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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CHARITY ORGANIZATION SOCIETY

CHARITY ORGANIZATION SOCIETY

The CHARITY ORGANIZATION SOCIETY, est. 14 Jan. 1881 as the Society for Organizing Charity, sought to coordinate and organize charity along scientific lines to prevent recipients from becoming "sadly pauperized in spirit" as a result of "injudicious and indiscriminate giving." The movement began in London in 1869; the Cleveland society was one of 22 such U.S. organizations formed in the 5 years after the first appeared in Buffalo, NY (1877). Charity Organization Society officers included HOWARD M. HANNA, pres.; Walter S. Collins, secy.; William S. Jones, treas.; and Henry N. Raymond, general superintendent. Annual and life memberships (at $5 and $100, respectively) supported the society's work.

In Mar. 1881 the society opened an office at 345 Superior St. and sought to register the names of all Clevelanders who received aid from any source. Calling for cooperation among charities, it urged residents and agencies to send "beggars" and other needy persons to the society. Applicants were investigated and certificates for relief awarded "only to needy and worthy persons." The society aided 338 cases in 1881 and investigated over 500 new cases each of the succeeding two years.

The Charity Organization Society became an advocate for the poor, calling for day nurseries and maintaining a job registry for men. In 1881 405 men and boys sought work; the registry's 2,749 applicants in 1882 increased to 6,526 in 1883. More than 150 women sought work in 1881, and in Mar. 1882 the society opened a Matrons' & Servants' Employment Bureau to guard against "incompetent or unworthy servants," and to facilitate employment for girls. In 1882 3,327 women registered at the bureau. In 1884, after much dissension and negotiation, the Charity Organization Society merged with the BETHEL UNION, on a trial basis, to create Bethel Associated Charities. The merger became permanent on 2 Dec. 1886. The organization evolved into Cleveland Associated Charities (see ASSOCIATED CHARITIES), the FAMILY SERVICE ASSN., and finally the CENTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES.


Waite, Florence T. A Warm Friend for the Spirit (1960).

See also BETHEL UNION, PHILANTHROPY, and WELFARE/RELIEF.