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Title: West Side Studies: Boyhood and Lawlessness; The Neglected Girl
Author: True, Ruth Smiley
Language: English
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In the summer of 1912 the field work was completed for the West Side
studies published in these volumes. They are part of a wider survey
of the neighborhood which it was proposed to make under the Bureau
of Social Research of the New York School of Philanthropy with funds
supplied by the Russell Sage Foundation. Dr. Samuel McCune Lindsay,
director of the School, and I were in charge of the Bureau and together
planned the scope and nature of the inquiry. To his inspiriting
influence was due in large measure the enthusiasm and harmonious work
of our staff.

The investigators in the Bureau were men and women who had been
awarded fellowships by the School of Philanthropy. There were junior
fellowships, given for one year only, and intended to provide training
in social research for students without much previous experience, who
were required to give part of their time to class work and special
reading. There were also senior fellowships given to more advanced
students who devoted full time to investigation. After two years’ work
it was felt that to carry out the original plan satisfactorily would
require the employment of a permanent staff of investigators who were
well trained and equipped. The School, therefore, decided not to carry
the survey further and reorganized the Bureau on a different basis.

This brief account of the Bureau is needed to explain the special
topics dealt with in these volumes. The personal qualifications of the
investigators as well as the available opportunities for investigation
necessarily determined the choice of subjects.

A word must be said, too, as to the selection of this particular West
Side district of New York City. These 80 blocks which border upon the
Hudson River, between Thirty-fourth and Fifty-fourth Streets, contrast
sharply with almost all other tenement neighborhoods of the city. They
have as nearly homogeneous and stable a population as can be found
in any part of New York. The original stock was Irish and German. In
each generation the bolder spirits moved away to more prosperous parts
of the city. This left behind the less ambitious and in many cases
the wrecks of the population. Hence in this “backset” from the main
current of the city’s life may be seen some of the most acute social
problems of modern urban life--not the readjustment and amalgamation of
sturdy immigrant groups, but the discouragement and deterioration of an
indigenous American community.

The quarter which we studied is strangely detached from the rest of
the city. Only occasionally an outbreak of lawlessness brings it to
public notice. Its old reputation for violence and crime dates back
many generations and persists to the present day. So true is this
that we considered it essential at the beginning of our undertaking
to ascertain the main facts of the district’s development. To Otho G.
Cartwright was assigned the task of collecting this material. He did
not make an exhaustive inquiry, but obtained from reliable sources
sufficient information to give the historical background of life in
the district today. His work serves as a general introduction to the
more intensive studies which follow.

The study of juvenile delinquency, Boyhood and Lawlessness, shows
clearly the need of special intimate knowledge of social phenomena
if their underlying causes are to be understood. It describes the
inadequacies of the present system: the innumerable arrests for petty
offenses or for playing in the streets, and the failure of the police
to bring the ringleaders into court. All this seems so unreasonable
to the neighborhood and has so often aroused its antagonism that the
influence of the Children’s Court is seriously undermined. In fact,
the fathers and mothers of its charges look upon it only as a hostile
authority in league with the police, while its real purpose is entirely
hidden from them. The evidence is clear, too, that both parents and
community have failed to understand and provide for the most elementary
physical needs of the boys.

The same tragic lack of opportunity and care characterizes the lives
of the girls. Ruth S. True’s portrayal of these lives in The Neglected
Girl rests upon close personal acquaintance with a special group of
girls who, though they were not brought up on charges in the Children’s
Court, yet were without question in grave need of probationary care.

In neither of these two studies was it possible to suggest adequate
remedies for the evils described. It is true that steps have already
been taken by the Children’s Court to make its probation staff more
effective. But the more fundamental need for modification of the
conditions of the child’s life and environment has still to be
pondered. Clearly it is not the child alone who needs reformation.

Similarly, Katharine Anthony’s report, Mothers Who Must Earn, reveals
much more than isolated cases of hardship and suffering due to accident
or death. She has studied the social and economic causes which compel
the mother of a family to become a wage-earner, and the consequences
of such employment for her home and family. The occupations where her
services are in demand were carefully examined. The underpayment of
many of the husbands, which drives their already overburdened wives
into wage-earning, is perhaps the most significant fact disclosed. To
relieve such severe economic pressure there is certainly need of more
radical and far-reaching readjustments than can be effected by any one
remedial measure. Relief giving is at best only a temporary stop-gap.
This is rather a labor problem of the utmost gravity, affecting whole
classes of underpaid laborers.

Indeed, if there is any one truth which emerges from these studies,
it is the futility of dealing with social maladjustments as single
isolated problems. They are all closely interrelated, and the first
step in getting order out of our complexities must be knowledge of what
exists. To such knowledge these studies aim to make a contribution.
They are not intended to prove preconceived ideas nor to test the
efficacy of any special remedies. They aim to describe with sympathy
and insight some of the real needs of a neglected quarter of our
city--“to hold, as it were, the mirror up to nature.”

The various investigators who took part in the inquiry are given
herewith: Edward M. Barrows, Clinton S. Childs, Eleanor H. Adler,
Beatrice Sheets, and Ruth S. True contributed to the study of the West
Side boy, here published under the title Boyhood and Lawlessness.
Thomas D. Eliot, a junior fellow, also assisted. Associated with Ruth
S. True in the study of the neglected girl, were Ann Campion and
Dorothy Kirchwey. All three shared the responsibility of conducting the
Tenth Avenue club for the observation of the girls described in their
report. The volume Mothers Who Must Earn is the result of work done by
Katharine Anthony, who was assisted in her field work by Ruth S. Waldo,
a junior fellow.[1]

In the fall of 1912 practically the whole staff at that time employed
devoted two months’ time to inspection of the industrial establishments
of the district, under authority of the New York State Factory
Investigating Commission. The results were published as Appendix V, to
Volume I, of the Commission’s Preliminary Report, 1912.

Thanks are due to many persons who gave unstintedly of their time to
the various investigators. Our indebtedness is especially great to
the staff of the Clinton District office of the Charity Organization
Society, who brought us in touch with many families in their care,
and through their varied experience helped us in interpreting many
aspects of neighborhood life. Among other agencies, Hartley House
was particularly generous in making us acquainted with its Italian
neighbors and in giving us the opportunity to visit them in their
homes. The teachers of various local schools should also be mentioned
with appreciation for the help they gave us in many ways.


[Illustration: JUST BOYS!

Why not make them a community asset?]





  Copyright, 1914, by




When the Bureau of Social Research began, early in 1909, an
investigation of the Middle West Side, it was soon realized that of
all the problems presented by the district, none was more urgent and
baffling, none more fundamental, than that of the boy and his gang.
His anti-social activities have forced him upon public attention as
an obstruction to law and business and a menace to order and safety.
Because of this lawlessness and because of New York’s backwardness in
formulating wise preventive measures to meet it, a special study of the
West Side boy was begun.

In order to gain an intimate knowledge of neighborhood conditions which
affect the boy, two men workers, Edward M. Barrows and Clinton S.
Childs, went to live in the district, the former remaining for nearly
two years. During their residence they came in close touch with several
gangs and clubs of boys. Their experiences, while they yielded some
of the most vital and significant material of our study, did not lend
themselves to statistical treatment; they were not recorded in the form
of family and individual histories, but as a running day-by-day diary,
which formed the basis of the chapters dealing with the activities and
the environment of the boys.

Since the West Side boy, either through personal contact or through
association with gang leaders, is inseparable from the Children’s
Court, attention was naturally drawn to the extent and the result of
his relation to this institution. For this reason the Bureau made a
special study of 294 boys[2] selected from the district with particular
reference to their delinquency and their court records.[3]

Of these boys 28 were under twelve years, 71 more were fourteen, and
102 more were under sixteen. In view of these significant facts it
became necessary not only to examine the environment of the West Side
boy, but also to estimate the influence of the Children’s Court and
other institutions upon him when toughness, truancy, gambling, or other
temptations had carried him over the brink into real delinquency.
That society should feel itself compelled to resort continually to
the arrest and trial of children is in itself a confession of defeat.
But when even these resources fail, it becomes imperative to analyze
all the factors in the situation; to set the destructive and the
constructive elements over against each other, and to determine the
chances which the boy and the various public and private agencies
organized to regenerate him have of understanding one another.

To many the study may serve to show at their doors a world undreamed
of; a world in which, through causes which are even now, removable,
youth is denied the universal rights of life, liberty, and happiness.
To the court it may be of use in throwing light into dark places and
in showing where old paths should be abandoned, as well as in offering
suggestions at a critical period in its history.

And, indeed, every suggestion which will tend to lessen the troubles of
the Middle West Side is peculiarly needed. The whole community--from
molested property owners to the most disinterested social workers--are
agreed that the worst elements rule the streets and that neither police
nor court authority succeed in enforcing decency and order. And the
center of the problem is the boy, for in him West Side lawlessness
finds its most perennial and permanent expression.

The aim of this study, therefore, is to trace the principal influences
which have formed the West Side boy; to consider some of the means
which have heretofore been employed to counteract these influences; and
to picture him as he is, exemplifying the results of circumstances for
which not he but the entire community is responsible.


  CHAPTER                                             PAGE

  INTRODUCTION                                          ix

  I. His Background                                      1

  II. His Playground                                    10

  III. His Games                                        24

  IV. His Gangs                                         39

  V. His Home                                           55

  VI. The Boy and the Court                             79

  VII. The Center of the Problem                       141


  Tables                                               165

  Excerpts from Report of Children’s Court,
  County of New York, 1913                             177

  INDEX                                                201


Photographs by Lewis W. Hine


  Just Boys!                          _Frontispiece_

  Tenth Avenue                                           4

  Eleventh (“Death”) Avenue                              4

  Bounce Ball with Wall as Base. Property is Safe       10

  Bounce Ball with Steps as Base. Windows in Danger     10

  Wading in Sewage-laden Water                          20

  A “Den” Under the Dock                                20

  Pigeon Flying. A Roof Game                            28

  Marbles. A Street Game                                28

  Prize Fighters in Training                            34

  Craps with Money at Stake                             34

  Boy Scouts and Soldiers                               40

  After the Battle                                      40

  Resting. What Next?                                   48

  Early Lessons in Craps                                48

  Approaching the “Gopher” Age                          64

  One Diversion of the Older Boys                       64

  Replenishing the Wood Box                             74

  A Rich Find                                           74

  A Ball Game Near the Docks                            82

  “Obstructing Traffic” on Twelfth Avenue               82

  “We Ain’t Doin’ Nothin’”                              98

  The Same Gang at Craps                                98

  An Embryo Gangster                                   122

  The “Toughest Kid” on the Street                     122

  Carrying Loot from a Vacant Building                 142

  Closed by the Gangs                                  142

  De Witt Clinton Park                                 146

  A Favorite Playground                                146




  1. Sources from which the names of the 294 boys
      studied were obtained                                    167

  2. Ages of boys                                              167

  3. Length of residence in the district of 183 families       168

  4. Country of birth of parents                               168

  5. Nationality of American-born parents                      169

  6. Two hundred families classified according to number
      of persons in households and number of rooms
      occupied                                                 169

  7. Living children in 231 families                           170

  8. Status of mothers in 222 families                         170

  9. Conjugal condition of parents in 233 families             171

  10. Relief records of 241 families                           171

  11. Duration of relief records of families known to have
      received aid from relief societies                       172

  12. Court disposition of cases involving 454 arrests
      affecting 259 boys and 221 families                      172

  13. Final disposition of 92 West Side paroled cases and
      of 1,492 paroled cases disposed of by the Manhattan
      Court in 1909                                            173

  14. Truancy records of 215 boys, classified as delinquent
      or not delinquent                                        173

  15. Status of 163 boys not gainfully employed                174

  16. Occupation and wages of 100 boys gainfully employed      175



The influence of environment on character is now so fully recognized
that no study of juvenile offenders would be complete without a
consideration of their background. In the lives of the boys with whom
this study deals this background plays a very large part. One-third
of the 241 families studied, 82, are known to have lived in the
district from five to nineteen years, and a somewhat larger number,
88, for twenty years or more.[4] This means that the boys belonged
almost completely to the neighborhood. Most of them had lived there
all their lives, and many of them always will live there. If they are
to be understood aright, this neighborhood which has given them home,
schooling, streets to play in, and factories to work in must also be
pictured and understood.

In New York, owing perhaps to the shape of the island, the
juxtaposition of tenement and mansion is unusually frequent. Walk
five blocks along Forty-second Street west from Fifth Avenue and you
are in the heart of the Middle West Side. The very suddenness of the
change which these blocks present makes the contrast between wealth
and poverty more striking and enables you to appreciate the particular
form taken by poverty in this part of the city. Eighth Avenue, at
which our district begins, looks east for inspiration and west for
patronage. It is the West Sider’s Broadway and Fifth Avenue combined.
Here he promenades, buys his clothes, travels up and down town on the
cars, or waits at night in the long queue before the entrance to a
moving picture show. The pavement is flanked by rows of busy stores;
saloons and small hotels occupy the street corners. There is plenty
of life and movement, and as yet no obvious poverty. On Saturdays and
“sale” days, the neighborhood department stores swarm with custom.

Ninth Avenue has its elevated railroad, and suffers in consequence
from noise, darkness, and congestion of traffic. Here the storekeeper
can no longer rely on his window to attract customers. He knows the
necessity of forceful advertising, and his bedsteads and vegetables,
wooden Indians and show cases, everywhere encroach upon the sidewalk.
On Saturday nights “Paddy’s Market”[5] flares in the open street,
supplying for a few hours a picturesqueness which is greatly needed.
Poor and untidy as this avenue is, the small tradesmen who live in it
profess to look down on their less prosperous neighbors nearer the

West of Ninth Avenue tenements begin and rents decrease. At Tenth
Avenue, where red and yellow crosstown cars swing round the corner
from Forty-second Street, you have reached the center of the West
Side wage-earning community, and a street which on a bright day is
almost attractive. Four stories of red brick tenements surmount the
plate glass of saloons and shops. Here and there immense colored
advertisements of tobacco or breakfast foods flame from windowless
side walls, and the ever-present three brass balls gleam merrily in
the sunlight. But the poverty is unmistakable. You see it in the
tradesman’s well-substantiated boast that here is “the cheapest house
for furniture and carpets in the city.” You see it in the small
store, eking out an existence with cigars and toys and candy. You see
it in the ragged coats and broken shoes of the boys playing in the
street; in the bareheaded, poorly dressed women carrying home their
small purchases in oil-cloth bags; in the grocer’s amazing values in
“strictly fresh” eggs; in the ablebodied loafers who lounge in the
vicinity of the corner saloon, subsisting presumably on the toil of
more conscientious brothers and sisters. And in one other feature
besides its indigence Tenth Avenue is typical of this district. At
the corner of Fiftieth Street stands the shell of what was once a
flourishing settlement, and beside it a smaller building which was
once a church. Both, as regards their original uses, are now deserted.
Both are a concrete expression not merely of failure, but of failure
acquiesced in. These West Side streets are more than poor. They have
ceased to struggle in their slough of despond, and have forgotten to be
dissatisfied with their poverty.

Eleventh Avenue is much more dirty and disconsolate. In its dingy
tenements live some of the poorest and most degraded families of this
district. On the west side of the avenue and lining the cross streets
are machine shops, gas tanks, abattoirs, breweries, warehouses, piano
factories, and coal and lumber yards whose barges cluster around the
nearby piers. Sixty years ago this avenue, in contrast to the fair
farm land upon which the rest of the district grew up, was a stretch
of barren and rocky shore, ending at Forty-second Street in the flat
unhealthy desolation of the Great Kill Swamp. Land in such a deserted
neighborhood was cheap and little sought for, and permission to use it
was readily given to the Hudson River Railroad.[6] Today the franchise,
still continued under its old conditions, is an anomaly. All day
and night, to and from the Central’s yard at Thirtieth Street, long
freight trains pass hourly through the heterogeneous mass of trucks,
pedestrians, and playing children; and though they now go slowly and a
flagman stands at every corner, “Death Avenue” undoubtedly deserves its

De Witt Clinton Park, the only public play space in the district, lies
westward between Fifty-second and Fifty-fourth Streets. It is better
known as “The Lane” from days, not so long ago, when a pathway here
ran down to the river, and on either side of it the last surviving
farm land gave the tenement children a playground, and the young
couples of the neighborhood a place to stroll in. The usual well kept
and restrained air of a small city park is very noticeable here.
There is almost no grass, the swings and running tracks are, perhaps
necessarily, caged by tall iron fences, and uninteresting asphalt paths
cover a considerable part of the limited area. A large stone pergola,
though of course it has obvious uses, somehow deepens the impression
that an opportunity was lost in the laying out of this place. At
one side of the pergola, however, lie the plots of the school farm in
which small groups of boys and girls may often be seen at work. Little
attempt has been made to develop a play center in the park. On a fine
Saturday afternoon it is often practically empty.[7]

[Illustration: TENTH AVENUE]

[Illustration: ELEVENTH (“DEATH”) AVENUE]

Twelfth Avenue adjoins the Hudson River, losing itself here and there
in wharves and pier-heads. Two of the piers belong to the city, one
being devoted to the disposal of garbage, the other to recreation.
Factories and an occasional saloon are on the inland side, but there
are almost no shacks or tenements.

       *       *       *       *       *

At first sight there are no striking features about the Middle West
Side. Hand-to-mouth existence reduces living to a universal sameness
which has little time or place for variety. In street after street are
the same crowded and unsanitary tenements; the same untended groups
of playing children; the same rough men gathered round the stores
and saloons on the avenue; the same sluggish women grouped on the
steps of the tenements in the cross streets. The visitor will find no
rambling shacks, no conventional criminal’s alleys; only square, dull,
monotonous ugliness, much dirt, and a great deal of apathy.

The very lack of salient features is the supreme characteristic of
this neighborhood. The most noticeable fact about it is that there is
nothing to notice. It is earmarked by negativeness. There is usually a
lifelessness about the streets and buildings, even at their best, which
is reflected in the attitude of the people who live in them. The whole
scene is dull, drab, uninteresting, totally devoid of the color and
picturesqueness which give to so many poor districts a character and
fascination of their own. Tenth Avenue and the streets west of it are
lacking in the crowds and bustle and brilliant lights of the East Side.
Eleventh Avenue by night is almost dark, and throughout the district
are long stretches of poorly lit cross streets in which only the dingy
store windows shine feebly. Over the East River great bridges throw
necklaces of light across the water; here the North River is dark and

What is it that has brought about this condition? Why is this part
of New York so utterly featureless and depressing? The answer lies
primarily not with the present or past inhabitants, but in the
isolation and neglect to which for years it has been subjected. Much
of the Middle West Side was once naturally attractive, with prosperous
homesteads and cottages with gardens.[8] But while other parts of
Manhattan were being developed as a city, the Middle West Side was left
severely alone. It was one of the last sections of the city to become
thickly populated. When the first factories arrived, they brought the
tenements in their wake. The worst kinds of tenements were hastily
built--anything was supposed to be good enough for the poor Irish who
settled there; and these tenements have long survived in spite of
their dilapidated condition because until recently there has been no
one who cared for the rough and dull West Sider. East Side problems
were much more picturesque and inviting. So our district has grown up
under a heritage of desolation and neglect, uninteresting to look at,
unpleasant to live in, overlooked, unsympathized with, and neglected
into aloofness, till today its static population is almost isolated
from and little affected by the life of the rest of the city. The
casual little horse car which jingles up Tenth Avenue four times an
hour is typical of the West Sider’s home, just as the Draft Riots of
1863 were typical of his temper.

The nationalities which largely form the basis of the population
on the Middle West Side are the German and the Irish, the latter
predominating.[9] Peculiar to the district is the large number of
families of the second generation with parents who have been born and
brought up in the immediate neighborhood.

The nationality of the American-born parents throws additional light
on the subject of racial make-up of the population.[10] There were 81
American-born fathers and 92 American-born mothers in the 241 families.
The parentage of 67 American-born fathers for whom information was
available was as follows: 28, German; 21, Irish; 15, American; and 3,
English. The parentage of 73 American-born mothers was: 28, German; 25,
Irish; 18, American; and 2, English. The country of birth of parents
of 14 of the American-born fathers and 19 of the American-born mothers
could not be ascertained.[11]

We are accustomed to regard the German as the best of European
emigrants. He brings with him a thrift and solidity which have taught
us to depend on him. He has been a welcome immigrant as he has become
a successful citizen. Yet here are large numbers of Germans living in
a wild no-man’s-land which has a criminal record scarcely surpassed by
any other district in New York. Surely this is more than a case of the
exception proving the rule. It shows that our estimate of the Middle
West Side is correct.

The district is like a spider’s web. Of those who come to it very few,
either by their own efforts, or through outside agency, ever leave
it. Now and then a boy is taken to the country or a family moves to
the Bronx, but this happens comparatively seldom. Usually those who
come to live here find at first (like Yorick’s starling) that they
cannot get out, and presently that they do not want to. It is not that
conditions throughout the district are economically extreme, although
greater misery and worse poverty cannot be found in other parts of New
York. But there is something in the dullness of these West Side streets
and the traditional apathy of their tenants that crushes the wish for
anything better and kills the hope of change. It is as though decades
of lawlessness and neglect have formed an atmospheric monster, beyond
the power and understanding of its creators, overwhelming German and
Irish alike.

Such, in brief, is the background of the West Side boy. It is a gray
picture, so gray that the casual visitor to these streets may think it
over-painted. But this is because a superficial glance at the Middle
West Side is peculiarly misleading. So much lies below the surface. It
is obvious that this district has come to be singularly unattractive,
and that its methods of life are extraordinarily rough. And it is
equally true that hundreds of boys never know any other place or life
than this, and that most of their offenses against the law are the
direct result of their surroundings. The charges brought against them
in court are only in part against the boys themselves. The indictment
is in the main against the city which considers itself the greatest and
most progressive in the New World, for allowing any of its children
to start the battle of life so poorly equipped and so handicapped for
becoming efficient American citizens. Not that these youngsters have
not their share of “devilment” and original sin, but in estimating the
work of the juvenile court with the boys of this neighborhood, it is
absolutely essential to bear in mind not only the crimes they commit,
but their chances for escaping criminality. If heredity and environment
have any meaning, Tenth Avenue has much to answer for.



The boy himself is blissfully untroubled by any serious thoughts about
his background; and to him these streets are as a matter of course a
place to play in. This point of view is perfectly natural for several

In the first place, he has never known any other playground. At the
earliest possible stage of infancy he is turned out, perhaps under an
older sister’s supervision, to crawl over the steps of the tenement or
tumble about in the gutter in front of it, watching with large eyes the
new sights around him. Here he is put to play, and here he learns to
imitate the street and sidewalk games of other boys and girls. He is
scarcely to be blamed for a point of view so universally held that it
never occurs to him to doubt it.

In the second place, the street is the place that he must play in,
whether he wants to or not. There is no room for him in the house; the
janitor usually chases him off the roof. Excepting De Witt Clinton
Park, which, as has been shown, is small, restricted, and inadequate,
there is no park on the West Side between Seventy-second and
Twenty-eighth Streets. Central Park and New Jersey are too inaccessible
to be his regular playgrounds. And besides, not only will a boy not
go far afield for his games, but he cannot. He is often needed at
home after school hours to run errands and make himself generally
useful. Moreover, to go any distance involves a question of food and
transportation; so that except at times of truancy and wanderlust,
or when he is away on some baseball or other expedition, the street
inevitably claims him.


Property is safe]


Windows in danger]

And in the third place, just because this playground is so natural and
so inevitable, he becomes attached to it. It is the earliest, latest,
and greatest influence in his life. Long before he knew his alphabet it
began to educate him, and before he could toddle it was his nursery.
Every possible minute from babyhood to early manhood is spent in it.
Every day, winter and summer, he is here off and on from early morning
till 10 o’clock at night. It gives him a training in which school is
merely a repressive interlude. From the quiet of the class room he
hears its voice, and when lessons are over it shouts a welcome at the
door. The attractions that it offers ever vary. Now a funeral, now a
fire; “craps” on the sidewalk; a stolen ride on one of Death Avenue’s
freight trains; a raid on a fruit stall; a fight, an accident, a game
of “cat”--always fresh incident and excitement, always nerve-racking
kaleidoscopic confusion.

No wonder, then, that the streets are regarded by the boy as his
rightful playground. They are the most constant and vivid part of his
life. They provide companionship, invite to recklessness, and offer
concealment. Every year their attraction grows stronger, till their
lure becomes irresistible and his life is swallowed up in theirs.

But unfortunately for the boy everyone does not agree with him as to
his right of possession. The storekeeper, for instance, insists on the
incompatibility of a vigorous street ball game with the safety of his
plate glass windows. Drivers not unreasonably maintain that the road
is for traffic rather than for marbles or stone throwing. Property
owner, pedestrian, the hardworking citizen, each has a point of view
which does not altogether favor the playground theory. At the very
outset of his career, therefore, in attempting to exercise childhood’s
inalienable right to play, the boy finds himself colliding with the
rights of property; the maintenance of public safety, the enforcement
of law and order, and other things equally puzzling and annoying,
all apparently united in being inimical to his ideas of amusement.
He is too young to understand that in his city’s scheme children
were forgotten. No one can explain to him that he has been born in a
congested area where lack of play space must be accepted patiently;
that life is a process of give and take in which the rights of others
demand as much respect as his own. He does not know that his dilemma is
the problem which eternally confronts the city child. But he does know
that he must play. He has a store of nervous energy and animal spirits
which simply must be let loose. Yet when he tries to play under the
only conditions possible to him he is hampered and repressed at every
turn. Inevitably he revolts; and long before he is old enough to learn
why most of his street games are illegal, fun and law-breaking have
become to him inseparable, and the policeman his natural enemy.

So far the boy’s attitude is normal. Childish antagonism to arbitrary
authority is natural. In any large town it extends to the police. All
over New York games are played with one eye on the corner and often
with a small scout or two on the watch for the “cop.” But at this
point two facts differentiate the Middle West Side from the rest of the
city, and make its situation peculiar. On the one hand, the parents and
older people of the district, instead of showing the usual indifference
or at most a passive antipathy toward the police, openly conspire
against and are actively hostile to them. On the other, the police,
largely because of this neighborhood feeling, are utterly unable to
cope with the lawless conditions which they find around them.

This state of things has been brought about in various ways. The lurid
record of criminals in the district has for years necessitated methods
of policing which have not made the Irish temper any less excitable.
Public sentiment here is almost static, and hatred of the police has
become a tradition. No one has a good word for them; everyone’s hand is
against them. The boys look on them as spoil-sports and laugh at their
authority. The toughs and gangsters are at odds with them perforce.
Fathers and mothers, resenting the trivial arrests of their children,
consign the “cop,” the “dinny” (detective), and “the Gerrys” to outer
darkness together. The better class of residents and property owners,
though their own failure to properly support them is partly to blame
for the failure of the police to do their duty, frankly distrust them
for being so completely incompetent and ineffective. And now perhaps
no one would dare to support them. For the toughs of the district
have taken the law into their own hands, and with the relentlessness
and certainty of a Corsican vendetta every injury received by them is
repaid, sooner or later, by some act of pitiless retaliation. Honest
or dishonest, successful or otherwise, the policeman certainly has
a hard time of it. Wherever he goes he is dangerously unpopular. He
cannot be safely active or inactive, and whatever he does seems to add
to his difficulties. Hectored on duty, frequently bullied in court,
misunderstood and abused by press and public alike, he stands out
solitary, the butt and buffer of the neighborhood’s disorder.

It is scarcely remarkable that under these circumstances the guardian
of the law is bewildered, and tends to become unreasonably touchy and
suspicious. “I tried to start a club in a saloon on Fiftieth Street a
while ago,” said a young Irishman of twenty-five. “After we had had
the club running one night, a policeman came in and asked me for my
license. I told him I didn’t have any. He said he would have to break
up the club then. I kicked about this and he pinched me. They brought
me up for trial next morning, and the judge told me I would have to
close up my club. I asked him why, and said the club was perfectly
orderly and was just made up of young fellows in the neighborhood; and
he said, ‘Well, your club has a bad reputation, and you’ve got to break
it up.’ Now, how could a club have a bad reputation when it had only
been running one day? Tell me that? But that’s the way of it. Those
cops will give you a bad reputation in five minutes if you never had
one before in your life.” “The cops are always arresting us and letting
us go again,” said a small West Sider. “I’ve been taken up two or three
times for throwing stones and playing ball, but they never took me to
the station house yet. You can’t play baseball anywhere around here
without the cops getting you.” And so it has come about that relations
between police and people in this section of New York are abnormally
strained. Provocation is followed by reaction, and reaction by reprisal
and a constant aggravation of annoyances, till the tension continually
reaches breaking point.

This situation shows very definite results in the boy. Gradually his
play becomes more and more mischievous as he finds it easier to evade
capture. Boylike, his delight in wanton and malicious destruction is
increased by the knowledge that he will probably escape punishment.
Six-year-old Dennis opens the door of the Children’s Aid Society school
and throws a large stone into the hall full of children. Another
youngster of about the same age recently was seen trying for several
minutes to break one of the street lamps. He threw stone after stone
until finally the huge globe fell with a crash that could have been
heard a block. Then he ran off down the street and disappeared around
the corner. No one attempted to stop him; no one would tell who he
was. Later on, the boy begins to admire and model himself on the
perpetrators of picturesque crimes whom he sees walking unarrested in
the streets around him. And by the time that he reaches the gang age
he is usually a hardened little ruffian whom the safety of numbers
encourages to carry his play to intolerable lengths. He robs, steals,
gets drunk, carries firearms, and his propensity for fighting with
stones and bottles is so marked that for days whole streets have been
terrorized by his feuds. Insurance companies either ask prohibitive
rates for window glass in this neighborhood or flatly refuse to insure
it at all.

Meanwhile the police are not idle. Public opinion and their own
records at the station house demand a certain amount of activity, and
every week the playground sees its arrests. In the following table
we have classified by causes, from our own intimate knowledge of each
individual case, the arrests which took place during 1909 among the
boys of our 241 families. The court’s legal system of classification
has been discarded here in favor of the classification made to show
the real nature of each offense. The result illustrates how entirely
police intervention has failed to meet the issue in the district, and
consequently explains in part why the work of the children’s court with
boys from this neighborhood has not proved more effectual.


  Offenses of vagrancy and neglect:

  Truancy                                38
  Begging                                 3
  Selling papers at ten                  18
  Selling papers without a badge          5
  Run-away                                7
  Sleeping in halls and on roofs          6
  Improper guardianship                  12
  General incorrigibility                23
  Total                                 112

  Offenses due to play:

  Playing ball                           20
  Playing cat                             3
  Playing shinny                          2
  Pitching craps                         26
  Pitching pennies                        9
  Throwing stones and other missiles     44
  Building fires in the street           15
  Fighting                                6
  Total                                 125

[a] For the classification of these arrests according to the court
charges see Chapter VI, The Boy and the Court, p. 82.

  Offenses against persons:

  Assault                                            5
  Stabbing                                           4
  Use of firearms                                    3
  Immorality                                         0
  Intoxication                                       1
        Total                                       13

  Offenses against property:

  Illegal use of transfers                           1
  Petty thievery                                    58
  Serious thievery                                  18
  Burglary, i. e., breaking into houses and theft   36
  Forgery                                            0
  Breaking windows                                   4
  Picking pockets                                    2
        Total                                      119

  Offenses of mischief and annoyance:

  Upsetting ash cans                                 2
  Shouting and singing                               6
  Breaking arc lights                                3
  Loitering, jostling, etc                          12
  Stealing rides on cars                             4
  Profanity                                          1
        Total                                       28

  Unknown                                           73
        Total                                      470

  Deducting duplicates                               7
        Grand Total                                463

Not only is this table extraordinarily interesting in itself, but its
importance to our investigation is inestimable, because it brings out
certain features of the problem with a vividness which could not be
equaled in pages of discussion or narrative.

On the one hand, it is noticeable how large a proportion of the
arrests are for offenses which are more or less excusable in these
boys. Almost every one of their offenses is due to one of four causes:
neglect on the part of the parent, the pressure of poverty, the
expression of pure boyish spirits, or the attempt to play. Thievery,
for instance, particularly the stealing of coal from the docks or
railroad tracks, is quite often encouraged at home. “Johnnie is a good
boy,” said one mother quite frankly. “He keeps the coal and wood box
full nearly all the time. I don’t have to buy none.” And her attitude
is typical. Shouting and singing too, and even loitering, do not seem
on the face of them overwhelmingly wicked. Of course, boys sometimes
choose the most impossible times and places in which to shout and sing,
but is no allowance to be made for “the spirit of youth”? And as for
the arrests for play, they speak for themselves. Some of these games,
played when and where they are played, are unquestionably dangerous to
passersby and property, while others are simply forms of gambling. But
it must be remembered that the West Side boy has nowhere else to play;
that his games are the games which he sees around him, and he plays
them because no one has taught him anything better. The policeman,
however, has no interest in the responsibility of the boys for their
offenses; he is concerned merely with offenses as such, and his arrests
must be determined chiefly by opportunity and by rule. All that we can
ask of him is to be tolerant, broad-minded, and sympathetic--a request
with which he will find it difficult enough to comply if only because
of the atmosphere of hostility against him.

On the other hand, it is remarkable how seldom the boys are caught
for very serious offenses.[12] Most of the arrests shown here are for
causes which are comparatively trifling. Yet the whole neighborhood
seethes with the worst kinds of criminality, and many of the boys are
almost incredibly vicious. Stabbing, assault, the use of firearms,
acts of immorality, do not appear in this table to an extent remotely
approximating the frequency with which they occur. In other words, the
police absolutely fail to cover the ground. Although a large proportion
of arrests does take place, they are mostly on less important charges,
and often involve any one but the young criminal whose capture is
really desirable. The little sister of one boy who was “taken”
expressed the position exactly when she said, “The only time Jimmy was
caught was when he wasn’t doin’ anything bad.”

In this way it happens that the fact of a boy’s arrest is no clue
to his character. Again and again boys “get away with” their worst
crimes, secretly committed, in which they are protected from discovery
by the neighborhood’s code of ethics; whereas for minor offenses, of
which they are openly guilty, they are far more likely to be arrested.
Some of the worst offenders may never be caught at all. And if one of
them is taken, it is probably for some technical misdemeanor which
the officer has used less for its own importance than as a pretext
for getting the boy into court. What is the result? The policeman is
lectured by the judge for being an oppressor of the poor, and the boy
is discharged, though his previous record would entitle him to a severe
sentence, as both boy and policeman know.

Not unnaturally, respect for the court is soon lost, and an arrest
quickly comes to be treated with indifference, or is looked upon merely
as a piece of bad luck, like a licking or a broken window. One boy
recounted recently with amusement how he moved the judge to let him
off: “I put on a solemn face and says, ‘Judge, I didn’t mean to do it;
I’ll promise not to do it again,’ and a lot of stuff like that, and
the judge gives me a talkin’ to and lets me go.” “Gee, that court was
easy!” was the comment of another. “You can get away with anything down
there except murder.” Experiences in the juvenile court are invariably
related with a boyish contempt for the judges, who are looked upon
either as “easy guys to work” or as “a lot of crooks” who “get theirs”
out of their jobs. And so the boy comes back to the streets, and plays
there more selfishly and more recklessly than ever.

His activities are not confined to the block in which he lives or even
to the streets of his neighborhood. Any kind of space, from a roof or
an area to a cellar or an empty basement, is utilized as an addition to
the playground. But two places attract him particularly. All the year
around at some time of day or night you can find him on the docks. In
summer they provide a ball ground, in winter, coal for his family, and
always a hiding place from the truant officer or the police. Here along
the river front he bathes in the hot weather, encouraged by the city’s
floating bath which anchors close by, and regardless of the fact that
the water is filthy with refuse and sewage. In the stifling evenings,
too, when the band plays on the recreation pier and there are lights
and crowds and “somethin’ goin’ on,” he is again drawn toward the water.


[Illustration: A “DEN” UNDER THE DOCK]

And next to the streets and docks he loves the hallways. There is
something about those dark, narrow passages which makes them seem built
for gangs to meet or play or plot in. The youth of the district and
his girl find other uses for them, but the boy and his playmates have
marked them for their games. Neighbors who have no other place to “hang
around in” may protest, but the boys play on. They dirty the floors,
disturb the tenements by their noises, run into people, and if they
are lying here in wait are apt to chip away the wainscoting or tear
the burlap off the walls. But what do they care! It’s all in the day’s
play; and if the janitor objects, so much the better, for he can often
be included in a game of chase.

Streets, roofs, docks, hallways,--these, then, are the West Side boy’s
playground, and will be for many years to come. And what a playground
it is! Day and night, workdays and holidays alike, the streets are
never quiet, from the half-hour before the factory whistles blow in the
early morning, when throngs of men and boys are hurrying off to work,
to still earlier morning hours when they echo with the footsteps of the
reveler returning home. All day long an endless procession of wagons,
drays, and trucks, with an occasional automobile, jolts and clatters
up and down the avenue. Now and then an ambulance or undertaker’s cart
arrives, drawing its group of curious youngsters to watch the casket
or stretcher carried out. Drunken men are omnipresent, and drunken
women are seen. Street fights are frequent, especially in the evening,
and, except for police annoyance or when “guns” come into play,
are generally regarded as diversions. Every crime, every villainy,
every form of sexual indulgence and perversion is practiced in the
district and talked of openly. The sacredness of life itself finds no
protecting influence in these blocks. There is no rest, no order, no
privacy, no spaciousness, no simplicity; almost nothing that youth, the
city’s everlasting hope, should have, almost everything that it should

A family from another state moved recently into one of these tenements.
The only child, a boy of fifteen, after several tentative efforts to
reconcile himself to street life, came in and announced his intention
of staying in the flat in leisure time thereafter, as he was shocked
and his finer feelings were hurt by what he saw of the street life
around him. His mother tried to persuade him to go out, but the boy
told her she had no idea what she was doing, and refused to go. He
attempted to take his airings on the roof, but was ordered down by the
janitor. Finally he yielded to his mother’s persuasion and went back to
the street. Within three months this boy, a type of the bright, clean
boyhood of our smaller towns, had become marked by dissipation and had
once even come home intoxicated.

What chance has the best of boys who must spend two-thirds of his
school days in such a playground? What wonder that he becomes a callous
young criminal, when the very conditions of his play lead him to crime?
The whole influence of such conditions on a child’s life can never
be gauged. But just as apart from his traditions and background he
is incomprehensible as a boy, so, as a wanton little ruffian, he is
unintelligible apart from his playground. This develops his play into
mischief and his mischief into crime. It educates him superficially in
the worst sides of life, and makes him cynical, hard, and precocious.
It takes from him everything that is good; almost everything that
it gives him is bad. Its teachings and tendencies are not civic but
anti-social, and the boy reflects them more and more. Every year he
adds to a history of lawless achievement which the court, police, and
institutions alike have proved powerless to prevent. And every day the
Middle West Side bears witness to the truth of the saying that “a boy
without a playground is the father of the man without a job.”



It would be impossible to describe the thousand and one uses to which
the West Side boy puts his playground. After all, the street is not
such a bad place to play in if you have known nothing better; and as
you tumble out of school on a fine afternoon, ready for mischief, it
offers you almost anything, from a fight with your best friend to a
ride on the steps of an ice wagon. But certain games and sports are so
universal in this district as to deserve separate mention.

Spring is the season for marbles. On any clear day in March or February
you may find the same scene on roadway and sidewalks of every block--a
huddle of multicolored marbles in the middle of a ring, and a group
of excited youngsters, shrieking, quarreling, and tumbling all over
each other, just outside the circle. Instead of the time-honored chalk
ring the boys often use the covers of a manhole, whose corrugated iron
surface offers obstacles and therefore gives opportunity for unusual
skill. Another game consists in shooting marbles to a straight line
drawn along the middle of the sidewalk; thus one such game may be
continued through the whole length of the block. In another the marbles
are pitched against a brick wall or against the curbstone, and the boy
whose marbles stop closest to a chalked mark wins the marbles of all

As the fall days grow shorter and the afternoons more crisp, bonfires
become the rage. The small boy has an aptitude for finding wood at
need in places where one would suppose that no fuel of any kind would
be obtainable. A careless grocer leaves a barrel of waste upon the
sidewalk. In five minutes’ time that barrel may be burning in the
middle of the street with a group of cheering youngsters warming their
hands at the blaze, or watching it from their seats on the curbstone.
The grocer may berate the boys and threaten disaster to the one who
lit the barrel, but he is seldom able to find the culprit. Before the
barrel is completely burned some youngster produces a stick or two
which he has found in an areaway or pulled from a passing wagon, and
adds it to the fire. Stray newspapers, bits of excelsior, rags, and
even garbage are contributed to keep the fire going, regardless of
the effect on the olfactory nerves of the neighborhood. The police
extinguish these fires whenever they can, but the small boy meets this
contingency by posting scouts, and on the alarm of “Cheese it!” the
fire is stamped out and the embers are hastily concealed. The “cop”
sniffs at the smoke and looks at the boys suspiciously, but suspicions
do not bother the boys--they are used to them--and when he has passed
on down the street the fragments of the fire are reassembled and
lighted again. On a cold evening one may see half a dozen of these
bonfires flaming in different directions, each with a group of small
figures playing around them. Sticks are thrust into the fire and waved
in figures in the air; and among them very often circle larger and
brighter spots of light which glow into a full flame when the motion
ceases. These are fire pots, an ingenious invention consisting of an
empty tomato can with a wire loop attached to the top by which to swing
it, and filled with burning wood. This amusement might seem harmless
enough if it were not for the fact that these fire pots, being of small
boy construction, have an unfortunate habit of slipping from the wire
loop just as they are being most rapidly hurled.

On election night, until recently, the boys’ traditional right of
making bonfires has been observed. These bonfires are sometimes
elaborate. As early as the middle of October the youngsters begin
hoarding wood for the great occasion. They pile the fuel in the rear
of a tenement or in the areaway or basement of some friendly grocer,
or perhaps in a vacant lot or at the rear of a factory. Frequently to
save their plunder they find it necessary to post guards for the few
days preceding election, and even so, bonfire material often becomes
the center of a furious gang fight. A few of the stronger gangs have
a settled policy of letting some other gang collect their fuel for
them, and then raiding them at the last minute. The victors carry the
wood back triumphantly to their own block, and the vanquished are left
either to collect afresh or to make reprisal on a still weaker gang.
This kind of warfare continues even while the fires are burning on
election night. A gang will swoop down unawares on a rival bonfire,
scatter the burning material, and retire with the unburnt pieces to
their own block.[13] A recent election time, however, proved a gloomy
one for the little West Siders. Wagons appeared in the streets, filled
with fire hose and manned by firemen and police. The police scattered
the boys while the firemen drenched the fires, and by 8 o’clock the
streets, formerly so picturesque and so dangerous, presented a sad and
sober appearance. The tenement lights shone out on heaps of blackened
embers and on groups of despairing youngsters who were not even
permitted to stand on the corners and contemplate the destruction of
their evening’s festivities.

In the winter the shortcomings of the street as a playground are
especially evident. Frost and sleet and a bitter wind give few
compensations for the discomfort which they bring. Traffic, the street
cleaning department, and the vagaries of the New York climate, make
most ways of playing in the snow impossible. But snowballing continues,
in spite of the efforts of the police to prevent it. It is open to the
same objections as baseball in the street, for the freedom which is
possible in the small towns or in the country cannot be tolerated in
a crowded district where a snowball which misses one mark is almost
certain to hit another. Moreover, owing to the facility with which
these boys take to dangerous forms of sport, the practice of making
snowballs with a stone or a piece of coal in the middle and soaking
them in ice water is even more prevalent here than in most other
localities. Of course, snowballing is forbidden and abhorred by the
neighborhood, and everyone takes a hand in chastising the juvenile
snowball thrower. Nevertheless, the afternoon of the first fall is
sure to bring a snow fight, and the innocent passerby is likely to be
involuntarily included in the game.

Marbles and bonfires and snowballs are the sports of the smaller boys
exclusively, but other games which are less seasonal are played by
old and young alike. “Shooting craps,” for instance, and pitching
or matching pennies, are occupations which endure all the year round
and are participated in by grown men as well as by boys. On a Sunday
morning dozens of crap games are usually in full swing along the
streets. Only two players handle the dice, but almost any number
of bystanders can take part by betting amongst themselves on the
throw--“fading,” as it is called. Pennies, dimes, or dollar bills,
according to the prosperity of the bettor, will be thrown upon the
sidewalk, for craps is one of the cheapest and most vicious forms of
gambling, since there is absolutely no restriction in the betting.
Perfect strangers may join in at will if the players will let them, and
there are innumerable opportunities for playing with crooked dice. It
is one of the chief forms of sidewalk amusements in this neighborhood.

Up above the sidewalks, on the roofs of the tenements, there is some
flying of small kites, but pigeon flying is the chief sport. It
provides an occupation less immediately remunerative, perhaps, than
games of chance, but developed by the same unmoral tendencies which
seem to turn all play in the district into vice. Some boys, through
methods of accretion peculiar to this neighborhood, have a score or
more of pigeons which are kept in the house, and taken up to the roof
regularly every Sunday, and oftener during the summer, for exercise.
The birds are tamed and carefully taught to return to their home
roofs after flight, but ingenious boys have discovered many ways of
luring them to alien roofs, so that now the sport of pigeon flying is
as dangerously exciting as a commercial venture in the days of the
pirates. Pigeon owners also train their birds to circle about the
neighborhood and bring back strangers. These strangers are taken
inside, fed, and accustomed to the place before they are released
again. On Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings the pigeons are to be
seen flying around the neighborhood, while behind the chimneys of every
fourth or fifth tenement house are crouched one or two small boys armed
with long sticks, occasionally giving a low peculiar whistle to attract
the pigeons coming from distant roofs. The sticks have a triple use.
Pigeon owners use them to force their pigeons to fly for exercise;
the little pigeon thieves on the roofs have a net on the end of their
sticks for catching the bird when it alights; and most pigeons are
trained to remain passive at the touch of the stick so that they may be
picked up easily by their owner. This training, of course, operates to
the advantage of the thief as well as of the owner, and valuable birds
are sometimes lured away and held for ransom.


[Illustration: MARBLES. A STREET GAME]

The two chief sports of the Middle West Side--baseball and boxing--are
perennial. The former, played as it always is, with utter carelessness
and disregard of surroundings, is theoretically intolerable, but it
flourishes despite constant complaints and interference. The diamond
is marked out on the roadway, the bases indicated by paving bricks,
sticks, or newspapers. Frequently guards are placed at each end of
the block to warn of the approach of police. One minute a game is in
full swing; the next, a scout cries “Cheese it!” Balls, bats, and
gloves disappear with an alacrity due to a generation of practice, and
when the “cop” appears round the corner the boys will be innocently
strolling down the streets. Notwithstanding these precautions, as the
juvenile court records show, they are constantly being caught. In a
great majority of these match games too much police vigilance cannot be
exercised, for a game between a dozen or more boys, of from fourteen to
eighteen years of age, with a league ball, in a crowded street, with
plate glass windows on either side, becomes a joke to no one but the
participants. A foul ball stands innumerable chances of going through
the third-story window of a tenement, or of making a bee line through
the valuable plate glass window of a store on the street level, or
of hitting one of the passersby. And if the hit is a fair one, it is
as likely as not to land on the forehead of a restive horse, or to
strike some little child on the sidewalk farther down the street. When
one sees the words “Arrested for playing with a hard ball in a public
street” written on a coldly impersonal record card in the children’s
court one is apt to become indignant. But when you see the same hard
ball being batted through a window or into a group of little children
on this same public street, the matter assumes an entirely different

Clearly, from the community’s point of view, the playing of baseball
in the street is rightly a penal offense. It annoys citizens, injures
persons and property, and interferes with traffic. But for all that,
it is not abolished, and probably under present municipal conditions
never will be, simply because there is another point of view, that of
the boy, and his protest against its suppression is almost equally
unanswerable. The store windows are filled with a tempting array of
baseball gloves and bats offered at prices as close as possible to
his means, and every effort is made by responsible business men, who
themselves know the law and the need for order on the streets, to
induce him to buy them. Selling the boy those bats and balls is a
form of business and is perfectly legal. And the boy cannot see why,
after having paid his money for them, the merchant should have all the
benefit of the transaction. The game is in itself perfectly harmless;
and childhood has an abiding resentment against apparently inexplicable
injustice. Perhaps the small boy believes that except for the odds
against him his right to make use of the street in his own way is as
assured as that of anyone else. Perhaps he reflects that he too has to
make sacrifices; that a broken window means usually a lost ball, and a
damaged citizen, a ruined game. At any rate he continues to play, and
as things are, has a fairly good case for doing so.

This neighborhood is also full of regularly organized ball teams,
ranging in the age of players from ten to thirty years. Many of the
large factories have teams made up of their own employes. Almost every
street gang has its own team, as has almost every social club. These
teams meet in regularly matched games, on the waterfront, in the
various city parks, or over in New Jersey. Practically all the teams,
old and young alike, play for stakes, ranging from two to five dollars
a side. When they do not, they call it simply a “friendly” game. There
is no organization among them; one team challenges another, and the
two will decide on some place to play the game. A few of the adult
teams lease Sunday grounds in New Jersey, but most of them trust to the
chance of finding one. The baseball leaders of the neighborhood usually
have uniforms, and to belong to a uniformed team is one of the great
ambitions of the West Side boy.

Down on the waterfront the broad, smooth quays offer a tempting
place for baseball, especially on Sundays and summer evenings, when
they are generally bare of freight. But it has one serious drawback,
that a foul ball on one side invariably goes into the river, and the
players must have either several balls or a willing swimmer if the
game is to continue long. One Sunday game, for instance, between two
fourteen-year-old teams, played near the water, cost five balls,
varying in price from 50 cents to $1.00 each. The game was played
before a scrap-iron yard, the high fence of which was used as a
backstop. Fifty feet to the right was the Hudson River. Within a
hundred feet of second base, in the center field, a slip reached from
the line of the river to the street, which was just beyond third base
on the other side. Behind the sixteen-foot fence of the scrap-iron yard
were a savage dog at large and a morose watchman to keep out river
thieves. Thus hemmed in by water on two sides, a street car line and a
row of glass windows on the third side, and a high fence, a savage dog,
and a watchman on the fourth, the boys started the game. In the first
inning a new dollar ball was fouled over the fence into the scrap-iron
yard and the watchman refused to let the boys in to hunt for it. The
game was stopped while a deputation of boys from both sides walked up
to a nearby street to buy a new fifty-cent ball. The first boy up when
the game was resumed batted this ball into the Hudson River, where
a youthful swimmer got it, and climbing ashore down the river, made
away with it. A third ball was secured, and before the game was half
over this ball was batted into the river, where it lodged underneath
a barge full of paving stones which was made fast to the dock, and
could not be recovered. Then a fourth ball was produced. This lasted
till the game was almost finished, though it was once batted deep into
center field, where it bounced into the slip and stopped the game while
it was being fished out. Finally it followed the first ball into the
scrap-iron yard, and neither taunts nor pleas could move the obdurate
watchman to let the boys in to find it. The game was finished with a
fifth ball which was the personal property of one of the boys. On the
occasion of another game in this same place two balls were batted into
the scrap-iron yard and lost while the teams were warming up before
the match began. A third ball was batted into the river twice but both
times it was recovered. Baseball is played on the docks unmodified, but
in the streets the boys make use of various adaptations, some of which
dispense with the bat and in consequence lessen the dangers of the game.

Ball playing continues sporadically all the year round, and never
loses popularity, but it is, of course, mainly a game for the summer.
During the winter among the small boys, youths, and men alike, boxing
is the all-absorbing sport. It is hard for an outsider to understand
the tremendous hold which prize fighting has upon the boys in a
neighborhood of this kind. Fights are of course of common occurrence,
not only among children but among grown men. This in itself gives a
great impetus to the study of the art of self-defense. Good fighters
become known early in this district. Professional prize fighters are
everywhere; and for every boy who has actually succeeded in getting
into the prize ring on one or more occasions, there are a dozen who are
eager and anxious for an opportunity. The various athletic clubs of
the city always offer chances to boys from fourteen to sixteen years
old to appear in the “preliminaries,” as the boxing contests which
precede the main bout of the evening are called. A boy who gains a
reputation as a street fighter and boxer will be recommended to the
manager of an athletic club as a likely aspirant. He is given a chance
to box in one or two rounds with another would-be prize fighter in a
“preliminary.” If he makes a good showing, he is paid from five to
fifteen dollars according to his ability and experience, and is given
another chance. If he can continue to make favorable appearances in
these preliminaries, he will soon be given a chance of taking part
in a six or eight-round bout at one of the smaller athletic clubs,
and from that time on he takes regular status as a prize fighter, and
accordingly becomes a hero in his circle of youthful acquaintances.
There are many such small prize fighters in our district, none of them
over twenty-one years of age, and all earning just enough to make it
possible to lead a life of indolence. If they can make ten or fifteen
dollars by appearing in a ring once a week, they are quite content.

But boxing and street fighting by no means always go together on the
Middle West Side. The real professional boxers of the neighborhood
dissociate them in practice as well as in theory; they take their
profession for what it is--a game to be played in a sportsmanlike
manner--and they are usually good-natured. One of the best known prize
fighters of the city, who lives on the Middle West Side, states that
it is years since he was mixed up in a fight of any kind. “I box
because I like the game,” he said, “but I’ve no use for fighting.”



Another man, an exceedingly clever lightweight boxer, who has appeared
several times in the ring in New York City clubs, was boxing one night
with a rather crude amateur. The bout was really for the instruction
of the amateur, and both boxers were going very easily by agreement.
Suddenly the amateur landed an unintentionally hard blow upon the eye
of his opponent, just as the latter was stepping forward. The eye
became fearfully discolored and the whole side of the boxer’s face
swelled. But in spite of his evident feeling that the amateur had taken
an unfair advantage in striking so hard when his opponent was off his
guard, the lightweight fighter laughed and submitted to treatment for
the eye without losing his temper in the least, and freely accepted the
apologies of the other.

This is boxing at its best, but unfortunately its tendencies are more
usually toward unfairness and brutality than otherwise. Boys are taught
to box early in this district. It is not uncommon to see a bout between
youngsters of seven or eight being watched by a crowd of young men, who
encourage the combatants by cheering every successful blow, but pay no
attention to palpable fouls or obvious attempts to take a dishonest
advantage. Even some of the best of the prize fighters frankly say that
once in the ring the extent to which they foul is only a question of
how much they can deceive the referee. And when this questionable code
of ethics is passed on by these heroes and leaders of sentiment to
the boys who have no referee and no thought beyond that of winning by
disabling an opponent as much as possible, the sport degenerates into
an unfair and tricky test of endurance. Striking with the open hand,
kicking, tripping, hitting in a clinch, all these unfair practices
are considered a great advantage if one can “get away with it.” The
West Side youngster sees very little of the real professional boxers
who, from the very nature of their somewhat strenuous employment, must
keep in good condition, as a rule retire early, drink little, and do a
great deal of hard gymnastic work. But of their brutalized hangers-on,
the “bruisers,” who frequent the saloons and street corners and pose
as real fighters, he sees a great deal; consequently, as a whole,
prize fighting must be classed as one of the worst influences of the
neighborhood. It is too closely allied with street fighting, and too
easily turned to criminal purposes. The bully who learns to box will
use his acquired knowledge as a means of enforcing his superiority on
the street, and if he is beaten will have recourse to weapons or any
other means of maintaining his prestige.

Baseball and boxing bring to a close the list of common outdoor games
played by boys on the Middle West Side,--just ordinary games, modified
by a particular environment and played in a shifting and spasmodic
way which is characteristic of it. It remains to emphasize the lesson
taught by their effects on boy life as they are practiced in this

The philosophy of the West Side youngster is practical and not
speculative. Otherwise he could not fail to notice very early in his
career that the world in general, from the mother who bundles him out
of an overcrowded tenement in the morning, to the grown-ups in the
street playground where most of his time is spent, seem to think him
very much in the way. All day long this fact is borne in upon him.
If a wagon nearly runs over him the driver lashes him with the whip
as he passes to teach him to “watch out.” If he plays around a store
door the proprietor gives him a cuff or a kick to get rid of him. If
he runs into someone he is pushed into the gutter to teach him better.
And if he is complained of as a nuisance the policeman whacks him with
hand or club to notify him that he must play somewhere else. Moreover,
everything that he does seems to be against the law. If he plays ball
he is endangering property by “playing with a hard ball in a public
place.” If he plays marbles or pitches pennies he is “obstructing the
sidewalk,” and craps, quite apart from the fact that it is gambling,
constitutes the same offense. Street fighting individually or
collectively is “assault,” and a boy guilty of none of these things may
perforce be “loitering.” In other words he finds that property or its
representatives are the great obstacles between him and his pleasure in
the streets. And in considering our problem neither the principal cause
of this situation nor its results must be lost sight of.

The great drawback to normal life on the Middle West Side is that it
is a dual neighborhood. Tenements and industrial establishments are
so inextricably mixed that the demands of the family and the needs of
industry and commerce are eternally in conflict. The same streets must
be used for all purposes; and one of the chief sufferers is the boy.
More obvious, however, than this cause of a complex situation are the
results of it, two of which are especially noticeable. The first is the
inevitableness with which the boy accepts--and must accept--illegal
and immoral amusements as a matter of course. The spirit of youth is
forced to become a criminal tendency, and sport and the rights of
property are forced into antagonism. And in the second place, partly
because of this, partly because their association with the toughs of
the street predisposes them to imitate vice and rowdyism, the boys come
to take a positive pleasure in such activities as retaliation by theft
and destruction of property. Stores and basements in this district
are sometimes completely abandoned owing to the stone throwing and
persecution of a youthful gang which has found their occupants too
strenuously hostile or defensive. Undoubtedly the street is the most
inadequate of playgrounds and throws many difficulties of prevention
and interruption in the path of sport. But these obstacles are from
their nature provocative of contest, and sport flourishes with a
Hydra-like vitality. Nothing short of impossibility will keep the boy
and his game apart.



It is frequently necessary in these chapters to consider the boy of
the Middle West Side as a type; and in discussing the causes and
possible solution of the conditions which have produced him it is easy
to forget that what the individual boy actually is at the moment is
also of very real importance. But as a matter of fact it is not the
boy individually but the boy collectively that is the policeman’s bane
and the district’s despair. Once on the street the boy is no longer
an individual but a member of a gang; and it is with and through the
gang that he justly earns a reputation which provoked an irate citizen
recently to suggest that for the New York street urchin boiling in
burning oil was too good a fate. The court finds him a little villain,
and newspapers tell the public that he is a little desperado; but those
who know him best know that he is probably worse than either court or
public suppose, and that for this the development of the gang on the
West Side is primarily responsible.

The formation of “sets” or “gangs” is almost a law of human nature, and
boyhood one of its most constant exponents, for a boy is gregarious
naturally as well as by training. And over here, where the sociable
Irish-American element predominates and children rarely mention the
word “home,” it is inevitable that the gang should flourish and its
members try to find in its activities the rough affection, comfort,
and amusement which a dirty and overcrowded tenement room has failed to

The West Side gang is in its origin perfectly normal. In the words of
one of the boys, “De kids livin’ on de street jist naturally played
together, an’ stuck together w’en anything came up about kids from
any other street.” Nothing is more entirely natural and spontaneous,
and it is exasperating to reflect that nothing could be a more
persuasive and uplifting power in the boy’s life than the gang’s
development when given proper scope and direction. Its influence is
strong and immediate. The gang contains the friends to whose praise
and criticism he is most keenly sensitive, its standards are his aims,
and its activities his happiness. Untrammeled by the perversion of
special circumstances it might encourage his latent interests, train
him to obedience and loyalty, show him the method and the saving of
co-operation, and teach him the beauty of self-sacrifice. Gang life
at its best does so. The universal endorsement and success of the Boy
Scout movement, for instance, in almost every country living under
Western civilization, shows this most clearly. Association and rivalry
should bring out what is best in a boy; but on the Middle West Side it
almost invariably brings out what is worst. Practically, under present
conditions, it is inevitable that this should be so; but with the first
movement toward amelioration such a result becomes less necessary.


[Illustration: AFTER THE BATTLE]

Take the case of a certain gang typical of this neighborhood. This gang
is now several years old, but its membership is almost exactly what it
was four or five years ago. Its members singled each other out from
the throng of children in their immediate neighborhood and first
made for themselves a cave between two lumber piles in a neighboring
yard. All one summer they met in this “hang-out”; here they brought
the “loot,” as they call the product of their marauding expeditions,
threw craps, pitched pennies, played cards, smoked, told stories, and
fought. But they were disturbed by early disaster in the shape of
the business needs of the lumber company, which one day caused their
shack to be torn down over their heads. They made their headquarters
next in the empty basement of a tenement, but soon moved at the well
reinforced request of the landlord. After an exiled period of meeting
on the street corners, the boys conceived the idea of building their
own habitation in the protection of their own homes. They began a small
wooden structure in the areaway of the tenement in which the leader
lived. But civil war broke out, and in one unhappy culmination the
leader of the gang chased his own little brother up two flights of
stairs with a hatchet. The little brother promptly “squealed,” and the
projected headquarters was destroyed by parental decree.

