View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.





for Homeless

St. Louisf








Including a Report of a Fact-Finding
Survey of S t r e e t Begging Made During
November and December, 1936








Issued by
Bureau for Homeless Men
204a N» Eighteenth Street
St* Louis, Missouri
February, 1937

The survey of street begging reported in Part II
of this pamphlet is the first of this kind ever made in
St. Louis. Previous anti-begging campaigns were based
upon the casual observations and opinions of committee
and staff members and any changes in plan were based
upon workers1 reports and day by day observations. The
surprising results of this survey show how inaccurate
and misleading such methods can be.
We had difficulty securing competent personnel and
because of this were unable to complete several other
portions of the survey included in the original plans.
The neighborhood survey should be extended5 a study
should be made of official records of arrests and convictions and of peddlers licenses5 and other similar
studies are needed before we know all there is to know
about Street Begging in St. Louis* It is possible that
we may find ways to complete the survey in the near
future\ if so5 a supplementary report will be issued.
This report mokes no attempt to recommend action
or to lay out a program^ it merely recounts the facts
learned with an historical summary to furnish the nee*
esscry background. A theoretical discussion of the
problem would also be of value, but this alone would be
sufficient material for an entire volume. We hope that
some one will some day write it.







Chapter !• General Statement
The Method
The Survey of the Downtown
Territory Covered
Classifications & Definitions
The Number of Beggars
Regular Beggars
Frequent Beggars
Intermittent Beggars
Physical Condition
Miscellaneous Information
Working Hours
police Interference
Child Beggars
Intermittent Panhandlers
Case Stories

11 - 50
11 11 12
14 - 42

Chapter 3.

The Survey of Beggars in
General Statement
Method Used
Territory Covered
The Number of Beggars
Frequency of Giving
Attitude of Beggars
The Number of Peddlers
^Willingness to Buy
Comments of Housewives




Downtown St. Louis
The Number of Beggars & Vendors
Regular Beggars
Frequent Beggars
Physical Condition of Beggars
Miscellaneous Information
The Earnings of Beggars
The Number of Neighborhood Beggars
The Number of Peddlers



One of the functions of the Bureau for Homeless Men
almost from the time of its organization has been the
control and prevention of begging. In the past eleven
years some very intensive and profitable work has been
done on this perplexing problem that in view of recent
complaints that begging is increasing might well be reviewed to see what has been learned.
The Community Council of St. Louis in October, 1925,
requested that the Bureau for Homeless Men form a committee to handle the beggar problem. As formed, this
committee consisted of the Chief of Police, two municipal judges, Chief probation Officer of the Municipal
Courts, Director of Public Welfare, Superintendent of
the Workhouse, Deputy City Comptroller, Associate Secretary of the Church Federation, Secretary of the Charities Bureau of the Chamber of Commerce, an attorney, representatives of the case working agencies, publicity Secretary of the Community Council, and the President of the
Bureau for Homeless Men. There v/ero also some influential and interested citizens. A case committee was appointed to hear special cases presented by the agencies•
This Citizens1 Anti-Begging Committee, as it was called,
v/as gradually enlarged to include the Secretary to the
Mayor, Police Judge Advocate, Associate City Counselor,
Judge of the Court of Criminal Correction Division $2,
and Chief Probation Officer of the Juvenile Court.
In December, 1925, the Mayor invited the Committee
to meet with him in his office and plcn its work-. It
was docided at this meeting to attack this distinctly
urban problem on a case by case basis and the following

plan was inaugurated:
1. The Police to arrest all those found begging
upon the streets*
2. The police court to fine thorn and send thorn to
the workhouse.
3. The probation officer to be notified tJid in turn
to notify the Citizens'1 Anti-Begging Committee,
4» The Committee, using case workers borrov/ed from
various agencies9 to investigate each case and work out
a plan for treatment.
5* If a client accepted the treatment of the Committee, his parole to bo recommended. This parole, however, to be forfeited in case he failed to observe its
6* The probation office to appoint such representatives of the social agencies of the city serving, as
workers for the Committee to act as deputy probation
officers as the number of arrested beggars made necessary•
7« Exceptions to be made in the case of the blind
in that they v/erc not to be sent to the v/orkhcuse, but
turned over directly to the probation officer*
The Executive Secretary of the Bureau served as
Secretary of this Anti-Begging Committee and directed
its work* The first campaign was from December, 1925,
to April; 1926* This plan being followed closely, it
was definitely shown that beggars did have resources,
and could fce handled by the case work method.. The regular work of the agencies became so heavy, however, that
they cou3d no longer lend workers to the committee and
the campaign v;^s discontinued until tho following December, 1926o Similar cunpaigns wore then inaugurated and
continued through tho winters of 1926-1927, and 19271928. The experience of these three campaigns demonsxrated the need for:
1- A year around campaign
2» A contrail Led plan
3. Full time case workers

It was decided to meet this need, and a full time
ca'se worker-secretary, working under the ^committee but
paid by and acting as a staff member of the Bureau, was
employed in September, 1928. This centralization eliminated much of the confusion between the agencies and
municipal authorities and served to keep the work operating on an even basis.
An educational campaign was waged through practically all avenues of publicity in the winter of 1928-29,
including the distribution of 12,000 pamphlets entitled:
"Three Things A Policeman Doesnft Like To Do." The committee was virtually inactive during 1930 owing to the
excessive demands on the social agencies* In April,
1931, activities were resumed because of complaints o f
citizens regarding the increased numbers of beggary.
The relief division of the Citizens1 Committee on Relief
and Employment, administering public relief, had also
received complaints and requested that the committee
take immediate action* At this time another publicity
pamphlet entitled: "This Beggar Is Different" was
The committee decided to work under the same plan
with the addition of another full time case worker. The
Chief of Police also detailed a special officer to work
with the Committee* The general order of arrest already
in force was not rescinded but was allowed to remain as
supplementary to the work of the special officer. This
officer gave the beggar a chance to accept the services
of the case workers of the committee in utilizing the
resources available for his rehabilitation, but arrested
those who refused this offer of aid. It was found that
this policy of kindness v/ith firmness was fairly successful.
Arrangements were made with the Mayor's Secretary
who issued permits for all monthly peddlers licenses,

whereby peddlers who used them as a camouflage for begging would be refused a renewal upon proof of misuse.
In this way pressure WLLS put on some of the difficult
cases who were wise enough to manipulate their licenses
in such a wcy that convictions were difficult to obtain.
Regular "surveys" of the downtown section were also made
by the case worker and the special officer to pick up
any beggars found operating*
The first records which indicated the size of the
problem were kept in 1928 and 1929, at which time the
average case load was 49 cases per month and the case
work-secretary of the committee was used to assist with
the regular work of the Bureau for Homeless Mt>n as well
as the handling of beggars* For the first three months
of 1933 the c^se load increased to 432 cases per month,
including all street warnings an4 curbstone interviews*
After a roorganization of the Bureau in the fall
of 1933, the Anti-Begging Department, along with all
other departments of the Bureau, came in for very close
scrutiny CLS to its place in the total picture and also
the methods and thoroughness with which it was covering
its field* It WELS found that the so called "beggar
case locid" wes very much over-emphasized. For instance,
the figure of 432 cases per month in the first three
months of 1933 by actual examination proved to contain
only about one-third this many active cases. The others
were inactive, being told for observation, or consisted
only of notations that the man had been seen on the
street. It was also found that "once a beggar, always
a beggar" v/as very much true in this case load* If a
man stated to a worker of the Bureau that he had panhandled at any time in recent months, even though it
was only one offense, he was immediately transferred to
the Beggar Department for attention. The mere fact
that a single man has at some time or othor requested a
dime on the street or a semdv/ich at someone's back door

does not make him a beggar in the true sens© of the word*
There soemed to bo no clear cut distinction between the
one-time panhandler and the confirmed beggar and the entirely different problem each represented. For statistical purposes they were all part of the caso load.
When the case load was finally cleared of all dead
wood that had accumulated .in it over the years, it was
found that only about 50 to 60 cases of confirmed beggars existed. Many of these, however, had not begged to
the worker's knowledge, in the past six months or a year.
As a result of this, by the end of J933, the begging
work was being handled by one case worker, who spent his
mornings in court and his afternoons at the office or
visiting. His case load varied from 60 to 80 cases.
The type' of treatment that these cases received was in
most instances exactly the same as given men in the Bureau Mass Treatment Department except that the amount of
relief was generally higher*
In the meantime changes .were taking place in other
aspects of the Anti-Begging program. In the early days
of the program, as pointed out *in the foregoing history
of its organization, the plan was that of-a continuous
police drive upon the beggars with the case workers,
first borrowed and then employed full,time, coming into
the picture after the beggar's case had boon heard by
the courts. The job of keeping the streets clear of
beggars was placed upon the police department with regular surveys by the Anti-Begging workers to assist them.
The police wore to perform their function of stemping
out this misdemeanor by arresting the beggars and the
committee was to furnish case w.ork service for each beggar so arrested. It was believed that through this case
work the Bureau could convince the police and the public
of the fact that beggars were such through choice rather
than necessity.
The addition of a plain clothes man to the Anti-

