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New York's Newsboys Charles Loring Brace and the Founding of the Children's Aid Society

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New York's Newsboys Charles Loring Brace and the Founding of the Children's Aid Society by Staller, Karen M., 9780190886608
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  • ISBN: 9780190886608 | 0190886609
  • Cover: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 4/1/2019
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New York's Newsboys tells the engaging tale of how social reformer Charles Loring Brace and his colleagues built New York's Children's Aid Society (CAS) in the nineteenth century. Seizing on the idea of using "newsies" -- boys who hawked penny newspapers on the city streets -- to promote his new charity, Brace saw the kids as symbolic of the rapidly increasing population of uneducated immigrant youth roaming the streets, eking out a subsistence living under dire conditions. The newsies were both heralded as shrewd entrepreneurs and feared as potential members of the "dangerous class." To New York's wealthy class, Brace touted the benefits of helping these children while warning of the social and political dangers of neglecting them.

Attacked during his life for his dangerous ideas and bold actions, among Brace's earliest experiments was the Newsboys' Lodging House (NBLH), opened in 1853. The NBLH quickly grew beyond providing for the lodgers' basic needs into a well-rounded social service program offering education, vocational training, health care, employment referrals, and other services. Its policies and practices were forged from staff interactions with the earliest lodgers, colorful characters like the Professor, Fatty, Valise, and Dutchy. By 1855, NBLH efforts were yoked to other branches of CAS service, through its Central Office, including the controversial emigration branch (known as the "orphan trains").

Using primary documents and analysis of over 700 original CAS case records, Extra offers a new look at the foundational roots of social work and child welfare in the United States. It makes broad claims about the breadth and depth of CAS efforts, arguing that its significance to the history of the profession, the city of New York, and the country has been under appreciated. Charles Loring Brace laid down the foundations for progressive era reformers in areas as wide ranging as child welfare, juvenile justice, public education, and public health; his efforts hold lessons for today's social justice workers who face challenges similar to those of mid-nineteenth century New York.

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