There followed another interval of meeting on the streets, and then
one of the workers in a neighboring settlement became interested.
She arranged to have the boys hold meetings in the settlement once a
week. They were given certain privileges in the gymnasium and game
rooms also, which kept them happily occupied and away from the street
influences. But the settlement was closed suddenly and the gang went
back to the streets once more. Here is a case in which a gang were from
the outset driven from pillar to post by the deficiencies of their
surroundings as a playground, and made to feel that every man’s hand
was against them. When kindness was shown to them they responded at
once. And scores of other gangs, if they were given the chance, would
respond in the same way.

There are two salient features of gang life in this neighborhood. Both
can be easily explained and abundantly illustrated; the second alone
applies equally to schoolboy gangs and to adult gangs--for bands of
adult rowdies exist, too, and the semi-mythical “Gopher Gang”[14] is
a terror to conjure with. The first of these features is the loyalty
which the gang invariably shows to a single street or block. As a
gang is naturally formed of boys who live in the same tenement or
next door to each other, or at least in the same block, and as their
chief playground is likely to be the street in front of that block, it
naturally becomes a matter of convenience as well as of honor to defend
that playground from the inroads of any other gang. In this way loyalty
to one block becomes a principle and a basis of gang organization. But
individuals are not always loyal to their home block. If a boy becomes
a member of a gang on Fiftieth Street, for example, and then moves to
Thirtieth Street, or even farther, he may return and continue to belong
to his old gang. Similarly, a Thirtieth Street gang will number among
its ranks former residents who now live in other localities. At the
same time, both gangs are continually being recruited by new arrivals
in the community. When a boy moves he simply uses his own discretion
as to whether to join the new gang or to continue to belong to the old.

The gang is constantly increasing or decreasing its numbers. It
does not necessarily include the whole street except in a very
general sense. Its nucleus is to be found in probably a dozen or
fifteen kindred spirits in the street. For purposes of war, or for
demonstrations at election time, or on any such occasion when there
is either safety or pleasure in numbers, the other boys in the street
are added to this group. Thus the real Fiftieth Street gang may not
number more than 20 or 25 members, but its fighting strength when
pitted against the Fifty-thirds will be nearly a hundred. Again,
while there may be one group of 15 or 20 boys known as “The Fiftieth
Street Gang,” yet on Fiftieth Street between any two avenues will
be found a dozen or more similar groups, each with a leader and a
coherent social consciousness. The one among these groups which will
be called the Fiftieth Street gang is likely to be so known either
because it contains the boy who, for one reason or another, has become
the recognized street leader, or because its members are better known
or more daring than any other group, so that it will be around this
particular group that all the others will rally when the occasion
calls. The territorial limit of a gang is usually the length of one
single cross street between two avenues. In a single week fights took
place between the Fiftieth Street gang between Tenth and Eleventh
Avenues, and the Fifty-third Street gang in the same district; between
the Forty-ninth Street gang between Ninth and Tenth Avenues combined
with the Forty-ninth Street gang between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues,
and the Forty-seventh Street gang between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.

Loyalty to their home block would be a good habit in boyish
_camaraderie_ if it merely took the form of peaceable rivalry; but
as gang life exists at present on the Middle West Side it becomes a
chronic incentive to lawlessness. For the second salient feature of
gang life is the propensity of the gang to street fighting. Personal
and collective jealousies and feuds have become so habitual and endless
among the boys here that the history of their gangs is little less than
a record of continuous violence of every kind. No doubt the strain of
the constant repression before alluded to in some measure accounts
for this; but possibly it is due in general to a contact with the
streets and in particular to the bad influence of the older toughs
on whom they model themselves and who often attain heroic position
in their eyes. The boys of gangs in the country play that they are
armies, emperors, or kings that they have read of in books or heard of
in stories told. But the city boys of the West Side prefer to imitate
local celebrities whom they know or local deeds of fame with which
they are more intimately acquainted. And the danger of this vulgarized
hero worship lies in the fact that, while a country lad must imagine
the surroundings and implements for imitating the deeds of story book
heroes, the city boy can find on every side of him the real materials
used by his models, the Gophers.

The jargon of the thief and the yeggman is common among these boys’
gangs. They talk casually of murder and robbery as though these were
familiar events in their lives. They lay tentative plans for the
robbery of stores or saloons with no more real intention of commission
than the schoolboy football player has of actual achievement when
he imagines what he would do if his team were playing Yale. They
talk easily and knowingly of “turning off” various people in the
neighborhood, by which they mean robbing them. They threaten each other
with murder and other dire forms of assault, and undoubtedly think that
they mean to carry out their threats. The first active manifestation
of this state of mind consists often in carrying concealed weapons.
The boy obtains a broken revolver from some place or finds or steals
a good one. He will reveal this weapon to his awestruck playmates
and soon come to pose as a bold, ruffianly spirit. Usually this
phase passes away harmlessly enough. Few of the younger residents of
this neighborhood are really armed, though most of them would have
their companions believe that they are. Occasionally some youngster
does manage to carry a revolver, bowie knife, or slingshot, and his
subsequent career is likely to bring him very early into serious
contact with the police. But however late or soon the manifestation,
the gangs are permeated by the tendency to disorder and crime which is
the result of criminal example. It is the old story; only the worst and
most vicious form of the gang spirit has a chance of finding expression
in these streets. And so gang warfare has become not the exception
but the rule, and the violence and ferocity with which the small boys
pursue their feuds excites the alarm of the entire neighborhood.

“There has always been more or less fighting among the gangs of boys on
the streets,” a physician of long residence recently remarked, “but
they are getting worse in character every year until now it seems that
they will stop at nothing. They carry knives, clubs, and even, I have
heard, revolvers. Sometimes arrests are made, but they never amount
to anything, for the boys are always released without punishment. If
an outsider tries to interfere, ordinarily both gangs turn on him.
They terrorize the neighborhood with their fights, breaking windows
and injuring passersby with stones. Only recently one of these fights
broke out almost in front of my house, and a score or more, most of
them armed with beer bottles, were engaged in it. I got a boy by the
shoulder and asked him what he was doing with the bottle. ‘Oh,’ he
said, ‘I am just taking it to the store to get it filled.’ Then he
laughed in my face and the rest of the gang burst out laughing. I could
do nothing with them, and had to retire to my office.”

Sometimes fights are more or less unpremeditated, arising from chance
encounters between two rival gangs; but very often they are formally
arranged and generaled in approved military fashion. One evening
recently a furious battle took place between two gangs of small boys
numbering nearly 50 to the gang, and all apparently from eight to
fifteen years old. One gang proceeded down the street from the corner
at which they had assembled and met the other gang coming from the
opposite direction. They stopped about 100 feet apart and formed two
compact masses, screaming and shouting encouragement to their own side
and insults to the enemy. Then one of the gangs moved slowly forward.
Some one among their opponents threw a beer bottle into the advancing
crowd, and a scene of wild riot followed. Clubs, stones, and beer
bottles were hurled through the air, many of them taking effect and
many of the bottles smashing on the pavement. A crowd gathered on both
sides behind the combatants and windows on all sides were filled with
spectators. None of the boys came into personal contact with their
opponents. Most of them contented themselves with hurling missiles
indiscriminately into the opposing group. In the midst of the mêlée two
boys were maneuvering for over a minute, each armed with a beer bottle
which he was trying to land on his opponent from a distance of not more
than eight or ten feet. They ducked, dodged, and side-stepped, then
finally one boy threw his bottle. The other boy dropped flat to the
pavement and the bottle came so close to his body that it looked for
an instant as though it had hit him. If it had, it might easily have
killed him, for it was hurled with terrific force. But the boy sprang
up and threw his bottle at the other youngster, who was now retreating.

Just as it was growing dark someone fired two shots from a
revolver--whether loaded with blank or bullet cartridges it was of
course impossible to tell--and now for the first time protest from the
spectators began to rise even above the din of the fight. At the same
moment from scouts in the rear guard of both armies came the watchword
of the West Side, “Cheese it!” In an incredibly short space of time
both gangs were rushing at top speed back toward their respective
gathering places. When everything was quiet, two policemen turned the
corner, walked solemnly down to the middle of the block, and returned.
There were, of course, no arrests. One gang had rallied at a point
about 100 yards to the west of the avenue, and were starting back to
the battleground again when two small boys concealed in a cellarway
at the corner shrieked out another warning. The gang broke up again
and the next minute a discomfited policeman stepped out from a doorway
where he had been concealed and came along the street.

At the corner of Ninth Avenue two men were indignantly discussing the
fight. “Those boys do more to ruin property and lower real estate
values around here than any other three causes,” said one of the men.
“They’re having these fights continually now and they seem to grow
worse all the time. Suppose that some passerby had been in the way of
that revolver which was shot down the street just now. Nothing could
have been done. You can’t find out who had the revolver. The police
won’t try to make any arrests, and if they do, the boys are always let
right out again. The insurance companies won’t insure plate glass in
this neighborhood any more, and the whole place seems to be just at the
mercy of these little ruffians.”

On one occasion a gang was short of bonfire material at election
time. The members raided a neighboring street, took the gang there by
surprise, extinguished its celebration bonfires, and carried the wood
in triumph back to their own street. War was immediately declared by
the despoiled, and a regular after-school campaign followed. Through
an injury to one of their number the gang in an intervening street
became involved, and sided with the bonfire stealers. War then became
general and for a year was a constant subject for discussion among old
and young in the neighborhood. The boys of the defensive gang more than
held their own. They descended upon the allies from the intervening
street and vanquished them on their own territory. They fought with
even honors in foreign territory the gang which originally started the
trouble, and repelled several invasions decisively. Finally these terms
were offered: The defensive gang formally notified their opponents that
if they could succeed in forcing their way from the upper avenue to a
Roman Catholic church about three-quarters of the way down the street,
they would accept defeat. Night after night the gang thus challenged
made the attempt, but never succeeded.

[Illustration: RESTING. WHAT NEXT?]


It is not uncommon for fights to end by a formal match between two
opposing leaders, though very often, particularly if the leader of the
weaker gang wins, these conflicts are indecisive because the stronger
gang will not accept defeat. In one case two gangs entered into a
formal truce because one gang was obliged to go through the other’s
territory on the way to school, and found it inexpedient to fight a
battle four times a day. The other gang recognized the justice of this
position and according to compact permitted their enemies to go through
the street unmolested throughout the school year.

Tales of this kind could be multiplied almost indefinitely, for the
exploits of boyish gangs dominate the West Side problem. Such headlines





are comparatively common in the newspapers; yet most of the occurrences
of this kind in the district never reach the ears of a reporter. The
following is from the press account of a typical gang war:



    This is the second boy to receive serious injuries because of
    the feud which has been raging for the last three weeks between
    stone-throwing bands of boys who live in the vicinity of Fiftieth
    Street and Tenth Avenue.... Fifty or more boys have received
    injuries.... Not only are the lives of school children endangered
    but the size of the weapons used makes it perilous for adults to
    venture near during the battles. There are a half dozen bands in
    the neighborhood, and when any two of them meet there is a fight.
    The principal pastime, however, seems to be in a whole crowd
    attacking one or two boys who belong to another band.

    Teachers in the public schools and Sunday school teachers have
    joined in the demand that the Police Department give full
    protection against assault to all living in the vicinity. The fever
    for stone throwing seems to be spreading through all the territory
    between Ninth and Tenth Avenues between Fiftieth and Sixtieth
    Streets, and the situation is said to be beyond the control of the
    present force of police on duty in that part of the city.

Gang fighting is most prevalent when the nervous youngsters are just
released from the school room and must inevitably encounter their
schoolmate antagonists on the streets.

Here is an account of a gang fight, the events of which were described
by one of the small marauders:

“Last night a gang of boys came down with their pockets full of
brickbats, looking for Willie Harrigan, but Johnnie and Jimmie heard of
it and got the gang together. I came up with my pockets full of stones
and was throwing them when I got hit in the leg myself and it hurt so I
couldn’t throw. Just then three cops suddenly jumped off a car, right
in the middle of the fight. Everybody beat it, but a cop grabbed me and
I dropped my stones and jerked away and ran. They caught three of the
others though, and took them to the station house. I don’t know whether
they got there. Every afternoon this gang comes down and tries to catch
our fellows alone as they did with Willie. We fight with stones and
bottles. No one has been very much hurt lately. One of our gang has a
gun, too, but he can’t fire it for fear of the cops.”

These last sentences reveal, or at least refer to, the most repulsive
of all the ways in which the demoralizing effect of West Side gang
development is shown. Even a confirmed pessimist, if he has any
sympathy with boys and any knowledge of their ways, can discern in the
gang’s activities a striving after the unattainable which is yet a
birthright, an effort which is essentially more pathetic than vicious.
In the raid and the “loot,” the chase and the “hang-out,” it is not
difficult to mark the trail of the Redskin and the hunt and the lure
of danger which is so dear to the heart of a boy. But even the most
persistent of optimists, willing to make many allowances, must demur
against the coldblooded and treacherous methods to which the feuds and
enmities of West Side gangs have reduced their members. If ever these
boys had a sense of the spirit of fair play, they seem to have lost it
completely. They win by planning overwhelming advantages. An attack
upon three or four or even one defenseless boy by 30 or 40 merciless
youngsters, who even attempt to surround their prey and strike from
behind, is not a disgraceful thing to them but an exploit to be proud
of. No mercy is shown to the vanquished. Stories are rife in the
neighborhood of boys of thirteen or fourteen being attacked when alone
and undefended, by 10 or more assailants from another street.

That casualties are not more frequent is due to the dominant spirit of
cowardice with which the mob always taints its members. In the thick of
the fight when no responsibility can be placed and every member feels
secure in the presence of his friends, there is no atrocity which these
boys will not attempt; but relying as they do on the strength of the
mob instead of on individual strength, the first feeling of timidity
immediately develops into a panic. An unexpected move by the enemy at
bay will rout an attacking party of four times their strength. Half a
dozen boys caught at a disadvantage will charge unscathed through a
gang of nearly two score, who fly in all directions at this unexpected
display of bravery. One boy, for instance, was recently beset by eight
others when he was about to leave the factory. Instead of retreating
as they expected, he suddenly seized a club, charged one wing of his
assailants, and escaped unhurt. On the other hand, here is a case in
which one of the victims was caught:

“Jim and me was goin’ down the street, w’en about six fellers from the
Fiftieth Street gang hot-footed after us. We ran but they got right
close and hollered to us to halt. I made out like I was goin’ to stop
but got a fresh start w’en they slacked up and got away. Jim did stop
and they near killed him, they beat him up so.”

“Oh! They would-a killed me if they’d got me,” said one boy, relating
how he had been chased into a hallway by five or six of a rival gang,
armed with bottles, clubs, and bricks. “I hid in a toilet, and when
they came up to look in I rushed out on ’em and took ’em by surprise;
I pushed one feller down the steps and beat it, but they didn’t catch
me.” And a similar story was told by another. “After I wins in my fight
with bot’ Mike and his pal me little brother hears ’em telling one day
how they was goin’ to lay for me in the hallway wit clubs. I runs up
tru de house next door on the roof tru de house where dey was goin’ to
lay for me and hides in the toilet wit a big club. When I hear Mike and
his pal come in an’ talkin’ right near me I rushes out and bangs right
an’ left wit me club. I hits ’em bot’ on de bean (head) an’ dey runs
out. After that they never bothered me.”

Gang fighting, in fact, as practiced in this neighborhood, is conducive
to neither manliness, honor, courage, nor self-respect. The strength
of the boy is the strength of the gang, and under its protection
unspeakable horrors take place for which it is impossible to place
responsibility. Rumors of boys being stabbed, shot, clubbed, maimed,
and even killed are current everywhere, and there is good reason to
believe that many of them are true. Such things are, of course, never
mentioned to strangers, and residents learn of them only by chance
conversation. The moment that any definite questions are asked, the
boys become reticent and change the subject. But there can be no doubt
that many crimes are committed in these blocks which never reach the
ears of the police, and that a considerable proportion of them are due
to the boy and his gang.

And so the word “gang” here has grown to be synonymous with the
worst side of boy life, and the group itself, which might in other
surroundings and under other traditions be a positive civic asset,
simply adds the irresponsibility of the mob to the recklessness of
youth and becomes a force which turns West Side boyhood into cowards
and savages. As a priest of one of the Roman Catholic churches said the
other day, “The social evil may be an important one, but _the_ question
in this neighborhood is that of the gangs.”



Among the influences which mold the destinies of the West Side boy
one still remains to be mentioned. We have tried to sketch the
characteristics of the community in which he finds himself and to
indicate the causes and the traditions which have produced them.
We have watched him in the daylight glare of his playground, and
followed him through his games and the maneuvers of his gang. School,
and in later years, the shop or factory, rarely work any appreciable
change in his make-up. The former is usually treated by the class of
boys with whom we are dealing as a long game between himself and the
truant officer. The latter comes into his life too late and often too
unsuitably to be regarded by him as anything but so many dreary years
of necessary imprisonment. But back of his chequered little life on the
docks and streets stand his mother and his tenement home, and surely it
is to them, if anywhere, that we must look for the guidance that is to
help him and the influence that is to counteract the wild persuasions
of the playground.

Is this home attractive? Can it be? Does his mother understand her boy
and his difficulties, even if she can cope with her own? If she does,
how far can she help him? If she does not, how far is she blameworthy?
What is her attitude toward the West Side problems? To what extent is
she--can she be--responsible for her children’s conduct? How far right
are the judges of the New York children’s court, and how far wrong, in
holding West Side parents responsible for the misdemeanors of their
sons? Let us look at the home outside and within, visit the mother and
hear her side of the story; for these are questions which must be asked
and answered before our picture of the West Side boy is complete.

It would be impossible with any truth to call the tenement buildings
externally attractive. Surrounding the factories on all sides, wedged
between tall, noisy buildings, standing almost alone in a block
of lumber and wagon yards, or sometimes occupying entire blocks
to the exclusion of everything else, they rise singly, in groups,
or in rows along the streets and avenues, ugly, monotonous, of an
indistinguishable sameness. Most of them face squarely up to the
sidewalk, with no areaway in front, behind them narrow cement-paved
courts, round which the shabby walls rear themselves, cutting off
sunlight and giving to each little well of air-space the gloominess of
a cañon. Every type of obsolete dwelling, condemned by the building
laws of a decade ago, is present in block lengths, teeming and seething
with human life, and accepted with that philosophy of poverty which
holds that such things are a part of the natural scheme which created
Fifth Avenue for the man who doesn’t have to work and Eleventh Avenue
for the man who does. The “dumb-bell” and “railroad” types of tenement
with dark inner rooms, first sanctioned by the laws of the late
70’s but condemned as dangerous and unsanitary nearly a decade ago,
predominate. These buildings were erected for the most part over
twenty-five years ago (some are forty years old or more), and in the
ten years preceding 1911 only two modern tenements had been erected in
the whole district. Most of the tenements so adjoin that the roofs of
one are accessible from those on either side. Frequently this condition
continues through the whole block, so that a marauder, a fleeing small
boy, or a fugitive from justice, may dodge up one stairway, cross
several roofs, and descend by another. Similarly, if one street door is
locked, the tenement can usually be entered from the adjoining building
by way of the roof.

Inside, the tenements offer a depressing study in bad housing
conditions. The hall is dark, the stairway small and ill-lighted;
modern toilet and sanitary facilities in many cases are absent.
The rooms are often infested with mice, roaches, and bed-bugs. The
slender airshaft is frequently so inaccessible that refuse and rubbish
thrown into it from adjacent windows may lie for months in a rotting
accumulation at the bottom. A large proportion of the families are
herded in flats containing from two to four rooms, which are very
small and receive a minimum of light and air from their few and often
overshadowed windows.

The number of rooms occupied by 200 of these families, as shown by the
table given in the Appendix,[18] is to some extent misleading, for the
rooms are often not really separate. Owing to restrictions of space
there are rarely doors between the rooms in the prevailing type of
tenements; only doorways; and whether these are hung with curtains or
not, privacy within the home is naturally almost impossible. Family
quarrels or Saturday night’s drunken brawl too often take place in the
presence of the children. Moreover, walls are so thin that every word
spoken above an ordinary tone of voice is plainly audible through them
to the inmates of the next flat. A social worker who was for a time
resident here said recently: “In the first part of this month there
were three cases of wife-beating in one tenement alone. This tenement
is of so-called ‘model’ construction, has an exceptionally high rent,
attempts to restrict crowding, and prides itself on an extra high
grade of tenants. Yet the quarreling and brawling between husband and
wife in all parts of the building seem to be incessant. It even breaks
the sleep of the children and other tenants in the early hours of the

In homes like these it is scarcely possible for even the smallest
families to live in decency. But small families are not the rule on
the West Side. Of the 231 families for which information regarding the
number of living children was secured, 163, or 71 per cent, had four or
more children. Families having five children formed the largest group;
and one family had 11 living children.[19]

Day begins for the housewife at 6 o’clock, or even earlier if she works
outside the home, and ordinarily her children are up and on the streets
by half past seven. For breakfast she usually prepares a quantity of
food and leaves it at the disposal of the family. The members, as
they rise, successively go to the kitchen and help themselves. The
workers go to the stores and factories, and the children to school or
the streets. By half past seven the factories are in full operation,
the stores are open, and the day’s work has begun. From half past
eight to nine, the streets are thronged with children going to school,
or sometimes to steal a riotous holiday on the streets and docks as
truants. At noon they return to snatch a hasty lunch served in the same
impromptu way as breakfast, and then the woman is left alone again to
wash and cook and mend and gossip till supper time, if she is not one
of the many West Side mothers who must go out to earn.[20] In that
case, the household tasks must be done after she returns home at night.

Such is the average tenement home, abiding place of our West Side
boy and his family. In a very large number of cases the family is a
“broken” one.[21]

As regards ambitions and ideals, the word “home” may stand for anything
from the thrifty German household with its level head for the budget
to a down-at-the-heels, loose-hinged group of people who share the
same abiding place, but scarcely claim the name of family. Of course,
it must be remembered that this is a neighborhood from which the
sturdiest, those having the lucky combination of prosperity, vigor,
and ambition, have pulled away. They have shaken clear both from the
ill-repaired and inconvenient houses and from the district’s reputation
for “toughness.” Here and there a fairly well-to-do family has been
held by the ownership of a business or a house, or because to be a
power even in a block like one of these is more satisfying than to be
second elsewhere. Others have stayed from inertia, shaking their heads
over lax West Side customs, but on the whole accepting them with the
acquiescence of habit; and naturally, on the level of the neighborhood,
they have entered into its life and made their friends here. They will
drift back after brief outward excursions, from sheer loneliness. But
most commonly the people here are too strongly fettered to break loose;
they are bound to these dreary surroundings for their lives.

Practically every family has rubbed elbows with poverty too familiar
for comment,[22] or seen it close at hand among the neighbors in
the house and the children who play with their own on the street.
In many families poverty is a basic condition underlying their many
catastrophes and the whole tenure of their unstable fortunes. Often
the budget simply cannot be stretched by any system of economy to
cover the requisites for healthy and sturdy growth. Such requisites
become luxuries, too extravagant for many a child. Teeth and eyes go
uncared for, nourishment is inadequate, and misbehavior may easily
spring in the wake of this negligence; often it does. For none of these
children is good air obtainable except in short intervals. And very
closely associated with the moral indifference of many an adolescent
boy are the noise and overcrowding within his own home to which he is
accustomed from babyhood. Sleep in a stuffy, dark bedroom, with two or
three other occupants, has a telling effect both on mind and body,
and never from morning to night are these tenements quiet. At the very
outset poverty destroys the possibilities of normal development. The
tenement child runs his race, but it is always a handicap.

Facing these harsh circumstances is a set of women who, though
intimacy reveals among them varied dispositions and abilities, have
yet developed out of the common experience many of the same ideas and
lines of action. To their share falls the heaviest responsibility for
the discipline and training of the children. The father is in the
background and may be used as a court of appeal. Or perhaps he is to be
guarded against,--another source of anxiety to the mother, who assumes
the difficult role of “standing between.” Among the more intelligent
families he usually has a decisive voice in important questions as to
school or work, and frequently he is the stricter parent, and carries
more authority. But the day-in and day-out management and care is the
woman’s. These mothers of the tenements are confronted by the same
problems, and they conform to certain types which it is not difficult
to recognize.

Very familiar is the figure of the well-meaning woman who has kept
her own decency, not without a struggle, but has proved hopelessly
ineffective as a mother. She is usually ill-equipped to conceive
or enter into the feelings of an imperious, self-absorbed, and
overstimulated youngster. Her very decency has often forced her into
a dull routine with a gray, colorless outlook, out of sympathy with
youth that refuses to accept the shadows of her own overworked and
saddened lot. Many of these women came from Ireland as mere girls,
alone or “brought by a friend,” to go into the drudgery of living out.
Their working days began in childhood. Mrs. Macy drew her own picture:
Herself a child of twelve, she started out to “mind” children. “I had a
little hat wi’ daisies all roun’ the brim an’ ribbons hangin’ off the
back with daisies fastened on, and with one hand I was hangin’ on to
a hunk of m’lasses candy. I sure was childish lookin’ help but I held
the job for six years.” Then came the marriage “to get a home of my
own,” followed by those terrible first years of bitter disillusionment
and wretchedness. “He’d leave me alone in the house of an evening--I’d
never been used to that. I was frightened, an’ I’d cry.” Soon child
came after child, probably with a quota early given to death, and with
those who lived arose the problem of their rearing.

Almost at once the women are awakened to the menace of the streets
which become their common enemy. “To keep the boy off the streets” is
the phrase everywhere repeated, pitiful in its futility. For every
contrivance or device is useless once the boy has responded to their
lure. The “fixed up” parlor with its lavishness of staring rugs and
curtains, its piano, the symbol of many an hour’s toil and ambition,
or its phonograph, is exhibited by the mother with much satisfaction.
Yet it crops out that in spite of these attractions Willie does not
stay at home, and that only for severe punishment is he “kept up.” Or,
where restriction is tried, a boy makes use of every sort of subterfuge
in order to escape. An errand, a visit to a boy’s house, a club, even
church, are the alleged destinations which really serve as a pathway
to the “hang-out” of the gang.

If such competition with the street is futile when the family is
comparatively well-to-do, what chance has the mother with no such
attractions at hand? Her home consists of three or four dark, stuffy
rooms, destitute of carpet, or perhaps with a frayed strip or two,
and a meager allowance of shabby furniture. There is no space for a
separate parlor. The evening meal, the one family event, is eaten in
the kitchen, perhaps in cramped quarters where each one takes his turn
for a chair. The very conditions which her own standards impose, the
fact that she “does not bother with such like in this house,” has “no
time for comp’ny,” or “never set foot in one o’ them silly shows,” cut
her off completely from comprehending the excitement and charm of the
streets to which her children yield so eagerly.

Some of these women have carried for years the burden of a shiftless
husband. With dumb patience they accept their lot--there is always the
fact that “four or five dollars is better than none, an’ it means a lot
to me on the rent.” And when even this help is lacking, it may be “he
did used t’ be a good man t’ me an’ in his day he’s worked hard in the
slaughter house. He sez I’d be pretty mean t’ turn him out after all
these years. He can’t last much longer, an’ it’s hard t’ know what’s
right. Most every night he comes up here done. We have to laugh at him
a good deal an’ so manage t’ get along.” A pretty grim kind of humor,
this. In such cases it is well if the man is no longer there. Sometimes
the wife has mustered all her power of decision and made the effort
to eject a chronic loafer from the home. “I talked and I talked for
years,” said Mrs. McCarthy, “an’ he thought I wouldn’t do nothin’. I
couldn’t put him away, but I got the judge t’ make him keep out of my
home. ‘Don’t you never bother this woman,’ he sez. I had got to hate
him so I couldn’t stand it to look at him when I heard him come down
the hall to the door an’ me standin’ there over me irons and me tub.”

The bitter lesson of endurance so well learned, familiar as second
nature, is repeated again and again with sons who are too lazy to work
and depend upon the mother’s earnings for what they cannot get by
gambling or stealing. Often her force is spent. She is weak, querulous,
discouraged. To expect her to stem the tide of outside forces which are
molding the boy into the nerveless or vicious man his father was before
him is to ask the utterly impossible. Perhaps she will close her eyes,
like Mrs. Gates, whose only son has joined a gang of sneak thieves but
who maintains that “Jimmy is a good boy and never was no trouble to
me.” In her heart she knows there is something amiss, but she turns
a deaf ear to any hint of wrongdoing. Sometimes the mother admits
everything, enlarging and complaining, but at the end sits weakly
back. “What can I do? What th’ b’ys does outside they don’t bes aifter
tellin’ inside, an’ I can’t be keepin’ tracks on thim all th’ toime.”



In the judgment of such mothers a boy’s good nature makes up for
serious dereliction. A fellow who is thoroughly “in wid de push,”
according to her is “just wild like, not bad. He’s thot obliging and
does onything I ask about the house.” Many a slip is forgiven a
stalwart fellow by the woman who is feeding and clothing him if he
brings in her coal, puts up a curtain, and does not “answer back.” So
great in their lives is the dearth of common kindliness. When he takes
to his heels, she confesses to “feelin’ kind o’ lonely without Dan
around,” and nine times out of ten she welcomes him back when his spell
of wandering is over.

Too often, however, this good feeling is absent and active antagonism
and bickering marks the spirit of the place called “home.” The mother
who from “feelin’ it her duty to talk to ’em though they don’t pay no
heed” degenerates into the “nagger,” and so has taken the fatal step
which makes impossible anything like affection or harmony between her
and the boy. The result is always the same: the sullen fellow slouching
before the querulous, upbraiding parent, resentful in every line, ready
to jerk away snarling, or to flash out in a pitched battle of tempers,
leaving behind bitterness, misunderstanding and anger. Sometimes this
shipwreck is accepted with a Spartan quiescence; lifelong experience
forces these women for mere self-preservation into an endurance grown
easier than revolt. Yet the suffering is great, and these mothers,
inadequate and weak as they are, form one of the most pitiful chapters
in the story of juvenile delinquency.

But there is the woman, here as everywhere, who refuses to fold her
hands, who is alert and decisive. She is not likely to be found in
homes where the most stringent pressure of want or overwork is felt.
Yet she is not of necessity the best educated or most refined. She
is always shrewd, with a keen perception of the boy’s side of the
story, but also with a very clear and determined perception of her
own. Very likely she was born and brought up within a few blocks of
her present home. But the experiences of her own childhood form no
parallel to those of this generation. In her day everything to the west
of Tenth Avenue was open playgrounds; truant officers were unknown,
and an arrest was a thing to be spoken of in whispers. Still she has
grown up with the district and has listened to the current gossip. Her
first axiom is that no knowledge of a boy’s doings will come amiss;
her second, that such information cannot be expected from the boy
himself. Even among the best of women a system of spying is carried on,
although the wisest do not make this apparent unless occasion demands,
but quietly “keep an eye on that boy.” It may be a strong motive for
staying in an undesirable block that “If we go, James’ll just be back
here an’ then he’ll be out from under me.” They understand the fallacy
of moving to separate a boy from bad company, unless one can go to a
suburb, from which there are difficulties in the way of transportation
to the West Side. When conversation among the boys can be overheard
they “take occasion to listen.” “I don’t go out very much but I’ve me
ways o’ findin’ out,” says Mrs. Moran, “an’ they know they can’t fool

The amount of credit to give to tale bearing and complaints is a
question to puzzle the shrewdest. It is an important source of
information, yet “you can’t believe everything you hear.” The irate
complainant who fails to get the expected warmth of support from
maternal authority needs to realize that the life of the West Side boy
is one continuous fracas with the landlord, the janitress, the corner
grocery man, the “Ginnie” paper dealer, and the “cop.” Complaints come
to the mother from all sides and are often unfounded. “I had him up
in the house for playin’ hookey, an’ I watched them fellows crookin’
the bolognie off the cart myself, or I might a’ thought it was him.”
Moreover, it is understood that a boy has a right to expect a certain
amount of support from his mother. Her defense is natural, but she
cannot carry it too far or a boy may lose all fear of restraint at
home. One mother told of hearing a youngster boast, “Aw--g’wan--tell
my mother--she don’t care what I do.” “And that hurts,” she said with
emphasis, “fer a boy to give his own mother a name like that.”

Altogether “it’s no easy matter bringin’ up a boy in New York.” Truancy
and cigarettes are issues on which many a judicious woman must confess
defeat. She knows that surface evidence is not to be taken. The
appearance of a boy at the proper hours with his books does not prove
that they have not been “kept” in a candy store while the youngster had
an eye on the time. Smoking is still harder to regulate, and though a
youngster “don’t dare to do it in the house” few women feel sure as to
what happens outside. One confessed to avoiding the issue. “I knew he
was smoking a long time--smelt it--but I never let on. I thought he’d
do it open if I did and do it more.” Amusements which can safely be
sanctioned are hard to find. Pigeon flying almost always is frowned
upon for fear of accidents on the roofs and because “them pigeons are
the ruination of b’ys, keepin’ them out o’ school, an’ into the comp’ny
of them big toughs as has ’em.” Every shade of opinion is expressed in
regard to the “nickel dumps,” as the moving picture shows are called.
Some believe that “them places is the worst thing that ever happened to
New York, settin’ b’ys to gamblin’ and stealin’.” Others set upon them
the seal of approval. “A b’y’s got t’ do somethin’ an’ I don’t see no
harm in a good show that keeps him off the streets.”

It goes without saying that these families have no very large sums of
money to give their children, but the wisdom of allowing a boy some
spending money is recognized. It is, in fact, far more essential than
in most communities, for here almost everything desirable must be paid
for, from carfare to a ball ground to the highly coveted coin for a
nickel show. Money is usually given to school boys in small quantities
and for definite things. “If he gets a quarter a week, he doesn’t get
it all at once.” And the boy must show that it was spent as intended.
With the boy who is working, the amount he contributes to the household
is an important basis of judgment on his character. If he works
regularly and hands over his envelope, he may still have peccadilloes,
but his main duties are accomplished. If, on the other hand, he is
“wise” and “deep,” he will lie as to what he is earning and keep more
than is thought to be his due. Or, all too often, he will scorn work
altogether and his mother will be known to “have had bad luck with
that boy.” The outsider often expresses pity for the child who must
hand over the bulk of his meager earnings. But the moral sentiment of
the neighborhood insists upon this duty, and with good reason, for the
rearing of children is indeed no easy matter here, even when it has not
gone much further than supplying necessities. Often the price paid
in weariness, pain, and ill-health has been sore, and the slight help
that the child can contribute after the long years of waiting is the
father’s or mother’s due.

Nevertheless, when a boy reaches working age, some allowance from his
earnings is his by right, and it is this fact which adds to his desire
to leave school early. During the first year, when the wage ranges from
$3.50 to $5.00 a week, an allowance of 50 cents seems to be general.
Occasionally, 25 cents is considered enough, but this is generally felt
to be “stingy.” At the same time, “it is not for a boy’s good havin’
too much in his hands.” Sometimes he has $1.00 a week and buys his
own clothes. Lunch money and carfares to work are, of course, allowed
extra. Tips are generally accorded to be his own; it is a mark of high
virtue to surrender them. A woman will tell with pride, “He knew I
was hard up and he gave me his tips.” Occasionally a mother dislikes
to have her son working in a place where he is tipped, because it
is then impossible to know how much money is rightfully his. He can
account very easily for the possession of a surplus. The amount a boy
is spending is always a matter on which a canny mother “has her eye.”
Any doubt brings the sharp question, “Now, where did you get the money
for that?” If he is unduly “flush” he is on the borderline of danger,
and her suspicions are keen. She knows that the temptation to petty
theft is constant. As his wages rise his spending money increases,
and if he still lives at home at the age of eighteen or nineteen he
usually ceases to hand over his earnings but pays for his board. With
this increased independence comes a general feeling that the time of
subservience is passing and that “you can’t say much to a boy of that

On the whole, this type of mother is lenient and broadminded, realizing
that “you can’t keep a boy tied to your apron strings,” and too
sensible to set up any impossible standards. But the wisest of them
know--and rare and valuable, indeed, is such wisdom--that once a boy
has passed the boundary line, punishment must be meted out in no
faltering or indecisive way. “He don’t dare do that, he knows he won’t
be let,” spoken with a certain emphasis, carries weight, and lucky is
the boy who with consistency and firmness “is not let.” But on the West
Side such discipline is not common.

Many of the mothers reflect the average opinions of the neighborhood.
They are rough-and-ready Irish women who give themselves no airs and
“don’t pretend to be better than the people they was raised with”;
women with a coarse and hearty good nature, easy-going standards, and,
if occasion demands, a good assertive tongue. As a rule, the burden
of discipline sits easily on their shoulders. “Oi juist drrive thim
out--th’ whole raft o’ thim,” says Mrs. Haggerty, blessed with eight
children and four rooms. “Oi can’t be bothered with th’ noise o’ thim,
Oi’m that nearvous.” These women are not necessarily “a bad lot” as the
district goes, but neither are they over-particular. If a boy has no
complaints from school, or has held his job and managed to keep out of
the hands of the “cop” for the last few months, “he’s a good b’ye,” and
any “wildness” in his past can be excused and forgotten. On the other
hand, if he has happened to give “trrouble,” the chance visitor is
likely to hear the tale from A to Z and, if the youngster has had the
bad luck to be present, with a good, round scolding for him thrown in.

There is little delicacy or finesse about this discipline; it is of
the hammer and tongs variety. In the vast majority of these homes,
even those of higher type, the emotions rule at one moment with cuff
and shout, at the next with a caress or a laugh. No consistency is
maintained, and the clever youngster soon learns by the signs when to
duck and when to “clear out,” just as a little later he learns the
earmarks of the “dinny” and knows when to “cheese it.” There is a
constant piling up of threats which mean nothing. When Joseph boasts of
his gang and their glories, “What, are youse fightin’ with that crew?”
Mrs. Dooley raps out. “You just better not let me catch you or you’ll
get all that’s comin’ to youse.” But she can back him up as hotly and
unreasonably as she berates him, and the ill-starred policeman who
comes beneath the onslaught of her tongue and within the range of her
invective will find discretion the better part of valor and do well to
hold his peace.

But most tragic and helpless of all is the mother who has gone down
before the vicissitudes of her life. She belongs to the scum of our
cities, accorded no respect and scant pity, only the scorn of her more
“decent” neighbor of the tenements. She may still be holding her family
together, but is almost always weak and enervated. Their unkempt and
wretched quarters, their nomadic wanderings from house to house and
block to block, reflect her own failure. The father may be the “better
of the two,” but without her aid he is almost always incapable of
keeping their heads far above water. Often he is another of her kind,
and both have become the victims of their own habits. Suspicion and
surliness may well be expected from such a family, for they have often
much to fear.

Yet it may be that even such a woman as Mrs. Catesby, in her three
barren rooms at the top of a rear tenement shack on one of the far
river blocks, will receive you without questioning your right to enter
and to share her confidence. Perhaps it is a latent desire for human
intercourse, perhaps merely the spirit of simple courtesy, so universal
among the women of the tenements. She is a slatternly little figure,
dressed in a shabby black waist that scarcely covers her, with a tangle
of frizzled red hair slipping over her face and held in tether by an
odd hairpin or two. Her cheeks are pink, though the skin is loose and
flabby, and her eyes are watery but clear and blue. An empty whiskey
bottle on the table is a needless index to the chief interest of her
sordid life. But although she may not share your opinions, which in
her life have proved mere extra weight and have gone overboard as
valueless, she is nevertheless very well aware of them. It is harsh to
term her effort to play up to your standards deception; perhaps it is
a genuine remnant of more decent aspirations. “If company comes it’s
then I’m bound not to be clean. Now, don’t you look at the dirt in this
house.” The dirt is of long standing, but conventions are appeased.

The picture of her life, her husband, and her children, which the woman
paints for you, is colored for your benefit, and is not to be taken
at its face value. There are plenty of evasions and falsehoods. Yet
the poor shams which she raises to shield herself from your criticism
are pitifully weak defenses through which may easily be caught many
an illuminating glimpse of the dingy realities behind. Nor is her
confidence difficult to gain, once your claim to friendliness is
established. “Yes, once I was down to that children’s court. I was
that frightened they’d take the children off. They was only ten an’
eight when they come in one day, Jenny an’ Paul, with a man I’d never
seed before. ‘Good day,’ says he, ‘you’re Mrs. Catesby?’ ‘I am,’ says
I, ‘but I’ve never had the pleasure.’ ‘No,’ says he, ‘I’m from the
Gerries, and I’ve come for the children. They’ll have to come along
with me.’ I was that upset I a’most fainted an’ I was all shaky like.
Well, I went out to call papa,--he had work that day,--an’ when we come
back, he’d took them clear off just like they was. He’d even left their
little caps, an’ there they was, layin’ on the table. There’d been a
complaint, I found out, yes, a complaint about how papa was drinkin’
too much, but we got ’em back all right. Wouldn’t it been awful if
they’d been took!”

Sometimes the family is broken up, the children are carried away, and
the parents left to drink out the rest of their lives as they will. To
remove the children may seem high-handed and brutal, but the reverse
picture--the family left to vent its weakness and its vice on the
plastic children in its care--is surely a worse alternative. Some of
these women are known as “harborers.” They send the youngsters out to
beg, and wink at their pilfering if they do no worse. School in their
eyes, as in the boys’, is an unnecessary regulation and enforced by an
arbitrary society. Evasion of law is part of their code, quite as much
as is the “working” of any organization or church, which is legitimate
prey if there is something to be gained. Beyond the calls upon their
children to gather coal and wood and to mind babies there are few
restrictions. “Lord, I can’t be aifter botherin’ me heads over thim,
lady, they do be off somewheres an’ ye can thrust thim younguns to take
care o’ thimselves.” And take care of themselves they do, and quite
effectually, until they have the bad luck to run foul of the police.
Even then it is probably no very serious matter till Tommy gets to be
an old offender. His mother at least is not worried about the condition
of his morals, and can be counted on to give the most glowing character
to “the Gerry man.” What need to fear the streets for him? Surely they
can furnish him few sights more sordid and more impressive to his
childish imagination and prematurely sharpened mind than those with
which he has grown intimate within the walls of his “home.”

Truly they have a hard life, these West Side tenement mothers, and
though many fail and many despair, from first to last the majority make
a brave fight of it. When one is born to the lowest rung of the ladder
and lives among people who seldom aspire beyond, existence becomes a
difficult matter. How can the boy’s home be attractive when there is
scarcely room to turn round in it, the family is large, and when year
in and year out his mother is merely a drudge? How can his mother,
under such conditions, hope to make the home rival the ever-changing
lure of the streets? What time and mental energy can she give to her
children separately, when she is struggling from morning till night
to clothe and feed them? Is the child, produced as he is, so much her
fault? Is he not much more a product of a situation for which her
responsibility is small?


[Illustration: A RICH FIND]

Home conditions, the tension of constant quarreling, broken sleep,
fear, hatred, and excitement, combine to break down the nervous
constitution of the child before it gets a fair start. Little is known
or cared about infant nutrition; there is no time to bother over such
things. In many families not even once a day is there a regular meal
or meal time. Father and children eat the same food, and the boy is
accustomed to the stimulus of tea and coffee from childhood. Sugar
comes from the grocery fairly clogged with flour. The coffee contains
barley and other cheap ingredients. Cheap jellies and condiments poison
him with their acids and coloring materials. The owners of delicatessen
stores say in defense that it is not worth while to keep the higher
grade brands for the neighborhood will not pay the few necessary cents
extra to secure them. A storekeeper recently advertised a keg of cider
for sale at one cent a glass. When asked for his reason, he said that
the cider was so spoiled that nobody but the children would buy it.
While he was making this explanation two small boys came in; one gave
his penny to the storekeeper and received a glass of cider which he
shared with his mate. Often the home food is not sufficient, and it is
not at all uncommon for a boy to pick up at least one meal a day in
the streets, leaving the house at noon and not returning till late at
night. Crushed fruit and stale cakes and rolls are sold to children at
half price, and the stalls provide candy which, like the staple foods
of this neighborhood, is usually adulterated. But the boys care for
quantity rather than quality. The mixture of glue, glucose, aniline
dyes, and coarse flour which they eat would upset the digestion of
children far better nourished than they, and most adults find it
impossible to drink the soda water flavored with cheap compounds which
is sold on the streets. It is scarcely to be wondered at that boyhood
on the Middle West Side is physically and morally subnormal; and it can
scarcely be contended that West Side motherhood is greatly to blame for

If there is cause for wonder at the results of the home life of these
tenements, it is wonder that parents do not give up more often. For
here indeed it does seem that “the struggle naught availeth.” Perhaps
they do not know how to give up. Their ethical sense, even their sense
of life itself, is dulled or deadened by the hopelessness and squalor
around them. The father’s struggle to meet the rent, provide food and
occasional clothes for the family, and still leave enough for the hour
or two at the saloon, which is often his only recreation; the mother’s
pitiful, incessant effort to keep her dingy tenement habitable and her
family together; to make one penny buy the groceries of two; and withal
to keep up to some slight extent a decent appearance,--these things
have left scant time or energy for attention to the moral needs of the
children. So long accustomed to the dangers of the streets, to the open
flaunting of vice, drunkenness, and gambling on all sides, they do not
take into account the impressions which these conditions are making
upon young minds, now and with ever-growing inquisitiveness seeking
information and experimenting on all manner of things which come within
their ken. Their very poverty itself aids in dimming the moral sense.
Mothers frankly say they have no room for their children in the house,
and it is nearly always true. They are between the devil and the deep
sea. Physical and moral conditions in the home are bad for the boy;
the street gives him more light and air but is more dangerously
immoral. In the face of so many apparently insoluble difficulties is it
surprising that the parents’ attitude is bewildered and discouraged?

From the midst of this squalid and disjointed home life one fact
emerges--that the recreation of the West Side boy lies beyond the
power of the family. To look to such homes as those of this district
to counteract the tremendous forces that play upon him outside is as
unreasonable as it is useless. Wretched as it is, the tenement home
has an influence, usually vaguely restrictive, and in a few cases wise
enough and strong enough to help a boy who is “steadying down” and
“getting sensible”; but this influence can rarely bear the strain of
competition with the pull of the street and the gang. And so it happens
that one type of mother--most pitiful because so near to efficient
motherhood and yet so far from it--is perhaps the saddest of them all;
the type that is fully alive to her son’s dangers, but realizes that it
is impossible for her to cope with them.

Let us repeat, it is the inadequacy of the tenement home that is the
greatest curse of these blocks. Its lack of space for storage helps to
force uneconomical marketing; its lack of size and equipment drives
the boy to the street. The mother is compelled to become her own boy’s
worst enemy. She would gladly keep him off the streets, but the very
conditions of her drudgery force him to them, and cut her off from the
sympathy which she knows she cannot show him. Of course, the picture
is not totally unrelieved. East of the tenements are the brownstone
houses, and both here and in other parts of the district there are
families which form exceptions of kindliness and comparative success
in dealing with the problem of living. But by far the most of our boys
would recognize their own homes and mothers in these pages. Dirt,
frowsiness, dissoluteness, darkness, and rags--these are too often
known to him from infancy. In the far West Side, home seems to be the
one place which the children desire to keep away from.



    [This investigation was made in 1909-10. Since that time great
    progress has been made in the children’s court of Manhattan. The
    failure of the kind of treatment described in Sections II and III
    of this chapter has been recognized by the court and a great step
    forward has been taken in the reorganization of its probation work.
    A number of improvements give evidence of a genuine and growing
    desire to make the work of the court more thorough and humane.
    These and other modifications will be noted in detail by footnotes
    in the following pages.

    The description of court procedure here given is therefore to be
    read with the fact always in mind that the conditions described are
    those of several years ago. The account has been included because
    the material relating to the court, while partly out of date, is
    inextricably interwoven with the material describing neighborhood
    conditions which are practically unchanged. The improvements in
    the children’s court have not yet had time to seriously affect the

    A further reason for including some statements regarding partly
    outgrown court conditions here is that they are not wholly
    outgrown in other cities. There are still children’s courts in
    other places which have no special children’s judge, where parole
    is used instead of probation, and where the records are entirely

The foregoing chapters have reviewed the situation back of the boy’s
delinquency and have shown that his difficulties are deeply rooted
in the whole neighborhood life of the Middle West Side. It cannot be
denied that the courts are a necessary instrument in the handling of
such lawlessness as we have found to be characteristic of our tenement
neighborhood. But it must also be admitted that the unsupplemented
efforts of a court of law, however humane its methods, cannot be the
ultimate answer to our question of what to do with the West Side boy.

From the point of view of the neighborhood the children’s court takes
its place among the various forces which influence him as wholly
foreign. In the first place, the point of view of the tribunal is
strange to his little savage mind. The judge is a sort of Setebos whom
the little Caliban, sprawling in his West Side mire, both fears and
scorns. In the second place, the court building itself is far from the
district and beyond the range of his familiar haunts. After the boy is
arrested, he is taken to the children’s court by way of the detention
rooms of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In his
own estimation he has made a notable journey by the time he reaches
the court. His parents, too, view the trip to court as a considerable
journey, which involves putting on their best clothes and the spending
of carfare. It may also mean the loss of a day’s work and the possible
loss of a job.

In order to make clear the experience of the boy in the court, at this
point we must give a brief description of the growth, equipment, and
processes of the Manhattan Children’s Court and its allied agencies.
Later we shall examine some of the tangible results of this treatment
in individual cases from the West Side neighborhood.

As a first essential to an understanding of the causes of arrest and
the methods of the court, we must know the legal definition of juvenile
delinquency. Chapter 478 of the Laws of 1909 provided that “a child
of more than seven and less than sixteen years of age, who shall
commit any act or omission which, if committed by an adult, would be
a crime not punishable by death or life imprisonment, shall not be
deemed guilty of any crime, but of juvenile delinquency only.”[23]
The offenses, however, are still registered in the court according to
the law violated. The clauses under which charges are most frequently
made are given below. The number of the paragraph in the Penal Law
containing the full text of the law is given in each case.

Sec. 486 Penal Law

    a. Improper guardianship (peculiar in that the child was arraigned
    for the offense of his guardians).

    b. Disorderly or ungovernable child (on complaint of parents or

Sec. 720 Penal Law

    “Any person who shall by an offensive or disorderly act or
    language, annoy or interfere with any person in any place or with
    the passengers of any public stage, railroad car, ferry boat, or
    other public conveyance, ... shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Sec. 43 Penal Law

    A person who commits “any act which seriously injures the person or
    property of another, or which seriously disturbs or endangers the
    public peace or health, or which openly outrages public decency,
    for which no other punishment is expressly prescribed by this
    chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Sec. 1310 Penal Law

    a. Petty Larceny.

    b. Grand Larceny.

Sec. 405 Penal Law

    Burglary and Unlawful Entry.

Sec. 242 Penal Law


Sec. 1610 Penal Law

    Peddling without License.

Sec. 1990 Penal Law

    “Riding on freight trains; boarding cars in motion; obstructing
    passage of car.”

Sec. 2120


Besides the violations of the penal law, violations of the compulsory
education law and of the child labor law are frequently the ground of

The list of offenses with which our special group of 294 boys was
charged agrees in the main with those given above. The list of court
charges[24] according to the number of arrests for each is given
herewith for the whole group of 463 arrests.


  Violation of compulsory education law       29
  Improper guardianship                       60
    (According to Penal Law, Sec. 486.)
  Ungovernable child                          12
  Disorderly child                             4
  Violation of child labor law                10
  In danger of being morally depraved          1
  Disorderly conduct                         186
    (According to Penal Law, Sec. 720.)
  Injury or destruction to property           15
  Injuring railroad and appurtenances          1
  Petty larceny                               43
    (According to Penal Law, Sec. 1298.)
  Grand larceny                               12
    (According to Penal Law, Sec. 1296.)
  Robbery                                      5
    (According to Penal Law, Sec. 2124)
  Burglary                                    38
    (According to Penal Law, Sec. 404.)
  Riding on freight train                      3
    (According to Penal Law, Sec. 1990.)
  Assault                                     15
    (According to Penal Law, Sec. 242-246.)
  Unknown                                     31
  Deducting duplicates[25]                      2
          Total                              463



As early as 1892, a law was passed permitting the separate trial of
children in New York City, but it was not until September, 1902, that
a separate court was established in Manhattan in a building of its own
at the corner of Third Avenue and Eleventh Street.[26] The children’s
court, including all those sitting in the various boroughs of Greater
New York, is called the Children’s Part of the Court of Special
Sessions. The court sits daily until the calendar is cleared.[27] The
cases before the court had to be rushed through with great speed. In
1909, over 11,000 cases were handled by the Manhattan court. This
allowed the judge an average of five minutes for a trial, including the
most serious and perplexing.[28]

The court building, which was once the headquarters of the Department
of Corrections, has long been congested, inconvenient, dingy, and
unsanitary.[29] The room where the hearing is given is always crowded
and noisy.

An account of the court’s equipment is incomplete without a word in
regard to the detention quarters set aside in its own building by
the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The detention
home, with dormitories and dining rooms, is given rent free. The
total expense of caring for the children temporarily in the care of
the society in 1909 amounted to something over $20,000.[30] The total
amount spent by the city for court service in handling over 11,000
cases in 1909 was $56,012.15. This averages $5.00 less per capita than
any other large city in the country.

The development of a probation system for juvenile delinquents was
of very slow growth in New York City. The first probation law in
New York state was passed in 1901, but children under sixteen were
excluded through the efforts of the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children.[31] In 1903, a compromise was made which permitted
the appointment of an official probation staff. Until the series of
adjustments and improvements recommended by the reports of the Page
Commission[32] in April, 1910, was begun, the agents of the Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the volunteer probation
societies did the only work approaching probation in nature.[33] The
court process, however, was not probation, but parole, though until
recently the words were used as synonymous in the court. “At the end
of the period of parole, sentence is suspended if the child has done
well,” wrote Mr. Homer Folks. “The term ‘parole’ as used in this court
signifies practically an adjournment of the case. The oversight of the
children on parole is not clearly separated from the work of the agents
of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.”[34]

Very early in the history of the court private efforts were made to
help the many children who, it was felt, were not receiving adequate
attention. The impulse to reform and save the child, being largely
moral, naturally originated in the churches. The result was a division
of volunteer probation along church lines which left its impress on the
later developments of probation work.

In Manhattan the first to enter the field were the Catholics. The
Catholic Probation League, incorporated February 3, 1907, under the
auspices of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, was the appropriate
sponsor for the movement. The pioneer work had already been done,
however, by a small group of women known as the Catholic Ladies’
Committee. After the formation of the Probation League, its parole
committee co-operated with the ladies’ committee by taking over the
cases of the older boys. The committee took all the girls’ cases and
gave them especial attention. The members themselves did the visiting,
and at one time maintained a paid worker. Some of them favored the
establishment of an official probation staff. They thought that the
willingness of volunteer agencies to shoulder the entire burden was
delaying this important move.

The Jewish Protectory and Aid Society had for several years engaged in
parole and probation work to a certain extent. The society maintained
a paid worker who represented its legal authority as guardian of all
Jewish juvenile delinquents in the city and who was made a special
officer by the police commissioner. Until the recent establishment of
the Jewish Big Brother movement he bore the brunt of all the visiting
of Jewish cases, and handled as best he could all the cases passing
through the court or paroled from the Hawthorne School.

Before the founding of the Big Brother movement, there was no organized
effort in behalf of the children of Protestant parents who passed
through the court and were not committed to an institution. Ernest K.
Coulter, clerk of the court, seeing the need of work similar to that
of the other two great religious groups, induced a club of men in the
Central Presbyterian Church to promise that each one would act as “Big
Brother” to one court boy. The preliminary work was carried on by the
club for a couple of years, and the movement aroused considerable
interest. Other church clubs also took up the work. In March, 1907,
the movement was reorganized, so as to be independent of the churches.
For a time the branches of the Young Men’s Christian Association acted
as “centers” while neighboring church clubs acted as “locals.” Later
the alliance with the Association was severed, the work becoming
independent of sponsorship.

The Jewish Big Brother movement, modeled in many respects upon the
Big Brother movement of the Protestants, was formally organized in
February, 1909. At first, this society took only the boys on parole
from the Hawthorne School, but later the work was extended to include
parole cases from the House of Refuge.

All these religious agencies,[35] in contrast to the Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Children, have not been in any way connected
officially with the court.[36]


Let us follow a boy, accused of violation of the law, through all the
possible vicissitudes of a court experience in Manhattan previous
to September, 1910. The task may prove tedious but not nearly so
meaningless or bewildering for the reader as for the thousands of
families who had to go through it every year.

Once arrested, he was led to the nearest police station, followed by
a throng of curious onlookers. At the station house children were
occasionally discharged, but ordinarily their names were entered on
the police docket and the parents were informed. If no one was found
at home, a message was left with a near neighbor. Some one must vouch
for the boy’s appearance in court the next day before he could be
liberated. If the boy was arrested in the evening, he might be taken
directly to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children for
detention and the parent notified to appear there for the child before
midnight or at court the following morning.

The law provides that in cases of delinquency which do not involve
a felony the police sergeant may accept the word of the parent or
guardian as sufficient surety for presence at trial, without bail.
However, the decision is left to the discretion of the officer,
and bail was sometimes required for trivial offenses.[37] There is
opportunity here for the local political “boss” to foster the belief
that he is able to help a friendless family, and later to send his
henchman to enlist the vote at the next election. There was no evidence
that the local “boss” had any influence in the children’s court; it is
significant, however, that the people thought he had.

In one case the great political “boss” of the district personally
accompanied the mother to the court. This was when Mrs. Hannon,
apparently believing that it was the thing to do, had “got up her
‘noive’” and appealed to him at once, without waiting for her husband
to tell her. Furthermore, Mrs. Hannon triumphantly pointed out, the
boy who had been brought in simultaneously with her son, was fined
$3.00 “because his father was not ‘in’ with the Senator” at that time.
In two other cases it was the aged mother of the “boss” who seemed to
have the deciding voice as to his actions! There were other parents,
one a saloon keeper, who boasted that they could have secured aid if
they had happened to need it. One old woman resident said she had
“enough friends to get the boy off the gallus if nade be!” These
stories illustrate the Celtic feudal relation which existed between the
political sponsor of the district and its inhabitants.[38]

Bail was seldom demanded at the headquarters of the Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Children. When the boy was once inside this
building, the general public could learn little of what went on except
through the annual reports of the society, a formal visit, or reports
from the families themselves. To many families the functions of the
court and “the Gerry,” as the society is called after its founder,
were indistinguishable amidst the irritating confusion of their court
experience. If any distinction was made, there was a dread of “the
Gerry man” (sometimes used as a “bogey”) which was not felt regarding
the court.

By 10 o’clock of the first court day following the arrest, the boy was
deposited by the society’s agents in the waiting room on the second
floor of the court building, or brought by his parents to the court
room. After a tedious wait his name was shouted through the corridor
back of the court, and relayed to the waiting room. He was then taken
into the noisy court room, where he stood one step below the witness
stand while the officer or complainants were sworn in and corroborated
the data on the judge’s or their own memoranda. The judge had only a
brief record of the arrest and charge at this time, with an occasional
verbal report from an officer of the society or a volunteer.[39] No
investigation of the case, individual or social, was made before the
trial. Our records contain cases which, had they been investigated,
would have shown feeble-mindedness, adenoids, bad eyes, frail
constitution, self-abuse, or terrible home conditions. On the other
hand, there were cases where the character and family surroundings
of the child should have shown a severe sentence to be unnecessary.
Sometimes faulty records failed to show a previous arrest and the boy’s
word was taken that he had never been in court before.

Following the accusation the boy was allowed to speak for himself,
pleading guilty or not guilty. He stood on the top step, the center of
a small group, about three feet from the judge. The distracting noise
of the court room had at least one advantage; it prevented the audience
from hearing what was said. After the boy had spoken, the mother or
guardian might be admitted inside the rail to speak to the judge. In
some cases, this privilege was refused. This constituted the distinct
grievance of a group of parents who were not all of low type by any
means. On the other hand, in two of our worst cases the judge, ignorant
of conditions, proved susceptible to a shrewd appeal by the mother.
It is hard to see, however, how the court could avoid such mistakes
without an adequate investigating staff.