Begging Department in 1931 did a great deal to cut down
this close cooperation with the Police Department* It
is a well known fact in police circles that as soon as a
special squad of men is detailed to any special branch
of crime, the regular patrolman ceases to pay any attention to that part of his job. The result has always
been - TILet the traffic squad attend to that.11 This was
true with the special patrolman on the Anti-Begging
staff. The general police force knew there was such a
man and they could see no reason why they should bother
with beggars. The regular patrolman was reluctant to
arrest a beggar because it was necessary for him to appear in court during his time off duty to testify. Also
there was little "glory*1 or recognition to be obtained
from arresting beggars. The result was that the entire
work of keeping beggars off the streets v/as thrown upon
the special patrolman and the Anti-Begging workers.
We also find an even more drastic change in the
attitude of the courts* The Anti-Begging worker in the
police court served merely as a stop gap for the workhouse and the court. Court procedure required that any
man paroled be paroled to the Probation Department and
not to an outsider. However, in the case of begging it
had merely become a formality. All arrangements were
ccjrried on with the Bureau's workers; the only contuct
with the Probation Department was that of record. Practically no beggars, even the ones having a long record
of frequent arrests, v/ere sentenced to the workhouse#
They were paroled with a warning and turned over to the
Bureau for relief. Even if they v/ere sentenced or fined
the maximum was $100, which meant 33 days in the workhouse. As a general rule it v/as $50 or 18 days. This
was no deterrent whatever to a confirmed boggex but merely took him out of circulation for tv/o weeks or a month
if he served the sentence. The workhouse, on the othor
hand, v/as continually complaining against those men being sent to than. Their usual complaint was that they


were too old or too crippled t o work and i t simply
moant one more man for thorn to care for. There are no
s t a t i s t i c s available, but our estimate would be that
only one msji in twenty over went to the workhouse.
All of this resulted in a complete change of emphasis so that instead of the case workers being an aid
to the court by offering case work service to beggars,
the court was doing the case v/orkors and the cdmmittee
a "favor1* by paroling the beggars to them* Th£ courts
and the beggars also came to believe that such a parole
constituted a mandate by the court that the beggar was
to receive relief without question, jf he did not receive any relief requested he threatened to go out on
the streets and bGg again. When this did happen and
he was brought back into court as a repeater, the case
workers v/ere often severely criticized by tho court for
not carrying out the instructions of the court. As
those trials were frequently broadcasted from the court
room, the agency was often placod in on embarrassing
and undeserved light before clients and public.
Beggar clients were known throughout tho Bureau as
"preferred"' clients and there were many cages in which
rolief recipients arranged to be c&ugh,t panhandling in
ordor to be eligible for the "beggar department" > and
so roceive more relief. Relief statistics for the
various departments of the Bureau show that for a long
time the Beggar Department had the heaviest par capita
rolief cost* A large part of this -wasi for clothing,
yet beggar clients were notoriously ragged.
As these developments in the Beggar Problem, find
the difficulties that had arison wore analyzed, three
things became more and more appejrent. They were;
!• The Anti-Begging progrcm got off to a gobd
and proper start* It had the support, through

the Citizens1 Anti-Begging Committee, of the leading organizations, city officials, and business
men of the community* they were all working together for the solution of a perplexing civic
problem; they succeeded in evolving a sound,
workable plan, one which wae successful through
at least the first two winters of oporation*
There can be no doubt on this point* The tremendous reduction in the number of beggars and
the enthusiastic response and hearty cooperation
from all organizations bear ample witness to
this success*
At some point in its development the program
failed* There can be little doubt of this*
Somewhere between 1928 and 1933, the Anti-Begging Program failed to meet the challenge and
started on the downward trail. It is difficult
to say just when this occurred* It is possible
that the fatal mistake was made in 1928 when
the committee changed from borrowed to a salaried case worker* Prior to that time, the use
of borrowed workers had forced the cooperation
of all organizations and officials and had made
of the progrom a community undertaking, but with
the change to a full time staff this cooperation
was lost. Anti-Begging work was then a function
of the Bureau for Homeless Men only* The advent
of the depression with its unprecedented case
loads fostered this tendency on the part of
other social agencies to dump the entire job on
the Bureau*
Another factor that undoubtedly contributed to
the destruction of tho Anti-Begging progrnm was
the failure of those responsible for planning to
recognize tho need for a changG in program*
When tho Citizens* Anti-Bogging Committoe was

organized in 1925 it had two immediate goals.
One was to ineot an emergency and rid the city
of a horde ofboggars, the other was to demonstrate to the public and the authorities the
valuo of case work methods in dealing with bogbars. Both these goals were attained by the
end of the second winter campaign and it was
then that the plans should have been changed
and the efforts directed to a more permanent
set-up. Instead the only change was to employ
a full time staff; the plan of operation remained the same throughout the life of the work.
Control of begging is first a police and then
a court function. The social agency should
appear only when relief is necessary or as a
leader in pointing out the need for or in demonstrating the method and value of discharging
that function# St. Louis agencies demonstrated
successfully for two years and then continued
to demonstrate on a basis of descending returns
for seven more years.

The Anti-Begging Program of the Bureau had
reached an impasse. By 1934 it was apparent
that the work was at a dead end, that it was
accomplishing nothing by its current methods
and that it would be exceedingly difficult to
effect any satisfactory changes.

It was eventually decided that the best way to put
the program back on the proper basis would be to discontinue all begging work for a period of one or two
years, allow all the existing misunderstandings and misconceptions to die out, and then re-establish it on a
new plan* Accordingly, in the fall of 1934, the AntiBegging Department was eliminated, the representative at
the police courts was withdrawn, and the beggar cases

distributed through the regular case load. Relief to
beggars was continued, of course, but they were handled
as part of the regular load with no discrimination for
or against them because of their illegal acts.
The only active anti-begging work since that time
was the issue, during the winter of 1935-1936 of a pamphlet entitled "When You Give, It Hurts". This pamphlet points out that giving to beggsxs "hurts you, the
beggar, and your community11 by wasting your money, encouraging the beggar to a pexusitical mode of living,
and diverting the charitable resources of the community
to illegal channels. Numerous talks on the subject were
also made before? vcxious organizations, in an attempt to
educate the public to an intelligent attitude toward
begging and beggars so that the income of the beggars
would be cut off at its source.
This was the situation in the fall of 1936 v/hon
numerous complaints from citizens, organizations, and
the Community Council were received that begging was on
the increase* The Committee on Bogging of the Board of
Directors discussed the question and decided that the
only sound way to resume the anti-begging work would be
to start a fact-finding survey.



