1902: Originally named The Cooperative Social Settlement Society,  Greenwich House in New York City was created and directed by Mary K. Simkhovitch.

1902: The first State workmen’s compensation law was enacted in Maryland; it was declared unconstitutional in 1904.

1902: Homer Folks, founder and head of the New York State Charities Aid Association published Care of Destitute, Neglected and Delinquent Children.

1902: Conversion of the Marine Hospital Service into the Public Health and Marine Hospital Service in recognition of its expanding activities in the field of public health.

1903: Illinois passed a law authorizing special pensions for the blind.

1903: Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

1906: Upton Sinclair publishes his novel The Jungle.

1906: The Pure Food and Drugs Act was passed, authorizing the government to monitor the purity of foods and the safety of medicines, now a responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration.

1907: The first Federal employment service (forerunner of the United States Employment Service) was created in the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Department of Commerce and Labor.

1908: A workmen’s compensation system was established for civilian employees of the Federal Government.

1908:  Publication of Clifford W. BeersA Mind That Found Itself.

1908: The Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene and the National Committee for Mental Hygiene were founded by Clifford W. Beers, founder of Mental Health America.

1908: The need for a single, short-term, combined appeal for food, shelter and medical supplies was the impetus for the first United Way-type fund raising organization that emerged in the U.S. as the Pittsburgh Associated Charities.

1909: Credit Unions first acquired legal status in the U.S. when the Massachusetts legislature passed a law providing for the chartering and organization of credit unions.

1909: The first public commission on aging was established in Massachusetts.

1909: The Niagra Movement stimulates the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People by a group of black and white citizens committed to helping to correct social injustices.

1909: Christodora Settlement House Annual Report Published

1909: A Conference on the Care of Dependent Children was held in Washington, D.C. at the invitation of President Theodore Roosevelt. This was the first of the White House Conferences on Child Welfare.

1909: The first Federal old-age pension bill was introduced in Congress.

1910: The first public welfare department in the nation was enacted by the City Council of Kansas City, Missouri on April 14 and Leroy Allen Halbert was named superintendent.

1910: Health insurance plans, which offered medical protection in the form of medical care for industrial workers in isolated areas, and disability benefits, were first introduced by commercial and nonprofit organizations.

1910: The National Conference of Catholic Charities was created at a meeting on the campus of Catholic University of America.  In 1998, the name was changed to Catholic Charities USA

1910: The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded by Chicago publisher William Boyce on February 8, 1910.

1910: The National Urban League was founded by Ruth Standish Baldwin and George Edmund Haynes.

1910: In June the American Federation for Sex Hygiene was organized.

1910: The first major survey of the economic conditions of the aged was conducted in Massachusetts.

1911: On March 25,  The Triangle Waist Factory Fire in New York City resulted in the death of 146 young immigrants locked into the upper floors of a tenement building where they were working.

1911: The first State laws for “mothers’ aid” (forerunner of aid to dependent children) were enacted in Missouri and Illinois.

1911: The first workmen’s compensation law to be held constitutional was enacted in Wisconsin.

1911: The first contributory system of pensions covering all State employees was established in Massachusetts.

1912: In January the American Vigilance Association was created by merging the American Purity Alliance and the National Vigilance Committee.

1912: In December, A Social Insurance Committee was created by the American Association for Labor Legislation.

1912: The first State minimum wage law was enacted by Massachusetts.

1912: The Progressive Party platform called for the protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old-age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use.

1912: The Public Health and Marine Hospital Service was changed to the U.S. Public Health Service.

1912: The first division of child hygiene was established in a State Department of Health in Louisiana.

1912: Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low assembled 18 girls from Savannah, Georgia, on March 12, 1912, for a local Girl Scout meeting. She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually.

1912: By an act of Congress the Children’s Bureau was established on April 9th and located in what was then the Department of Commerce and Labor. Among the functions of this Bureau was the safeguarding of the health of mothers and children.

June, 1913: The American Association for Labor Legislation sponsored the First National Conference on Social Insurance in Chicago, Illinois.

1913: The American Association for Labor Legislation’s Social Insurance Committee issued a Report favoring a State-run compulsory health insurance system.

1913: the American  Vigilance Association and the American Federationfor Sex Hygiene voted to unite under the name: American Social Hygiene Association.

