw him because of his fine
physical condition and his beauty. Gertrude was devoted to him,
and she had no plan except to work for him and keep him. There
was no information concerning her employment record previous to
the child’s birth.
Gertrude impressed everybody coming in contact with her as being
intelligent and capable o f managing her affairs. Her education in her
own language was fair, and her health was good.
Very little was recorded o f the child’s father. Apparently he was
superior in station to the mother. He was known to have written to
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis





the mother from Europe when the child was about 5 years old. Her
employer, who knew her well, had reason to think that the man sent a
sum of money for the child.
The agency placed Gertrude at domestic service with John in a
good type o f suburban home, where both remained for 15 years.
She was most satisfactory in her work, and she showed much strength
of character. Her employer’s family, three adults, took great in­
terest in the boy’s development and education. From the beginning
he showed evidence of good mental and physical powers. His prog­
ress through the elementary school was satisfactory, and he graduated
from high school when he was IT. Besides doing well in his studies
he excelled in athletics and was the champion high jumper o f the
high schools o f the county. He won a scholarship and is now a
sophomore in one of the largest and best-known universities. The
family who employed his mother are much interested in his career
and are helping to pay his college expenses. John works every sum­
mer to help pay these expenses ; his mother also contributes a share.
The relations between mother and son through the years have been
in every way harmonious.
When John was in the fourth year o f the high-school course
Gertrude was married to a man employed on the place where she
lived so long— a man in fairly prosperous circumstances. Shortly
after the marriage he bought a large farm, and the couple went to live
there. No children have been born o f the marriage. Last summer
John stayed with them, going to work each day in a large town
near by, where he obtained a temporary position in a laboratory.
The future o f Gertrude and her son seems secure. Certainly she
never Has regretted keeping the boy. It is not known whether he sus­
pects anything irregular in his birth. I f the truth becomes known
it is probable that it will make no difference to him. His natural
gifts command respect from all who know him, and he is receiving
excellent training in the professional career that he has chosen.

Ninety-eight mothers did not marry after the birth of their chil­
dren (three o f these mothers had been married, however, before the
birth o f the child considered in the study). The great majority of
the children o f these mothers (T3 per cent) were still under 16 years
of age at the time the last information was obtained, and consequently
many o f them were still in need o f considerable periods o f care and
supervision. The periods o f time, however, during which they had
been in the custody o f their mothers seemed sufficient to indicate
whether their best interests would be served by a continuance o f this
plan. F ifty o f the 98 mothers who did not marry were known
generally as married women, representing themselves as widows or
deserted wives. Seven were known in the community as unmarried
mothers, and 12 concealed the fact o f their motherhood. No infor­
mation was obtained as to the status in the community o f 29 mothers.
In some o f the 12 cases in which the mother concealed the fact o f
her motherhood the child had been placed in the home of relatives
where his parentage was known only to the family, even the child’
himself not knowing his mother. In a few cases the mother boarded
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the child in a family home or an institution where she visited him
but kept all knowledge o f the child from her neighbors and her asso­
ciates at work. Most o f these mothers saw their children from time
to time—some o f them frequently—and many o f them were support­
ing the children unassisted, though only 44 o f the 98 were keeping
the children with them. Three mothers had died, 2 were in hos­
pitals for the insane, and 49 others were living away from their chil­
dren at the time o f the last information.
Fewer changes from place to place were necessary for most o f the
children who were received into the homes o f relatives wheii. quite
young than for children placed elsewhere.
In grouping the following histories the emphasis was placed not
on the home in which the child was first cared for nor on the home in
which he was living at last information, but on the home which
appeared to have been most largely responsible for the child’s adjust­
ment in the community and his preparation for self-support.

Although much uncertainty as to the outcome is involved in the
return o f an unmarried mother with her child to the home in which
she was reared, sometimes a mother faces the ordeal either because
no other course seems open to her or because she realizes that by
going home she will give the child the opportunity for a normal home
life. Thirty-four of the mothers who returned home in the begin­
ning with their babies married later; 10 mothers did not marry but
continued living with their relatives until their death or to the time
o f the last information. Four mothers did not return home immedi­
ately after the birth of the child. .In two of these cases the baby was
received by the mother’s parents before she returned home. Only 3
o f these 10 mothers who did not marry but remained in their parental
homes were generally known in their communities as having a child
o f illegitimate birth. One had been married before and had no
difficulty in passing her child as legitimate; and 2 did not acknowl­
edge their maternity, claiming some other relative as the mother.
The ostensible status o f 4 mothers was not clear.
Those mothers who returned after the children were beyond infancy
found no difficulty in passing as widows.
The following stories o f Genevieve and Hugh show the efforts made
by the mothers and their parents to protect the children from knowl­
edge o f their unusual situation even when the mothers face the
problems squarely.
G&mvieve.—Betty, Genevieve’s mother, was six months pregnant
when she was brought to the agency by her foster mother, Mrs. L.
with whom she had been living in another State.
Mrs. L. and her husband had lived in a scattered New England
village. They owned a tiny farm, which yielded a scanty hay and
potato crop. The proceeds from this, together with Mr. L .’s Army
pension, supported them. When Mrs. L. was 53 and her husband
much older they adopted a baby 14 days old, Betty, whose mother had
died at the girl’s birth, leaving nine growing children. Their father
was poor and was struggling with an unproductive farm, so that he
welcomed the offer to adopt the baby.
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Betty was brought up with no knowledge o f the fact that she had
been adopted, and she became the center o f the home life. She was
sweet and obedient, and devoted to the elderly couple. When Mr. L.
died, Betty and Mrs. L. became almost inseparable companions.
Betty was a well-behaved child in school, and she regularly attended
the little village church and Sunday school. As she grew older she
taught a class and played the organ at the church services. She was
kind to everyone, visiting neighbors who were sick or in trouble.
She had attended a rural school, where she finished the elementary
grades, but failed in two subjects when taking high-school examina­
tions. This was a great disappointment to her, and later when
several new subjects were added to the grammar-school curriculum,
she returned for another year. Occasionally she did some clerical
work at a village store and earned a little money to tide her mother
and herself over a hard time. They lived frugally always.
Mr. B., a family friend who lived on a prosperous farm a few
miles away, helped the two women to garner their crops and advised
them in their business affairs. They often turned to him and to his
wife, who, having no children of her own, was especially fond of
Betty. Often Mrs. B. stopped for the girl on her way to church
services or took her home afterwards. Mrs. B. had been a teacher
and could help Betty in many ways, and a warm friendship grew
up between them.
_ Betty went seldom to social affairs and knew few young people.
The fact that one young man called upon her several times was a
matter for comment. When she was 20 years old she went to her
mother in great distress and told her that she was pregnant. It was
k ke the explosion of a bomb. Mrs. L. became wild and hysterical.
When she came to herself she made immediate plans for taking
Betty to the ctiy, where she thought they could hide the disgrace,
dispose o f the baby, and return to their old life.
The girl was quiet, self-contained, serious, and amiable; brave
when speaking o f herself but crying bitterly when speaking o f her
foster mother. She showed much simplicity combined with unex­
pected determination. Mrs. L. wanted to leave Betty in the care of
the agency until after the birth o f the child and then to take Betty
^^ e’ ~®avmg the baby to the care o f the State. Betty was fond
baby and wished to keep her but would have given her up to
satisfy her mother, whose grief over the situation was her first
When Mrs. L. and Betty applied to the agency for advice Betty
said that their only neighbor, Mr. C., a man over 60 and a family
friend, had assaulted her when she was alone in the schoolhouse
doing some cleaning. She gave the story in detail and was clear in
nerstatement. Both mother and daughter begged that no effort be
made to obtain support from him lest the whole story should become
public. 1 he visitor for the agency told them that no promise could
be made, as it would be necessary to establish paternity.
in J v 7 I as Placed in a maternity home, where she was generally
liked by the matron and the other girls.
A man worker from the agency called upon Mr. C. and told him
about tne case. He was astounded and furious, denying the whole
s ory and calling in his housekeeper to corroborate his statements.
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This woman was an inveterate gossip and the following day spread
the news broadcast. Still Betty stolidly repeated her original story.
The birth of the baby was difficult, and the child began life with
a broken leg. Betty was devoted to her, giving her the tenderest care.
Possibly because o f her softened feeling she finally told the matron
of the home the true story of the child’s paternity, admitting that
Mr. B. had several times had sex relations with her. She said that
she had tried to protect him because o f gratitude for all he had done
for them and because of her affection for his wife.
The agency’s visitor met Mr. B. by appointment. He was accom­
panied by his wife, and he had consulted his attorney. He denied the
story and refused to do anything for the mother or the baby, saying
that as Betty had made one false accusation she would have no case
in court.
The visitor saw Mrs. L. in her own home and found her m a state
of deep depression. Her isolation had been complete because of the
attitude of the community. No one came to the house, except that the
■postman twice a Week left a letter from Betty and a delivery boy from
the store occasionally left a package. On Christmas day Mr. C., in
spite of the injustice that had been done him, had dropped in to ask
whether he could do anything for her.
A ll plans for her to join Betty in the city were refused. She sat
rocking back and forth, saying “ Let her come back; if you can’t send
her without the baby, then send it too.” The agency visitor gave
her what comfort she could and then called upon the minister. He
was narrow in his attitude and much influenced by-public opinion,
and it was with difficulty that the visitor gave him a new point of
view. When she left hie had agreed to call upon Mrs. L.
When the baby, Genevieve, was 3 months old she and Betty were
taken home to the little farmhouse by Mrs. L., who in desperation had
gone to the city for them. Betty passively agreed to every plan made
by her mother.
Ten years have passed, and the three are still living in the same
spot. Gradually Betty resumed her old place among the village
people. She returned to her church and to her organ, found work
in a store, and went her way quietly and happily.
Frequentlv she wrote to the visitor telling of her little daughter s
progress and o f their contented home life.
A caller in the home wrote of Genevieve: u This is a beautiful child,
with light hair and rosy cheeks and appears perfectly normal. She
js in the fourth grade and likes her school work. She calls Mrs. L.
mother and thinks o f Betty as her sister. Mrs. L. said that she never
regretted taking the baby home.”
Mrs. L. has had a stroke of paralysis and is confined to her bed.
Betty takes care of her at night and earns enough to employ a woman
to do the day nursing. No daughter could give more love and
No one can tell what Betty thinks, nor whether Genevieve wonders
about her father, nor why the community changed and accepted them
both. It may be that the visitor actually did give the minister a
new scale of values and that his influence spread through the village;
or the magnanimous attitude of Mr. C. may have set an example to
the townspeople.
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The agency has had contact with the case for 10 years. Though
as an active case it was closed after one year, informal contact has
eontinued to the present time.
Hugh.—When referred to the agency Sylvia Brown, a lovely 21year-old girl, and her 2-year-old son, Hugh, were living with Sylvia’s
family, consisting o f her parents and a number of grown brothers
and sisters. The Brown family were plain working people, highly
respected, who had lived for many years in the same house. Sylvia
had been a favorite among her associates, and she had been prominent
in all the activities of the parish where the family lived and in which
she and her brothers and sisters had gone to school. Like most of
the other girls o f her neighborhood Sylvia had gone to work in a
factory after she graduated from the elementary school. She was
expert at her work and made good wages. She was of a fine physical
type, and her face had both strength and beauty. She seemed nor­
mal, and no mental examination was made. (It seems now as though
mental examination would have been desirable, as her father had
spent two years in a State hospital for the insane and one o f her
sisters was an epileptic.)
When Sylvia became pregnant it was expected by her family and
that of the young man responsible that they would marry. The man
failed her, and she determined to keep her child and provide for him.
Early in her pregnancy her mother had taken her to a maternity
home in an effort to protect the family name. It may be that the
home’s insistence on breast feeding influenced her, but it is likely that
this girl under any circumstances would have kept her child purely
from maternal affection. The maternity home had kept the mother
and the baby for more than a year, waiting until the Brown family
could have them come home. The delay was due to the mental con­
dition o f the father o f the family. After his removal to a hospital
' Sylvia and Hugh went home, and the family received them affection­
ately, and never referred to the circumstances o f Hugh’s birth.
The father was a young man who lived with his parents in the
neighborhood where the Browns lived. He had been paying Sylvia
attention; and, though they were not engaged, their friends had
thought that they would marry. He had had an elementary-school
education and had worked at mechanical jobs. He was only about,
20 years old and apparently had not yet settled down definitely to
any occupation. He was o f a different religion from the girl, and
this was an obstacle to their marriage. It seems clear that he lacked
the character and stability that characterized the girl.
During Sylvia’s stay in the maternity home an effort was made by
the staff o f the home to bring about marriage, or, at least, a settle­
ment for the child; but it failed, and Hugh was born without his
father’s having assumed any responsibility. It was believed by
Sylvia and the worker at the maternity home that this failure was
due to the influence o f the young man’s parents. He made no denial
o f paternity; in fact, he admitted his confidence in the girl’s char­
acter and his firm belief that she had not been associated intimately
with any man except himself. When he continued to withhold assist­
ance Sylvia was induced to institute court action, which resulted in
the man’s conviction. He was ordered to pay $30 a year for seven
years toward Hugh’s support—the maximum amount that could be
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ordered under the law. The sum was paid regularly for the full
Sylvia resumed her factory work and has continued it ever since.
The father o f the family returned from the hospital when Hugh was
4 years old. Whatever he thinks regarding Hugh he has never
spoken o f it to. any o f the family. The child has always called his
grandparents mother and father, and hi§ mother by her first name.
He has asked no questions; no information has been given to him;
apparently he regards himself as one o f the children o f the family.
Hugh attends the same parochial school and Sunday school that
his mother attended, and he goes to church with the family. He
shares the activities o f the children in his neighborhood. He is a
robust boy, and he gives the impression o f excellent mentality; no
mental examination has been made.
Sylvia is regular in her attendance at church, but she has no other
break in the routine o f her home life and her work. She has always
felt keenly her position as an unmarried mother and has permitted
herself no social life except what she has in her own home and with
her child. Her physical attractiveness has increased; she is neat in
her attire and has good taste. She reads good books, and the agency
worker has found her an agreeable companion for an occasional
afternoon or evening.
In spite o f her retirement Sylvia has had some contacts with those
who were formerly her friends. It is significant that she has been
accorded only the most cordial treatment in all her relations—in the
neighborhood, at work, and in her church group. Her natural re­
serve presumably has been a protection. Her neighborhood is one
in which no great changes have taken place for years. The same
families have lived there for a long time. Necessarily, though, there
have been some newcomers. The same is true also of the place where
Sylvia has been employed all these years. Whether the newcomers
are aware o f her status she does not know. She has never made any
attempt to conceal it.
Sylvia feels that Hugh can not go' on indefinitely without asking
the truth about his parentage. That he has mingled freely with the
children of his community in school, at play, and in church activities,
up to the age o f 12 years without any embarrassing situation having
arisen, seems to her most remarkable. She feels that the time must
come soon when it will be necessary for her to tell him the truth.
Though the prospect o f such an ordeal fills her with apprehension,
it is characteristic of her that ,she has no thought except to meet the
obligation when the time comes. She expresses no fear as to the
consequences for herself— only for the effect on the child. W ill his
life be spoiled? Her mother, the only member o f the family with
whom she has talked about the matter, believes that Hugh will go on
indefinitely as he is now and that Sylvia is unnecessarily concerned.
Sylvia’s stability, with the protection of her family group, should
help Hugh to make whatever adjustments may be necessary. That
he will have every advantage it is possible for his mother and her
family to give him seems certain. The child is handsome, well
trained, and capable. His natural endowment in all probability will
help to safeguard him if a crisis should arise in his life.
The agency had contact with the case five years, with further con­
tact by a former worker for four more years.
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Frederich.—While at boarding school Evelyn had become preg­
nant. The man in the case was said to be an instructor at the school.
Evelyn was the youngest o f three children and had been a trouble­
some girl. After her child was born she had shown strength o f
character—returning to her mother’s home with the baby, in spite
o f much gossip among the people o f the small town where she lived.
Evelyn’s mother maintained the home on a small income, her father
having been for years in a hospital for the insane. Before he be­
came insane the father had been a much-respected resident o f the
town. Evelyn’s older brother and sister, both o f whom later became
deranged mentally, were part o f the household.
When Frederick, the child, was 2 years old, friends o f the family
advised Evelyn to apply to the social agency for help in taking him
away from the town, fearing that the gossip would injure the boy’s
future. She loved the boy and was willing to do anything she could
for his sake, so she went to the agency.
With the help o f the agency Evelyn obtained work in a summer
home for children, where she could keep Frederick with her.
Evelyn’s work was satisfactory, but the boy was too lively to submit
to discipline, and soon they returned home. They remained there
until Evelyn’s death, 11 years later. The boy thereafter continued
in his grandmother’s care until her death, which took place after the
boy was grown. His grandmother sent him to boarding school.
A neighbor o f the family, a man who had known the grandfather
well, took an interest in the boy, who was intelligent, robust, and
attractive. When Frederick was 14 this man told him o f his illegiti­
mate birth, and he continued to advise him even after he grew to
manhood. When his grandmother died he moved to another town,
definitely severing all connections with the town and his relatives.
Frederick is now 25, is married, and has a child. He is in business
and owns his own home. He has not told his wife his story.
The agency closed the case after six months, but one o f the workers
has maintained friendly contact to the present.