General Statement
The purpose of the survey was to gather as much information as possible regarding the prevalence of begging
in the city, the number of beggars, their approximate income, and types of appeals. One surveyor was employed
from Nov. 17 to Dec. 15 and one from Dec. 12 to 31. The
first spent about two weeks in the downtown district, 3
or 4 days in the various neighborhood shopping districts
and 8 days on a house-to-house survey. The second surveyor spent his entire time downtown.
For purposes of reporting results the survey is divided into a Downtown Survey and a Neighborhood Survey.
The Method
The method used in making a count of the beggars in
the downtown district was to cover the entire district,
an area of 72 blocks, as rapidly as possible and count
each beggar or peddler seen* Care was taken to eliminate
duplications or those persons v/ho moved from place to
place and might be seen at different locations on the
same count. The accuracy of this depended upon the
worker's powers of observation.
On other days detailed observations were made. Each
beggar spotted was reported on a daily report and given a
special case number. The entries from these daily reports

were then typed into chronological case records a9 permanent records* The more flagrant cases were watched
for periods varying from 30 minutes to half a day and
observations made of "earnings11 and method* Some were
also followed to their rooms when going off duty.
Department store doormen, newsboys, and beat patrolmen were engaged in casual conversations as a means of
collecting valuable information regarding names, family
histories, hours of work, and similar details. Casual
remarks to bystanders often resulted in valuable comments
on particular beggars* The worker frequently allowed
himself to be panhandled as a means of opening a conversation and numerous meals were purchased to provide an
opportunity for an interview* Other details of method
will appear in the case stories given in a later portion
of the report.
The method used on the neighborhood survey was a
house-to-house canvass with a card filled out on each
interview. This is discussed in greater detail in that
section of the report.



Showing the Territory Covored
in the Survey

J '

J *


i t









• '"*-^" ton"' '-~Kve.~



i ir



jT ft


i I







nn rL
! I



Territory Covered* The territory covered in the survey
of the dcwntW. district was limited to the area bounded
by 4th Street on the east, 12th Street on the west, Market on the south, and Franklin on the north* We found
that the most popular streets for boggars were Olive and
Locust from Broadway (5th Street) to Ninth,and Sixth and
Seventh Streets from Olive to Washington. This latter
territory contains the three large department stores of
the city, the principal banks and office buildings, and
also comprises the principal retail shopping district*
Most of the persons in the district are either retail
shoppers or office workers*
Classifications ajid Definitions* Much as we dislike the
practice of labeling beggars as "moochers, panhandlers*
professionals11 and the like, it is necessary to have
some classification system in a statistical type of
study* In making our counts of beggars in the downtown
district we found many persons selling razor blades,song
sheets, Christmas novelties and toys, candy, ana other
salable products who obviously were not begging. We
could not avoid considering these persons in our survey*
neither could we class them as beggars.
We make a distinction, then, in our classification
between vendors and beggars.
Vendors* Sidewalk salesmen of a salable product.
In this class are placed those persons who have an
apparent stock of goods representing un investment
of at least $1. Some of them have regular locations and carry a stock evidently worth $8 or $10.
Observation has shown that members of this group in-

sist that the product be taken and change accepted.
Money is not displayed as a bait for the passer-by.
They give every indication of being legitimate,
though impoverished, salesmen.
Beggars are divided in two groups according to the
appeal used; Peddlers are those who display a few
items of merchandise, such as 3 pair of shoe laces,
a few pencils, or a few packages of gum as a blind
for their begging operations. The giver, however,
is not supposed to take the merchandise. One peddler was observed who displayed 5 or 6 packages of
gum, but when a passer-by dropped a nickel in the
box and picked up the gum, he said "That will be 10
cents.11 Many of these carry a street peddlers license as a protection against arrest as a beggar.
The Panhandler is one who offers nothing, but requests a coin or a car token or who displays a deformity in such a way as to make a silent appeal*
This includes the occasional "stemraer" as well as
the full time beggar who makes no pretense of offer*
ing anything for sale.
The Number of Beggars* Estimates of the number of beggars in the downtown distri ct made previous to this survey varied widely. Some of them ran as high as 100 and
200, and the lowest were "several dozen." Interested
persons reported being "hit" 3 or 4 times in a few blocks
walk, and statements regarding the "swarms of beggars"
were frequent. In fact, as has already been mentioned,
the Community Council received sufficient complaints to
warrant a request to the Bureau to resume its antibegging work.
We were much surprised, therefore, to find that the
actual number of beggars on the streets was very small.
The largest number counted in the 72 block area by a
Bureau survey worker at any one time was 11. This was
on Saturday, November 21. Other days varied from 5 on

Monday, December 14 which was a rather cold day, to 8 or
9. On Friday, November 20, three different counts were
inade with extra effort to watch for duplications. The
early morning count showed 9. A count at noon only 4, and
an afternoon count 10* Two of these were duplications,
making a total of 21 different beggars during the day.
At the same time that these counts were being made,
separate counts of the vendors were also kept. This number varied from a low of 13 to a high of 58. The latter
figure was on Saturday, November 21. This group is more
fully discussed in a later section^
The following table shows the figures on eight
different days:

Day and Hour
Tuesday , Nov. 17
F r i d a y , Nov. 2 0 - 9 A t o 12 M





Beggars Vendors Total

12 M " 3 PM
3 P
M " 5P

jSaturday, Nov. 21
Monday, Dec. 14
Monday, D e c . 2 1
Wednesday, Dec. 23
F r i d a y , Feb. 1 2 - 1 1 AM t o 1 PM
- Not counted





13 (2)








- 2 repeaters.




T o t a l of different beggars for
day was 2 1
Estimated about 36 d i f f e r e n t vendors f o r the


These figures were so astonishingly low that special
counts were made during the month of February by a r e g .
ular case worker of the Bureau to check the accuracy

of the previous surveyor • The table shows that these
counts, made by three different persons, £.11 agree as to
the smallness of the number of beggars.
It is natural for the casual observer to give an
exaggerated estimate of the number. The irritation caused by the panhandler's request or the peddler's display stimulates the normal tendency to over-estimate.
The location of the beggar is also a factor in these estimates. For example, in the count on Dec. 14, only 5
beggars were reported, yet 4 of those were within half a
block of the intersection of 6th and Washington and it
would havo been possiblo for a person to walk one block
and pass 3 of the 4 beggars. The fact that panhandlers
seem to frequent a few streets at certain hours also
tonds to make the numbor seem larger. This is more
fully discussed in the lator section on panhandlers.
Regular Beggars. At tho end of each dayfs work the surveyor turned in a report covering tho day's observations
These wore individual reports on beggars, giving the
time, location, description and all details on each.
Each beggar so reported was givon a "case number", and
subsoquont roports regarding him were copied into his
"case record". It is from those daily reports and case
rocords that tho rosults of tho survey are tabulated.
During the six woeks that a surveyor was kept in
tho downtown district, reports were turned in on 44 differ ont bGggars, some of whom, of course, were soon on
several different dajs. By tabulating the number of
timos each was seen and comparing this to reports of
daily observations and also to outside reports received
at the Buroau, v/o have separated these 44 into throe
groups, called regular, frequent, and intermittent beggars. Regular beggars rxo ones who are on the downtown
streets practically every day. Only 12 foil into this
group. Five of these wero seen so often that we did
not bother to count the number, but simply recorded


Case Times
2 Continuous
)16 A
44 Continuous

NO. 2



Description (lj
Legless whito meji - age 55
Deformed Negro man - age 55
Blind whito man - ago 60
Whito man - age 30
White man - age 35-appoars
Legless Negress
Blind whito woman - 4 ft# tall
Blind Negro mcji - age 38
Whito boy - age 16
Blind white man - ago 50
White man - right leg off
Legless whito man - ago 40

Usual Appoal
Shoo laces for sale
Outstretched hand o nly
Pencils for sale
Pencils for sale
Safoty pins - sing song voice
None - empty box only
Matches-"please buy"
Pencils - wears large crucifix
Shoe laces - "please buy"