Occasionally the parents had engaged a lawyer, who was semi-officially
recognized by the court and who collected what fees he could from
the defendants. Sometimes the engagement was due to the initiative
of the lawyer. In fully 80 per cent of the cases there was no lawyer
formally pleading, and even when one was engaged he was in most cases
unnecessary. The delay, and the cost to defendants, would have been
much reduced if he had not been present. Since, however, every case
registered as pleading “not guilty” was supposed to have had the
opportunity of counsel, a lawyer’s name was formally entered in the
record after every such case.

Before disposing of a case the judge might remand the boy to the care
of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children while an
investigation was made, if he were not sure of the proper treatment
to be given. Only flagrantly bad conditions show up, however, under
superficial investigation. A case was occasionally “remanded for
investigation” in order to give the boy and the family a lesson; a
remand of this sort being in reality a mild punishment. Since the
reformatories have refused short commitments, this has frequently been
the substitute.

Unless the boy was an old case, it was only after the court had acted
and he had stepped down from the stand that the volunteer probation
agencies took a hand. By this time the boy and his parents were pretty
well bewildered, and in the excitement it was often impossible to make
clear to them what was meant by the questions asked or the suggestions
offered by these volunteers. The entire court experience meant for the
more sensitive among both parents and children a nervous shock, or,
at least, an extremely trying ordeal which was frequently out of all
proportion to the triviality of the offense in question. Where the
type of family which passed through the ordeal with indifference was
concerned, it was correspondingly ineffective.

       *       *       *       *       *

The kinds of disposition which the judge might make of any given case
are as follows:

(1) Dismissal for insufficient evidence. Evidence applies, as in
criminal courts, only to the specific act; and if it be lacking, the
court is powerless to act as guardian of the child as it could do if
it had equity powers. However, in especially flagrant cases a child
dismissed under one charge may be returned for improper guardianship.

(2) Acquittal, if the boy pleads not guilty, and there is some evidence
that he was not involved in the escapade. This is sometimes technical
and takes no account of serious delinquency which may lie back of the

(3) Suspended sentence, after conviction, with a warning of reprimand,
but no supervision or visiting.

(4) A fine, usually one or two dollars, though it may be as low as 50
cents or as high as five dollars. This is used ordinarily as a lesson
to the parents, since the burden of the fine falls upon them.

(5) “Committed for one day to the parental care of John Ward.” This is
for the purpose of having an officer give the boy a “licking” upstairs
in the court, when a parent refuses to do so. Occasionally sentence is
suspended, or fine remitted, on condition that the parent do this, in
case the boy or his parents have not learned to say, when the judge
asks the question that he has already been licked. This method is said
by some of the judges to be very effective in preventing recidivation.
Its reforming effect is not quite so certain.

(6) Parole in the custody of the parents, to be visited by the agents
of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. A boy’s
parole is often continued month by month. At its expiration the boy
may be discharged from parole, committed to an institution, or given a
suspended sentence. In the case of school children, especially truants,
the principal acts as a parole officer and signs the parole card daily,
vouching for the boy’s attendance and conduct. In case of serious
offense during this period, parole may be revoked, and disposition made
on both offenses, one sentence being held in reserve for its deterrent
effect. If a child and his parents fail to appear on the prescribed
date, a bench warrant is issued and the child is arrested and brought
in. The same thing is sometimes done in improper guardianship cases,
if the agent’s investigation has revealed conditions unimproved.

(7) Commitment to an institution, if possible to one of the same
religious faith as the child. Neglected children are sent to charitable
institutions; delinquents, usually older boys, after several offenses,
violation of parole, or serious incorrigibility, to one of the
reformatories. The House of Refuge is in many respects a prison for
minors. Boys are committed to it who cannot be cared for by the New
York Juvenile Asylum, Catholic Protectory, or Hawthorne School.
Truants, if committed from this court, are sent to one of the truant

This résumé of dispositions forms a basis for a natural division of our
case material. We have studied the effects of the court experience upon
different groups of children according to the sentence received. To a
large extent the home visiting was apportioned among our investigators
along the same lines. The disposition indicates the judgment of the
court as to the seriousness of the offense, and it is the effect of
this judgment which is to be tested.

As has been stated in the introduction, a statistical study of the
delinquency of boys was made in 241 West Side families. Four hundred
and sixty-three arrests of boys occurred among these families during
the period covered by our investigation. Data are available concerning
the offenses committed and the action taken in court for 454 of these
463 cases. As some boys were arrested more than once, and as some
families had two or more boys who were arrested, the 454 arrests
affected but 259 boys and 221 families.[40]

There were, in the families investigated, a number of boys who were
not themselves arrested, but who were, nevertheless, properly included
in our study of delinquency. Their gang relations or other connections
with the boys who were arrested made their cases significant. As
these boys and the boys concerning whose arrests complete statistical
information is lacking numbered, together, 35, the total number of boys
dealt with is 294.

Not all the boys were really delinquent. Some were brought into
court because of improper guardianship, an offense on the part of
the parents rather than on that of the children; and others who were
not incorrigible came to the notice of the investigators. The word
“delinquent” seems properly to apply to 249 of the 294 boys.

We shall divide the 454 arrests studied into three main groups: (1)
The group of 260 cases in which the court did nothing after the child
left its doors; namely, those acquitted, discharged, released under
suspended sentence, whipped, or fined; (2) the group of 95 paroled
cases; (3) the group of 99 cases committed to institutions. Each of
these groups will be considered separately in the following sections.


The majority of the children who daily passed through the court were
dismissed either on the day of the trial or, at the latest, after
the rehearing a day or two later.[41] We have recorded 260 of these
cases, considered trivial by the court and closed officially as soon
as the offender passed out of the door on Eleventh Street. As some
children were arrested more than once on these petty charges, the 260
arrests affected 197 individuals and 176 families. In the words of the
district, these 197 boys were simply “let go.”

The district phrase does not discriminate between the several verdicts
under which this might happen. If evidence was wanting to prove the
child guilty of the special act of which he was accused, he was
“discharged.” If, on the other hand, he was convicted, he might still
be allowed to go free with a “suspended sentence,” under which he might
be retried at any time during the ensuing year. However, a retrial
practically never occurred unless the boy was rearrested under a new
charge. This fundamental distinction, then, between innocence and guilt
becomes a mere technical difference and must be gleaned by the stickler
for verbal accuracy from the court records and the rulings of the law.
It is not to be discovered in the minds of either parents or children.
Both verdicts came to the same thing in the end. “Aw, he got out a’
right the next day. They couldn’t do nothin’ to him for a little thing
like that.”

Sometimes the boy was let go but a fine was imposed. This was a fact
never to be forgotten by his parents. Several years after the event,
the mother would recall ruefully: “He cost me two dollars for that
fine, he did--an’ him only standin’ and lookin’ on.” When the fine was
not forthcoming, the youngster might be held for the day in the court
building and then dismissed. Sometimes the record reads “Committed for
a day,” which means that the culprit had received a trouncing from an
official of the court. But there was very little difference after
the lapse of a few months in the effect of these verdicts, whether of
discharge or suspended sentence, because none projected themselves very
far into the later experience of the boy. There was some additional
hectoring at home and the full recital of events to the gang. Then,
with a few exceptions, the experience became past history.

Owing to the thousands of petty cases which flood the court the
individual case was cursorily handled during the hearing as well
as afterward. There was seldom any effort to probe deeper into the
affair than appeared from the version given by the little group
before the bench, consisting of the officer who made the arrest, the
complainant, if there was one, perhaps a friend or witness who was
interested and chose to be present, and the boy’s parents. Sometimes
the mother did not even reach the bench, so great was the speed with
which such cases were reeled off. Very seldom was there any time for
patient questioning, without which the truth cannot be obtained from a
reluctant and fearful child or from a parent already on the defensive.
The disposition of the case, according to the routine procedure, must
be based on an inadequate knowledge of the circumstances. On a minor
charge the judge would seldom utilize his right to adjourn a hearing,
and even this so-called “Remand for Investigation” might be used merely
as a light punishment, since the child was kept for several days in
the detention rooms of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children. It did not necessarily mean that any further inquiry was made.

In so rough a hopper as our system of arrests, boys of all sorts are
run in on petty complaints. Of course, many of the tales of needless
and mistaken arrests must be taken with a large grain of salt, as
the mother is often quite ready to accept the boy’s version. But the
evidence of disinterested residents and social workers in the district
indicated the casual nature of many of the arrests. An arrest was
simply bad luck, like the measles. “I ain’t been in court yet!” said
Joey Burns. “I’ve only been in court twice,” said Patrick Coogan.

Nor is the argument entirely against the “cop.” The chances are that,
if the boy wasn’t throwing craps then, he had done it often enough
before, and the policeman, as the mother bitingly comments, “has got
his job to hold down.” In case of a bonfire or a fight, it is humanly
impossible to select from a horde of running boys the exact one who
threw the can or lit the match. An onlooker is pretty sure to be hauled
in and an angry woman to be down around the officer’s ears with, “It’s
a foine sight of a strappin’ strong man ye are t’ be takin’ up a poor
innicint b’y an’ lettin’ thieves and sluggers get away on yez.”

Yet there are important differences among these boys arrested on a
seemingly trivial class of charges, such as “Loitering in the hallway
of a house in West Forty-ninth Street,” “Making a noise,” “Shouting
and creating a disturbance to the annoyance of the occupants of said
house.” The offender may be a weakling, frail, ill-nourished, and
backward. For this type of boy, sensitive and timid as he already is
by nature, the court experience simply serves to increase his defect.
Or, at the other extreme, he may be the leader on his block, and the
prime spirit of all its “deviltry.” Hardened by a long career of
semi-vagabondage in the streets, this boy is likely to be utterly
scornful of the courts and their discipline. But most of the boys
brought in on minor charges belong somewhere between these two
extremes. Many of them are merely “wild,” like scores of other fellows
on their streets, and would have a fair prospect of turning out well
under proper supervision.

[Illustration: “WE AIN’T DOIN’ NOTHIN’”]

[Illustration: THE SAME GANG AT CRAPS]

It is safe to say that “delinquent” was a misnomer for at least
one-fifth of the 197 boys so easily dismissed from court. On a
conservative estimate, 39 of these boys could not be charged with real
misdemeanor, still less with crime. The sum of their iniquity was the
violation of a city ordinance; they had “obstructed a sidewalk of a
public street while engaged in playing” some game ranging from football
to craps.

One boy, for instance, was arrested for pitching pennies. His parents
were sending him to high school and had managed to give each of his
older brothers two years in a business college--facts which betoken
in our district unusual family energy and ambition. The boy himself
was the leading spirit of an especially vigorous settlement club.
His mother was firm in her protest that “parents ought to be given a
chance to punish for such little things themselves.” Even the graver
offense of stone throwing, when traced to its origin, does not always
proceed from criminal instincts. The course of public opinion on his
block draws any spirited boy, sooner or later, into some of the closely
contested fights which occur periodically in lieu of a better form of

These charges are less a reflection of the boy’s waywardness than of
the community’s disregard for his needs and rights. Apart from the
misdemeanors which brought them into court, these 39 boys were well
up to the best standard of behavior in the neighborhood. In only one
case was there any serious truancy and the boys of working age all had
steady jobs. The explanation of their better behavior was to be found,
for the most part, in the better circumstances of their families; for
most of them lived in fair homes in the more prosperous blocks of the

A few of this group, however, belonged to the most heavily handicapped
families of our acquaintance. One boy, in particular, stands out for
a degree of courage and energy remarkable for his years. His name
was Sam Sharkey. His family lived on a river block from which it was
assumed that no good could ever come. “If the rent’s paid, there ain’t
nothing more looked for from that lot,” was the neighborhood opinion
of this particular row. On the ground floor of one of these squalid
houses Sam and his mother kept up a home for the younger brothers and
sisters. Mrs. Sharkey scrubbed the floors of the dental college and the
boy drove a delivery wagon. Sam was his mother’s steadfast right hand,
sharing every responsibility with her. During one period of four weeks,
for instance, while Mrs. Sharkey lay in the hospital with peritonitis,
fifteen-year-old Sam kept up the home without her. “All the time I was
out of my head,” said Mrs. Sharkey, speaking of her hospital experience
later, “I was talking about Sam and calling on him to do things. The
nurse, she says to me when I was myself again, ‘Who is this Sam that
you’ve been talking about all this time?’ says she. ‘That’s my boy,’
says I. And I was for getting up and coming right home to help him,
only they wouldn’t let me.” This was the same boy who had been arrested
not long before his mother’s illness, for playing craps. In his case
there was great need of outside help and interference of the right
sort; but thanks to the marvelous stamina of young life still to be
found occasionally even in the depths of squalor, there was certainly
no problem of delinquency.

The largest group among the 197 boys discharged from court, which
numbered 96, were of the type which the neighborhood characterizes as
“wild.” This means boys who are troublesome in school and are probably
truants. They are common nuisances, marauding on streets and roofs,
damaging property, lying, and pilfering. Boys of this sort may be
counted by the hundreds through these blocks. There was nothing to
indicate that the 96 representatives who had been in court were very
different from their neighbors, except by their ill luck in being
“pinched.” It would be a desperate outlook indeed if all the “wild”
lads of the West Side were likely to develop into the lawless Gopher
element which as boys they emulate. Still, for all of them the chances
are precarious. There can be no question, however, that it is still
possible to counteract the influences which are hastening many of these
boys along a criminal path.

The record of one twelve-year-old boy shows the typical cross currents
of influence which affect the boys in this class. Hugh Mallory was the
youngest of eight children. During the first ten years of his life his
family had lived in the house in which he was born. Here they suffered
so much from sickness, death, and poverty that they finally moved to
another street, hoping to “change their luck.” After this they were
more prosperous for a time until the father and one of the older boys
got out of work and things began to look less cheerful. Mallory was a
hard drinker, especially when out of work. The younger children feared
him when he was in liquor, as it made him ugly-tempered. A special
antagonism existed between him and the second son, who would get out
of bed even late at night and go out on the streets if his father came
home drunk and in a quarrelsome mood.

Still, the family had “never had to ask help but had had enough to
eat and could get along.” James, the oldest son, a young man of
twenty-three, was the mainstay of the family. The mother had done well
under the hard load she had had to carry. She was thrifty, making all
the children’s clothes, even to the boys’ jackets, but she showed the
effects of her hard life in both her thin, worn appearance and her
slack moral standards. She was not above conniving at such pilfering
on the part of the boys as would “help along.” For two years Hugh had
brought home coal regularly from the neighboring freight yard. Mrs.
Mallory said that he was very smart about it and showed with pride two
large bags which he had gathered. The method, she explained, was for
one boy to climb on a car and throw down the coal to the others, who
picked it up. She was, however, constantly in fear lest Hugh should be
arrested. The court records showed that Hugh had never been brought in
for stealing coal, but he had been arrested for stealing old iron. It
was natural that “swiping coal for his mother” should lead to “swiping”
things for his own purposes. Hugh and his fifteen-year-old brother were
members of a club in a Protestant institutional church. The club had
a camp to which both boys went in the summer. They had to pay their
railroad expenses, and got the money, in part at least, from their
winnings at craps. The outcome for Hugh was hard to foretell. It was a
toss-up as to which of the elements playing on the boy’s nature would
ultimately assume the dominant place. An effort to swing the balance
with boys like these seems thoroughly worth while.

Youngsters like these form a large group, and are perhaps the most
vulnerable point of attack for a court. With those who are merely
“wild,” the oversight and help of a good probation officer should bring
the best results. Leaders in settlement clubs, Big Brothers and social
workers generally, agree that the problem of the boy of this type,
whatever his surroundings, is largely one of wise direction of his
sports and other activities. If the families of the culprits and the
social agencies which have the welfare of the city boy at heart could
be brought into close co-operation with the court through an efficient
probation department, it is believed that results would quickly be
shown in the diminution of the delinquent boy problem.

The remaining 62 of the group of boys let go presented a less hopeful
aspect. The court charge was not an index to be trusted. Charges of
petty theft were frequent, and six burglaries were recorded against
this group. On the other hand, some of the boys, whom we knew to be
seriously delinquent, had been brought before the judge for playing
craps, building a fire, or some equally trifling offense, and
discharged. When we pushed the investigation further, we found in the
case of all these 62 boys a situation whose elements already foretold a
useless if not a vicious manhood, unless vigorous and sustained effort
were made to rescue them.

Matty Gilmore, for instance, had been brought in on the charge of
“maintaining a bonfire on a public street.” On nearer acquaintance, he
proved to be a boy in whom a definite criminal tendency was already
noticeable. He had never worked more than a week or two at a time in
spite of the many jobs to which he had been “chased.” In this he was
carrying out the tradition of his family. His father and three older
brothers had always loafed by spells “on” the mother and sisters, who
worked steadily.

One of the jobs he had held for two weeks was that of delivering
packages and collecting for the Diamond Laundry. At the end of the
first week, his employer discovered that he was pilfering. Accused by
the manager, Matty confessed his guilt but earnestly declared that he
had been induced to pilfer by a friend of his, “a bad boy,” who was
also in the service of the laundry and who was discharged forthwith.
Matty remained. On Tuesday of the next week, two friends of his brought
back a package with the tale that Matty had been run over by a train
and was too badly hurt to work. He had entrusted them with the package
to see that it was returned. It was not until several days later that
the laundry discovered that Matty and his friends had delivered all the
packages but one that morning and had pocketed the money collected.
His mother and sisters made good the laundryman’s loss and the boy was
not brought into court. A year later, he was arrested for disposing of
several gold watches which had been stolen in a Connecticut town. As he
was sixteen by this time he was sent, after a week or so in the Tombs,
to the town where the theft had been committed, and spent several weeks
in jail awaiting trial. He was then dismissed and allowed to come home
again, where he took up his old habits, lounging in the streets and
“hanging out” with the gang in its headquarters at “Fatty” Walker’s
candy store.

The transient court experience leaves perhaps a deeper impression on
the mother than on the boy. Many, to be sure, take it lightly enough
and look upon the whole elaborate system as a sort of adjunct to their
family discipline. “It was just as well,” one would say, “Oh, of
course, he plays now, but he did keep off the streets there for awhile.
I guess it did him some good, scared him some.” As for its effect upon
herself, this type of mother is likely to show the indifference of the
woman who “don’t seem to mind, she has seen so much of them courts.”

This statement does not necessarily mean that the woman has been to
the court repeatedly. A single experience may go a long way toward
inducing this state of mind. Mrs. Tracy’s account of Michael’s trial,
for instance, shows how the cursory hearing given the case was bound
to diminish her respect for the court. Michael’s actual trial, which
was over in three minutes, was the anticlimax of a distressful day.
It had begun with a hurried appeal to the local political boss, which
had been followed by a trip to the court under the direction of one of
his henchmen and by a long, anxious wait at the court from nine in the
morning until two in the afternoon. And then, according to Mrs. Tracy,
“The judge says, ‘Officer, did you see the stone in his hand?’ ‘No,’
says he. ‘Well,’ says the judge, ‘don’t bring me any more cases like
this.’ We none of us got a chance to speak, me nor Michael, nor the man
who made the complaint, and who come down to court.”

But many cannot take it so philosophically, especially those who work
hard and are not so much in the drift of neighborhood events and
sentiments. They have not heard enough gossip to regard an arrest as
a necessary episode and to discount its dangers. Instantly the great
fear looms up that their boy is to be taken away. In the momentary
panic, good women who have the welfare of their children most sincerely
at heart will falsify to the judges without a scruple. A clergyman of
the district said that more than once he had heard the same mother
who had previously come to him in deep anxiety concerning her son’s
misconduct give him an unblemished reputation before the judge. It
rarely occurred to one of these women that any real aid was to be had
from the court. To them it was simply another of the many hardships
which worried and harassed their overburdened lives. Loss of time, and
perhaps of money for a fine, are a very real sacrifice for the woman
who works; but even these are nothing to compare with their worry and
distress. “I couldn’t help crying, do you know, all the time I was
there, and it made me sick for a week.”

We have then to consider the result of this whole cumbersome system
of minor arrests and discharges. On the whole, we were led to the
conclusion that the handling of minor cases in the manner described
did hold in check the trifling delinquencies, more properly termed
nuisances, especially in the better blocks. In the poorer sections it
was not very successful even as a check on nuisances, as the casual
passerby quickly learned; and it did not seem to have the slightest
effect on serious lawlessness, where the need of restraint and
discipline was greatest. The hurried hearing, the slight consideration,
and the facile discharge were not only ineffective but often positively
harmful. There is no getting around the fact that the court dealt with
unjust severity with some boys, while with others its very leniency
tended to make order and justice a mockery.

There is no simple panacea for all these troubles, but in the immediate
situation and along the lines of court action some changes are worth
trying out. The matter of arrests is a difficult one to control; often
no valid distinction between the guilty and the innocent can be made on
the spot, and even the best of police are in no way equipped to decide
with certainty as to the degree of an offender’s guilt. However, it
would be better to eliminate altogether a number of the most trifling
arrests rather than to treat the offenders in too cursory a manner
after they are brought into court.

The greater expenditure of time and money which a more thorough
treatment of those arrested presupposes is an absolute necessity if
we are to increase to any marked degree the success of the court in
grappling with the real problem of delinquency. For this problem, as
has been indicated, the best solution undoubtedly is to be found in the
maintenance of an adequate and efficient probation staff, whose duty
it shall be to furnish data concerning the situation back of the minor
charges as well as of the more serious ones, upon which the judge may
base his action.


As there was no official probation[42] in the children’s court of
Manhattan, the judges had to rely on volunteer probation and what is
known as “parole.”[43] Under the so-called parole system as it existed
in connection with the Manhattan Court, no constructive effort was
brought to bear on the boy beyond reproof and advice given in court and
an attempt to impress him with a fear of the consequences to himself
if these were disregarded. This method was used in cases deemed too
serious for immediate discharge, yet not suitable for commitment
to institutions. There are among our records 95 arrests where this
solution was tried. The number of children concerned was 83; the number
of families, 76.

The procedure in such cases took more time and consideration than when
the child was simply discharged. Sometimes the “parole” was granted on
the day of the first hearing without any previous investigation, but
usually the child was sent to the detention rooms of the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Children for two or three days to await
a second hearing. During this time an officer of the society made an
inquiry and brought a report to the court. If the judge then decided
to “parole” the culprit, he was sent home to his parents, to whom the
following card was given:

    “Your child ..................., paroled in your custody until
    ............, on which date you will report with h... at the
    Children’s Court, 66 Third Avenue (Corner of Eleventh Street), at
    10 a. m. for further instructions from the Court.

    “The disposition of the case will depend entirely upon h... conduct
    while so released and your supervision over h....

    “The case will be re-investigated by the New York Society for the
    Prevention of Cruelty of Children, and a full report submitted on
    the date set for the return to Court.”

The date set for his next appearance was generally about a month later.
Just before it arrived another inquiry was made to form the basis of a
new report to the court. The officer of the society to whom the case
was assigned had no responsibility for the conduct of the child during
this interval. His sole task was to discover what it had been and to
report it correctly. The judge glanced over the papers concerning the
previous hearing, read the new report, and accordingly terminated or
extended the “parole.” As a usual thing it was only two or three months
before the forces of the law ceased to concern themselves with the boy,
and for the time at least he passed beyond the oversight of the court.
He might have to report, perhaps once, perhaps four times--very seldom
more. In case of failure to do this, a bench warrant might be issued on
which he would be brought in, but this happened very seldom.

A comparison of our 95 paroled cases with all the cases, 1,805 in
number, under the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children during 1909, shows that the average period of parole was about
the same for both groups. Speaking in general terms, about one-third
of the children in each group were on parole a month or even less, and
at the end of three months the parole was ended for all but a small
proportion of the cases in both groups. The inadequacy of the one to
three months’ parole is best indicated by comparing it with the usual
term of commitments. The institutions have, by common consent, declared
that a commitment of less than one and a half to two years is not
sufficient to effect any real change in the character of the offender.
There is, then, little to expect in the way of actual reformation
from brief parole terms. Especially is this true so long as they are
not re-enforced by any direct effort to modify the conditions of the
child’s life or to influence his character and conduct.

A second defect of the parole system was the important part played in
the court’s decision by the written word of the parole officer. Meager
statements, even when accurate in themselves, may be as misleading as
if they were false. Two reports placed in the hands of the judge may,
on the face of them, be not dissimilar; but in the light of further
investigation, one of the cases may prove to be far more serious than
the other.

An investigation too frequently was made as follows: The parole officer
secured the mother’s statement as to the boy’s conduct, hours, and
associates; the testimony of the neighbors as to the character of the
family; a statement from the boy’s school; and, perhaps, if he was
working, a statement from his employer as to his regularity, conduct,
and quality of work. The following is a typical record of such an

    This record concerns Patrick Staley, a boy of twelve, living at
    West ---- Street, “charged with disorderly conduct in that he did
    climb on the rear of a truck moving through said street and take
    and carry away merchandise, to wit: one jar, containing a quantity
    of mustard.”

    The report of the investigation reads: “Defendant lives at the
    above address with his widowed mother, in a very poorly furnished
    home of three rooms, where they have resided the past two years.
    Mother of the defendant is employed as a cleaner in Public School
    51 where she earns $6.00 a week. This is the only income of the
    family. Mrs. Staley was seen and states that her son Patrick has
    been very well behaved since arrested and paroled. Further states
    that he attends school every day at Public School 51 and that he
    has no bad associates that she knows of. Further states that he
    is never on the street at night and is well behaved in and about
    the house. Neighbors, all of the poorest class, state that the boy
    Patrick is a good boy. No school record was obtained as there is no
    school this week.”

With every rehearing the same ground was covered in the
reinvestigation--a second interview with the mother, the neighbors,
the school, and possibly the employer. In addition to the parole
officer’s report, the boy was supposed to present a card signed daily
by his teacher and parent. Of the full family make-up, its history,
the attitude of the parents, the temper of the home, the character of
the neighborhood, the boy’s individuality and interest,--in a word, of
the whole vital human situation represented, nothing is to be gleaned
from the curt and general phrases of hastily gathered reports. The
importance, therefore, of insuring complete and thorough investigation
through the employment of a trained staff of workers cannot be

The following record, as brief as the one quoted above, was based on a
very thorough investigation by a trained worker.

    This report concerns James Riley, a boy of fourteen, living in
    West 53rd Street, charged with creating a disturbance by “throwing
    missiles and knocking off a man’s hat.”

    The report of the investigation reads: “Defendant resides at the
    above address with his parents in a fairly clean and comfortable
    home of four rooms. Mrs. Riley was seen and she states that her
    son has been very well behaved since on parole. That he has
    been attending school regularly and has no bad associates to
    her knowledge. Further states that he is never out of the house
    evenings. Further states that her daughter Mary practically
    takes care of the home and that she herself is employed in
    Bellevue Hospital and her husband is a longshoreman. Neighbors
    and janitress all speak favorably of the Riley family and state
    that the boy James since on parole is very well behaved in and
    about the premises and seems to attend school more regularly. At
    Public School 82 the following report was obtained: “Attendance
    satisfactory, conduct excellent, work fair to good.”

The two boys, the two homes, the two situations were radically
different. Yet, although there may be no misstatement, the cases of the
boy James and the boy Patrick appear, on the face of the reports, to be
quite similar.

It does not follow from the brevity with which facts may be presented
that they are the sifted truth from which the chaff of falsehood has
been blown away. And yet in gathering this kind of evidence, judicious
sifting is absolutely necessary. The word of the parents must be
considered and is of great importance, but it cannot be taken on its
face value. In a district such as ours, with its marked hostility
toward the forces of the law, it would indeed be strange if a parent
on the defensive would choose to give reliable evidence rather than
evasive and misleading statements. And the more serious the charge, the
less reliable, naturally, is the parent’s word. At best it is merely
indicative of the father’s or mother’s judgment, which is often too
feeble a staff to be depended upon.

For similar reasons, the testimony of neighbors is open to question.
The Bransfields, who had a reputation from one end of the block to
the other as being the “toughest of the tough” were nevertheless,
according to court records, “favorably spoken of in the house.” Thus,
also, the parents of James Burckel were set down as “to all appearances
respectable. They are favorably spoken of in the house. They have lived
there for the past four years.” Yet the father of James Burckel had
served three terms in prison. On the other hand, really respectable
parents deeply resent the stigma of having the news spread through the
house that a probation officer has been inquiring about them. Evidence
of this sort, unreliable as it is likely to be for the court on the one
hand and mortifying to the parents on the other, should be gathered
only with the greatest care and discrimination.

The school has been in the past, and must continue to be in the future,
one of the most important contributors to the information of the
court. Here is to be found a group of people--principal, teachers, and
possibly truant officer--who are free from the personal bias of the
family and who have been in daily contact with the child arraigned.
This joining of forces with the school was one of the great advances
made by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in its
development of the parole system. A good school record was a concrete
argument in favor of the boy, while truancy and loafing were nearly
certain to go hand in hand with any very serious misconduct. But
in order to be useful such records need to be as full as possible.
School attendance, for instance, is best reported by giving the exact
number of days absent and present. Similarly, inquiry concerning his
employment should include the statement of his hours of work and the
exact periods of unemployment as far as this is possible.

The work record of the wage-earner corresponds in importance to the
school records of the younger boy. This inquiry must be handled very
carefully. The fact of a boy’s delinquency, if brought directly to
his employer’s attention, may bear disproportionately hard upon him.
But often the mere recital of his work history by his parents or by
himself would reveal the essential facts, such as the number of shifts
in employment, the speedy “throwing up” of his job, and the long waits
between work.

Parents, neighbors, school, and place of work--this completes the list
of sources from which, at the time of our investigation, the court
drew its information. The start made with the schools had not been
extended to the social and charitable agencies of the neighborhood. Yet
the records of the relief societies often contained in compact form,
ready to hand, facts which were vital to a full understanding of the
case. In 41 of the 95 parole cases which came under our observation,
the families had records in the offices of relief societies. Some of
the family histories extended back fifteen or twenty years, but in none
of these cases had the records been consulted by the court.

The agencies which keep less systematic records and yet come in close
personal touch with handicapped families--settlements and churches--are
no less valuable as sources of information. In one of the parole cases,
involving a rather serious charge of burglary, the insufficient account
of the home surroundings was supplemented by the apology, “As the house
in which the family lived is tenanted entirely by Italians, very little
information could be obtained for or against the boy.” Yet across the
street was a settlement in which the boy’s history was well known
and which was well qualified to sponsor plans for his improvement.
No opportunity was given it to advise commitment for this lad in
preference to the parole and suspension of sentence which sent him back
to the streets absolutely without supervision. Thus the social worker
who may have been watching a hopeless situation drag on for years
without power to intervene may lose the chance to carry out a plan for
the child’s welfare, and the court may fall back upon a hasty judgment
in place of the social worker’s well matured program. The decision
which may hang upon a slender thread of scanty information is one of
no slight importance. It determines the environment of the child for
several years during one of the most plastic periods of his life. The
verdict of the judge will determine whether these will be spent either
in his own home or in an institution.

The main test of any system which either assumes the name or takes
the place of probation is its effect on the individual child. What is
the consequence for the boy? Does it improve or encourage him so that
he makes any effort in a new direction? This is a difficult task to
accomplish, and to measure results is perhaps still more difficult.
Yet a priori it is evident that with a system of parole carried on as
here described permanent benefit for the individual will not result.
In studying the entire history of any boy, the few months of parole
seem such a minor influence in comparison with the other forces
constantly working upon him, that it is impossible to assign any large
share in the final outcome to the effect of such casual oversight
as the court has given. Nor was insufficient supervision from this
source compensated for by the volunteer probation. As far as we could
discover, only 36 per cent of the paroled children on our records
had been visited by volunteers. Yet this percentage was undoubtedly
higher than the percentage for all cases brought into court, because
we deliberately selected more than a due proportion of our cases from
among those under volunteer probation.

We have traced as accurately as possible the outcome of parole in
our 95 cases.[45] In 78 cases the boy was discharged or sentence
was suspended when the parole period ended; in 14 cases the boy was
committed to an institution during parole. There were other cases in
which the boy was either rearrested and committed or rearrested and
discharged after parole. In fact, our records show that this was true
of about one-half of the boys. A considerable group, however, did not
return to court at all before the age of sixteen. The fact that the
boys of this latter group escaped being arrested again does not justify
us in concluding that they were “reformed.” We therefore studied the
later histories of the 83 boys concerned in the 95 cases of arrest
and parole, to ascertain, as far as possible, whether the outcome was
poor or satisfactory. This inquiry was conducted, and the results were
considered, on the basis of boys rather than of cases. Our judgment was
determined by each boy’s regularity at school or work subsequent to
his parole, by the accounts of his parents as to whether he was “out
from under them” or doing well, and especially as to whether he had
committed any offense more serious than the mere prank, which in most
of the cases had led to the original arrest. It appeared that of the
boys rearrested almost all had conduct records that amply justified
their being again brought into court. In less than one-third of the
histories studied was the recent record so satisfactory, or the cause
for complaint so slight, that reformation may be said to have taken
place. That the system had a deterrent effect on some of the boys is
undoubtedly true, but that it accounted for any real reformation is not
very probable.


The theory of commitment is in itself a matter for serious
consideration. It involves an attempt by the state to undo in a new
environment the evil results of old environmental and home influences.
In other words, the law decides that the family life has broken down
for the time being and that others shall undertake to do what the
parents have failed to accomplish. This is a grave step, presupposing
a crisis and justifying itself only through absolute necessity and the
actual achievement of its purpose.

The first question to be asked concerning any sentence of commitment
is, was no better alternative possible? The preceding discussion
has shown that the judge has been seriously hampered through lack
of provision for more adequate methods of treatment. He could not
obtain for the boy, who needed also guidance and incentive as well as
discipline, the careful oversight which a well organized probation
system would have afforded.

The second question concerns the effectiveness of the sentence. Has the
boy himself been helped in the direction of discipline and an ordered
life, and has the neighborhood been benefited by the removal of a
lawless spirit? These are the questions which we shall try to answer
concerning some of the boys “sent up.”

The emphasis put upon the neighborhood point of view has excluded
any critical examination of the institutions to which the boys were
committed or any statistical inquiry into their results. As in the
previous chapters, the angle of vision was exclusively that of the
district. A certain group of the neighborhood boys had been committed,
and we tried to find out how the neighborhood appraised this action and
what its results had been for the neighborhood and the boys concerned.
The methods of different institutions, whether sound or otherwise,
their successes and failures, did not concern us in themselves,
but only as they had influenced the lives of our children and were
reflected in the attitude of our people.

The conclusions of this section are based on a study of 99 commitments,
meted out to 75 children, in 67 families. In this group were the boys
who had the longest and most serious delinquency histories, and it was
important that the account should be made as complete as possible. Five
different sources were consulted--the court record of the trial, the
report of the investigating agent of the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children, the school records, the relief society records,
and statements from the family and neighbors. None of these sources
was complete in itself. However, the outline of the boy’s delinquency
history, including trivial arrests and more serious escapades for which
no arrest had been made, was pieced together as fully as possible.
There is surely much more, at least in the way of illuminating
detail, that cannot be known because it had been left unrecorded. The
meagerness of the information is a serious handicap to the agencies
which seek to reform the boy, and to the judge who must pronounce
sentence upon him.

There are several different institutions to which the boys of this
group had been committed from the children’s court. The division
of these cases falls largely along religious lines. The Catholic
Protectory receives all the children of Catholic parents, excepting
the extreme cases of delinquent girls, who are sent to the House of
the Good Shepherd. The children of Protestant parents are sent, if
they are truants merely, to the New York and Brooklyn truant schools.
In the more serious cases of delinquency, the boys are sent to the
Juvenile Asylum and the girls to the House of Mercy. There is one city
institution, the House of Refuge, which is nonsectarian and usually
takes charge of the most seriously delinquent boys.

In committing a boy to an institution, the judge was obliged to be
guided mainly by the culprit’s court record. The number of the boy’s
arrests had perhaps mounted past all ignoring and he was “put away.” On
the other hand, he may have been caught in some particularly striking
offense, or his gang may have been in need of a subduing example. In
some of these cases the judge meted out the drastic punishment even
where there had been only a single previous arrest. He had, as we have
seen, no facilities at hand for having a thorough investigation made of
the situation.

The absence of investigation was definitely traceable in our group of
committed cases. The records of 53 arrests were studied to discover
whether the cases had been remanded for investigation or not. Eleven,
or about one-fifth, of the 53 cases had been so remanded; 42, or
four-fifths, had not been remanded. The significance of the 42 cases
lies in the fact that the decision was given on the day of the first
hearing. Therefore it is certain that no new investigation was made,
and that the boys were removed from their homes at a time when it was
impossible for the court to have known what these homes were like.[46]
In these cases, it was the home and the family rather than the boy
which were tried and judged without investigation. Moral bankruptcy
was declared without the necessary evidence in hand. We may well doubt
whether in the cases of some of these boys there was not a better
alternative to the institution sentence.

Even when from the point of view of the court the crisis has been
reached, a thorough investigation will often make the sentence more
intelligent, and occasionally reverse the decision for a commitment.
Certain cases that seem desperate at the hearing do not prove hopeless
when conditions are thoroughly understood, and are sometimes capable of
disentanglement at home. Certainly every intelligent effort should be
made by the court before allowing the odium of commitment to rest upon
one of its charges.

There were three boys in the group of 53 in whose cases commitment
had been a serious error. The first was a Jewish boy who had been
caught pilfering with a gang of thieves. At his school, where he was
rated as a well behaved and promising pupil, the teachers declared
that the act was foreign to his character. In fact, the school refused
to believe that the charge was true. The boy was overwhelmed by his
sentence. He refused to return to his class, gave up his previous
plans of going to the high school, and settled down as an assistant
in a trade for which he had no aptitude. A thorough knowledge of his
home and school relations would have shown the court the sufficiency
of a lighter sentence and would have left the boy his elasticity and
ambition. A second lad, who came from a family of very high morals,
was arrested during the slack season of his trade. His entire previous
history from all sources showed that the sentence was unnecessarily
severe. The third case was that of a boy who was in the care of a Big
Brother. During the temporary absence of the latter from the city, the
boy got into trouble and was immediately “sent up” without waiting
until the Big Brother could be consulted. The boy had had a brutalized
childhood, but was being slowly won back to confidence in his fellows,
and the temporary lapse should have been condoned. Commitment took away
practically all his chances, and all the work of his Big Brother friend
had gone for nothing.

But let us consider the boy whose case really cried out for extreme
discipline, and who was accordingly “put away.” This drastic step
ought to have formed the climax of his delinquency history. The test
of commitment is whether it really pulls the boy up short in his
delinquency career. As a matter of fact we find that it frequently
did not. The boy who had several arrests on his record tended to add
another commitment to his first.

The final criticism of the system lies in the fact that the commitment
was often only the beginning of further trouble. This is illustrated
by the history of two brothers, John and Michael Moran. The Morans
were respectable Irish people who had lived in the district for years.
The careers of the two boys given below were by no means in line with
family precedents. The mother was a decent, hardworking woman who had
been a widow for many years. The boys, as she said apathetically, had
“got out from under her” and conditions had been too much for them.
More terrible pictures of childhood than those given in these records
would be hard to find.

John’s court career was begun before he was ten years old. A year later
he was brought into court a second time on a charge of theft. A few
months afterward a third arrest sent him to the Catholic Protectory.
The commitment was a short-term one--thirty days--and obviously had
little effect. Six months later he was brought into court a fourth
time and in this case he was paroled. One month later there was a
fifth arrest, and although his parole had not yet expired, his case
was neither investigated nor his parole revoked, but he was simply
discharged. Three months afterward a sixth arrest sent him to the
Protectory for a second term.

Michael, his brother, had had three different sentences to the same
institution, where he had in fact spent a great part of his short
life. His first arrest was for the theft of a pair of shoes. He was
committed to the Protectory for ten months. Three months after he had
been set at liberty he was recommitted for over a year, this time for
stone throwing. A year and a half intervened,--only one arrest during
that time, though that was on the serious charge of burglary--and then
he was once more sentenced to the Catholic Protectory for a year and a
half. The charge was truancy. Four months after his discharge he was
arrested again, and a year after he had been discharged from his third
term he was back in an institution. In this last arrest his mother
testified “that he wouldn’t work at all, and might just as well be
put away.” There was a touch of humor in the fact that he expressed a
preference for some other institution, because “he had been in the
College three times already.” He was sent to the truant school.

[Illustration: AN EMBRYO GANGSTER]


These eleven-year-old delinquents are a challenge to the community]

The following outlines give in graphic form the delinquency records of
these two brothers:


  May 7, 1907         Arrested in company with other
                        boys. Remanded until the 8th.
                        Pleaded guilty. Sentence suspended.
  June 9, 1908        Arrested for theft with another boy.
                        No complaint. Discharged.
  October 22, 1908    Arrested for selling newspapers at
                        midnight. (No record of this at
                        S. P. C. C.) Committed to
                        the Catholic Protectory. Discharged
                        November 20, 1908.
  June 10, 1909       Arrested on a charge of improper
                        guardianship; found asleep in a
                        hallway at 2:30 a. m. Adjourned
                        until June 14, then paroled until
                        August 14.
  July 24, 1909       Arrested for begging and selling
                        newspapers at night. Discharged.
                        (No parole investigation.)
  October 7, 1909     Arrested at 11 p. m. in a disturbance
                        in the street. Recommitted to
                        the Catholic Protectory.


  November 9, 1905    Arrested for theft of shoes and committed
                        to the Catholic Protectory.
                        Released September, 1906.
  December 12, 1906   Arrested for stone throwing and
                        committed to the Catholic Protectory.
                        Released January, 1908.
  May 1, 1908          Arrested for burglary--stole iron
                         fixtures from a vacant house.
  June 23, 1908       Charged with truancy. Committed
                        to the Catholic Protectory. Released
                        December 14, 1909.
  April 23, 1910      Arrested. Hearing 25th. Fined
  January, 1911       Arrested for stone-throwing. Sent
                        to the truant school.

One of the most important elements in the problem is the attitude of
parents toward the commitment of a child. Perhaps most of them resent
it and look upon it as a misfortune and a disgrace. The very fact of
commitment is denied if possible; the boy is “in the country,” or he is
“visiting relatives.” The parents are anxious to have him home again as
soon as the term is up or an application will be accepted.

Another group of families take a commitment with the same indifference
with which they accept all the other unavoidable facts of life.
If babies die, or the husband is out of work, or the children are
sent away for a couple of years, it is all a part and parcel of the
inevitable, all equally removed from choice and regret. Often the
parents are so busy earning a meager living that they hardly know where
the children are passing their time, and so the boys develop into
rowdies who spend their nights on roofs or stairs and their days in
loafing. Victims of drunkenness, need, and sickness, they do not know
the meaning of discipline, and it rarely occurs to their families that
they can do anything in the matter, much less that they ought to.

More rarely the judge has to deal with a parent who sees in the court
the child’s best chance of improvement. This happens chiefly in cases
where the father or mother is at work away from home, and cannot be
personally responsible for the children’s attendance at school. The
father of one of our boys, for instance, was a skilled English waiter,
whose wife had died some years before. His oldest daughter kept house,
but the two younger boys were beyond her control. The father recognized
the danger of their becoming increasingly delinquent through his
absence and the influence of the neighborhood, and therefore allowed
them to be placed in the truant school as a safeguard.

Indeed, a large part of the trouble with the children comes from the
impossibility of proper supervision by the parents. The absence of the
father or mother is a prolific cause of delinquency. The women say,
“He was all right until his father died”; or, “I can’t do nothin’ with
him since my man’s sick”; or, “Since my husband went to all-night work
in the slaughter house, Jimmy and Tommy are always out late”; or, “I
go out to scrubbin’ at five o’clock in the mornin’ and there’s nobody
to give the children breakfast and chase them to school.” In other
instances, the prospect of the long summer’s vacation spent idling on
the streets makes the mother uneasy, and she asks the judge to “put
him away until school begins to keep him off the streets.” At other
times the parents grow discouraged at the strain of gang influence as
against family discipline and tell the judge to send the boy up “as
his last chance to be decent.” They occasionally have masses said for
the improvement of the child under commitment and hope great things
from his return home, sobered down by a year or two of routine life. In
these cases, the parents have given the problem the most intelligent
thought of which they are capable and have concluded that the
institution is a preferable alternative to the home and the streets.

Again, there is a group of families who use commitment for their
own purposes. They are usually very poor and seek by this means to
make provision for children whom they are unable to support. In some
of these instances, the parents had made an effort to have the boy
committed as a dependent. Failing in this, they had then brought him
into court on the charge that he was “ungovernable” and was “in danger
of becoming morally depraved.” In other cases, the mother of a child
who will not stir himself to find a job, or will not hand over his pay
envelope at the end of the week, tells the judge to send him up, as she
“has only bad of him.” In all these cases, the children have somehow
or other proved a burden, and the parents utilize the court to relieve
themselves of a responsibility which, for a time, they are unable to
meet. When these children come of age, or are sufficiently disciplined
to go to work, there is generally an application for their release. The
connection between the lack of earning power and the commitment is an
obvious one.

But whatever attitude the different families took toward the juvenile
court, whether they were resentful, or apathetic, or whether they
co-operated with the court or used it for their own purposes, it was
certainly true that the more intelligent and disinterested element in
the district was strongly against commitment. Temporary improvement
there may have been, but little if any permanent help resulted.

Wherein, then, lay the weakness of the method of commitment employed?
First, let us examine the histories of boys whose lives showed
notable improvement after the sentence. There were two such boys, in
particular, who had been distinctly “bad” boys before their sojourn in
the institution.

Martin Donnelly was one of the “successful” institution cases. His
mother “lived out” as a cook, and he stayed with an aunt and uncle who
had no children of their own. His aunt said he was “a merry little
grig” until about his eleventh year, when “he began to know too much.”
He began to smoke, play truant, fib, and avoid his home. Entreaties or
punishment merely made matters worse, and the notices from school and
officers became numerous. Martin set his whole gang as spies upon his
aunt, stole out of the back door when she had followed him to school,
and generally so upset the family that it was an actual relief to
them when his petty thieving finally landed him in the Protectory. He
stayed away for months, and returned much sobered down. His aunt said
that he hardly spoke aloud when he first returned, and that he “went
about so quiet” whereas he used to “racket down the stairs as if the
house was afire.” Soon after his return events proved his friend, for
his mother remarried and settled in the country. He was taken into a
new environment and given a steady job. Ten months later he was still
faithfully at work and proud of his weekly six-dollar pay envelope.
Further report said there was not a gang of boys within a mile of him,
and that he was safely out of trouble. In this instance the commitment
made a break in the life with the gang, but it was left to mere chance
events to complete the break.

A still more exceptional case was that of Stephen Waters. He had been
involved in all kinds of trouble and had a court record. At the age
of thirteen he had been arrested for burglary but had been allowed to
go free. A half year later he had quit school entirely and had spent
all his time on the streets. Arrested for theft and committed to the
Catholic Protectory, he had escaped after three days and it was almost
a year before he returned to finish his sentence. In spite of all this,
Stephen was not really a vicious boy. He was merely weak and feared
a beating if he did not follow the gang. Upon his discharge from the
Protectory he decided to change his life. He left his family, took a
room on the East Side, and obtained a regular job driving an express
wagon. At the time of our inquiry he had been steadily at work for a

These two boys, then, were exceptional cases in which commitment,
combined with other circumstances, had actually and radically
accomplished its purpose. The discipline of institutional life had been
followed by a total separation from old comrades and by steady work.
In both cases, fortunate circumstances combined with the effects of
commitment produced happy results.

On the other hand, the boys who return to the old streets and the
old gangs have not much chance for progressive improvement. In the
Doyle gang, for instance, we had eleven boys who had all been serious
delinquents and who had been committed to institutions, some of them
many times over. It is true that several of these terms had been
short, determinate ones, but every one of these boys had had a longer
commitment also. The leader of the Doyle gang came from an entirely
respectable family. The father, a steady and reliable man, had set a
very fair example of conduct to the boys. But Mrs. Doyle was a “slack”
mother at home and shielded her boys continually from any discipline
from outside, including the school. Proceeding on the principle that
“there has to be a black sheep in every family,” she had achieved
the distinction of being the mother of five of the “wildest” boys
in the neighborhood. All five of the Doyle boys were enrolled in
“tough” gangs, and even the two youngest were bad influences in the
neighborhood. Even six-year-old Dennis one day opened the school door,
and, with all his childish strength, hurled a stone into the hall full
of children. All of these boys had a sophisticated air and a certain
hard look of withdrawal when in the presence of teachers or strangers,
or, indeed, of anybody outside the gang.

Raymond Doyle, the oldest of the brothers, was sixteen. He was
described by the principal of the school as “having energy enough to
supply ten boys.” He made cat’s-paws of those that were weaker than he,
and domineered over even the stronger spirits of his gang. In fact, he
had been one of the very worst influences, and responsible for a great
many lawless happenings in the street.

In May, 1906, he was arrested for robbing a grocery store, but there
was no complaint and he was discharged. Later on in the same year he
was arrested on some unknown charge, and fined $5.00. At this time his
continual truancy became too serious to be ignored and he was committed
to the New York Truant School. Mrs. Doyle resented this action and
immediately transferred the other children from the public school to
the parochial school.

Raymond was released from the truant school in 1907, but was not
long out of trouble. He was in company with John Larrabie and the
two Rafferty boys when Larrabie threw a brick and killed an organ
grinder. He escaped arrest for his complicity in this affair, but
six months later he was again in court, this time on a charge of
burglary. Together with two other boys, he had broken a pane of glass
in a stationery store and had run away with some fishing tackle and
two baseballs. The boys were put on parole and later the sentence was
suspended for all three.

In the fall of the same year, Raymond conceived a bold plan for
outwitting the truant officer. He persuaded George Riley to join him,
and together they arranged a home on one of the tenement roofs. Here
they lived for three months, stealing enough food for their needs or
money to buy it and going down to the streets only when necessary. One
day in January, when life must have been growing chilly out of doors,
George Riley was caught stealing a dozen eggs. He was taken down to
court, and sent to the Protectory on his former record. Raymond was
clever enough to escape without even an arrest. A year and a half after
this episode, in August, 1909, Raymond was again in court, this time
on a charge of petty larceny. He was discharged. Four months later he
was involved with his brother Patrick and another boy in a very serious
burglary and re-committed to an institution.

Patrick Doyle, his brother, had also had a grave delinquency history.
It is true that Patrick was not considered an instinctively wayward
child and might have been influenced for better at the proper time
and by the use of wise methods. But under his brother’s unchecked
leadership his mischievous tendencies had led him into lawless ways,
and the court’s way of dealing with him did not prove reformative. At
the age of nine he was brought into the public school by the truant
officer, but the next day he ran out during the session and did
not return. Toward the end of that year, 1908, he was arrested for
stealing bread from a wagon. Three months later he was caught with
Matthew Rooney in the burglary of a grocery store, and paroled for
two months. After one month of this parole had expired he was caught
again in another burglary and committed to the Catholic Protectory
for three months on account of having violated his parole. Six months
after he had been discharged from this commitment he and his brother
Raymond, and a third member of their gang were caught stealing in an
apartment--the serious case mentioned above--and all three were sent
away for long terms.

The circumstances of this burglary were secured from various
sources--the court records, the newspapers, the school, and
neighborhood gossip--all of the accounts tallying in an unusually neat
and accurate way. Raymond and Patrick Doyle took Charlie Muller in
tow and broke into a neighbor’s apartment in search of anything that
could be readily converted into money. They found a trunk standing in
a corner and turned the contents upside down upon the floor. From the
pile they selected a few articles of underwear and a watch. They took
a gun that was lying on a chair and snatched up a canary bird in its
cage. As they turned to go, they were confronted by the older son of
the family, who had returned from work and was standing in the doorway.
One of the boys, this young man declared, “pulled a knife for him,”
so that he “ran for his life.” On the corner of the street he found
a policeman, who took his address and promised to send a detective.
Meanwhile the boys came out of his house and went to a restaurant,
where they were subsequently taken in charge by the detective. The
judge sentenced two of the boys to the House of Refuge and one to the
Protectory, each for fifteen months. Raymond, after his discharge,
refused to work and spent his time loafing at his usual “hang-outs.”

The attitude of the neighbor whose apartment had been entered was
significant. The older son, Samuel, who had arrived at the climax
and intercepted the gang, was very vindictive. He appeared in the
children’s court as complainant and did all in his power to secure
the three convictions. On the other hand, Samuel’s brother and sister
wished to hush the matter up or, at least, to keep it out of court.
“All boys will be wild and these are little things and mean nothing.
They just wanted nickels for moving pictures.” Reasoning in this way,
according to the easy-going standards of the neighborhood, they tried
to dissuade Samuel from going to court and appearing against the boys.

Charles Muller, who was sent to the House of Refuge with Patrick
Doyle, came from a respectable home. His father had been dead for
many years and the family income consisted of the wages of his mother
and older sisters. Before the girls had become old enough to earn the
family had passed through a period of the direst poverty. Charlie was
not an ungovernable lad. On the contrary, he had a weak and sullen
disposition and was often used as a tool by his comrades. His first
arrest was for playing craps in the street, and he was put on what his
mother called “patrole.” A son-in-law went down to court and “paid
$5.00 to a red-headed lawyer fellow who said he could get him off, and
did so.” Some time later he stayed away from school for seven weeks
without his family’s knowledge, always coming in regularly at lunch
time and pretending to go back to classes. At this time his mother
had a stroke of paralysis, and he took advantage of her lameness to
disregard the previous rules about bedtime, meals, and so on. He was
arrested again, and this time it was the daughter who paid the lawyer
$5.00. In the last arrest, for the apartment burglary, the family
refused to re-engage this man, and, according to Mrs. Muller’s vehement
declaration, “every boy in court that day was sent away for fifteen
months, Charles among the rest.”

Joseph McGratty was another of the Doyle gang who was first arrested at
the age of nine. The McGratty family was supported by the father, who
was a street-cleaner, and by an older son who was a jockey. Joseph’s
irregularities began with truancy and his first arrest was for petty
larceny. On this occasion he was discharged. Shortly afterward he
applied for a transfer from his school on the ground that his family
were moving to a certain address in West Twenty-sixth Street. The
story of the moving was entirely untrue, and Joseph never presented
his transfer at any other school. The school has since learned that
the McGrattys were still living at their old address, but it has never
been able to lay hands upon Joseph by any means in its power and force
him to attend. He has been arrested for stone throwing, for theft, for
larceny of an automatic clock in company with the notorious Rafferty
boys, and twice for burglary, the first time in company with the
brother of the gang leader. His last arrest sent him to the Catholic

John Larrabie, who killed an organ grinder, was no worse than several
of his gang. His family was degraded and desperately poor. The father
drank and the mother was given to loud-voiced harangues and to calling
maledictions down upon neighbors who displeased her. John came to
school ugly-tempered and resentful. At a rebuke from his teacher he
attempted to jump out of the window. One day as he stood on a roof with
Raymond Doyle and the two Rafferty boys, the quartette spied in the
street below a couple of Italian organ grinders with whom they were
carrying on a feud. Loose bricks were at hand for missiles and in an
instant John Larrabie had thrown one at the “ginnies.” The boys saw
one of the men drop in the street--the victim died, in fact, only a
few minutes later--and two of them escaped across the roofs. The other
two, Larrabie and Joe Rafferty, were caught and taken to court on a
charge of felonious assault. They were remanded for four days and then
discharged to the coroner. The court records show that John Larrabie
was rearrested at the coroner’s for manslaughter, that his guilt was
patent, but that no complaint was taken. Four months later he was
committed to the Catholic Protectory, at his father’s instance, as an
ungovernable child, his father being ordered to pay $2.00 a week toward
his support in the institution.

The brothers Riemer, Henry and Alexander, were two of the “wildest”
boys of this gang. Both were incorrigible truants. They were arrested
in November, 1906, for stealing coal from a neighbor’s cellar and were
paroled. In February, 1907, Alexander was sent to the Protectory for
three months for stealing a chicken from the Washington Market. Four
months after his discharge he was re-committed for nearly a year’s
term. Shortly after this, in April, 1909, he was arrested for stone
throwing, fined $1.00, and imprisoned one day. In November he was
arrested for assaulting another boy. As he had been away from home four
days, and from school a week, and had been involved in the theft of a
pair of gloves, and also because his mother recommended commitment,
he was sent to the Protectory for a third term. He was not discharged
until of working age, when the family secured him a job directly under
his father’s supervision. Henry Riemer was arrested several times with
his brother, and also twice for theft, once for striking a boy over the
head with a pistol, and once for injuring property. He saved himself
from a commitment in one affair, a glove robbery, by informing on Harry
Rafferty and sending the latter to the Protectory on his evidence. He
himself had had two terms there, and was still under commitment up to

The report of this extraordinary gang can fitly be ended by a
description of two of its most conspicuous members, Joe and Harry
Rafferty. Their home was the scene of continuous brawling. The floors
were littered with broken crockery, with ham bones, and glass--with
anything that could be used as missiles. The father and mother were
drunkards, although both had taken the pledge at times to obtain
charitable relief. After the father’s death from typhoid the conditions
grew still more serious. Joe “beat up” his mother cruelly whenever
there had been beer in the house, and Mrs. Rafferty at last deserted
her family for several months in order to go and live on a sympathetic
neighbor, leaving the small children to shift for themselves. When she
returned home it was to bring back a “boarder” with whom she lived in
immoral relations.

The records of the Rafferty boys were, of course, very bad. Joe was
taken to the court with John Larrabie at the time of the killing of the
Italian organ grinder. The neighborhood reported that Joe, who was over
sixteen, “saved his own skin by turning state’s evidence.” The fact
that there was no record of Joe Rafferty in the court history of the
case does not necessarily contradict this statement. Certain it is that
he was credited with having “snitched” by the neighborhood and also by
the rest of his gang. The boy fully believed that the latter intended
to “do him up” and that his only chance for safety was to leave the

Harry Rafferty’s teacher described him as “a little dock rat who is
usually dressed in rags and with the skin of his face half torn off
because of his many fights.” He had always been a bad truant. In 1908
he was arrested twice, once for stealing boards from a wagon, and
once for stealing two loaves of bread. In April, 1909, he and Matthew
Rooney, mentioned above as an associate of Patrick Doyle in thieving,
ran off with a clock stolen out of a waiting automobile. Harry was
committed to the Catholic Protectory for three months. In July he was
discharged, and in November he was recommitted for stealing a pair of
gloves with Henry and Alexander Riemer. This second commitment was also
for a short term, and soon after his release he was once more in court
on a minor charge. In October he was sent to the Protectory for his
third term.

In the face of these facts it was astonishing to find that these
boys were not completely ruined; that, indeed, there was something
distinctly worth while in both Joe and Harry. Of course, their records
were very bad, and both were growing less sensitive to moral control
with the years. But Joe had an instinct of family loyalty and had
struggled hard to keep his brothers and sisters together. He had
visited and written them when they were sent away to institutions,
and had turned up promptly to take charge of them on the day of their
release. This affection and protective instinct had been his only
anchor, and the necessary breaking up of the family, consequent on the
mother’s immorality, had promised to deprive him of his last motive to

The Rafferty family was one in which vice, drunkenness, and squalor had
combined to misshape the lives of the children. The law should have
proved the salvation of the good qualities that in some miraculous way
still existed in that atmosphere. It is obvious, however, that the
law’s method in such extreme cases--the frequent commitment--had failed
to change the conduct of these boys and to accomplish any reformation
in their lives.

       *       *       *       *       *

Commitment ought to induce a radical alteration of life. But in many
of our cases the commitments merely proved interludes in wrongdoing.
Even a temporary improvement after discharge was not met with; the
dates of the subsequent offenses followed closely upon liberation. In
the face of such records a comparatively short commitment, followed by
the return of the boy to the same neighborhood without any official
supervision and guidance, seems futile indeed. The histories recorded
here indicate clearly that with few exceptions neither boy nor family
nor community had been benefited by the action of the court.

It must be conceded that this district is exceptionally lawless and
gang-ridden and that the gang which we have described was one of the
worst in the whole neighborhood. But what is here presented is not
a study of average results of commitments in average cases. Such a
study would have necessitated establishing close co-operation with
the institutions, in order to follow up those children who had not
returned to their old environment at all after commitment, but had
been placed out in employment, or adopted into new homes. It is from
among these children that the institutions claim the greatest number of
their successes, and it would have been necessary to include them if a
presentation of the whole problem had been attempted.

On the other hand, since commitment is conceded to be an extreme method
of dealing with extreme situations, our examination and our conclusions
seem all the more pertinent. To examine the results in the most extreme
cases seems to be a perfectly fair way of testing the working of the
system. If a method particularly planned for helping the worst cases of
delinquency does not help them, we must question the use of the method
in these cases, at least, and ask what we should substitute for it.