A few mothers established homes for themselves, taking rooms
and doing various types of work to support themselves and their
children. These women usually assumed the status o f a widow.
They were on the whole self-reliant and able to plan for themselves.
The following story o f Josephine shows the successful development
o f a girl brought up in such a home. It is probable that the tem­
perament o f the mother and the constant change in living conditions
to which Dorothy (p. 69) was subjected in her early years both
contributed to the instability o f which she was giving evidence at
the time o f the last information. Most mothers who work outside
their homes find it difficult to give their children the care and com­
panionship that they need, especially through the years o f adoles­
cence, and this need is one o f the problems o f unmarried mothers
who establish homes for themselves.
Josephim .— A foreign-born woman o f 27 without relatives in this
country, Harriet was referred to the agency by the hospital where
her child, Josephine, had been born two years before. She had
been working at the hospital ever since her discharge from the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



maternity ward, She had been in domestic service before Josephine
was born, and her plan was to find a domestic position where she
could keep the child with her.
Harriet was self-reliant and forceful. In the opinion o f all who
knew her she had natural ability, good judgment, and courage in
overcoming difficulties. Her education was fair, and her natural
refinement and taste excellent. Her health was fairly good. She
felt from the first both affection and responsibility for her child.
There is nothing on record regarding the father of the child. It
has been assumed from one or two statements made by Harriet that
he was her employer in one o f the places she was in domestic service.
The agency found domestic employment for Harriet in a good
type o f suburban home, where she could keep Josephine with her.
She adapted herself well to the position. Josephine showed early
promise o f good mental ability. She was nervous and highly strung;
and her mother felt that, because frequent changes o f surroundings
are almost inevitable at housework, she should give up domestic
work and settle near a city school, where the child’s progress would
not be broken. Weighed against this undoubtedly were the more
helpful living conditions in the suburbs, where domestic workers
are most in demand.
When the little girl was 11 years old Harriet decided that the time
had come to change her manner o f living. She had thriftily ac­
cumulated some savings; and coming to the agency, she talked over
her plan o f investing this capital in a small stationery and candy
shop near a large public school. Behind the small shop were several
rooms. This change meant strict economy and much anxiety, but
she thought she could manage. And she did. Josephine went to
the public school, and her mother turned storekeeper, supplementing
her profits by doing machine sewing for women o f the neighborhood.
Josephine finished the elementary school and four years later
finished high school. The little shop supported the mother and
daughter. There were times when it seemed that the business could
not go on, and there was a period when Josephine became rather
depressed about the pinched home conditions, and there was a little
bitterness on the part o f both. However, the mother’s good man­
agement kept things going, and in the end the affection o f the mother
and daughter seemed to have been strengthened by the trials they
shared together.
When Josephine finished high school she at once took a clerical
position, and her earnings eased the strain that her mother had been
under. It was thought that she was too promising a girl to stop
for lack of training, and on money lent by a friend she had made
through the agency Josephine took a business course in a night
school and worked during the day. The school principal said that
she had rarely had a pupil who did so brilliantly as Josephine.
After graduation she obtained a good position.
When the W orld War came Josephine entered the Government
service, remaining until the armistice. Then her former employers
took her back, but after a short time she changed to a position with
better prospects. She is now earning an unusual salary for a young
woman. Her mother’s health has failed, and she does no work now.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Josephine maintains a pleasant home for both in the suburbs. Both
mother and daughter are highly esteemed in their circle. They at­
tend church and teach in the Sunday school. Josephine has many
friends, both men and women. The agency is not informed as to
whether she knows the circumstances o f her birth. There has never
been a suspicion o f anything irregular in the mother’s conduct dur­
ing the years o f her acquaintance with the agency.
The agency has been in contact with the case for 25 years. For
the last 17 years this contact has been continued only through
friendly interest.
D orothy.— On her own initiative Vera came to the agency, seek­
ing employment in a family where she might keep her child, Doro­
thy, 14 months old, with her, as she had done in her previous situa­
tion, which had been found for her by another social agency. She
was entirely dependent on her own efforts for support. Her family,
consisting o f her parents and two sisters, were friendly toward her
and welcomed her and the child to their home during intervals when
Vera was out o f work. She did not remain for long periods because
she quarreled with them.
Vera’s character was not entirely dependable. Her father summed
it up as “ wild and headstrong, not strictly honest, and untruthful.”
She spoke with regret o f her interrupted education; she had gone
to the elementary school; but the birth of a little sister, who was
very delicate and needed constant attention, made it necessary for
Vera to leave school and remain at home. Her father conducted a
small restaurant to which her mother gave most o f her time. Vera’s
health was fairly good, and her mentality was normal. She showed
more than ordinary shrewdness in managing her affairs; and her
various employers found her quick, alert, and capable. Her work
record before she came to the agency is no longer on file. She was
23 years old when the child was born.
There is no record of the father o f the child.
From first to last Vera has shown herself adaptable to circum­
stances. She is an excellent cook and can always get employment at
housework. Many old employers have asked to reemploy her; and
even though they complained that she liked to “ run things,” they
were glad to have her back. When she tired of housework she turned
easily to the finer sorts o f factory work. Her deft and skillful fingers
found employment at any time. She has done telephone operating
and practical nursing. She has never found it difficult to maintain
herself and her daughter.
When she was not doing housework, keeping Dorothy with her, the
mother and child lived in rooms where they had housekeeping privi­
leges. Several summers the agency arranged for the mother and
child to have a vacation together in an out-of-town fresh-air home.
When a baby, Dorothy was delicate, and she required hospital care
more than once. As she grew older the need for medical oversight
continued. Her education was frequently interrupted by changes
o f residence, by her own illness, and by the changes in her mother’s
form o f self-support. A t 14 years she was in the sixth grade at
¡Since Dorothy was 13 the mother and daughter have been living
in an excellent environment, in an unusually good type of model
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



apartment, consisting of two steam-heated rooms with bath. The
rent is moderate, and Vera finds no difficulty in paying it. She
earns a good salary managing a lunch room in a large industrial
plant, and although the work is hard, the hours are not long. She
passes as a widow whose husband died many years ago. Her position
among casual acquaintances is unquestioned. There have been hints
that her conduct was not been what it should be. These hints, never
investigated, have come gratuitously from different sources—her
father, a landlady with whom she once stayed for some time, and a
boarder who lived with her for a time in her apartment. When
she did housework the agency several times had complaints about
her late hours and all-night absences.
Dorothy is an attractive girl and is quicker and more intelligent
than her progress in school indicated. She lost all interest in her
school work on account of the frequent interruptions. A mental test
given to her at 16 years o f age showed she had an intelligence
quotient o f -95; she was described as emotionally unstable. One
Christmas she was made very happy by the gift o f a violin which
was her “ heart’s wish.” It is probable that when she was at a criti­
cal age she needed more care than it was possible for her busy mother
to give her and that she should not have been left to herself so much
after school hours. Some of the time when her mother was working
as a practical nurse the girl was left at home alone at night.
Dorothy has run away seven times. She has been before the chil­
dren’s court and is known to two agencies that try to help girls. I he
girl, who is now 16, says that her mother is too strict with her and
does not allow her to go out as other girls do. She belongs to a
church in the neighborhood and is allowed to attend a club meeting
one evening a week. She has complained of not being dressed as
well as other girls. A t the time she made this complaint she was
wearing a becoming khaki-colored wool dress that her mother had
made and had sat up until 3 o’clock one morning to finish. She had
on good woolen stockings and sensible brown shoes. The mother said
that the girl wanted to wear silk stockings and high-heeled slippers
and to go out every night instead o f one night a week.
The girl’s future does not look very bright. Her mother says
openly that she regrets now that she tried to rear Dorothy. She
thinks that she would have been kinder to the child if she had had her
placed for adoption in some good family. When Dorothy was
younger and her mother was doing household work, it was impos­
sible to discipline the child because her crying annoyed the employers.
The mother says that she has always tried to do her best for Dorothy
and points out that through all her difficulties and escapades she has
stood by the child.
The agency has had contact for 16 years, with two brief inter­
Meta.—Meta, Bernice’s baby, was 4 months old when Bernice was
referred by a women’s organization to the agency, a maternity home.
The baby was ill, and Bernice wanted to find a place where she and
the child could stay together. Bernice was a factory worker o f for­
eign birth, 21 years old. She had no savings. Her mother was dead.
Her aged father was living but was still in Europe. Two married
sisters and a married brother were living in the United States, but
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



