Before the New Deal
Social Welfare in the South, 1830–1930

Edited by Elna C. Green

How the South responded to the needs of its citizens in the years before national programs


"Before the New Deal is a welcome set of essays on a significant, yet truly neglected subject—the development of southern social welfare institutions and policy."
—Donald G. Nieman, Bowling Green State University

"Collectively, the accomplishments of Before the New Deal are considerable. There is a wide variety of talented historians represented, diverse viewpoints, and original research and interpretations. There is no single volume in existence that covers the full range of nooks and crannies involved in policy and welfare history in the South. This book fills that void. It represents a significant contribution to the literature on not simply the field of southern welfare history, but on the post-Civil War South, the history of reform, and the role of race and gender in the New South."
—William A. Link, author of Paradox of Southern Progressivism, 1880-1930

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The Civil War and Reconstruction changed the face of social welfare provision in the South as thousands of people received public assistance for the first time in their lives. This book examines the history of southern social welfare institutions and policies in those formative years. Ten original essays explore the local nature of welfare and the limited role of the state prior to the New Deal. The contributors consider such factors as southern distinctiveness, the impact of gender on policy and practice, and ways in which welfare practices reinforced social hierarchies. By examining the role of the South’s unique political economy, the impact of racism on social institutions, and the region’s experience of war, this book makes it clear that the South’s social welfare story is no mere carbon copy of the nation’s.
Page count: 248 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $26.95

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Elna C. Green is Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts at San Jose State University. She is the author of This Business of Relief and the editor of Before the New Deal and The New Deal and Beyond (all Georgia).