Reviewing our study of the three groups of boys described in the
preceding sections--the boy who is let go, the boy who is paroled in
the custody of his parents, and the boy that gets sent up--we find
that the impression made by the court was rarely a permanent one. One
after the other we have seen how the typical boy of each group passes
through the hands of the court and returns to his West Side environment
scarcely changed by his experience. For the boy who is let go, it means
but a ripple in his life. The court again goes further and “paroles”
him. At the end, he is still the same boy. The most drastic treatment
of all, commitment to an institution for a definite short term usually
fails to remake the character of a boy who has been subjected both
before and after his sojourn in the institution to the full force of
the neighborhood influences. When a boy is so difficult to manage
that commitment becomes the only adequate remedy, the term should
be indefinite so that release may depend on education, behavior and
development of character. And release should be followed by supervision
by a representative of the court or of the institution until the boy
shows that he can stand morally without such assistance.

A well organized official probation staff without doubt furnishes
the most effective method for dealing with most of these cases. This
applies to all three classes described in the preceding sections--the
boy who is let go, the boy who is paroled in the custody of his
parents, and the boy that gets sent up. The use of official probation
does not necessarily exclude volunteer probation, but it should make
possible careful supervision and co-ordination of volunteer work under
the court.

Our study points out the necessity of recognizing both the family
unit and the neighborhood unit in handling cases. In order to do
efficient probation work, the investigator must be familiar with local
conditions. He needs to know, on the one hand, all the influences which
have helped to make the boy what he is, and, on the other hand, the
neighborhood agencies which are familiar with his individual and family
history, and may be enlisted in reforming him.

A thorough physical and mental examination is necessary in many cases
before the court can proceed intelligently in its treatment.[47] A
fundamental need also in the treatment of juvenile delinquency is
the conferring of equity powers on the court, in order to avoid the
hindrances of purely criminal trials and to reach the child and his
family more directly.

Finally, we must not forget, in considering the darker aspects of
the extreme cases presented in the section on commitments, that all
delinquent boys are not of that type. As a rule, the boy delinquent
stands out among the ranks of mishandled West Side youngsters only as
one of them who has had the misfortune to be apprehended where others
equally guilty have escaped; in most cases he does not differ in any
great degree from his mates. Viewed from the standpoint of the district
and in the light of what we know of its manner of life, juvenile
delinquency is seen to be largely the product of conditions dangerous
to youth in the homes and on the streets. To deal with the boy only
after he has committed a crime is to deal with the product and not at
all with the source of his offending; to allow him to return to his old
surroundings without official supervision and control is, except in
rare instances, a futile expedient.



In studying the boy of the Middle West Side we are studying the future
as well as the present of his district; and in gathering together for
a composite picture his various traits which have already been noted,
it will not be out of place to refer once more to certain neighborhood
characteristics which he reflects as well as to some aspects of his
life and environment which have not as yet been illustrated. In this
volume we wish mainly to present the boy as he is today, not to
suggest the method of his regeneration. But an attempt to account for
his peculiarities naturally results in deductions which may seem to
argue a basis for some definite plan of reform; and with an increasing
intimacy with West Side conditions it becomes more and more difficult
to resist the conclusion that many of his vices are forced upon him by
circumstances so strong as to be almost unavoidable.

Stealing, for instance, the theft of anything, but especially of coal
and wood, is, as we have seen, encouraged; it is looked upon absolutely
as a matter of course. The boy is brought up to consider it part of the
daily routine;[48] the winter cold drives home his family’s need for
heat, yet the family income is too slender to allow the purchase of
coal. His mother sends him out to get fuel, and he knows that somehow
he must find it. The line of least resistance is worn smooth in his
neighborhood, and it is natural and easy to fall in with the parental
fiction that the fuel which reaches the tenement has miraculously
dropped from heaven.

This fiction does not apply, however, to the more general “swipin’”
or “crookin’” which consists in stealing on the spur of the moment
any unconsidered trifles which may be lying around. Usually things so
stolen are small and of little value. Boys start out on “crookin’”
expeditions, taking anything edible or vendible that they can lay hands
on; and in this they have the example of older fellows, even married
men, who will steal in a desultory way whenever they have the chance.
“Every time I get a vacant house,” said a wrathful real estate agent
one day, “it means that I’ve got to put in new lead pipes, or new
faucets, or new gas fixtures, or perhaps all of them. The damned crooks
of the neighborhood, young and old, break in and rip them out to sell.”
And a certain settlement had the same experience. When it was first
opened practically every removable thing in the house disappeared,
including even the necessaries for meals.

Here again, though such thefts are far less excusable, the boys have a
definite point of view. They are quite non-moral and have never learned
to consider the question of property. Their code is the primitive code
of might and they look upon their booty as theirs by right of conquest.
Further, the very pressure of poverty is an incentive to stealing for
various ends. They are cigarette fiends--they must have cigarettes.
They are hungry; they crave amusement, and “the movin’ pictures” mean
a nickel. All these things cost money, and when one is penniless and
knows no moral code and sees one’s elders acknowledging none, the
temptation to adopt the tactics of the thief and the thug becomes
almost irresistible.


[Illustration: CLOSED BY THE GANGS]

Much that these boys think and do is the direct result of their natural
propensity to imitate, combined with the fact that they have never
been taught the difference between childhood and manhood. Thus they
learn to fight, to smoke, to drink as their elders do. Fist fights in
the street are of the most common occurrence, particularly among the
young men from sixteen to twenty years of age. To “go down to the docks
and fight it out” is one method of settling all disputes, whether of
politics, love, or personal appearance. Homeric tales are related of
some of these combats. A youth of eighteen demands of a bigger man
an apology for an alleged insult to the former’s sister. The two go
behind a sandpile on the docks, where in the presence of a large group
of witnesses they fight fiercely for several hours until both are
exhausted. Gang fights, as we have said, are frequently settled by a
personal fight between two leaders. These fights sometimes end in one
or both of the combatants being maimed, and, with the rougher element,
occasionally in murder.

The seriousness of a fight between older men in this neighborhood
is recognized, and ordinarily every effort is made to separate the
fighters before they become committed to fight to the finish. If a
man is defeated by the fists of his opponent, he will seize a club, a
bottle, a paving stone, or a revolver, if he can get one, and continue
the fight with this advantage. Very frequently a street fight between
two men results in a feud which will be carried on from day to day,
until one or the other is permanently disabled.

Often these feuds result in the destruction of property, which is
here an accepted way of “getting even.” Tenants who are evicted are
not unlikely by way of revenge to do as much damage as they can to
the apartment before leaving. If one club is at war with another, it
is expected that the stronger will invade the premises of the weaker
and smash up furniture and furnishings. Revenge in this district is
wreaked primarily upon person; failing that, upon property. And this
latter custom has become so prevalent and so much developed that much
damage is done from pure maliciousness and from wanton joy of breaking
and destroying. “Scenery Burned by Vandals” runs a recent newspaper

    Vandals destroyed three truckloads of scenery stored last night on
    “The Farm,” in Twelfth Avenue between Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth

    Shortly after 11 o’clock last night the first truck was set afire.
    The scenery was covered with canvas, and when the firemen arrived
    it was a total wreck. Three hours later the other two trucks were
    set afire. The trucks also were burned, and the total loss was
    estimated at $7,000.

Such outrages are quite common. They are merely a development of the
method employed by West Side toughs for “getting a come-back”; merely a
warning of the fact that the district owns to no law but the law of the
Texan or Corsican Vendetta. Does someone habitually steal clothes from
the wash-line? Then the husband “lays for” him with a club. Does some
man or boy strike a boy on the street? The mother, or father, or big
brother goes down to “get even.” Fear and gang ethics forbid the giving
of information, and the whole neighborhood is saturated with treachery
and suspicion.

With examples of this kind all around him, what wonder that the boy
fights often and recklessly; that he turns naturally to violence; and
that his combats, singly or in gangs, make no demands on the spirit of
fair play?

With regard to smoking, the little West Sider’s indulgence is entirely
unrestrained. On the streets, with his gang, and often in his home,
he smokes incessantly from about the time that he is six years old;
though, of course, to a stranger or a settlement worker he will deny
that he has ever touched a cigarette. A boy’s club in the neighborhood
recently insisted that its members be allowed to smoke during club
meetings. All of them said that they smoked at home and with their
parents’ full knowledge. These were boys ranging from ten to fourteen
years of age. In another club, a boy of thirteen said that it was
impossible for him to refrain from smoking more than half an hour at a
time when he was out of school. Other boys sided with him, saying that
they simply had to smoke. By a vote of the club, however, smoking was
abolished during club meetings. After that, this boy went to the roof
or hallway to smoke at intervals during the session of the club. His
was not an extreme case, although he smoked to greater excess than most
of the boys. And in another club, which was formed away from settlement
influence, it was found practically impossible to keep the majority
of the boys from smoking. They were willing enough to vote to abolish
it, but were unable to adhere to the principle which they themselves
had established. A few parents objected on principle to their boys’
smoking, but they had not the power or opportunity of preventing it.
So the cigarette habit is added to the boy’s vices, and the stunted,
anemic cigarette fiend is a frequent figure on these streets.

In the same way drinking and intoxication come quite naturally into
his life. Beer is a great dinner and supper staple in the tenements,
and every day sees a long procession of women, girls, and boys, filing
with tin pails to the saloon for the evening drink. Most of the girls
make for the “Family Entrance,” though many go unblushingly through
the screen door to the main saloon and come out a moment later with a
foaming pail of beer. Others,--and this is particularly characteristic
of the smaller girls,--ask some lounging male of their acquaintance to
go in and get the beer for them. The deputy usually rewards himself
by a long pull from the pail before he comes out of the saloon. It
is astonishing, however, how large a number even of little girls and
boys ten years old or less, walk boldly out of the front door with
their pails. Almost every saloon has also its line of ragged urchins,
crouched on their hands and knees on the stone doorstep, peering under
the screen at the crowd within. Occasionally, on gala Saturday nights,
a group of men will hold what is known as a “beer racket.” Each one
contributes a sum of money, fifty cents, a dollar, or sometimes more,
to a saloon keeper, who agrees to furnish all the beer they can drink.
The party then retires to a convenient neighborhood roof, and keg after
keg is sent up until the last drinker has succumbed. Usually one or
more boys may be found with the group, overcome with drink.


The only city playground on a bright Saturday afternoon]


The beer pail is frequently refilled during the game]

Little attention is paid by the neighborhood to drunkenness, and among
the boys themselves it is regarded as rather a joke for one of their
number to become intoxicated. The worst feature of intemperance here
is, indeed, not the occasional appearance of a boy intoxicated
but the indifference with which the adults treat such a spectacle.
At the last annual outing of the Tammany leaders in this district a
score or more of unaccompanied boys, from ten to fourteen years old,
managed by hook or crook to join the excursion party, which counted
among its numbers many well known and responsible business men of the
neighborhood. From the time the excursion boat left the landing to
the time it discharged its passengers, on both incoming and outgoing
trips, the excursionists were drenched in a torrent of free beer.
Kegs were tapped a dozen at a time, and in pails, in glasses, in
trayloads of “schooners,” it was rushed to the upper decks so fast that
it sometimes went a-begging even among the hundreds of thirsty West
Siders. Naturally, the small boys got hold of it, and on the way home
a group of them with a gang of immature youths scarcely beyond boyhood
themselves, sequestered a couple of kegs in a nook on the after spar
deck and actually emptied both kegs. When the boat landed several of
them plainly showed the effects of their revel, and one boy of fourteen
was helped ashore by his laughing playmates, his legs reeling, his head
rolling from side to side, and his eyes staring with the dull vacuity
of drunkenness. Among the men, hundreds of whom saw this sight, not a
voice was raised in protest; some laughed; some scolded the boys for
their intemperance; most watched with cynical indifference, as though
this were to be expected.

Thus it is seen that all these vices--drinking, smoking,
ruffianism--come very naturally to the West Side boy. Even if he
realizes them for what they are, he is ill-fitted to resist them. He
sees them all around him from infancy; and, boylike, he makes them his
own through imitation.

Another of the many ways in which this versatile youngster amuses
himself is by playing truant.

The equipment of the typical boy of the Middle West Side when he is
first sent to school is pitiable. Excessive cigarette smoking, the
wrangling atmosphere of the home, the excitement of the street, have
sapped his nervous power. He is restless, easily reduced to sulkiness,
and exceedingly hard to interest. The varied excitement of the streets,
combined with the inevitable cigarette, has lost to him all power of
continued thought or concentration. School itself, like the boy, has
little chance. Perhaps it is lacking in anything which makes a vital
appeal to his nature, but from the first it is handicapped. Not only
is the lure of the streets tremendous, but the bewildered school
teacher is presented with a child who has been born into ignorance and
inexpansibility, reared in an atmosphere of discord and vice, and given
every chance of acquiring disastrous physical and moral habits, before
ever he reached the class room; and the problem that confronts the
teacher is not that of building up a character but of making over one
that is already seriously deformed.

The sources of the truancy habit are undoubtedly to be traced in the
boy’s first acquaintance as an infant with the streets. As we have
seen, he is familiar from babyhood with the bustle and confusion of
street life and his first pleasurable experiences are associated with
it. The atmosphere of the street, its scenes and sounds, permeate the
child’s whole existence and fasten upon him the shackles of habit.
After a year or two of more or less complete subjection of his budding
mind to this influence, the child is expected to exchange without
protest the thrilling, lawless streets for the orderly commonplace of
the school room. Of course he is attracted by the novelty of the latter
for a time, but after that he feels the strain of two conflicting
influences--the lure of the street and the instinct of obedience to
authority. If he wishes to yield to the street, he has the traditions
of generations of truants and any number of conniving playmates to aid
him to escape. And here we have the beginnings of the “delinquency”
which almost inevitably sooner or later leads him to the juvenile

Here is the confession of a ten-year-old truant, which is typical of
school life in the district:

“I used to go to the Fifty-second Street school with Jimmie, but they
made me change to Forty-eighth Street because I stayed away so much. I
would leave home in the morning at school time and then come up here
and play in the streets instead of going to school. I would just hang
around the corners with the other boys or go after loot with them. A
little while ago, Jimmie and I wanted money, and we got a dog to follow
us into a candy store on Eleventh Avenue, and there we tried to sell
it. It was a dandy dog, a thoroughbred, but the storekeeper said he had
two already and wouldn’t buy it. We tried to sell it again but it got
away from us. We tried that with another one once but it was a bum
one. Nobody would buy it, and after spending the whole morning trying,
we gave it a kick and chased it off. Jimmie and I and a bunch of boys
all got a duck apiece in Jersey once and we were able to sell them for
fifty cents apiece.”

“How do you get over to Jersey without paying?”

“That’s easy,” said Jimmie, “you go down to de ferry and wait till two
or t’ree ladies comes in togeder. One of ’em gits two or t’ree tickets
for the bunch, and you step right up in front of the first lady, like
you was her son. The gateman sees the tickets in her hand, and then you
beat it, while she’s tryin’ to explain to the gateman. Coming back is
easier still, ’cos you can always sneak through the wagon, or express,
or employes’ entrances there.”

“When our whole family goes to Jersey,” went on the narrator, “all of
us kids sneak in that way. My father buys tickets and then we walk
through the gates and he refuses to pay for us because he don’t know
us. Just now it is too cold to go to Jersey much, or do anything but
keep in school. Besides I’m on parole now. I have to have a good
conduct card and have to go and see Mr. Carson once in so often and
tell him about what I’m doin’.”

Truancy here is developed into a system, which the youngsters can
adjust to any occasion with the greatest facility. If you start to
school with your books in the morning it is an easy matter to leave
them at a candy store or with a friend, and put in the morning
furthering your own interests on the docks or in the streets. If a
truant officer asks you your name or your business on the streets, one
name is as good as another,--if it is far enough from your own; and
there are many plausible reasons for being out of school, if you can
avoid having to prove them. A placating note to your teacher written
by yourself is as good as one by your mother, if you can only make the
teacher believe that your mother wrote it. After two or three days in
the street, it is necessary to maintain a strict watch over the mail
box, if you would beat your parents to the truant officer’s notice
which will sooner or later be found therein. This notice can be removed
from the box by the judicious use of a bent pin, and communication
between the school and the home is thus indefinitely postponed.

Once these details are arranged, the streets of New York are open to
the boys for a holiday. Money, while not an absolute necessity, is much
to be desired, and there are many ways of obtaining it,--witness the
statement of “Jimmie’s” friend, above. It is against the law for boys
under fourteen years to work, and the greater number of employers to
whom they apply do their best to make this law effective; in any case,
labor as a financial resource makes no strong appeal. But there are
things to sell if you can only get hold of them without being caught.
Pennies may be begged, or stolen from other and smaller children.
Similarly food may be begged when necessary, or obtained unobtrusively
from fruit stand and grocery counters. Jimmie’s friend is by no means
the only boy who starts for school regularly every morning and very
often does not return before nine or ten o’clock at night, staving
off the pangs of hunger (which often seems to be the only form of
homesickness known in this district) through the resources here

Akin to truancy is the “wanderlust.” This passion to get out and away,
travel, and court adventure, comes to the boy of the Middle West Side
as it comes to most boys--and often he obeys its call. The resulting
experiences are usually only a short and amusing incident in his life;
very rarely do they lead to a permanent change. One young adventurer
told of a characteristic trip:

“Denny Murphy came over to our house one morning last summer and said,
‘Red, let’s beat it.’ ‘Sure,’ I said, ‘where to?’ ‘Out west,’ Denny
said. I did not have anything else to do and I thought it would be a
good thing to go west. So that afternoon, Denny and I went over to
Jersey City. Denny had some money. I don’t know where he got it, but
he probably stole it, for he was always crazy about robberies; talked
about ‘pulling off’ robberies and things of that kind, and I knew he
had been in some hold-ups. We were going to go to Philadelphia first,
but I thought we needed more money and could probably get a job in
Paterson. So we took a freight train to Paterson. Got there in the
evening and I tried for a job in the factory. I told the man I had been
getting six dollars a week in another factory and told him I lived in
Paterson, but the manager caught me lying about where I lived and fired
me out. So Denny and I slept that night in the doorway of that same

“In the morning we both looked around for a job, but there was nothing
doing. Finally I got on a barge and they were going to take me on there
washing dishes and being cabin boy, but there was nothing for Denny
to do, and the boat was going up the river instead of down, so there
wasn’t any use in our staying there; so that night Denny came in and
we slept on the back of the boat. Denny had some more money now--No,
I don’t know where he got it--and we went over to Jersey City again
on the trolley car. Then we caught a freight train for Philadelphia.
The cars were locked and we had to climb clear up and ride on top. We
got down to some town just the other side of Trenton before a brakeman
saw us and booted us off, and then we had to wait there the rest of
the afternoon and get on a coal car which took us to Philadelphia.
We spent that night in a freight car and then got on another freight
train out in the West Philadelphia yards and started west. We climbed
in a box car marked ‘Springfield, Ohio,’ shut the door, and I went to
sleep. When I woke up it was daylight, and the car was in another city.
I supposed it was Springfield but it wasn’t; it was only Harrisburg.
We walked all around the town, but we couldn’t find anything to do,
and finally we got out of money. Along about dark we saw a bellboy, we
thought he was, coming out of a hotel. He was a ‘coon’ in uniform, so
we thought he must be a bellboy. Then Denny said, ‘Here’s our chance
to get money.’ He said we could take a club and come up behind and
blackjack the coon and rob him. So we came up in the dark and just as
we got close up behind him, he turned around and we saw that he was not
a bellboy at all but a policeman. I never knew before they had ‘coon’
policemen anywhere.

“Denny and I beat it for the railroad as fast as we could go. We did
not wait to eat or anything, but caught a freight train that we saw
moving, and when we got on we found we were bound for Philadelphia
again. In the car with us was a ‘coon’ bumming like we were. He wanted
to know who we were and where we were going. We told him we were just
looking around the country, and he wanted to take us south with him.
He said the Southern people were mighty fine people and would surely
give us good jobs if we would go with him as far as Atlanta. We had
come back from the west now and we thought we might as well go south
as anywhere else, so we told him we would go with him. Then I went to
sleep again and when I woke up there wasn’t any coon any more. He had
beat it somewhere and left Denny and me behind.

“We got off the train at a little station called Overbrook, just
outside of Philadelphia, and just as we hit the cinders, two railroad
detectives jumped out from behind the switchhouse and grabbed us both
and that ended our western trip.

“They took us into the city to the House of Detention, where we stayed
over that night and the next two or three days. There was a man there
who treated us fine and made us tell all about ourselves, and after two
or three days he put us on a passenger train and sent us back to New
York. I’ve never tried to go west since.”

Parties and dances, now and then a “grand annual ball” or “fête” at a
dance hall or casino, an occasional visit to a moving picture show,
one or two dilapidated poolrooms, and the sordid and ever-present
saloon--these are practically the only amusements definitely offered to
the West Side boy. And as he casts about for means to supplement them
it is natural for him to turn early to indulgence in sexual immorality,
which he has seen and heard talked of in the tenement and the street
since he began to be old enough to notice anything. His sense of
modesty has been strangled at birth. All round him he is accustomed to
hear obscene terms, the meaning of which any older person will freely
explain in a way which robs them of any moral significance whatever.
There are plenty of “big fellers” and “wise girls” on the streets to
teach him anything that he wishes to know. In the tenements themselves
immoral practices are common even among small children, with the full
knowledge of everyone except their parents, who are nevertheless
apathetically aware of the sins of their neighbors’ children. In a
number of ways the boys here learn, not the truth about reproduction,
for that is very little known here, but about sexual enjoyment and its
many forms of perversion, topics which occupy a large share of the mind
of adolescent youth in this environment. Children of both sexes indulge
freely in conversation which is only carried on secretly by adults in
other walks of life. Certain roofs in the neighborhood have a name as
rendezvous for children and young couples for immoral practices.

In common with other districts of the city the neighborhood has
many sexual perverts, and these furnish an actual menace to the
children. As infants, practically, the boys have heard the same
stories repeated until they regard sexual matters as forbidden, of
course,--and therefore, like smoking cigarettes and gambling, to be
hidden from parents, police, or other authorities,--but with no sense
of abhorrence. Knowledge of the methods of the perverts, on the other
hand, leads to experimentation among the boys, and to the many forms
of perversion which in the end make the degenerate. Self-abuse is
considered a common joke, and boys as young as seven and eight actually
practice sodomy. Every night the doorways are blocked with girls from
fourteen to twenty years of age who lean against the walls and rails,
and talk with the young men, the “talk” occasionally degenerating into
a laughing scuffle. Girls as a rule are never mentioned by the boys
except in club-room stories of the grossest immorality.

Universally these boys lack stamina--physical, mental, moral. They
are incapable of prolonged exertion; a minute or two of fast boxing
exhausts them completely, and only the exceptional ones are able to box
continuously for more than two or three rounds. Their baseball teams
are too apt to “blow up” in the fourth or fifth inning, no matter what
individual cleverness some of the members may have shown, because the
players are so shortwinded and feeble of limb. There are, of course,
a number of well developed athletes among them, but a boy of normal
physique stands out far above his playmates, and those of exceptional
skill are few indeed.

Their mental energies are scattered and undependable. They are
incapable of prolonged thought upon any one subject, and lack
absolutely the concentration which mental discipline can impart. Quick
they may be and clever, but they are seldom deep, and through years of
mental inaction they seem unable to grasp anything like an abstract
idea or principle. Of any except the simplest and most exciting card
games they quickly tire.

The lack of moral stamina is even more evident. They are totally unable
to resist physical temptation of any sort. In fact, their training
seems to offer them no basis of resistance. They are accustomed to
striving not to overcome but to gratify every desire. Lack of privacy
and the hopelessly unmoral attitude of the neighborhood toward all
matters of sex have left them without any moral standards. In deceit
and treachery, the use of superior force and of unfair advantage, they
see nothing to be avoided or ashamed of. Revenge and the fiercest
retaliation for real or fancied injury, accidental or otherwise, are
part of their code. Their life is a struggle for self-preservation, and
they are naturally consummately selfish; for the feelings of others
they have not the slightest thought. Calloused into unmorality they are
unconcernedly cruel, and such a thing as the killing of some boy in a
gang fight will be related in a perfectly matter-of-fact manner. They
have no respect for age or authority.

Two types of boy are common in these streets, widely dissimilar, but
equally pathetic. The first is the boy who wants to “make good,”
but cannot shake off the shackles of association and environment;
the boy “who’d make something of himself yet if given half a show.”
Since leaving school and going to work he has perhaps gone through
the process known as “steadying down” and “getting sensible.” Between
the years of fourteen and seventeen there may have come a loosening
of the old gang ties, a change, and a reshaping. A later period
seems to come when after the excitements of his adolescent years he
may realize, as to the loafing and depredations into which he has
drifted, that “there’s nothing in it.” Sometimes even a boy from a
down-at-the-heels and shiftless family makes a desperate effort to
pull up. But he lacks the tremendous energy to struggle through the
bad name he has gotten by his own career and by identification as “one
of that crew.” His bitterness is natural. “Oh, I know--that is another
of those Fifty-third Street stories about Charlie Harris. I’ve heard
enough of them.” Such a boy is most susceptible at this time to home
and outside influence, and if only the opportunity can be taken it will
be not unlikely to prove the turning point in his life. But too often
there is no one at hand to help him. The West Side boy does not always
respond to kindness. He knows little or nothing of it in his life, and
his native fickleness and dislike of direction make him, especially
after the school age, difficult to handle.

Yet sometimes the effort does succeed. George Ruhl, for instance, was
the oldest of three children in a poor German family. Some years ago,
when one of the settlement workers first knew him, he was unruly and
“difficult” and quite beyond the control of his parents. He refused
to go to school, smoked cigarettes, and got into bad company with his
gang. When he was twelve years old a settlement worker sent him away to
the home of the Salvation Army. The superintendent would not keep him
on account of his bad influence upon the other boys. In order to remove
him from his gang Miss Summers had him sent to a Boys’ Republic. The
leader kept him for two years and gained a remarkably good influence
over the boy. He then placed George on a farm in Massachusetts. George
has turned out well. The owner of the farm, a selectman of the town,
treated him like a member of his own family and trusted him with money
and other important matters. Finally he rented a farm to George and
another boy, and they are prospering. They run a truck farm, raising
also chickens, eggs, and squabs. For many years George sent his mother
ten dollars a month to pay the rent. In 1909 he offered to take the
whole family down to his farm, but Miss Summers advised against this
because it would have imposed too much of a burden upon the boy. Here
is a case in which outside help at the right time worked wonders; and
undoubtedly the same success might result in many others, were there
only more knowledge of the West Side and more voices that would answer
to the call. Meanwhile the boy “who can’t make good” is still with us.

The second type commands pity but deserves few excuses. It is the
boy who refuses to make good. When a boy goes to work even the lax
discipline of the irregularly attended school is absent. West Side
boys are not in demand, and his job is often that of an extra “hand,”
easily turned off, or else it is of a “blind alley” nature. His
delinquency, however, cannot be considered the effect of his job, for
boys of this type naturally seek for a low grade of employment.[51] In
a fit of temper or idleness he surrenders his job; perhaps he loses
it unwillingly. Whole days of enforced freedom will follow. One day
in the streets between weeks of monotonous hardship in the factory
may demoralize a boy. Possibly he hears of another position, which
he thinks will be easier and pay more than the one he has. So he
drops his former job and takes the new one. Before he has been in his
new position long, the memory of his day of idleness on the street
overcomes him, and with a little money in his pocket he quits his
position, and this time he does not hunt up a new one until all his
money is spent. The next logical step is to try to obtain food and
money as long as possible without working for it. And so step by step
has evolved the habitual loafer and hanger-on of saloons, the young man
who brags that he does not earn a living and does not have to earn one.
Two boys known to our workers went through this process and are now
young men. Both live off the earnings of mother and sister, and indeed,
one of them ordered his sister to go to work “or else how could he
live?” The other blacked his sister’s eyes over a similar discussion.
Such things are common on the Middle West Side.

Both of these types are direct and logical products of neighborhood
conditions, just as many of the ways in which the boy finds his
recreation simply announce the fact that he must invent for himself
what his home fails to provide. The boy’s inner life is bleak and
wretched because every normal instinct of youth, all the qualities of
which future men are made, have been sapped and stunted by the gray,
grim neighborhood in which even play is crime. There are ten thousand
hopeless little tragedies on the Middle West Side today; and our only
answer to their appeal is to call for the police.

If the school is at a disadvantage in its labors to build up
character, the juvenile court is even more so. A day at court is a
transient experience and soon forgotten. Even the effects of months of
institutional life are soon outlived under the strong influences of the
street and the gang.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our picture of the West Side boy is now wellnigh complete. Lawless,
defiant, a nuisance to his neighbors and a menace to his playmates, it
seems as though the future citizen of these streets were little likely
to become other than a burden or a detriment to the whole body politic.
Certainly he and his gang, taking them as they are, have little to
recommend them or help them to offset a notoriety which they have
justly gained.

Of course, their days are not on this account all tears and misery.
That side of the story has been emphasized because it bears upon the
purpose of this study; but if it were the only side these boys would
be almost too impossible to be real. But they are very real, and very
boylike, careless and happy-go-lucky, too young to know--of if they
did know to reflect on--what might have been, taking their world as it
is, and ingeniously determined to make the best of it and have a “good
time,” no matter at whose expense. They are quaint little figures, with
their rich street vocabulary, their heartless and yet almost innocent
paganism, their capacity for achieving the dangerous in amusement
though they bump into every corner on the way. Look at the gang ready
for baseball; its members do not seem overwhelmed by the burden of
juvenile delinquency. Look at the little group “playing hookey” under
the dock; fear of the truant officer seems to sit lightly on the
shoulders of these boys.

No, comedy is no stranger to the Middle West Side; only it is
Meredithian comedy and the laughter which it provokes is thoughtful
indeed. And it is assuredly true that if you would see all that is most
typical of the West Side boy, if you would see him as expressing what
in his life he really is, you must turn your back on comedy and gaze on
the sadder picture. Look at the illustrations and see the boy himself;
then read the following sketch as the caption under the portrait. It is
printed verbatim from the New York _Evening World_ of April 10, 1911,
and for its truth to life it cannot be bettered.

    Johnnie Moran, twelve years old, ... was arraigned today ... in the
    Children’s Court.

    The boy was taken in charge Saturday night by Detectives Carter
    and Brown from headquarters, after he had watched his father die
    of dropsy thirty-six hours previously; after he had seen the body
    robbed by a playmate; after he himself had taken “de old man’s”
    watch, and had then gone to play in the street as if nothing out of
    the usual had occurred.

    Johnnie is undersized. His chest is sunken and his shoulders slope;
    his furtive little gray eyes are deep set under a bulging brow,
    topped by a shock of hair of no particular color; his small fingers
    are cigarette-stained, and his clothes look as if their origin had
    been the ash barrel. Here is the story he told an _Evening World_
    reporter, while swinging his thin legs unconcernedly from a bench
    in the room above the Children’s Court, where the little prisoners
    were waiting to be called for trial:

    “Me old man was sick a week and three days. I didn’t know what wuz
    the matter wid him, and he didn’t neither. He just laid around and
    groaned and his legs swelled awful. His name? He wuz named John,
    too, and he was a night watchman, when he woiked, down to the dock
    at Thoity-seventh Street. Yes, sir, he drinked some mostly before
    he went to work in the evenin’. But it didn’t seem to bother him.
    No, sir, he never treated me bad; hardly ever licked me.

    “The old man never had nothing to eat, ’cept what I bringed him the
    first day he wuz sick. Yes, sir, I went to school every day. I wuz
    ’fraid the troont-off’cer’d git me. The old man didn’t mind--he
    just stayed by himself. No, sir, nobody come to see him, and he
    never told me to git nobody. After school I’d play in the streets
    with the other fellows and I’d git some buns and milk. I didn’t
    want much--wuzn’t hungry--and the old man never seemed to want

    Johnnie produced a wad of chewing gum from some recess of his
    jacket and a second later the atmosphere around him reeked with the
    odor of mint.

    “Thursday night,” he went on, “he wuz took woise. I slept on a
    bundle of old things in a corner and in the night I heard the
    old man git up and go in the kitchen and sit down there. He
    groaned somethin’ awful--like this,” and the boy gave a startling
    imitation, “and I couldn’t sleep and I told him to shut up. Then,
    after a while, he stopped groaning and when I got up to go to
    school I see he wuz nearly all in.

    “He told me to tie a rope around him and try and pull him onto the
    bed and I did it, but it wuzn’t no use. Then I went out and got a
    roll and a glass o’ milk and when I come back he wuz half way onto
    the bed, and he didn’t answer when I spoke to him and shook him. I
    called him four or five times, but he never answered, and so I went
    on to school. I didn’t want the troont-off’cer to git me.

    “Yes, sir, I knowed he wuz dead, but I had to go to school. Then
    after school was out, I told some of the fellers and two of
    ’em went up in the room with me, and one of ’em--he wuz a big
    boy--took five dollars out of the old man’s pocket and I took his
    watch. The big boy--his name wuz Frank Reede--wouldn’t give me none
    of the five dollars and he and the other kid run away.

    “The next day I got hungry and I told the janitor and he told the
    cops and they come and got me and took the old man’s watch to keep
    for me. Yes, sir, I’m sorry the old man’s dead. He wuz good to me.
    No, sir, me muther is dead. She died when I wuz a year old when we
    lived in Thoity-thoid Street. I dunno how long we have been living
    in Thoity-seckin Street. What’ll they do with me, Mister?”

What shall we do with him? That is a question which the institutions,
the officials, and the people of New York must answer.




                     Source                             |Names
  1909 Court list                                       | 202
  Big Brother Movement                                  |  43
  Special club studies                                  |  10
  Charity Organization Society                          |   8
  Additional children of interest in families visited   |  20
  Known through investigators on other topics           |   6
  Known through other children                          |   2
  School                                                |   1
  Church                                                |   1
  Settlement                                            |   1
    Total                                               | 294


                                   |        BOYS
               Age                 |
                                   | Number | Per cent
  Less than 8 years                |      1 |       .3
  8 years and less than 10 years   |      3 |      1.0
  10 years and less than 12 years  |     24 |      8.2
  12 years and less than 14 years  |     71 |     24.3
  14 years and less than 16 years  |    102 |     35.0
  16 years and more                |     91 |     31.2
  Total                            |    292 |    100.0

[a] Information is not available as to the ages of two of the 294 boys.


                                  |     FAMILIES
        Years in district         +--------+----------
                                  | Number | Per cent
  Less than 5 years               |  13    |    7.1
  5 years and less than 10 years  |  31    |   16.9
  10 years and less than 15 years |  25    |   13.7
  15 years and less than 20 years |  26    |   14.2
  20 years and more               |  88    |   48.1
    Total                         | 183    |  100.0

[a] Information is not available as to the length of residence in the
district of 58 of the 241 families.


  Country of birth            |Fathers |Mothers
  United States               |  81    |  92
  Ireland                     |  64    |  72
  Germany                     |  27    |  18
  Italy                       |  17    |  15
  Scotland                    |   7    |   8
  England                     |   6    |   4
  Sweden                      |   4    |   4
  France                      |   4    |   2
  Austria                     |   3    |   2
  Russia                      |   1    |   3
  Dalmatia                    |   2    |   2
  Roumania                    |   2    |   1
  Armenia                     |   1    |   1
  Switzerland                 |   1    |   1
  West Indies                 |   1    |   1
  Portugal                    |        |   1
  Denmark                     |   1    |
    Total                     | 222    | 227

[a] Information is not available as to the country of birth of 19
fathers and 14 mothers in 241 families.


   Nationality | Fathers | Mothers |
  German       |   28    |   28    |
  Irish        |   21    |   25    |
  American     |   15    |   18    |
  English      |    3    |    2    |
    Total      |   67    |   73    |

  [a] Information is not available as to the nationality of 14 of 81
American-born fathers and of 19 of 92 American-born mothers.


                 |                           FAMILIES OCCUPYING
  Persons in     |  One  |  Two  | Three | Four  | Five  |  Six  | Seven | Eight |   All
  household      |  Room | Rooms | Rooms | Rooms | Rooms | Rooms | Rooms | Rooms | families
  Two            |   1   |       |   1   |   1   |   1   |       |       |       |     4
  Three          |   1   |   3   |  13   |   7   |   1   |   1   |       |       |    26
  Four           |       |   1   |   7   |  11   |   6   |   2   |       |       |    27
  Five           |   1   |   3   |  11   |  10   |   2   |       |       |       |    27
  Six            |       |   3   |  12   |  12   |  10   |   4   |       |       |    41
  Seven          |       |       |   4   |  11   |   8   |   1   |       |   1   |    25
  Eight          |       |       |   4   |  17   |   5   |   2   |       |       |    28
  Nine           |       |       |   2   |   5   |   3   |   1   |   2   |       |    13
  Ten or eleven  |       |       |       |   1   |   4   |   1   |       |       |     6
  Twelve and     |       |       |       |       |       |       |       |       |
    less than 15 |       |       |       |       |   1   |   2   |       |       |     3
    Total        |   3   |  10   |  54   |  75   |  41   |  14   |   2   |   1   |   200

[a] Information is not available as to the number of rooms occupied
by one household of three persons, six of four persons, six of five
persons, three of six persons, three of seven persons, three of eight
persons, one of nine persons, and one of 12 persons; as to the number
of persons in two households occupying four rooms; nor as to the number
of rooms occupied or the number of persons in 15 households.


                              |     FAMILIES
   Number of living children  +--------+----------
                              | Number | Per cent
  One                         |   12   |    5.2
  Two                         |   28   |   12.1
  Three                       |   28   |   12.1
  Four                        |   34   |   14.7
  Five                        |   44   |   19.0
  Six                         |   36   |   15.6
  Seven                       |   24   |   10.4
  Eight                       |   17   |    7.4
  Nine                        |    5   |    2.2
  Ten                         |    2   |     .9
  Eleven                      |    1   |     .4
    Total                     |  231   |  100.0

[a] Information is not available as to the number of children in 10 of
the 241 families.


                               |      MOTHERS
       Status of mother        +---------+----------
                               | Number  | Per cent
  Living and earning wages     |    87   |   39.2
  Living and not earning wages |   103   |   46.4
  Dead                         |    32   |   14.4
    Total                      |   222   |  100.0

[a] Information not available as to the status of the mother in 19 of
the 241 families.


                                     |     FAMILIES
     Conjugal condition of parents   +--------+----------
                                     | Number | Per cent
  Parents living together            |  133   |   57.1
  Father dead, mother living[b]      |   53   |   22.7
  Mother dead, father living[c]      |   20   |    8.6
  Both parents living, but separated |   15   |    6.4
  Both parents dead                  |   12   |    5.2
    Total                            |  233   |  100.0

[a] Information is not available as to the conjugal condition of
parents in eight of the 241 families.

[b] In eleven cases where the father was dead and the mother living,
the mother had remarried and the step-father was with the family.

[c] In four cases where the mother was dead, and the father living, the
father had remarried and the step-mother was with the family.


                                               |     FAMILIES
                     Record                    +--------+----------
                                               | Number | Per cent
  Known to have received aid:                  |        |
    From relief societies                      |   73   |   30.3
    In form of institutional care for children |   17   |    7.1
    From other sources                         |   15   |    6.2
    Total                                      |  105   |   43.6
  Deducting duplicates[a]                      |   19   |    7.9
    Total                                      |   86   |   35.7
  Known not to have received aid               |  144   |   59.7
  Relief record unknown                        |   11   |    4.6
  Grand total                                  |  241   |  100.0

[a] There were 19 cases in which families were known to have received
relief of more than one of the three kinds specified.


                                  |     FAMILIES
      Duration of record          +--------+----------
                                  | Number | Per cent
  Less than 1 year                |    15  |   20.5
   1 year and less than 2 years   |    11  |   15.1
   2 years and less than 5 years  |    10  |   13.7
   5 years and less than 10 years |    19  |   26.0
  10 years and less than 15 years |    11  |   15.1
  15 years and less than 20 years |     4  |    5.5
  20 years and less than 25 years |     3  |    4.1
    Total                         |    73  |  100.0

[a] Information is not at all available as to the duration of the
relief records of 13 of the 86 families who were known to have received


   Disposition of cases | Arrests |   Boys   | Families
                        |         | affected | affected
  Boy let go            |   260   |   197    |   176
  Boy paroled           |    95   |    83    |    76
  Boy sent up           |    99   |    75    |    67
    Total               |   454   |   259[b] |   221[b]

[a] Information is not available as to the disposition of nine cases
involving arrest.

[b] As some of the boys were arrested more times than one, and as some
of the families had two or more boys who were arrested, these figures
are absolute totals, and not the sums of the other figures in the
columns in which they appear.


                                   |  WEST SIDE CASES  |     ALL CASES
     Final disposition of case     +--------+----------+--------+----------
                                   | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Discharged or sentence suspended |   78   |    84.8  | 1,264  |   89.5
  Committed to institutions        |   14   |    15.2  |   148  |   10.5
    Total                          |   92   |   100.0  | 1,412  |  100.0

[a] Information is not available as to two of the 95 paroled cases and
one case was still pending when the study was concluded.


                                  |          BOYS           |
         Extent of truancy        |            |    Not     | Total
                                  | Delinquent | delinquent |
  No truancy                      |     41     |    43      |   84
  Occasional truancy              |     17     |    ..      |   17
  Serious truancy                 |    109     |     1      |  110
  Boy physically disqualified for |            |            |
    school attendance             |      4     |    ..      |    4
    Total                         |    171     |    44      |  215

[a] Information is not available as to the truancy of 79 of the 294
boys included in the study.


              Status            | Boys
  Less than 14 years of age     |   99
  14 years of age or more:      |
    Attending school            |   31
    In institutions             |    8
  Out of work and out of school |   25
    Total                       |  163

[a] Of the 294 boys, 100 were gainfully employed. Information is not
available as to the status of 31 boys.


                            |              BOYS EARNING               |           |
                            +------+------+------+------+------+------+  Boys     |
                            |  $2  |  $3  |  $4  |  $5  |  $6  |  $7  |  whose    |
          Occupation        |  and |  and |  and |  and |  and |  and | earnings  | All
                            | less | less | less | less | less | less | are not   | boys
                            | than | than | than | than | than | than | available |
                            |  $3  |  $4  |  $5  |  $6  |  $7  | more |           |
  Errand boy                |   3  |   2  |   3  |   5  |   2  |   1  |     6     |  22
  Office boy                |  ..  |  ..  |   2  |   6  |   1  |   2  |     4     |  15
  Piano factory worker      |  ..  |   1  |   3  |   2  |   1  |   4  |     3     |  14
  Driver or driver’s helper |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   2  |   2  |   3  |    ..     |   7
  Stock boy                 |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |  ..  |   2  |   1  |     1     |   5
  Printer’s apprentice      |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |   2  |     1     |   4
  Plumber’s apprentice      |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |   1  |  ..  |     2     |   4
  Worker in factory other   |      |      |      |      |      |      |           |
    than piano factory      |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |  ..  |   2  |    ..     |   3
  Cashboy                   |  ..  |   2  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |     1     |   3
  Tailor’s helper           |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |     2     |   3
  Farmhand                  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |     2     |   2
  Checkboy                  |  ..  |  ..  |   2  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |    ..     |   2
  Messenger boy             |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |   1  |    ..     |   2
  Bakery worker             |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |   1  |  ..  |  ..  |    ..     |   2
  Moving picture show       |      |      |      |      |      |      |           |
    worker                  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |  ..  |    ..     |   1
  Freight checker           |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |    ..     |   1
  Packer                    |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |  ..  |    ..     |   1
  Garage helper             |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |  ..  |    ..     |   1
  Plasterer’s helper        |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |    ..     |  ..
  Water boy, Metropolitan   |      |      |      |      |      |      |           |
    Railroad                |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |     1     |   1
  Engineer’s helper         |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |     1     |   1
  Newspaper boy             |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |    ..     |   1
  Furnace company worker    |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |    ..     |   1
  Water works worker        |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |    ..     |   1
  Clerk                     |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |    ..     |   1
  Prisoner in navy prison   |  ..  |   1  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |  ..  |    ..     |   1
    Total                   |   3  |   9  |  12  |  21  |  11  |  19  |    24     |  99

[a] Of the 294 boys, 163 were not gainfully employed. Information is
not available as to the status of 31 boys.



For the Year Ending December 31, 1913

The following tables and charts are taken from the annual report of the
children’s court for the county of New York.

In the preparation of this report the court officials had the active
co-operation of the Committee on Criminal Courts of the Charity
Organization Society. With the approval of Frank Smith, the Chief Clerk
of the Court of Special Sessions, and under the direction of Lawrence
Veiller, Secretary of the Committee, the report was planned and
compiled by George Everson, the Assistant Secretary of the Committee.

These statistics, based on a total of 9,019 cases and representing the
juvenile delinquency of the entire county, make it possible for us to
compare some of the features of juvenile lawlessness on the Middle West
Side with corresponding conditions in the larger area. To quote from
the report:

    “The total number of arraignments in the Court for the year 1913
    was 9,019. The statistical tables of this report are based on this
    large number of cases. Any facts concerning juvenile delinquency in
    these statistics should be of permanent scientific value because of
    the fact of the large number of cases involved.

    “In the present report an effort has been made to put before the
    public more detailed information, in the form of statistical tables
    and charts, than has been done in previous years. These tables, and
    their illustrative graphics, will show to some extent the detail of
    the work of the Court and will make available for popular use some
    of the information which is carefully tabulated for each case that
    comes into the Court during the year.

    “Many pertinent and interesting facts concerning juvenile
    delinquency are available from the court records. Owing to the
    limited time at the disposal of the clerical staff for the
    compilation of statistics from the individual records of the Court,
    we have heretofore been unable to get as much of the information
    before the public as we should like to have done. The assistance
    which we have received from the Committee on Criminal Courts of the
    Charity Organization Society has made it possible for us to put the
    statistics in their present form, they having collaborated with our
    staff, at the expenditure of considerable time and money, for which
    we are considerably indebted.

    “The installation of the probation system, with its very accurate
    and detailed records of each case investigated by, or placed in
    charge of probation officers, has put many more facts at our
    disposal in regard to the family conditions, school and employment
    records, etc., of children receiving probationary treatment. It
    has been our purpose to include some of these facts of general and
    scientific interest in this report.

    “CHARTS AND GRAPHICS.--An effort has been made to illustrate the
    most pertinent facts brought out in the statistical tables by some
    simple charts and graphics; it is hoped that the reader will get at
    a glance the gist of the tables so illustrated. In some instances,
    the charts have been used to supplement the information included in
    the tables accompanying them.

    will be noted that throughout the statistical tables distinction
    has been made between cases of children arraigned as juvenile
    delinquents and children arraigned in special proceedings. An
    explanation of these terms may help the reader. The general
    distinction, broadly stated, is the same distinction which is
    generally made between delinquent and dependent children. Special
    Proceedings, however, include beside improper guardianship cases,
    so-called, all cases of truancy, ungovernable and disorderly
    children, and cases of girls in danger of becoming morally
    depraved. While these latter are considered by the Court as being
    in need of the care and protection of the State, their offenses
    often show evidence of grave moral turpitude, and the Court finds
    them to be among the most difficult cases to handle.

    “Whenever, in the case of a child brought before the Court on the
    charge of juvenile delinquency, it shall appear in the course of
    the trial that the child is without proper guardianship, or is in
    unfavorable environment, he or she may be adjudged to be in need
    of the care and protection of the State, and is then arraigned in
    Special Proceedings.

    “PROBATION.--Within the last two years great advances have been
    made in probation in this Court. A complete and well-organized
    system of probation records has been installed, and the Court
    has the service of twenty-three probation officers who devote
    their entire time and energy to the assistance and reformation
    of children placed in their charge by the Court. The results of
    their investigations are invaluable to the judge in making his
    disposition of the cases, and their work in helping the boys and
    girls to become good citizens is a great service to the community.
    The only fault which we have to find with the present system is the
    fact that the period of probation in general is not long enough to
    allow the probation officer to do his best work with the children
    under his charge. Table XXX, and its accompanying chart, shows the
    length of the probation periods; it will be noted that one-quarter
    of the cases are on probation for a period of two months or under,
    while 80 per cent of them are for periods of less than six months.
    It is the opinion of experts that proper probationary treatment
    can be given only when the child is placed under the officer
    for sufficient length of time to allow the officer to do really
    constructive work with the child, so that it will be of lasting
    influence in his life. If the offense is not sufficiently serious
    to require a substantial probation period, then it is not of
    sufficient importance to have the probation officer spend his time
    with the case. In order to have longer probation periods a larger
    corps of probation officers will be necessary.

    “TRUANCY.--The report shows that there were 62 cases of violation
    of the compulsory education law brought into the Court during
    the year. Investigations of cases by the probation officers have
    disclosed the appalling prevalence of truancy among juvenile
    delinquents. Hundreds of cases are on record in the probation rooms
    showing that children on probation have been habitual truants
    previous to being brought into the Court on delinquency charges.”

Under the group of cases defined as Special Proceedings is often found
the neglected young girl of the accompanying study by Ruth S. True. The
columns in the following tables dealing with girls’ cases will throw
some light on the charges on which she sometimes gets into court.


(TABLE XVIII.--Residence by Districts of Children Arraigned during
1913.[52] Report, pp. 72-73.)

                                          |                   JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
  Districts and territory in districts    |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                          | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  I. Below 14th St., East of 4th Ave.,    |        |          |        |          |        |
    Bowery and Catharine St.              | 1,002  |   21.0   |   23   |   25.2   | 1,025  |   21.1
  II. Below 14th St., West of 4th Ave.,   |        |          |        |          |        |
    Bowery and Catharine St.              |   604  |   12.7   |    9   |    9.9   |   613  |   12.6
  III. East of 6th Ave., from 14th St. to |        |          |        |          |        |
    63d St.[a]                            |   332  |    7.0   |    6   |    6.6   |   338  |    7.0
  IV. West of 6th Ave., between 14th St.  |        |          |        |          |        |
    and 62d St.                           |   499  |   10.5   |   10   |   11.0   |   509  |   10.5
  V. East of 5th Ave., from 63d St. to    |        |          |        |          |        |
    109th St.[b]                          |   667  |   14.0   |   16   |   17.6   |   683  |   14.1
  VI. West of Central Park and 8th        |        |          |        |          |        |
    Ave., from 62d St. to 126th St.       |   253  |    5.3   |    4   |    4.4   |   257  |    5.3
  VII. In Manhattan, East of 8th Ave.,    |        |          |        |          |        |
    North of 109th St.[c]                 |   597  |   12.5   |   12   |   13.2   |   609  |   12.5
  VIII. West of 8th Ave. between 126th    |        |          |        |          |        |
    St. and 155th St.                     |    91  |    1.9   |   ..   |    ..    |    91  |    1.9
  IX. West of 8th Ave. and Harlem         |        |          |        |          |        |
    River North of 155th St.              |    32  |     .7   |   ..   |    ..    |    32  |     .7
  X. All of The Bronx                     |   529  |   11.1   |    8   |    8.8   |   537  |   11.1
  Brooklyn[d]                             |   113  |    2.4   |   ..   |    ..    |   113  |    2.3
  All others                              |    29  |     .6   |    2   |    2.2   |    31  |     .6
  Not stated                              |    15  |     .3   |    1   |    1.1   |    16  |     .3
      Total                               | 4,763  |  100.0   |   91   |  100.0   | 4,854  |  100.0

                                          |                    SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS
  Districts and territory in districts    |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                          | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  I. Below 14th St., East of 4th Ave.,    |        |          |        |          |        |
    Bowery and Catharine St.              |   473  |   17.8   |   235  |   15.5   |   708  |   17.0
  II. Below 14th St., West of 4th Ave.,   |        |          |        |          |        |
    Bowery and Catharine St.              |   278  |   10.4   |   123  |    8.1   |   401  |    9.6
  III. East of 6th Ave., from 14th St. to |        |          |        |          |        |
    63d St.[a]                            |   192  |    7.2   |   152  |   10.0   |   344  |    8.3
  IV. West of 6th Ave., between 14th St.  |        |          |        |          |        |
    and 62d St.                           |   330  |   12.4   |   235  |   15.5   |   565  |   13.6
  V. East of 5th Ave., from 63d St. to    |        |          |        |          |        |
    109th St.[b]                          |   306  |   11.6   |   186  |   12.3   |   492  |   11.8
  VI. West of Central Park and 8th        |        |          |        |          |        |
    Ave., from 62d St. to 126th St.       |    98  |    3.7   |    70  |    4.7   |   168  |    4.0
  VII. In Manhattan, East of 8th Ave.,    |        |          |        |          |        |
    North of 109th St.[c]                 |   257  |    9.7   |   161  |   10.6   |   418  |   10.0
  VIII. West of 8th Ave. between 126th    |        |          |        |          |        |
    St. and 155th St.                     |    46  |    1.8   |    20  |    1.3   |    66  |    1.6
  IX. West of 8th Ave. and Harlem         |        |          |        |          |        |
    River North of 155th St.              |    22  |     .8   |    13  |     .9   |    35  |     .8
  X. All of The Bronx                     |   308  |   11.7   |   191  |   12.6   |   499  |   12.0
  Brooklyn[d]                             |    36  |    1.3   |    13  |     .9   |    49  |    1.2
  All others                              |   145  |    5.5   |    37  |    2.4   |   182  |    4.4
  Not stated                              |   159  |    6.1   |    79  |    5.2   |   238  |    5.7
      Total                               | 2,650  |  100.0   | 1,515  |  100.0   | 4,165  |  100.0

                                          |                         ALL CASES
  Districts and territory in districts    |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                          | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  I. Below 14th St., East of 4th Ave.,    |        |          |        |          |        |
    Bowery and Catharine St.              | 1,475  |   19.9   |   258  |   16.0   | 1,733  |   19.2
  II. Below 14th St., West of 4th Ave.,   |        |          |        |          |        |
    Bowery and Catharine St.              |   882  |   11.9   |   132  |    8.2   | 1,014  |   11.3
  III. East of 6th Ave., from 14th St. to |        |          |        |          |        |
    63d St.[a]                            |   524  |    7.1   |   158  |    9.8   |   682  |    7.6
  IV. West of 6th Ave., between 14th St.  |        |          |        |          |        |
    and 62d St.                           |   829  |   11.2   |   245  |   15.4   | 1,074  |   11.9
  V. East of 5th Ave., from 63d St. to    |        |          |        |          |        |
    109th St.[b]                          |   973  |   13.1   |   202  |   12.6   | 1,175  |   13.0
  VI. West of Central Park and 8th        |        |          |        |          |        |
    Ave., from 62d St. to 126th St.       |   351  |    4.7   |    74  |    4.6   |   425  |    4.7
  VII. In Manhattan, East of 8th Ave.,    |        |          |        |          |        |
    North of 109th St.[c]                 |   854  |   11.5   |   173  |   10.8   | 1,027  |   11.4
  VIII. West of 8th Ave. between 126th    |        |          |        |          |        |
    St. and 155th St.                     |   137  |    1.9   |    20  |    1.2   |   157  |    1.8
  IX. West of 8th Ave. and Harlem         |        |          |        |          |        |
    River North of 155th St.              |    54  |     .7   |    13  |     .8   |    67  |     .7
  X. All of The Bronx                     |   837  |   11.3   |   199  |   12.4   | 1,036  |   11.5
  Brooklyn[d]                             |   149  |    2.1   |    13  |     .8   |   162  |    1.8
  All others                              |   174  |    2.3   |    39  |    2.4   |   213  |    2.3
  Not stated                              |   174  |    2.3   |    80  |    5.0   |   254  |    2.8
      Total                               | 7,413  |  100.0   | 1,606  |  100.0   | 9,019  |   100.0

[a] East of 6th Ave., from 14th St. to 63d St. to 3d Ave.; and 64th
St., from 3d Ave. to East River.

[b] East of 5th Ave., from 63d St. to 3d Ave., and 64th St., between
3d Ave. and East River, to 112th St. to 3d Ave., and 109th St. from 3d
Ave. to the East River.

[c] In Manhattan, East of 8th Ave., North of. 110th St. to 5th Ave.,
and 112th St., from 5th Ave. to 3d Ave., and 109th St., from 3d Ave. to
East River.

[d] Children living in Brooklyn, but arrested in Manhattan.

[Illustration: Chart I

(CHART XIV.--Residence by Districts of Children Arraigned During 1913.
Report, p. 74.)]


(TABLE IV.--Nature of Charges.[53] Report, p. 52.)

                                    |       MALE        |      FEMALE       |      TOTAL
               Charges              +--------+----------+--------+----------+--------+----------
                                    | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  1. Juvenile delinquency:[a]       |        |          |        |          |        |
      a. Assault                    |   236  |    5.0   |   10   |   11.0   |   246  |    5.1
      b. Offenses against property  | 1,212  |   25.3   |   25   |   27.4   | 1,237  |   25.4
      c. Major offenses against the |        |          |        |          |        |
          peace                     |   584  |   12.3   |   12   |   13.2   |   596  |   12.3
      d. Minor offenses against the |        |          |        |          |        |
          peace                     | 2,253  |   47.3   |   14   |   15.4   | 2,267  |   46.7
      e. Unlawfully employed        |   312  |    6.6   |  18    |   19.8   |   330  |    6.8
      f. Violation of corporation   |        |          |        |          |        |
          ordinances not included   |        |          |        |          |        |
          above                     |    54  |    1.1   |    4   |    4.4   |    58  |    1.2
      g. Unclassified               |   112  |    2.4   |    8   |    8.8   |   120  |    2.5
      h. Total                      | 4,763  |  100.0   |   91   |  100.0   | 4,854  |  100.0
                                    |        |          |        |          |        |
  2. Special proceedings:[b]        |        |          |        |          |        |
      a. Improper guardianship      | 2,199  |   82.9   | 1,271  |   83.9   | 3,470  |   83.3
      b. Sex offenses               |    18  |     .7   |   135  |    8.9   |   153  |    3.7
      c. Ungovernable and           |        |          |        |          |        |
          disorderly children       |   376  |   14.2   |   104  |    6.9   |   480  |   11.5
      d. Truancy                    |    57  |    2.2   |     5  |     .3   |    62  |    1.5
      e. Total                      | 2,650  |  100.0   | 1,515  |  100.0   | 4,165  |  100.0
                                    |        |          |        |          |        |
  3. Total, all cases:              |        |          |        |          |        |
      a. Juvenile delinquency       | 4,763  |   64.3   |    91  |    5.7   | 4,854  |   53.8
      b. Special proceedings        | 2,650  |   35.7   | 1,515  |   94.3   | 4,165  |   46.2
      c. Grand total                | 7,413  |  100.0   | 1,606  |  100.0   | 9,019  |  100.0

[a] _Juvenile Delinquency_: _Assault_ includes third degree and
felonious assault; _Offenses against property_ includes burglary,
robbery, grand and petit larceny, and unlawful entry; _Major offenses
against the peace_ includes disorderly conduct as defined by Section
43, Penal Law; carrying dangerous weapons and discharging firearms;
_Minor offenses against the peace_ includes disorderly conduct as
defined under Section 720 and violation of railroad law. _Unlawfully
employed_, includes peddling and violation of the labor law.

[b] _Special Proceedings_: _Improper guardianship_ includes destitute,
neglected, and ill-treated children; _Sex offenses_ includes cases
under Section 353, laws of 1886, and cases of sex immorality defined in
Section 486, Penal Law; _Ungovernable and disorderly children_ includes
children complained of by parents, children who desert home, and so

[Illustration: CHART II

(CHART II.--Nature of Charges. Report, p. 53.)

(Percentages shown are of the total number (9,019) of all cases




(CHART V.--Disposition on First Hearing of all Cases Arraigned During
the Year.

Report, p. 57.)]


(TABLE IX.--Disposition on First Hearing of all Cases Arraigned During
the Year.[54] Report, p. 57.)

                           |                   JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
         Disposition       |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                           | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  1. Summarily disposed of | 2,668  |   56.0   |   29   |   31.9   | 2,697  |   55.6
  2. Remanded[a]           | 1,389  |   29.2   |   40   |   44.0   | 1,429  |   29.4
  3. Paroled[b]            |   706  |   14.8   |   22   |   24.1   |   728  |   15.0
  4. Total                 | 4,763  |  100.0   |   91   |  100.0   | 4,854  |  100.0

                           |                   SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS
         Disposition       |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                           | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  1. Summarily disposed of |   669  |   25.2   |   325  |   21.5   |   994  |   23.9
  2. Remanded[a]           | 1,552  |   58.6   |   896  |   59.1   | 2,448  |   58.8
  3. Paroled[b]            |   429  |   16.2   |   294  |   19.4   |   723  |   17.3
  4. Total                 | 2,650  |  100.0   | 1,515  |  100.0   | 4,165  |  100.0

                           |                        ALL CASES
         Disposition       |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                           | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  1. Summarily disposed of | 3,337  |   45.0   |   354  |   22.0   | 3,691  |   40.9
  2. Remanded[a]           | 2,941  |   39.7   |   936  |   58.3   | 3,877  |   43.0
  3. Paroled[b]            | 1,135  |   15.3   |   316  |   19.7   | 1,451  |   16.1
  4. Total                 | 7,413  |  100.0   | 1,606  |  100.0   | 9,019  |  100.0

[a] _Remanded_ means number of children detained temporarily at the
rooms of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children while
case is being investigated, etc.