none of them was willing to help the girl. One of the sisters had a
small wholesale business and was fairly well off, but neither she nor
the other members o f the family were on good terms with Bernice.
They considered her too independent, and they did not approve of
her ways; she on her part did not care for theirs.
Bernice had begun working at an early age. She had had very
little schooling but had good natural ability. She had little refine­
ment of manner, but she was straightforward and had a good deal of
initiative. She was extremely fond o f her child and was anxious to
keep her.
The father of the child was a barber. Bernice told the agency
worker that she had been very much in love with this man for nearly
five years, but that she did not urge him to marry her, as he was
earning very little— she earned more than he did. While Bernice
was pregnant the man married another girl. Bernice refused to
press a charge against him, and paternal responsibility was never
Six months after Bernice and the baby, Meta, were admitted to the
home, the agency placed Meta in a foster home, and Bernice took a
domestic position. After a short time there she took a position in
the mountains, where she could get better pay, but when the summer
ended she gave up domestic work and entered a factor}^. She then
rented a two-room apartment and took the child to live with her,
and she has continued these arrangements ever since. Before Meta
was old enough to go to school Bernice used to leave her at a day
nursery or with neighbors during factory hours.
Although the work is seasonal Bernice has always been able to save
enough during the busy season to last her through the periods of
unemployment, but she has no savings. She is a pretty good house­
keeper and always keeps her rooms neat. She and the child are
fairly well dressed. She poses as a widow and uses the name o f the
child’s father.
Meta is extremely bright. She is in the first half o f the sixth
grade at school, although she is only 10 years old. She reads a great
deal and has a gift for recitation. She is healthy and attractive and
is rather tall for her age. She does not know o f her illegitimate
birth. She believes that her father is dead. Bernice is well able to
talite care of her and to continue her education. She is very proud of
Meta’s ability.
The agency had contact with the case for 10 years continuously,
giving friendly interest and advice; Bernice has never needed
material assistance.
P olly and Sam.— Eleanor’s case was referred to the social agency
by an infant-welfare nurse who found that the baby, Sam, a few
months old, was in bad physical condition on account o f separation
from his mother. Eleanor, an 18-year-old colored girl, was doing
household work to pay the board o f this baby and o f her other child,
a girl a year and a half old, also o f illegitimate birth. It was hoped
that the agency would be able to help get the father o f the two chil­
dren to contribute to their support, so that Eleanor could take employ­
ment that would enable her to give some care to the children. A t this
time she was living at her employer’s house and could see the children
only once a week. She had no relatives.
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Eleanor’s childhood had been spent in an institution for dependent
children. She wrote an excellent letter, and she must have received
at least elementary schooling at the institution. A t the age of 15 she
had been placed in the home o f a colored man and wife who stood
well in their community and who had given excellent references.
While living with this couple Eleanor became pregnant by the
husband, and the first baby. Polly, was born in the home. As soon
as she was well Eleanor left the couple and took two rooms in the
home o f a reliable colored woman whom she could trust to take care
o f the baby. She then went to work in a factory. The father had
contributed to the support of the child, as the mother could not earn
enough without his help, and this dependence gave him some in­
fluence over her, but there was between them also considerable real
affection. She had continued to associate with him and after about
a year a second child, Sam, was born.
The father o f the children had been well educated, and he was
employed as a butler, making $35 a week besides extra money. His
wife, to whom he had been married five years, also was employed.
They owned a house in a neighborhood where the houses had been
occupied formerly by white people o f means. When he wrote to
the agency he used excellent stationery; and he never failed to send
an addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. He was 24 when the
first child was born.
He made a feeble attempt to deny that he was the father o f the
second child, but Eleanor had proof so positive that when confronted
with it he admitted the truth. He signed an agreement to pay $20
a month. I f he had been single it is probable that he and Eleanor
would have married.
The agency worker persuaded Elea*nor and the man to break off
their association. The wife, who frequently brought the payments
for the children to the office of the agency, also exerted her influence
to keep the man away from Eleanor.
Eleanor gave up domestic work and obtained a position in a
restaurant, so that she could be with the children at night as well
as some portion of the day.
Four years ago Eleanor took the two children to a city at some
distance, where she had found work. In a recent letter from her
to the agency worker she said that she is now employed in a hotel
and that she lives near it, so that she can see the children during the
day. She inclosed in the letter a picture of the children. Polly is
now a tall and slender child of 8 years. Sam is head and shoulders
taller than his sister, though about a year younger. The girl had
been healthy always, and the boy has improved in health. So far
as is known, the children do not know their father. Eleanor wrote
o f her gratitude to the agency and expressed the hope that she would
never lose her friend, the agency worker.
Eleanor’s efforts in caring for the children have been commend­
able. She has worked hard that they might have proper food and
clothing. W ith her affection for their father it is not surprising
that she loved and kept the children.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for nine years.
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Boarding homes are coming into, use more and more for children
who must be provided for away from relatives. The agencies that
had given serious attention to procuring suitable boarding homes for
children o f unmarried mothers found this a very satisfactory way o f
providing for children, especially those who presented behavior d if­
ficulties or other serious problems. Some children were placed in
boarding homes with their mothers, others without them. In both
types o f placement the relation between the child and the foster fam­
ily frequently resulted in satisfactory contacts for the child in the
community and gave promise of similar good results in the future.
In the life o f Margaret, whose story follows, the influence o f the
boarding mother was the main factor. In the case of Anne (p. 75)
it would seem to be companionship with her mother that had the
greatest influence on the little girl. The story o f Anne also gives
some indication o f the helpful guidance and assistance that an agency
worker maintained throughout the life o f the child.
The mother who places her child in a boarding home and lives in
the home where she is employed or elsewhere may be able to live her
own life without acknowledging relationship to the child. The story
of Mary (p. 78) illustrates this situation.
Margaret.—Alice, the oldest daughter in a large family living in
a small industrial community, was only 13 when her mother was sent
to a hospital for the insane, where she remained permanently.
Aliceas father was a capable workman, but he drank and was often
abusive to his children. As soon as the girl was 14, after a few
months in high school, she went to work in a local factory. She
earned good wages, but when she was 16 her father, tired of incom­
petent housekeepers, kept her at home to run the house. Honest,
warm-hearted, craving friendship, but crude in manner and gro­
tesque in dress, she had no desirable girl friends. Her two nearest
neighbors were women o f ill repute. Associating with them, she
began hanging around the train yards and going to dance halls. She
had sex experience with more than one man. She was only 17 when
her child, Margaret, was born. A county agency had referred the
case to the agency that contributed the history, because Alice’s fam­
ily, though willing to receive her back into the home, did not want
the baby.
The baby’s father lived with his thrifty parents in a neighboring
town. He was known as a fancy dancer and at the time o f the baby’s
birth seemed to have no other occupation. Later he became a street­
car conductor. He was not strong and was predisposed to tubercu­
losis. He had disappeared before the birth of the child, but with the
cooperation of public officials he was found and brought to court.
He was adjudged the father o f the child and was ordered to pay
$3 per week toward her support.
Alice refused to give up her child but was incapable of making
any plan for herself and gladly consented to let the agency try to
find a place for them. With the idea that the mother could be taught
domestic work and placed in a household with her baby, the agency
boarded them both with a keen, forceful, kindly woman, Mrs. M.
It soon appeared that Alice, though willing and good-tempered, was
unequal to the double task of caring for the baby and working.
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Feeling that she needed the protection and influence o f good family
life the agency worker decided to let her try a housework place
alone (even though this involved the baby’s being boarded separ­
ately for a time), hoping that with experience and further training
Alice would later be able to have the baby with her. Mrs. M. con­
tinued to board the baby, and the mother visited the boarding home
frequently. After Alice had made two unsuccessful attempts at
housework during a period of eight months, the agency persuaded
Mrs. M. to take her back as a permanent boarder, so that she could
work during the day and live with her child.
Work was found for her in a near-by factory, the agency supple­
menting her wages so that she could pay the expenses o f herself and
the child. The fact that she had a child became known to her fore­
man. He promoted her to a department paying higher wages but
made improper advances to her. She repulsed him; he then demoted
her and told her story to others. As a result the situation became so
unpleasant that she was obliged to leave. She next got work in a
large factory in another part of the city and has worked there ever
since. She soon earned enough to meet most of her own expenses and
the baby’s. During the W orld War, for a time, she earned more
than $30 a week. A t present her wages are from $16 to $30 a week,
according to the pressure o f work. For two years she has been prac­
tically self-supporting, the agency helping out occasionally in slack
Mrs. M. has doubled her rate o f board, keeping pace with the in­
creased cost of living and with Alice’s increased earnings. In spite
of this, Alice could easily be altogether self-supporting if she could
ever be taught foresight and self-restraint in her expenditures. Per­
haps the fact that the agency is behind her tends to make her slow
to acquire these virtues. But it must be remembered she has learned
much. For instance, at first she would take no care of her own
clothes and would appropriate Mr,s. M.’s garments, whereas she now
makes most of her own and her little daughter’s clothing.
Some years ago Alice was given a mental examination and rated as
u subnormal.” She is almost entirely lacking in ability to plan; this
accounts for the fact that she can not do housework efficiently, though
she is successful in performing a routine task at the factory. She also
seems to have difficulty in grasping abstract ideas. Her thriftlessness
arises largely from her inability to picture herself as facing future
problems o f sickness, unemployment, or old age.
Margaret is now 8 years old. She has been cared for by Mrs. M.
practically ever since she and her mother were accepted by the agency.
She is a shy, affectionate, clinging youngster. She has always called
Mrs. M. “ mother ” and addresses her own mother by her first name.
From the first Alice has taken care of her when she was not at w ork;
she always dressed her in the morning and put her to bed at night.
Two or three years ago Mrs. M. told the little girl that she was not
her mother. The child reflected; and then said, “ Who is mv mother
if you are not?”
“ W ho would you like to have for your mother?” questioned Mrs. M.
Another pause, then very slowly and thoughtfully: “ I ’d like Alice
to be my mother.”
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




-J k

“ Well,” said Mrs. M., “ She is your own dear mother, but you must
keep it as a secret between you and her, and never, never say a word
about it to anyone else.”
Since then the bond between mother and child has been closer than
ever. Margaret has not yet questioned the absence of a father and
is presumably unaware that any stigma might attach to her or her
mother by reason of this absence. She can not be said therefore to
know o f her illegitimate birth.
Margaret has a good mind, is very observant, does satisfactory
work in school, and loves to read. She appears to be well liked by
other children. The little daughter of a very respectable neighbor
has been for a long time her chosen chum and playmate. She is
invited to children’s parties given in the neighborhood.
She has been from the first a delicate child but under medical super­
vision is outgrowing a tubercular tendency as well as some kidney and
nutritional difficulties.
Alice’s status as an unmarried mother is quite generally known in
her community. She associates almost entirely with another girl in
like circumstances, who, with her child, has been boarding with Mrs.
M. for three years. From the fact that neither girl has any intimate
friends at the factory where they both work it seems as if their status
is known there also. They go to the movies together and usually go
to one of the out-of-town dance halls on Saturday nights. This
gives them a chance to meet men who do not know their background.
The other girl has a good many fleeting love affairs, but Alice does
not. They attend church regularly but do not seem to come in touch
with any o f the church groups.
Alice is' unswerving in her devotion to Margaret. She has a vast
contempt for any mother who consents to give up her child. She is
very proud of the little girl and ambitious for her. Last year she
persuaded the visitor from the social agency to let her buy a second­
hand piano so that the child could have music lessons. Mrs. M.
advanced the money, but so far Alice has refunded only $10.
This mother is now 26 years old, with no marriage prospect in
view. There seems to be no reason why she and her little girl may
not remain with Mrs. M. or in some similar home indefinitely. The
agency will continue supervision and will see that Margaret goes
through high school and is equipped to support herself.
Payments by the father of Margaret have been most irregular,
partly because of the man’s ill health and partly because o f the negli­
gence o f the probation officer. The father has never communicated
directly with either the mother or the child, but three or four years
ago he induced the probation officer to suggest to the agency that
the mother be asked to give up Margaret for adoption, as this would
end his obligation.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for almost
nine years'.
Am ie.—When Anne was 2 years old her mother, Irma, applied to
the agency for help in finding a position where she could keep the
child with her. Before applying to the agency Irma had been em­
ployed in a child-caring institution, where she had worked for almost
two years at a low salary, keeping the child with her. Because the
superintendent wished Anne to go to the institution’s summer home

