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Department of Public Welfare
City of Dayton - September 1916







“The Welfare of all---the ultimate goal of the Community”


BY  D.F. GARLAND, Director




GOOD GOVERNMENT for our cities is needed above all else.  Any city can have it, if it really wills to have it.  But it cannot will a thing until it knows about it.  One man can enlighten a city and get good government.  In Dayton, one man, John H. Patterson, established a Bureau of Municipal Research in 1912.  This Bureau quietly and scientifically studied the Dayton government and told the people about it in simple English.  It told what was right about it and what was wrong.  When the people really knew, they acted , and Dayton got the best charter, experts say, that has been written for American cities.  The Bureau laid down a fact basis on which the people built their new government.  Every city can do the same thing.   One man can start the movement and good government, welfare work, health service, city beautification and all that makes for community betterment and social advancement can be secured.  The Department of Public welfare described in the following pages is only one of five major departments of city government doing efficient work under the general supervision of Henry M. Waite, City Manager.


     Every great century has it peculiar task.  The fifteenth century was marked by the re-birth of learning, the sixteenth by the reformation of religious life, the seventeenth by the development of science, the eighteenth by the birth and organization of democracy, the nineteenth by the great industrial development.

     The task of the twentieth century is the reconstruction of the social world.  This is made necessary because of changed industrial, commercial and social conditions of life.  Industrial development, invention, discovery, the advancement of knowledge and science, have created wholly new conditions of life.  A new world has come into being during the last one hundred years, resulting in the most marvelous economic and social changes ever registered in the history of time.


Results of Changed Social Conditions


     Individual freedom and the enjoyment of equal political rights were secured early in the last century, and with this result attained, everything seemed to have been gained.  However, long before the close of last century the civilized nations, including America, found that:

     Unnumbered millions of the people were herded together in the slums of great cities where fresh air and pure water were luxuries.

     One-third of the world was underfed.

     Hundreds of little children in our great wealthy cities were going breakfastless to school.

     During the winter months millions of working people were idle with consequent misery and suffering.

     A great army of vagrants, dependents, insane, feeble-minded, and moral delinquents was abroad.

     Pauperism, crime, and physical degeneracy were forcing themselves upon the attention of society as our state institutions became more and more crowded.

     Every year almost 10,000,000 people were injured under the driving wheels of modern industrial and commercial life, and scores of thousands killed.

     One-eighth of our new-born babies were dying before the end of their first year.

     One hundred and fifty in every 100,000 population were dying annually from the preventable disease of tuberculosis, 75 per cent of these deaths occurring during the productive period of life.

     Three million persons in the United States are seriously ill at all times.

     The annual wage loss to workers caused by sickness in our country amounts to $500,000,000 plus the added cost of medical care.

     Ill health and unemployment are directly responsible for three-fourths of the applications for aid to charity societies.

     It cost the United States annually to care for the broken-down members of society, about $6,000,000,000, an amount equal to the entire capitalization of our national banks.

     Thru lack of Federal plan for the distribution of immigrants, a large majority of whom are farmers, we crowded more that 90 per cent of them into our already congested cities, while only 45 per cent of our arable land is cultivated.

     Two per cent of our people own 60 per cent of all our wealth, thus causing a condition of extreme plutocracy on the one hand and extreme poverty on the other.


A Changed Conception of the State’s Duty


     In the light of this knowledge a new conception of the duty of the state has been created.

     Protest against the inequalities of a system of life that brought such a harvest of loss and  bitterness and waste of human life in its wake, has become pronounced, and the political organization from the Federal government down to the city has come to be regarded as a common agency for securing by common methods the welfare of all the people.

     The Department of Public Welfare of Dayton is an organized community expression of the new conception of the value of a human life.  Dayton is saying to the world,  thru this effort to promote the common good, that it is the duty of a city to concern itself with the special problems of human life, of community efficiency and betterment, just as much as it is the duty of a city to concern itself with questions of police and fire protection, transportation, street paving, etc.  The Chairman of the Citizens Commission, fifteen in number, who wrote the Dayton charter, was John H. Patterson, president of The National Cash Register Company.  When it is recalled that it was Mr. Patterson who introduced the industrial welfare movement into factory life in America, as well as the boys’ garden movement, and was likewise the chief promoter of playground and garden work in Dayton,  it can readily be understood how the Dayton charter came to make provision for the organization of the broadest and most far-reaching department of public welfare ever laid down for a city in America.