[b] These numbers include cases placed on probation without remand.


(TABLE XII.--Disposition in Cases of Adjudged Juvenile Delinquents.[55]
Report, p. 63.)

                              |                           TOTAL
         Disposition          |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                              | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Sentence suspended          |   748  |   22.8   |    13  |   25.0   |   761  |   22.8
  Placed on probation         | 1,440  |   44.2   |    31  |   59.6   | 1,480  |   44.4
  Committed without probation |   508  |   15.5   |     4  |    7.7   |   512  |   15.4
  Fined                       |   575  |   17.5   |     4  |    7.7   |   579  |   17.4
      Total                   | 3,280  |   100.0  |    52  |  100.0   | 3,332  |  100.0


(TABLE XIII.--Disposition in all Cases of Special Proceedings where
Complaint was Sustained. Report, p. 64.)

                                         |                    TOTAL IN ALL CASES
                Disposition              |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                         | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Committed to institutions              |   793  |   38.8   |   539  |   41.8   | 1,332  |   39.9
  Placed in charge of probation officers | 1,253  |   61.2   |   751  |   58.2   | 2,004  |   60.1
      Total                              | 2,046  |  100.0   | 1,290  |  100.0   | 3,336  |  100.0


(TABLE XVI.--Ages of all Children Arraigned During the Year.[56]
Report, p. 68.)

                                            |                   JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
                     Ages                   |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                            | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  7 years and under                         |    16  |     .4   |        |          |    16  |     .4
  8 and 9 years                             |   236  |    5.0   |     7  |    7.7   |   243  |    5.0
  10 and 11 years                           |   670  |   14.1   |    10  |   11.0   |   680  |   14.0
  12 and 13 years                           | 1,515  |   31.8   |    29  |   31.9   | 1,544  |   31.8
  14 and 15 years                           | 2,322  |   48.7   |    44  |   48.3   | 2,366  |   48.7
  16 and over (Transferred to other courts) |     4  |     .0   |     1  |    1.1   |     5  |     .1
      Total                                 | 4,763  |  100.0   |    91  |  100.0   | 4,854  |  100.0

                                            |                    SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS
                     Ages                   |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                            | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  7 years and under                         |   581  |   21.9   |   484  |   32.0   | 1,065  |   25.6
  8 and 9 years                             |   319  |   12.0   |   161  |   10.6   |   480  |   11.5
  10 and 11 years                           |   433  |   16.4   |   191  |   12.6   |   624  |   15.0
  12 and 13 years                           |   625  |   23.6   |   265  |   17.5   |   890  |   21.4
  14 and 15 years                           |   692  |   26.1   |   414  |   27.3   | 1,106  |   26.5
  16 and over (Transferred to other courts) |        |          |        |          |        |
      Total                                 | 2,650  |  100.0   | 1,515  |  100.0   | 4,165  |  100.0

                                            |                         ALL CASES
                     Ages                   |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                            | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  7 years and under                         |   597  |    8.1   |   484  |   30.2   | 1,081  |   12.0
  8 and 9 years                             |   555  |    7.5   |   168  |   10.5   |   723  |    8.1
  10 and 11 years                           | 1,103  |   14.9   |   201  |   12.5   | 1,304  |   14.5
  12 and 13 years                           | 2,140  |   28.9   |   294  |   18.3   | 2,434  |   26.9
  14 and 15 years                           | 3,014  |   40.6   |   458  |   28.5   | 3,472  |   38.5
  16 and over (Transferred to other courts) |     4  |     .0   |     1  |    1.1   |     5  |     .1
      Total                                 | 7,413  |  100.0   | 1,606  |  100.0   | 9,019  |  100.0



(CHART XI.--Showing Ages of Boys Arraigned During the Year. Report, p.
69.) Total number of boys, 7,413.]



(CHART XII.--Showing Ages of Girls Arraigned During the Year. Report,
p. 69.) Total number of girls, 1,606.]

(_Black_ indicates Juvenile Delinquency. _White_ indicates Special


(TABLE XIV.--Single and Group Delinquency.[57] Report, p. 65.)

                                 |     JUVENILE      |      SPECIAL      |       TOTAL
                                 |    DELINQUENCY    |    PROCEEDINGS    |     ALL CASES
                                 | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Number of cases where children |        |          |        |          |        |
    were arraigned singly        | 2,169  |   44.7   | 1,937  |   46.5   | 4,106  |   45.5
  Number of cases arraigned in   |        |          |        |          |        |
    groups of two                | 1,138  |   23.4   |   850  |   20.4   | 1,988  |   22.1
  Number of cases arraigned in   |        |          |        |          |        |
    groups of three or more      | 1,547  |   31.9   | 1,378  |   33.1   | 2,925  |   32.4
      Total                      | 4,854  |  100.0   | 4,165  |  100.0   | 9,019  |  100.0


(CHART X.--Single and Group Delinquency. Report, p. 65.)


(TABLE XX.--Parental Condition of all Children Investigated.[58]
Report, p. 78.)

                                            |                   JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
              Parental condition            |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                            | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Father dead                               |   270  |   16.0   |     6  |   14.6   |   276  |   15.8
  Mother dead                               |   131  |    7.8   |     2  |    4.9   |   133  |    7.7
  Both parents dead                         |    28  |    1.6   |     1  |    2.4   |    29  |    1.8
  Parents separated                         |    14  |     .8   |        |          |    14  |     .8
  Deserted by father                        |    44  |    2.6   |     2  |    4.9   |    46  |    2.6
  Deserted by mother                        |     7  |     .4   |        |          |     7  |     .4
  Deserted by both parents                  |     5  |     .3   |        |          |     5  |     .2
  One or both parents in prison             |     2  |     .1   |     1  |    2.4   |     3  |     .1
  One or both parents in other institutions |    15  |     .9   |        |          |    15  |     .9
  Mother not in America                     |     6  |     .3   |        |          |     6  |     .3
  Father not in America                     |     3  |     .1   |        |          |     3  |     .1
  Neither parent in America                 |        |          |        |          |        |
  None of above conditions existing         | 1,162  |   68.5   |    29  |   70.8   | 1,191  |   68.7
  Parental condition not reported           |    10  |     .6   |        |          |    10  |     .6
      Total                                 | 1,697  |  100.0   |    41  |  100.0   | 1,738  |  100.0

                                            |                   SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS
              Parental condition            |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                            | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Father dead                               |   149  |   17.6   |    47  |   23.1   |   196  |    18.7
  Mother dead                               |    99  |   11.7   |    29  |   14.4   |   128  |    12.3
  Both parents dead                         |    19  |    2.3   |     8  |    4.0   |    27  |     2.5
  Parents separated                         |    17  |    2.0   |        |          |    17  |     1.6
  Deserted by father                        |    25  |    3.0   |     2  |    1.0   |    27  |     2.5
  Deserted by mother                        |     5  |     .6   |     3  |    1.5   |     8  |      .7
  Deserted by both parents                  |        |          |     4  |    1.9   |     4  |      .4
  One or both parents in prison             |     4  |     .5   |        |          |     4  |      .4
  One or both parents in other institutions |     7  |     .8   |     1  |     .5   |     8  |      .7
  Mother not in America                     |     6  |     .7   |        |          |     6  |      .6
  Father not in America                     |     1  |     .1   |        |          |     1  |      .1
  Neither parent in America                 |     1  |     .1   |        |          |     1  |      .1
  None of above conditions existing         |   507  |   60.0   |   104  |   51.1   |   611  |    58.5
  Parental condition not reported           |     5  |     .6   |     5  |    2.5   |    10  |      .9
      Total                                 |   845  |  100.0   |   203  |  100.0   | 1,048  |   100.0

                                            |                        ALL CASES
              Parental condition            |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                            | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Father dead                               |   419  |   16.5   |    53  |   21.8   |   472  |   16.9
  Mother dead                               |   230  |    9.0   |    31  |   12.8   |   261  |    9.5
  Both parents dead                         |    47  |    1.8   |     9  |    3.7   |    56  |    2.0
  Parents separated                         |    31  |    1.2   |        |          |    31  |    1.1
  Deserted by father                        |    69  |    2.7   |     4  |    1.6   |    73  |    2.6
  Deserted by mother                        |    12  |     .5   |     3  |    1.2   |    15  |     .5
  Deserted by both parents                  |     5  |     .2   |     4  |    1.6   |     9  |     .3
  One or both parents in prison             |     6  |     .2   |     1  |     .4   |     7  |     .3
  One or both parents in other institutions |    22  |     .9   |     1  |     .4   |    23  |     .8
  Mother not in America                     |    12  |     .5   |        |          |    12  |     .4
  Father not in America                     |     4  |     .2   |        |          |     4  |     .1
  Neither parent in America                 |     1  |          |        |          |     1  |
  None of above conditions existing         | 1,669  |   65.7   |   133  |   54.5   | 1,802  |   64.7
  Parental condition not reported           |    15  |     .6   |     5  |    2.0   |    20  |     .8
      Total                                 | 2.542  |  100.0   |   244  |  100.0   | 2,786  |  100.0

NOTE.--In several cases two conditions are reported in one case.


(TABLE XV.--Previous Records.[59] Report, p. 67.)

                                    |                   JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
                                    |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                    | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Number arraigned first time       | 3,528  |   74.1   |    90  |   98.9   | 3,618  |   74.5
  Number arraigned who had previous |        |          |        |          |        |
    court record                    | 1,235  |   25.9   |     1  |    1.1   | 1,236  |   25.5
      Total                         | 4,763  |  100.0   |    91  |  100.0   | 4,854  |  100.0

                                    |                    SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS
                                    |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                    | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Number arraigned first time       | 2,198  |   82.9   | 1,461  |   96.4   | 3,659  |   87.9
  Number arraigned who had previous |
    court record                    |   452  |   17.1   |    54  |    3.6   |   506  |   12.1
      Total                         | 2,650  |  100.0   | 1,515  |  100.0   | 4,165  |  100.0

                                    |                        ALL CASES
                                    |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                    | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Number arraigned first time       | 5,726  |   77.2   | 1.551  |   96.6   | 7,277  |   80.7
  Number arraigned who had previous |        |          |        |          |        |
    court record                    | 1,687  |   22.8   |    55  |    3.4   | 1,742  |   19.3
      Total                         | 7,413  |  100.0   | 1,606  |  100.0   | 9,019  |  100.0

NOTE.--The number of children before the court who had previous records
was probably slightly in excess of the number shown by the figures.


(TABLE XVII.--School and Employment Record of Children
Investigated.[60] Report, p. 70.)

                                 |                   JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
                                 |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                 | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Children in regular grades     | 1,124  |   66.9   |    26  |   63.4   | 1,150  |   66.8
  Children in special classes    |    75  |    4.5   |        |          |    75  |    4.4
  Children in ungraded classes   |    19  |    1.1   |        |          |    19  |    1.1
  Children having working papers |   339  |   20.2   |     6  |   14.6   |   345  |   20.0
  Children not in school         |    98  |    5.8   |     9  |   22.0   |   107  |    6.2
  Not reported                   |    25  |    1.5   |        |          |    25  |    1.5
      Total                      | 1,680  |  100.0   |    41  |  100.0   | 1,721  |  100.0

                                 |                   SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS
                                 |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                 | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Children in regular grades     |   613  |    73.4  |   110  |    55.0  |  723   |   69.8
  Children in special classes    |    41  |     4.9  |     7  |     3.5  |   48   |    4.6
  Children in ungraded classes   |    11  |     1.3  |     2  |     1.0  |   13   |    1.3
  Children having working papers |   111  |    13.2  |    53  |    26.5  |  164   |   15.8
  Children not in school         |    46  |     5.5  |    14  |     7.0  |   60   |    5.8
  Not reported                   |    14  |     1.7  |    14  |     7.0  |   28   |    2.7
      Total                      |   836  |   100.0  |   200  |   100.0  | 1,036  |  100.0

                                 |                        ALL CASES
                                 |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                                 | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  Children in regular grades     | 1,737  |   69.0   |   136  |   56.4   | 1,873  |   67.9
  Children in special classes    |   116  |    4.6   |     7  |    2.9   |   123  |    4.5
  Children in ungraded classes   |    30  |    1.2   |     2  |     .8   |    32  |    1.2
  Children having working papers |   450  |   17.9   |    59  |   24.5   |   509  |   18.5
  Children not in school         |   144  |    5.7   |    23  |    9.6   |   167  |    6.0
  Not reported                   |    39  |    1.6   |    14  |    5.8   |    53  |    1.9
      Total                      | 2,516  |  100.0   |   241  |  100.0   | 2,757  |  100.0



(CHART XIII.--School and Employment Record of Children Investigated.
Report, p. 71.)]


(TABLE XXVII.--General Summary of Probation.[61] Report, p. 84.)

                               |        JUVENILE        |         SPECIAL        |
                               |       DELINQUENCY      |       PROCEEDINGS      |       ALL CASES
                               |  Male | Female | Total |  Male | Female | Total |  Male | Female | Total
  Number pending on probation  |       |        |       |       |        |       |       |        |
    Jan. 1, 1913               |   391 |    40  |   431 |       |        |       |   391 |    40  |   431
  Number placed on probation   |       |        |       |       |        |       |       |        |
    during year                | 1,386 |    36  | 1,422 |   720 |   184  |   904 | 2,106 |   220  | 2,326
  Number whose probation       |       |        |       |       |        |       |       |        |
    terminated during year     | 1,278 |    55  | 1,333 |   501 |   117  |   618 | 1,779 |   172  | 1,951
  Number pending Dec. 31, 1913 |   499 |    21  |  520  |   219 |    67  |   286 |   718 |    88  |   806


(TABLE XXVIII.--Age of Children Placed on Probation during 1913.[62]
Report, p. 85.)

                    |                   JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
         Age        |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                    | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  7 Years and under |     4  |     .3   |        |          |     4  |     .3
  8 and 9 years     |    83  |    5.9   |     3  |    8.3   |    86  |    6.0
  10 and 11 years   |   206  |   14.9   |     5  |   13.9   |   211  |   14.8
  12 and 13 years   |   486  |   35.2   |    12  |   33.3   |   498  |   35.0
  14 and 15 years   |   584  |   42.1   |    16  |   44.5   |   600  |   42.2
  16 years and over |    10  |     .7   |        |          |    10  |     .8
  Not stated        |    13  |     .9   |        |          |    13  |     .9
      Total         | 1,386  |  100.0   |    36  |  100.0   | 1,422  |  100.0

                    |                   SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS
         Age        |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                    | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  7 Years and under |     9  |    1.2   |     2  |    1.1   |    11  |    1.2
  8 and 9 years     |    58  |    8.1   |     6  |    3.3   |    64  |    7.1
  10 and 11 years   |   142  |   19.7   |     9  |    4.8   |   151  |   16.7
  12 and 13 years   |   234  |   32.5   |    39  |   21.2   |   273  |   30.1
  14 and 15 years   |   269  |   37.3   |   126  |   68.5   |   395  |   43.8
  16 years and over |     1  |     .2   |     2  |    1.1   |     3  |     .3
  Not stated        |     7  |    1.0   |        |          |     7  |     .8
      Total         |   720  |  100.0   |   184  |  100.0   |   904  |  100.0

                    |                        ALL CASES
         Age        |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                    | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  7 Years and under |    13  |     .6   |     2  |     .9   |    15  |     .6
  8 and 9 years     |   141  |    6.7   |     9  |    4.1   |   150  |    6.4
  10 and 11 years   |   348  |   16.5   |    14  |    6.4   |   362  |   15.6
  12 and 13 years   |   720  |   34.2   |    51  |   23.1   |   771  |   33.2
  14 and 15 years   |   853  |   40.6   |   142  |   64.6   |   995  |   42.7
  16 years and over |    11  |     .5   |     2  |     .9   |    13  |     .6
  Not stated        |    20  |     .9   |        |          |    20  |     .9
      Total         | 2,106  |  100.0   |   220  |  100.0   | 2,326  |  100.0


(TABLE XXX.--Duration of Probation, Cases Ended During 1913. Report, p.

                      |                   JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
  Length of probation |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                      | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  2 months and under  |   312  |   25.4   |     8  |   33.3   |   320  |   25.5
  3 months            |   220  |   18.0   |     5  |   21.0   |   225  |   18.0
  4 months            |   288  |   23.4   |     8  |   33.3   |   296  |   23.6
  5 months            |   100  |   15.4   |     2  |    8.3   |   192  |   15.3
  6 months            |    97  |    7.9   |     1  |    4.1   |    98  |    7.8
  7 months            |    43  |    3.5   |        |          |    43  |    3.4
  8 months            |    34  |    2.8   |        |          |    34  |    2.7
  9 months            |    19  |    1.5   |        |          |    19  |    1.5
  10 months           |    14  |    1.1   |        |          |    14  |    1.1
  11 months           |     5  |     .4   |        |          |     5  |     .4
  12 months and over  |     8  |     .6   |        |          |     8  |     .7
      Total           | 1,230  |  100.0   |    24  |  100.0   | 1,254  |  100.0

                      |                   SPECIAL PROCEEDINGS
  Length of probation |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                      | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  2 months and under  |  169   |   26.2   |    38  |   25.3   |   207  |   26.0
  3 months            |  138   |   21.4   |    28  |   18.6   |   166  |   20.9
  4 months            |  137   |   21.2   |    26  |   17.3   |   163  |   20.5
  5 months            |   64   |    9.8   |    10  |    6.7   |    74  |    9.3
  6 months            |   59   |    9.2   |    16  |   10.7   |    75  |    9.4
  7 months            |   31   |    4.8   |    11  |    7.4   |    42  |    5.3
  8 months            |   15   |    2.4   |     5  |    3.3   |    20  |    2.5
  9 months            |   10   |    1.6   |     5  |    3.3   |    15  |    1.9
  10 months           |    6   |     .9   |     3  |    2.0   |     9  |    1.2
  11 months           |    6   |     .9   |     6  |    4.0   |    12  |    1.5
  12 months and over  |   10   |    1.6   |     2  |    1.4   |    12  |    1.5
      Total           |  645   |  100.0   |   150  |  100.0   |   795  |  100.0

                      |                        ALL CASES
  Length of probation |       Male        |      Female       |      Total
                      | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  2 months and under  |   481  |   25.7   |    46  |   26.4   |   527  |   25.7
  3 months            |   358  |   19.1   |    33  |   19.0   |   391  |   19.1
  4 months            |   425  |   22.7   |    34  |   19.4   |   459  |   22.4
  5 months            |   254  |   13.5   |    12  |    6.9   |   266  |   13.0
  6 months            |   156  |    8.3   |    17  |    9.6   |   173  |    8.5
  7 months            |    74  |    3.9   |    11  |    6.4   |    85  |    4.1
  8 months            |    49  |    2.6   |     5  |    2.9   |    54  |    2.6
  9 months            |    29  |    1.5   |     5  |    2.9   |    34  |    1.7
  10 months           |    20  |    1.1   |     3  |    1.8   |    23  |    1.1
  11 months           |    11  |     .6   |     6  |    3.5   |    17  |     .8
  12 months and over  |    18  |    1.0   |     2  |    1.2   |    20  |    1.0
      Total           | 1,875  |  100.0   |   174  |  100.0   | 2,049  |  100.0



(CHART XVII.--Duration of Probation. Report, p. 89.)]


(TABLE XXXI.--Volume of Business Before Court During 1913. Report, p.

                    |     NEW CASES     | CASES REARRAIGNED |   TOTAL CASES
        Month       +--------+----------+--------+----------+--------+----------
                    | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent
  January           |  1,060 |   11.8   |  1,337 |     9.8  |  2,397 |   10.6
  February          |    635 |    7.0   |    595 |     4.4  |  1,230 |    5.4
  March             |    766 |    8.5   |  1,013 |     7.4  |  1,779 |    7.8
  April             |    834 |    9.3   |  1,141 |     8.4  |  1,975 |    8.7
  May               |    882 |    9.8   |  1,410 |    10.3  |  2,292 |   10.2
  June              |    786 |    8.7   |  1,142 |     8.4  |  1,928 |    8.5
  July              |    615 |    6.8   |  1,039 |     7.6  |  1,654 |    7.3
  August            |    644 |    7.1   |  1,115 |     8.2  |  1,759 |    7.8
  September         |    728 |    8.1   |    990 |     7.3  |  1,718 |    7.6
  October           |    786 |    8.7   |  1,349 |     9.9  |  2,135 |    9.4
  November          |    694 |    7.7   |  1,166 |     8.5  |  1,860 |    8.2
  December          |    589 |    6.5   |  1,335 |     9.8  |  1,924 |    8.5
      Total         |  9,019 |  100.0   | 13,632 |  100.0   | 22,651 |  100.0
  Average number of |        |          |        |          |        |
    cases per day   |        |          |        |          |     75 |



  ABATTOIRS ON WEST SIDE: location of, 3

  ACQUITTAL: in children’s court, 92

  ADENOIDS: In court cases studied, 90


  AMERICAN-BORN PARENTS OF BOYS: nationality of, 7, 169

  ANTHONY, KATHARINE: Mothers Who Must Earn, cited, 7, 59, 141

  ARRESTS OF BOYS: court disposition of cases involving, 92-95, 97, 172;
    for trivial offenses, 18, 19;
    for trivial offenses, elimination of, preferable to cursory treatment
      in court, 107;
    mistaken, 97, 98;
    offenses in 463 cases, according to court charges, 82;
    offenses in 463 cases, as classified by Bureau of Social Research, 16, 17;
    previous, failure of faulty court records to show, 90

  ASSAULT: boys arrested for, according to court charges, 82;
    boys arrested for, according to classification of Bureau of Social
      Research, 17;
    penal law regarding, cited, 81;
    street fighting and, 37


  BAIL: seldom demanded at S. P. C. C. headquarters, 89;
    when not required, in cases of juvenile delinquency, 88

  BALL PLAYING: illegality of, 37.
    See _Baseball_

  BALLS: on West Side, 154

  BASEBALL: on the West Side, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33

  BEGGING: by children whose mothers are “harborers,” 73;
    by West Side boys, 151

  BIG BROTHER MOVEMENT: as a source of names of boys, 167;
    probation work of, 86, 87

  BONFIRES: boys’ fondness for, 25, 26;
    stealing wood for, as a cause of gang warfare, 48

  BOSS, THE: and the children’s court, 88, 89

  BOXING: on the West Side, 29, 33, 34, 35, 36

  BOY FROM ANOTHER STATE: on West Side, case of, 22

  BOY SCOUT MOVEMENT: illustrates possibilities in gang for good, 40

  BOYS, WEST SIDE: ages of those studied, 167;
    and the court, 79-140;
    background of, 1-9;
    court disposition of cases involving arrests of, 95, 172, 173;
    drinking by, 146, 147;
    fighting by, 143, 144;
    gainfully employed, occupation and wages of, 175;
    games of, 24-38;
    gang life of, 39-54;
    growth in lawlessness of, 15;
    homes of, 55-78;
    lack of stamina of, 156;
    not arrested, who were included in study of delinquents, 95;
    not gainfully employed, status of, 174;
    not properly delinquent, 95, 99, 100;
    offenses of, largely excusable, 18;
    offenses in 463 cases of arrest of, 16, 17, 82;
    playground of, 10-23;
    recreation of, beyond control of family, 77;
    scope of study of delinquency of, 94, 95;
    sexual immorality of, 154;
    smoking by, 145;
    sources from which names of those studied were obtained, 167;
    spendings and earnings of, 68, 69;
    stealing by, 141, 142;
    successful institution cases among, 127, 128;
    truancy of, 148-151;
    truancy records of, classified as delinquent or not delinquent, 173;
    two types of, 157, 159;
    wanderlust of, 151-154;
    who are brought into court, 87-95;
    who are let go, 95-107;
    who are paroled, 107-116;
    who are “sent up,” 117-138

  BOYS’ REPUBLIC: George Ruhl sent to a, 158

  BRANSFIELDS: reputation of, 112

  BREWERIES ON WEST SIDE: location of, 3

  “BRUISERS”: rather than real prize fighters furnish example to
    West Side boy, 36

  BUDGET, FAMILY: often inadequate to cover requisites for healthy
    growth, 60

  BURCKEL, JAMES: value of neighborhood testimony in case of, 112

  BUREAU OF SOCIAL RESEARCH: offenses in 463 cases of arrest as
    classified by, 16, 17

  BURGLARY: and unlawful entry, penal law regarding, 81;
    arrest of boys for, 17, 82

  BURNS, JOEY: who had not been in court, 98

  CALIBAN OF THE WEST SIDE: and his Setebos, 80

  CARSON, MR.: parole of Jimmie to, 150

  CARTWRIGHT, O. G.: The Middle West Side, cited, 4, 6

  CATESBY, MRS.: case of, 72, 73

  CATHOLIC LADIES’ COMMITTEE: probation work of, 85, 86


  CATHOLIC PROTECTORY: children received by, 118, 119;
    commitment by children’s court to, 94

  CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: Big Brother movement in, 86

  CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS: commitment by children’s court to, 94

  CHARITABLE SOCIETIES. See _Relief Records_; _Relief Societies_

  CHARITY ORGANIZATION SOCIETY: as a source of names of boys, 167

  CHICAGO: probation cases and officers in, 87

  CHILD LABOR LAW: arrests for violation of, in children’s court, 82

  CHILD WELFARE EXHIBIT, NEW YORK: Handbook cited, on trivial offenses, 95

  CHILDREN: number of, in families studied, 58, 170

  CHILDREN, NEGLECTED: children’s court commits to charitable institutions, 94

  CHILDREN’S COURT, MANHATTAN: as viewed by West Side boy and his parents, 80;
    description of growth, equipment, and processes of, 80-84;
    disposition of cases in, 92, 93, 94, 172, 173;
    hearings in, cursory and hurried, 97, 105, 106, 107;
    investigation in, 90, 91, 92, 110;
    judges of, 83;
    parole system of, 107-116;
    probation cases and officers of, 87;
    progress made in, since 1910, 79, 83, 87, 90, 111, 120;
    records in, consulted in study of commitment cases, 118;
    records in, faulty, 90;
    records in, new system of, 90, 111;
    records in, samples quoted, 110, 111;
    reputed influence of “boss” in, 88, 89;
    summary of results of action by, in cases studied, 138-140;
    things needed to increase effectiveness of, 107, 140;
    trials in, average time given to each, 83.
    See also _Juvenile Court_; _Juvenile Delinquency_; _Probation_

  CHILDREN’S COURTS: where defects corrected in Manhattan still exist, 79

  CHURCH: among sources from which boys’ names obtained for study, 167

  CHURCH, A DESERTED: on West Side, 3

  CHURCHES: not consulted in court investigations, 114;
    probation work of, 85-87

  CIGARETTES: boys’ demand for, 142, 145

    positions of physicians for children’s court exempt, 140

  CLUB STUDIES: as a source of names of boys, 167

  COAL AND WOOD: theft of, a matter of course on West Side, 18, 141

  COAL YARDS ON WEST SIDE: location of, 3

  COMEDY, MEREDITHIAN: on West Side, 161

    See _Page Commission_

  COMMITMENT, COURT: considerations that guide judge in determining on, 119;
    different attitudes of parents toward, 124-126;
    during parole, in cases studied, 116;
    effectiveness of, 117, 137, 138, 139;
    frequently made on insufficient evidence, 119, 120;
    institutions to which made, 94, 118-119;
    length of, compared with length of parole period, 109;
    theory of, 117

  COMMITTED CASES: absence of investigation in, 119;
    scope and method of study of, 118;
    where sentence a serious error, 120, 121


  CONCEALED WEAPONS: carrying of, among boys, 45

  CONJUGAL CONDITION: of parents of boys, 171

  COOGAN, PATRICK: and his court experience, 98


  CORRECTIONS, DEPARTMENT OF: former building of, used as children’s court, 83

  COULTER, ERNEST K.: Big Brother movement initiated by, 86

  COUNTRY OF BIRTH: of parents of boys, 168

  COURT DISPOSITION: of cases of boys studied, 172, 173.
    See _Children’s Court_

  Court, Getting Into, 87-95.
    See _Children’s Court_

  COURT, JUVENILE: lack of respect for, among boys, 19, 20.
    See _Children’s Court_

  COURT LIST: names of boys obtained from, 167

  COURT OF SPECIAL SESSIONS: children’s court part of the, 83.
    See _Children’s Court_

  COWARDICE: among West Side gangs. 52, 53, 54

  CRAPS, SHOOTING: a year round amusement on West Side, 28;
    leads to arrest for obstructing sidewalks, 37

  CRIMINAL RECORD: of Middle West Side, 8, 13, 19

  CRIMINAL TENDENCY: spirit of youth forced to become a, 38


  DANCES: among amusements offered to West Side boy, 154

  DARK ROOMS: common on West Side, 56


  DELINQUENCY OF BOYS: bail in cases of, 88;
    scope of study of, 94, 95.
    See _Juvenile Delinquency_

  DELINQUENT BOYS: those studied who were not properly so called, 95, 99,
      100, 173

  DELINQUENTS: commitment of, by children’s court, to reformatories, 94

    See _Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children_

  DE WITT CLINTON PARK: described, 4, 5;
    the only park on Middle West Side, 10

  DIAMOND LAUNDRY: Matty Gilmore and the, 104


  DISCHARGE: of boys against whom no evidence found, 96.
    See also _Dismissal_

  DISCHARGES: following parole, in cases studied, 116

  DISCIPLINE: meted out to the boy, 70, 71


  DISORDERLY CHILD: boys arrested as, according to court charges, 82;
    penal law regarding, 81

  DISORDERLY CONDUCT: boys arrested for, 82

    See _Children’s Court_

  DOCKS: attraction of, for the boy, 20;
    baseball on the, 33.
    See also _Quays_

  DONNELLY, MARTIN: a “successful” institution case, 127

  DOOLEY, MRS.: and her Joseph, 71

  DOYLE, DENNIS: stone throwing by, 15, 129

  DOYLE, MRS.: and her five boys, 128

  DOYLE, PATRICK: delinquency record of, 130, 131, 132

  DOYLE, RAYMOND: delinquency record of, 129, 130, 131, 132, 134

  DRAFT RIOTS: typical of West Sider’s temper, 7

  DRINKING: among West Side boys, 146

  DRUNKENNESS: among West Side boys, 146, 147

  “DUMB-BELL” TENEMENTS: common on West Side, 56

  EARNINGS AND SPENDINGS: of the West Side boy, 68, 69

  EAST SIDE AND WEST SIDE: compared, 6, 7

  EDUCATION LAW, COMPULSORY: boys arrested for violations of, 82

  EIGHTH AVENUE: characteristics of, 2

    See also _Bonfires_

  ELEVENTH AVENUE: characteristics of, 3, 4


  EMPLOYERS: statements from, in parole cases, 110, 113

  EMPLOYMENT: low grade, sought by West Side boys, 159

  ENGLISH PARENTAGE: of parents of boys, 8

  ENVIRONMENT: influence of, 1

  EQUITY POWERS: needed by children’s court, 140

  EYES: bad, in court cases studied, 90;
    neglect to care for, 60

  FAMILIES OF BOYS STUDIED: conjugal condition of parents in, 59, 171;
    country of birth and nationality of parents in, 168, 169;
    different attitudes of, toward commitment, 124-126;
    length of residence in district of, 1, 168;
    number involved in delinquency study, 94;
    number of children in, 58, 170;
    persons in households of, and rooms occupied by, 169;
    relief records of, 171, 172;
    statements from, secured in study of commitment cases, 118;
    status of mothers in, 170;
    varying types represented among, 59

    typical day of housewife in, 58, 59.
    See also _Mothers_; _Parents_

  FAMILY FROM ANOTHER STATE: on West Side, case of boy in, 22

  FAMILY QUARRELS: in a “model” tenement, 58

  FATHERS OF BOYS STUDIED: absence of, as a cause of delinquency, 125;
    American-born, nationality of, 7, 169;
    conjugal condition of, 171;
    country of birth of, 7, 168;
    influence of, in family life, 61.
    See also _Parents_

  FEEBLE-MINDEDNESS: back of some court cases studied, 90.
    See also _Mental Examination_

  FERRY RIDES TO JERSEY: the “sneaking” of, 150


  FEUDS ON WEST SIDE, 143, 144

  FIGHTING: and boxing not necessarily associated, 34;
    between gangs of West Side boys, 45-53;
    street, and assault, 37;
    with fists on West Side, 143.
    See also _Prize Fighting_; _Boxing_

  FINES: in children’s court cases, 93, 96

  FIRE-ARMS: arrest of boys for use of, 17.
    See also _Weapons_

  FIRE POTS, 25, 26

  FOLKS, HOMER: quoted on parole, 85

  FOOD: adulterated and damaged, commonly sold on West Side, 75

  FUEL: theft of, regarded as a matter of course on West Side, 141


  GANG: a typical, history of, 40, 41;
    responsibility of, for lawlessness of West Side boy, 39;
    synonymous with worst side of boy life on West Side, 54

  GANG FIGHTS: among boys on West Side, 45-53

  GANG LIFE: salient features of, 42, 43, 44

  GARBAGE DISPOSAL PIER: on Twelfth Avenue, 5

  GAS TANKS: location of, on West Side, 3

  GATES, MRS.: and her Jimmy, 64, 65

  GERMAN ELEMENT: on Middle West Side, 7

  GERMAN PARENTAGE: of American-born parents of boys, 7, 8

  GERMANY: parents of boys born in, 7

  “GERRY MEN”: dreaded more than the court, 90;
    unpopularity of, on West Side, 13

  GILMORE, MATTY: case of, 103, 104



  GUARDIANSHIP, IMPROPER: among offenses leading to arrest of boys, 16;
    arraignment of children for, 81;
    boys arrested for, according to court charges, 82;
    child dismissed under one charge may be returned for, 92;
    warrants issued in cases of, 94

  HAGGERTY, MRS.: her system of discipline, 70

  HALLWAYS: boys’ use of, 20, 21

  HANNON, MRS.: and the “boss” in court, 88, 89

  “HARBORERS”: mothers who are, 73

  HARRIS, CHARLIE: stories about, 157

  HAWTHORNE SCHOOL: Big Brother work for boys paroled from, 87;
    commitment by children’s court to, 94.
    See also _Jewish Protectory_

  HEALTH CONDITIONS: involved in court cases studied, 90

  HEARINGS AT CHILDREN’S COURT: cursory and hurried, 97, 105, 106, 107.
    See also _Trials_

  HOME CONDITIONS: in court cases studied, 90


  HOUSE OF GOOD SHEPHERD: extreme cases of delinquent girls sent to, 119

  HOUSE OF MERCY: Protestant girls sent to, 119

  HOUSE OF REFUGE: and Jewish Big Brother movement, 87;
    class of cases received by, 119;
    commitment by children’s court to, 94

  HOUSEWIFE OF WEST SIDE: day of the, 58, 59


  HUDSON RIVER RAILROAD: franchise of, an anomaly, 4

  HUSBANDS, SHIFTLESS: treatment of, by their wives, 63, 64

  IMMORALITY, SEXUAL: among West Side boys, 154-156

  INSTITUTION CASES: successful, 127, 128

  INSTITUTIONS: no critical examination made of, 117, 118;
    to which children’s court commits, 94, 118, 119.
    See also _Commitment_

  INSURANCE COMPANIES: and window glass on West Side, 15

  INTOXICATION: among West Side boys, 146;
    as a cause of arrest of boys, 17

  INVESTIGATION: in children’s court, before disposition of case, 90, 91, 92;
    in commitment of cases studied, absence of, 119;
    in parole cases, how made, 110-114;
    rewards for, a light form of punishment, 97

  IRELAND: parents of boys born in, 7

  IRISH: of Middle West Side, 7

  IRISH PARENTAGE: of parents of boys, 8

  ITALY: parents of boys born in, 7

  “JERSEY”: “sneaking” ferry rides to, 150

  JEWISH BIG BROTHER MOVEMENT: probation work of, 86, 87

  JEWISH PROTECTORY AND AID SOCIETY: probation work of, 86.
    See also _Hawthorne School_

  JIMMY: who was caught “when he wasn’t doin’ anything bad,” 19

  JUDGES IN CHILDREN’S COURT: attitude of boys toward, 20, 80;
    formerly and at present, 83.
    See also _Children’s Court_

  JUVENILE ASYLUM: commitment by children’s court to, 94, 119

  JUVENILE COURT: boys’ contempt for judges in, 20;
    understanding of neighborhood conditions essential in estimating work of, 9.
    See also _Children’s Court_

  JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: a product of conditions in homes and on streets, 140;
    as defined in New York, 80, 81;
    need of equity powers by court dealing with, 140

  JUVENILE DELINQUENTS: history of probation system for, in New York, 84-87

  JUVENILE OFFENDERS: consideration of background essential to study of, 1

  JUVENILE PROBATION IN NEW YORK: Homer Folks, quoted, 85

  KITE FLYING: on West Side, 28

  LARCENY, Grand and Petty: boys arrested for, 82;
    penal law regarding, 81

  LARRABIE, JOHN: and the organ-grinder, 129, 134

  LAWYERS: extent to which involved in proceedings of children’s court, 91

  “LICKINGS”: place of, in children’s court scheme, 93

  “LOITERING”: as an offense against the law, 37

  LUMBER YARDS ON WEST SIDE: location of, 3

  MCCARTHY, MRS.: and her worthless husband, 64

  MCGRATTY, JOSEPH: case of, 133

  MACHINE SHOPS ON WEST SIDE: location of, 3

  MACY, MRS.: a minder of children at twelve, 62

  _Mail, Evening_, New York:
    quoted on vandalism on West Side, 144

  MALLORY, HUGH: case of, 101, 102

  MALLORY, MRS.: her strong and weak points as a mother, 102

    See _Children’s Court_

  MARBLES: games played with, on West Side, 24;
    may lead to arrest for obstructing sidewalk, 37

  MEALS: irregularity of, in families of boys, 75

  MENTAL CONCENTRATION: impossible to West Side boy, 156

  MENTAL EXAMINATION: need of, and arrangements for, in children’s
      court cases, 140


  MISCHIEF AND ANNOYANCE: arrest of boys for offenses of, 17

  MISDEMEANORS: penal law regarding, 81

  “MODEL” TENEMENT: a social worker’s testimony regarding family brawls
      in a, 58

  MONEY: boys’ ways of getting, 151

  MORAL STAMINA: lacking in West Side boy, 156

  MORALLY DEPRAVED: boys arrested as in danger of being, according to
      court charges, 82

  MORAN, JOHNNIE: story, 161, 162

  MORAN, JOHN AND MICHAEL: delinquency records of, 121-124

  MORAN, MRS.: and her “ways of finding out,” 66;
    character of, 121

  MOTHERS OF BOYS STUDIED: absence of, a cause of delinquency, 125;
    American-born, nationality of, 7, 169;
    conjugal condition of, 171;
    country of birth of, 7, 168;
    court experiences of, 105, 106;
    problems and types of, 55, 61-74, 76-78;
    statements of, secured by parole officer, 110;
    status of, 170.
    See also _Parents_

  MOVING PICTURE SHOWS: among amusements offered West Side boy, 154;
    desire of boys for, incites to theft, 142;
    opinions of mothers regarding, 68

  MULLER, CHARLIE: case of, 131, 132, 133

  MURPHY, DENNY: wanderings of, 152-154

  NAMES OF BOYS: those used fictitious

  NATIONALITY: of American-born parents of boys, 7, 169;
    of parents of boys studied, 7.
    See also _Country of Birth_

  NEIGHBORS: statements from, included in study of commitment cases, 118;
    statements of, obtained by parole officer, 110;
    value of testimony of, 112

  NEW YORK CENTRAL. See _Hudson River Railroad_

  NEW YORK CHILDREN’S COURT. See _Children’s Court_


  NEW YORK JUVENILE ASYLUM: commitment by children’s court to, 94, 119

  NEWSPAPERS, NEW YORK: quoted, 49, 50, 144, 161

  NINTH AVENUE: characteristics of, 2

  NOURISHMENT: available in West Side families, often inadequate, 60

  NUTRITION, INFANT: ignorance regarding, in West Side families, 75

  OBSTRUCTING THE SIDEWALKS: games which lead to arrest for, 37

  OCCUPATION AND WAGES: of boys gainfully employed, 175

  OFFENSES: due to play, enumerated, 37

  OFFENSES IN 463 CASES OF ARREST OF BOYS: according to court charges, 82;
    as classified by Bureau of Social Research, 16, 17

  OFFENSES OF BOYS: serious, few arrests for, 19;
    to which arrests due, largely excusable, 18

  OFFENSES OF CHILDREN: for which bail is not required, 88;
    still registered according to law violated, 81;
    trivial, proportion of, according to Handbook of Child Welfare Exhibit, 95


  PAGE COMMISSION: improvements in children’s court recommended by, 84

  PARENTS OF BOYS: conjugal condition of, 171;
    country of birth of, 7, 168;
    different attitudes of, toward commitment of children, 124-126;
    nationality of American-born, 7, 169;
    responsibility of, for misdemeanors of sons, 56;
    value of testimony of, 112.
    See also _Families_; _Father_; _Mother_


  PARKS: none except De Witt Clinton on Middle West Side, 10.
    See _De Witt Clinton Park_

  PAROLE: and probation in New York, 85;
    correct meaning of term, 107;
    outcome of, in cases studied, 115, 116;
    period of, 109;
    system of, in Manhattan Children’s Court, 93, 107-116

  PAROLE CARD: form of, 108

  PAROLED CASES: final disposition of, 173;
    study of, 107-116

  PARTIES AND DANCES: on West Side, 154

  PAY ENVELOPE: boy’s duty regarding, as viewed by community, 68

  PEDDLING WITHOUT LICENSE: penal law regarding, 81

  PENAL LAW: juvenile delinquency according to the, 80, 81

  PEOPLE’S INSTITUTE: new work on West Side undertaken by, 5

  PERVERSION, SEXUAL: among West Side boys, 155

  PHYSICAL EXAMINATION: needed in many cases brought to children’s court, 140

  PHYSICAL STAMINA: lacking in West Side boy, 156

  PIANO FACTORIES: on West Side, location of, 3

  PICKING POCKETS: arrest of boys for, 17

  PIERS OWNED BY CITY: and their uses, 5

  PIGEON FLYING: as a West Side sport, 28, 29;
    disapproved by mothers, 67

  PITCHING PENNIES: a year round amusement on West Side, 28;
    may lead to arrest for obstructing sidewalk, 37

  PLAY: Offenses due to, among those for which boys arrested, 16

  PLAYGROUND: of West Side boy, 10-23


  POLICE: attitude of, toward boys’ offenses, 18;
    boys’ antagonism to, explained, 12;
    fires extinguished by, 25;
    situation regarding, on West Side, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19

  POLICE SERGEANT: discretion permitted to, regarding bail, 88

  POLITICAL “BOSS”: and children’s court, 88, 89

  POOLROOMS: on West Side, 154

  POST-GRADUATE HOSPITAL: clinic conducted by Dr. Max Schlapp at, 140

  POVERTY: in West Side homes, 60, 61.
    See also _Relief Records_

  PRISON ASSOCIATION, NEW YORK: first probation bill as prepared by, 84

  PRIZE FIGHTING: and the West Side boy, 33, 34, 35, 36

  PROBATION: and parole, in children’s court, 85, 107;
    class of boys for whom likely to be most effective, 103

  PROBATION AGENCIES, VOLUNTEER: history and scope of, 85-87;
    part played by, in first court experience of boy, 92;
    proportion of paroled cases studied that were under care of, 115


  PROBATION LAW, FIRST: in New York, 84

  PROBATION OFFICERS, OFFICIAL: in New York, appointment and numbers of, 87;
    preliminary investigation by, 90

  PROBATION STAFF: an adequate and efficient, needed, 107

  PROBATION WORK: essentials to efficient, 139

  PROPERTY: antagonism between sport and the rights of, 37, 38;
    destruction of, on West Side, 144;
    offenses against, leading to arrest of boys, 17, 82

  PUSH CART VENDORS: on Ninth Avenue, 2

  QUAYS: as a field for baseball, 32.
    See also _Docks_

  RAFFERTY, JOE AND HARRY: cases of, 135, 136, 137;
    gang associates and adventures of, 129, 133, 134

  RAFFERTY, MRS.: case of, 135

  RAILROAD AND APPURTENANCES: boys arrested for injury to, 82

  “RAILROAD” TENEMENTS: common on West Side, 56

  REARRESTS FOLLOWING PAROLE: in cases studied, 116

  RECORDS IN CHILDREN’S COURT: old and new, 90, 111

  RECREATION: of West Side boy, beyond control of family, 77

  RECREATION ACTIVITIES: on Middle West Side, and the People’s Institute, 5

  RECREATION PIER: on Twelfth Avenue, 5

  “RED”: and his wanderings with Denny Murphy, 152-154

  REFORMATORIES: commitment to, by children’s court, 94;
    short-term commitments refused by, 92

  RELIEF RECORDS: of families of boys, 171, 172

  RELIEF SOCIETIES: duration of relief records of families known to
      have received aid from, 172;
    records of, consulted in study of commitment cases, 118;
    records of, not consulted in children’s court cases, 114

  REMAND FOR INVESTIGATION: did not necessarily mean further inquiry, 97

  REPRODUCTION: ignorance of West Side boys regarding, 155

  RESIDENCES IN DISTRICT: of families of boys, length of, 168

  RETRIAL: rare in suspended sentence cases, 96

  REVENGE: among West Side boys, 156, 157

  RIDING ON FREIGHT CARS, ETC.: boys arrested for, 82;
    penal law regarding, 81

  RIEMER, HENRY AND ALEXANDER: cases of, 134, 135, 136

  RILEY, GEORGE: case of, 130

  RILEY, JAMES: report of investigation in case of, 111

  RIORDAN, W. L.: Plunkett of Tammany Hall, quoted, 89

  ROBBERY: boys arrested for, 82;
    penal law regarding, 81.
    See also _Burglary_; _Theft_; _Thievery_

  ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST: quoted on gangs, 54

    lack of privacy in, 57, 58

  ROOMS, NUMBER OF: occupied by families of boys, 169

  ROONEY, MATTHEW: case of, 131, 136

  RUHL, GEORGE: case of, 158

  ST. VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY: Catholic Probation League organized
      under auspices of, 85

  SALOON: children’s visits to, 146


  SCHLAPP, DR. MAX: children sent for mental examination to clinic
      conducted by, 140

  SCHOOL: as a source of names of boys, 167;
    principal of, as a parole officer in cases of truancy, 93;
    records consulted in study of commitment cases, 118;
    statements from, obtained by parole officer, 110;
    value of evidence from, in parole cases, 113;
    West Side boy and the, 148, 149

  SCHOOL FARM: in De Witt Clinton Park, 5

  SELF-ABUSE: involved in court cases studied, 90

  SETEBOS: judge of children’s court as a, 80

  SETTLEMENT, A: among sources from which boys’ names obtained, 167;
    thefts from, 142

  SETTLEMENT, A DESERTED: at Tenth Avenue and Fiftieth Street, 3

  SETTLEMENTS: value of evidence to be obtained from, in court cases, 114

  SEXUAL IMMORALITY: among West Side boys, 154-156

  SEXUAL PERVERTS: common on West Side, 155

  SHARKEY, SAM: and his mother, 100

  SMOKING: among West Side boys, 145;
    by boys, difficulties of mothers with, 67

  SNOWBALLING: on West Side, 27

      at headquarters of, 89;
    boy arrested in evening detained by, 88;
    boy taken to court by way of, 80;
    cases remanded to, pending investigation, 91, 97;
    children under sixteen excluded from operation of first probation
      law through efforts of, 84;
    detention quarters of, 84;
    joining of forces with school due to, 113;
    official connection with children’s court, 85, 87;
    period of parole of cases under care of, 109;
    probation work of, 85;
    reports of investigator consulted in study of commitment cases, 118;
    uses of detention rooms of, 97, 108;
    visitation by agents of, in parole cases, 93

  SONS WHO DO NOT WORK: and their mothers, 64

  SOURCES: from which names of boys studied were obtained, 167

  SPECIAL SESSIONS, COURT OF: children’s court part of, 83

  SPINNER, JACK: bail required in case of, 88

  STABBING: arrest of boys for, 17

  STALEY, PATRICK: report of investigation in case of, 110

  STEALING: encouragements to, on West Side, 141, 142

  STREETS: influence exerted upon boys by the, 21, 22;
    the natural playground of the West Side boy, 10, 11;
    uses of, that conflict with boys’ use as a playground, 12

  SUMMERS, MISS: and George Ruhl, 158

  _Survey, The_: article by Homer Folks on Juvenile Probation, cited, 85

  SUSPENDED SENTENCE: after conviction, in children’s court, 93, 96;
    following parole, in cases studied, 116

  TAMMANY OUTING: drunkenness among boys at a, 147

  TEETH: neglect of, 60

  TENEMENT CONDITIONS: on West Side, 56, 57, 58

  TENTH AVENUE: characteristics of, 2, 3

  THEFT: encouragements to, on West Side, 18, 141, 142

  THIEF, JARGON OF: common in boys’ gangs, 44

  THIEVERY: arrest of boys for, 17.
    See also _Burglary_; _Robbery_

  _Times_, New York: headlines regarding a gang fight quoted from, 50

  TRACY, MRS.: and her Michael’s trial, 105

  TRIALS AT CHILDREN’S COURT: brevity of, 83, 105.
    See also _Hearings_

  _Tribune_, New York: headlines regarding a gang fight quoted from, 49

  TRUANCY: among offenses leading to arrest of boys, 16;
    developed into a system, among West Side boys, 148-151;
    difficulties of mothers with, 67;
    procedure in paroled cases of, 93;
    records of boys, classified as delinquent or not delinquent, 173

  TRUANT, A TEN-YEAR-OLD: confession of, 149, 150

  TRUANT SCHOOLS: commitment by children’s court to, 94, 119

  TWELFTH AVENUE: characteristics of, 5

  UNGOVERNABLE CHILD: boys arrested as, according to court charges, 82

  UNITED STATES: parents of boys born in, 7.
    See also _American-born_

  VAGRANCY AND NEGLECT: offenses of, 16

  VANDALISM ON WEST SIDE: as reported by New York _Evening Mail_, 144

  WAGES AND OCCUPATIONS: of boys gainfully employed, 175

  “WANDERLUST”: among West Side boys, 151-154

  WAREHOUSES: on West Side, location of, 3

  WARRANTS: use of, in parole cases, 93, 109

  WATERS, STEPHEN: a “successful” institution case, 127, 128

  WEAPONS, CONCEALED: carrying of, among boys, 45

  WEST SIDE, MIDDLE: a dual neighborhood, 37;
    apathy of, 8;
    characteristics of, explained by history, 6, 7;
    comedy on, 161;
    criminal record of, 8, 13, 19;
    lack of striking features on, 5;
    nationalities predominating on, 7;
    new correlation of recreation activities on, 5

  WINDOW BREAKING: arrest of boys for, 17

  WINDOW GLASS: insurance of, on West Side, 15

  WORK RECORD: importance of, in parole investigations, 110, 113

  _World_, New York: account of gang fighting quoted from, 50

  _World, Evening_, New York: story of Johnnie Moran quoted from the, 161

  YEGGMAN, JARGON OF: common in boys’ gangs, 44

  YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION: Big Brother Movement in, 86






  Copyright, 1914, by




  CHAPTER                                          PAGE

  I. Introductory                                     1

  II. In the Grip of Poverty                         19

  III. Where the School Law Failed                   33

  IV. Wage-earning and New Relations at Home         43

  V. The Will to Play                                57

  VI. The Breakdown of Family Protection             75

  VII. The Italian Girl. By Josephine Roche          95


  A. Economic Condition of the Families             121

  B. School Attendance Data                         132

  INDEX                                             135



The material for the following studies was collected by four persons.
The final chapter, which deals with the Italian girl of the West Side,
was prepared by one of the group working independently. This course
was necessary, as the Italian girl’s life is inseparable from that of
her family and the only approach to her is by way of her own home.
One could not know the Italian girl of the West Side without knowing
also her father, her mother, and her numerous brothers and sisters, if
not, indeed, a great many of her relatives. The other three workers,
including the writer, joined in the management of a small house which
was used as a recreation center and club house. They also collaborated
in keeping a daily journal, to which reference is made in the following

It was our wish especially to gain some knowledge of the type of girl
who is seen so frequently at the street corners and who refuses to be
attracted to agencies which frankly declare a desire to improve her.
The club, therefore, adopted an open-door policy and the leaders tried
to refrain from obvious attempts to influence or control the girls who
came. The aim was to encourage sincerity among them, and to prevent
their “playing up” to superimposed standards “for what there was in
it.” Not that we thought that these girls were especially inclined to
practice fraud; but we knew from experience that work with too obvious
a purpose “to do good” often encourages hypocrisy.

One of our reasons for opening the Tenth Avenue club for girls was
that we had found it impossible to be on an intimate footing with
them in their homes. The atmosphere of family life was far too often
one of mutual reproach and recrimination, and the visitor was likely
to find herself in the embarrassing position of a court of appeals.
Picture an evening spent in the company of the two Katie Murphys,
mother and daughter, thus: Mrs. Murphy, sitting with folded arms in the
rocking-chair, rehearses the story of Katie’s sins. Katie leans against
the back of the sofa with dropped eyelids and a face as expressionless
as putty. All the efforts of the involuntary court of appeals to induce
the girl to say a word in her own behalf are met by stony silence.
Meanwhile, the mother runs on, zealously driving nails in her own
coffin as far as the girl’s affection and confidence are concerned.
Harassed by the problem of feeding, clothing, and housing six children
on $8.00 a week, Mrs. Murphy has little strength or imagination left
for the subtler problem of how to handle an adolescent daughter.

It was such experiences that taught us the necessity of providing some
neutral ground on which to meet Katie Murphy, if we were to secure her
confidence. This neutral ground took the form of club rooms where we
established ourselves with the definite intention of giving Katie the
just due of her youth,--a good time.

We continued, however, to visit the families of girls in the course of
the investigation, collecting thereby material for the observations
on home life contained in the following chapters. The girls themselves
welcomed our visits even though they must have realized in a vague way
that we were keeping “tab” on conditions in the homes from which our
club members came. One day May Sipp,[63] a new girl, came to one of the
club leaders and said, “Miss ----, will you come to my house tomorrow?”
The leader thought that perhaps a party was being planned and asked for
further details. “Why, no one has been to my house yet and I’d like
to have you come,” the girl explained. It was evident that she felt a
little put out because her home had not as yet been visited.

It was the middle of December when we first opened for the girls in the
neighborhood the house which we had taken for the purpose. The place
received no more colorful name than the number on the door, “471,” by
which it was designated during the whole time we occupied it. “471” was
a red brick structure consisting of three stories and a basement. It
was rather a friendly looking house with a “stoop” and the remnants of
front and back yards; that is, there was a small area in front guarded
by a low iron fence with a gate, and a square box in the rear which
became a “playground” in summer. A supervisor from Christ Presbyterian
Church was placed in charge of the latter, and the children crowded
into the little box in such numbers that we soon had complaints from
the neighbors against the shrill chorus rising from the back yard.

The front yard was of no particular use except that the iron gate
served to stimulate the imagination of the small boys who haunted our
premises. It was a continual bone of contention. It was always being
carried away by bands of enemies and heroically restored by bands of
friends--who were sometimes one and the same--until at last we decided
to remove it entirely from the sidewalk, where it was of no earthly use
as a gate, and store it in an inner closet.

We occupied two floors of the house, the ground floor and the basement.
In the basement was a large, well lighted kitchen and a living room. On
the first floor were two large connecting rooms which were furnished
with folding chairs and a piano. Though our equipment was meager, we
had a cook stove and a piano. These two pieces of furniture we came to
regard as the necessary minimum of equipment for a girls’ club under
all circumstances.

The occupations of the clubs--cooking, sewing, basket-weaving, brass
work--were carried on as pastime rather than as work. It was necessary
to vary the program repeatedly, for the shifting attention of the girls
refused to consider any occupation as pleasurable for long at a time.
The one thing of which they never seemed to tire was dancing, and in
spite of the ugly forms which this recreation took, it had always the
beauty of spontaneity. Their fondness for popular songs was almost
as spontaneous. “The Garden of Love,” “The Hypnotizing Man,” “When
Broadway was a Pasture,” “The Girl that Married Dad,” and others of
the same lurid and sentimental strain were sung over and over to an
unvarying appreciation.

Our relations with our co-tenants at “471” threw much additional light
on conditions of life on the West Side. Above us on the second floor
lived the McClusky family. Ellen McClusky was fourteen, and since
her mother’s death two years before had been housekeeper for her
father and three brothers. Lately one of the brothers had sickened of
tuberculosis, thus adding to Ellen’s housekeeping duties those of a
sick nurse. Her school attendance had suffered. The truant officer was
paying visits to the house and the health officer was also knocking at
the door. Thus the clouds had already begun to gather on the McClusky
horizon even before our entrance on the scene. Ellen’s joy at the news
that a club for girls had moved in on the ground floor of the house was
unbounded. She was allowed at first to come down to us every evening.

But Mr. McClusky soon turned against us. He was a choleric individual,
and was, moreover, constantly agitated over the condition of his son,
who was dying by inches. It is not surprising that he turned violently
against the social coercion which demanded that Ellen should go to
school and his son be put away in a hospital. He mishandled the truant
officer and forbade Ellen to have anything to do with the “teachers,”
whom he regarded as being in league with the forces that harassed him.

Ellen would hang over the banisters in the evenings watching the hall
below. But her father had forbidden her even to speak to us. In March
the invalid brother died, and the club rooms were closed for a week
during which the house was given over to the solemn splendors of a
funeral. After the undertaker had retired, the health officer took
possession and the rooms were submitted to a thorough fumigation.

We opened our club once more, but Ellen was still forbidden to come
to us. She continued living in the isolation of the second floor,
peeping over the banisters in the evening. It was finally a great
relief to our overstrained sympathies when an officer of the Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, upon evidence furnished by
Ellen’s aunt, arrived and removed her from her home. This ended the
vicissitudes of the McClusky family so far as we had any share in them.

On the top floor lived Mr. Distel, a German mechanic about fifty years
old. He was an odd little bitten-off man, unkempt and kindly, who had
lived alone in his three little rooms many years. He liked to hear the
boys and girls downstairs, he said, and occasionally he made clumsy
efforts to join in, but he had been too long a hermit. He could not.
Needless to say, Mr. Distel was our most sympathetic neighbor, and the
presence of the little man finishing off an industrious and worthy life
in his lonely top floor rooms made us but the more determined in our
task of supplying wholesome good times to our friends.

The source from which most of our difficulties proceeded was the spirit
of disorder abroad in the neighborhood. This was indeed a lawless
spirit and, in its extreme form, a sinister and menacing influence.
The “Gopher gang”[64] figured largely in the neighborhood gossip, and
whatever may have been the actual extent of Gopher operations in our
vicinity, the current stories about them, however inaccurate as to
facts, were in themselves a sufficiently evil influence in the lives of
the boys and girls of the district.

Our most direct contact with local disorderly influences was through
the gangs of small boys who haunted our premises, demanding to be
admitted. As we were not prepared to open the house to them, our
apparent inhospitality drew upon us a series of attacks. Not that all
the attacks were acts of deliberate revenge; they were sometimes merely
outbursts of habitual rowdyism. Nevertheless, they were a serious
element in our situation. We found that we could not run a club for
girls on Tenth Avenue without getting the small boys’ consent. Time had
to be spent in conciliating them. At first our method was to station
an out-post on the sidewalk. To one of the “teachers,” who proved an
adept in gang psychology, this difficult task was usually delegated. An
entry in her diary under the date of December 20--a date on which the
usual Tenth Avenue spirit was enhanced by the approach of the Christmas
holidays--reads as follows: “As it was not my night on duty I had no
intention of spending the evening at the Tenth Avenue house. I stopped
in to speak to Miss Barclay and see how things were going, but the
disorder on the outside was so bad that I was forced to spend most of
the evening on the sidewalk outside with the boys.”

An adventure which befell us on the second evening after our “opening”
might have had very serious results. One of the club leaders was
engaged in the front basement room with a group of the older girls.
Early in the evening a gang of small boys gathered at the window
outside to upbraid their sisters for not letting them come into the
club. But they withdrew at a word from the “teacher,” who might have
suspected such unusual docility, but did not. An hour later when the
girls were engaged in their club occupations, there came crashing
through the window a weapon seven feet in length, which proved to
be a gun with a bayonet attachment. It struck the chair in which the
teacher was sitting with such force as to chip the oaken back. As the
gun was slowly drawn into the room there was much wringing of hands and
a general desire to get a “cop.” The gang had promptly made off, of
course, leaving the sidewalk deserted.