1112— 28------6
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



while the mother remained at her work, the mother decided to make
a change and consulted a nurse in the hospital where Anne was born.
This nurse referred her to the agency that contributed the case to the
Irma told the agency worker that she was 18 years old when she
became pregnant, that she was the daughter o f a family qf means
and refinement, that her father had died some years before, and that
she and her mother had been supported by her two brothers. She
said that she had completed the course in a private school with a
view to entering college, and that she and the father o f her child had
grown up together, their families being friends. She seemed to be
of more than average intelligence. She said that she had never held
any position before the child’s birth.
By arrangement o f the man responsible for her pregnancy, Irma had
left her home city to keep from her family the knowledge of it. She
entered a general hospital, where a private room was provided by the
man. A t this time she intended to give up the baby. When the baby
was born, however, Irma wished to see her, and she immediately
decided that she would nurse the child while in the hospital. After
three weeks she was unwilling to give the baby up.
Irma told the agency worker that she had written her mother after
Anne’s birth, telling about the child, and that her letter had not been
acknowledged. She was unwilling that any further attempt be made
to interest her relatives.
The father o f Anne was a college student o f 20 when the child
was born. His family was a well-known one in his community—
cultured, though o f moderate means. He had not been employed
except during summer vacations. He was unmarried, and he made
his home with his mother and stepfather, his father, being dead.
Until Anne was nearly 2 years old he came at intervals to the insti­
tution to see her and her mother. He had given financial assistance
in small amounts, but there had been no question o f any formal ar­
rangement for the child’s support. With the completion of his
college course, four months before the mother and child became
known to the agency, the father’s visits had ceased, and the mother
had not heard from him since then.
Anne and her mother were boarded by the agency until employ­
ment was procured for the mother. The position found for her was
in a business house where the salary was adequate to support herself
and the child. She was unable to hold it because o f inability to meet
the public. She had little initiative ; and her long residence in the
institution, practically in seclusion, had emphasized her naturally
retiring manner. Her second position was as a factory operator, her
own choice. After she had been for a time at this work, where she
made fair wages, the agency helped her to obtain work in a depart­
ment store where salesmanship was taught. She was successful
there and during eight years held positions in two stores, reaching a
maximum salary o f $25 a week. The mother and child alwavs lived
After several months o f acquaintance with the agency worker the
mother gave the name and address o f her family. A personal letter
addressed to her mother by the worker, without telling her the
actual circumstances and with no mention o f the child, was not
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j£ .



answered and was not returned. Another attempt to locate the
family at this address failed.
The father was found by the agency to be teaching in a high-grade
private school. He agreed in a letter to contribute $3 a week for
Anne’s support, but he would not bind himself as to the length of
time this help would be provided. (He could not have been com­
pelled to do anything, because of statutory limitations as to the time
wTithin which court action can be brought.) He has voluntarily in­
creased this amount twice and at the time the history was written
was paying $25 per month. Verbally he has admitted paternity and
has stated that he expected to continue the payments until the child’s
education is completed, if possible— at least until she has finished
high school. His payments are made through the agency.
Though the father had correspondence with the office he was not
personally known to the agency worker until the child was more than
6 years old. A t this time he told the worker a story o f his associa­
tion with Irma which differed from the one that had been given by
her. He said that they had made a chance acquaintance while they
were both employed at a summer resort. Irma was a special maid
in a very wealthy family. She had told him nothing about her
people. He was sure that she was a good girl and that her associa­
tion with him had been her first one o f this kind.
The father came to see Anne and her mother in their boarding
homes several times. When the child was 3 years old the father
offered to marry Irma as a means of reparation for the injury he had
done her and the child. His reason for not taking this action earlier
was his financial inability to support them. When his offer came
Irma knew that he loved another girl, whom he desired to marry,
and she refused the offer. (He married this girl four years later.)
The last time he came to see the mother and child was-when Anne
was 4 years old. Gn this occasion he either told the child that he
was her father or in some way gave her to understand his relation­
ship to her. Some months later Anne mentioned her father to her
mother, who had always taught the child that her father was dead.
The mother continued her plan o f working in the store and living
with Anne until the child was 12. The mother then decided that
they should move to another city in order to guard against Anne’s
meeting any one who might know her history. They were seen a
few months later by the friendly visitor from the agency, who has
retained contact with them. Anne was living away from her mother,
who wished the child to have the physical benefit o f a suburban home.
This change enabled the mother to do better financially, too, as she
could live at her place of employment, a hospital, where she had a
clerical position.
When seen by the agency worker, Anne was obviously disturbed.
Speaking o f her father, the child became excited and repeated several
stories that different persons had told her about him. Finally, she
demanded to know the truth. The worker felt that she should not
do or say anything that would undermine the child’s trust in her
mother, as Irma had made great sacrifices for the child and had
trained her carefully, and the relation between them had always been
one of perfect confidence, affection, and harmony. The worker,
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therefore, merely tried to quiet the child and referred her to her
mother, who, the child admitted, had never failed her.
- However, Anne did not express her doubts and fears to her mother,
who when told about the incident, seemed not to appreciate its seri­
ousness. Her faith in her influence with Anne was strong. She
believed that the child, who is highly imaginative, had been lonely
because o f living away from her for the first time and that she had
magnified the importance of that last visit from her father, when she
had gained the knowledge o f his true relation to her.
Anne is a beautiful girl. She is athletic, strong, and intelligent.
Now, at 14, she is in high school. Her fondness for reading has
made necessary careful guidance in her choice o f books. This
direction has been supplied by the friendly visitor from the agency
and by the pastor of her church. She has shown talent in music and
has progressed under a competent teacher.
The mother has always assumed the status o f a widow. When
she moved to the city where she now lives she very unwisely began
to use the name of Anne’s father, though she had previously used
her own. This change probably had contributed to Anne’s disturb­
ance. When last seen, a year ago, the child was much improved,
but she showed something o f the strain evident during the preceding
summer. They were still living in the same way, Anne in a suburban
home and her mother at the hospital where she worked.
Though the mother had intended to live with Anne again she has
not done so up to now, as she has not been able to get a position
in this city with so good a salary as she had received in the other
city. Besides, she no longer has friends of the type she had made
through years o f residence in one place with the assistance o f the
agency. Though a similar relation with an agency could be made
for her in the city where she now resides, the mother is unwilling
that her history be known to any o f her new acquaintances.
The outlook for Anne is not entirely favorable at this time. I f her
mother will arrange soon for the child to live with her again, the
prospect will be better. That Anne will continue to have good care
and opportunity for education is assured, for the agency will see to
this if necessary. The problem now appears to be a mental one.
Though Apne has not talked'of her father, so far as her mother
knows, since that day two years ago when she questioned the friendly
visitor, it is the opinion o f this friend that her mind is not at ease and
that it is only a question of time when her mother will be forced to
answer the child’s question to her satisfaction.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for 12 years.
M ary.— Thelma was a schoolgirl o f 15, with a baby, Mary, 2 weeks
old, who was referred to the agency by a hospital, on her discharge
from the maternity ward. She was the daughter of a man who kept
a small secondhand furniture shop. Her mother was in ill health
and had been in the hospital several times. A brother of 18, who
helped in the store, and two sisters, aged 17 and 12, completed the
family. Thelma’s mother was too ill to care for the children, and
the general conditions of the home were very undesirable.
On admission to the hospital Thelma had said that a boy in the
neighborhood was responsible for her child. Several months later
she revealed the fact that her brother, 18 years old, was the father.
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The young mother was ambitious and energetic, and o f excellent
ability. She was in the seventh year of the elementary school, hav­
ing failed o f promotion twice on account o f irregular attendance due
to her mother’s ill health. She was trustful, imaginative, and tem­
Thelma’s brother was examined mentally and found to be retarded.
Upon the advice of the psychiatrist he was placed under the super­
vision of a “ B ig Brother.” It was advised that he continue to stay
at home to help his father in the store and that the girl be placed
away from home. It was felt that she would benefit greatly by a d if­
ferent environment. Upon the discharge of the mother and child
from the maternity home, after 14 months’ stay there, the child,
Mary, was placed in a boarding home; and the mother entered a
household as nursemaid, expecting to attend evening school. Her
employer found it impossible to carry out this plan, so Thelma was
placed in another position, where she remained for more than a year,
attending evening high school. Later, she worked for several months
in a day nursery. When Mary was 3 the mother was given an oppor­
tunity to work in the laboratory o f a large electrical plant; she has
remained there five years. Her wages were $12 a week at the begin­
ning, and she has gradually been advanced to $32 a week. She has
saved $1,000, which she is keeping for the education o f Mary, to whom
she is devoted.
Thelma has been living away from home and has had continuous
contact with the child, who has been in a boarding home.
The mother’s progress in her work and her general mental develop­
ment have been remarkable. From a girl with little education and
training she has developed into a fine young woman, intelligent and
well trained. Physically also she has developed, and she has a great
deal o f charm. She is o f a studious type and reads a good deal. In
one of her letters, written while she was still at evening high school,
she said: “ I find chemistry and biology very, very interesting, and we
are doing a great deal of experimental work. * * * School has
closed for the season, but I have not lost the opportunity o f making
friends with a number o f interesting girls in the chemistry class, with
whom I attend lectures.”
She has completed 15 semester hours of high-school work and has
also taken a course in shorthand.
The child, Mary, is in the third grade of the elementary school.
She had to repeat the first grade, as she found difficulty in adjusting
herself to the school environment. However, her teachers have re­
ported that she has since shown marked improvement and that she
is generally intelligent. She is rather tall for her age.
Thelma’s parents have left the city and are living on a little farm.
They have expressed a desire to take Mary home, but so far the agency
has considered this plan inadvisable. The brother has married. The
general tone o f the home has improved, with the brother away and
the removal o f the family to the country. Thelma sees her brother
occasionally but considers the whole episode so much behind her that
she can hardly believe that it happened at all. He never sees the
child, though he continues to contribute a small sum toward her
Thelma’s true status is not known in the community. She visits
Mary in the boarding home and is generally known as her sister.
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However, the child knows that Thelma is her mother. Because of
Thelma’s youthful appearance the child got into the habit of calling,
her by her given name. Thelma’s friends take it as a matter o f course
that she should have assumed the responsibility o f caring for her
little sister because o f her mother’s continued ill health. It is obvious
that as the child grows older the situation will become more com­
plicated. She does not know of her illegitimate birth but is under
the impression that her father is dead.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for nine
Arli/rw.— Norma’s child, Arline, was 6 years old when the socialservice department of a hospital referred the case to the agency (a
child-placing organization). The mother was receiving treatment
for gonorrhea, and: as she and the child were living in one room it
was thought advisable to separate them temporarily. Some time be­
fore, the child had become infected but had been treated and dis­
charged by the doctor.
After the birth o f the child Norma had moved from the city where
she had been living. She had found it easy to do this as she had
no family ties, and, working as a maid in families, she knew she could
find a position readily in the new city. A t first she had boarded the
child in various families, but for the past two years had kept her
in the household where she worked. She passed as a widow.
Norma had been born in Europe and had been in the United States
seven years, having come here at the age o f 21. Her child w'as
born a year after she came to this country. Her relatives were all
in the old country, except some aunts, who lived in a near-by State,
and none o f them knew of the existence o f the child.
Norma had had little schooling in her native country, and in the
seven years she had been in this country she had not learned much
The father o f the child was a man whom Norma had met at a
public dance. She had gone to the dance escorted, but her escort
had refused to stay to the end of the dance, whereupon Norma picked
up the man who became the father o f her child. A t that time he
was an attendant at a State hospital. She never had any thought
of marrying him, as in her own words he was “ no good.” He was
shiftless and a drunkard and never held a job long, depending on
his family to find him work when he wanted it. He had been for a
short time in the Army, but he had tired of it and had persuaded
his family to get him discharged. He never knew o f the existence of
the child. Norma put the blame for her trouble on the man who had
left her alone at the dance. (She did not tell the agency worker of
these circumstances till a number o f years later.)
The agency suggested placing Arline in a foster home. Norma
disliked the idea at first, as she did not wish to be separated from
her daughter, but she consented to the placement as a temporary
plan and agreed to pay $2 a week toward the child’s support. Arline
was then placed in a household where the family consisted o f a Mr.
and Mrs. Miller and their son, four years younger than Arline.
For 12 years Arline has remained in this home and has been happy
there. The Millers have brought up Arline as if she were their
daughter, and she and their son have been like brother and sister.
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Mrs. Miller is a woman o f unusually strong character, with a good
understanding o f girls. A number of young women make their
home with the Millers, and a few girls needing temporary care are
also accepted. There is much social life in the home—dancing and
parties—and a strong church connection. One o f the family parties
was a celebration o f Arline’s eighteenth birthday. Mr. Miller is a
music teacher, and the son leads his school orchestra, so that the
household has a musical atmosphere.
Arline has plodded along through school, with much home en­
couragement. She is not very bright, although she gives the impres­
sion o f brightness. A t 19 she is only a junior in high school. Her
health has been excellent, in sjpte o f her early infection. She is
sweet-tempered, modest, and tractable. Her manner is refined and
her appearance attractive. When she was younger she was an active
girl scout, holding responsible positions. She i,s popular with
girls but has little interest in boys. She looks about three years
younger than she is, and Mrs. Miller is glad o f this, as it makes her
school retardation less noticeable. Arline is firmly established in her
foster home, and her future seems assured.
Norma has kept in touch with Arline all these years, contributing
regularly to her board. For the past two years she has provided
most of her clothing. Except for two years when she worked in
another State she has visited her regularly every two weeks. She
takes pride in Arline and has introduced her to the people with
whom she works.
Arline does not know that she is of illegitimate birth. She is not
imaginative nor critical, and she accepts her circumstances without
asking why she lives in the foster home instead o f with her mother,
or any other questions. Last summer Norma made a visit to her
people in Europe, and as she is known to them as “ Miss,” and to her
associates here as “ Mrs.” the foster mother handled her affairs,
addressing Arline’s letters for her. It seems as though this deception
would be impossible with most girls o f 18.
Norma has continued in low-paid work; for years she has been a
waitress. Caution or lack o f ambition made her refuse a war-time
position at $42 a week on the ground that she would be thrown out
of work when the war was over. A t one time she changed jobs
rather frequently but for some time now has remained in one place.
There is some question as to the morality of the life she led during
the two years that she was working in another State. She now
has occasional men acquaintances but does not care to have close
friends—men or women. Except for Arline she is quite alone. Her
responsibility for her daughter has been a steadying influence. Mrs.
Miller has done real social work for Norma, guiding her and advis­
ing her as though she were one of her older girls. A t times Norma
has talked of taking Arline, but Mrs. Miller has always been able
to dissuade her.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for 12 years.