Charter Provision, Defining Duties and Powers


     The charter defines the duties and powers of the Public Welfare Department as follows:

     “Section 67.  Subject to the supervision and control of the City Manager in all matters, the Director of Public Welfare shall manage all charitable, correctional and reformatory institutions and agencies belonging to the city; the use of all recreational facilities of the city including parks and playgrounds.  He shall have charge of the inspection and supervision of all public amusements and entertainments.  He shall enforce all laws, ordinances and regulations relative to the preservation and promotion of the public health, the prevention and restriction of disease, the prevention, abatement and suppression of nuisances and the sanitary inspection and supervision of the production, transportation, storage and sale of food and foodstuffs.  He shall cause a complete and accurate system of vital statistics to be kept.  In time of epidemic, or threatened epidemic, he may enforce such quarantine and isolation regulations as are appropriate to the emergency.  The Director of Public welfare shall provide for the study of and  research into causes of poverty, delinquency, crime and disease and other social problems in the community and shall by means of lectures and exhibits promote the education and understanding of the community in those matters which affect the public welfare.”


Director of Public Works


Charities, Free Legal Aid, Correction, Health, Parks and Playgrounds, State-City, Free Employment, Recreation, Food Inspection, Laboratories, Sanitation, Medical Service, Vital Statistics


The Organization


     As at present outlined, the Department of Public Welfare includes, in the scope of its activities, public health, recreation, parks, correctional and reformatory institutions, outdoor public relief, legal aid, municipal employment, a municipal lodging house and a study of and research into the causes of poverty, disease, delinquency, and crime.  The entire salaried force of employes covering the work of this department numbers eighty.  The total budget allowed the department in 1915 was $154,934, 50, of which $56,000 was a subsidy divided between the two hospitals and the Door of Hope, leaving about $99,000 net for carrying on the work of the department.

     The Welfare Department has organized an efficient force to promote the public health of the community.  With a commissioner of Health on full time, and a force of forty-five assistants, including thirteen public health nurses privately supported, under his direction, splendid progress has bee made in the two years of operation.

     An entirely new and original plan has been put in operation in Dayton which has brought all public health field-nursing under one supervision and centered in one place, in the Welfare offices.

     Instead of  three public health nursing centers in the city, there is now one, the city providing rent, heat, and janitor service, each organization paying the salaries of their staff, the nurses all supervised by the one superintendent of nurses and all the staff under the direction of the commissioner of Health.  The city is divided into districts, one nurse serving in each district and doing all types of field nursing.  The benefits of this plan are:

a.         Economy of money by cutting out overhead expense of two offices and reducing executive control of all public health nursing to one salaried official.

b.         Economy of time.  Overlapping of nurse service is wholly eliminated by centering one nurse to cover entire service in a limited given district and securing a more prompt reporting of calls from one branch of health service to another.

c.         Increased efficiency by centralizing responsibility, co-ordinating three services under a central plan of action, thus securing a single policy and a balanced scheme of development.

d.         Reduction of the size of the district, thus bringing the nurse into closer relation to the families.

e.         Dealing with the family as a unit, with better results in promoting the health of the family.

f.          Meets the demands of business efficiency.


What Has Been Done

     The results achieved are:

     The death rate was reduced from 15.7 in 1913 to 13.7 in  1914, and to 13.007 in 1915.

     Special effort was made to reduce infant mortality, with the result that infant mortality was reduced from 124 per thousand in 1913 to 95.9 in 1914, and to 87.2 in 1915.

     The standard of the milk supply has been raised, the bacterial average on city milk having been lowered in the last two years 80 percent; cleaner markets with better sanitary conditions; cleaner bakeries and candy factories, and much better handling of food products have been secured.

     The Bureau of Medical Service conducted 161 clinics during 1915 and rendered service to 1,601 patients, treated 2,317 prisoners, vaccinated 492 person, made 838 school inspections, examining 180,062 school pupils.

     Through the Bureau of Plumbing Inspection, 2,242 open vaults were abandoned in the city during 1915 and sewer connections installed.

     The Bureau of Sanitation secured the cutting of weeds on 1,733 vacant lots, the cleaning up of 747 bad garbage and ash conditions and a general “clean-up” of the entire city, making in this work about 23,000 inspections and re-inspections.


Outdoor Relief


     City funds appropriated for outdoor relief are now administered thru the Associated Charities on whose board the Department of Public Welfare is  represented  by the director.  The former city plan of distributing public relief provided a superintendent, assistant superintendent, clerk, janitor and overhead expense.  All this official force was abolished under the new plan, thus centering all outdoor relief under a single control and insuring better results in constructive family rehabilitation.  Under the old plan there were two public relief centers, with no connection and no co-operation, both supported by the public; one thru private contribution, and the other thru taxation—a manifestly unwise and hurtful plan.

     During the winter of 1914-15, when industrial depression left thousands of bread-winners in Dayton out of work, instead of raising a large fund from private sources, as Dayton had previously done, to relieve distress, the city, under the direction of the Manager, inaugurated public work.  Instead of waiting until spring, Dayton early in December, purchased 6,000 tons of pipe to provide for an enlarged water supply service and by a special card system gave several thousand heads of  families work during the entire winter, thus distributing to heads of families about $140,000 thru this period of financial stress.  The result of this plan was beneficial from every viewpoint.