It became apparent that the small boy could do serious damage unless
conciliated. Treating with him in the darkness of the sidewalk proved
not to be successful. It was evident that we must bring him inside and
examine him in the light. One evening just after the front shutters
had been pried open by depredators who had then promptly run away, one
of the club leaders went out to the sidewalk, closing the door behind
her. Nobody was in sight. But she had only to continue long enough in
a motionless attitude to coax these young animals from their holes.
Presently a head came out from behind a stoop, and another from an area
opposite. Soon several boys were edging along the pavement toward the
solitary figure in the dark, and in a few minutes the whole gang had
closed in a circle around the trapper. She led them up the stoop, into
the brightly lighted sitting room, and called for a clear statement of
grievances. It was all ready. “Say, ain’t no boys gona be let in never?”

The end of this council and of others which followed was that we gave
Saturday night to the boys. Gradually, by this concession and others,
we were able to conciliate the gangs. The worst of our troubles were
over when they had been somewhat enlisted on our side, but there were
occasions when the alliance proved embarrassing. For instance, one
of the “teachers” leaving the club late in the evening encountered
a group of the older boys who gallantly offered to escort her to the
car. As they neared the corner she remarked hastily that she must catch
a car which had just stopped there. Before she could get her breath,
four of the boys rushed ahead, jumped on the front platform, and began
putting on the brakes so that the motorman could not start his car. The
astonished club leader found herself seized by the other three youths
and hoisted upon the rear platform with a parting shove which sent her
hurtling into the car. The hooting and confusion were intense, and the
passengers stood up in alarm. The boys, however, stood genially waving
their caps as the car started. When the conductor came to collect the
fare, he said suspiciously to the new passenger, “Did you know them
boys?” The young woman was compelled to say that they were friends
of hers, to which he replied, “Gee, but you got tough nuts for your

Stories of the disorder in the neighborhood came into the house in many
ways. For instance, it was vividly reproduced in the conversation of
the “gentleman friends” of the girls, who were often our guests. This
was full of wild Gopher gossip and stories of arrests. There was one
evening in particular when Doran thrilled us all with a long story of
how he had gone home early one night and was sitting reading his paper,
feeling rather queer--the trouble was in the air--when a terrific noise
broke out in the hall. A whole gang of fellows had come into the house
through the door on the roof and gone plunging down the stairs pursued
by a trail of officers.

At this point in the story, Cleaver suggested that Doran must have
kept the door shut pretty tight, to which he agreed. Cleaver then
accused him of being afraid, and recalled an instance when, as he
claimed, Doran had shut the door against him when the “cops” were
after him. Doran hotly denied this. The two ruffled spirits had to be
smoothed and then the talk ran on, all about arrests and flights and
pursuits. The whole conversation indicated how precariously near the
edge of trouble these young men felt themselves to be all the time.
It showed also the kind of lawlessness and rowdyism on which they
built their youthful ideals, which lead in turn to further acts of
lawlessness and rowdyism.

Echoes of the Gophers occurred in the talk of the girls. At one of
the first club meetings, a tall, attractive girl arose and proposed
as a name for the club, the “Gopherettes.” As a motto, she suggested,
“Hit one, hit all.” This was Fanny Mayhew, who turned out on nearer
acquaintance to be a wonderfully cheerful girl with a happy disposition
and very popular with her family and school teachers. Though perfectly
able to hold her own, she proved not so belligerent as the episode had
suggested. She told a club leader that she had once belonged to a club
of girls called the “Gopherettes.” They had paid dues and even rented a
basement room for a short time. Later the club had moved to the dock,
and she had not been allowed by her mother to go to its meetings.

It was unavoidable that the girls’ conduct should reflect the character
of their environment. However, only once was there an outbreak against
a club leader. Among the friends of the house who kindly volunteered
from time to time to help with an evening’s entertainment was a young
woman from another city who had, thanks to her own efforts and the
interest of a wealthy friend, raised herself from the ranks of the
girls who composed our clubs. On the occasion of this young woman’s
visit with us, there arose from the room where she was engaged with
a group of girls the sounds of a violent quarrel. One of the regular
leaders hastened to the room, arriving just in time to prevent blows.
Julia O’Brien had lifted her arm to strike the young woman who had come
up from the ranks and who was, moreover, for the moment the center of a
hostile, excited group.

The leader of the riot, led downstairs to the kitchen, became instantly
repentant, and the story of the quarrel came out. One of the girls had
stepped on Julia’s foot and she had exclaimed, “Oh, hell!” It was an
unfortunate slip. Julia knew that swearing was not allowed in the club
rooms and she was making strenuous efforts, as the leaders knew, to
break a lifelong habit. But the young woman from the ranks did not know
this and she had rebuked the guilty Julia in a tone of such cold and
stinging contempt that it had not only provoked her victim to the point
of striking blows but had drawn upon the tactless leader the wrath of
every girl present.

A subsequent talk with this young woman revealed the attitude of
offensive superiority which the girls had so hotly resented--an
unfortunate by-product of her rapid rise into responsibility. A
thoroughly self-respecting and deserving person, she had the peculiarly
hard and unsympathetic attitude toward those who had failed to surmount
their disabilities so often held by persons who have themselves
struggled up from the ranks.

“Fights” among the girls were not infrequent. One unusually peaceful
and happy evening, for instance, ended in open warfare because Barbara
Egan, apparently with no evil intent, had asked Louisa Storm why her
fingers were so crooked. No less painful was the quarrel between Mamie
Taggart and Anna Strumpf, which was recorded in the following entry in
the diary: “Tonight it was raining heavily but about eight or ten girls
of the Wednesday night club turned up. Anna Strumpf sent word that she
is not coming any more as she is afraid that Mamie Taggart will do her
up outside.”

Not all the “fights” were duels; some of them were petty wars of
faction with faction. There was one particularly unfortunate evening
when fatal “remarks were passed” and the deadly insult “tough” was
used. The waves of bitterness were long in subsiding. The next evening
a group of the girls, headed by Maggie Tracy and Clara Denley, appeared
at the club wearing large stiff hair bows, some red and some black,
which stuck out defiantly on either side. They announced that they had
been called tough, so what could one expect? The club leaders began to
muster their diplomacy and act as peacemakers, but the air was still
belligerent when the opposite faction came in.

Expecting a repetition of the clash between the two sets, we were
greatly surprised to see Sadie Fleming, the leader of the newcomers,
go up to Maggie Tracy and put her hand affectionately on her enemy’s
shoulder, apparently forgetting that a state of war existed between
them. Sadie and her companions had collected on their way to the club
the most thrilling gossip of the entire year. Father Langan, according
to the story, on his way to give holy communion to a woman who was
sick, had been attacked by a gang of Gophers. He had thrown open his
coat to show the vestment of the priest, but they had robbed him of
some money he was carrying and had left him stretched on the sidewalk!

This story was a nine-days’ wonder on the West Side, where, as a usual
thing, deeds of violence are promptly forgotten. Father Langan flatly
contradicted the report, but this had no effect upon the currency of
so picturesque a story. Very likely there were other quarrels besides
Sadie’s and Maggie’s which were forgotten and effaced in the mutual
thrill over this piece of modernized Irish folklore. Mrs. O’Callahan
was graphic, bringing together details heard from various other sources
as well.

“The father was just afther going t’ give a dyin’ woman th’ Holy
Communion. He was stheppin’ down the street when these fellows set in
upon him. ‘B’ys,’ he sez, throwin’ back his coat and takin’ an’ showin’
thim th’ Sacrament which he had in his pocket, ‘d’ye see what I’m
carryin’ here? For yer own good,’ he sez, ‘Oi warn ye,’ he sez, ‘not t’
lay hand on a priest,’ he sez, ‘an’ him goin’ t’ a sick old woman,’ he
sez. An’ with that they hit him an’ took what money he had--twenty-six
dollars he was carryin’, so they say. Oi can’t understand why the
fire from above didn’t sthrike thim down dead. In Ireland, a priest
there has only t’ stamp with his foot and they’d ha’ been sthruck down
where they stood. But America is a bad place, it ain’t like th’ owld

When the youthful gang spirit of Tenth Avenue had been conquered it
seemed as though the last difficulty had been surmounted. At the
end of ten months we thought we had taken the measure of all the
unpropitious influences that threatened our enterprise. But not so.
We were yet to capitulate to the last and most powerful enemy of
all--industry. First came a “dispossess” notice, and before we could
get our breath from the surprise the house-wrecking crew were upon us.
It was a simple matter to raze “471” and the adjoining buildings. In a
few days they had all disappeared, along with the tiny back yard, where
the children had played on hot summer days. On the site was erected
a lofty factory building. Tomorrow the machines will be chugging
away in the new shops, tended perhaps by some of the same girls who
yesterday came knocking at the door of “471” asking for room to play.
A neighboring school received the remnants of our clubs. With new
conditions, a new environment, and new groups of girls, an entirely new
start had to be made.

       *       *       *       *       *

The observations given in this study of girl life on the West Side do
not pretend to be extensive. No attempt was made to gather in numbers.
We had 65 girls in our clubs whose home conditions were very well
known.[65] But the study was written with much additional information
in mind. Other girls came to the house and we were in touch in one way
or another with a great many families of the neighborhood besides those
of club members. The chief purpose, however, was to know intimately and
sympathetically a small group of girls who were typical in many ways
of the girls in any poor and neglected city population. As one writer
puts it: “The alternative lies, not between knowing a few people and
knowing all to an equal degree, but between scratching the surface of
the whole field and digging a portion of it spade deep in order to gain
some idea of the under-soil throughout.”[66]

How far did our groups represent the girl life of the West Side? It was
a comparatively small number whom we knew, and the majority of them
came from the “under-soil.” The well cared for did not come to us. Our
girls were for the most part the daughters of the poorest poor. As a
group they differed essentially from the types of girls usually found
in settlement clubs and classes. Some of them were not of the best
local repute. They were known as “tough,” and had been practically
outlawed by certain settlements and recreation centers for the sake of
the more promising element.

The settlement workers in the district repeatedly assured us that
it was hard to hold the girls who came from our particular area
and impossible to work with them in numbers. This testimony as to
the unsocial character of these girls was sadly borne out by our
experience in trying to organize them into clubs. There were many
who corresponded to the description given by Dr. Katherine Bement
Davis,[67] superintendent of Bedford Reformatory: “Our girls as a class
are anti-social. It is very hard for them to see their conduct in its
relation to the lives of those around them. They are individualistic in
the extreme. They have never thought of the necessity for government
and law, and can see no reason for obedience to anything but their own

But after making all due allowances for the limited number of girls
studied and the “tough” reputations of some of them, the fact remains
that these 65 girls and their friends were representative of many
others who are subjected to the same environment. They had been brought
up from babyhood in these blocks. Born in the crowded, dark tenement
house they had had for a nursery the crowded sidewalk, and for a
playground, the street. They had gone to the nearest school and from
there to work in the nearest factory. They had seen the West Side,
breathed the West Side, fed on the West Side for fourteen years or
more, and had built up their adolescent ideals of the same forlorn
material. That they had succumbed to unwholesome influences does not
prove them to have been peculiarly weak or susceptible. Nor does it
prove that their parents had been culpably delinquent in their duties.
Conditions of living in the crowded city have tended to loosen the
family bond, and the powerful force of neighborhood influence cannot
be adequately combated by parental authority alone. The community must
assume the responsibility for the environment of its least protected

A campaign for the control of conditions in the public dance halls has
been begun. We are told that our young working girls must be given
decent dance halls and not publicly and deliberately consigned to the
degraded centers which attract them under that name. The West Side
girls need much more, however, than protected dance halls. Some of the
girls of this district are too poor to go to public dances. But the
same dangers which threaten the dance-hall girl stalk unrestrained
through the neglected streets and tenements of the West Side, and the
girl of fourteen may fall a victim even under her own roof tree.

Demoralizing neighborhood conditions, such as congestion, filth, street
temptations, and neighborhood gangs, all of which are practically
synonymous with West Side life, influence the girls for evil only to a
less degree than they influence the boys. One needs only to talk with
any good mother of the district and hear how steadily she is engaged
in fending her children against the life of the street to learn how
constant and how potent are its influences. Testimony is borne to their
power by the iterated complaint of West Side mothers,--of those who do
not work away from home as well as of those who do,--that “Mamie is
beginning to get out from under me,” or, “Katie was the best girl you
ever saw until we came to live on this block.”

The problem of waywardness among West Side girls cannot be solved
by long distance methods. Their environment must be made safe and
their pleasures recognized and made decent. Some of the things which
enlightened criminologists recommend for women in reformatories, after
they have completely succumbed to the sort of conditions which abound
on the West Side, are regular school attendance with manual training
and flexible courses of study; regular hours for sleep, for food, for
work, and for play; plenty of nourishing food; fresh air and outdoor
life; the social discipline of community life. These are the things
which are given to the girls in the reformatory at Bedford as a cure.
The same things would help to prevent; they would preserve the West
Side girl to society as a daughter and as a mother, as a worker and as
a citizen.



“You’ve got t’ keep your eye on a girl. Now it’s different with a boy.
He can take care of himself. But you never can tell, if you don’t keep
a watch, when a girl’s goin’ to come back an’ bring disgrace on you.”

Such, in a nutshell, is the attitude of our community toward the
adolescent girl. The chances are that she will “never give you worry
an’ trouble like a boy.” But if she does, she will give vastly more.
The sting of her shame is felt to be keener than any the boy can
inflict. And with very few girls in our neighborhood is “trouble” of
this sort beyond the range of the possible. Therefore the sense of
family responsibility is far more alert in her behalf than on her
brother’s account. With few exceptions, the girl is assured of interest
and counsel in her home. This counsel is not always wise. Worse still,
it is not always tempered with the affection she needs. Here all family
life struggles against handicaps. But through all the sorry failures,
the ignorance, and the thwarted ambitions, much love and much concern
for the girl are to be found in the homes of her people. Almost as a
baby she has duties at home. The boy, as a rule, assumes them with
his first pay envelope. Or, if he is earlier drafted into service, his
chores are outside, probably the gathering of coal or wood while his
sister stays at home to mind the babies. He has more freedom. She grows
up in a more intimate relation to the family, far more under the eye
of her mother. Therefore, family influence, nine times out of ten, is
the great factor in her development. To understand her, home conditions
must be known.

The most common of family skeletons among this West Side group is
one which can scarcely be locked in its closet. It stalks forth,
apparent to the casual glance. It is the grim elemental question of
primitive needs. The daily struggle for food, shelter, and clothing is
a stark reality to which only the youngest babies in the family can be
oblivious. The daughter of fourteen knows it to the last sordid detail.
In the group of families we knew, poverty was almost universal. Of our
65 girls only eight came from households which had known continuous
comfort during these children’s lives. All the others had at some time
faced staggering misfortune. Forty of the total 55 families, or 73 per
cent, had had records with relief societies, some stretching far back
into the past.[70] Forty-three families, from which came 53 of the
girls, must be classed with the very poor.[71]

Those of us born into better fortune seldom feel the meaning of this
primitive struggle. We have no common denominator with it. We cannot
estimate the heroism of “the poor.” We have heard and read much
of hunger and exposure. These things play a large part in juvenile
literature, whether sensational or classic. There is no little daughter
of a comfortable home but is told the sad legend of the match girl who
froze in the snow under the lighted windows from which floated sounds
of merriment and music. The same little daughter, grown older, goes
to school and learns that “man’s three primal necessities are food,
shelter, and clothing.” But neither the faraway and sentimental pathos
of the match girl’s fate nor the cold scholastic statement of the text
book is sufficient to teach one the real meaning of poverty. Only those
who follow its trail, step by step, seeing the gradual and tragic
disintegration of human worth under its influence, the suffering and
waste left in its path, can realize its full power and significance.

To these girls who come forth to their recreation in a skirt worn
thin and a gaping, ill-made waist, poverty is neither distant nor
sentimentally touching. Possibly no child does starve in these streets.
But there are many children who do not need to learn out of books about
hunger. At any moment, one may open a door and find it, in all its
gaunt, staring reality. We once found a tiny crippled baby who had sat
for days in a fireless, barren room, stiffened with cold. She was as
helpless and defenseless a little creature as could well be met. But
this was the treatment that an indifferent community tolerated for her.
And she was only one.

To our girls these were harsh facts of everyday knowledge. Familiarity
with poverty makes it seem both more and less terrible. It does not
kill, perhaps, but it stunts. It does not come as an overwhelming
catastrophe; but steadily it saps the vigor of the young as well
as of the old. With the more fortunate of families such as these,
extreme poverty is only episodic. A fairly decent standard is kept
until something goes amiss. But one break in the machinery of their
working capacity means hardship. No reserve fund has been possible,
or the small amount saved is hopelessly inadequate to meet illness or
protracted unemployment. It melts away in a few weeks or months. The
family is very soon over the borderline of self-support. With the less
fortunate, poverty takes the form of a slow, chronic contest against
everlasting odds. This demands every atom of physical and nervous
strength, every fraction of intelligence and effort. And the exaction
is made from those whose only training has been hard, devastating

In this neighborhood, families are large and wages are small. The size
of the family is a definite element in its standard of comfort. Poverty
begins not merely at a certain wage but also with a certain number of
children.[72] “We’ve got eight,” said Mrs. Meehan, “and by rights we’d
only have two if we was to bring ’em up proper. But,” she added, “it’s
the littlest one that I love the best.”

Sometimes where the father is living and at work, he earns enough to
keep in cleanliness and health, and with at least the necessary medical
care, a family of three or four. But with six to support, an income
sufficient for four means the lack of essentials for all, loss of
health, and sometimes loss of life. Often the mother is compelled to
supplement his earnings by her own. Twenty-nine out of the 46 living
mothers were contributing a part or the whole of the family income. In
24 of the 55 families the father was dead or incapacitated, and there
was no stepfather to take his place as breadwinner.[73]

The mortality among children on the West Side is shockingly high. A
family which had not lost at least one child was indeed rare. Fairly
accurate records of the births and deaths of children in 31 out of
the 55 families show that the number of births averaged nearly eight,
and the deaths about three.[74] This average death rate for so small
a group is not surprising when one considers the birth rate. The more
children that are born into such poverty, the greater the likelihood
that many of them will die. On our list were families who had two
living children and six dead, five living and five dead, five living
and six dead, six living and nine dead, seven living and seven dead,
one living and six dead. Though practically all these families carried
insurance,[75] the amount for which a baby’s life is insured would not
as a rule be sufficient to pay the expense of burial.

The attitude of our community toward birth or death is disheartening
in its helplessness. Either event is accepted as the will of God. The
idea of voluntarily limiting the size of the family is almost unknown.
Mrs. Reilly, bent, deformed, old at fifty, with five children living
and eight dead, would ramble on with her dull and listless story of
the sickness and suffering those deaths and births had meant, and the
constant crushing poverty they had caused; and would finish with,
“It’s the poor as can’t take care of them, to whom they’re sent.”

The housing of these families was of a grade commensurate with the
degree of their poverty. Dark, unventilated rooms were found in the
apartments of 30 families, and about half of the group of 55 had less
space than was required for health or comfort. As is generally true
with families of their class, the amount of rent paid for poor and
inadequate accommodations was relatively high.[76]

In spite of the mountains of difficulty in the way of these mothers,
their success in bringing up their children is sometimes great beyond
our realization. There was, for instance, one household on a certain
block on Eleventh Avenue where the father brought in $12 in return for
a full week of unskilled labor. There were four children under working
age. Twelve dollars, six persons, city prices--this was the mother’s
problem, by no means so discouraging as that of some of her neighbors,
but still a difficult one. The answer is not to be written on paper.
It is on children’s faces, in the events and outcome of human lives.
However successful the present answer, each day sets the old quandary
forth anew. Never solved, it stretches on into the years ahead.

With this family, part of the answer was their presence on Eleventh
Avenue. It was in the clangor of the freight trains that passed on the
street surface by their door and blackened their windows with smoke.
It was in the stench of the slaughter house which the breeze brought
into their rooms. It was in the soot of the factories and the dangers
to child life around the docks. There were outward evidences of family
life in the block where they dwelt--dilapidated tenements, with a
sordid little grocery store in the middle of the block. A garish little
saloon stood on the corner. The houses did not present the solid red
brick front of the usual tenement street, with its delusive appearance
of respectability. The buildings were irregular; some were low and
shack-like. Their windows faced Jersey and the nightly glory of the
sunset, but even this could not redeem the sordidness and squalor of
the neighborhood.

From these surroundings came two trim little figures. They were school
girls, still with all the ways and traits of little girls. Their hair
was drawn smoothly into straight black braids. Their eyes were round
and wide awake. The neatness of their dress spoke of continual care.
They were alert and well-mannered, brimming with interest and comment.
In short, they were bright, normal, ordinary children. What this meant
as an achievement can only be measured by the obstacles which this one
mother had overcome.

She had had the help neither of good fortune nor of training. She
had fashioned her product with her own pitiful, clumsy tools. A
large-boned, uncouth Irish woman, she still bore the stamp of the soil.
Her education had been that of life, a life of hard knocks and rough
going. Plain, coarse, with the burr in her speech, bent and weakened
physically, she did not present an attractive appearance. But it was
her boast that she “never got anything from no society--never knew much
about them places--never had to, thank God.” Relatives had helped when
the hardest pinches came; but for the most part the family had plodded
on alone. But even such parents cannot master poverty. In turn they
must pay toll to its resistless strength. For the smallest girl of five
was a wan, great-eyed baby whose puckered lips were drawn with pain and
on whom the shadow of death already lay. The terms of life cannot be
utterly remade.

In one of the sordid tenements wedged into a narrow space as yet
unclaimed by business this mother had found a shelter for her brood.
Four rooms “through” with a cupboard were rented to her for $9.00 a
month and her services as janitress, which were reckoned as worth
$3.00. Thus, while her flat would otherwise have cost $12 a month and
have absorbed exactly one week of her husband’s wages, she saved $3.00
out of the rent to spend on food for her family of six. This was the
important fact which had kept them on Eleventh Avenue from year to
year, though the mother always hoped that each winter would be her last
in the house.

But not all families have the fortitude, the endurance, the power of
ceaseless, undiminished effort which this particular group possessed.
Even with those who accept the challenge and make the continual effort
to keep their heads above water, strength and courage sometimes
break. The loss of two days’ work for a daughter whose full week’s
wage amounts to only $4.00 or $5.00 may mean a family tragedy. What
elsewhere are incidents, are hazards here.

We have fallen into the habit of looking to the mother as the mainstay
of the family. She is held to a rigorous standard which neither
husband nor children are required to measure up to. We expect her to
counteract the difficulties and evil influences of her environment by
possessing all the known virtues of character. As a matter of fact,
the worry and strain of insecurity become too great for many a woman.
She grows apathetic, careless, and stolid, or she becomes querulous
and neurotic. Perhaps she takes to drink. Drinking is rife on the West
Side; it is the easy and familiar escape from worry and discouragement.
For the woman who drinks there is scant sympathy or toleration. The
decent, hardworking mother has no patience with her. If the victim is
putting up any fight at all it is a desperate and a solitary one, for
she can expect no help from others. With every lapse, every slipping
back from the precarious foothold gained so painfully, she is met by
scorn and reproach from her judges with whom the long weeks of effort
do not count when once she has failed. To rise many times from the
utmost depths of despair and bitterness is not given to human nature,
and she ends as an outcast.

I am thinking of one black, terrible half hour with a woman of my
acquaintance. A thunder storm darkened all the outer world and almost
no light entered the kitchen where we sat. It was one of the two small
rear-house rooms that she rented for $8.50 a month. This day it was
stifling and unswept, cluttered with little piles of her rubbish. She
was going to move; she had been dispossessed. She had lost her job, a
position held for three months after a winter when she had hunted work
for weeks. For seven years she had kept up a home for her girl and boy,
one year during the illness of her husband who drank and beat her, and
six years after his death. She had looked forward to the time when
Sadie should get her working papers; but the girl was incompetent and
irresponsible and failed to keep any job for long.

This year had brought the mother her first out-of-work experience.
In the course of it she had slipped far behind. But with every seven
dollars’ pay during the past three months she had climbed slowly back.
The rent was even. The insurance agent lacked a single dollar. Every
night on coming home she had figured slowly and clumsily with the aid
of her boy “Petie.” She had “built castles, which no one had ought to
do.” Castles! Dreams of a new suit for herself and Sadie, of whole
shoes for Petie which should not be begged from his school; dreams in
the future of an “all-through” apartment, even with rugs, and curtains
of cheap lace. But again thrown out of work, hope was gone.

She was a woman slow and clumsy of movement, who went through her
plodding days quietly and dumbly, with a certain trembling hesitance.
But her rusty black clothes were always neat. The housekeeper said,
“You c’d tell she was respectable.” It was a cherished respectability.
She suffered bitter pangs when she saw it fall away. Today her tongue
was loosened by drink. She talked quickly, with an unaccustomed rise
and fall of speech, and with fluency of gesture. She clung to Petie,
possessed with the idea that some one was trying to take him away.
“They shall not take me boy. The girl is wild; she has me heart broke.
I’ve worked and I’ve tried an’ it’s all come to this. But I won’t be
parted fr’m me boy.” And again and again, the voice rising to a cry,
“I’ve been turned down--turned down I am. I’m not a young woman now an’
you know I can’t stand it--turned down hard I’ve been.”

Without doubt some women of the dependent classes are strongly braced
in their morals by the rigorous standard to which we hold them. The
consciousness that nothing but the best of conduct will be excused in
them must serve as a constant stimulus to heroic living. But on the
other hand, there are doubtless many who have drifted to the bottom as
the result of a first lapse which might have been excused and survived
under a less rigorous standard. There are too many who share the decent
working woman’s point of view. “When a woman takes to the can, she
ain’t got no good left.”

Many of our girls came from homes where the parents were heavy and
constant drinkers.[77] They were familiar with the appearance of
drunkenness. It does not revolt such girls when it breaks out in a
place of amusement. They do not resent it in their boy companions but
view it on the whole with unconcern. But they come to be wary of its
manifestations in others and even unconsciously expert in inebriate
psychology. There was one family where the alcoholic father was always
turned over to the fourteen-year-old daughter during his “sprees”
to be managed. When he was in this condition she was “the only one
who could do anything with him.” Surely an ominous ability for a
fourteen-year-old daughter!

In a neighborhood like the Middle West Side, poverty is seldom found
isolated from its menacing concomitants--ignorance, immorality,
drinking, filth, and degradation. Whether as cause or result, these
appear as close companions of want. Some of our girls came from
families which hovered constantly on the verge of disruption. The
arrogant, decisive power of the law always hung over them like the
sword of Damocles, threatening dismemberment.

Here was Annie Brink, who came to her club with Hyde and Jekyll moods.
Sometimes she was gentle and tractable. Sometimes she looked out
sullenly from a cloud of morbid depression and gloom impossible to
pierce. She had grown up in a world of sudden disasters. Almost from
babyhood she had been a household drudge. There were seven children
in the family and Annie, the eldest daughter, was early pressed into
service as general houseworker and nurse for the younger ones. To take
proper care of seven young children is too big a job for one woman,
and Annie’s mother was certainly much too gay and irresponsible by
disposition to attempt it. “There was seven of us kids,” said Annie,
“so I had to help. I wasn’t let out on the street much when I was
little. One house where we were had a back yard and we’d play there.
But then we moved. When we went on to Tenth Avenue there was a fire
escape. We’d take pillows out there and sit. It was just grand. Then I
always could play on the organ. It was mamma’s since she married, but
she don’t use it any more. It’s the same as mine now. It stays locked,
because if all seven of us used it there wouldn’t be any organ soon.”

At nine, Annie was a shy and backward child. Then she lost the sight
of one eye by infecting it from an abscessed finger. The new physical
defect kept her out of school and the housekeeping was transferred more
and more to her young shoulders. She had never had a friend of her own
age until at thirteen she attached herself to a girl of a vigorous
personality. Agnes was rough and quick to strike, like a boy, strong
and generous. She protected her new friend and took her out to see the
world. They went to a school recreation center several blocks north and
Agnes saw that Annie was not molested on their way. “We wasn’t afraid
of anything with Agnes.” Then abruptly the strong protector was removed
by a yet stronger power. Agnes was “put away.” Annie reported, “They
won’t let her out till she is twenty-one. They’re awful strict. It
makes us all feel bad.”

Such things are accepted happenings in Annie’s world. They are the
acts of a power quite beyond its influence. Annie took the loss of her
champion with philosophy and stayed at home once more. She did not dare
go to the recreation center alone. Then came another thunderbolt. Her
mother, who had entered upon the familiar way of middle-aged West Side
women who lack the stamina that the grim struggle demands, was brought
into court, charged with drunkenness, and sentenced to the workhouse.
The smaller brothers and sisters were also taken away. Since then life
had been one succession of strange women brought in as housekeepers.
There were interludes between trials of the various incompetents when
the full care fell on the young girl. She was in school only a few
hours a day, because her single eye had been weakened. She had grown up
on the edge of a volcano. At fourteen she was, by her school record,
“peevish and extremely stubborn and difficult to handle.”

Such precarious conditions of living are especially unfavorable for the
adolescent daughter. The instability of her age is accentuated by the
uncertainties of her life. Foresight and steadiness of purpose are not
easily taught when the essentials of existence depend upon chance. The
girl sees around her all sorts of makeshifts and haphazard expedients.
One of our girls tried to avert a family disaster. Dispossession
threatened at the end of the week. Mrs. Derks was in despair, and
helplessly she resigned the situation to Emma. With their last $3.00
the girl bought a lamp and some hundreds of printed tickets. The lamp
was put in a saloon window. The tickets were to be sold in a raffle
which was to pay the rent. They did not sell and the rent went unpaid.
“I told her it wouldn’t do no good,” a neighbor said. “She should a’
got a watch.”

But as poverty is the enemy of adolescence, adolescence is the
adversary of poverty. The vivifying forces of youth are a protection
against the depleting effects of want and insecurity. The girl does not
take to drink as her mother does. Weeks of want are quickly forgotten
in a following period of comfort. When kindliness and cheer once more
prevail in her home, consciousness of the lack of ease and loveliness
is shaken from her. With the buoyancy of youth she rebounds at the
slightest release. But all too often her respite is brief, and when
periods of want follow too closely upon each other, her powers of
recovery must fail.



At five or six years of age, the girl starts to school; between
fourteen and sixteen, she leaves school for good and goes to work. The
eight or nine years which lie between make up the full period of her
formal education. She must acquire during these years of compulsory
school attendance all the “learning” which the law of the state fixes
as a minimum for its workers.

She has a wide choice of schools. Between Thirty-eighth and Forty-third
Streets are the buildings of four different systems. The public
schools, the parochial schools, the Children’s Aid Society school, and
the American Female Guardian Society school are all waiting with open
arms to receive her. Often she is simply sent to the nearest school
building. To cross the crowded avenues is more or less hazardous for a
six-year-old. Or, she is taken by an older child to the school attended
by her protector. In this case, it is “Mary’s school” that is chosen,
and the various systems mentioned have nothing to do with the decision.
Sometimes, however, one of them is chosen by the parents because of its
particular specialty. The church school teaches “prayers,” the “soup”
school, as the Children’s Aid Society is called in the neighborhood,
gives a free lunch and shoes and warm red petticoats. The children
of the poorest poor are likely to go there. The public schools are in
general considered best for “learning.”

After the original choice has been made, neither parents nor child feel
bound to stick to it. A great deal of shifting about takes place, only
a small part of which is necessary. Some of the local schools carry
their pupils only through the primary classes and must then transfer
their small graduates to another building and another street to enter
the grammar grades. For many reasons, this single change may be wise,
but very often it is only the beginning of a succession of transfers.
The break is an occasion to try out two or three new places before
settling down. In the meantime, the little wanderer goes through a
period of unsettled plans, and incidentally loses considerable time
from her lessons.

A free choice of schools and a free use of the transfer are the chief
concessions made by the compulsory school law to parental authority. As
a matter of fact, it is not always parental authority which transfers
little Mamie from school to school, but the child’s own flitting,
aimless spirit. In the middle of a term, for almost any cause, she is
likely to drop out of her class and claim the right to transfer. A
quarrel with a schoolmate, a friend in another school, a dispute with
the teacher,--these are the sort of trivial reasons which result in
sudden transfers.

Our girls had made the most of their transfer privileges. One of them
had attended nine different schools on the West Side; another had
attended eight; two had attended seven; one had attended six; two had
attended five; and four had attended four; 16 had attended three; 21
had attended two; and only eight had continued throughout in the same
school. There were five girls who had come from institutions, and four
whose school careers were unknown.

These interruptions mean a serious waste from the girl’s meager
allowance of time for schooling. She passes at each shift to a new set
of teachers who know nothing of her record and tendencies. Frequently
she is put back a grade. She resents this, grows discouraged, and
perhaps loses interest. Besides, so much ease in changing weakens the
school’s authority. It is, however, a safeguard against the rigidity
of a single autocratic system. It gives some room for experiment with
a difficult child, until the régime and the teacher with whom she will
fit may be found. A restriction of the transfer would certainly be a
blow to the truant officer’s method of dealing with girls. At present
it constitutes his one suggestion, his only “golden cure.”

The girl’s schooling begins to suffer as soon as there is any especial
need for assistance at home.[78] Two or three days are dropped
repeatedly. Wage-earning sisters cannot stop at home to nurse an
invalid or care for younger children while the mother works. When a new
baby comes, it is the oldest school girl who carries the extra burden
of work. Even the most devoted mothers make these encroachments on the
time which belongs to the school. They are driven to it by necessity.
“What can I do? There ain’t nobody else and I’ve got to keep Mamie t’

When Mrs. Kersey went to the hospital, it was “Baby,” the
eleven-year-old daughter, who was kept out of school to do the work,
and not her older sister employed in a factory. “You ought t’ ’a’
seen how Baby run our house,”--her wage-earning sister was giving
the account. “Gee, but she was that strict, _believe me_. I couldn’t
have a cent o’ my money. No shows them days fer mine. She cried if me
father didn’t give ’er his pay an’ she made him, too. She’d give him
his quarter fer shavin’ money, but not a cent more. An’ she bought
everythin’ an’ run things herself. Me mother was away sick fer nine
months. Baby, she’s an awful good girl.”

Emma Larkey, having at last struggled up to Class 5B, had just dropped
out of school for good. She was normal in body and mind. She should
have been in the graduating class. Why wasn’t she? In the first
place, she had changed schools eight times since her start, wandering
indifferently from public to parochial school and then back again.
In the second place, there were five younger children and she was
constantly being kept at home. The mother patched grain sacks in order
to pay rent for a well lighted apartment of five rooms. “There are
nine of us, and if I don’t work, we’d have to crowd up an’ sleep in
those black stuffy bedrooms. I can’t bear for the children to do that.”
Decent living quarters and fresh air for the whole family seemed more
important than Emma’s schooling. Something must give way under such
pressure and so it was Emma who went down. She had braced her young
shoulders to tasks more difficult than school lessons and had lost all
desire to finish the grammar grades by the time the second girl was old
enough to relieve her at home.

The result of so much absence was seen in the great retardation among
our girls. Thirteen to fifteen is regarded as the normal age for
graduation,[79] and by this standard only 10 of our 65 girls were
in the normal grade. All the rest were “laggards.” There were, for
instance, 35 girls who were fourteen years old, the normal age for
graduation. Some of them had gone to work, while others were still in
school. The grades they had left or were still attending are shown in
the following distribution: Two had reached the 3B grade; four, 4A;
three, 4B; one, 5A; four, 5B; four, 6A; four, 6B; five, 7A; three, 7B;
and four, 8A. One girl had been in an institution. The girls are thus
seen to have been distributed almost impartially from the third to the
eighth grade. There was for them practically no relation between age
and grade.

An occasional girl is defiantly truant. Her refusal to fit into the
school system marks a deeper vein of rebellion than in the case of the
boy, who more commonly slips the leading strings. Or else it marks an
undeveloped body and spirit in dealing with which the usual forcible
methods of combating truancy are often ineffectual.

Annie Gibson was a slim, undersized girl of fifteen. Her light, almost
colorless hair hung down around small, undeveloped features, strikingly
vacant and weak. Her teeth, very small and deeply set, might have
been the milk teeth of a well-developed baby. Surrounded by a cover
of reticence and a surface of embarrassment, her real thoughts were
impossible to discover. She would agree to anything but would seldom
volunteer an opinion of her own.

In school she was a passive pupil, never “giving trouble” but
learning little, and her attendance record was very low. In time she
furnished-one of the most stubborn cases of truancy in the school and
the truant officer was sent after her. He found her at home alone, the
girl’s mother being away at her regular work as chambermaid in a hotel.
As the officer laid his hand on her arm to take her back to school, the
child’s passivity suddenly broke and she flung herself on the floor,
screaming. The man retreated in consternation, fearful that he might
be accused of having physically mishandled the child, while Annie was
left to recover from her hysterical outbreak as well as she could.
This is only one instance of the futility of applying our present
method of dealing with truancy to these exceptional cases. This child
was primarily in need of careful mental and physical examination and
probably of special training which could only be defined after such an
examination had been made.

When the difficulty rests with the girl there is no course between
threats and a sentence of great severity. The parent may be fined, but
then the punishment does not fall on the child. If she is sent away
it must be to a reformatory, not to a school. Let us see how these
methods would work applied to Christina Cull, another of our girls who
was a stubborn truant. At fourteen, she had reached Class 4A. She had
not “made her days”; that is, attended school for 130 days during the
year prior to her fourteenth birthday. Nor had she gone far enough in
her classes to get her working papers. But Christina refused to pass
the doorway of a school. She had gone far beyond the influence of the
ordinary school.

Five years before, one of the Catholic fathers had found her loitering
in the rear of his church. It was soon after Christmas and he stopped
to ask about her holiday. She answered shortly that she had had neither
presents nor a good time. His interest in the pathetic, sullen child
took him later to her home. The family was squalidly poor. They lived
in three dark basement rooms, without comfort or decency. The father,
after four years of desertion, had returned home in the final stage of
tuberculosis to be cared for until his death.

Christina had grown into a forbidding girl. Her face was so lined and
so hard that she looked years older than she was. The childlike effect
of her flowing hair and long bangs contrasted oddly with the age and
hardness of her features. She might almost have been a middle-aged
woman masquerading as a little girl. The truant officer went after her
time and again, only to listen to the mother’s repeated complaint.
Christina was “out from under” her; she went where she listed. Threats
were long since outworn and useless. She had heard them from babyhood.
“Aw--they talk but they won’t do nothin’.” Occasionally she would grow
frightened and penitent for the moment. But re-enter the ordinary
school and sit in the classes with the younger children, she would not.

No course was left but to take the culprit before the superintendent
and enter a formal complaint against her. There would then be two plans
of action which might be followed: Christina’s mother--her father had
died in the meantime--might be fined in the magistrate’s court or
Christina might be committed to a reformatory. To fine the mother of
a family already on the verge of dependency was manifestly futile. On
the other hand, a reformatory sentence for a girl whose only offense
was that she refused to go to school seemed much too severe. In the
face of this dilemma no action at all was taken. Christina, without
working papers, without work, was left to employ her illegal holidays
in her own way. Her only chance for positive discipline was that she
might soon become a serious offender for whom a reformatory sentence
might not be too severe. For girls like Christina the only remedy seems
to be that they shall grow worse before they can grow better. Such a
roundabout and wasteful course might be obviated if we had a truant
school for girls, as we already have for boys, especially planned for
their needs.

It is a common occurrence for a girl to escape from school at thirteen
or fourteen without open defiance of the labor law. Of our 65 girls,
at least nine had left school illegally. Their escape was accomplished
by petty frauds of various kinds. One girl gave the school a false
address; another altered the date on her birth certificate. Two had
been absent for illness and had never returned. Others simply “dropped
out” and their defection was not followed up by the school, which with
its limited number of attendance officers is bound to neglect many such
cases. These are some of the usual loopholes by which the girl evades
the school law.

The young refugee does not always find it easy to get her working
papers at once. The required record of 130 days’ attendance during the
previous year is a serious stumbling block, although it allows for
70 absences out of a possible 200 attendances. In the public schools
she has to reach a 5B grade[80] and pass an educational test before
the school papers which she must present at the board of health are
signed. There the mental test is simpler--a mere proof of ability to
read and write. She is tested on two or three primer sentences, such
as, “Is my mother in this room?” She is then weighed and measured; and
occasionally a child much under average is rejected. Failing in any of
the requirements, the girl must wait until she is sixteen, when she may
legally go to work without papers. In the meantime she helps at home,
or “lives out,” or finds an employer who is willing to connive at her
lack of working papers.

These are the girls who evade the law. Those who are obedient to
its requirements are scarcely less eager to escape. Almost without
exception, the girls of our district step eagerly forth from the school
at the earliest possible moment. Not a girl of our clubs had stayed in
school longer than the law required or long enough to “graduate” from
the eighth grade. To continue in school after you can get your working
papers is a sign of over-education and is not popular.

In thus leaving school as soon as the law allows, family need very
often plays a part. Sometimes the younger girl has begun to lend a hand
during vacations. The Donovans tell how “Sissy” got a job at eleven. It
was the summer when both parents were ill and out of work. They still
chuckle with appreciation of Sissy’s enterprise. “You’d ought to ha’
seen her. She let down her skirts and done up her hair. She was just
a bit o’ a thing--not twelve then. She come out one mornin’ an’ said,
‘Ma, I’m goin’ to go to work’s well as Mame.’ We laughed at ’er but she
set out. So that day she come back an’ sure enough she’d got a job in
a chewin’ gum fact’ry, wrappin’ packages. There was a graphophone an’
at lunch time all the girls danced. Oh, she had a grand time, be-_lieve
me_. There was a lot o’ little girls whose mothers were poor. When
the inspector come, they’d hide Sissy under the table. We most died
laughin’ when she brought her first week’s pay--85 cents! Now, what
d’ye think about that? She come in here an’ give it t’ me as proud ’s
if it had been dollars instead.”

It is not surprising that after a vacation adventure like this Sissy
began to lose interest in school. Working in a factory is not all fun,
but it brings a measure of independence which the young personality
craves beyond all else. It is not always stern need alone which sends
the girl out to work at such an early age. Parents may call on her
in times of special stress and insist on her returning to school as
soon as the pressure is removed. But public opinion among the girls
themselves is strong and decided on this point. “I don’t mind studyin’,
but all my friends are goin’ t’ work, an’ I don’t want t’ stay. My
mother an’ brothers all holler at me, but I’m kickin’ to leave.
Graduate? Gee, stay two years? Not for me--it’s too slow.”

The girl’s restlessness demands at this age something very new and
vivid. This the school has so far failed to supply. She thinks she may
find it in work. And by the time she has discovered that work too grows
tedious and monotonous, her greater independence has enabled her to
make free use of her evenings for the changes and new experiences she



Our West Side girl sets out some morning, short-skirted, hair in
braids, absurdly childish, to find her minute place in the great
industrial world. Probably she strolls through the streets, looking for
“Girl Wanted” signs. She will try at one of the big factories nearby.
Or, if she is fortunate, some friend who is already working there
speaks for her. The more enterprising buy the _World_ and consult its
long columns of advertisements.

The West Side factories take in the majority of the work seekers.
A few with especial pretensions to “refinement,” or whose families
sincerely dread the physical strain and supposedly lower social and
moral standards of the factory, go into department stores or become
errand girls to milliners or dressmakers. But most of the girls prefer
the higher wages of the factory. Lizzie Wade, herself a laundry worker,
was perfectly clear in her sixteen-year-old mind as to the advantages
of factory work over department store work. “In the first place,” she
pointed out, “the factory girl gets better pay, and if she hasn’t any
home, she can always get a family to live with. The girl that works in
a store lives in the cheapest boarding houses, and gets soaked for her
board just the same.”

Few sixteen-year-old workers are as wise as Lizzie. Many of them,
no doubt, are vaguely influenced by reasons just as practical in
preferring the factory to the store, though they are less able to
express them. But if they are asked to justify their preferences, they
are likely to return very childish answers. “Tootsie” O’Brien had
achieved her working papers at fourteen and a half and was looking
for a place. It was significant that Tootsie, who had qualified as
a wage-earner, had not yet outgrown her baby name at home. She was
willing to take any kind of work, she said, but liked housework best.
She wanted to “live out” because her brother was always fighting with
her. However, she soon changed her mind, as her sister, who had been a
servant before her marriage, told her that she wouldn’t be allowed out
when at service. She finally went to work in a factory.

Girls of this type do the most unskilled work in the entire scale of
factory occupations. They are not equal to the high grade, skilled work
of the garment trades and textile industries. An inquiry concerning
the occupations of 26 girls showed the following results: One was a
trimmer in a necktie factory; three were folding or slip-sheeting
in bookbinderies; one was rolling wall paper; one was working in a
tin can factory, operating a machine which fixed the bails in lard
cans; nine were packers or wrappers in factories producing biscuits,
candy, cigarettes, or drugs; three were markers and shakers in steam
laundries; eight were errand girls and messengers for milliners or

These occupations are patently without educational value. The factory
processes are the sort of lightweight machine work usually assigned
to young girls after the last drop of individual responsibility has
been squeezed out. Their chief characteristic is a degree of monotony
in which no discipline for the young worker is possible because their
effect is stupefaction. The work soon palls on the girl’s restless
spirit. Martie Sheridan, after five months of this grinding monotony,
secretly cut the belt of her machine just to get a day off. Another
girl probably, long before the end of five months, would have thrown up
her job and tried another, if not several others.

Finding a new place is always something of an adventure, and in the
process of shifting she enjoys a few days of freedom. Pauline Stark,
throughout her four years of wage-earning, had been a “rover.” She had
had no trouble in finding new places and had tried so many that she
had lost count of the number. “I see a sign up an’ I go an’ try. Then
sometimes I meet some one I know. I stop an’ get to talking an’ mebbe I
won’t look any more that day. But it don’t take long. Sometimes I throw
up a job the first day. I can tell. I take a look around an’ see that
it ain’t for me. Then I work out the day an’ don’t go back.”

It is difficult for the girls to give an accurate account as to where
they have worked and the changes they have made. They are hazy as
to places and quite unreliable as to the length of stay. With great
effort we pieced together the industrial histories of girls who had
been employed for some time. Although most of them had been at work
less than a year, they had tried a great number of occupations. The 30
wage-earners in our club mustered among them 120 different jobs, an
average of four apiece. Two girls of sixteen had held 12 positions
each; one girl of sixteen, 10 positions; and one fifteen-year-old had
had nine. One-third of the 30 had had five or more positions. These
instances give some idea of the way in which the girl of fourteen and
fifteen flits from job to job. It is no wonder that she is inaccurate
concerning the details of her industrial experience when each
connection is so brief and episodic. A further reason for her haziness
is that her point of contact with the great factory and its processes
is so slight. Nellie Sherin, aged fourteen, worked in one of the
largest and best of the West Side factories. Her childish description
of her work is the best indication of her incompetence. “I have to run
a machine that pastes the labels. If you don’t get the boxes in right
the knife breaks and a man comes and hollers at you.”

The girl of this class accepts in a matter-of-fact way conditions of
work that impress the outsider as very hard. Sometimes she tells of
having cried with weariness when she started. But complaints of the
long day, the meager reward, and the monotony are few. She has not
thought out the general aspects of the factory. Comparisons between
individual places are constant, as also are personal grievances,
usually against a “cranky forelady.” She rebels against the tediousness
of her job. “You can hear talkin’ all over our room when the forelady
goes out. Then we’ll hear her comin’ in an’ it stops short. Soon’s she
goes, we all start again.” As often as not she throws up her job for
a personal grievance--a quarrel with another worker, a grudge against
a “boss.” Fanny Mullens left the Excelsior Laundry because her friend
quarreled with the foreman and Fanny’s loyalty would not permit her to
remain. The human factor is the strongest with these young workers.

The girl starts in a store at $3.00 or $3.50 a week; in a factory, at
$4.00 or $5.00. The 26 wage-earning girls concerning whom information
was obtained were receiving sums which varied from $3.00 to $7.50.
Of this group, three were earning $3.00 or $3.50; eight were earning
$4.00, and eight were earning $5.00. Thus 19 out of 26 were earning
$5.00 or less. The remaining seven girls were receiving $6.00 or over;
three received $6.00; two, $6.50; and two, $7.50.

One of the girls earning $6.00 had been working five years; another
earning the same amount had been working but a few months. Of the
two girls earning $7.50, one had been working four years in the same
position and the other five months. As far as our little group of girls
was concerned, there was no connection between age or experience and
wages. Practically all the girls were doing such unskilled work that
additional years and additional experience were idle commodities. There
was, on the other hand, some divergence between what the different
factories of the district were accustomed to pay for the same grade of

Along with her first humble job and her first meager wage, there comes
to the young girl her first taste of power. Her first pay envelope is
the outward and visible sign of many changes. Her position at home
is altered. She has more prestige, the first beginning of authority.
Her family may be actually dependent for comfort on what she brings
in. This gives to her desires and wishes a new importance. However
autocratic her parents’ rule may have been, they must now turn to her
for assistance. There must follow a certain loosening of the reins.
Every now and again there is a girl who in these early, headstrong
years will press her advantage to the full.

To these girls has come the age of self-assertion. The experience is
common to adolescence of becoming intensely aware of oneself. With the
new intensity of self-consciousness comes the desire to assume control.
At this age the girl resents being “bossed.” It is the time when many
families feel the increased friction between brothers and sisters.
Interference and guidance need to be gentle. Because the girl is young
she is apt to be extreme and her assertion will often be crass and
ill-balanced. These are traits of the adolescent girl of all classes,
but this phase among our girls is accentuated sharply by a very
definite set of circumstances.

Tradition still upholds her parents’ authority. What they ask from
her is their right. They are backed by the practical code of morals
which, in any community, counts more than many sermons. Public opinion
demands the continued subservience of both boy and girl. The precarious
state of family wellbeing has instituted a rigid system of household
economics; this is needed for mere preservation. It is zealously
guarded by the mother, ever the most wary of anything which threatens
the group. According to custom she is the spender. All wages come
to her untouched; the broken envelope violates the social standard.
Husband, sons, and daughters alike are supposed to come under this
rule. There should be no exception until the children reach the age of
eighteen or nineteen. The mother doles out spending money according to
the needs and the earnings of each.

There is no pity felt by her world for the girl who must turn over
her meager pay. This is a duty taken for granted. It is the least
return for the years during which her parents have made sacrifice and
effort for her. The feeling has reason for holding good while economic
conditions remain as they are. Each item in the family income is far
too important for the girl to escape her toll. She is born to a contest
in which she, too, must take part. Only a lucky accident can free her
from this inheritance,--accident or rebellion. The pay envelope passes
through her hands, and this means the possibility of some independence.
At least the choice is hers to give grudgingly or freely. With the
responsibilities which come to her so much earlier than to those more
sheltered, comes also this earlier power.

Every degree of willingness or resentment in assuming her share of the
burden is met with in the various girls. Little wisps and snatches of
talk are straws that point to the set of the wind. “Oh, sure, there’s
a lot o’ girls that ‘knock down.’ You take this week in our place,--we
all made good overtime. I know I got two forty-nine. Well, I guess
there wasn’t a single girl but me that didn’t change her envelope, on
our floor. Whatever you make is written outside in pencil, you know.
That’s easy to fix--you have only to rub it out, put on whatever
it usually is, and pocket the change. They think I’m a fool. But I
wouldn’t lie to my mother. She has to work an’ she ain’t had things
none too easy. Some girls are like that. They’re only too proud to make
so much t’ take home.”

A common trick is to pretend to the mother that wages are smaller than
they actually are. Katie at seventeen was getting $7.50 a week; in six
months she had risen from $5.00. This was unusually good for her set
of girls. But her mother believed that she earned only $6.00.

On the other hand, there is the “worrisome” type of girl who surrenders
all. Her unselfishness is as extreme as the wilfulness of others.
She accepts her hard surroundings, as the others rebel against them,
without counting the cost, and sacrifices unsparingly her youthful
right to gaiety and pleasure. Mamie Reilly’s mother watched with
anxious regret the effect of premature care and responsibility on
her daughter. Mamie had been working five years since, as a child of
thirteen, she first insisted on getting a job. “She’s a good girl,
Mame is, but y’ never seen anything like her. Every pay night reg’lar
she’ll come in an’ sit down at that table. ‘Now, Ma,’ she’ll say like
that, ‘what _are_ you goin’ to do? How ever are y’ goin’ t’ make out
in th’ rent?’ ‘Land sakes,’ I’ll say, ‘one w’d think this whole house
was right there on your shoulders. I’ll get along somehow.’ But y’
can’t make her see into that. ‘Now, what’ll we do, how’ll you manage,
Ma?’ she’ll keep askin’. She’s too worrisome--that’s what I tell her.
An’ she don’t care to go out. Mebbe she’ll take a walk, but like’s not
she’ll say, ‘What’s th’ use?’ Night after night she jest comes home,
eats ’er supper, sits down, mebbe reads a bit, an’ then goes t’ bed.”

Through everything Mamie had done more than her share. At eighteen she
was tall and awkward, quiet and shy. Almost alone among these girls,
she had never learned to dance. She had none of the frills--bangs,
powder, and gewgaws--the cheap frivolities which were the joy of the
rest. But she had a dignity and reliability which the other girls
respected. In the whirl of excitement beckoning to the girl in New
York, she had led a staid, colorless life. She had never “gone out”
anywhere because she had never had any clothes. The price she had
given had been the very sap of her youth. Her mother said, “She is too
quiet-like an’ gettin’ humdrum at her age. It ain’t right as I know.”

There is less revolt against these early exactions among the girls than
among the boys. In the midst of working hours groups of young fellows
may be seen any day of the week idling on the street corners. They are
significant of something badly awry in the social machinery here. But
the girl who refuses to work is less usual by far. Often the loafer’s
sister is going each day to her job, turning her money in to the common
fund, while he is a parasite who drains the meager supply. Although
she probably protests, it is amazing to find how often she tolerates
a scheme so unfair. One reason, perhaps, is that a stay-at-home life
is too dull to tempt her into idleness there, and to spend time on the
streets speedily brands her as “tough.” But the chief reason is that
she is ruled by the popular conception of duty. Inheritance and custom
force her to a conformity which is not required of her brother. Her
protest is fainter than his.

But within the home circle she makes her revolt felt. Rarely is a girl
“worrisome,” like Mamie Reilly; few girls surrender so much. The trail
of her way, a way glittering with “good times and fun,” carries her
often to the other extreme. She follows the lure of her desires with an
imperious insistence which does not scruple to shirk the irksome claims
of her home. The result is an atmosphere surcharged with wrangling
and spite. The girl who as a little child may have been devoted to
her father, now switches away impatiently under his scolding. He, for
his part, complains bitterly that she thinks only of dancing and new

One German father whom we knew, at home with his broken ankle bound
in a cast, used his crutch on his fourteen-year-old daughter. “Don’t
tell me about talkin’ to girls--I know how to take care o’ them.” He
brandished his weapon with ire. The home was the scene of quarrels and
threats. Amelia was given the worst of reputations by her parents. She
“had been a disgrace to them.” She stayed out till two in the morning,
hung around halls with boys, and had been brought home by a policeman.
They had tried keeping her in and putting her under the surveillance
of her nine-year-old brother, but no amount of punishment would change
her fundamentally. Rancor and hatred had bitten into her soul. She
was a strong, tall girl, loud, unkempt, and disorderly. She was more
frank than most girls, partly from recklessness. But the bitterness
with which she spoke of her parents, the coldness with which she said,
“They can have my money if that’s what they want,” was that of hardened

The parents often get a settled distrust of a girl with which they do
not hesitate to confront her. Distrust is too often justified, for
there are few girls who scruple about telling a lie. But constant
accusation and doubt serve only to deepen suspicion and drive the
girl on to more crafty concealment. The crassness of the punishment
administered is especially bad for her years. To this can be traced
so much of the “wildness” of the children here. But familiar as she
is with brutality of one kind or another, a special resentment comes
to the girl at this age. Violence outrages her self-respect and the
ideals which are struggling for a foothold in her imagination.

The greatest strain in such households is that between mother and
daughter. The girl is starting her course, undisciplined and eager. The
woman has lived through checkered and hazardous years. She has suffered
the bearing of many children; she has watched the death of some. What
she has attained has been hardly won. Through it all, constant labor
has drained her physical strength. She is spent, dragged, and worn, in
pitiful need of the younger, more vigorous life at her side. As she
turns to it there creeps into her attitude the note of appeal which the
girl is too young to appreciate. If she deals a rebuff with the half
conscious brutality of youth, her mother may draw back into a shell
of hardness. Out of the scant wisdom of her years the child has been
forced to a decision pregnant with results for her future; for often
upon her response to the older woman’s first appeal trembles her entire
relationship with her mother and her home.

There is no getting away from the girl’s economic value to her family.
It seems ugly and crass that a child’s contribution to the common purse
should have any bearing on the affection or guidance she will receive.
Yet it has, and her manner of contributing has even more. Out of the
conditions of this engulfing, material struggle, rise the spiritual
forces at work in each narrow tenement home. Whatever breeds there of
loyalty or bitter estrangement works out its certain effect. And the
spirit of the household is of no greater import to any member than to
the young, venturesome girl.

Here is a household where the girl’s wages have been the mainstay for
the whole winter. Louisa’s father, a German, has always been frugal
and hardworking and was even penurious in better days. He is now
seventy-four. His eyes were weakened in the days of his strength by
the strain of his trade as a tailor. Later he came to porter’s work,
but now he is too feeble for this. The mother, like so many women in
the neighborhood, earns the rent as a janitress. Louisa’s brother, a
young man of twenty-one, is a glass cutter by trade. His work might be
steady and his wages good, but the common blight of the West Side has
struck him; he chooses to loaf with the gang and take things easy. The
old father, inveighing against him, has wished to turn him out. But
his mother, although she too takes her turn at upbraiding, shields him
against the others and clings to a desperate belief in his transparent

In this crisis, they have looked to the $5.00 which Louisa brings home
every week from the candy factory. She is a wilful little person,
frail, underdeveloped, weak of build in character as in physique. The
reins have been put into her hands. She has used her new-found power
to add to her long day at the factory several nights every week at
dance halls where she stays until 1 or 2 o’clock. The reproaches of her
parents have no effect. “You say that you like me,” she wails, “but you
make me miserable here. I’ll go out if I want to, and I’ll not tell
where I am going. Anyhow I don’t come home drunk like Bill and make a
fuss in the hall. And I work while he hangs around doing nothing.”

Leading the Grand March at the racket of the “Harlem Four,” Louisa has
forgotten her outburst, and the dull, sad, cramped existence at home.
She is thin, pale, sharp-featured, yet with a certain daintiness. Her
attire is “flossy” tonight. She cannot boast a ball dress, to be sure.
But her scant suit of brown serge with its sateen collar is trim and
new. It was bought at an Eighth Avenue store on the instalment plan.
Four out of the twelve dollars have been paid down. A great encircling
hat of cheap black straw reaches to the middle of her back and bends
under the weight of an enormous “willow.” It sets off her hair, which
has been bleached with peroxide. A long bang hangs to her eyes. Her
moment of elation comes as she receives the favor for the ladies who
lead, a huge bunch of variegated flowers--roses, carnations, and
daffodils. But the costume in which she steps out so triumphantly has
cost many bitter moments at home. She has gotten it by force, with the
threat of throwing up her job.

The breach is widening between her and the parents to whom she clung
as a child. There comes the time when she gets a steady “gentleman
friend.” She is out now almost nightly. At last the mother appears
with her tale, tearful and anxious. “I don’t know whatever I’m goin’
to do with that girl. I’ve just beat her, I have--I guess I ruined
three dollars’ worth o’ clothes. But I lost my temper. She stands up
and answers me back. An’ she’s comin’ in at 2 o’clock, me not knowin’
where she has been. Folks will talk, you know, an’ it ain’t right fer
a girl.” So Louisa is losing her only safeguards. Foolish, childish,
easily flattered, she is drifting into a maelstrom of gaiety and
pleasure from which only chance will bring her out unscathed.

The great issue between the home and the girl is the question as to
whether her affections will center there. Only an emotional hold will
take effect on this girl. Her mind is undeveloped. She is not going
to reason far. Habit has not yet fastened her in a rut of eternal work
and decency. Possibilities that menace health and strength and, in the
long run, happiness, hedge her round. If she becomes estranged from
those who are naturally near to her, she is set adrift. She is bound
to express in some way the chaotic emotional forces within her. She is
dangerous then to herself and others, in surroundings like these of the
far West Side.