Although living with the mother in a domestic position does not
always afford the best opportunities for the child, there were many
instances o f mother and child living in an employer’s home in which
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



both seemed happily placed. Placement at domestic service was the
first plan for a large number o f the mothers. For many it was a
temporary situation, the mothers later obtaining other forms of work.
Eight mothers remained continuously in domestic service up to the
time o f the last information, keeping their children with them; and
a few others remained in domestic-service homes for several years,
until they were able to establish their own homes. The interest and
assistance o f the mothers’ employers were responsible for the satis­
factory adjustment o f some o f these mothers and children. This is
most happily shown in the following stories o f Kenneth and Babette.
Kenneth.—Myrtle, Kenneth’s mother, was referred to the agency
by a maternity home in another city to which she had gone during
When referred Myrtle was 18 years old; and the baby, Kenneth,
was a few months old. She was without funds; and her two sisters,
one married and one single, who were living in the city to which she
had gone for maternity care, were either unable or unwilling to
assist her. They were not unkind to her, but they wished to force
the child’s father to provide for him and the mother.
This girl’s parents had died when she was a small child; and she
and her sisters had been cared for by neighbors, each child being
informally accepted by a different family, with no person or organi­
zation responsible for them.
Though living with different families, the three sisters were in the
same neighborhood, and they grew up in fairly close association.
When their foster families moved away from this place the sisters
continued in communication with one another, though they lived in
different cities.
Myrtle had been sent to the country school in the vicinity, where
she received little more than a rudimentary education. She had
never been employed except to assist generally with the work in her
foster home, where she had been treated as a member of the family.
No regular wages were paid her.
The father of the child was the foster father in whose home Myrtle
had lived for the 10 years since her parents’ death. He was married
and living with his w ife; there were no children of the marriage.
After working on his farm for some years he moved to the city and
procured well-paid employment. He was of average intelligence in
the judgment of the agency worker. Myrtle said that her first asso­
ciation with him had been by force.
Myrtle had no plan except that she intended to keep her child and
to compel his father to support him. The factor that influenced her
to keep her boy was her love for him. Her decision to do this appears
to have been entirely spontaneous, though the fact that the agency
which assisted her during her pregnancy and after the child’s birth
had a policy of insisting on breast feeding may have had some effect.
When approached by the agency worker the man denied absolutely
the charge o f paternity. When confronted by the mother he changed
his attitude and expressed willingness to enter into an agreement for
a settlement. After offering a small sum he advanced the amount to
$500. The girl preferred taking this amount to running the. risk
of having to go to court.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


4 ,




As Myrtle was nursing the baby and as she was not trained to do
any work except domestic work, she was placed with a family.
This placement was unsuccessful, because the employer did not make
suitable arrangements for the baby; and after a few months Myrtle
left and took to the maternity home where both had been
cared for after their arrival in the city. She spent some time there
under medical care. She later went to work for another family, the
Robinsons, people o f culture, who lived on a farm.
She and Kenneth have been in this home for seven years. Myrtle
has always liked to live in the country. She and Kenneth have had
much the status o f members of the family, and his playmates have
been the children of the family. Kenneth is a strong, active boy.
His progress in the public school has been normal.
Myrtle’s wages have not been very high, but she values the ad­
vantages that she and Kenneth have in this home. Together she
and Mrs. Robinson read the Sunday newspaper advertisements, and
together they visit the city to shop wisely and economically. The
greatest care has been given to the health o f both mother and child,
and personal hygiene has been an important part o f ‘Kenneth’s
Although Myrtle has always been in correspondence with her sis­
ters, the relation between her and them is not one of intimacy or deep
affection. The only time they have shown much interest in her or
Kenneth was when she came into a legacy of approximately $400
from her grandmother. The grandmother had died when the sisters
were small, but the estate had been involved, and this settlement was
to be made when the youngest of the children had reached a certain
age. A t this time the sisters insisted that Kenneth and his mother
come to live with them, but Myrtle refused to leave the Robinsons'
During the W orld W ar the mother wished to invest all her money
in Liberty bonds. It was explained to her that she could not invest
Kenneth’s money, as it constituted a trust fund to be drawn on for his
care. She then invested $800 of her legacy in Liberty bonds. Some
of these have matured; the others have been sold, and the entire $300
invested in a first mortgage. The initiative for this second invest­
ment came from the mother herself, no doubt aided by her employer,
and the agency assisted her in the transaction. Most o f Kenneth’s
money has been spent.
Kenneth and his mother are definitely a part of the home life of
the Robinson family and of their community. Myrtle has_ always
used her own surname and has used the title of u Mrs. ” since she
came to her present home. She wears a wedding ring and assumes
the status o f a widow. Only her employers know the truth.
Kenneth believes that his father died when he was a baby. He
has been singularly incurious. The mother, being o f a simple nature,
expects no trouble in the future. The social protection o f residence
with the Robinsons means much to them both. As usually happens
the community has followed the attitude of the family that accepted
them; and Kenneth and his mother are received without question in
the church and the Sunday school and in other community activities.
As the mother has quiet tastes and is satisfied with the wholesome
family life on the farm, asking little diversion, her problems are
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



simplified. To give Kenneth every possible advantage is her one
and only plan. She looks forward to the time when he will be a
valued assistant on this farm and to the time when he may own his
own farm. The child’s joy in all the elements of farm life inclines
one to believe that the mother’s hope will be fulfilled. Both are
happy and their relation with the Robinsons and with the agency
offers a safe prospect for care and guidance if it is needed at any
time in the future.
Kenneth’s father paid the sum agreed upon, in installments to
the agency, and neither he nor his wife has had any further contact
with Kenneth or the mother.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for seven
Babette.—A private maternity home to which Edwina, Babette’s
mother, had applied for confinement care had referred her case to a
public agency because she had gonorrhea. Edwina had come from
Canada two years before, at the age o f 25. At home she had been
employed as a nursemaid and she had come to the United States for
better wages. She had done housework and also had worked for a
37ear in a restaurant in a large railroad station. She was a good
worker and apparently was well thought o f by those who knew her.
Edwina’s parents and two married sisters were living on a farm1in
Canada. A third married sister, who had a child, lived in the
United States near the Canadian border. The agency found this
sister intelligent and cooperative. She said that Edwina had never
been troublesome but that she had admitted having had sex relations
at home once with a former fiance. She had gone to church regu­
larly and she had attended a district school until she was 13. She
spoke and wrote well.
The father o f the child was a locomotive engineer two years
younger than Edwina. He was born and reared near the mother’s
home and his family and Edwina’s were known to each other. He
had come to the United States before Edwina and had lived with an
aunt in a suburb where Edwina visited. He was single when the
child was conceived, but soon afterwards he became engaged to
marry another girl and told Edwina o f the engagement. When the
baby was 2 months old he married, his wife knowing of the child.
Brought to court, he was adjudged the father o f the child and
ordered to pay $10 a month.
After Babette was born Edwina was anxious to work to support
herself and the child; she wanted no help. When Babette was
2 months old the agency placed Edwina at domestic service in a
household where she kept the baby with her. They stayed nearly
two years in this first place, an ordinary country home. Treatment
for gonorrhea was continued until Edwina was well. She then
went with her child to her parents’ home, where they remained
three months. Returning to her married sister in this country,
Edwina obtained an excellent position as housekeeper in the suburbs
with a Mr. and Mrs. Smith. She is still there, keeping Babette
with her. Every two years they visit her home for a month. At
home all know the paternity of the child. During her father’s
last illness Edwina went home to assist her mother.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Babette, now 12 years old, is very attractive—tall and slender,
with lovely color and eyes—much lovgd by all her relatives. She
is dressed simply and prettily ; her mother makes all her clothes.
She is in the sixth grade at school, where she does well; and she is
given music and dancing lessons through the generosity o f the
Smiths, who are fond o f her and consider her a member of the
Edwina has no friends in the neighborhood where she works ; but
she visits her married sister’s home regularly, and she is always
welcome. She has never worn a wedding ring, but the Smiths have
always spoken of her as a widow. She has always been a quiet,
unassuming person, with a great deal o f determination when neces­
sary. The child’s status has never been known in school, and she
has been considerably protected by the Smiths’ social position. She
believes that her father went away before her birth and never
returned. The present situation is ideal for Babette, who will be
given every opportunity for education by her mother and by the
Smiths. Edwina is very wise in her care of the child, never per­
mitting her to be spoiled by too much attention or too many privi­
leges. She wants her daughter to have a happy life in school, and
takes her frequently to the married sister’s home so that Babette can
enjoy the companionship o f cousins. These relatives always go with
Babette and her mother to visit the old home in Canada.
Edwina has never had any attention from men since the birth of
the child. Her whole life is centered on her daughter, and she seems
The father of Babette is still paying $10 a month toward her
support, although the payments are much in arrears.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for 12 years.

Thirteen o f the children included in this study had lived in
institutions continuously up to the time o f the study or until they
were able to go to work, 10 o f these children having been under
the care o f one agency. In all these cases the mothers were em­
ployed in the institutions. All these children were transferred to
another institution when they were o f school age, with the excep­
tion of one child who remained continuously with his mother in
the institution where he was first placed.
In addition to this group a number o f other children were in
institutions without their mothers at the time that the study was
made. A few children were in institutions for mental defectives,
and several were receiving temporary care in institutions for such
reasons as the mother’s death or her inability to support or care for
the child.
Walter was one o f the group of children whose mothers were un­
able to provide for continuous care in a family home. He was cared
for in an institution for a number o f years. The great affection of
Walter’s mother for him and her desire to give him as much personal
care as possible have helped to avoid some of the usual disadvantages
o f institutional life. One point illustrated by this story, which fol­
lows, is the development of the mother herself, which was apparently
the result of her retaining custody of the child.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Lack o f physical vitality and a limited mentality were the reasons
for placing Lottie (p. 88) in a child-caring institution. The longcontinued ill health o f this mother has made it necessary for Lottie to
be under the care o f agencies during most o f her life.
W alter.—A municipal hospital that had been giving prenatal care
to Jane, a domestic worker of 40, referred her to the agency. She
was pregnant for the fourth time. She was without funds, and she
had no relatives except her father, who was very old. Because of
her father’s age it was impossible for him to help her, and she was
unwilling that he should know about her coming child. (He died
soon after the baby was born.) Jane’s plan was to dispose o f the
baby as soon as possible, and she expressed no choice as to whether
he should be placed in a family or in an institution. Her three other
children had been separated from her; two had been placed in an
institution and one in a family home, and she had had no contact
with any of them after placement. She had been assisted in making
these placements by the hospitals in which she had been delivered.
No information is available on the status and character of Jane’s
family. Her letters indicate that she had meager education, prob­
ably not beyond the fourth or fifth grade. In personal appearance
she was unattractive, though her clothing was neat. A speech defect
and a peculiar halting gait, due to slight infirmity in one leg, gave
an unfavorable impression. She had a record o f satisfactory work
in domestic service, always in homes of the plainer type, at low
The father of the child was a married man, somewhat older than
Jane, who lived with his wife in the neighborhood where Jane was
in domestic service. It was not known whether he had any children
by his marriage. He seemed to be a rather high-grade, intelligent
mechanical worker; he earned fair wages. He did not attempt to
deny paternity. He was anxious to conceal the affair from his wife,
and he readily agreed to contribute to the child’s support. As he was
married it was deemed best for him to make a settlement, paid as
quickly as possible, rather than to make continuing payments, as the
latter plan would have encouraged his further association with the
mother and the child. The amount agreed on was approximately
$300. The money was placed in a trust fund, under supervision of
the agency, for the child’s care.
The utmost persuasion was required to induce Jane to nurse her
baby. The municipal hospital cooperated with the agency in insist­
ing on breast feeding. As Jane had no money she was dependent
on the hospital and the agency and was therefore influenced by them.
I f she had not been- in a hospital where breast feeding was insisted
on, this child, Walter, like her three others, would have been placed
as a foundling; in fact, she made attempts to do so. After several
months of care in the hospital she was no longer determined to give
up Walter, though she was not particularly devoted to him. On dis­
charge from the hospital the mother and baby were placed in a ma­
ternity home. After several months there Jane was placed in a
domestic position in the country, taking Walter with her. This long
delay before placing was deemed necessary in order to insure the
baby’s receiving proper care. By the time the placement was made
the mother’s affection for him gave favorable indications of a con
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


