A People’s History of Poverty in America (The New Press People's History Series)
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A “sympathetic social history that allows poor people, past and present, to tell their own remarkably similar stories” (Booklist), A People’s History of Poverty in America movingly brings to life poor people’s everyday battles for dignity and respect in the face of the judgment, control, and disdain that are all too often the price they must pay for charity and government aid.
Through prodigious research, Stephen Pimpare has unearthed poignant and often surprising testimonies and accounts that range from the early days of the United States to the complex social and economic terrain of the present. A work of sweeping analysis, A People’s History of Poverty in America reminds us that poverty is not in itself a moral failure, though our failure to understand it may well be.
plan was simple: they would give a small plant to each of the neediest young cases, offering them a bit of life and color for their grim, cramped abodes. They looked forward to the grateful, smiling faces as they distributed their bounty, one little plant to each little pauper. Perhaps that warm thought made up for the trepidation they must have felt venturing into such foreign territory. Helen Gould (daughter of Jay Gould, the ruthless robber baron) counted the society among her most favorite
to rebut the pervasive presumption that they need to be taught the values of work, responsibility, and independence, especially given that evidence is rarely offered to support the claim that “pathologies” are widespread. I’m not stupid, I’m just poor. People don’t seem to get the difference. There is a danger even in writing of “the poor,” for it suggests, at the very least, that poor people have more in common than not, that they share interests, beliefs, wants, complaints, or a common culture.
able to work, being on relief in this locality, but there have been many eating the bread of charity and they have lived better than ever before. I have had taxpayers tell me that their children came from school and asked why they couldn’t have nice lunches like the children on relief. . . . As for the clearance of the real slums, it can’t be done as long as their inhabitants are allowed to reproduce their kind. I would like for you to see what a family of that class can do to a decent house in a
needed clothing, I was to investigate how much clothing they had at hand. So I looked into this man’s closet—(pauses, it becomes difficult)—he was a tall, gray-haired man, though not terribly old. He let me look in the closet—he was so insulted. (She weeps angrily.) He said, “Why are you doing this?” I can remember his feeling of humiliation . . . this terrible humiliation. (She can’t continue. After a pause, she resumes.) He said, “I really haven’t anything to hide, but if you really must look
6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 S 37 R 22208_01_i-xiv_1-322_r11mj.qxp 180 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 S 36 R 37 7/14/08 11:57 AM Page 180 A P E O P L E ’ S H I S T O R Y O F P O V E RT Y I N A M E R I C A landlords; they were forced to pay whatever price he set for equipment and often forced to purchase their food and other supplies from his store. Many tenants, at