A girl from fourteen to eighteen is about as unstable and kaleidoscopic
as any quantity in nature. She is changing, almost from day to day. It
may be that poverty in her home has deprived her of her full share of
youth’s vigor and supreme physical wellbeing. Even so, she keeps its
impatient desire for action and experience. She feels its disdain of
restraint and hindrance; its zest for swallowing life in hot, hasty
gulps. The desire to play is strong in her. Lack-luster resignation
and pessimism are rare among the young even where poverty weighs most
heavily. The girl’s buoyant spirit breaks loose at the instant of
release from factory walls or from the momentary depression of family
want. It bubbles forth in girls’ laughter and girls’ play, and in
girls’ capricious, whimsical, egoistic moods.

The West Side girl is an independent young person. She has seen a good
deal of the world. She has the early sophistication bred of a crowded,
close-pressed life. As yet, she has not been battered to the wall in
the stress. She has not the pitiful appreciation of the middle-aged
woman for slight and passing kindliness. She is self-assertive,
arrogant, “able to take care of herself.” She comes, asking nothing, at
ease and alert, but ready to give a trial to anything thrown in her
way. If it does not suit, she will not be slow to reject it. So she
stands, looking bright and curious eyed, straight into the face of her
world. She can be defiant at a hint of challenge. And yet one finds
that she is suddenly and sharply sensitive. Ridicule and harshness
touch her to the quick. Her new-born self-consciousness is easily
wounded. A trifling hurt may become a lifelong grievance.

This is a signal of a restlessness beneath the surface which she does
not herself understand. It is propelling her onward in an unconscious
search. In all her pleasure-loving, drifting adventures she is hunting
steadily for the deeper and stronger forces of life. Into her nature
are surging for the first time the insistent needs and desires of her
womanhood. But this she does not know. She is the daughter of the
people, the child of the masses. Athletics, sports, diversions, the
higher education, will not be hers to divert this deep craving. She
is not close enough to her church for religion to control it. It will
stay with her, sweeping her inevitably out of the simplicity of little
girlhood into the thousand temptations of her environment, if not,
perhaps, into one of the commonest of neighborhood tragedies.

Just now her search is translated very lightly and gaily into the
demand for “a good time” and a keen interest in the other sex.
She prosecutes it with the imperious heedlessness of her age. Her
haphazard and inconsistent training has given her little of the art of
self-control. The city bristles with the chances she longs for--“to
have fun and see the fellows.” What is to come of this depends on
the unformed character of the individual girl, the oversight of her
family,--sometimes effective and sometimes not,--and, most of all, on

The control of a little money is far more essential to these girls in
their search for enjoyment than to girls in another class. There are
many doors which a very small coin will open to her. After she goes
to work she usually has a little spending money of her own. As a rule
she is given, besides lunch money and carfare, a quarter or 50 cents a
week. This may go for candy, carfare to dances and parks, or entrance
fees to dance halls and moving picture shows. Sometimes she spends
the money given her for carfare on other and more pleasurable things,
and walks to work, “wearing out shoe leather, which ain’t right,” as
her mother complains. A carfare saved by walking to work is a carfare
earned for a trip to a dance hall “away out in the Bronx.” Usually a
single fare is enough for the whole trip. The “fellow” who “sees you
home” will pay for the return. Thus the little West Sider makes her 25
cents carry her as far along the primrose path as possible.

She has no keener longing than her longing for pretty and becoming
clothes. Usually she helps in selection, though now and then the mother
buys her clothing from the girl’s own earnings as autocratically as she
buys the rest of the home necessities. Sometimes the girl is allowed
to keep a dollar or two out of her pay every week with which she buys
her own clothes. Often there comes a period of distress which swallows
up her whole wages week after week. She sees her earnings go for rent,
for fuel, and for food. Hers is not the time of life to be content
with shelter, warmth, and nourishment. She would rather starve for
these things than miss her worshipped pleasures. Mamie Craven, working
steadily in the laundry, turning in her money every Saturday night,
once broke out one night in a bitter wail, “Oh, Miss Wright, you don’t
know _how_ I want a chinchilla coat.”

There are bound to be many lacks in her wardrobe. Usually the greatest
one is that of protective clothing. She has no overshoes and no
umbrella. When it rains she comes drenched to her club, but will not
think of foregoing the evening’s pleasure on that account. She goes
to work in the same unprotected fashion. Winter clothes are thin
and inadequate. Many a girl’s vitality is sapped for months in the
year through sheer exposure to cold. These deficiencies are endured
uncomplainingly. It is much harder if finery or the coveted Easter suit
must be foregone. The poorer girl will buy her suit on the instalment
plan--$4.00 down and $2.00 each following week. She pays $15 for a suit
of the value of $10. She is often guilty, like girls of every class, of
some wild bit of extravagance. But in her case extravagance may become
heartlessness. A girl whose income was the only regular support of her
family spent $5.00--a week’s wages--on a willow plume. “We starved fer
that hat,” her mother said, “just plain starved fer it, so we did.”

Social relations between girls of their age and class are very unlike
those of boys. A single friend or a little clique takes the place of
the gang. They will follow a leader for a moment but not consistently;
they are jealous of leadership and slow to acknowledge it. There is
almost no natural loyalty to a group. Probably the girl by the time
she reaches fourteen has already some special companion. This may be
a playmate from her school days, or, very likely, a “pick up” on the
street or at work, who soon has the title of “me lady friend.” The
relationship may extend over years. It is very constant and means that
the two share most of their pleasures together. There are distinct
requirements; one must “call up” and “wait in” and not “go round” too
much with anyone else. But the girl is rare who has a strong feeling of
obligation toward appointments or promises. Therefore the friendship
is sure to be checkered by quarrels and reunions. There are besides
a thousand and one reasons for dispute. The quarrel is taken very
seriously, but the chances are that the breach will heal before long.
However, this is not always so; no prediction formed on girl nature
is sure. The relationship assumes at times some of the formality and
ceremony of the gang. In one case, a definite proposal to be “friends”
was made by a girl who had quarreled with her former lady friend. The
second girl declined, not from any dislike, but because she was already
“going with somebody else.” When a girl begins to have a “gentleman
friend” even the slight ceremony of calling up and waiting in for the
girl friend is omitted.

The cliques consist of three or four girls, seldom of more. They are
likely to exist among the younger girls who have played together as
children. They are seldom formed later on, but incline to resolve
themselves into the standard couples.

The girls’ homes are not very advantageous places for entertainment and
fun. They are too cramped and often too forlorn. Yet everyone here is
used to these conditions, and they are not the only difficulties which
stand in the way of visits and hospitality. Visits from gentlemen
friends are frowned upon and not desired. The parents, especially of
the younger girls, look askance on the boys who come to see them.

“My father was always too strict with us girls,” said an older sister,
married and established in her own home. “It was always work and keep
quiet at home the minute we came in from the factory. He believed that
girls must be kept down. He’d have beaten us good if we’d brought a
fellow home. So I used to meet my friend at a corner a few blocks off,
just the same as my sister Maggie has been doing. It’s only a wonder I
didn’t get into trouble the same as she has done and get put away like
her. I’m not the one to turn against her now. When she comes out of the
Home, she and her baby can come and live with me.”

The sequel of Maggie’s story only served to prove the unwisdom of the
parental policy which had tried to “keep her down.” One day Maggie
returned to her sister’s home with her six-months-old baby. A week
later her sister announced with the utmost gratification and relief
that Maggie was married. “If she’d only told us at the start, there’d
never been any need for all this trouble. Hannick is a decent fellow
and has steady work. He was looking for Maggie all the time she was
in the hospital and he was afraid to ask her folks what had become of
her. As soon as she came back here, he sent word to me and asked if he
could see her. That was the first time I knew who her fellow was. When
he came around I told them they ought to go straight off to the priest,
and they did.”

The street corner has become, with its free and easy etiquette, a
substitute for the home. It is very popular in spite of nagging from
the “cop.” Still, the policeman is not a very censorious chaperon. Even
the older girl whose parents have opened their door to her company
has often learned to prefer its lack of supervision. As a place of
rendezvous it is greatly preferred to a parlor of one’s own where
one must be “real lady-like.” “You see,” one of the girls explained,
“my friend comes to my home; then if he wants me to go somewhere to
a dance, my mother’ll likely hear and won’t let me. My brother knows
all the places and he’ll tell my mother there’s likely to be shooting
there. He makes it bad for me that way.”

The boys’ preference for the street corner is quite as strong as the
girls’. Their habit is to send a small boy as intermediary to the
girl’s door to tell her who is waiting in the hall below. An incident
at “471” gave the smaller boys a chance to express their sentiment.
Their gang, known in the neighborhood as “tough young nuts,” were
giving a return party to their girl friends. It was to be a “swell”
affair, and had involved much consultation and collecting of money
beforehand. The instructions had been, “Buy three times as much ice
cream as the girls had at their party. Get a cake as big as the cover
of this table (a centerpiece 22 inches round). Get three pounds of good
candy. Get all the milk and cocoa you want for them girls, but none
of that for us. We want soda and ginger ale and celery tonic.” These
concoctions, not as harmless as their names suggest, had been purchased
by the boys. Everything was elaborately ready and the party had begun.
All the guests had arrived except the special friends of two of the
boys. A club leader’s naïve suggestion was that Peter and “Gimp” should
call for the girls at their homes. Gimp leaned forward, astonished,
as if uncertain of what he had heard. “Homes,” he gasped, in a tone
surcharged with dismay. “Gee,” the other boy added, “that sure w’d be
some place to go, a’right.”

Still, the home is by no means to be discounted entirely as a place
for recreation. There is too much Irish jollity and good-fellowship in
our neighborhood to make it altogether a tame and stupid place. The
“house party,” as any home gathering is known, is not unusual. Music,
dancing, and drinking are the chief features of the entertainment on
such occasions. A Thanksgiving party at the McKeevers’, for instance,
to which the family invited one of the club leaders, showed that the
happy good-fellowship which Goldsmith mourned as forever departed from
the “Deserted Village” has crossed the ocean with the Irish immigrants
and is still preserved to some extent in their newer stronghold on the
Middle West Side.

The homelike spirit of the gathering was noticeable. Mrs. McKeever,
gray-haired, fifty-two years of age, presided over the festivities. She
sat in the only rocking chair, holding in her arms the small son of a
neighbor, aged three, extremely dirty and ragged, and as a companion a
fox terrier, the pet of the McCormick family. Then came Mrs. O’Hara,
the neighbor from the next tenement, large and fat and slovenly, but
perfectly good-natured and kindly. She was nursing a small child who
was boarded with her by some organization. The child was sleepy and
tired and whenever he dozed off was wakened by the music and dancing.
In the corner of the sofa next to Mrs. O’Hara was a small, undeveloped
specimen of humanity in a faded flannellette dress and very much
broken shoes whose appearance classed her as degenerate. She was also a
neighbor and had come in to take part in the Thanksgiving festivities.
On the same sofa with her at the other end sat a well made-up Negro
minstrel, with feet crossed and a large guitar in his arms, who played
and sang as well as many a man in a minstrel show on the stage. Next
to him, on a kitchen chair, sat a chap of probably thirty-five years.
A crutch stood beside his chair, and upon a closer look one could see
that one of his legs had been amputated. He was very dreamily playing
an accordion, and had had just enough drink to make him very solemn and
uninterested in people and things in general. Mrs. McKeever several
times deposited the small child and the fox terrier in the middle of
the floor and went over to remonstrate with him for not being willing
to take part in the ceremonies. He, however, could not be persuaded
and sat perfectly still, only occasionally extracting a glass of beer
from under his chair and offering it to the others. Over in the corner
next to the man with the accordion was a short, stout boy, probably of
seventeen years, in his shirt sleeves, whose chief desire was to dance,
but who found it difficult to procure partners.

These were the guests on one side of the room. In front of the large
pier glass at the end the chair was occupied by an immense Teddy bear,
who occasionally was forced into taking part in the dances and general
merrymaking. The next seat was occupied by Delia McKeever. Delia was a
remarkably good-looking girl, and on most occasions was neat and tidy,
but this evening she was conspicuous because of her untidiness. She
had had enough beer to make her unusually mirthful and to make her
dance much better than usual. Next to Delia sat Annie, also in most
untidy condition. Lizzie, the youngest daughter, was sent for to come
in from the street. She was dressed in boy’s clothes and had been out
masquerading. Holding the center of the floor was a rather handsome
chap who played the mandolin well and had a bellowing baritone voice.

The McKeever family were very solicitous that their guests should have
a good time, and went around whispering to the musicians, telling them
to play or sing whatever the visitors suggested. Everyone sang “The
Suwanee River,” and the players of the mandolin and accordion sang
several of the latest popular songs. Delia and Annie did a fancy dance
known as the “Novelty.” Delia also danced with the chap in the corner,
who was ever busy trying to procure a partner. He was so much shorter
than Delia that she could conveniently rest her forehead on his head,
which she did during the entire dance, making him act very much as a
prop to her wilful, antic steps.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are two places in which the unoccupied of all ages and types may
be seen--the streets and the moving picture shows. Eighth Avenue, the
residence street of our aristocracy, is the promenade of the district.
No one has better expressed the essential spirit of these promenades
than Mr. Wells has done in The New Machiavelli.[81]

“Unkindly critics, blind to the inner meanings of things, call them,
I believe, Monkey’s Parades--the shop apprentices, the young work
girls, the boy clerks, and so forth, stirred by mysterious intimations,
spend their first-earned money upon collars and ties, chiffon hats,
smart lace collars, walking-sticks, sunshades, or cigarettes, and
come valiantly into the vague transfiguring mingling of gas light
and evening, to walk up and down, to eye meaningly, even to accost
and make friends. It is a queer instinctive revolt from the narrow,
limited, friendless homes in which so many find themselves, a going
out toward something, romance, if you will, beauty, that has suddenly
become a need--a need that hitherto has lain dormant and unsuspected.
They promenade. Vulgar!--it is as vulgar as the spirit that calls the
moth abroad in the evening and lights the body of the glow-worm in the

Here also are the flashing, gaudy, poster-lined entrances of Hickman’s
and of the Galaxy. These supply the girls with a “craze,” the same
that sends those with a more liberal allowance to the matinees. Their
pictures spread out adventure and melodrama which are soul-satisfying.
The vaudeville is even more popular and not so clean.

Sooner or later almost every girl drifts into some club or settlement.
She is a wandering spirit, difficult to hold, still more difficult to
tie down to any definite program. She wants activity but soon tires of
any one form of it. She cannot concentrate, especially on any finely
co-ordinated work requiring time and patience. Dancing and music
make the strongest appeal to her. A boisterous club room will quiet
suddenly to the sound of “Oh! Mr. Dream Man, let me dream some more.”
The dark-eyed girl at the piano drawls in shrill nasal mimicry of the
vaudeville “artist,” copying her air and mannerisms.

Cheap and shoddy--but the scene typifies that groping for the ideal
which is universal. Look along the line of faces, stilled and
attentive. Something is there neither cheap nor small. Here the
face of a youngster is caught an instant from its impish drollery.
The hardening lines are soft as with a child’s wonder at something
beautiful and new. Next to her an older girl is leaning forward.
Her features are haggard and drawn, a ghastly white. But she sits
with opened lips and a look in her eyes as if she heard beyond the
singing something half articulate and far-away. The song has brought
a quickening of the imagination, a stirring of childish, unformed
aspirations, half gropings for a world finer than the one she knows.

In these girls the longing for the unreal is overlaid by much that is
commonplace and sordid. To come upon this sudden, vivid glimpse of it
takes away one’s breath. At the same instant some of the faces are
prophetic of its final dying out. The girls’ instinctive idealism,
a wild thing here, unnurtured, is as elusive and fleeting as it is
beautiful. It is foredoomed to fade swiftly in the midst of unfriendly

Only a fleeting glimpse of the ideal, and soon the club room is again
a clamorous, gay, turbulent place. There is much energy that must be
let off; nothing but dancing will satisfy the demand. This means that
the doors must be opened to “the fellows” too. They, meantime, have
been besieging the club from the outside. If the older girl is to be
held, some concession must be made to her chief desire. Once it is
made, many difficulties arise. The interest between the girls and boys
here is almost wholly one of sex. They are farther apart than in other
circles. As children, there has been very little playing in common.
The boys’ interests are more energetic; group athletics have seldom
been opened to the girls of the elementary schools. Both boys and girls
have a narrow range of knowledge and impersonal interests. Conversation
is a mere exchange of personalities, gossip, and bickering, and there
is little even of that. The girls line up on one side of the room;
the boys group together on the other side. Games are sidetracked as
foolish. There is only dancing to bring them together, and so the club
dances. This is doubtless the reason why the dance hall holds the
first place in the girl’s estimation of a good time. In these places
she learns the “tough” dances in their worst forms and with all their
suggestive details. If she attends these dubious resorts freely, she is
marked socially by it.

Most of the girls under sixteen and the most strictly guarded of the
older girls go to dances only occasionally. Then they attend some
“racket” given by their special friends, their fathers’ association,
or their church. They may go with their families or be taken by a boy
friend with their parents’ knowledge and consent. Perhaps a younger
sister is allowed to go along, much below the age when the first
daughter started, because “she’s company for May.” This occasional
ball, with its more or less formal invitation, its sanction by the
parents, and its semi-chaperonage, is considered a very different thing
from the promiscuous attendance of dance halls.

Many of the older girls, as we have seen, go much as they choose, in
a free and easy fashion. They are not restricted, or if they are they
“sneak” away. Two girls go together as a rule. They must have a little
money--carfare and a quarter for entrance. But that is all that is
needed; no chaperon and no escort. Bonds are off; freedom is absolute;
the range of possibilities is almost limitless. From Fourteenth Street
to 162nd Street, East Side and West, from Coney to Jersey, these
eager feet in the path of pleasure find their way. They are not even
dependent on the initiative of an escort for their good time. The girls
decide on their dance hall, and once on the floor, a “pick-up” is
easy to acquire. If they dance together, two men are sure to “break”
provided the girls are good looking and dance well. Etiquette demands
that they remain through the dance with this random partner. To desert
him on the floor is an insult which he may avenge with violence. To
sneak between the halves is somewhat risky and is considered mean. It
is better, as one of our girls pointed out, to tell him frankly that
“you can’t seem to keep step and you’d rather not dance it out.”

The dance hall, with its air of license, its dark corners and
balconies, its tough dancing, and its heavy drinking, is becoming
familiar to every reader of the newspapers. To the girls who attend
them they are not all of one kind by any means. The best places are
perhaps too “classy” for the West Side girl, and she has not the
proper clothes. The character of the dances at any hall depends, our
informants said, entirely upon the club that manages the affair. “If
they don’t want nothing but society dancing, why the cop’ll keep the
floor clear for them. But if some of these tough fellows are running
the racket off they go to the cop and say, ‘We don’t want any dancing
stopped here. See?’ and he leaves them alone.”[82] Home-going is not
thought of until 1 or 2, often 3 or 4 a. m. The ball is often followed
by a trip to a restaurant and home is finally reached at 6 a. m.

A party of this kind is not the single carnival of the year. Once a
week, if not twice or thrice, the girl who goes to the dance hall
goes through its round of excesses. The most startling fact in this
connection is that it is the little girls who are doing the dancing
in the public places of amusement in New York. The young girl usually
settles down to keeping steady company some time before her early
marriage, and goes less to the dance halls. Sixteen-year-old Josie,
spending three out of every seven nights of the week at public dances,
said, “When I’m eighteen or nineteen I won’t care about it any more.
I’ll have a ‘friend’ then and won’t want to go anywheres.”

There is another group of girls who do not go to the dance halls. They
have not even the small amount of money that would take them there, nor
the one suit of good clothes that would make them presentable among
the others. Lacking the tawdry finery and the superficial good manners
of the other set, they are shabby and dirty and are known throughout
the block as tough. Between them and the upper set, those who hover
on the edge of toughness and fight for the poor distinction of just
escaping it, there is a chasm of dislike, suspicion, and jealousy.
The tough girls have the two universal amusement places--the street
and the nickel “dump” (moving picture show). Besides these, they can
make meeting places of the alleys, the docks, and vacant rooms in the
tenements. These neglected, unlit cracks and crannies serve as traps
for childhood of both sexes. Here children are snared in the darkness
long before they are old enough to know the meaning of temptation. This
is the most sinister phase of the recreation problem.

Marriage is for all these girls the final and greatest adventure
of adolescence. They do not look past the adventure at the
responsibilities which lie beyond. The question of children is waved
aside as scarcely worth a hearing. Here, where the management of a
household is so hazardous and stern an affair, it is most lightly
assumed. The girl steps carelessly and boldly ahead. Sixteen is a bit
early, but eighteen or nineteen is a good age and further delay is
considered needless.

Sometimes the girl goes to church with her companion and is married
in the presence of her family and friends. But very often she and her
boy-husband indulge in a mild elopement. This is not necessarily done
to evade the objection of parents. It is partly in obedience to the
romantic instinct of youth and partly because the girl and her family
cannot afford the parade of a real wedding. After one of these secret
marriages, it is not uncommon for the girl to go on living at home and
working, while her husband does the same. In a short time the fact
of their marriage becomes known; the young pair become the center of
neighborhood interest; and then, as a decidedly secondary matter, the
question of their “taking up rooms” is considered. Probably the new
wife goes on working in order to buy furniture for her home.

“What do you think!” exclaimed Mrs. Attinger to a visitor from the
club who dropped in on a Saturday morning. “Our Lizzie’s married.
She’s been married two months and they never told me till last week.”
Mrs. Attinger seemed not at all displeased with the event, viewing it
as a successful joke on herself and Lizzie’s friends. She went on to
relate how her daughter had given up her job at the cigarette factory
and had gone over to live in New Jersey with her husband, who was a
day laborer. It also appeared, from her mother’s story, that the young
couple had not started out under the most favorable auspices. Lizzie
had visited Mrs. Attinger the day before with the news that her husband
expected to be laid off soon and she was looking for work, as she
needed money to furnish her house. Mrs. Attinger related these details
without seeming to be particularly disturbed by them.

It was, after all, the familiar story of beginning wives and husbands
on the West Side. It indicated that Lizzie had quickly found marriage
to be an extremely sobering event. Henceforth she would have new
problems to face, problems in which the adolescent hunger for good
times would cease to be the dominant element. The will to play was to
give place to the incessant struggle for existence which makes up the
career of the wife of a casual laborer.



Our West Side girls were members of a supposedly protected part of
the community. Each of them belonged to a family group; if they were
not living with their own parents, near relatives had taken them in.
Their homes were in a section which possesses a neighborhood life and
neighborhood opinions. The population is far more stable than that of
the East Side; recent comers are rare. Some of our girls told of how
their mothers had gone to school together. One had started in the same
school through which her mother had passed. Many families had shifted
around within a range of 10 blocks for a generation. The parents of
most of them had been here from ten to thirty or forty years. It is,
then, not in the absence but in the breakdown of neighborhood and
family protection that we must seek the reasons for social, moral, and
physical deterioration in these girls.

The character of the community goes far to counter-balance any
advantage the girl may gain from living in an environment familiar to
herself and to her parents. If she grows up in one of these blocks,
she is, from babyhood, in the midst of lawlessness and rumors of
lawlessness. They are afloat in the air she breathes, as certain to be
inhaled as are the heavy odors from the gas plants and slaughter pens.

Two girls came excitedly into their club with news of an assault
which had just taken place down the block. They had loitered to join
the curious crowd and to have a look at the victim. They related the
details of the event and commented upon them as upon a familiar story.

There was a ripple of excitement, but no surprise. One girl exclaimed,
“Things like that are happening on our block all the time.”

The block where this girl lived bears the distinction of having
sheltered, some forty years ago, the original “Hell’s Kitchen”
gang.[83] A junk-covered lot is pointed out as the site of the
tumble-down shack where the gang met. The shack has disappeared, while
in the rear, facing the street to the north, a mission is now in full
swing. Still, tradition upholds the desperate character of the locality
and gives it a bad reputation. The police declare, however, that it
is no worse than many other parts of the neighborhood. Fifteen of our
club girls came from this block. All the toughs who gather there are,
of course, identified with the “Gopher Gang.” The Gophers were said to
have assaulted the housekeeper in 562. She had reported to the police
their use of her vacant rooms, and in revenge they had “beaten her
up.” It was to this same house, which bears a bad reputation, that a
physician had been recently called, late in the evening, to attend a
baby. The child was in convulsions, the effect of the whiskey with
which she had been “doped.” After a search through the house, he found
only one family sober enough to be trusted with the child.

Authentic stories of violence came to us from time to time. Many
other tales were the product of gossip largely mingled with falsehood.
But the brutality of the neighborhood speaks for itself; it is
everywhere, in the streets, in the talk, in the minds of old and young.
Recklessness and daring are apt to be painted with heightened colors,
exaggerated beyond the fact. The child does not discriminate between
garbled truth and falsity. In any case, these stories take effect
on her. They are poured into her mind and muddy the stream of her
imagination. She believes a large amount of what comes to her ears,
some of which she sees and knows to be true. The girls who lived in
this block, though they were coming and going by night and day, had
yet a lively apprehension of its dangers. “When I go home after ten,”
said Mamie Stertle, “I always get the cop on the corner to see me to my
door.” Mamie had lived uptown for a few months. Up there, far to the
north, she had acquired a friend of a superior type, a chauffeur, who
worked steadily and always had money in his pocket. When she came back
to live on the West Side, she took it for granted that he could not
come to her home, lest he be assaulted and robbed.

The young girl shares in all the gossip of her elders. She takes in
greedily the idle talk of the kitchen, the stoop, and the street. In
this prurient school she becomes familiar, even as a child, with the
lowest forms of vice and immorality. Living on the same block with 15
of our girls were two young women who were the “talk of the parish.”
“They begun in the dance halls back o’ the saloons,” said Mrs. Ryan,
“and look what they are now!” Not one of our 15 girls but was familiar
with the talk and with all the details of the two irregular lives about
which it centered.

A restaurant was opened on the corner. It was soon noised about that
the woman proprietor was identical with a notorious criminal who had
served a sentence of twenty years for infanticide. Before long the
girls were repeating with gusto horrible stories of her crimes. Sadie
Toohey, standing on the corner with a group of schoolmates, informed
them concerning the restaurant keeper, “She was a midwife and used to
burn babies.” Then, with a toss of her blonde head with its little-girl
bows, she added, “She burned one of mine.” The sally was greeted with
shouts of appreciation and Sadie’s reputation as a wit rose among her

A mother, even one of the wisest, finds it no easy task to defend her
young against these influences. Life is far too congested in such
quarters for the girl to escape any of its aspects. When a family of
from six to eight members lives in three or four rooms it is impossible
to segregate the young from their elders. Only well-to-do parents can
afford to provide a separate life tempered to the needs of young and
growing personalities. The poor man’s house has no nursery for its
young, no annex like the boarding school, which enlarges the dimensions
of the rich man’s house and provides a special environment friendly
to youth and its needs. The daughter of fourteen in the tenements
must share the experience of the mother of fifty, who, even with the
best intentions, cannot shield her girl from her own fifty-year-old
materialistic morals. What is true of the individual family is also
true of mass life on the block. There is no segregation of youth. The
result is precocious hardness or youthful rebellion.

If the practice of pooling the moral standards of old and young is
not considered ideal training for children in families whose moral
standards meet the usual requirements, it is even less desirable
in families which are either degraded or undeveloped. There are
here on the West Side many families who have the naïve morality of
primitive social groups. The result is that many of the girls are
simply reared in a different morality from that of the community at
large. Illegitimate births are common. Marriage--even a common law
marriage--is accepted as removing any stigma that might attach to an
irregular relationship. “Oh, it is all right,” said the parents of one
girl-mother, “because she’s been goin’ with Bill now for years. They’ll
marry as soon as they can.”

One of our club girls drifted into a temporary union and then drifted
out again in the most matter-of-fact way. After a period of absence
from the club, she was reported upon inquiry to be married. “She done
well for herself,” rumor ran. One day she turned up at the club and
brought her boy-husband, apparently a decent, steady sort of chap. Soon
we learned that they had not really been married but had started the
report in a spirit of fun. However, they now decided to go through the
ceremony in earnest and together they went to the priest. Here they
met an unexpected obstacle, for their visit had been forestalled by
Mattie’s mother, who did not approve of Cleary for a son-in-law and
had charged the priest not to marry them. The girl returned home, but
continued to meet Cleary on the street and to go around with him. Then
gradually she began to shake off the connection, breaking promises to
the boy and failing to keep appointments with him. He came to the club
one evening expecting to find her there according to her promise. But
Mattie did not come to the club that night, and Cleary, after waiting a
while in vain, departed saying darkly, “That’s the third time this week
she’s give me the hang-up.” There was evidence that Mattie’s mother was
more concerned about the loss of her daughter’s earnings than about
making her an “honest” girl.

The toleration of moral irregularities is mingled with much harshness
of censure. “D’ ye know Jennie Meehan that lives in th’ house next to
ours?” Kitty Stevens asks the cooking class. “Well, she’s just had
a baby. Father McGratty went there today an’ he married her an’ the
feller. Her sister was just th’ same way, only she went and had her
baby in Jersey. Me mother says if she had that kind of girl she’d
burn her, she w’d. Burnin’ w’d be good enough for the likes o’ her.”
But in spite of this severity of comment, the occurrence is accepted
philosophically by the elders of the neighborhood, and soon forgotten.

Some families fall below all moral codes, even the simple ethics of the
far West Side. The fault which may be forgiven in the girl is not so
pardonable in her parents. Open and excessive infidelity on the part of
the father and drink or infidelity on the part of the mother may make
the family outcasts from among the merely poor. The daughter shares the
degradation of the others and can scarcely escape the consequences.
Even where the habits of her elders are not the subject of gossip,
she herself cannot escape the knowledge and the influence. There was
fifteen-year-old Addie Mercer, bright, vivacious, with sparkling dark
eyes, who was getting a “bad name.” The unsavory example came from
her father. He, as Addie and her mother and all the children knew,
maintained a second household with a colored woman in charge. The
effects of this constant example, as well as of other demoralizing
influences, were already evident in Addie, and the final result
threatened to be total moral collapse.

Often the mere physical conditions of life seem enough to account for
the moral tragedies. The hallways of these tenements are perennially
dark by day, although they are lit by flickering gas jets in the
evening. The legal requirements for illumination of dark halls and
stairs are too often evaded throughout the tenements. There was
one house in our neighborhood where no lights burned in any of the
halls day or night, for months. It is not uncommon to find a hall so
pitch-dark that one must feel one’s way down the stairs.

A white flower was sent to the sick mother of one of our girls. When a
visitor called, it was literally the only thing that could be seen in
the woman’s room. All other details--walls, bed clothing, the features
of the sick woman--were lost in blackness until the eyes of the visitor
became sufficiently accustomed to the darkness to distinguish between
them. Men boarders shared from time to time the three rooms of this
home. In this flat and others like it a daughter had lived her fourteen
years. Then, still a child, she became a mother.

Childhood in the tenements cannot escape the smirch of its brutal and
ugly surroundings. The open toilet where little children play has given
occasion to the bitterest of tragedies. The corner saloon, without
which no block is complete, is always, it must be remembered, a part of
some tenement house. It impinges on the homes of 12 or 15 families.
The halls reek with the odor of bad whiskey. Snatches of saloon talk
and saloon laughter leak through the walls, even by day. Out of homes
like this come girls and boys to go to schools from whose neighborhood
all liquor selling is legally banished to a distance of at least 200
yards! Truly, our legal protection of childhood is in some respects a

Allowing for great deficiencies, we have still much natural vigor and
strength among the young in the district. This is not yet a spot such
as some that exist in the London slums, pervaded with the taint of
innate mental and physical degeneration. The parents of our girls were
mainly Irish immigrants or first generation Irish-Americans. They came
of vigorous peasant stock, and from a country which is, by comparison
with the rest of Europe, almost free from venereal disease. We found
that most of our club girls had a fair physical inheritance. Of a
group of 20 who were given physical examinations, 18 were shown to
have well-developed muscles and organs. Notwithstanding many signs of
weariness and disease, they were not lacking in stamina. All the more
for this reason should the girl in her adolescent years live under a
régime which will conserve her natural energy. The chance for health
and strength should not be thrown away. These are the years of nervous
instability in which especially she needs rest, change, exercise, and
the healthful freedom of outdoor play and occupation. Her chances for
all these things are very limited. Bodies intended to be vigorous
are hard used from the start, and during adolescence they are often
strained and harried far beyond their recuperative power.

Almost every night some girl came dragging in with heavy eyes and
cheeks dead white under the powder. There were complaints galore of
weariness and headache. One great reason was the immoderate pace at
which the lives of such girls are hurried on. Long hours of work
are thrust upon them. Long hours of play are seized with petulant
insistence. To wrap packages from 7 a. m. until 5:30 p. m. within the
walls of a factory; then several times a week to dance until 2 or 3
a. m. in the stifling closeness, the noise and excitement of a public
hall, is a not unusual program. The immature body is bound to fail.
With the girl who keeps up her train of pleasures, only a rebellious
season now and then, when she loafs and sleeps long mornings, saves her
from exhaustion.

Another cause of discomfort and pain, often with serious results, is
the prevalence of minor defects of body. They have gone without care
for months and years. Practically no girl has had teeth, eyes, and
throat kept in good condition. The group of 20 girls were examined for
defect in scalp, nose, ears, throat, teeth, eyes, heart, and lungs. Not
one examined was without defect. Of the 20, 15 had enlarged tonsils and
five had adenoids; 12 had defective teeth; four defective vision; two
were cross-eyed; three had spinal curvature; one had trachoma; and one

Two sisters brought trachoma to the house from an institution where
they had been reared. Sarah had been cured by a delicate and skilful
operation. Martha had been discharged without any treatment. She was
one of the toughest girls in the club and least concerned about herself
or her appearance. When she came to us she was “bumming,” without a
job. In her torn and filthy clothing, with reddened eyes half closed
with the disease, she looked the most forlorn and neglected of the
underworld. For weeks we worked to induce her mother to give her
care. “Thank God, there’s nothing much the matter with her eyes,” was
the mother’s final answer after she had been warned that blindness
was a certain consequence. And from her sister, Sarah’s eyes were
re-infected. A case recorded in the group of 20 was also contracted
from her.

These examinations were little guide to the most serious physical
defects among the girls. Those most in need of care were most difficult
and wayward about examination. The mention of a doctor dismayed
them. Some who promised to go never reached his office. But a weekly
clinic was continued through the winter. Gradually the girls gained
confidence and a number of serious troubles came to light. Three cases
of tuberculosis--two incipient--were found. The third, which was taking
a headlong course, was checked and ultimately cured by sending the girl
daily to a hospital boat. Two girls were finally examined and treated
for venereal disease. It was noticeable that girls whose histories and
habits left little doubt of sexual abuse were under par in general
health. Undoubtedly this operated both as cause and as result.

Carrie Fuller drifted into the club irregularly for months. Her voice,
her frown, her dragging slouch across the room all told of the absence
of any stamina. She never consented to any suggestion of a doctor or
of care. It is inevitable that such a condition should make continuous
work impossible. She was in a cigarette factory till she “chucked
her job.” When we saw her after several weeks of absence, we learned
without surprise that she had left home to live with a married sister
and “lead a sporting life.” She laughed a bit recklessly and shambled
out, leaving only the wonder that she cared to come at all. Without
bodily vitality, how shall any of these children live through the long
working days of their youth? And, still more, how shall they resist the
continual pressure of the viciousness around them? Yet many a girl is
scattering to the wind the strength of her youth.

A group composed of 19 of our girls, ranging in age from thirteen to
seventeen, were examined in a psychological clinic. Four girls stood
above the normal in mental ability, 10 were normal, and two were barely
normal. One was below normal, as the result of immoral habits, and two
were feeble-minded.

In the full story, broken schooling, low moral standards, the brutal
life of the streets, low housing, and physical inferiority all play
their part in the coarsened moral outlook of the girls. There is a
group demoralized even in childhood by the abuse of their sexual
functions. There are some who fall into immorality during the first
years of adolescence. For the most part, however, the girls finally
slip into the established ways of marriage and family building. From
such groups the children of the next generation will be born in the
largest proportion. To society, as well as themselves, it matters
a great deal whether they have been crippled in mind and body by a
wretched and brutal environment.

Such a girl was May Carney, who announced one day to our consternation
that she was going to be married. May was only sixteen and a victim of
gonorrhea. She had been, however, perfectly “straight” for a couple
of years. At the age of sixteen she looked upon herself as a reformed
character. “I used to be pretty tough with the boys,” she said. “That’s
a pretty bad thing for any girl to say of herself, but I’m over it
now.” The physician had said that it would require three years to cure
her thoroughly of her disease and had recommended a slight operation
immediately. In view of these facts, we could only feel great concern
at the news of her immediate marriage. One of the club leaders sought
out her mother to remonstrate against the marriage and also to propose
that May should go to the hospital for two weeks.

Mrs. Carney was found at home one evening about 8 o’clock, and
adjourned with her visitor to the hall outside for a confidential talk.
The public passage, lighted by a flaring gas jet, was surrounded by
four closed doors shutting off as many different flats and the crowded
domestic life within. In the evening, when Mrs. Carney’s family was at
home, it was the only spot where she could have a private word with a
caller. Her final summing up of her daughter’s situation was this: “You
see, if May was to go away to the hospital for two weeks, they’d all
say she went away to have a baby. You see them two doors,” pointing to
the forward end of the hall. “The girls in there--both of them--have
just been away havin’ babies. They didn’t have nobody to take care of
them, so they had to bring their babies home. Now, if May was to be
gone two weeks, ye couldn’t make nobody believe she wasn’t doin’ just
the same as them two.”

In view of this difficulty it was suggested that the operation might
be performed at home. This seemed feasible, and the more serious
question of May’s marriage was then broached. “Yes, May will be married
in September,” said Mrs. Carney. “I know, she’s not seventeen yet,
but it’s this way, y’ see. She’s sickly, she won’t never be no good
to me,--the two or three dollars she brings home won’t hardly keep
her,--and she’s always wantin’ money to spend on herself. What I say
is, she’d better get married now. Daley is a good fellow and he’s
workin’ steady. She mightn’t have so good a chance again.”

It would not be fair to blame Mrs. Carney very harshly for the
materialism of this speech and her total lack of consideration for the
“steady fellow” whom May was about to marry, and for their possible
children. Mrs. Carney’s moral outlook was the result of the hard school
in which she had been educated. As for her willingness to saddle a
hardworking young man with her sickly daughter, this was, after all,
only her duty as a “good mother.” It would have been hard to make
Mrs. Carney see anything wrong in her attitude toward her daughter’s
marriage. One has to admit that what we expected of her as a matter of
course was from her point of view heroic conduct.

In view of the circumstances surrounding these young lives, it is
useless to talk of the “fall” of these girls. Many of them have
never lived on a sufficiently high moral level to “fall.” With them
immorality is of a piece with the uncleanliness, physical and mental,
in which they have been reared. There was, however, one important
distinction which we learned to make between the forms of immorality.
There was the girl who “solicited” and the girl who did not. One may
have courage to grapple with mere immorality, but the girl who has been
swept into the currents of commercialized vice is at once allied with
secret and powerful forces which enable this trade to hold its own.
Once during the year we were compelled to stand by helplessly and see a
girl of sixteen slip over the brink of prostitution.

Carrie Drake, who drifted into the club one evening with Winnie Hyland,
was a tall, white-faced girl, rather gawky and poorly dressed. She wore
a shabby suit, a very dirty white waist of cheap embroidery, and a
rackety hat which showed the effects of having been repeatedly rained
upon. Carrie’s devotion to this hat was all the more noticeable because
the other girls seldom wore any. We soon discovered the reason; an
attack of typhoid fever had left her almost bald. Beneath the hat she
wore a reddish-brown wig which was so thin that it scarcely covered her
new growth of stubby hair of altogether a different shade of brown.
She said she had made the wig of “some puffs,” and that it had been
very good until some girl had tried to improve it by cutting it. She
possessed a low voice and a courteous manner which she had kept as
salvage from the wreck of her mother’s training.

Winnie Hyland, who brought her to us, was an irresistible little
crippled girl whose faith in the powers of a social worker was the
result of having been gently cared for all her life by representatives
of one social agency or another. The tubercular hip-bone which she
had developed in early childhood had saved her from the worst of the
harshness and want which prevailed in her own home. Discovering her
friend in search of a job she brought her over to the club to one of
the “teachers.”

Carrie was not a hopeful candidate for work. She was only fifteen,
still gaunt from the ravages of typhoid, grotesque in appearance.
Her mother had died when she was eleven, and she had been promptly
taken from school, which she hated, to do the housework. To appease
the truant officer, she was sent to another school for a month. Then
quietly she dropped out altogether. An attempt at work in a factory at
this age was unsuccessful. “My aunt told the forelady how I was poor
and hadn’t any mother. So she took pity on me and let me try.” But she
was soon discharged and was kept at home to take care of her younger
brother and sister, until all three were sent to an institution.
Two months later the father died,--as Carrie declared and certainly
believed, “of a broken heart.”

After leaving the institution at fourteen, she had lived with her aunts
by spells, quarreling and breaking away from time to time. For a while
she had stayed with the mother of a friend who found her sitting on
the steps in the rain. She tried places at service, but she was not a
trained houseworker and did not stay long at any place. Finally she
had got a job in a steam laundry, but while working there she sickened
with typhoid and was sent to the hospital. When she came to us she was
living with an aunt in a furnished room house, a forlorn, three-story
shack on one of the river blocks. The halls reeked with odors from the
corner saloon. The aunt, her husband, and two children were occupying a
single room when they took the girl in. There was only one bed. “I told
Carrie she could squeeze in,” she explained. “I couldn’t ask her to
sleep on the floor.”

It was slow business finding work for Carrie. She had to have better
clothes. She had to be examined by a physician, for there were
signs of a venereal disease which would have made her dangerous to
fellow-workers in a factory. These things had been arranged for and
consented to. But before they could be put into effect and work could
be found, Carrie had taken the plunge. She disappeared without leaving
a trace, but soon after one of the girls reported seeing her on Eighth
Avenue, “in a real wig and a swell new suit.” Immorality was not new
to Carrie, but she had found a way to make it pay. She was “on the
streets.” There followed an unsuccessful search, inquiries at police
headquarters, of prison officials, of probation officers. We enlisted
the aid of a strong society, but the agent, though he promised to help,
gave us very little encouragement, saying that such a search was pretty
hopeless, as there were hundreds of girls in similar circumstances at
large in New York.

Carrie slipped out of sight all the more easily because she had no
one “who rightly belonged to her.” When a girl disappears from a home
presided over by a determined mother, the search which follows is
likely to be a desperate one. Mrs. Mullarkey’s search for her Fannie
was a mixture of folly, shrewdness, and heroism. Fannie, according
to her mother, was “the best girl you ever saw” till she came to
live on the “Gopher block.” There she “got in” with an older girl at
the factory and began to be tough. She threw up her job, as did her
friend, and the two spent their time in secret ways. At first the
mother knew nothing of Fannie’s being out of work because the girl
left home regularly mornings and came home promptly to her dinner. But
at last the fraud was discovered; there was a scene, with “hollerin’
and smashin’,” and upon the heels of it Fannie disappeared. Mrs.
Mullarkey’s fears pointed to a certain house on Eleventh Avenue where a
woman lived who had the reputation of harboring girls. Not daring to go
there alone, she enlisted the aid of Father Langan, “a rough hollerin’
sort of a man that the children was all afraid of.” But the woman would
not open even to the Father’s authoritative knock. Eventually they
returned with an officer who broke down the door. But Fannie was not
there after all.

Mrs. Mullarkey’s two aids, the officer and the priest, could give her
no further counsel. But she herself knew of another resource in the
person of a young man, about twenty-two years old, a gangster and
political scullion, whom she had known from early boyhood. To him she
made her appeal for old acquaintance’ sake. “For God’s sake, Petey,”
she said, “you are the only one that can get Fannie. Find out where she
is.” Moved by the appeal and nothing loath to show his power, Petey
promised that he would find the girl; only he stipulated that Mrs.
Mullarkey must “leave Fannie be” when once she had her. Mrs. Mullarkey
agreed and Petey went forth on his quest. In a couple of hours he
returned with the culprit and commanded her to tell her mother where
she had been. At first she refused; but Petey, once enlisted on the
mother’s side, was a stern and unyielding ally. He brought out a knife
and threatened her, so that the poor girl was terrified and stammered
forth a confession of how she and her friend had been staying together
in a furnished room. Mrs. Mullarkey was so outraged by what she heard
that she altogether forgot her promise to Petey. After he had gone she
summoned an officer and had the girl taken to court. Fannie was locked
up in a cell for twenty-four hours “to cool off.” When she came up
before the judge the following day she was “as brazen as could be, not
a tear in her eye.” At last, however, she said she wanted to go home,
and the judge placed her on probation.

We knew a sorry scrap of a child, five years old, who was already
getting her instruction. She was a thin, sharp-featured little
creature, uncommunicative, but very watchful out of her clear, bright
blue eyes. Her clothing, hands, and face were always unclean. She
gave an uncomfortable sense of possessing a great deal of unnatural
knowledge for her age. Her home was a kitchen with two windows, and two
tiny dark bedrooms, as hopelessly unkempt and dirty as herself. It was
the abode of six people and nine cats. Her father was the last of three
husbands, all of doubtful legal status. Her mother, who drank heavily
on occasion, was unreliable. “Patsy” was the frequent companion of her
sister of fifteen. This girl, who had an unusual, vivid, and forceful
personality, was alternately sought out by the fellows of the block
and censured with their disapproval. She ruled Patsy as an autocrat,
petting and punishing her, allowing her to “tag around” and constantly
using her as a go-between. There will be no question of a “fall” for
Patsy. As she was being taught, so in time she will naturally develop.

With girls from such homes, childhood is the crucial time. It is not
temptation, circumstance, or delusion that gets them into “trouble.”
It is the faulty moral and mental training which simply expresses
itself later in the almost inevitable, natural fashion. A smattering
of conventional morality given by the church or by school is of little
practical force against the tenor of their lives. “Reform” for such
girls does not mean a return to abandoned ideals and desires. This is
hard to achieve, but what is required here is still more difficult.
It is the graft of new habits and a new outlook. It is the patient
training away from the easy ways into the strict new law. Even fourteen
or fifteen may be too late an age at which to begin this.

But actual immorality is not the only fruit of the dingy, sordid
happenings which compose so large a part of the life of this community.
There are girls who grow up in the midst of vicious surroundings with
an inward security against harm. They are as trustworthy as the most
carefully trained and guarded child--and hardier. For with them there
is truth in the familiar boast, “I’m able to take care of myself.”
But they pay a price for this fortitude. They are not taught, cleanly
and rightly, straight from the shoulder. The taint and grime around
them reach to their thoughts and feeling, and they suffer in their
conceptions of life and of human experience.

We hear a great deal of the precocious development of New York
children. It is most noticeable in girls from homes like these. In
spite of the essential helplessness of their age, they acquire a
surface hardihood which marks them out from normal children. They
have grown up to have a settled distrust of life. They have a lurking
bitterness which may be unavoidable in the adult but which ought never
to play a part in childhood.

Yet, granting all the untoward conditions and influences which she
must face, the problem of our West Side girl is by no means a hopeless
one. Watch her as she swings through the streets, lovely through
all her tawdriness, fine through all her vulgarity, gentle through
all her “toughness.” Seeing her thus we cannot but see also her
hopeful possibilities, in spite of the sordidness and evil which have
encompassed her.

To strengthen the best elements of the home--this is the surest and
most fundamental way to help this girl. The dangers for her family
are the most deeply rooted menace to her. And here they are manifold.
We may safeguard her recreation; we may improve her schooling; we
may regulate her working conditions. But we must remember that she
is seldom to be regarded entirely as an individual; she is one of a
family group, a unit of a community. Unless she drifts to the streets
she will probably remain so. And whatever can lighten and beautify the
grimy life of the district, or relieve the intense pressure on family
comfort, will give her a better chance.




From out the big candy factories of the Middle West Side throngs of
workers, one Saturday night, came hurrying into the December darkness.
Eagerly they turned their steps toward their tenement homes. Many of
them were Italian girls, and very young.

Across the street from Kohlberger’s candy factory a child waited,
peering anxiously at every group of girls that left the building.
“Lucy!” she called out suddenly. Three girls stopped and the child ran
up to them crying, “Oh, Lucy, your sister Mary’s got twins!” Lucy’s
shriek of delight was echoed rapturously by her companions; they caught
hold of the child and besieged her with questions. Several friends
stopped to hear the glad tidings. Then the little group set out up
Ninth Avenue for Lucy Colletti’s home to see Mary and the new arrivals.

The noise of the elevated trains drowned their voices and the crowds
held them back, but they talked happily on. After the first excitement
of the news had abated a little, they turned to other matters. “Perhaps
your friend will be at your house, Lucy,” said one of the girls.

Lucy’s happy look faded.

“No, he won’t.”

“But he’s there at the door every night, and he goes up the stairs with

“My father’s got no use for him, so I told him .... Well, what’s the
use, we ain’t allowed to do anything,” she ended sullenly.

“Why don’t you do like Jennie does, and not let them know?” asked the

“They’d know. They don’t ever let me out at night, not even to go to
the club. It’s just sit around the house all evening. If you’ve got
a husband, he’ll take you out somewhere. Mary got married when she
was fifteen and after that she went out all the time. I wisht I was

As they turned from Ninth Avenue west into one of the Forties a girl
and a young man approached them. “There’s Angelina!” exclaimed Jennie,
calling to the girl. Angelina greeted them warmly. She was thin and
looked delicate, as though she had just recovered from a severe
illness. In answer to the girls’ eager questions she said that she was
better; that she and Nick were to be married at Christmas and go to
live in the Bronx; that she’d get well fast then. She asked in turn
about the girls at the factory and said that she missed them.

Angelina was sixteen. Two years before, she had gone into the candy
factory. She started at $3.50 a week and after a year got $4.00,
packing chocolates in the basement. It was cold there and damp, and
in spite of her heavy sweater and two pairs of stockings she had
contracted a severe cold which lingered on her lungs. She failed
steadily until one day after a bad fit of “coughing blood” she fainted
and had to be taken home. She could not go back, although her mother
missed the $4.00 sadly, as her father too was out of work. But when
she was able to be up and care for the baby and do her mother’s work
as janitress, the latter managed to get cleaning jobs and things were
easier. This last week her father had got employment. He was washing
dishes in a saloon for $9.00 a week. Now it would be possible for
Angelina to marry. Her friends shared in her happiness with quick
responsiveness, and continued to talk of her marriage to Nick until the
nearness of Lucy’s house brought them back to the first interesting
topic of the evening.

“My, I’m glad I don’t have to work tonight!” Lucy exclaimed.

“Yes, but we must work tomorrow!” exclaimed Jennie. “I just hate going
on Sunday. Gee! I don’t want no candy for a Christmas present!”

Through cold, ill-smelling hallways, the girls trooped up the four
flights of narrow stairs to Lucy’s home. The gas flame which flickered
feebly on each landing revealed the dirty, crumbling walls. It was the
social hour of the tenements. Fathers were returning from the day’s
toil and the children were welcoming them. Mothers were cooking the
evening meal, whose various odors mingled in the passage-way with those
of bad plumbing, the common toilets, escaping gas, wet plaster, and
garbage. Half-dressed babies crept out to the open doors or rolled on
the bare, grimy hall floors, peering with curious eyes through the
banisters at the new arrivals. The little knots of neighbors gathered
about the doorways hailed Lucy with words of rejoicing. A continuous
sound of voices arose, sometimes low and laughing, again, high and
excited, but tinged with the varying cadences and the finely shaded
meanings with which the Italian language abounds. Accustomed to a life
of the greatest intimacy with relatives and neighbors, the Italians
will sacrifice any comfort to preserve this condition.

In the Collettis’ flat a stream of smiling friends passed in and out
congratulating Mary and touching with warm brown fingers the babies’
cheeks. Each drank two tiny glasses of crème de menthe to the health of
mother and children. Four generations lived in that flat--a family of
eleven. Mrs. Colletti was seated near her daughter’s bed, nursing her
own year-old baby. Mrs. Colletti’s mother, who had been a midwife in
Italy, tended her daughter and the newborn babies after the manner in
which she had cared years ago for the peasant women of Calabria. The
Collettis were prosperous; their fruit stand did a good business. All
the family helped. Mrs. Colletti spent every morning at the stand, and
the children were there after school and at night. They were able to
afford a five-room flat and some pretentious furniture. The front room
was particularly splendid with its brilliant green-flowered rug, stiff
Nottingham curtains, and equally stiff “parlor set.” Mary’s wedding
presents, bright painted vases, imitation cut glass, enormous feather
roses, and pink celluloid album, were arranged around the room. Staring
likenesses in heavy oil paint of the bride and groom were the crowning
glory of the parlor.

Lucy dropped her pay envelope into her mother’s lap. Then she and her
friends surrounded the sixteen-year-old mother and told her of the
day’s happenings, of meeting Angelina, and how she was soon to be
married. Mary was as eager as the others over the idea of a wedding
and a dance. Indeed she would be able to go! And she would wear her
blue dress, the one she bought when she “stood up” with Flora at her

Lucy’s friends promised as they said goodnight, to explain to the
“boss” why she could not come on Sunday morning for extra work. They
ran downstairs out into the street, and as they passed the steam
laundry on the block, from which came the dull thump of subsiding
machinery, a girl came through the iron gateway. She was a short,
stocky peasant type, but her shoulders were stooped, her flesh flabby,
and she looked far from strong. She shivered as she came out of the
hot, steaming workroom into the chill December air. The girls greeted

“You wasn’t at the club last night, Rose, so we came up to see you,”
said Jennie.

“No, I never get home till most 9 o’clock on Fridays and on Mondays.
It’s awful busy at the laundry these days,” Rose explained. “I wisht I
was back at the factory packing peanut brittle. It’s no joke standin’
foldin’ all day long. My side hurts something fierce; it wakes me up at
night.” The group walked along arm in arm toward the tenement in which
Rose Morelli lived.

“Have you heard from Tony?” Jennie asked as they entered the Morelli

Rose shook her head and glanced at her mother who sat monotonously
jigging a dull-looking baby on her lap. At the mention of her son’s
name she raised her great, heavy eyes and spoke to Rose in Italian.
Then she dropped them again and the tears ran quietly down her face.
Tony was the oldest of the family, the only boy, and he had run away
to Florida six weeks before. He had been led to do so by another boy--a
bad boy. The Morellis always explained that it was not Tony’s fault;
he was a good boy but he had got tired of working for the butcher. He
had written them a postal from Jacksonville saying that he was having
a grand time and was stable boy on the race track. But no further word
had come. They did not know where he was. But the mother had not given
up hope that he would come back, though each day she grew thinner and
the heavy marks under her eyes grew darker. She watched on the fire
escape each night, peering down the street for Tony’s familiar figure.
Now, as she wept for him, she drew the baby to her and kissed it

The baby was not her own. It was a little Jewish foundling she had
taken from the “Home” to nurse when her last baby died seven months
ago. Four children had died before that when “so leetle.” Over the
mantelpiece hung a large, shiny photograph of the last baby lying
in its casket. The, casket had been very expensive, but it had been
a great comfort to the mother to put so much money into it, quite
unconscious that the living children were paying its heavy price in
lowered health and vitality.

The Morellis’ three rooms had none of the air of prosperity that
characterized the Colletti home. They were bare, and would have
been dingy except for the bright bedspread, the gayly colored wall
decorations, and advertising calendars, pictures of the royal family,
the pope, the saints, and the Holy Virgin. Under this last a candle
burned, an offering for Tony’s return. In the tiny dark box of a room
back of the kitchen a cot and two chairs served Rose and the two
younger girls as sleeping accommodations. A shakedown in the kitchen
had been Tony’s bed. It was still there, unused. No one else would have
thought of sleeping in it. It would have been an acknowledgment that he
might not need it again.

As Rose went on talking of their “trouble” to her friends, they
responded with quick sympathy. They lamented with the Morellis as
sincerely as they had rejoiced with the Colletti family. They felt with
Rose as keenly and genuinely as with Mary and Lucy. Sympathy is the
keynote of the Italian community. It binds together not only members of
the same family but relatives of all degrees, friends, fellow-tenants,
speakers of the same dialect, those from the same Latin town. It
extends to the little foundling, the tiny boarder, whose frequent
presence in the home is such sad evidence of the high infant mortality
in the Italian families. The $10 which the foster mother receives from
the institution as board money does not prevent her from loving her
little nursling with the same passionate abandon with which she loves
her own.

Whether a girl comes from the higher income group like the Collettis,
whose home runs the whole depth of the house and has circulation of
fresh air, or from the group that feels the pressure of bare living in
three choking, dark rooms as do the Morellis, she is touched by the
same deep influence of family bonds and customs. A tying-up of the
individual with the group, an identity of interests with those of one’s
kin--these are the factors which dominate the lives of the family into
which the Italian girl is born and which present a valiant front to the
forces of personal independence that meet her in her American life, at
school, in industry, and in recreation.

The claims of the school weigh little against the claims of the family.
While she is a little girl in the grades, having difficulty perhaps
with her lessons, the disadvantage to her of being “kept out” a few
days does not weigh an instant against some temporary family need in
which she may be of help. Illness, financial loss, trouble of any kind,
not merely in her own home but in that of an aunt or uncle, keep many a
young girl out of school if only to lament with the afflicted.

Let us glance into the Belsito kitchen on a winter evening after
Adelina Belsito has been absent from school for a week. Over at the
school the teacher’s register shows that this last week’s defection is
only the latest of a long series of absences on the part of “Belsito,
Adelina.” On this particular evening a number of friends are collected
in the kitchen; their sympathetic and concerned expressions show that
they are discussing some grave and anxious matter. Presently there
enters upon the scene the school visitor. Will she not be seated and
have a glass of wine and Adelina will tell the long story of the
family’s misfortunes.

Illness, accident, death, and loss of savings have followed each other
in rapid succession, topped now by the burning of a stable and the loss
of Mr. Belsito’s two draft horses, the sole capital of the family.
Angelina tells the story eagerly in great detail, Mrs. Belsito nodding
mournfully at times and adding to her daughter’s account. The father
is absent because he is out looking for more horses. He has borrowed
money from a friend who is “rich” and the family is anxiously waiting
to know his luck. Presently he comes, the children running to him and
clinging to his legs. No, he has not been able to find horses; all cost
too much; there is nothing, nothing to be had. He clasps his head with
his hands and sits with it tragically bowed. Fresh commiseration arises
from the gathering, and animated suggestions are offered.

Adelina must go to work. That is the consensus of opinion. But upon
inquiry, the school visitor learns that Adelina is not yet entitled
to working papers, being only in the fourth grade, although nearly
fifteen. No, she does not like to go to school; she did like it until
a year ago, but lately there has been “so much trouble” that she has
been often absent. Of course she has not gone this week! After her
father’s horses had burned! Adelina lifts surprised, hurt eyes at the
question, though she is not able to explain just what aid she has been
able to give by staying at home. And they have been sending her cards
from the school, the last one demanding that her father come before the
principal and explain her absence. Adelina and her family find this
very hard and unjust “when there is so much trouble.” Besides, the
father could not go; he had to look for horses. The father lifts his
head and speaks to the girl in Italian. Presently she explains, “My
father say he have it in his head what he do for you if you speak to
the principal for me.”

And through the slight service which the “school lady” later rendered,
the Belsitos became her fast friends.

In the Ruletti home down the block there is trouble of another kind.
This time it is the mother’s grief which the daughter shares. Mrs.
Ruletti is a slender, bent little woman in black. She is not over
thirty-three but her deeply lined face looks all of fifty. Just
home from work, she snatches up the baby and kisses it passionately,
murmuring to it in Italian. She weeps as she talks. Lucrezia Ruletti
explains, “They’re going to take it back; they wouldn’t let her keep it
any longer and she feels just like she did when our baby died.”

“Take it back?”

“Oh, yes, to the ‘Home.’ Bennie isn’t our real brother; he’s a
foundling. You see, when the last baby died in the winter my mother
took Bennie from the Home and now we all love him and they want to take
him back.”

Mrs. Ruletti breaks in. “They say to me, ‘You have no milk now, bring
Bennie back.’ But I feed him bread, meat, oh! he can eat soon. I no
want him to go; like loosa my own baby.”

In the Italian household the daughter of fourteen is expected to bear
a full share of the mother’s responsibilities. She keeps the house,
cooks, washes, dresses and disciplines the children. Laura Tuzzoli,
with her old little face and her maternal air, is a not unusual
type. Going to call for the first time I paused before the tenement,
uncertain as to their floor. A group of dark-eyed children around an
ash can nearby watched me curiously. One tiny four-year-old flashed a
quick smile of friendliness and a brilliant glance from her black eyes,
then edged a little away from her companions. Asked where Laura Tuzzoli
lived, she straightened her slight, ragged shoulders and informed me
that she was also a “Tuzzoli.” She slipped her mite of a hand into mine
and led me up the dirty, unsteady stairs to “our house.”