m wk
'J K


tinuance o f good care. It was not long before her letters to the
agency showed genuine love for the child. The agency continued
to supervise the arrangement, and the worker felt sure that Walter
was receiving good care. Much interest was taken in the child by
the family with whom he and his mother lived.
In the absence o f the original record (it was destroyed in a fire)
it is not possible to tell definitely o f Jane’s employment record. It
is known that she continued to do domestic work, having Walter with
her, until he was between 4 and 5 years old. Whenever she could not
keep him with her the agency placed Walter in a boarding home.
While he was in one o f these boarding homes his actions caused the
agency to arrange for mental examination. The psychiatrist pro­
nounced the child o f normal mentality and recommended measures
for improving his conduct. These were carried out effectively. The
mother was not examined mentally, but the psychiatrist had several
interviews with her and his opinion was that she was o f normal
The mother had long since become so devoted to Walter that she
wrote several letters to the agency expressing gratitude for the
worker’s efforts that had resulted in her keeping him. Although for
some time it had been evident that the boy could not be given suit­
able training by the mother because of her limitations, her devotion
to him kept the agency from making any plan for separating them,
even for brief periods. Walter’s godmother wanted to place him in
a boy’s school where he would have advantages, but Jane would not
consent because it was not near enough for her to visit him frequently.
Several other plans were submitted, only to be refused by her.
Walter believed that his father was dead, and his mother had
always represented herself as a widow, using her own name. Be­
cause the mother had had few contacts except with the families
by whom she was employed the status that she had assumed was
When the child was about 5 years old the mother saw that she was
unable to cope with certain problems in his training, and she con­
sulted the agency about several plans that she was considering. She
wished to place him in a superior child-caring institution. The
difficulty in the way o f this placement was that a child o f illegitimate
birth would not be accepted. She deceived the institution authori­
ties as to the boy’s status, and she succeeded in placing the child in the
institution. He was boarded for one-fourth the usual rate, the mother
supplying him with clothing. While living there he attended a
public school and also went to church and Sunday school outside of
the institution. Vacations away from the institution through the
entire summer were provided for, and visits outside at other suitable
times during the year.
A fter Walter had been accepted in the institution the mother
procured a position with a family who left the city every summer.
While the family was away she worked at a summer camp for
children, keeping Walter with her. These arrangements continued
for a number o f years.
Walter remained in the child-caring institution until he was 13
years o f age, when he completed the elementary-school grades. With
the assistance of the agency he was then placed in a boarding school
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



for boys, an endowed institution wuth high standards of morale and
scholarship. The superintendent was told of the boy’s illegitimate
birth, but the information was not communicated by him to the
trustees, because it would have prevented his admission.
A t the last information in the agency record Walter had been in
this school almost a year. Recently it has been learned that he is
still there. His progress in school has been normal, and his general
development has been entirely satisfactory to all interested in him.
Jane has continued to do domestic work. The responsibility that
she has carried for her son has been effective in developing her both
from the standpoint o f character and that of efficiency. When she
first became known to the agency no one who had contact with her
would have believed that she could ever progress to the point of
planning for Walter as she has done and of earning the wages that
she has earned. Gradually her wages have increased until they
reached the average compensation for domestic service in the city in
which she has been living.
Walter is believed to be of legitimate birth, and he believes so
himself. A ll the money paid by his father was expended during the
early years o f his life. No material relief wTas given in this case
except the concession o f the first institution in caring for the child
at a rate that his mother could pay. In the school that he entered
later all the boys were on free scholarships on an equal footing.
The relation between the mother and the child has been continu­
ously one of affection. It was feared that the mother’s peculiar
appearance and defective speech might make some difference with
Walter, but there has been no evidence of this. It seems safe to
assume that the boy’s future is assured. There is a possibility of
his learning the truth about his birth, but this seems remote.
The agency has had continuous contact with the case for 14 years.
Lottie.—Maritza, a 20-year-old domestic worker o f foreign birth,
with a 3 weeks’ old baby, Lottie, applied for admission to a maternity
home so that she might stay with her baby and nurse her. The girl
looked overworked, and it seemed as though she had had no real
childhood. She had been a domestic worker since she was 10 years
old; she had left home at that age because she could not get along
with her father.
The girl’s family was unfriendly to her. An older sister was a
domestic worker, and eight younger children were at home. The
father of the family wras a cloak presser, who barely made a living
for his large family.
Maritza knew little English and could not read nor write.
The father o f the child was a clothing operative whom Maritza had
known for more than a year. He had promised to marry her, but he
later disappeared.
Maritza and the baby remained in the maternity home until the
riurs ng period was over. During her stay in the home she showed
herself a very capable houseworker, dependable and kind-hearted.
However, she did not get along well with her associates, as she was
o f an extremely nervous and worrisome temperament. Her parents
continued to be unfriendly and never visited her at the home.
Upon her discharge from the home Maritza was placed in a domes­
tic position, and the child, Lottie, was placed in a boarding home, the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




mother paying her board. Before long the mother developed tuber­
culosis and soon was unable to continue to support the child, who was
then committed to a public nursery and children’s hospital. Later
this institution placed Lottie in a boarding home.
For seven years Maritza continued to be in very poor physical
condition, and at various times was a patient in hospitals, sani­
tariums, and convalescent homes. Several surgical operations were
performed on her. When she was able Maritza worked in a special
factory for tuberculous patients, conducted by a clinic. The agency
helped her at various times by providing food, clothing, and other
necessaries. Gradually her health improved. Maritza’s family be­
came somewhat reconciled with her, and she lived with them for
short periods. However, they have never accepted Lottie. Maritza
has always visited Lottie when she was able and has been very fond
o f her. None o f the relatives outside the immediate family know of
the child’s existence.
Maritza is now living with her older .sister, who is married. Re­
peated examinations have shown that she is free from tuberculosis.
She is working in the special factory and is doing practical nursing
at odd hours.
Two years ago Lottie was transferred to a child-caring institution.
She is physically frail and mentally retarded, and at the age of 11
she is only in the third grade. She does not know that she is of
illegitimate birth.
The agency has had contact with the case for 11 years.
This section summarizes certain data in the 253 cases studied. The
time for which the facts are given is indicated under the various

The number o f children of illegitimate birth 8 years o f age and
over whose mothers had kept their custody and about whom the 27
cooperating organizations could give sufficient definite information to
be of value in this study wTas 253: 102 boys, 150 girls, and 1 whose
sex was not reported. Two hundred and forty-one mothers were
represented by these 253 children.

The ages o f the 253 children at the time o f the last information as
given in the histories ranged from 8 to 31 years. Seventy-five per
cent o f them were from 8 to 15 years o f age and therefore o f school
The ages o f the children at the time o f the last information are
shown in the following list :
Number of

8 years, under 10—
10 years, under 12.
12 years, under 14.
14 years, under 16.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Number of


16 years, under 18_________ ______
18 years or over____- — —



Total— ____ ____ .____ — ___




At the time o f last information 17 children were living in homes
established by their parents, who had intermarried, 84 were living
in step-parental homes, and 13 in homes established by the mothers.
Twelve were living at their mothers’ place o f employment. Fortytwo children, some o f them with their mothers, were living in the
homes of relatives. Twenty children were living independently:
9 o f these married and living in their own homes, 4 living in the
places where they were employed, and 7 rooming or boarding. Seven
children were in foster homes, 32 in boarding homes, 23 in institu­
tions, and 3 in boarding schools. Nearly two-thirds (159) o f the
total number o f children were living with their mothers at this time.

The outline for the histories called for information on the health,
education, and mentality o f the children. The majority o f the
histories contained some data on all three points.

In 155 o f the 253 cases some statement was made as to the health of
the child either at the time the history was written or in his earlier
life. One hundred and thirty-two o f these one hundred and fifty-five
children were reported as having had generally good or fair health
throughout their lives. Twenty o f those included in this classifica­
tion were not robust, but on the whole they had fairly good health.
The 23 children who were characterized as having poor health or
some special physical defect included those who were frail and re­
quired special care. A few were nervous or anemic or had various
disorders o f the eye, ear, or throat. The children who were in poor
health included 10 with venereal disease (with 5 o f these the disease
was congenital), one with tuberculosis, one with chorea, and one
with infantile paralysis. The children in this group required more
or less prolonged care, some o f them hospital care.

In about three-fourths o f the histories (187) some information
was given on the child’s educational opportunity and school progress.
One hundred and fifty-two children had attended only elementary
school, and for most o f these the progress in school was noted; 118
o f these children had made at least normal progress in, school (some
had made rapid progress), and 19 had been retarded from one to
three years. In 15 histories the child’s age was not given, so that
his progress could not be estimated correctly. The retarded pupils
had been hampered by ill health or mental defect, or, as was shown
in one or two cases, by bad home conditions.
As a large proportion of the children were still attending school
at the time o f the last information it was not possible to report how
much educational opportunity many of them would have. An en­
couraging number o f references to special opportunity were noted.
It seemed safe to assume that almost all the children still in elemen­
tary school would complete the eight grades and that a fair propor­
tion would go to high school and perhaps have further opportunity.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




A number had entered high school, most o f whom had completed the
course. Some o f those who had completed the eight elementary
grades had had the advantage o f further training in trade schools or
business schools, and several o f those who had completed the high&chool course had entered technical schools or nurses’ training schools.
Three had entered college, o f whom one had completed the college
Instances were noted o f children requiring special care who were
given the advantage o f the best service available. One history told
of a child with defective eyes who had been placed in a special sight­
saving class, by which arrangement he was making rapid progress,
borne cases of apparent mental incapacity and o f behavior difficulty
likewise were carefully looked after. Several boarding mothers gave
special attention to the school work o f children in their care. One
child entering school at 7 was placed in the third grade ; this advance­
ment was due to the preparation given by the boarding mother, who
was a trained kindergarten teacher.

Some data in regard to mental ability were given for 175 children.
In 147 o f these cases the report was based on the opinion of the
worker in contact with the case. The 28 children who were referred
to psychiatrists were not merely those who were thought to be de­
fective ; a number who presented behavior difficulties or who were
not making ordinary progress in their school work were so referred.
One hundred and sixty of the 175 children were reported to be
normal mentally, and 15 to be below normal. Eighteen o f those classed
as normal and 10 o f those classed as below normal had had special
KX^ni i lai10n'/j
children described as below normal had
had the benefit o f superior diagnostic service, and some of them had
undergone a period o f observation or study before diagnosis and
recommendations were made. Two children were so obviously below
normal as to be placed at once in an institution for mental defectives,
and two others were so placed later. The others were given special
care and supervision suited to their needs, in accordance with recom­
mendations o f the examining psyhiatrists.
, 4;
Ihe children, though not definitely defective, were said
r ° n o r m a l .
Two were found to be of superior mentality;
• ese1i a d 1b?en referred to psychopathic clinics as the result
or behavior difficulties, and arrangements had been made for them in
accordance with recommendations o f the clinics. Several other
bright children developed behavior difficulties and were treated at
child-guidance clinics.
One girl who had been under observation as a retarded child
showed an encouraging reaction to proper care and supervision,
lh e nnal examination when she was 19 gave this report: “ Intelli­
gence quotient, 80. W ell poised, well adjusted, with initiative and
ambition; insight above the average; better ability than her intelli­
gence quotient represents.”
. A iess encouraging case was that o f a girl who at 12 was backward
m her school work. On examination she was judged to have a mental
age or 9. Care away from her mother was recommended. The
mother, who had always held domestic positions, keeping this child
1112-— 18-------7
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



with her, was examined about this time. The report was: “ Mental
deterioration; intelligence quotient, 60; mental age, 9.8 years.” Be­
cause o f the mother’s unwillingness to be separated from the child
the recommendation o f the psychiatrist was not carried out. A t 16
the girl was living with her mother in a domestic position and at­
tending school. She was dissatisfied and was ashamed o f her moth­
er’s position.
Some o f these histories indicated that excellent case work had been
done in the endeavor to make suitable adjustments for certain prob­
lem children. It is probable that some o f these children would have
been deprived o f opportunities for development had not their moth­
ers and other persons in charge of them been able to turn for advice
to workers who knew the facts in regard to their birth. This elim­
inated the fear of discovery ever present with some o f these mothers
and the embarrassment that might have been encountered in ap­
proaching others for advice.

