Make Dallas the City of Mercy — 1919

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by Paula Bosse

This seems to be a nice way to start the new year — by featuring a charitable appeal from a group called The Welfare Council of Dallas, which helped to raise funds annually for organizations in need of monetary assistance from the pubic.

Many are the appeals to our generosity today. Here, however, is our closest and deepest obligation. These represent the charity that begins at home. These are the forces that are driving misery and want from our city — building always a brighter and better future for Dallas.

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The following nine groups — all of which aided needy children and families — were the ones chosen in 1919 as organizations which would be part of the city-wide “Welfare Week” appeal (the illustration above and the text below are from a large ad that appeared in Dallas newspapers in October, 1919):

THE UNITED CHARITIES during the last year have ministered to 12,226 individuals; 4,452 visits were made to homes to which their attention had been called; 734 cases for continued relief were opened; 152 such cases from the preceding year were given further aid; 562 destitute wanderers were furnished with homes, food and clothing, and suitable employment found for as many of them as possible; 834 cases of sickness or accident or taking care of, some for periods as long as six months; 116 persons were furnished transportation to their home or to places where their health could be restored ; 85 were aided in gaining admission to State institutions; 55 cases of tuberculosis were given extended relief; 82 wives, deserted by their husbands, and 37 widows with children were given food and shelter until proper arrangements for their care could be made by their relatives.

THE DALLAS GRADUATE NURSES’ BABY CAMP cared for and gave necessary medical and surgical attention to 178 babies during the last year. The mortality was 25, certainly a low figure, considering the uniformly serious nature of the cases treated. The Camp is under the direct charge of three doctors and seven nurses, and no baby is permitted to leave the Camp until permanently cured. The average stay of the little patients is five weeks. Besides the cases treated at the Camp over 100 formulae were furnished to outside cases. The Baby Camp is open to ALL Dallas babies who are in bad health. [Read a history of the Baby Camp here.]

THE DALLAS COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY is the founder and conductor of “Hope Cottage,” a home for illegitimate and deserted babies, where an efficient staff of nurses devote their time to providing these little ones with an opportunity to begin honorable lives. Hope Cottage averages from ten to twenty inmates all the time, as they are kept only until suitable homes for adoption can be found. The placing of orphaned children in private homes is another branch of the work. This agency also investigated 1,390 cases of reported abuses of children; 389 of these investigations were followed by prompt action: 299 homes were visited; 16 children were sent to the Detention Home, and 18 cases of delinquents received attention; 3,246 cases of abuse to dumb animals were investigated. [A similar “shelter for unfortunate women and children” was the Salvation Army’s Neighborhood Home on McKinney Avenue.]

THE DALLAS KINDERGARTEN AND NURSERY ASSOCIATION has conducted four stations during the year – the Clara Chaison Kindergarten at the Neighborhood House on Cedar Springs Road, the South Dallas Kindergarten near Trinity Play Park, the Cora Street Nursery, formerly under the supervision of the City Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the Alamo Nursery at Hickory and Alamo streets. The average enrollment at all stations was 205. In connection with each station a day nursery is maintained where mothers with employment may leave their young children from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. An average of fifty mothers take advantage of these nurseries each day, and a bath, wholesome dinner, nap and play constitute the day’s program. [A similar nursery, specifically for the black community, was the Dallas Day Nursery.]

THE INFANTS’ WELFARE AND MILK ASSOCIATION, striving for better health and cleaner living conditions for children, distributed 81,828 pints of milk; visited 7,885 homes; treated 3,489 children in medical and 469 in dental clinics. The nurses at the stations gave treatment to 1,160 cases. In addition to these, 202 prenatal cases were given attention, 31 obstetrical cases disposed of and 80 bacteriological examinations were made. Twenty babies were sent by the Association to the Baby Camp and 14 to the City Hospital, while co-operation was given to other organizations in 724 cases. [From another ad: “Sick babies of many races and creeds, but all future Dallasites, find new health in [these] clinics.” More on milk stations here.]

THE DALLAS STREET AND NEWSBOYS’ CLUB, “Big Brother Work” Headquarters, is the one bright spot in many a young Dallas urchin’s life. The club rooms, at 1907 Jackson street, half inexpensive, though adequate, equipment for sports and games, reading and like activities. There are dormitory rooms for boys temporarily “on their own,” which accommodations can be paid for according to the boy’s ability to pay. A few steps from the building is the back door at the Y.M.C.A., and three times each week the Club descends upon the swimming pool en masse. The directors of the Club do not confine their work to headquarters, however, but look to the welfare of its members at work, play, school and even in their homes. [The life of a newsboy — often an orphan under the age of 10 — was not an easy one.]

ST. MATTHEW’S HOME FOR CHILDREN, by placing its finances for the coming year in the hands of the Welfare Council, adds a valuable and deserving institution to the list of member agencies. Although the property is owned by the Episcopal Church, the managing board is non-sectarian, the Home is absolutely non–sectarian in its activities and no child is excluded on account of its faith or that of its parents. At present the capacity is limited to forty little ones, and any child between the ages of 4 and 12 years may be admitted.

THE DALLAS COUNCIL OF BOY SCOUTS is the other new member agency. The work done by this organization and developing manhood in boys of all classes of society entitles it to our fullest support. Its influence extends into every home, school, factory and business office in the city. Its nominal dues for membership permit any boy, no matter how poor, to join and take a full share in the activities and benefits of the organization.

THE EMPTY STOCKING CRUSADE is an organization whose year’s activities culminate in providing Christmas cheer – warm clothing, fruit, toys and other tokens of happiness for little ones. It carries cheer into homes of the city to whose children the season of universal good will would otherwise bring nothing, and into the orphanages. Last Christmas 6,902 children were provided for.

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Sources & Notes

More on Dallas’ early charitable movements can be found in the article “The Forgotten Frontier: Dallas Women and Social Caring, 1895-1920” by Elizabeth York Enstam (Legacies, Spring, 1989), here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.