Dayton believes that such provision for public employment in times of private unemployment is an absolute necessity, as well as the best possible constructive measure to provide against family distress.


The Municipal Lodging House


     In December, 1914, Dayton established her first municipally conducted lodging house, with no bath and no work requirement.  During the first twenty-two nights in 1914 we registered 1,220.  December 9, 1915 we opened the lodging house under the strict rule which required a bath and a half day’s work of all able-bodied men.  Under these rules we registered the first 22 nights only 424 against 1,220 the previous year.

     Thru our community indifference to the human product we have allowed a great army of vagrants to be created who prey upon the laboring public.  As soon as every city puts in operation regulations similar to those in Dayton the number of vagrants will rapidly decrease and we will be relieved in large measure of this unnecessary burden of non-productive, homeless men.  While Dayton averaged twelve men per night in the lodging house, a town near Dayton, with one-tenth the population, entertained from fifty to sixty every night.

     Dayton will allow an applicant who comes with a written agreement from an employer to provide him a job, or who presents a time check, to enjoy the lodging house two nights, without city work requirement after which time he will be required to hire his own lodgings.  Under this plan, a number of homeless men have found permanent work.


Municipal Employment


     Dayton has taken an advanced step, along with six other Ohio cities, in providing for a Municipal Employment Agent in connection with the State Free Labor Exchange.  The City Agent has charge of the female department and during 1915 received 3,760 requests for help and filled 76.5 per cent of them.  There were 6,853 applications for work and in spite of the industrial depression in 1915, 2,877 were secured work.  Among these 87 were for office service, 62 salesladies, 31 seamstresses and 365 factory service.  This free public service must be regarded of tremendous social value, in view of the well-known fact that sickness and unemployment cause at least 75 per cent of all applications for charity.


Public Parks


     Dayton has less than fifty municipally owned acres of public parks and boulevards.  However, the United States government has provided the public with some 600 acres in the National Military Home.  Private individuals, in Hills and Dales, Schantz Park, and the new Delco Dell development, have furnished our people the use of more than 1,000 acres additional park area.  Besides private citizens have loaned the city an island, consisting of thirty-four acres, which furnished  Dayton  its most popular water recreation center.  The Olmsted Brothers of Boston have prepared for Dayton a comprehensive park and boulevard system, as a guide for future development.


Legal Aid


     March 1, 1914, a legal aid service was provided for those who were not able to employ an attorney.  During 1914 and  1915 a total of 1,495 persons received legal advice and service thru this office.

     Some of the achievements are: eleven so-called loan shark companies have ceased business; extortion and oppression of the poor by greedy installment houses have been, in large measure, eliminated, thus removing causes which lead to suffering and want; much money has been saved the applicants for aid,  as well as $1,466.10 collected by the office, during this period, for those unable to make these collections for themselves, at a cost of $1,775.04.

     An illustration of the need and value of this public service is to be found in the following case: a grossly fraudulent clothing house was closed up and its manager sent to the workhouse under a fine of $200 and six months.  His scheme was to sell a suit of clothing at $16, on payments of twenty-five cents a week, the suit to remain in possession of the dealer for sixty-four weeks, or until the entire amount was paid.  Then, when the $16 was paid, the dealer would often find the suit to be worth $18 or $20 and demand the additional sum before delivery.  The judge, under a trustee appointment, closed up his business and found him owing clothing to the amount of over $1,500 with but thirty suits and a small bank account to meet his obligations.  A small percentage of the unfortunate ones, received suits of clothing; the balance received 25 per cent of their entire weekly payments.


Public Recreation


     We are trying to re-shape Dayton in the interest of the children.  Dayton having been, like all  American cities, built for grown-ups.  Never in history has there been such a record of young people released from the restraints of home to the streets and under alien roofs, as now.  Therefore, a constructive program of recreation is a primal necessity.

     The Dayton Playgrounds and Garden Association have co-ordinated their work under the direction of the Superintendent of Recreation in the Department of Public Welfare.   In 1915, eighteen playgrounds were inaugurated and supervised, with a total attendance for the season of ten weeks of 150,624.  In addition, the public schools conducted eight supervised playgrounds, making twenty-six in all.

      A series of inter-playground contests was held at the close of the season and medals awarded the winners in marble contests, jackstones, kite-flying, baseball, swimming, etc.  The city likewise prepared on vacant lots  many baseball diamonds for the free use of the men and boys of the neighborhood.