Seven of the 44 girls who were 16 and over were still in school at
the time o f last information, and 2 had just finished high school and
were looking for employment. Three girls were in nurses’ training
classes in good hospitals, and one rather backward girl intended to
train to be a practical nurse or a child’s nurse. Seven girls were
married and had established their own homes. Two girls were m
institutions, and one was about to enter an institution. Ten girls
were employed; those for whom the occupation was reported were in
clerical or business positions or working in factories. Their weekly
earnings ranged from $12 for a girl who was a candy dipper to $50
for a woman 30 years old who wa,s a secretary. Eleven girls who
were living in the homes of their parents or grandparents or foster
parents had no positions outside o f the home.
A report as to occupation was obtained for 9 of the 18 boys who
were 16 years o f age or over. Only 2 of these boys were attending
school. One boy was in an institution; 1 was in business for himself;
1 had a,technical position with a public-utility concern; 1 was em­
ployed in a bank, 1 in a store, 1 on a farm, and 1 was doing uphols­
tering and interior decorating.

A ll but 9 of the 241 mothers o f the children considered in the study
were white. Eight were Negroes, and one was Chinese. O f the 215
white mothers whose country o f birth was known 64 per cent (137)
were born in the United States and 36 per cent elsewhere.

Fifteen o f the 241 mothers had living children o f illegitimate birth
other than those included in the study. The 23 children in this
group, most o f whom were born later than the 253 children considered
in this study, were not included, as some o f them were not in the
care o f relatives and others were under 8 years o f age.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



As the study was limited to children born out o f wedlock legitimate
children born to the mothers were not included formally in the study,
though they were considered in some cases as a factor in the lives o f
the mothers and their children of illegitimate birth. Some o f these
legitimate children were born before the children included in the
study and others later, a number of the mothers having married since
they came to the attention o f the agency reporting the case.

For the purpose of the study the mother’s age when the child was
born was considered. In the cases where more than one child of
illegitimate birth o f the same mother was included in the study the
age considered was that o f the mother at the time of the birth o f
the youngest child.
The age o f the mother at the time o f the child’s birth was reported
in 208 o f the histories. O f the mothers whose ages were known 5
per cent were under 16 years o f age when the child was born (one
mother was under 14 years, four were 14, and five were 15); 41 per
cent were from 16 to 21; 31 per cent were from 21 to 25; and 23
per cent ranged from 25 to 41. In 33 cases the age o f the mother
was omitted.

.Nearly all the mothers (96 per cent) were unmarried at the birth
o f the child. Only 9 mothers had been married; 3 o f these were
widows, 1 was divorced, 1 had contracted a bigamous marriage, and
the remaining 4 were separated from their husbands but not divorced.
In one history the marital status o f the mother was not stated.

The occupation of the mother at the time her pregnancy began or
before that time was stated in 168 of the histories. Twenty-nine of
these mothers, five o f whom were attending school, had no occupa­
tion and had been making their homes with their parents or other
relatives. The majority o f the women for whom an occupation was
reported were doing some kind of unskilled work. Many o f these
mothers were engaged in general housework or in factory work—39
and 22 per cent, respectively, of those whose occupations were reported.
Six per cent of the mothers were clerical workers, including a few
stenographers. Seven per cent were waitresses in restaurants, 5 per
cent were professional women, chiefly teachers and nurses. One
woman had her own business. The remaining 21 per cent were em­
ployed as nursemaids, personal maids, attendants, day workers, sales­
women, dressmakers, and milliners.

Some information in regard to the mother’s health was given in
about three-fifths (148) o f the 241 histories. It was indicated that
111 o f these 148 mothers were in good or fairly good health. The
histories stated that 6 mothers were physically handicapped (4
crippled, 1 mute, and 1 blind), and that 31 were in ill health, and
in most o f these the nature o f the ill health was given. These 31
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



included 15 with venereal disease, 3 with tuberculosis, 5 with nervous
complaints, and 8 who were merely described as in “ poor health.”
The information given can scarcely be taken as an indication o f
the general physical condition o f the 241 mothers at the time when
they were in the care o f the organizations, because some years ago,
at the time for which much o f the information was given, it was not
customary for institutions and social agencies to keep health records.
The social case history is relatively new, and even now some agencies
and institutions relegate practically all data on the physical condi­
tion o f their clients to medical histories. By some agencies these are
not filed in the same office with the social histories. The data re­
ported, however, serve to indicate the need for general attention to
the health o f the unmarried mothers in addition to the special mater­
nity care given them. The close connection between satisfactory
convalescence for obstetrical patients and their general health is

Application o f the principles o f psychology and psychiatry to the
study o f antisocial conduct is o f such recent origin that one may not
expect it in the cases of all the unmarried mothers cared for by any
of the social agencies from which these histories were obtained,
especially as some of the cases first came to the attention o f the agen­
cies many years ago. As it was’ desirable to get some idea o f the
general mentality o f the mother o f each child a statement was re­
quested from each cooperating agency as to the mothers’ mentality
if a mental examination had been made, and, if a mental examination
had not been made, a statement of the opinion of the worker in
contact with the case.
It was possible to form some idea from the history as to the mental
condition o f the mother in 178 cases. As only 30 mothers had been
given a mental examination, the reports for 148 mothers were based
on the opinions o f the workers. The records showed that workers
in touch with these 148 mothers considered 120 o f them to be of
normal mentality, 7 “ dull normal,” 15 below normal (it was stated
that the mother’s lack of schooling was responsible for the apparently
low mental capacity of 2 of these mothers), 2 were obviously feeble­
minded, 1 “ seemed psychopathic,” 1 was considered neurotic, and 2
became deranged mentally after the birth o f the child. O f the 30
mothers examined by a psychiatrist, only 4 were pronounced normal;
21 were found to be mentally defective, 2 psychopathic, 2 erratic,
and 1 insane, the insane mother having been examined when her
child was 5 years old. The psychiatrist recommended institutional
care for three o f the mentally defective mothers and for the others
care in the community under careful supervision.

Information on the mothers’ schooling was supplied in 152 o f the
histories. On the whole their educational opportunities had been
limited. Six per cent were reported to be illiterate; 58 per cent had
gone to an elementary school, but had not completed the eight grades;
28 per cent had completed the eight grades or had received an equiva­
lent education ; 8 per cent had entered high school, slightly more than
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



half o f these having completed the full high-s'chool course 5 and only
2 mothers had further education or special training after the com­
pletion o f their high-school work. These data are shown in the
following list:
Number of

T ota l.


Total reported__________________________________________
More than high-school course________________________
High-school course completed________________________
High-school course begun but not completed_______
Elementary-school course completed_____ :_____ .___ _
Elementary-school course begun but not completed.
Seventh grade completed________________________
Sixth grade completed__________________________
Fifth grade completed___________ ______________
Fourth grade completed____ _____________________
Elementary-school grade not reported______
Grade not reported________________________________
“ No education” or “ illiterate”_______I
Not reported_____________________






Several histories showed that the girl had left school to go to work
as soon as she was old enough to be granted an employment certificate.
Utner girls left school only after they became pregnant, and a few
nad been taken from school because they could not make progress
with their school work, presumably on account o f mental defect. A
small number had physical defects that made attendance at school
impossible for them.

When mothers became pregnant.

Information regarding the homes in which the mothers were liv­
ing when they became pregnant was given in 163 o f the 241 histories.
JNearly two-thirds o f the mothers for whom information was given
were m the homes o f one or both parents (72), o f other relatives (27),
or °± t ° ^ r parents Wlth whom they had lived since childhood (5).
About one-fourth (41) were living at their places o f employment,
lh e remainder (18) were in other types of homes, including boarding
houses, rooming houses, or their own homes (10 had established
homes with the fathers of their children).
Although some o f the homes in which the mothers were part o f the
iamiiy group were marked by poverty, squalor, inefficiency, and a
lach ox the qualities essential to wholesome family life, the conditions
surrounding most o f the mothers did not appear to have been unusul J a d ^ rse except for the fact that the great majority o f the mothers
^ad had meager educational and vocational opportunities. Many
m°fhers apparently had had good homes where they had the
attectmn o f parents and other relatives. Those homes were often
marr b y a wholesome, fine spirit, and the close family ties that
existed were shown in a number of cases in which the mother and her
child were received into the family. This reaction to the mother’s
misconduct was not general, however, as is shown in the section of
l u / 6pSrt su“ marizing the attitude o f the mother’s relatives to the
- ’ l k °me instances were noted of very young girls who had left
their homes to go to work, uninformed and inadequately instructed
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



to meet life’s problems. The information in most cases was not suffi*
cient to indicate whether home conditions were responsible for the
associations that brought these girls and women to the status of
illegitimate motherhood. Some o f the girls who were mentally
defective had not had the protection and care made necessary by their
incapacity, and some had not received the attention that they should
have had from their parents.
The parents of 44 o f the 241 mothers were not in the United States;
in more than half these cases a brother, sister, or some other relative
was living in this country. O f the 59 mothers not living with their
parents or other relatives, 12 had no relatives in the United States,
all being in other countries, and 13 had one or more relatives living
in the United States, their parents remaining in the country o f their
nativity. Three mothers had no knowledge o f any relatives; they
had been placed in institutions in infancy or early childhood.
In only a small number o f histories was it stated or indicated that
the mother had been leading a life of immorality except for the asso­
ciation with the man who was the father o f her "child.
At time of last information.

A t the time of the last information 119 mothers were married, 92
were single, 8 were widowed, 9 were separated, 3 were divorced, and
10 had died. Reference has been made to the fact that about onethird o f the children were not with their mothers at the time of last
information. For this reason the whereabouts o f some of the moth­
ers is not the same as the whereabouts o f the children. One hundred
and forty mothers were living in homes of their own (including
20 who had never married), 41 were living in their places o f employ­
ment at domestic service—in families or in institutions such as childcaring homes, hospitals, maternity homes, and residence clubs for
girls—29 in the homes of parents or other relatives, 4 in boarding
homes ; 2 were in hospitals for the insane ; 10 had died ; the type of
residence of 15 wa,s not reported.

The 253 children had 248 fathers, as 7 o f the 241 mothers had 2 chil­
dren by different fathers. In nearly two-fifths o f the histories infor­
mation was completely lacking in regard to the fathers. In a number
o f histories the data given were very meager, being limited to the
statement o f one or two facts such as age, race, occupation, marital
status, or relationship to the mother.

O f the 118 men whose race and nativity were reported 94 per cent
were white and 6 per cent were negroes. About three-fifths o f the
white men and all the negroes were born in the United States.

Age at the time o f the. child’s birth was reported for 95 fathers o f
the 248. A larger proportion of the fathers than o f the mothers were
in the higher age groups. Fifty-eight were 25 years o f age or older.
Twenty-six o f this group were from 25 to 29, 20 from 30 to 38, and
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12 were 40 years o f age and over. The oldest man was 70. Twentynine of the men were from 20 to 25, and 8 men were under 20 years
o f age. The youngest was 17.

Ninety-two of the 124 fathers whose marital status was reported
were single at the time the child was born; 24 were married and living
with their wives during the time o f the association with the mother
o f the child; 5 were married but were separated from their wives;
2 were widowers, and 1 was divorced.

The histories showed the occupations of 98 of the men. Forty-nine
were reported as being engaged in occupations which might be classed
as skilled work. These included mechanics and mechanical workers,
workers in the skilled trades, salesmen, and factory foremen or oper­
ators. Thirteen o f the men were highly trained domestic workers
and personal attendants, such as barbers, valets, and butlers. The
men engaged in unskilled work numbered 17; they included unskilled
laborers, farm hands, and teamsters. Twelve of the men were re­
ported as business men, most o f whom had their own business enter­
prises. Among these were a few farmers who owned their farms, and
some o f them were reported as prosperous. Three were professional
men; and 4 were attending high school, college, or some special type
o f school.