1914: The first State law providing old-age pensions was enacted in Arizona. It abolished almshouses and provided pensions for aged persons, persons incapable of self support because of physical infirmities, and certain mothers with children. It was declared unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court in 1916.

1914: In August Margaret Sanger was indicted for violating postal obscenity laws because of mailing copies of her Journal. Unwilling to risk a lengthy imprisonment for breaking federal laws, Sanger jumped bail in October and, using the alias “Bertha Watson,” set sail for England. En route, she ordered friends to release 100,000 copies of Family Limitation, a 16-page pamphlet which provided explicit instructions on the use of a variety of contraceptive methods.

1915: At the annual meeting of the National Conference on Social Work, in a presentation by Abraham Flexner he declared “social work” is not a profession. One of his points is that social workers do not have a great deal of individual responsibility and because it still lacks a written body of knowledge and educationally communicable techniques.

1915: The first old-age pension legislation not challenged on the grounds of constitutionality was enacted in the Territory of Alaska.

1916 - Margaret Haley,  a former school teacher and the leader of the movement to unionize teachers, took over the full-time leadership of the Chicago Teachers Federation

1916: The first birth control clinic in America was opened in Brooklyn, New York on October 16, by Margaret Sanger, a nurse who worked among the poor on the Lower East Side of New York City.

1917: Social Diagnosis written by Mary Richmond is published by the Russell Sage Foundation.  It is the first textbook on social casework, marking the development of a body of social work knowledge and techniques.

1917: The War Risk Insurance Act was passed in October. This legislation set up the first government life insurance program.

1917: The first Federal legislation establishing grant-in-aid provisions for vocational education was enacted.

1917: The first State Department of Public Welfare was established in Illinois.

1917: Establishment of the American Red Cross’ Home Service Division.

1917: A cooperative Federal-State program of cash grants for public health services was inaugurated.

1917: On December 12, Father Edward Flanagan established Boys Town in Omaha, NE

1918: The first Federal grants to States for public health services, for prevention and control of venereal diseases were instituted.

1920: The Child Welfare League of America is founded.

1920The Women’s Bureau, a division of the U.S. Labor Department is formed to safeguard working conditions for women.

1920: The creation of the Association of Training Schools of Professional Social Work.  (In 1952, this would become the Council on Social Work Education).

1920: Creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau.

1920: A Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund was established for Federal employees.

1920: The Vocational Rehabilitation Act was enacted in June (commonly called the Smith-Fess Act). It was one of the first Federal grant-in-aid programs passed by Congress. It was originally conceived as a vocational training and counseling program for industrially-injured civilians. (The restoration of medical and physical ailments were not introduced as parts of this program until 1943.)

1920: The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on August 26, guaranteeing a woman the right to vote.

1921: The Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act of 1921 was the first federally funded social welfare measure in the United States. Sponsored by Texas Senator Morris Sheppard and Iowa Congressman Horace Towner, it distributed federal matching grants to the states for prenatal and child health clinics, information on nutrition and hygiene, midwife training, and visiting nurses for pregnant women and new mothers. It did not provide any financial aid or medical care. According to some historians, the Shepherd-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act became the model for most of the social welfare legislation for the rest of the century. Nearly 3,000 maternal and child centers were established nationwide and the nation’s infant and maternal mortality rates dropped significantly.

1921: Creation of the American Association of Social Workers.  In 1955, it would be melded into the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

1921: The Bureau of Indian Affairs Health Division was created, forerunner of the Indian Health Service, a part of the U.S. Public Health Service.

1927: The American Association for Old-age Security was established by Abraham Epstein.

1927: The Federal Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act set up a workmen’s compensation program for certain maritime and related industries workers who could not be covered under State programs.

1927: The Committee on the Costs of Medical Care (CCMC) was “organized to study the economic aspects of the prevention and care of sickness, including the adequacy, availability.

1929: In June, the Sheppard-Towner Act was allowed to expire.

1929:  On October 27-29, the stock market crashed and ushered in the Great Depression, that lasted until the outbreak of WWII. The effects of the Great Depression created an economic, political and social welfare crisis in the U.S.

1929: State laws for workmen’s compensation were in effect in all but four States.

January 1, 1930: The California Old-age Pension Law, which was mandatory and statewide in its application, became effective.