((1) Ages are gonerally estimated
(#) These two men generally work together, although tho young man (16A) has been
seen without the blind man*
(See section on "Case Stories" for details on some of these cases)

thorn as Mcontinuous•" One other was reportod 10 times,
another 6, and others less often* We have reason to bolie vo, however, that a survey on 2 or 3 days at any time
of tho year (not necessarily during the Christmas shopping season) would find practically all of those 12
beggars on duty and that all of them make thoir living
by begging.
Table No* 2 gives some details regarding them.
It is interesting to note that nine of these twelve
beggars are handicapped in some way, 4 of them blind,
and 4 having one or both logs off, and that one of the
othor three makes a pretense of being senile and feebleminded* Only 3 of the group us© any kind of verbal
appeal, the others merely display their deformity and
small stock of pencils or lacos, and wait* 10 of the
twelve display a commodity that is apparently for sale,
tho other 2 rely entirely on the appeal of their deformityIt is possible that somo of the "frequent" beggars
discussed in the next section should be classed as
"regulars", but so far as wo are able to establish,
thoso 12 persons arc the only regular members of St*
Louis' downtown "standing criny" of beggars* Removing
them permanently from the streets would practically
solvo the beggar problem*
Frequent Beggars* We class as "frequent" beggars those
who were observed only 2 or 3 times during the period
of tho survey and who, we have reason to believe, beg
only as a side line ejid tit tines when the returns
should bo unusually good. There cro only 9 in this
group• Table No* 3 givos details regarding them*
We find a much smaller proportion of handicapped
persons in this group than among the regular beggars,
only 5 of the 9 being handicapped. 3 of these are blind^
2 have lost one leg, and the other 4 are apparently

physically sound. As mentioned in foot note (2) on case
No. 5, this couple would normally be classed as vendors,
but on two occasions the man was seen to separate from
the woman, who was selling candy, and accept money*
The baby was used as his appeal. This case is fully
discussed in a later section. Many of the persons in
the next group might be classed as frequent beggars if
we knew more about thenu
Intermittent Beggars are thoso who were seen only once
during the period of the survey. We have no way of tolling whother this was their only offense, but wo can be
sure that they arc not regulars. 23 of the 44 beggars
fall into this group. Ten of them wore panhandlers and
apparently wore using this mothod to pick up some odd
change or spending money. Throe of them were blind, two
"selling" pencils and the other playing a guitar and
mouth harp and accompanied by a woman carrying a cup.
Three were legless, one of them soiling pencils, one
begging with an empty box, and the other was seen bogging a meal in a restaurant.
Physical Condition. Much has been said in the previous
sections regarding the physical handicaps of the various
beggars. The following table gives a summary of these
facts for the entire group of 44 persons.
Totals ! Regulars Frcquont. Intermit
1 10
1 or both legs off
Defonaed or crip i 2
Apparently fit
1 23











Case No. Tines Seen
(2) 5


Description (1)
White man - age 65
White man - age 50
Young white couplo with baby
White girl - age 18
White man - age 60 - blind
White man - age 2 2 - 1 log off
White man - age 38 - blind
Elderly white woman - right
leg off
White man ~ age 50 * blind

Appeals Used
Laces - razor blades
Ordinary panhandler
| Candy
I Razor blades
! Pencils
j pencils and laces
Plays a guitar
j Novelties
» Plays an accordion

(1) Ages are generally estimated
(2) This couplo are frequently on tho street, but beg only occasionally
(3) Always accompanied by a woman, apparently his wife
(See section on "Case Stories" for details on some of these cases)

22 •
From this table it can be seen that 21 of the 44
beggars v/ere physically handicapped to such an extent
that they are not normally employable• 10 were blind,
9 had one or both legs amputated, and 2 v/ere deformed
or crippled in such a way that the deformity was apparent to the casual observer. Every one of these 21 persons was using his or her handicap as the chief item in
the appeal for money* It is also interesting to note
that the percentage of physically handicapped persons is
largest in the "regular" group end decreases through the
other classifications. 75$ of the regulars were handicapped, 55$ of the frequent beggers, and only 22$ of the
intermittent beggars.
Miscellaneous Information* The following table gives
miscellaneous information regarding sex, ages, etc.
Totals Regular
Instrument players
3 ]
Children (under 12)
Older boys
I Girls
2 men









All of the "musicians" were blind. The one child
listed begged after school and on Saturdays with his
older brother who was a regular beggar. These 2 boys
v/ere sent to the Bureau office by the surveyor, but an
attempt to visit their home address as given showed that
the information was false. Of the women, one of the regular beggars was blind and one crippled, the frequent
beggar was crippled and one of the others was deformed.
Two of the couples listed consisted of a blind man and a

sighted woman, and the other of the young couple with the
baby. The "two men together11 was a blind man and his
sighted male companion. One of the Negroes was blind and
all of the other three either crippled or deformed. One
of them was a woman.
Working Hours. It is rather difficult to set any definite time as the "working hours11 of the beggars, but by
piecing together portions of the reports on the various
persons, we can arrive at some conclusions that fit in
most cases. Wo must, however, remember the difference
between the throe groups, the regular, the frequent, and
the intermittent beggars. The regular beggars, as a rule^
work all day and seem to have a definite routo and time
schedule. Once this schedule is known, they can be located at any given time on any work day. The frequent
boggars, on the other hand, work for shorter periods of
time and over varying routes. They seem to choose- their
location at random without any definite knowledge as to
the best stands and they may be seen anywhere. The intermittent beggars work more as a group and will be congregated on certain streets at regular times. (See soction on "Panhandlers".) The only ones, then for which we
can set any definite working hours, are the regulars.
Taking case No. 15, a partially paralyzed Negro man,
who has been rated by the surveyors as St. Louis1 No. 1
Beggar, we find that his route is very definite. He
rides to work on the northbound Broadway car, arriving at
Broadway and Olive about 9:30. He then works up Olive to
7th, north on 7th to Washington, east to 6th, and south
on 6th to a point between St. Charles and Locust Sts. This
has taken him from one to one and a half hours. From then
until noon, he seldom moves more than 15 or 20 feet. At
noon he takes 15 minutes off for a light lunch, purchased
at the bakery counter of a noarby Fivo and Ton Cent Store
and eaton on the running board of a car. During the afternoon he works up 6th St. to Olivo, west on Olive to 8th,
south on a side trip to Chestnut and then back to Olive.

It is then about 3; 30. The next hour he spends going
east on Olive to Broadway, arriving there between 4:30
and 4:45 to board the Broadway car for home and the end
of this day f s work* This itinerary seldom varies, and
his working day is generally 7 hours - from 9:30 AM to
4:30 PM.
In Case No. 16, an elderly blind man accompanied
by a younger, sighted man, we find that they also start
to work at 9:30 each morning. They differ from the
previous case, however, in that they spend most of their
time standing in one location, generally the corner of
7th and Y/ashington. Promptly at 4:20 each day they start
home, the earlier quitting time probably caused by the
fact that they walk home instead of riding street cars
and so require a longer time to reach there.
The legless white man in Case No. 3, who propels
himself on a small, three-wheeled truck, gets to work a
little later in the morning, usually about 10:00# Until
about 12:30 he can generally be found on 9th Street near
the old Federal Building. After noon he works east on
Olive Street to 7th and south on 7th to Chestnut. At
3:30 PM he generally starts for home. His shorter working day is probably due to the fact that he travels
slower and it takes him longer to reach home.
In all three cases the beggar reaches homo about
5:00 to 5:15. It is also interesting to note that all
three of these beggars live within a block of each other
and that near there is a novelty store featuring laces,
pencils, gum, candy, and other products for sale to
street peddlers* Those beggars are also acquainted with
each other and were seen by the surveyor to engage in
conversation near their homes.
The working day of these persons, then seems to
be between 9:30 and 4:30. These are the hours when
business executives and shoppers, rather than office

workers and clerks, ere on the streets and are
probably chosen because these folk represent the most
lucrative prospects.
It is possible, of course, that some of the beggars
return to work in the evening and so work more than a
7 hour day, although our surveyors have seen only one of
thorn on duty in the evening* This is a legless man who
spends most of his time on Grand Avenue. These same
observations also apply to Sundays and holidays when the
only activity in the downtown district is near the hotels
and theatres.
Earnings. In order to establish a basis for computing
the earnings of these beggars, it is necessary to go
back to the individual case reports and quoto the
observations of the survoyo r.
Referring again to Case No* 15, wo find the following ontries - "at 9:30 AM v/atchod him for 20 minutes and
ho rocoived 2 coins.....On the south side of Olive between 7th and 8th observed for half an hour. He received
5 coins. At 3 PM near the Wainwright Bldg. he received
3 coins in half an hour. From 3:45 to 4*40, ho received
8 coins while walking from 8th to 7th on Olive... .While
he was resting ho took a handful of change from his pocket
and started counting. I counted up to 22 coins before he
started across the street." (This was at noon.)
From Case No. *3, we take the following - "His
approach was principally to women shoppers by removing
his hat. He made 15 approaches in 20 minutes, with 4
contributors, but none took his pencils••*.During this
2 hour poriod, ho received 13 coins that I actually saw
and ho may have received some that I couldnft see because of the heavy pedestrian traffic."
From Case No. 16 - "As the people would pass and
drop a coin in the box, the sighted man would pick it up
and hand it to the blind man who would feel the coin

with his right hand, evidently to determine its value,
and then place it in his right hand overcoat pocket.
Once he received a larger coin, apparently a qucxter,
which he put in his vest pocket, I observed those 2 men
from 2:20 to 4:20 PM* During this tamo they received
12 nickels, 3 dimes, and 1 quarter, an average of S coins
per hour...Watched them for 35 minutes. They roceived 7
This is the only case on which the surveyor was
able to stsjid close enough actually to identify tho
coins as they were roceived EJid so is our only guido to
an average value per contribution. These 16 coins represent a total value of $1.15 or zjn average of 7 ^ . If
we accept this as an average on all the regular beggars,
we can reach on estimate of the day f s earnings. Table
No. 6 summarizes this information from a group of cases.
Case Time

No. of

230 Min.
135 "
195 "
90 "
240 "
40 "
120 "
# Figured at an
working day


per hr.

Avcra*»e earnings
PGr hr.* Per dcv*

average of i-y.
per coin and a 7 hour



The average earnings for a full timo regular beggar
in the downtown district, then, would seem to be about

$3.70 per day. The poorest of the group can expect
to make a minimum of $3#00 per day and the best ran
as high as $4.50. This "No. 1 Wage Earner11 was a
blind Negro man about 38 years old, and rather neatly
dressed. Even on the coldest days his overcoat was
opened to display a five-inch gold cross hung on his
chest. He also held a box of pencils and laces and kept
repeating, "please buy, please buy a pencil.11 While the
actual count of his earnings covered only a very short
time, he was always reported as receiving frequent contributions.
The next highest paid beggar, Case No. 16, v/as tho
blind man mentioned several times previously. He is
always accompanied by a sighted man, so that 2 persons
must live on his earnings. V/hile he has never been seen
without his companion, there were several days when this
companion, a man about 38 or 40 and apparently physically
sound, was seen begging alone. On those days his earnings seemed to bo rather poor*
The above cases have all been cited from tho regular group* There was one intermittent beggar, however,
who had hourly earnings much higher than any of those.
Ho was a blind accordion player, a man about 50> neatly
drossed, accompanied by a v/oman about the same ago who
carried tho contribution cup# (Case No. 39) They were
observed for an hour on each of 2 different days. In
one hour they took in 12 coins and in tho other 13.
This was an average of 90£ per hour, although this
couplo apparently worked only a fow hours each day.
No attempt has been made to estimate tho total
earnings of the intermittent beggars and panhandlers as
their hours and earnings aro too irregular.
Police Interference. The surveyors were instructed to
be especially watchful for police interference with the

activities of beggars and to ask about this in conversations and interviews* On only cno occasion wore tho
police seen to arrest a beggar. This was an oldurly
drunk (Case No* 41) who was walking north on 6th asking
for "a nickel for a cup of coffee.11 A traffic officer
placed him under arrest.
We find sovoral instances of police questioning boggars. In Case No. 15, the partially paralyzed Negro who
is classed as the "No. 1 Beggar", wo find the following
entry - "A police squad car carrying plain clothes men
pulled up to the curb on Olive, one man got out and
talkod to tho beggar fcr a fow minutes, then returned to
the car and drove on. The beggar continued on his route
and did not coase begging.11
In Case No. 32, a blind guitar player accompanied by
a woman, one cf tho frequent beggars, we find this report - *fA patrolman walked up to the blind man and spoke
to him. The woman (who had been looking in tho store
windows while the man played and sang) walked around them
trying to hear what was being said. She thon stepped between them and said a few words to the officer. Tho
couple then walked south on 8th Street to Olive, whore
tho man gave hor some change and she entered tho Five
and Ten Cent Store. He continued to play and sing while
she was gone 11
These two are the only occasions upon which the
police were soen to interfere in any way, and in neither
case did the beggar discontinue his work. The surveyors
reported several times that beggars v/ero soon to move on
to another block when a police officer approached, but
no interference was noted and no such fear of the police
was ever displayed by any of the handicapped beggars.
In most cases, the police attitude was one of studied
indifference. The following report is indicative. (Case
No. 6) - I(An elderly man, in filthy condition, carrying
a bag of umbrellas, went into a department store on 7th

Street, Approached 3 clerks and obtained 2 coins.
Crossed the street to a drug store and was refused by
clerks there. Crossed to a theatre and was refused by
the doorman. He continued north on 7th Street for a
block and succeeded in collecting at the door in 2 stores.
At the others, he v/as merely taken by the arm and led to
the street. While this man's actions and appearance attracted considerable attention from passers-by, a sergeant of police and a traffic officer standing on the
corner ignored him.11
Some comments by the beggars themselves are also
illuminating. For example, this one from an 86 year old
pencil salesman. "I asked if he had to buy a license
and he replied that he had been here for 4 years and
never bothered about a license. The police all knov; him
and are his friends.11 And this from the 16 year old
beggar (Case No. 37) who has a stock of two pair of
laces - "He said he had no license but he knew the fcopsf
around there* However, the other day, a new detective
came up to him, but when he said that he was giving the
monoy to his mother, the detective wont away.11
It is not surprising that the average boat patrolman
doos not like to arrest a boggar. There is no glory
attached to such an arrest, and under the system in use
by the police department in St. Louis, the patrolman making an arrest must appear in court on his own time to
testify. Under these circumstances, they much prefer to
ignore tho beggar unless complaints aro made by merchants
or others molested, or at best they merely warn hijn off
their beat.
Child Beggars. The surveyors reported children being
used in only 3 cases. One of thGsc v/as Ccso No. 5, the
young couplo with tho baby, mentioned in a previous section and also in the later section on "Caso Stories.11
Tho mother sold candy during tho noon hour to workers on

the WPA consus project at the old Federal Building while
the father wont around the corner with the baby, who was
crying, and collected several coins from sympathetic
workers• The baby was apparently about 18 months old*
The second was Case No- 37, the 16 year old regular
beggar who was sent to the Bureau office by the surveyor,
but who gave e fictitious address for his family and
could not be located • Ho generally had with him a 9 or
10 year old boy, supposed to be his brother, who bogged
near him or across the street • The report contains this
entry - "Vernon and tho younger brother wore observed
today on Olive St. near 9th, thG other boy on the north
sido and the younger on tho south side* They boat a
hasty retroat v/hen they saw me. A razor blade salesman
informed me that he was told that these boys have a gong
begging. Ho said tho larger boy has a different small
boy with him about every 10 days. He understands that
the small boy occasionally gets a 50£ piece and on one
occasion got a dollar bill* People sympathize with him
on account of his small size and shabby clothes." We
were never able to check this report and cannot vouch
for its truth. He had only tho one youngster during our
The third case, very appropriately No. 13, is tho
most flagrant of the three* "Noticed near tho west entrance of a department store a man cbout 38 or 40 with 2
boys aged 10 or 12, each boy with a box covered with
colored paper. He seemed to bo giving them instructions
and soon they entered the store v/hile he remained in the
vestibule. I followed one boy and found that his box
contained 2 packages of gum. The boy would select some
woman customor sxid stop close to her as she was receiving change aft or a purchase His pica was f won f t you
please buy some gum?' He was successful almost every
time. This was repeated 10 or 12 times, unnoticed by
tiny floor walkor and never reported by any clork. Ho
then returned to the door and in guarded actions turned