Data in regard to the health and mentality o f the fathers were
very meager. In 30 o f the 40 histories in which information as to
physical condition was given it was stated that the man .was in good
health. O f the fathers reported as having some physical defect or
being in ill health, one was blind, two weTe lame, five had a venereal
disease, one had tuberculosis, and one a heart involvement.
The small group o f histories that contained information as to the
mental condition o f the fathers— only 24 in all— included 1 case in
which, after an examination, the father had been pronounced men­
tally defective. In the remainder o f the cases in which this infor­
mation was given it was stated that in the opinion of the worker the
man was normal mentally.

Information as to the education o f the fathers was given in only
22 histories. O f these, 5 had completed the eight elementary giades;
4 had not completed these grades; 2 had completed high school; and
2 had received education beyond high-school work (1 o f these was
a .college graduate and the other a college student). O f the 9
remaining, 6 were reported as “ educated ” or “ well educated,” and
3 (foreign born) were reported as “ literate.”

Information was given as to the home and living conditions o f only
66 o f the fathers. Twenty-six were living with one or both parents,
and 1 was living with his uncle. The others lived in boarding houses
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



or rooming houses or in homes o f their ow n; 24 were married and
living with their wives. In 17 cases the father o f the child was liv­
ing in the same house as the mother when she became pregnant. In
11 o f these the father was boarding in the mother’s home, or the
mother was employed in the home o f the father, or the mother and
the father were living together in a home that they had established.
In 4 o f these 11 cases the man involved was a relative o f the g ir l; in
2 cases he was her father, in 1 her brother, and in 1 her uncle. One
father was the brotheT-in-law o f the mother, and another was the
mother’s foster father.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The place in the community o f the children included in this study
may be regarded as similar in many respects to that o f children of
legitimate birth. A t the time o f the last information a considerable
proportion o f these children were members of family groups, sharing
normal home life. In almost all cases those who had reached
Jnaturity had been successful in their various relationships. Most
o f the children had been under the personal care o f their mothers,
either in a home established by the mother—usually through mar­
riage, in the home o f relatives, or, in a smaller number o f cases, in
the mother’s place o f employment or in a boarding home. A few
'children, although remaining in the custody o f the mothers, had been
cared for away from them in boarding homes or institutions.
Although it is recognized that theie are cases in which a child
t>f illegitimate birth may not be provided for adequately by his own
people the presumption is in favor o f placing him with them when­
ever possible. No child should be committed to the care o f anyone
not a relative until it is absolutely certain that such a course is neces­
sary and that the child’s interests demand it. In a few cases
included in this study the child was placed at an early age with a
person not a relative; and later the circumstances changed, so that
nis relatives received him into their home. These late replacements
warn against hasty action in placing any child permanently, such as
is taken in many cases merely because the child is o f illegitimate
In a large proportion o f the cases the number o f changes in en­
vironment and care was not great; and it was shown that such changes
as were necessary were usually made with the advice and assistance
o f the organization that assisted the mother in her first adjustment.
This meant an important saving for the children, for too great care
can not be exercised in safeguarding a child from the unhappy effects
o f successive removals from one environment to another. The danger
in severing family ties is especially serious.
A fam ily does not have the characteristic found in some forms of vegetable
life which enables the broken segments o f a plant to take root immediately in
new soil. A child is not transplanted from one mode of life to another without
Suffei4ng keenly in the process of adapting himself to the new environment,
endunng fears and uncertainties and questionings that are unanswered. H e may
accept the separation from his own family and companions placidly, and it may
be essential for his own development that he should be removed into other sur­
roundings. B ut in general, the permanent or long-time separation of a child
from his own kindred is likely to affect seriously the child’s mental and
emotional life.1

The need o f the mothers for guidance and the need o f children for
various kinds o f service were demonstrated amply in the findings
reported in the histories. The manner in which such assistance was
tionCNod ^

" “wTsMiigtonf FqH


° f Golumbia’ P- 6-

U- & Children’s Bureau Publica-

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



received leaves no question as to its advisability. In fact, it was:
quite clearly shown that the mothers frequently sought the help o f
those who already knew the facts as to the parentage o f their chil­
dren, which they would have been unwilling to reveal to others.
Unfortunately, many o f the maternity homes were not equipped to
provide aftercare for the mothers, although some were affiliated with:
agencies giving such care.
There is great need for the development o f case-work methods by
institutions and agencies caring for unmarried mothers and their
children.2 Although in many o f the cases included in the study the*
case work was admirable, there were some histories in which it was
evident from the limited data obtained that case work was neglected.
This was particularly noticeable in the lack o f information about
the fathers and the lack o f efforts to establish paternal responsibility..
The results obtained by those organizations that endeavored to lo­
cate the men and to fix responsibility for the support o f their children
should stimulate others to do the same. The absence o f information
concerning the fathers in so many cases would seem to indicate that
even among persons whose primary object is to assist the unmarried
mother and her child, there is unwittingly something o f an effort to
protect the man. Another indication o f inadequate case work was thefailure o f some organizations to find out about the actual relations o f
the mothers and the children with the people in their communities or
even sometimes with their own families. About one-third o f the his­
tories did not give information on the ostensible status of, the child
and the mother in the community.
The work o f social-service organizations dealing with unmarried
mothers has been marked in recent years by a decided change in:
certain aspects o f the policies of deception practiced for the protec­
tion o f the mothers and children. As has been shown for the 2T
agencies and institutions considered in this study there is a tendency
toward establishing the mother and child on a basis of truth in the*
close and intimate relationships o f their lives.
Although an increasing number of organizations now insist that
near relatives and others intimately associated with the mother and
her child know their true status, only a small proportion o f the
organizations cooperating in this study appeared to appreciate thenecessity for giving the child true information about himself. Someo f the case histories reported by the organizations show the fears and
emotional disturbances to which the children were subjected as a
result o f not knowing the truth, which are typical of experiences
known to many social workers who continue contact with children
o f illegitimate birth through their school life and in later years. Not
only were boys and girls represented even to themselves as children of
grandparents or other relatives, while their own mothers were sup­
posed to be their cousins or sisters, but a few were represented as:
adopted children even when they were living with their own fathers
and mothers.
On account o f the smallness o f their number the cases in which it
was shown that the status o f the mother and child was known in the
community without any marked handicap resulting may not serve as:

2The local illegitimacy conferences affiliated with the Inter-City Conference on Illegiti­
macy (see p. 4) are doing much in certain cities to stimulate such development.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



a basis for concluding that this plan may be adopted by every
unmarried mother or even by the majority. Still, its results, as
shown in these few instances, lend encouragement to the plan. A t
least these mothers were free from the fear of discovery that pervaded
the lives of many who assumed a false status. The histories showed
that the mothers and children whose status was known had a position
in the community strengthened by the moral backing of relatives o r
other persons in whose homes they shared family life. Such moral
support is absolutely essential for the success o f this plan.
Application for assistance was made to maternity homes in many
cases necause o f the mother’s need for help in obtaining prenatal
and confinement care or her desire to conceal the fact o f her preg­
nancy from relatives and friends. The need for material relief and
for assistance in obtaining employment or in finding a boarding
home for the child while the mother was at work were the most
important reasons given for the application o f the mothers to agen­
cies other than maternity homes. Although in some cases the mother
received assistance from the father or from relatives of the father
or her own relatives, the histories indicate that it was necessary fo r
a large majority of them to have some gainful employment in order
to provide for the children. A number o f them married, and their
husbands provided for the children in their own homes. In most
cases, however, these marriages did not occur until after the mother
had provided for the child through her own efforts for a considerable
period o f time.
The findings o f the study suggest that the following measures are
desirable in assisting unmarried mothers to keep their children with
(1) Affiliation o f maternity homes with children’s agencies in order
that provision may be made for supervision o f children when they
are discharged from a maternity home.
(2) Provision by social agencies for temporary care in boarding
homes or institutions for unmarried mothers and their children who
are not readily adjusted in the home o f relatives, in their places o f
employment, or in other family homes.
(3) Greater willingness on the part o f both public and private
agencies to aid unmarried mothers in caring for their children.
(4) More intensive attempts by social agencies to establish pater­
nity in order that part, at least, of the support o f children o f illegiti­
mate birth may be obtained from their fathers.
The purpose of this report was not to prescribe the method or
methods o f care suitable for the child born out o f wedlock but to
interpret the results o f the experience of a number o f workers in the
plan o f keeping the children with their mothers. These results have
proven to be gratifying in that the children, with few exceptions,,
were shown to have been successfully absorbed into the life o f their
communities. The results also indicate the need for careful study at
each step in working out acceptable solutions to the individual case
problems, both to help the child concerned and to further the corre­
lation o f data which will serve as means toward improved technique
in case work and a broadening vision for the education o f the
community toward its final obligation o f justice to the child.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

L CHILDREN’S BUREAU t o o r g a n i z a t i o n s ^

Purpose of the study.

To obtain information from case histories which will show the
eitects on the child and on the mother o f the plan o f keeping them
together. The term “ keeping them together ” is rather broadly de­
nned to include any cases where the custody and contact o f the child
have been retained by the mother, though the child has not lived con­
tinuously with her. It is essential that the child know his own
people and that they have taken responsibility for him.
Plan of study.

The aim is to collect as large a number as possible o f case histories*
which will be written into histories by workers knowing the cases or
havmg access to the original records. An outline is here included
which workers writing the histories are asked to follow in order that
the material assembled may present the uniformity necessary for
incorporating it into a general report. A certain number o f the
histories will be published in the form in which they are sent into the
bureau. No identifying information is to be included m the histones. No history will be published except in accordance with the
wishes o f the agency furnishing the material. Data from all thehistories collected will be compiled.
Length of histories.

Workers are asked to limit their histories to as brief a space as is
consistent with a clear presentation. A maximum o f five pages, type­
written, double spaced, is suggested.
Age of'&hild.

Preferable that the child be at least 10 years old, but cases of
children from 8 years old who are well established in school will be
accepted. The older the child, even if he be an adult, the better:
the greater the number of years through which the plan has been
tried, the more valuable will be the knowledge o f the results as an
indication o f its success or failure.
Selection o f cases.

The cases selected for the study should not be chosen on the basis
o f successful work only. The most desirable plan would be for an
agency to select all cases, now in contact, where the child has reached
the age o f 8 years.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




Each history should be numbered or marked by some code, in order
that it may be identified in any correspondence which may be neces­
sary between the writer and the Children’s Bureau after the histories
are forwarded to the bureau. The side headings of the following
outline should be used as side headings in the case summary, and the
¡scope indicated for each should be followed in the write-up. Observe
carefully the items calling for specific data.
ft is desired that the case histories should be written up in a read­
able, connected, interesting form, but it is essential that all the
•significant facts that are known should be included.

Name of agency, institution, or other organization. City. Year of
-child’s birth. Sex of child. Race or nationality o f mother and
father. Ages o f mother and father at birth of child. Number of
years agency or institution has had contact. State whether contact
has been continuous or intermittent. State the different periods of
care, giving length of time and reason for closing and reopening case.
W ho referred case to another agency or institution? Reason tor
Mother’s status and general circumstances when case was referred.

Was she a married woman illegitimately pregnant (single, widow,
divorcee) ? How old was she? Had the child been born? What
was her economic situation? What was the attitude o f her family,
and what was her relation to them? What was the mothers plan
at that time ?
Mother’s background.

Her character, education, health. Her attitude toward keeping
her child. The determining factor in influencing her to keep her
baby. Mentality (state whether determined by mental examination
o r judgment o f worker). W ork history and occupation before birth
«of child.
Father’s background.

Character, education, health, mentality, occupation, and wages.
W as he single, married man living with his family, divorced,,sepa­
rated, or deserting?
-Chronological history of case to the present time.

Plan o f the agency or institution for the mother and the baby when
they were discharged from care. The relation between mother and
child through the years. Various plans for them—mother’s employ­
ment and factors governing it; living conditions—use of boarding
homes and institutions; acceptance of child by relatives. Childs
education; health; mentality (state whether determined by mental
examination or a matter o f opinion of worker). Paternal responsi­
bility—if assumed, by what means—marriage, agreement to support
child; compelled by court to support child. Contact o f father with
ehild and with mother.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Present status of mother and child.

When and under what conditions each is living at present. I f the
mother has married, is her husband the child’s father, or another
man ? How old was the child when the mother married ? State the
effect on the child o f the marriage. Attitude o f stepfather toward
the child and the child’s relation to him. Does the child know of
his illegitimate birth ? I f so, when and how was he told o f it ? How
did he react to the knowledge and what has been its subsequent effect
on him ? I f the mother is still single, what is her ostensible status
in her community? I f her true status and that of her child are
known, what is the attitude o f the community toward each—par­
ticularly as expressed in the school, church, and Sunday school, on
the playground—in those relationships which constitute the child’s
world. Future plans for the child. Mother’s attitude toward hav­
ing kept her child.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis