the saving to the association of many thousands of dollars. The worthy poor are said to be better cared for, and a check is given to imposition and fraud, formerly so prevalent. The association has in its service three of these paid visi tors, each assigned to a particular district.
Mr. Frothingham considers that experience has proved beyond question that great relief agencies like the over seers of the poor (who have charge of public outdoor relief in Massachusetts) and the Provident Association can do their work far more expeditiously, economically, and safely with a small body of trained visitors than through a large number of inexperienced volunteers. The conclusion, however, does not apply to a society like the Associated Charities, in the prosecution of whose work volunteer visitors are, he thinks, indispensable.
In the year 1871 the Chicago Relief and Aid Society had an experience such as has probably never fallen to the lot of any other organized charity of Europe or America. This was the task of receiving and disbursing within a period of about six months the sum of about $5,000,000 for the relief of sufferers from the Chicago fire. An account of the manner in which this trust was discharged is given in a separate chapter.
It is unnecessary to trace the beneficent and multi farious activities of the special and general relief societies of various types organized in recent years. Scarcely any city is without such private societies, and sometimes they are subsidized from the public treasury. Moreover, the churches engage to a greater or less extent in relief work, their funds for this purpose being placed either in the hands of paid visitors or of special church officers, such as deacons, although it not infrequently happens that it is thought best to organize a special committee or society within the church to discharge this duty. The Protestant churches have not passed beyond this somewhat unorgan ized stage, nor have they usually reached the conclusion which would be the most sensible, and of which there are some striking examples, viz., to withdraw entirely from the province of material relief.
The Roman Catholic church has developed within the past forty years a network of societies of laymen which have greatly simplified and improved the charitable ac tivity of that church so far as it has to do with the care and relief of needy families. The Society of St. Vincent
de Paul owes allegiance to the Council-General in Paris, but with the exception of ninety-two conferences in the three councils of Brooklyn, St. Louis, and New Orleans, the conferences in the United States are under the direction of what is known as the Superior Council of New York. There were in 1902 four hundred and twenty-eight distinct conferences with an active membership of 6979. Their receipts and disbursements for relief were about $180,000. While this is only a small part of the total amount given by the Catholic church and its members to destitute fami lies, it is of importance because of the comparatively pro gressive and enlightened manner in which the society is administered, and because it is supplemented by the volunteer personal service of the active members of the society who pledge themselves to visit and to give religious and moral oversight to those under its care.
Extraordinary conditions in the Jewish communities of the chief centres of population, arising from the heavy immigration from eastern Europe, have made necessary liberal provision for the needs of destitute Hebrews. Of recent years the distribution of this relief has been systema tized, and in some instances greatly increased in amount. In several cities various societies have been consolidated into an organization known as the United Hebrew Chari ties, or the Federation of Jewish Charities. The United Hebrew Charities of New York has four constituent socie ties and seventeen cooperating societies and sisterhoods. It maintains an employment bureau, a medical and obstet rical service, provides regular monthly stipends aggregating in 1903 about $35,000, occasional relief in money to the amount of nearly $80,000 ; transportation to about $17,500; clothing, shoes, furniture, tools, etc., about $8000 ; fuel, about $3000. The cost of the medical service is a little under $4000, and that of burials nearly $3000. The total expenditures of the United Hebrew Charities for the five years ending September 30, 1903, were : 1899, $136,439.75 ; 1900, $145,734.72 ; 1901, $155,602.64 ; 1902, $175,046.40 ; and 1903, $206,148.74.