     For the first time in Dayton’s history a magnificent Play Festival marked the close of the season.  Fourteen playgrounds were represented by 328 children, the children of each playground being in costume of some particular nation.  The Play Festival presented the folk games and folk dances of fourteen nations.

     An eight-club baseball league was organized and conducted during the season.  A Water Carnival with row-boat, canoe and swimming races in addition to an excellent display of fireworks, was conducted July 5, with at least 25,000 people in attendance.

     Dayton also conducted public bathing on the river front, the river being lighted for night bathing.  The dance hall at the same place was conducted by the city during the summer, with a total attendance of 47,256 couples, the charge for admission being at the rate of eight tickets for 25 cents.  Eighteen free band and orchestral concerts were given to the public, and ten open-air picture shows provided.

     The Department also conducts public recreation at two centers during the entire year.  The City provided, last year, thirty-nine paid employes in the conduct of public recreation features.

    The Playgrounds and Garden Association, with the co-operation of the Welfare Department, last year rendered a fine public service in garden development.  Twenty-seven model school gardens were conducted; 701 children were under weekly scientific training in gardening by a paid supervisor; 1,441 children’s home gardens were supervised and  inspected under the direction of eight inspectors; vegetable products were raised at an estimated value of $8,151, the amount of seed purchased by the children for these gardens being 51,067 packages.

     There were also 693 vacant lot gardens prepared for cultivation at the expense of the city, covering about 100 acres.  2,483 persons cultivated these gardens, securing products valued at $14,350.


Dayton’s Correctional Institution


     We are now preparing our Correction Farm to which we expect to move from the abandoned county jail in the city.  Here we propose to apply the most approved methods of prison management.  We have abolished prison contract labor.

     In spite of our handicap, we have instituted some decided improvements.  A probation system, entirely new in the history of workhouse administration so far as we know, was established April 1, 1915, under which men and women were secured work in shops or factories or houses at regular wages.  These persons received no liberties, except the liberty to work for pay outside the institution between the hours of 6:30 in the morning and 5:30 at night.  The money thus earned was distributed by the prisoner and his wife (if married), under the supervision of the Superintendent of Corrections, in the payment of debts, in the support of wife and children or dependents, in the purchase of clothing, etc.  The results have been eminently satisfactory.  Thirty-six men during 1915 were thus put on probation, only three of  whom violated our confidence, resulting in the withdrawal of the privilege.  These men earned in eight months, $2,025.70.  Following this test, a parole is granted and the prisoner is allowed to leave the institution.

     An entirely new parole system was inaugurated.  A Parole Board was appointed consisting of the Director of Welfare, the judge, prosecuting attorney and clerk of the Municipal Court, the county prosecutor, the judge of the Juvenile court and his attorney, the secretary of the Humane Society, and the superintendent and matron of the Correctional institution.  As a result the whole system of imprisonment for correction has been made much more effective and of greater social value.

     The women in the institution do all the sewing and mending.  They also take cast-off clothing which they remodel and make into little dresses and suits for children.  These are distributed thru the Charity Society to supply the wants of needy families.   The men do all the work inside the Workhouse and also work in the river channels, on the levees, in the parks, and in some cases, on outlying streets and in alleys.  Seven acres of city property lying in the river bed were turned into a productive vegetable garden by Workhouse men, with splendid results.

     A careful study of the misdemeanant in Dayton was made by experts in 1914, under the direction of this Department, revealing this astonishing situation:

     During the previous five years, 59 habitual offenders had been arrested 637 times and imprisoned 248 times, averaging a term of imprisonment of but 15 days each.  Of these 59 offenders, one was arrested 41 times, two 40 times, three 39 times, etc.  One man of the 59 had spent 27 of the last 50 years of his life in the Workhouse.  His term of imprisonment was never long enough to cure him of his appetite for drink.

     Here is a record of wasted life, and the city of Dayton, perhaps, sinned  more against these men than they sinned against the city.  We  hope to inaugurate such a system of corrections on the new farm as will insure, as far as possible, that the prisoner shall pay to society in work for the damage his crime has wrought, and at the some time, society, thru this institution shall, so far as possible, recover him to normal life and prepare him to return to society a safe and productive member.   We are planning to so conduct our Correction Farm that those committed to our care will, upon the granting of their freedom, desire to go out and hunt a job rather that desire to go out and seek revenge.      




     There is a new spirit now in Dayton---the spirit of co-operation, the spirit of mutual helpfulness.   The Department of Public Welfare is a community expression of this spirit.  We now know that the city has a heart as well as a body, that it is a spiritual entity as well as a physical organism.  We have a long way to go until we reach the ideal city.  It lies far ahead, but it is a goal worth striving for—the city of our dreams, a great center of throbbing life, of dreams,  of light and joy, of health and happiness, a city where social justice and the common good are ever the highest objects of human aspiration and hope.