June 1, 1930: The Wyoming Old-age Pension Law became effective.

1930: The Veterans Administration was established by Executive Order on July 21.

1930: The census reported 6,634,000 persons (5.4% of the population) over 65.

1931: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Jane Addams, the founder of Hull House.

1931: Passage of the New York State Unemployment Relief Act.

1932: The Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds is founded.

1932: In May thousands of unemployed and poor World War I Veterans traveled to Washington, D.C. to petition Congress for a promised bonus: Bonus March May 1932

1932: On , July 17, President Herbert Hoover signs The National Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932.

1932: The first State unemployment insurance law was enacted in Wisconsin on January 29.

1932: The Reconstruction Finance Corporation was given authority to make loans and advances to States for relief purposes.

1932: The Committee on the Costs of Medical Care’s report endorsed group practice and voluntary health insurance. The report recommended State-sponsored medical care supported by taxes or insurance for the medically indigent. The AMA called the idea cumbersome and bureaucratic.

1932: The American Federation of Labor endorsed social insurance.

1933: In his inaugural address, March 4th, President  Roosevelt promised “a New Deal for the American people” and rightly concluded that “this nation asks for action, and action now.” During the Roosevelt Administration’s first “Hundred Days” (March 4-June 16), Congress committed the country to extraordinary reforms with the Federal Government assuming responsibility for the welfare of millions of unemployed. The primary aim of all the legislation was economic recovery.

1933: Frances Perkins is appointed Secretary of Labor in President Roosevelt’s Cabinet.

1933: The March 1933 issue of The Survey Mid-monthly carried the first in a series of columns that would continue for a decade. The subject of the columns — Amelia Bailey — “Miss Bailey” to most people — was a 1930s-style virtual-reality public relief supervisor.

1933: The Federal Emergency Relief Act signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on May 12.

1933: The Federal Emergency Relief Administration was created on May 12 with an appropriation of $500,000,000. It was authorized to match the sums allotted for the relief of unemployed by State and local governments with Federal funds. The measure providing for the first direct grants to States for unemployment relief was expanded to provide medical attention and medical supplies to recipients of unemployment relief programs.

1933: The Agriculture Adjustment Act on May 12 created the Agricultural Adjustment Administration.

1933: The first significant use of the term “Social Security” came about when the American Association for Old-age Security became the American Association for Social Security on May 18,.

1933: On May 18 the Wagner-Peyser Act was enacted to establish a national employment system. It provided Federal grants to States that affiliated their employment services with the United States Employment Service. The latter was established as a separate bureau in the Labor Department to administer the Act.

1933:  On June 16 National Industrial Recovery Act signed.

1933: The Public Works Administration was established on June 16.

1933: The Glass-Steagall Banking Reform Act was passed on June 16.

1933: Upton Sinclair launched his EPIC (End Poverty in California) movement.

1933: The Civilian Works Agency was set up.

1933 - Amelia Earhart is first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

1934: On January 1, Dr. Francis Townsend and Robert Clements set up the organization Old-age Revolving Pensions, Ltd.

1934: On June 6 Congress established the U.S. Employment Service which, jointly with the States, established and maintained employment agencies.

1934: On June 8 Federal legislation to promote economic security was recommended in the President’s Message to Congress which stated: “Among our objectives I place the security of men, women and children of the nation first.”

1934: The Federal Credit Union Act of 1934 was approved on June 26, making it possible to establish federally-chartered credit unions in all of the United States. The Federal Credit Union Section was established in the Farm Credit Administration.

1934: The Railroad Retirement Act of 1934 was approved by the president on June 27. The Act, to be administered by the Railroad Retirement Board, provided for retirement and disability annuities and lump-sum payments to survivors.

June 29, 1934: The President created the Committee on Economic Security to study the problems relating to economic security and to make recommendations for a program of legislation. (This was Executive Order No. 6757.)

July 24, 1934: Dr. Edwin E. Witte accepted the position of Executive Director of the Committee on Economic Security.

August 13, 1934: First meeting of the President’s Committee on Economic Security.

October 1, 1934: The first Federal Credit Union charter was issued to a group of people in Texarkana, Texas.

November 5, 1934: Roosevelt announces the members of a 23-member Advisory Council to the Committee on Economic Security, with Frank P. Graham, President of the University of North Carolina, as Chairman.