his money over to the man.11 The group then went into
another large department store and repeated the procedure. The man later separated from the boys without
apparently giving them any of the money. The surveyor
unwisely chose to follow the man instead of the boys and
later lost him in a saloon. Neither he nor the boys was
ever seen again, although a careful watch was kept, nor
was a similar arrangement seen at any later time*
Vendors« One of the most noticeable things on St. Louis
streets is the extremely large number of vendors, or
sidewalk salesmen. Most of them seem to be legitimate
salesmen, not interested in begging or in accepting monef
without giving their product in exchange. They always
offer the purchaser his change and generally insist that
it be accepted. They apparently are as legitimate as
newsboys or many of the other products of urban life.
The most popular items offered for sale are razor
blades at 50 c. package, approximately half of the vendors having this commodity only for sale. The next most
popular seems to be city maps and guides at lOpl oach.
Other items offered are safety matches at 10 a box or
100 a carton, song sheets, candy, gum, peanuts, popcorn,
and similar edibles, and wall pockets, artificial flowers
and similar home mado articles. Those vendors generally
sell one item only*
Referring back to Table No* 1 wo find that on Friday, Nov. 20, 36 different vendors were counted on the
downtown streets during the 3 counts made on that day*
Tho following day, Saturday, 58 were counted. On Monday, Dec. 14, there were 30 and on Friday, Feb. 12,
there v/ore 20. During the veoks immediately preceding
Christmas their numbers were augmented by those selling
Christmas decorations, novelties', and toys. fc!oct of
these mon all congregated on 3 or 4 streets, so that it
is not at all unusual to see 4 or 5 to a block. On

Dec, 14, the surveyor reported 10 in one block, 5 on each
side of 6th Street between Olive and Locust*
Another "depression phenomenon11 of downtown St#
Louis is the large number of "car washers11. These are
usually Negro boys or men, equipped with a bucket containing rags and sometimes polishing materials, who
steer the auto driver into a parking space at the curb
and then offer to wipe off his car for 100• They v/ill
also give the car a complete wash, borrowing water from
a nearby store, or polish it for a larger amount.
Iffhile they are not "organized" in any real sense of the
word, each does have his own territory, usually ono or
both sides of the street, for one block, and is willing
to protect it with his fists if necessary* These territorial rights are so well defined that they are salable
for amounts sometimes running as high as several dollars
for good blocks. The police seldom molest them except
as part of periodical drives caused by stealing from
parked cars. On these rare occasions they arc all
chased out and it is necessary to reestablish the territories when the police zeal dies down. On Friday, Feb.
12, the surveyor counted 25 such n car v/ashers" in the
survey territory.
Intermittent Panhandlers. Several times in preceding
pages we have referred to this section and prcmisod an
explanation of the activities of the intermittent panhandlers. Eleven of the forty-four beggars upon which
the surveyors made detailed reports wero in this group.
None of them were seen more than once in the six week
period of the survey and most of thorn ceased bogging
immediately after receiving ono or two coins. They bog
not as a means of earning an easy living, but to pick up
150 or 200 needed for spending money. It is a spasmodic
and intermittent proceeding rather than a rogular profession.
Reports from several of the records will illustrate

this point:
Case No. 1 - "At 12th Street observed a tall* thin
man, partially drunk, approaching everyone. In 2
blocks hG made about 15 approaches with no success.
He then turned south and proceeded to Chestnut St.
v/ith no further approaches.11
Case No. 2 - "A man about 40, very ragged and dirty
approached a woman waiting for a street car at 8th
and Olive. Upon receiving a coin, he also appeared
to be waiting for a car, but after she boarded one
he wont south to Market Street and entered a saloon •"
Case No. 11 - "A man about 50, very neatly dressed*
His mothod of approach is to ask for a cigarette
and then follow with f could you spare a nickel for
a cup of coffee?' He also approaches persons sitting in parked cars. Appears to be very successful, probably because of his good appearance.1*
Case No. 17 - "A man about 40, very ragged and
dirty. Ho v:as frantically approaching everyone
and after many attempts received one coi*i» He
immediately went south to MarkOt Stroot."
Case No. 25 - "Man about 65, weight about 200. As
I approached he asked several persons for coins but
they did not stop. I gave him a nickel. After trying several others without success, ho went south
on 8th to Chestnut and entered a restaurant. He
drank a cup of coffco and thon proceeded to 8th and
Market where he sat dov/n on the corner with several
othor men.11
Case No« 4 - "Waiting on the corner, I watched one
man about 50 yoars of age sitting with 4 other men
jump up each time a 'prospect' appeared. He had

no success, much to the amusement of his friends»lf
Those men spend most of their time on or near Market Street and mako that their base of operations. The
most lucrative period for their style of panhandling
is from about 10*00 to 11? 30 AM. During this time most
of tho persons on the street arc shoppers and business
men rather than employed workers, 'tfhen plying their
trade-* they range north from Market Street, along Chestnut * Pine and Streets, seldom going cny farthor
north- After picking up their quota of 100 or 200, they
go back to M^rkex Stroct and wait for the afternoon
period vihich oxtends-ioughly from about 2;30 to 8:30 FM.
Duriug the early part of this period they catch the seme
typo of prospects.; shoppers and business men, as in the
morning* After 5:30 ?M they catch tho group staying
downtown for dinner and still later, the downtown
theatre crowd*
There are, of course, scattered panhandlers at
other times and in other parts of the district, but these
are tho periods of greatest concentration* The most
popular of the two periods is the morning one and the
concentration is greatest at this time, partly because
of its popularity and partly because the working time
is shorter«
*n order to have a means of positive identification and also material for possible publicity uso
later* a connuercial photographer with a "candid camera*1
was ernploved to photograph some of the regular beggars
and typical intermittent panhandlers. These photographs
are not only interesting for record purposes, but they
show in dramatic fashion the type of persons begging on
our streets. One set of two shows a blind pencil poddlor
in his characteristic shuffle while on duty and stepping
out in full stride v/hen heading for home*

Case Stories* The following case stories ore summaries
of relief record information on some of the cases and
quotations from the actual reports of the surveyors.
Thoy give some interesting and informative sidelights
on the appeals used and methods of operation.
A white nan, aged about 55 with both legs amputated
above the knee. Travels by sitting on a small truck with
three rollers* Carries a small box of shoe strings on
his lap* "I observed this man on the south side of
Olive between 8th and 9th and followed him very closely.
Pedestrian traffic was heavy and he moved slowly to 7th
and Olive, stopping about every fifteen or twenty feet
with his back against the wall asking 'please buy a
pencil?1 For two hours he moved up and down Olive be*
tween 7th and 9th. During this two hour period, I saw
him receive 13 coins. No one took pencils. From 2:30
to 3:30 he went south on 7th to Chestnut receiving 4
coins. He then closed his pencil box and started for
home.•••..he had difficulty getting up certain curbings
so he unhitched his truck, v/alked on his stump pads
across the street, carrying his truck in his hands and
climbed the curb on the other side." He traveled 10
blocks going home.
A young couple, both aged about 26, with a baby,
about 18 months. Their equipment consisted of a suitcase containing candy, and a camp chair. While the woman stood by the case calling her wares, the man took
thebaby around the corner and sat down on a coping near
where many office workers were congretated. "The baby
was crying and while he asked for nothing, it was a scene
to crea*te sympathy. Eight people walked over &nd gave
him u. coin in the first 15 minutes. He remained there
about 15 minutes longer until tho baby fell asleep and

"Girl about 16 with small box containing razor
blades and shoe laces. I bought a pair of shoe laces
and asked why she was doing that kind of work* Sho at
first tol«i me she was married and her husband was in
Buffalo, N«Y», and this v/as the only way she could find
to make a living* Later she admitted that her husband
was here, that they recently arrived from Baltimore, Md*
and that her husband, who is 29 years old, also sells
razor blades, although with little success. It is hard
for them to make more than $1 per day. They pay room
rent of 750 per night and have no other source of income. She displayed a peddlerfs license." About throe
woeks later, the following report was made on the same
girl - "She was asking people to buy razor blades, pen*
cils, and shoe laces. Made 3 sales and gave an article
each time she received money. A man stopped and askod
•why donft you try to get some other employment?1 She
roplied that she had tried* She then left with this
man and boarded a street car. Three hours later I saw
her back at the same spot."
CASE NO. 15.
Negro man, aged 51, v/ith crippled foet. He was
known to the Bureau as a professional beggar from March,
1929 until June, 1934. No relief was given during this
time3 as he was always living with relatives who wore
able to support him. The following record of arrests
for begging are known to the Bureau:
3 12 29
Fined $100 -• paroled
10 11 30




