In view of the current emphasis on private approaches to social problem resolution, it is instructive to look at private efforts of the past. The St. Louis Provident Association was a private effort to deal with poverty. It was organized in 1860 to provide relief for the "needy and distressed." Data on the volunteer leaders of the association and on the people who were actually helped show a number of things about the 19th-century effort to deal with poverty. First, the volunteers were upwardly- mobile business and professional men who were concerned about the stability of their society. Second, the policies and practices of the Association reflected the social status and ideology of the volunteer directors. Third, the consequences for the poor were a limited amount of help and disproportionate help to particular groups of the impoverished.
Lauer and Lauer, Jeanette C.
"Will a Private War on Poverty Succeed? The Case of the St. Louis Provident Association,"
The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 10
, Article 3.
Available at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssw/vol10/iss1/3