November 14-15, 1934: The National Conference on Economic Security was held in the District of Columbia. Representatives of employers, labor and the public attended.

January 4, 1935: President Roosevelt’s message to Congress called for legislation to provide assistance for the unemployed, the aged, destitute children and the physically handicapped.

January 15, 1935: The Committee on Economic Security released its Report to President Roosevelt.

January 17, 1935: The Committee on Economic Security’s recommendations, embodied in the Economic Security Bill, were introduced in the 74th Congress. Recommendations included Federal old-age insurance, Federal-State public assistance and unemployment insurance programs, and extension of public health, maternal and child health, services for crippled children and child welfare services, and vocational rehabilitation but not health insurance.

February 25, 1935:  Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins broadcast on national radio address explaining the Roosevelt Administration’s proposal for what would become the Social Security Act of 1935:Social Security Act (H.R. 7260, Public Law No. 271, 74th Congress) became law with the President’s signature at approximately 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.

January 15, 1936: Murray W. Latimer was appointed the Director, Bureau of Federal Old-Age Benefits.

January 1936: Miss Jane Hoey was appointed Director, Bureau of Public Assistance. In her role as Bureau Director, Hoey was an aggressive advocate on behalf of the programs under her charge. She was sometimes described as “fiery.” One of her major early tasks was to oversee the development of the various State plans under the three titles. The State plans had to be in conformance with the federal regulations promulgated by Hoey and Board and Jane Hoey had to approve a State plan before payments could be made under the Act. This sometimes led to conflicts with various State officials, just by the nature of the federal/State relationships involved, and perhaps also, in part, due to the fact that Jane Hoey was a powerful high-profile female executive in an era when it was uncommon for women to be in such roles.

February 11, 1936: The first appropriation act was made to implement the Social Security Act with funds for organization of the Social Security Board, and for the administration of the Federal program and grants to States.

February 13, 1936: The first Public Assistance checks were mailed (5 States).

August 17, 1936: An unemployed worker–Neils B. Ruud–in Madison, Wisconsin, received the first unemployment benefit check paid under a State law. The amount was $15.00.

August 1936: Publication of the Social Security Journal, Selected Current Statistics, began on a monthly basis.

May 24, 1937: In three decisions, the Supreme Court validated the unemployment insurance provisions of the Social Security Act and ruled old-age pensions were constitutional, (301 U.S. 495, 548, 619) in Steward Machine Company v. Davis; Helvering v. Davis; and Carmichael v. Southern Coal Company.

June 30, 1937: Unemployment insurance legislation became nationwide with approved laws in all States. Illinois was the last State to pass such legislation.

September 17, 1937: The name “Old-Age Benefit Program”, which was provided for under Title II of the Social Security Act was changed to “Old-Age Insurance Program” to distinguish it from old-age benefits under the public assistance program. The Bureau of Federal Old-Age Benefits became the Bureau of Old-Age Insurance.

June 25, 1938: President Roosevelt signed into law the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

1939: A food stamps plan to dispose of agricultural commodities is begun in Rochester, NY.

January 31, 1940: Ida M. Fuller became the first person to receive an old-age monthly benefit check under the new Social Security law. She paid in $24.75 between 1937 and 1939 on an income of $2,484. Her first check, dated January 31, was for $22.54.

June 22, 1944: The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, the “GI Bill of Rights” provides education and training through state-administered payments to educational units; subsistence allowance; loans for the purchase or construction of homes, farms, or business property; job counseling and employment placement; and 52 weeks of adjustment allowances, i.e., the “52/$20 Club.”

1946: On July 3, President Harry Truman signed the National Mental Health Act, creating for the first time in US history a significant amount of funding for psychiatric education and research and leading to the creation in 1949 of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).


5 Responses to 1901-1950

  1. Tawana Sims says:

    this website was helpful.

  2. Debby says:

    My friend born in 1931 , when he was a young man in Maryland, remembers that a young unmarried friend of his had money deducted from his check each week (by his employer or the government, he doesn’t remember) and given to his elderly mother to help with her expenses. Ever come across anything like this as a government program in your research??

    • jhansan says:

      Thank you for the comment. The only example of what you suggested is in connection with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The young men who enlisted during the Depression were paid $25 dollars a month and $20 doallars from their paycheck was sent home to their families. Jack Hansan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>