Fined $25
Fined $100


1 32
10 32
4 32
23 32
9 33
9 33
16 33
10 33
13 33
11 33
21 33
31 33
20 33
16 34

Fined $300
Fined $250 - appealed
Conviction sustained
Fined $25 - paroled
Fined $100 * paroled
Fined $200 - appealed
Fined $100 - appealed
Both convictions sustained
Fined $100 - paroled
Fined $100 - paroled & lectured

This man was arrested 19 times, fined 13 times with
6 paroles and discharged 6 times* During the year from
Juno, 1932 to June, 1933, ho was in court 7 times, 3 of
them in a 27 day period • During the year 1933, he spent
8 of the 12 months in the workhouse* To our knowledge
he was begging continuously during this five year period.
During this survey, he was seen on tho streets begging
practically ovory day and was classed by tho surveyors
as tho city's n No. 1 Beggar11*
The following sections of our survey give some idea
of the methods he uses. "He received a coin from a
Negro woman, putting on a good act of the 'shakes1 while
sho was fumbling in her purso for the coin...He was
standing crouched against the building with one hand
outstretched and the other resting on his cane. He
does not ask for help, but tho exprossion on his face
and the quiver of his body seems to be his plea."Other
aspects of his case have been quoted in previous soctions
of the report*
Blind man, aged about 60, accompanied by a sighted
man about 28 to 30, without a hat. The blind man wears

dark glasses, carries a white cane, and has a large
cardboard sign on his hat v/ith the word "blind.11 One
or the other of them also carries a small box with several pencils and shoe laces•
Their procedure is as follows: "The two men stood
side by side against tho building, the blind man to the
right, the sighted man holding the box* As people
dropped a coin iaato this box, ho would pick it up and
hand it to the blind man who would feel it v/ith his
right hand, evidently to determine its value, then drop
it in his right hand overcoat pookot* Once he got a
larger coin - probably a quarter - which he put in his
vest pocket
The blind man had his eyes fixed on the
ground, the sighted man made his eyes look peculiar at
tines and on several occasions he would look east and
west as if looking for someone. At first 1 thought he
was blind also, but when a bus pulled up to the curb and
someone threw a cigarette out, he went over, picked it
up and returned to his post and started to smoke." When
they started home "they entered & Five and Ton Cent
Store. As they entered the store the blind man removed
his sign. They purchased 100 worth of candy and they
proceded toward home."
These men lived 14 blocks away and apparently always
walked to and from their work. A druggist near their
home gave the following information - "he said the men
beg on the street v/ith a few pencils. He also informed
me they make more than he does. He knows this because
they come in with their nickels, dimes, and quarters for
him "c change into paper money." The blind man was alfo
ways accompanied by his partner, but on several occasions
the sighted man was seen begging alone*
Man about 35 to 38 who has been reported to the
Bureau several times in recent months for begging. He

has been reported as far b ack as June, 1936, as a safety
pin salesman at department store dcors end also r s a flow.
er salesman in the theatre district at night. "From his
stooped position against the door, ho would appear to be
a much older man. He was holding 3 cards of safety pins
and in a pitiful sing-song voice crying '0, lady, won't
you please stop and buy some pins* please buy some pins.1
He had his head down and shook it from side to side as
if crying* During 30 minutes he attracted a great deal
of attention and received 6 coins* No one took the merchandise and he made no attempt to offer it. At the end
of this time, he put his safety pins in his pocket,
straightened up, and from an apparently old man became
the young man he really is* He walked across the street
to a corner drugstore and bought a package of cigarettes
then stopped at the corner newsstand to smoke. He borborwed a paper to read and v/hile reading, I noticed that
he was particularly keen and alert. He then returned to
his post at the department store and went through the
same motions.11

NO* 24

A legless Negro woman always seen sitting on a small
roller frame in front of a cheap hotel* She carries a
box of pencils and most of her gifts seem to come from
Negroes who apparently know her. "At 11:30 AM the front
door of the hotel v/as opened by a Negro man, the woman
rolled out and took up her regular post* I watched her
for 3 hours and she received 20 coins. On 2 occasions
people took pencils
At this hour the front door of
the hotel was opened and the woman moved in.11

NO. 30

Small Negro man* apparently blind,
years, neatly dressed. His overcoat is
and he v/ears a cross which hangs from a
neck said hangs on his chest. The cross

aged about 38
always unbuttoned
cord around his
is large - about

5 x 3 - and is prominently displayed. He also carries a
small box of pencils. His usual plea is ffplease buy a
pencil.1* He was watched for 40 minutes and received 6
coins. At 4:40 he started for home walking so fast it
was difficult for the surveyor to keep up with him. He
walked 26 blocks to his home.
Blind man about 38 years old, playing a guitar with
cup attached to handle. He was accQmpajiied by a woman
about 24 years old. "Observed him for tv/o hours and
during this period he received 21 coins. He movos along
very slowly while playing and singing. The womr.n leads
him across the street, sees that he has a clear place
to start. She tells him the distance to the building
and then leaves him, to go window shopping, occasionally
looking to see how he is .getting along. She then takes
his arm and leads him to another spot farther up the
street.11 When this couple wore ready to go home* they
boarded a service car, which would bo a fare of 150 each,
and rode to their home in the west end*
Tall man, about 50, blind, accompanied by a woman.
He plays an accordion. She leads him by the arm, walking on the inside, and holds a cup in her hand* Sho
extends the cup as her silent plea. "I saw this couple
coming out of the hotel at 10:30 and followed them one
hour and they received 13 coins. At ls30 PM I again
picked them up and followed them over different streets
for one hour during which time they received 12 coins*
At 4:15 they returned to their hotel....As they v/ent
up Olive to 11th, I observed them for 20 minutes and
they received 7 coins
After each piece he plays, he
takes out his handkerchief and wipes his eyes, which
seem to be running all the time....At 9:30 this couple

came out of the hotel, without tho accordion, end spent
20 minutes walking around while the woman looked into
various store windows. At 9:50 they returned to the
hotel. "
Recapitulation* In order to emphasize the high lights
of this portion of the survey, we recapitulate here the
chief points that have been brought out.

Not more than 11 beggars were found at
any one time.


Only 12 regular, full-tim© beggars were


A total of 44 different beggars were
reported. This included the 12 "regulars", 9 frequent, and 23 intermittent


10 of tho beggars wore blind and 11
were deformed or crippled.


The normal v/orking day of the regular
beggar was found to be 7 hours.


The average °wagof! of a full-time
beggar was found to be about $3.70.
Some were observed to take in as much
as 95£ in one hour.


The police seldom interfered with the
activities of the beggars.


58 different vendors were counted on
the streets in one day. 25 Negro
"car washers11 v/erc counted on another


The ordinary panhandler seems to bo
interested only in getting 15£ or 200 •
As soon as this is received, he quits




