DIGEST OF SEVENTY FIVE ILLUSTRATIVE CASES In conclusion, for a more complete understanding of the principles of relief, it will be of advantage to study the details of a number of typical cases. To some of these concrete instances of distress let us then turn, extracting from actual family records as much as is needed to set forth the nature of the problem in each case, and using disguises of name and incidents only as far as is necessary to keep confidences Friedrich, Margaret, widow. Eight or ten years ago there died in New York City from consumption an intel ligent and industrious German, who had become an American citizen, leaving a widow and three attractive children. He had supported his family comfortably, but his own illness had exhausted his savings before his death, and the insurance policy, as often happens where indemnity for the loss of a wage-earner is of the greatest possible consequence to the family, did not furnish any such in demnity, but only enough to satisfy the undertaker. Of the three children, one boy was two years of age, the daughter was six, and the first-born eight. We need not speak of those that had died.
If this were the whole story, it would be a simple but typical case of a widow with small children, requiring little, much, or no help, according to her own stock of 1 These records are mainly from the Registration Bureau of the New York Charity Organization Society, and they are used in this manner, with names changed, by special permission of the Society. The Bureau contains also the case records of the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, and in some instances the families were known to both societies.
185 physical strength and skill in washing, cleaning, sewing, or some less common employment by which widows do from time to time earn their livelihood. Unfortunately, Mrs. Friedrich had no such physical strength as would be essential to so difficult, even if not uncommon, an under taking. Within two years it was known that she had a cancerous growth which would require the knife, and that, even if the outcome were favorable, she would probably remain unfit for hard work.
Mrs. Friedrich had relatives in the old country from whom she had been cut off by her marriage. She had humbled herself to ask help in her need after her husband's death, but they would make no answer. She must depend on such resources as came to her aid in the new world where she had married and where she has lived for twenty years. Her home is on the top floor of a tenement in an up-town cross street, in a flat which rents for nine dollars a month, and which, by the tenant's good luck, has an unobstructed outlook across the North River to the hills and woods on the New Jersey shore.
The relief problem in this case first presented itself within a few months after Martin Friedrich's death. What were its elements ? First, that four persons — a mother with three fatherless children — must be in some way pro vided for. No one of them could earn anything. Sec ondly, that the mother was a model mother, as she had been a model wife. If a pathetic note of complaint was sometimes heard from her, it was not more frequent or more depressing than is often heard by the children of the rich when they listen to the conversation of their parents. She was affectionate, ambitious for her children, scrupu lous in all the art and practice of a trained German house wife, and physically just able to keep her own rooms in order, and to look after the children, except when, for periods of a few weeks, at intervals of as many years, she went to a hospital for the surgical treatment of her disease.
The third aspect of the problem is that the usual dili gent inquiry as to relatives, husband's former employers, etc., brought no result except that which has been stated. Favorable testimony as to the character of Friedrich and his family was abundant, but there were no springs of financial revenue in these directions to be opened — or at least none were found.