General statement* The original plan for the neighborhood portion of the survey called for interviews with
approximately 50 housev/ives in each of 10 different
neighborhoods of the city and suburban communities. We
were not able to complete this many interviews, however,
during the time of the study and have not been able to
arrange any method of completing it since that time*
Three neighborhood were covered with a total of 109
housewives interviewed* We realize this is a very small
number from which to draw conclusions or make generalizations and this section of the survey might consequently
be criticized. However, we must recognize the fact that
these neighborhood reports are not the result of actual
counts made by the housav/ives but are estimates made on a
moment's notice at the request of the interviewer andy as
these estimates were quite uniform, with few exceptions,
in all 3 districts, we believe that v e are fairly safe in
using them.
It is hoped at a later date to complete the Survey
with several hundred more interviews from other districts,
but as we v/ere unable to do that for inclusion in this
report, we believe the present material is too valuable
to omit. We report the following results then* fully
realizing that it may be necessary to revise them when
extended over a larger number of interviews.
Method Used. The method used was to have the surveyor
personally interview each housewife and fill out the
desired information on each interview card. He introduced himself by presenting a typed and signed introduction card from the Secretary of the Bureau, stating

that the bearer was conducting a house-to-house survey
of beggars and peddlers and that any courtesy shown him
would be appreciated. This v/as generally sufficient introduction and he reported that his reception was in
most cases cordial and that most persons were v/illing to
give the desired information. He did not, of course,
carry any cards or notebooks in his hands when approaching the door.
The following 3 x 5 card v/as used to record
interviews, a separate card being used for each one. It
is so arranged that a check can be used as an answer to
most questions, thus saving as much time as possible.
This is especially important on a midwinter survey, as
most persons are reluctant to invite the surveyor into
the house and also object to holding tho door opon for
too long a period. Any comments of the housewife were
written on the reverse side of the card.
Blk. (APT)(F1) (SmHs) (La.Hs)
BEGGARS- No. Per WK (M)_(W ^Regulars?
Ask for (Y/ork) (Money) (Clo) (Food)
How Give (Never) (Seldom) (Often)(Al\vays)
What Give (Work) (Money) (Clo)(Food) (Reg)
Att. of Beg.
PEDDLERS. No -Per WK (M) (W) Regulars?
3 el line;?





... t.






Buying (Nover)(Seldom)(Often)(Always)
Appeal used? .
Att* of Ped.
CHILDREN. No.Por Y l (B) (G) Regulars?
Begging? OT Soiling? What?
Buy or Give (Nover)(Seldom)(Often)(Always)
AppOdl USGd
Att. of Ch. .

Territory Covered* As previously mentioned, three districts wero covered with a total of 109 interviews.
There were 47 interviews in the West End district comprising the 5600, 5700, and 5800 blocks on Cates, Clemens
and Enright Avenues; 42 interviews in the South Side district comprised of the 3700 and 3800 blocks on Humphrey,
Connecticut, and Juniata Avenues; and 20 in the North
Side district comprised of the 4700 and 4800 blocks on
Farlin and Anderson. Most of the interviews were in
small or large houses* While there were some apartments
in each district, we found that most of these did not
allow beggars or peddlers*
The Number of Beggars* Of the 109 housewives inter--"
viewed, 69 or 63^ reported some beggars each week and
40, or 37$, reported that they had no beggars. Breaking
down the 63$ who reported some, we find that 41$ (of the
total number of housewives) reported an average of one
beggar each week, 19$ reported 2 a week and the other
3$ reported that they had 3 or more* The West End district was the only one reporting a regular beggar. This
was a Negro woman who carried a basket and begged food
from door-to-door and from neighborhood grocery stores*
No one could give any details regarding her as none had
inquired- This woman was also the only woman beggar reported in the survey. The average number of beggars per
week was slightly less than one for all housewives interviewed, and about !§• for those reporting some beggars*
The following table, giving the percentages in the
three districts reporting beggars, is given to show the
uniformity of the reports, a uniformity which was present in practically all phases of the survey, and which
leads us to believe that additional interviews would
show the same result •

(Shown as Percent of Housewives Interviewed)

to. of




37 %


D i s t r i c t



Requests. The beggars who called at the door made requests for different things. The housewives reported
that 93$ of them asked for food or a "handout11, 16$
asked for cast-off clothing, and 4$ asked for money*
Only 57$, however, asked for work or offered to work in
exchange for anything given*
Frequency of Giving» Only 2/5, or 40$, of the 69 housewives report that they "often" give to beggars, of the
other 60$, 51$ seldom give, and 9$ will nover give under
any circumstances• None reported that they always give.
The West End is most "hard-boiled" on this, as the percent who never give is highest there and lowest on the
South Side. The converse is also true, that the percent
who often give is lowest in the West End*
From the above figures, the beggar1s chances of obtraining a contribution in answer to his request, would
seem to be only 2 in 5# V/hen we consider the answers to
the next question, however, we see that he actually has
better odds than this, for 98$ of the housewives (not
considering those who report that they never give) are
willing to give a beggar a "handout" if they have any
left-over food available. 14$ will try to find a job
for him or will require him to work for anything he

receives, while 6% will give him any cast-off clothing
that happens to be handy.
Attitude of Beggars. The attitude of the beggars was
uniformly reported as "good". A few reported that the
beggars were "appreciative,11 but in every case these
were persons who also stated that they generally gave*
Some also reported that the attitude of the beggars
was "not very good11 or "surly11, but these were persons
who never gave to beggars and who also seemed to be very
indignant about the nuisance of continually answering
the door bell#
The Number of peddlers. Every housev/ife interviewed
reported that she had some peddlers each week. In
getting an estimate of number, we asked that she not
include legitimate salesmen, such as brush salesmen,
vacuum cleaner men, and magazine solicitors, but only
peddlers of more or less unsalable novelties, shoe
laces and notions. It was, of course, very difficult
to draw an accurate dividing line but we did the best
we could. It was apparent from most of the answers
that this estimate of the number of peddlers represents
the housewife's opinion of a "nuisance" rather than a
division between peddlers and salesmen.
As mentioned before, every housev/ife reported some
peddlers each week* The lowest estimate received was
5, two women reporting this number* The highest was
"18 or 20", although we are inclined to doubt this
figure as it does not fit the reports from the other
houses in the block. One woman, who was interviev/ed
late in the afternoon, reported 5 by actual count that
day. The average for the entire survey was 10, district averages being 9 in the West End, 10 on the South
side, and 11 on the North side. The following table

shows the number actually reported.



INo. of





12 or more


Sex. 93$ of the housewives reported some women each
week, the average being 2 in each of the 3 districts*
The average number of men reported v/as 8 per week, or
approximately 4/5 of the number of peddlers.
Regulars«. 88$ reported "some" regulars each week, although none of them were willing to estimate what proportions * They merely remembered "seeing the same
faces*1* The percent reporting regulars was highest on
the North Side and lowest in the West End*
Willingness to Buy* When asked if they ever buy from
peddlers, Yl% of the housewives responded with an emphatic "noi" 13$ often buy and 70$ seldom do so# We
find here again that the West End is the most "hardboiled" section, as it has the highest percentage of
those who never buy.
One curious fact
wives seem tc be more
gars than to buy from
ports that 87$ seldom

in this connection is that housewilling to give outright to begpeddlers, as evidenced by the reor never buy from peddlers while

only 60fo have this attitude toward beggars. Our only
explanation of this is that it may be another evidence
of the "nuisance value" of the peddler - there are so
many peddlers calling at the door that their very numbers have built up a feeling of resentment against the
entire group•
Children. No child beggars or peddlers were reported
in any part of the city* We were rather surprised at
this, as we had expected to find almost as many children
as women peddling novelties from door-to-door•
Comments of Housewives* The surveyor was instructed to
write OK the reverse side of the interview card any comments made by the housewives that would show their attitude toward beggars and peddlers• This was done on
about one-half the interviews.
Reading these comments, three attitudes seem to
stnnd out as typical - (1) The woman has a sentimental
sympathy for all "those people1* and is "always willing
to give them something to eat or to buy something," (2)
she is incensed and resentful of the continual nuisance
of answering the door; or (3) she cannot understand why
the government does net take care of them. The following comments are typical:
"This woman is dways willing to give the men a
meal because she knows they are hungry. Believes
she is a 'marked house' but does not care."
"Will not give than a hearing. Merely closes the
"It is a nuisance, but not as bad as last year."
(This is a frequent comment.)
••Will not give them anything when she sees they

are selling something/1
"Believes with all the money the government is
spending there should be a place for zhese people.'1
"Why can't these people be taken care of by relief
with all the money that is given?"
"Wishes something would be done to stop these
people from ringing her door bell.11
"Cannot understand what reiief is for if it does not
help these people. It is a nuisance answering the
"Closes the door as soon es she discovers therru
She "knows they con get work or help if they deserve it."
"Always gives them something to eat and usually
a nickel or dime to peddlers, without taking the

In practically no instance did we discover any intelligent understanding of the social problems involved in begging. This indicates the tremendous job of interpretation
and education that needs to be done if the giving public is
to become informed on social and welfare matters.