There the fourteen-year-old sister was presiding in the mother’s
absence. She had just begun to bathe the one-year-old baby, having
finished cleaning their three rooms. The windows had been washed as
had the gilt-framed, cracked mirror which hung proudly in the space
between them. On a shelf beneath a picture of the Virgin stood a clean
jelly-glass filled with water on which floated a cork bearing a freshly
lighted candle.

Presently little Lizzie Tuzzoli came in from school carrying her books
and papers for “home work.” Fourteen-year-old Laura put her through a
rapid fire of questions about her behavior and whether she had “made
up” with a certain Mamie. Lizzie suddenly dived into her bag and
produced from it a wonderful pink pencil of the screw variety. Pride of
possession shone in her eyes as she displayed it.

“I got it off Lena Perella,” she announced. Laura seized the pencil,
touched it carefully, then gave Lizzie a sharp look. “Did she _give_ it
to you?” she demanded.

Lizzie squirmed a little. “Yes. She--I found it and didn’t know it
belonged to her, and Carrie Bussi said Lena didn’t want it anyway,

Laura handed the pencil back with a scorching glance and a dictum whose
tone permitted no rejoinder, “You take that back to school tomorrow and
give it to Lena, _d’ye hear_?” Then she became the gracious hostess

The bond between Zappira Blondi and her mother was of another sort.
When Zappira was twelve years old her father had sailed away to
America leaving his family in the little village near Naples to wait
until he could earn a home for them in the new country. But work was
harder to find than he expected. After a year’s absence he wrote a
letter home filled with discouragement and reporting dreary failure.
Zappira, who was the oldest of the children, shared in her mother’s
keen disappointment. The two put their heads together and laid a plan
whereby they could earn their passage. The mother borrowed a sum of
money sufficient to stock a small store in their village. This she and
Zappira proceeded to conduct so successfully that at the end of the
year the small debt had been repaid and the passage money laid aside.
Their venture had been kept a secret from the father, and when they
were all ready to make the journey they wrote him the good news and
named the date when he should meet them at Ellis Island. Great was the
joy of the family at being together, but hard work still lay ahead of
these brave women. They took two small rooms in Mott Street, and for a
year mother and daughter worked in a factory, eking out a bare living.
The girl was now sixteen, old enough to be married, and though the
family could ill afford to lose her wages her father did not fail in
what he considered his duty. He soon found a husband for her. Although
so young, Zappira had, through years of close partnership with her
mother, already acquired many of the sober qualities of middle age.

The unity of the Italian family has an economic as well as an emotional
basis. Father, mother, and children often form a single industrial
unit. “I works for me fader,” says the urchin whom you meet on the
stairs carrying a pail of coal to a customer. Visit the Sabbio family
and you find Mrs. Sabbio presiding at the bar in a small saloon. In
response to your question whether her husband owns the saloon, she
answers, “Both of us, we work together.”

In the dark, damp little coal and ice cellars, the cluttered tailor
and cobbler shops, the grocery and candy stores, at the fruit stands,
and in the saloons, all members of the family take a hand and help
to bring in the common income. Stroll along Ninth Avenue and you
may see sometimes one member of the family “on the job,” sometimes
another; at busy times, all are there. The mother is almost always
on duty, delegating the housekeeping and tending of babies to the
daughter at home. But very often the baby is also in evidence, and
is unceremoniously dumped from his mother’s or sister’s arms into a
perambulator when attention must be given to a customer.

Similarly, the Italian of this West Side community makes common
financial cause with his relatives and friends in business enterprises.
He is likely to be in partnership with his father-in-law or one of
his numerous brothers or cousins in the ownership of dray-horses, of
a candy or notion store, or a stand. Whenever an Italian begins to
thrive in any kind of joint business one may at once be assured that
his relatives are “in on it.” And one may be equally sure that in times
of hard luck or slack work the temporary deficit of the family will be
met by relatives and friends. This is taken as a matter of course. “In
Italy everybody helps everybody else” is the answer you receive if you
express surprise. If the head of the household falls ill, the neighbors
drop in daily to see how he is, and rarely does one leave without
first slipping into the sick man’s hand a nickel, a dime, or perhaps
a quarter. Not the slightest thought of charity is entailed by the
act, either in the giver’s mind or the receiver’s. It is understood,
however, that the act of kindness will be reciprocated when occasion

When the social worker visits such a home and notes that the signs of
real want are lacking, in spite of the fact that the sole income is the
$4.00 or $5.00 a week which the daughter earns, the suspicion arises
that these people must have profited in business before the father’s
illness and put by more than they will admit. Then the next-door
neighbor enters, a coin is dropped quite openly on the bedcover, and
the social worker departs with a deeper insight into the ways and
character of the Italian. Small wonder that charitable societies
of this district have comparatively few Italian families in their
charge.[84] So common is the feeling of loyalty and responsibility
among them that it is like the old tribal sense of oneness, an entire
merging of the personal in the group interest, and the group’s bearing
as its own the burden of the individual.

The protection and watchfulness of the family are constantly about
the girl. And the family circle from which surveillance proceeds is
usually intact unless death has entered it. Only in rare cases is a
“broken home” the result of desertion. The Italian does not abandon
his wife and family, nor is his relation to his children that of
breadwinner only. He shares with the mother the intimate care and
close watchfulness over them. It is always “I ask my father” with
these young Italian girls, and in spite of the over-strictness which
so many of them resent and from which they take refuge in deception,
there is between the Italian father and his daughter a close degree of
companionship seldom found in Americans of their position. Perhaps this
is due to the fact that he is more in touch with American life than
the shut-in Italian mother, whose life is almost wholly occupied with
child-bearing and child-burying.

The eagerness of most Italian parents for the arrival of a daughter’s
fourteenth birthday strikes one with no little pathos when one bears
in mind how pitifully small is the equipment of the child at that
age grown up in so restricted an environment. The girl herself is as
eager to go to work as her parents are to have her. She takes it for
granted that she should help in the family income. Carlotta gets a job
not because she feels the need of self-support as an expression of
individuality, of self-dependence, but because she feels so strongly
the sense of family obligation. Lucy Colletti turned her weekly wages
into the more generous family income as readily and unquestioningly as
Rose Morelli gave hers to meet the needs of bare subsistence.

The West Side Carlotta is not a recent immigrant. Her family came
through Ellis Island probably as much as ten years ago,[85] settling
first in one of the lower and more congested districts of New York.
Later they moved up to this district, attracted by reports of cheaper
rents or simply following, as is the Italian way, relatives already
there. Her father is probably a naturalized citizen.

Notwithstanding the exotic community in which the Italian lives and
his loyalty to Latin traditions, ten years of New York are bound to
leave their mark. This is particularly true of the West Side Italians,
so many of whom carry on a petty but independent business. Owning
a fruit stand, a coal cellar, or a trucking business is in itself
evidence of long residence and some Americanization.[86] “The Italian
with the stand--eh, he is well off--long time here,” is a common remark
among his compatriots.

Other signs of long residence on the West Side are the changes in
names. Not only does “Lucrezia” become “Lucy”; “Dominica,” “Minnie”;
“Giovannina,” “Jennie”; “Fortunata,” “Nettie”; “Francesca,” “Fannie”
and so on, but even the family names sometimes suffer a change. The
“Aquinas” become the “Quinns,” the “D’Adamos” become the “Adamses.” The
old names to which still cling some of the grandeur that was Rome are
often gladly exchanged for a genuine West Side cognomen.

Perhaps the chief evidence of Americanization, however, appears when
the daughter of the family begins wage-earning. For this she goes
directly to the factory. She does not join the ranks of the Italian
women who form so large a proportion of the out-workers or home workers
of New York City. Only those who are familiar with the submissive way
in which the Old World Italian women endure industrial exploitation can
understand what a stride toward independence the Italian girl has made
by simply working in a factory instead of at home.

A trade-union organizer and a home-work investigator were recently
discussing the Italian girl of sixteen. The former had found Italian
girls slow to respond to trade organization and was pessimistic about
their economic future. “They will not progress, nor can you blame them
when you think of the history of their women in Italy.” “You forget how
far these Italian girls in the factory have already progressed,” said
the home-work investigator. “The Italian women I know best are doing
tenement house work and earning pitifully low wages because they will
not leave their homes to work in a factory.”

The Italian girl works in the factories nearest home. These on the West
Side happen to be principally candy factories and laundries--such as
Kohlberger’s, where Lucy Colletti worked, and the laundry where Rose
Morelli was employed as a folder. Should the factory move she looks for
another nearby. Evil lies in strange parts. If the neighboring candy
factory overworks its employes, as it usually does during the weeks
before Christmas, requiring night work[87] and Sunday work, the girls
and their families regretfully submit to these weeks of exploitation.

But although economic necessity may force Carlotta into the factory,
it does not make her otherwise more independent of her family. Her
father and mother cling persistently to the old-country custom of close
watchfulness over her. Parental surveillance may be relaxed during
her hours of work, but it is promptly revived when the day’s work is
over. The streets, the dance hall, even the well chaperoned amusement
club are prohibited; nor may she spend her money on dress or choose a
“fellow” for herself. Italian girls have acquired to a less degree than
American girls the habit of spending.

But of course this system breeds an occasional rebel. There was
Filamina Moresco, for instance, whose calm investment of $25 in a
pink party dress, a beaver hat, and a willow plume, was reported as
little less than the act of a brigand. If she had withheld 20 cents
out of her pay envelope from her mother she would probably have been
beaten. As it was, she appropriated $25 and her high-handedness was her
protection. Jennie Polini’s form of rebellion--choosing a “fellow” for
herself and “seeing him on the sly”--was not as successful. The other
girls regarded her conduct with doubt and disapproval, though they
shared all of Jennie’s bitter resentment against the stern discipline
of her parents from whom she was separated by the old abyss between
the generations, widened and deepened by the disparities of the old
world and the new. The pleasures which the Italian parents permit their
daughter are those which she may enjoy in their company. She shares
in the celebration of family events which the church recognizes and
dignifies with a ritual; such as a birth, a death, or a wedding, the
seasons of Christmas and Easter, the saints’ days, and the American
holidays. These latter she interprets in her own way. Angelina Costa
informed her parents on Lincoln’s birthday that the schools were closed
because it was an “American saint’s day.”

The patriarchal festivals of the Italian _contadini_ are reproduced,
however sordidly, in the christening parties, the wedding dances, and
the burial ceremonies of the West Side. To the daughter of fourteen
a wedding party is the summit of bliss. She lives from wedding to
wedding, treasuring memories of the last one or preparing for the next,
until her own turn comes to be the central figure. One cannot fancy
her stealing away to a secret marriage as so many of the West Side
daughters are inclined to do. That would be to miss the most glorious
day of her life.

The “school lady’s” invitation to Angelina Marro’s marriage announced
that the wedding dance would begin at 5 in the afternoon, immediately
after the marriage ceremony. The “West Side Café” had been engaged
for the night’s celebration. Surely a place with so high-sounding
a name must lay claim to considerable pretension! It was with some
disillusionment that the “school lady” entered a small doorway and
groped her way through a narrow, dingy, and perfectly dark passage
toward a tiny slit of light which promised another door in the far
distance. Repeated knocks on the panels below this ray finally caused a
slipping of bolts. A huge black Italian appeared at the opening. Near
him stood a countryman. They were both engaged in getting ready the
refreshments, but they welcomed the intruder. On a big, round table
stood a large tin washtub filled with water for rewashing the beer
mugs after use. Large wooden trays were piled high with a quantity of
sandwiches that one could not believe any crowd, however large, could
consume. An enormous Italian cheese, plates of Italian cakes, and a
number of crates of beer completed the preparation for the feast.

The room may have been 30 by 50 feet; the ceiling was low and the only
means of ventilation were two small windows at one end which opened on
a court. These were tightly closed, with shades and curtains drawn.
Around the walls were benches and chairs. At the end opposite the
windows were the piano and chairs for the musicians. The walls were
decorated with cheap prints, a large color print of George and Martha
Washington being most conspicuous among them. Stretching from the four
corners of the ceiling to the gas chandelier in the middle of the room
were strings of flags, representing all nations, but most of them were
American and Italian.

The bride and groom had not yet arrived, but one of the bridesmaids,
Lucy Colletti, came forward and greeted the visitor cordially. The
bride was having her picture taken, she explained, but would arrive
very soon. The room began to fill up with relatives and friends of the
married pair. There was no dressing room. All the wraps were piled
together on the top of a high narrow wardrobe. One of the men stood on
a chair and threw on top of the fast growing pile the additional coats,
hats, and furs.

Guests of all ages, from grandparents to toddling children, continued
to arrive in parties. Suddenly the outer door opened and the young
bride and groom entered. There were cries of welcome, a burst of
hand-clapping, and a general rush for the pair. The dark, frail little
bride in her elaborate costume looked like a child playing at “dressing
up.” The fine net gown and veil, the white slippers and gloves, must
have meant months of saving and stern denials of necessities. She was
only sixteen, and Nick, who walked beside her bearing his head like
a young prince instead of the young butcher’s helper that he was, had
barely turned nineteen. One could not but reflect that if he had been
living in Gramercy Park instead of on the West Side he might now be
receiving his high school diploma instead of assuming the burden and
responsibility of a family. And the little bride might be heading the
freshman basketball team with years of care-free development ahead of
her, instead of facing the imminent trials of child-bearing with the
probable addition of factory labor.

The wedded pair made their way down the hall to the chairs placed
for them at the end. The fact most striking to the outsider was the
total lack of self-consciousness or awkward embarrassment on the part
of either, young as they were, at being the center of attention, the
object of laughing comments and affectionate raillery from all present.

The bride took her seat behind a table at the end of the room, removed
her flowers and put them in a pitcher of water, and having carefully
arranged her veil was ready to receive her friends. “Come,” said Lucy
Colletti, “we must go up to the bride.” This ceremony over, we stood
back and watched the children scramble wildly for the pennies the men
tossed up. Although the musicians were nearly an hour late, no one
seemed to mind. The children raced and played and rolled on the freshly
waxed floor with fearful results to their clothes.

By the time the music began, the room had grown so crowded that
the dancers were confined to a small circle in the center. As the
evening passed the air became blue with dust and tobacco smoke, and
the physical discomforts of the place increased to the point of
general exhaustion. Yet one could not but take delight in a scene
where enjoyment was so evident and so thoroughly sincere. Every guest
participated; no one was neglected. Grandmothers were led out for a
gay turn by grandsons who cavaliered their little sisters in the next
dance. Fathers and daughters, sons and mothers, made light-hearted
couples. It was a sight never to be seen at an American gathering,
but common enough wherever Italians are assembled for any kind of
celebration or enjoyment. In pleasure, as in work, the family rules.

But weddings and family dances do not come very often, and other
evenings must be spent in the tenement home under strict guardianship
and oversight. Against this strictness of another land are constantly
beating all the new, free customs of America. The conflict begins
as soon as Carlotta gets her working papers and takes her place in
the factory. Inevitably the influences of the new life in which she
spends nine hours of the day begin to tell on her. Each morning and
each evening, as she covers her head with an old crocheted shawl and
walks to and from her factory, she passes the daughters of her Irish
and American neighbors in their smart hats, their cheap waists in
the latest and smartest style, their tinsel ornaments, and their gay
hair-bows. A part of the contents of their pay envelopes goes into the
personal expenses of those girls. Nor do they hurry through the streets
to their homes after working hours, but linger with a boy companion
making “dates” for a “movie” or an “affair.”

Slowly but surely their example is beginning to have its effect on the
docile little Italian whose life has hitherto swung like a pendulum
back and forth between her labors at the factory and the duties and
restraints of home. She begins to long for the same freedom that the
other girls enjoy. But freedom does not mean for her what it means for
the American girl, trained in a different school from the beginning.
She has not the same hard little powers of resistance, nor can she make
the same truculent boast of being able to “take care of herself.” She
is not able to present the same rough and ready front to rowdy good

Free and easy as are the manners of her American sisters, they
usually draw a line, distinct enough from their own point of view, at
“tough” and “fresh.” The Italian girl has no idea of where the line
is, or whether these bold-appearing girls really have any standards
of conduct. _Her_ line, the line her people have drawn for her, is
placed well in front of the commonest enjoyments of the West Side
girl. Once it is broken over by a “lark” with a crowd of boys and
girls, then she is, by her own and her people’s standards, condemned.
Very often, however, she fails to feel the weight of her old friends’
disapprobation as heavily as might be expected because she is still
accepted by the standards of the new country, _her_ country. As long as
she does not overstep its particular line, she is safe. But to her the
American line of conduct is blurred and indistinct. It is determined
by conditions which she does not recognize or understand. The little
tragedies and conflicts of this semi-Americanization are familiar
enough to those who know the Italian girl of some years’ residence.

It is useless to expect that her young, wholesome craving for amusement
will continue to be satisfied in the ways approved by her people. The
irresistible lure of America which has already drawn her parents from
the ancestral plains of Italy continues still to draw her. She must
enter upon her kingdom. But unaccustomed as she is to the newer ways,
the Italian daughter must be taught intelligently to meet American
conditions and trained in the forms of self-protection which they
necessitate. Her parents cannot do this. They have themselves still too
much to learn. But the community to which she has come, bringing her
all--her health, her strength, her industry, and her children--owes it
at least to her to safeguard the innocent joys of her youth.




Our 65 girls came from 55 different families. Forty-one of these
families had at some period in their lives been aided, or investigated,
or disciplined by some sort of private philanthropic or protective
agency. Of these, all but one had records with some relief agency. In
a very few cases the Association for Improving the Condition of the
Poor and the Charity Organization Society records show that the family
received no relief, but only visitation and advice. Usually, however,
actual relief was given. Thirty-nine had records in the registration
bureau of the Charity Organization Society. Eleven had Charity
Organization Society records only; 15 had records with the Association
for Improving the Condition of the Poor only; one had been helped only
by the church. Thirteen had records of relief from or intervention by
more than one society; as, the Association for Improving the Condition
of the Poor and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, or the Charity
Organization Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children, or again and again both the Charity Organization Society and
the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. One had been
under the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
and the Board of Health.

Often, of course, families such as these must turn to an agency for
help only in time of crisis; and when the crisis is past and the aid
they have received has put them on their feet again, they no longer
need support. Such, at least, is the ideal of “family rehabilitation.”
Of a different sort are the cases of chronic, wasting poverty and
misfortune, which no charitable aid can ever render self-supporting.
These are the poor who are always with us; and it was to this group,
we found, that most of our families belonged. In analyzing the relief
cases, it seemed to us that where a family had been under the care of
an agency for less than two years it could be put in the former group,
where relief was given because of emergencies. Of the 40 cases, 10
were in this class. The other 30 had records for two years or more;
and of these 30 cases, 17 had records for two years and less than six
years, and 13 for six years or more. The average period of intermittent
care for the 30 families whose relief records extended over more
than two years was nine and a half years. The average is startling
enough, but a few cases stand out as more startling than the rest. One
family had applied for aid in 1899 and the case had been “closed” and
re-opened[88] at intervals ever since. One record extended from 1892 to
1908, one from 1895 to 1911. One case had been opened and closed eight
separate times since 1899.

It must be borne in mind that no figures can be given to show the help
these families had received from private sources; clothing from women
for whom the mothers had done day’s work or washing, money for rent or
doctor’s bills from relatives, food from neighbors,--all these things
help stave off the dreaded appeal to “charity.”

We have tried to analyze the immediate causes of need at the time the
family was first referred to the relief society. The first application
is the most significant, for after help has been obtained once, it is
likely to be sought again. Of our 40 relief cases, one family had been
deserted by the chief wage-earner, in five he was dead, and in 34 the
wage-earner was living. Very few of the first applications, therefore,
were due to the death of the father.

The number of children born to the family, whether living or dead,
often determines the extent of its poverty,[89] and contributes to the
necessity for relief. We have estimated, roughly, that three or four
living children was the average for these 40 families at the time of
the first application. In some cases there was only one child, but in
many cases there were six or seven. The records do not tell us how many
had been born, nor how many had died, thus adding their quota to the
family’s share of illness, expense, and sorrow.[90] In the cases that
were opened and closed again and again we find that child after child
was born after the family was far below the line of self-support,--six
or eight or 10 children born into homes that could support in decency
only one or two at most. But “too many children” never appears as the
cause of an application for relief in the records of a charitable

It is true that need is rarely due to any one circumstance. Usually
where one kind of misery exists, other kinds are found also.[91] The
most common causes that the records for this group of 40 show were lack
of work, casual work, illness, or drink; and these were combined and
coupled together in story after story. Taking in each case what seems
to have been the chief immediate cause, though we cannot claim that our
division is strictly accurate, we found that in five cases the need
was due primarily to illness; in three primarily to drink; in 10 the
causes were scattering or could not be ascertained; in 22 the distress
was due most of all to lack of work. Time and again the entry appears:
“The father has been out of work for ten weeks”; or “It is the slack
season in the man’s trade and he has been unable to get a steady job
for three months”; or “The mother has recently been confined and the
father has been out of a job for several weeks and there is no food in
the house.” It is repeated over and over--out of work, out of work, out
of work--till we can only wonder that drink and despair do not more
inevitably accompany the loss of a job. These were the conditions that
brought 40 of our families to the point of seeking relief at various
times in their lives.

It would not be fair to judge the usual standing of our group entirely
by these records of the families which had sought relief. We have
therefore taken a kind of cross section of all the families of our 65
girls to show their earning capacity and general economic status at
the date when our acquaintance with them began. Of these 55 families,
only 21 were normal groups. By this we mean that the father and mother
were both living, that they were together, and that the father was
physically able to be the wage-earner and the mother the housewife. The
other 34 were “broken” families. In 15 the father was dead, in six the
mother was dead, and in three both father and mother were dead. In one
the father had deserted, and in one the mother was in prison. In four
of them there was a stepmother or stepfather. In eight families the
father was incapacitated, either by old age or illness, so that he was
not able to be the chief wage-earner.

In 29 of our 55 families, the mothers were wage-earners.[92] In nine of
these, the father was dead; in six, he was incapacitated; in 14, the
mother worked because the father’s income was not enough to support
the family without her aid. Where the father was dead or disabled the
mother’s work was more constant and regular than where she worked to
supplement the husband’s earnings. Of these 29 mothers, 10 went out for
“day’s work” sometimes only one or two days a week. Ten worked more
regularly, washing or scrubbing several days a week, sewing at home,
and so on. Thirteen were janitresses of the tenements in which they
lived. Payment for this service varies from $3.00 off on a month’s rent
to the whole rent and $1.00 besides, depending on the size of the house
or houses cared for. Four of the janitresses also took in washing or
did other work.

It must be remembered that the very presence of these women on our list
means that they were mothers of adolescent girls and of families of
children averaging about five in number. Considering this we realize
more clearly the truth of their saying, “It’s hard bringin’ children up
in New York.” More than half the mothers of our girls were forced to do
other work than that of caring for a good-sized family.

The explanation of this situation is found in the low-paid unskilled
work done by the girls’ fathers. Of the 40 living fathers and
stepfathers, we can give the occupations of 34.

  Teamster                       14
  Machinist                       4
  Laborer                         3
  Dock worker                     2
  Hotel worker                    2
  Slaughter-house man             2
  Railroad flagman                2
  Laundry worker                  1
  Proprietor of trucking business 1
  Street cleaner                  1
  Peddler                         1
  Janitor                         1
  Total                          34

Very few of these occupations are what can properly be called skilled
work, many of them are extremely irregular and casual, and many of them
pay less than a living wage.

The housing of these families is such as would be anticipated by
those who know them and the facilities the district offers. There are
very few new-law tenements in this part of New York, and little good
can be said of the best of the old-law houses. Really good housing
is practically unknown. For example, but two of our 55 families had
bathrooms in their apartments. Many apartments contained small toilet
rooms, and other families used toilets in the hall on the same floor.
Some still had only an old-fashioned yard toilet. One house furnished
for its tenants a cellar toilet used also by the men who patronized the
ground floor saloon adjoining it, and this horrible situation made the
children of the house afraid to go to the cellar alone or after dark.

We have housing records for 53 of our 55 families. Thirty of these
lived in apartments containing one or more dark rooms, with no windows
to the outer air, or to anything more than a tiny air-shaft. Of these
30 families, 10 had one dark room, 18 had two dark rooms, one had
three dark rooms, and one had four dark rooms. The number of persons
in household and the number of rooms occupied were as shown in the
following table:


                       |          FAMILIES OCCUPYING           |
  Persons in household +-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+   All
                       |  Two  | Three | Four  | Five  |  Six  | families
                       | rooms | rooms | rooms | rooms | rooms |
  Two                  |   1   |   1   |       |       |       |    2
  Three                |   1   |       |   3   |       |       |    4
  Four                 |       |   2   |   2   |       |       |    4
  Five                 |   1   |   2   |   4   |   1   |       |    8
  Six                  |       |   2   |   5   |   2   |   2   |   11
  Seven                |       |   5   |   4   |   2   |       |   11
  Eight or nine        |       |   3   |   2   |   2   |   2   |    9
  Ten or eleven        |       |       |   1   |   1   |       |    2
  Twelve and less than |       |       |       |       |       |
    seventeen          |       |       |       |   1   |   1   |    2
      Total            |   3   |  15   |  21   |   9   |   5   |   53

[a] Information is not available as to the number of persons in or
number of rooms occupied by two of the 55 households.

In spite of the lack of space, light, and air, and the poor sanitary
conveniences, six of the families in apartments, as shown in the
following table, paid rentals of $20 or over per month, four paid from
$16 to $20, 20 paid from $12 to $16, 17 paid from $8.00 to $12, and
only three paid less than $8.00. One family lived in furnished rooms
for which they paid $3.50 a week; one family owned the house they
lived in; for three we had no records of the amount of rent paid. The
distribution of rentals according to number is shown by the following


                 |     FAMILIES PAYING MONTHLY      |
                 |            RENTAL OF             |
                 +------+------+------+------+------+   All
  Rooms occupied |      |  $8  | $12  | $16  |      | families
                 | Less | and  | and  | and  | $20  |
                 | than | less | less | less | and  |
                 |  $8  | than | than | than | over |
                 |      | $12  | $16  | $20  |      |
  Two            |      |   2  |      |      |      |    2
  Three          |   2  |   8  |   4  |      |      |   14
  Four           |   1  |   7  |  10  |   3  |   1  |   22
  Five           |      |      |   5  |   1  |   2  |    8
  Six            |      |      |   1  |      |   2  |    3
  Six and bath   |      |      |      |      |   1  |    1
      Total      |   3  |  17  |  20  |   4  |   6  |   50

  [a] This item was not secured for three of the 55 families; one family
owned the house in which they lived, and one lived in furnished rooms,
paying ..50 a week.

Life insurance is almost universal in our district except for families
in the most abject poverty. Often every member is insured, the rate
varying from 5 cents a week for children to 25 cents or more for
adults. One family spent $52 a year for insurance out of a possible
maximum income of $806 for seven persons. Another family of seven spent
$2.40 a week out of an income which probably did not average more than
$20 a week at the most. The benefit seldom does more than cover the
cost of the funeral, and often barely that. The baby may have been
insured for $30 and the undertaker’s bill is likely to be $40 or $50.
One wife received $141 at her husband’s death, and the funeral expenses
were $155, leaving a debt of $14, the cost of an illness, and a family
of children to support. Such a funeral, of course, indicates lack of
judgment on the part of the family, but it must be remembered that from
time out of mind and in all ranks of society, a fine funeral has meant
respect for the dead; and burial in the Potter’s Field is still a sign
of the lowest economic stage to which a man can fall.

Twenty-five of the 55 families, or nearly half, had been in the past,
or were at the time of our investigation, affected by excessive
drinking on the part of one or both parents. Of this we were
sure, either from records of philanthropic agencies or from our
own knowledge. Some of the remaining 30 families had no cases of
alcoholism, but concerning others we were unable to get any definite
information. To summarize: In 25 families either the father or mother,
or both, were subject to excessive drinking; in 13 of these the fathers
drank to excess; in four the mothers drank; in eight of the 25 families
both the father and the mother drank. “Excessive drinking” does not
necessarily mean habitual drunkenness. Such cases are not frequent. On
the other hand, it never means merely taking either an occasional or
a regular drink, unless this is done to excess. It means at the least
drinking of the sort which makes the mother unable to keep her home
together without interference from the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children or makes it impossible for the father to “hold
down” a job. In all 25 of these cases, the families had relief records.

To sum up, we have divided our families on a basis of prosperity and
poverty as Miss Breckinridge and Miss Abbott have done in their book on
The Delinquent Child and the Home.[93]

Class I represents the very poor, the “submerged tenth,”--the broken
family, ill fed, ill clad, ill supported, aided by charity month after
month and year after year, sick, wretched, truly poverty stricken. To
this class we have judged that 20 of our 55 families, containing 25 of
our 65 girls, belonged.

Class II are the poor, those with whom it is a constant struggle to
make ends meet, who seldom have comfort but who seldom are on the
verge of starvation. In this class we have placed 23 of our families,
containing 28 of our girls.

Class III represents the fairly comfortable, those whose chief
wage-earner has steady work or in which the children are contributing a
fair share of the income; where food is sufficient and overcrowding is
not very great. In this class were 11 of our families, with 11 of our

Class IV is the very comfortable group, those who can afford a little
more than the minimum of education and of care for their children, and
who are never likely to know pressing want. In this class there was one
family, containing one of our girls. This child’s grandfather was an
early district settler, an Irish builder and contractor. When he died
he left to the mother three or four tenement houses, in one of which
the family were living, while the rents from the others rendered them,
according to local standards, positively affluent.

Thus, to separate poverty from prosperity, roughly though it must be,
only 12 of the 55 families could be called comfortable. The remaining
43 families were poor, some of them wretchedly poor. This condition,
whatever may have been its cause, was the dominating factor in the
lives of all but 12 of our 65 girls.



To obtain facts regarding school attendance in the West Side district
studied, a special tabulation for four public schools was made in the
Bureau of Social Research from schedules obtained for the Committee on
School Inquiry of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment of New York
City. Public Schools Nos. 17, 32, 51, and 127 were the schools included
in the study. The records covered a period of five months, from
February 1, 1911, to June 30, 1911, or practically 100 school days.
In the following table is shown the relation between the absences of
boys and the absences of girls in the four schools mentioned, and the
relation between absences in these schools and absences in the entire

It will be noted that attendance is poorer for the girls than for the
boys. The difference in the average number of days of absence is about
2.6 days, or approximately 2.6 per cent of the term in question.

Attendance is better in the city as a whole than in the four schools
in the district. But 63.5 per cent of the children in the schools in
the district were absent less than eleven days, as compared with 67.3
per cent of those in the city as a whole. The proportion of children in
each of the successive groups representing longer periods of absence is
smaller for the city as a whole than for the four schools. A comparison
of the

TO JUNE 30, 1911

                         |             PUPILS IN SCHOOLS NOS. 17, 32, 51             |  PUPILS IN ALL
                         |                        AND 127[a]                         | PUBLIC SCHOOLS[b]
  Days of absence        |       Boys        |      Girls        |      Total        |         |
                         +--------+----------+--------+----------+--------+----------+  Number | Per cent
                         | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent | Number | Per cent |         |
                         |        |          |        |          |        |          |         |
  Less than 11           |  1,829 |     67.4 |  1,173 |     58.3 |  3,002 |     63.5 | 382,406 |   67.3
  11 and less than 21    |    447 |     16.4 |    408 |     20.3 |    855 |     18.1 |  97,512 |   17.1
  21 and less than 31    |    182 |      6.7 |    182 |      9.0 |    364 |      7.7 |  39,391 |    6.9
  31 and less than 41    |     92 |      3.4 |     99 |      4.9 |    191 |      4.0 |  19,297 |    3.4
  41 and over            |    166 |      6.1 |    151 |      7.5 |    317 |      6.7 |  30,006 |    5.3
      Total              |  2,716 |    100.0 |  2,013 |    100.0 |  4,729 |    100.0 | 568,612 |  100.0
  Average number of days |                   |                   |                   |         |
    absence              |      11.4         |      14.0         |      12.5         |         |

  [a] Tabulated from schedules obtained for the Committee on School
Inquiry of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment of New York City.

  [b] From a report to the Committee on School Inquiry of the Board
of Estimate and Apportionment of New York City, on Promotions and
Non-promotions, and Part Time, by Frank P. Bachman, Ph.D., p. 64.

column for boys with that for girls shows that the low attendance in
the schools studied is due to the relatively low attendance among
the girls. While the percentages relating to the boys correspond
almost exactly to those relating to all the children of the city, the
percentages for the girls indicate a materially lower proportion of



  ABBOTT, EDITH: The Delinquent Child and the Home, cited, 130

  ADENOIDS: found on examination of girls, 83

  ADOLESCENCE: and poverty, 32;
    and self-assertion, 48

  AGNES: the friend of Annie Brink, 31

  ALCOHOLISM: in families of girls, 129. See also _Drinking_

  AMELIA: the case of, 52



  ANGELINA AND NICK, 96, 97, 113-115

  ANTHONY, KATHARINE: Mothers Who Must Earn, cited, 23

      girls having records with, 121

  ATTINGER, MRS.: on her Lizzie’s marriage, 73, 74

  AYRES, LEONARD P.: Laggards in Our Schools, cited, 37


  BACHMAN, FRANK P.: Report on Promotions and Non-Promotions, etc., cited, 133

  BASKET-WEAVING: as a club occupation, 4

  BEDFORD REFORMATORY: superintendent of, quoted, 15;
    treatment of girls at, 18

  BELSITO, ADELINA: and her absence from school, 102, 103


  BLONDI, ZAPPIRA: and her mother, 105, 106

  BOYS: and the girls’ club, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9;
    idleness among, more common than among girls, 51;
    school attendance of, compared with that of girls, 132-134

  BRASS WORK: as a club occupation, 4

  BRECKINRIDGE, S. P.: The Delinquent Child and the Home, cited, 130

  BRINK, ANNIE: story of, 30, 31

  BUREAU OF SOCIAL RESEARCH: study of school attendance by, 132


  BUSINESS ENTERPRISES: conducted by Italian families, 106, 107

  CARNEY, MAY: case of, 85, 86, 87

  CARNEY, MRS.: on May’s marriage, 86

  CARTWRIGHT, O. G.: Historical Survey of the West Side, cited, 76

  CHARITABLE AID: received by families of girls, 122, 123, 124. See
      also _Relief Records_

  CHARITABLE SOCIETIES: Italians and the, 108


  CHARITY ORGANIZATION SOCIETY: families of girls having records with, 121

  CHILDHOOD: influence of tenement life on, 81, 82

  CHILDREN: school attendance of, 132-134


  CHRIST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: supervisor from, in charge of playground
      at club, 3

  CHURCH: aid to family given by, 121

  CLEARY AND MAGGIE: affair between, 79, 80


  CLINIC, PSYCHOLOGICAL: examination of girls in a, 85

  CLINIC, WEEKLY: at club, 84


  CLOTHES, PRETTY: the girls’ longing for, 59, 60

  CLOTHING, PROTECTIVE: the girls’ lack of, 60

  CLUB HOUSE AT 471 TENTH AVENUE: aim and origin of, 1, 2;
    equipment and activities of, 3, 4;
    only outbreak against a leader at, 10, 11;
    razed to give place to a factory, 14;
    relations with fellow tenants at, 5, 6;
    relations with neighborhood boys at, 6, 7, 8, 9;
    total number of girls studied at, 14;
    West Side girls, how far represented at, 15, 16

  CLUBS AND SETTLEMENTS: use of, by West Side girls, 67

  COLLETTI FAMILY: and their home, 98

  COLLETTI, LUCY: references to, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 109, 111, 114

  COLLETTI, MARY: references to, 95, 96, 98, 99

  CONJUNCTIVITIS: case of, discovered in physical examination of girls, 83

  COOKING: as a club occupation, 4

  COOK STOVE: essential to equipment of girls’ club, 4

  COSTA, ANGELINA: and her interpretation of Lincoln’s birthday, 112

  CRAVEN, MAMIE: case of, 60

  CULL, CHRISTINA: truancy of, 38, 39, 40


  DANCE HALLS: and the occasional ball, 69;
    campaign for control of, 16, 17;
    etiquette of, 69, 70;
    grades of, 70

  DANCES, PUBLIC: conduct of, 71

  DANCING: enthusiasm of girls for, 4, 67


  DAVIS, DR. KATHERINE B.: quoted, 15

  DEATH RATES. See _Mortality_

  DEFECTS, PHYSICAL: found in club girls, 83

  DENLEY, CLARA: and her faction, 12

  DEPARTMENT STORES: preference of some girls for, 43. See also _Stores_

  DERKS, EMMA: and her raffle, 32

  DEVINE, EDWARD T.: Misery and Its Causes, cited, 124

  DISTEL, MR.: as a neighbor, 6

  DONOVAN, SISSY: first job of, 41, 42


  DRAKE, CARRIE: case of, 88-90

  DRINK: girl does not take to, 32;
    mothers who take to, 27, 29

  DRINKING: excessive, on the part of parents of girls, 29, 129, 130

  DRUNKENNESS: habitual, distinguished from “excessive drinking,” 129


  EAST SIDE: West Side compared with, as to stability of population, 75

  ECONOMIC CONDITION: of the families of girls, 121-131

  EDUCATION, COMPULSORY: period of, 33

  EGAN, BARBARA, AND LOUISA STORM: quarrel between, 12

  EIGHTH AVENUE: as a promenade, 66

  ELEVENTH AVENUE: case of one family on, 24-26


  ESTIMATE AND APPORTIONMENT BOARD’S Committee of School Inquiry, 132, 133

  EXAMINATION, PHYSICAL: of club girls, 82, 83, 84

  EYES OF GIRLS: not cared for, 83

  FACTORIES: and the West Side girl, 43, 44;
    wages of the girl in, 47;
    work of Italian girls in, 110, 111

  FAMILIES: large, on West Side, 22

  FAMILIES OF GIRLS: classified on basis of prosperity or poverty, 130, 131;
    economic conditions of, 121-131;
    housing of, 126, 127, 128;
    how constituted, 125;
    which received charitable aid, study of, 122, 123, 124

  FAMILY, LIMITATION OF SIZE OF: almost unknown on West Side, 23

  FAMILY PROTECTION: general breakdown of, on West Side, 75-94;
    maintained in the case of the Italian girl, 108, 111, 112

  FATHERS: occupations of, 126



  FULLER, CARRIE: case of, 84, 85

  FUNERAL EXPENSES: in families of girls, 129



  GANGS. See _Boys_; _Gopher Gang_; _“Hell’s Kitchen” Gang_

  GAS PLANTS: odors of, on West Side, 75

  GATE: as a bone of contention, 3, 4


  GIBSON, ANNIE: truancy of, 37, 38

  GIRLS, WEST SIDE: aim and methods of study, 1;
    attitude of, toward assumption of family burdens, 49, 50, 51;
    demand for “good times” by, 51;
    difficulty of knowing, in their own homes, 2;
    education, in neighborhood immorality, 75-81, 87-93;
    familiarity with poverty and its effect, 21, 29, 32;
    fondness for dancing and music, 4, 67, 68, 69;
    homes and street corners as places of meeting with boy friends, 61-63;
    how far represented in clubs, 15, 16;
    idealism of, 68;
    immoderate pace of living among, 83;
    marriage, how regarded by, 73, 74;
    occupations of, 43, 44, 45, 46;
    physical inheritance and health of, 82, 83, 84, 85;
    relations with their families compared with those of boys, 19;
    relations with their mothers often strained, 53, 54, 55;
    school attendance of, compared with that of boys, 132-134;
    schooling of, 33-42;
    social relations among, contrasted with those among boys, 60, 61;
    surest way to help, 94;
    wages earned by, amount and disposition of, 47, 48. See also _Italian Girl_

  GOPHER GANG: gossip about, 6, 9, 10, 13, 76

  “GOPHERETTES”: proposed as name of club, 10


  HEALTH, BOARD OF: family under care of, 121

  HEALTH OF CLUB GIRLS, 82, 83, 84, 85

  “HELL’S KITCHEN” GANG: and its influence, 76


  HOLIDAYS, AMERICAN: among the Italians, 112

  HOME: men friends of girls not welcomed in the, 61, 62;
    need of strengthening of best elements in the, 94;
    wage-earning and new relations at, 43-56

  HOME WORK: Italian girls not engaged in, 110

  HOME-WORK INVESTIGATOR: quoted, on Italian girls, 111

  HOUSING OF FAMILIES OF GIRLS, 24, 126, 127, 128



  ILLEGITIMATE BIRTHS: common on West Side, 79



  INSURANCE, LIFE: in families of girls, 23, 128, 129

  ITALIAN GIRL: claims of school upon, 102, 103;
    eagerness of, to go to work, 109;
    family’s protection of, 108;
    kinds of work done by, 110, 111;
    pleasures prohibited and permitted to, 111, 112;
    semi-Americanization of, 116, 117;
    separate study made of, 1, 95

  ITALIANS OF WEST SIDE: Americanization of names among, 110;
    characteristics of family life among, 106, 107, 108, 111, 112;
    eagerness of parents for arrival of fourteenth birthday of daughter, 109;
    festivals among, 112;
    length of residence in United States, 109;
    mutual helpfulness and charity among, 107, 108;
    occupations of, 106, 107, 110;
    sympathy the keynote of the community, 101;
    wedding parties among, 113-116

  JENNIE. See _Polini, Jennie_

  JOSIE: and the dance halls, 72


  KNEELAND, GEORGE J.: Commercialized Prostitution in New York City,
      quoted, 71


  “LADY FRIEND”: significance of title, 61


  LANGAN, FATHER: aid of, enlisted by Mrs. Mullarkey, 91;
    and the “Gophers,” 12, 13

  LARKEY, EMMA: schooling of, 36

  LAWLESSNESS OF WEST SIDE, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 75, 76

  LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY: as interpreted by Angelina Costa, 112

  LONDON SLUMS: compared with Middle West Side District, 82

  LOUISA: the case of, 54, 55

  MCCLUSKY FAMILY: as co-tenants of the club, 4, 5, 6

  MCKEEVERS: Thanksgiving party at home of, 64-66

  MAGGIE: the case of, 62

  MARTHA AND SARAH: trachoma cases, 83, 84

  MATTIE AND CLEARY: affair between, 79, 80

  MARRIAGE: as an adventure, 73;
    following irregular relationship, how regarded, 79;
    found to be a sobering event, 74;
    of May Carney, 85-87. See also _Weddings_

  MARRO, ANGELINA: her wedding party, 113-116. See also _Angelina and Nick_

  MAYHEW, FANNY: and the “Gopherettes,” 10

  MEEHAN, JENNIE: marriage of, 80

  MEEHAN, MRS.: on the size of her family, 22

  MENTAL ABILITY: of girls tested in a psychological clinic, 85

  MERCER, ADDIE: and her father, 80, 81

  MIDDLE WEST SIDE. See _West Side_

  MISERY AND ITS CAUSES: in families of girls, 124

  MONEY: importance of control of, to working girls, 59


  MORESCO, FILAMINA: an Italian rebel, 112

  MORELLI, ROSE: and her family, 99, 100, 101, 111


  MOTHER: and daughter, strained relations between, 53;
    as the mainstay of the family, 26

  MOTHERS OF GIRLS: wage-earning, 125;
    who take to drink, 27, 29


  MULLARKEY, MRS.: and her search for Fannie, 90-92

  MULLENS, FANNY: and her reason for leaving the Excelsior Laundry, 46

  MURPHY, MRS.: and her daughter Katie, 2

  MUSIC: appeal of, to girl, 67. See also _Songs, Popular_

  NAMES: changes in, among Italians of West Side, 110

  NEW MACHIAVELLI, THE: quotation from, 66

  NICK AND ANGELINA, 96, 97, 114

  “NICKEL DUMP,” 72. See also _Moving Picture Shows_

  O’BRIEN, JULIA: and the young woman from the ranks, 11

  O’BRIEN, “TOOTSIE”: and her first job, 44

  O’CALLAHAN, MRS.: her tale of the Gophers, 13

  OCCUPATIONS: of girls studied, 44, 45;
    of fathers of girls, 126;
    of mothers of girls, 125;
    Of West Side Italians, 106, 107, 110


  PARENTS: hostility of, toward men friends of girls, 62;
    excessive drinking on the part of, 29, 129, 130

  PATSY: the case of, 92

  PAY ENVELOPE: family customs regarding, 47, 48, 49


  PHILANTHROPIC AGENCY: families of girls having records with some, 121.
    See also _Relief Records; Charitable Aid_

  PHYSICAL INHERITANCE: and condition of girls, 82, 83, 84, 85

  PIANO: essential to equipment of girls’ club, 4

  PLAY: the will to, 57-74


  POLINI, JENNIE: and her choice of a fellow, 96, 97, 99, 112

  POPULATION OF MIDDLE WEST SIDE: more stable than that of East Side, 75

  POTTER’S FIELD: burial in, how regarded, 129

  POVERTY: in families of girls, 20-32, 130, 131


  PROSPERITY: families of girls classified by degree of, 130, 131

  PROSTITUTION: case of, among girls known at club, 88

  PSYCHOLOGICAL CLINIC: examination of girls in, 85

  PUPILS. See _Children_


  REFORMATORY: as a cure for truancy, 38, 39

  REILLY, MAMIE: and her responsibilities, 50, 51

  REILLY, MRS.: on births and deaths, 23

  RELIEF RECORDS: of families of girls, 20, 121, 122, 123, 124



  REYNOLDS, STEPHEN: quoted, 15

  ROCHE, JOSEPHINE: author of chapter on the Italian girl, 95

  RULETTI, MRS.: and her foster-child, 103, 104

  RYAN, MRS.: quoted, 77

  SABBIO, MRS.: and the family saloon, 106


  ST. VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY: families of girls having records with, 121

  SALOON, CORNER: and its influence, 81, 82

  SARAH AND MAGGIE: trachoma cases, 83, 84


  SCHOOL ENQUIRY, COMMITTEE ON: of Board of Estimate and Apportionment,
      132, 133

  SCHOOLING, COMPULSORY: period of, 33

  SCHOOLS: absence from, among Italians, 102, 103;
    choice of, open to West Side girl, 33;
    evasions of law by early leaving of, 40, 41, 42;
    retardation of girls in, 36, 37;
    truancy of girls in, 38, 39, 40;
    use of transfers in the, 34, 35, 36

  SETTLEMENTS AND CLUBS: use of, by girls, 67

  SEWING: as a club occupation, 4

  SEXUAL ABUSE: among girls, 84, 85

  SHERIDAN, MARTIE: and her machine, 45

  SHERIN, NELLIE: and her work, 46

  SIPP, MAY: desire for home visit expressed by, 3

  SLAUGHTER PENS: odors from, on West Side, 75

  SOCIAL RELATIONS: among girls contrasted with those among boys, 60, 61

      having records with, 121;
    interference of, where mother drinks, 130

  SONGS, POPULAR: fondness of girls for, 4. See also _Music_

  SPINAL CURVATURE: cases of, discovered on examination of girls, 83

  STARK, PAULINE: a “rover,” 45

  STERTLE, MAMIE: on going home at night, 77

  STEVENS, KITTY: on Jennie Meehan’s marriage, 80

  STORES: wages of girls starting in, 47. See also _Department Stores_

  STORM, LOUISA, AND BARBARA EGAN: quarrel between, 12

  STREET CORNERS: as places of rendezvous, 62, 63

  STRUMPF, ANNA, AND MAMIE TAGGART: quarrel between, 12

  TAGGART, MAMIE, AND ANNA STRUMPF: quarrel between, 12

  TEETH OF GIRLS: neglect of, 83

  TENTH AVENUE: gang spirit of, 13


  THROATS OF GIRLS: not cared for, 83

  TOILET, OPEN: dangers of, 81

  TONSILS, ENLARGED: found on examination of girls, 83

  TOOHEY, SADIE: on the restaurant keeper’s past, 78

  TRACHOMA: cases of, among the girls, 83, 84

  TRACY, MAGGIE: faction headed by, called “tough,” 12, 13

  TRADE-UNION ORGANIZER: quoted, on Italian girls, 111



  TRUANT OFFICER: and the transfer privilege, 35


  TUBERCULOSIS: cases of, among girls, 84

  TUZOLLI, LAURA: as a mother’s helper, 104, 105


  UNITED STATES: length of residence of Italian families in, 109

  VAUDEVILLE: popularity of, 67

  VENEREAL DISEASE: cases of, among girls, 84;
    in Europe, 82

  VIOLENCE: tales of, 76. See also _Lawlessness_

  VISION, DEFECTIVE: cases of, found on examination of girls, 83

  WADE, LIZZIE: on factory work, 43


  WAGES: small on Middle West Side, 22

  WAGES OF GIRLS: in Italian families, customs regarding, 109;
    who attended club, 47.
    See also _Pay Envelopes_

  WAYWARDNESS: among West Side girls, problem of, 17. See also _Immorality_

  WEDDINGS: among Italians, 113-116

  WELLS, H. G.: The New Machiavelli, quoted, 66, 67

  WEST SIDE, MIDDLE: compared with East Side as to stability of population, 75;
    influences upon the girl, 16, 17, 75, 77;
    population compared with that of London slums, 82

  WORK: girls’ ways of finding, 43;
    lack of, as a cause of dependence in families of girls, 124.
    See also _Occupations_

  WORKING PAPERS: requirements for, 40, 41



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[1] Mention should also be made of other fellows of the Bureau whose
work in connection with the West Side Survey is not included in these
publications. They were Elizabeth B. Butler, senior fellow; Lawrence
K. Frank, Robert C. Sanger, Garret P. Wyckoff, Howard Nudd, Marie S.
Orenstein, and Frances Perkins, all junior fellows. The last three
published the results of their investigations in magazine articles.

[2] The names of the 294 boys studied were obtained from the following
sources: 1909 court list, 202; Big Brother Movement, 43; special club
studied, 10; Charity Organization Society, 8; additional children in
families studied, 20; known through investigators on other topics, 6;
known through other children, 2; through church, school, settlement, 1

[3] See Chapter VI, The Boy and the Court, pp. 79 ff.

[4] Thirteen families had lived in the district less than five years,
and the length of residence of 58 families was not ascertained. See
Appendix, Table 3, p. 168.

[5] Pushcart vendors gather here and line the sidewalks, and the
neighborhood shops and markets display their wares on outdoor stands to
attract the Saturday night trade.

[6] See Cartwright, O. G.: The Middle West Side: A Historical Sketch.
(West Side Studies.) Russell Sage Foundation Publication. In Press.

[7] The People’s Institute has undertaken, January, 1914, a
neighborhood work, which will correlate and broaden the various
recreation activities now going on in the Middle West Side. A social
center has been opened in Public School 17, on West Forty-seventh
Street, on the initiative of the local school board. The People’s
Institute has taken executive charge of the work. About this center
there will be focused a neighborhood movement, which will work in De
Witt Clinton playground, on West Fiftieth Street pier, in the public
libraries, and on the streets.

[8] See Cartwright, op. cit. In Press.

[9] See Anthony, Katharine: Mothers Who Must Earn, p. 7. (West Side
Studies.) Russell Sage Foundation Publication. New York, Survey
Associates, 1914.

[10] Of 222 fathers whose country of birth was known, 81 were born in
the United States, 64 in Ireland, 27 in Germany, and 17 in Italy. Other
countries were represented by numbers ranging from seven to one. Among
227 mothers, the United States was given as the place of birth of 92;
Ireland, of 72; Germany, of 18; Italy, of 15. The numbers from other
countries ranged from eight to one. The country of birth of 19 fathers
and of 14 mothers in the 241 families could not be ascertained.

[11] See Appendix, Tables 4 and 5, pp. 168 and 169.

[12] See Chapter VI, pp. 95 ff.

[13] For account of one of these raids see Chapter IV, pp. 48-49.

[14] This term is commonly applied to all the thugs and loafers of the
Middle West Side.

[15] New York _Tribune_, December 18, 1911.

[16] New York _Times_, June 26, 1911.

[17] New York _World_, February 24, 1910.

[18] See Appendix, Table 6, p. 169.

[19] For further data regarding size of families, see Appendix, Table
7, p. 170.

[20] For economic status of the mothers in 222 of the 241 families of
delinquent boys, see Appendix, Table 8, p. 170. See also Anthony, op.
cit., p. 59.

[21] The conjugal condition of the parents in 233 families is shown in
the Appendix, Table 9, p. 171. For eight of the group of 241 families
this information was not available.

[22] The relief records of 86 families who were known to have received
aid, and the duration of the relief records in 73 of these cases, are
given in the Appendix, Tables 10 and 11, pp. 171 and 172.

[23] For the full text of the law referred to, see Consolidated Laws of
New York; the Penal Law; Laws of 1909, section 2186, chapter 88.

[24] Compare with classification of arrests according to analysis of
offenses made in the Bureau of Social Research, as given in Chapter II,
pp. 16-17.

[25] There were two cases in which an arrest was made on more than one

[26] Separate courts were established in Brooklyn in September, 1903;
in the boroughs of Queens and Richmond in September, 1910; and in the
county of the Bronx in January, 1914.

[27] Until recently the judges of Special Sessions sat in rotation in
the children’s court. The disadvantages of this system, under which it
was seldom possible for the judge who had first passed upon a case to
follow it to its conclusion, led in 1912 to some modifications in the
direction of more permanent assignments of children’s court judges.
Further improvements were made in 1913. Four judges of the Court of
Special Sessions were designated as children’s court judges, and they
constitute a committee on children’s courts. For the greater part of
the year one judge sits in the children’s court in Manhattan, another
in the court of Brooklyn, and since January, 1914, a third sits on
different days of the week in the courts in Queens, Richmond, and the
Bronx. The fourth is chairman of the committee and sits about three
months in the year in each court. This new arrangement minimizes
rotation in office and permits specialization.

[28] This has been completely changed since a special judge was
assigned to the court. When he is sitting, frequently one and a half
hours will be given to one case alone and there is rarely a day when
there are not two sessions, morning and afternoon. Sometimes the
Manhattan court does not adjourn until 7 p. m.

[29] A modern court building is now in process of erection in East
Twenty-second Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues.

[30] The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
(Incorporated). Thirty-fifth Annual Report, Dec. 31, 1909, p. 17.

[31] “As prepared by the New York Prison Association, the bill was
applicable to both children and adults, but owing to the active
opposition of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children, it was amended in the legislature so as to apply only to
persons over sixteen years of age. It was claimed by the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Children that existing laws made adequate
provision for the treatment of delinquent children.” Report of the
Probation Commission of the State of New York, 1906, pp. 8 and 9.

[32] Commission to Inquire into the Courts of Inferior Criminal
Jurisdiction in Cities of the First Class. Final Reports. New York
Assembly Documents, 133rd Session, 1910, Vol. 26, No. 54.

[33] Changes made in 1913 have been discussed on p. 87.

[34] Folks, Homer: Juvenile Probation in New York. _The Survey_, xxiii:
pp. 671-672. (Feb. 5, 1910).

[35] The public is indebted to these volunteers for providing some
probationary care for charges of the court before official probation
was established. As soon as this was done, they were relieved of the
undue pressure under which they had worked without proper equipment
and aid. With the direction and supervision of the trained official
representatives of the court, volunteer co-operation may now be
developed and made highly useful.

[36] In March, 1912, as the result of an active campaign, 12 probation
officers who had passed the civil service examination were assigned to
the Manhattan children’s court and made officers of the court, drawing
their salary from the city. In 1913, the number of probation officers
was raised to 20. The effectiveness with which the new probation work
operates is, of course, a subject on which we have no data. The court
still faces the difficulty of having too small a staff for the number
of cases. The Manhattan court has over 10,000 cases under treatment in
the course of a year. In Chicago, the average number of cases is only
about 5,000 and there are 30 regular probation officers and 30 police
probation officers, making a total of 60 persons to handle this smaller
number of cases.

[37] Jack Spinner’s mother was required to secure $1,000 bail--and
fortunately she was able to secure it from the members of her
church--for a “$500 burglary,” the articles in question being two small
bundles of kindling wood which, as it was afterward proved, the boy had
not taken.

[38] “Everybody in the district knows him. Everybody knows where to
find him, and nearly everybody goes to him for assistance of one
sort or another, especially the poor of the tenements. He is always
obliging. He will go to the police courts to put in a good word for the
‘drunks and disorderlies,’ or pay their fines if a good word is not
effective. He will attend christenings, weddings, and funerals. He will
feed the hungry and help bury the dead.

“A philanthropist? Not at all. He is playing politics all the time.
Brought up in Tammany Hall, he has learned how to read the hearts of
the great mass of voters. He does not bother about reaching their
heads. It is his belief that arguments and campaign literature have
never gained votes. He seeks direct contact with the people, does them
good turns when he can, and relies on their not forgetting him on
election day.” Riordan, W. L.: Plunkett of Tammany Hall. A Series of
Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics, pp. 168-169. New York,
McClure, 1905.

[39] The installation of official probation officers and the adoption
of the new system of records have removed this obstacle to the judge’s
obtaining a comprehensive view of cases and reaching wise decisions.
At the present time a careful preliminary investigation is made by the
probation officer and presented in written form to the judge, prior to
disposition of the case.

[40] For statistical data see Appendix, Table 12, p. 172.

[41] Two-thirds of all the cases handled in 1909 involved minor or
trivial offenses, according to the Handbook of the New York Child
Welfare Exhibit, 1911. Section on Laws and Administration, p. 162.

[42] As already indicated official probation has taken the place of the
“parole” system since this chapter was written.

[43] This use of the term “parole” is not strictly correct. “Parole”
more properly applies to the supervision of delinquents after release
from institutions.

[44] Since the above was written, a new system of records recommended
by the state probation commission has been adopted by the court for
the use of probation officers. They cover all cases investigated or on
probation since March, 1912.

[45] For three of the 95 paroled cases this information was not
available. Data concerning the remaining 92 cases and the 1,492 paroled
cases disposed of by the Manhattan court in 1909 may be found in the
Appendix, Table 13, p. 173.

[46] This condition was changed with the installation of the official
probation staff in March, 1912.

[47] In 1913 a law was enacted for the appointment of three physicians
to examine children for mental defectiveness. As the Civil Service
Commission refused to declare the positions exempt, however, no
appointments were made; but an examination will undoubtedly be held
to make up a list of physicians from which these offices may be
filled. In the meantime the children’s court judge sends many children
to the clinic conducted by Dr. Max Schlapp in connection with the
Post-Graduate Hospital.

[48] See also Anthony, Katharine: Mothers Who Must Earn, p. 9.

[49] New York _Evening Mail_, April 28, 1911.

[50] For truancy records see Appendix, Table 14, p. 173. In
classifying the boys studied according to the extent of their truancy,
a distinction was made between those who were, according to our
standards, really delinquent, and those who were included in the
inquiry for some other reason. Data are available for 215 of the 294
boys included in our study.

[51] For occupations and wages of the boys who were at work see
Appendix, Table 15, p. 174.

[52] Counted by children.

[53] Counted by cases, and classified by terms in popular use, because
statutory classifications which are clear to the lawyer are likely to
confuse the layman.

[54] Counted by cases.

[55] Counted by cases.

[56] Counted by cases.

[57] Counted by cases.

[58] Counted by children.

[59] Counted by cases.

[60] Counted by children.

[61] Counted by cases.

[62] Counted by cases.

[63] The names of girls given in this book are fictitious.

[64] This name is commonly applied to all the loafers and thugs from
Thirtieth to Sixtieth Street.

[65] See Chapter II, p. 19, and Appendix A, p. 121.

[66] Reynolds, Stephen, and Wooley, Bob and Tom: Seems So, A
Workingman’s View of Politics, p. xv. London, Macmillan, 1912.

[67] Now commissioner of corrections, New York City.

[68] Annual Report of the New York State Reformatory for Women at
Bedford, 1907, p. 25.

[69] For more detailed data with regard to conditions in the 55
families to which the 65 girls dealt with in this study belonged, see
Appendix A, Economic Condition of the Families, p. 121.

[70] See Appendix A, p. 121.

[71] Ibid., p. 121.

[72] For the relation which the number of children had to applications
for relief among these families, see Appendix A, p. 123.

[73] For further data concerning the broken families in the group, and
the extent of wage-earning among the mothers, see Appendix A, p. 124 ff.

[74] See Anthony, Katharine: Mothers Who Must Earn, p. 166 ff. (West
Side Studies.) Russell Sage Foundation Publication. New York, Survey
Associates, 1914.

[75] See Appendix A, pp. 128-129.

[76] For discussion of housing and rent in the 55 families, see
Appendix A, pp. 126-128.

[77] Of the 55 families, 25 were affected by excessive drinking on the
part of one or both parents. Twelve of the mothers were known to drink
to excess. For further discussion, see Appendix A, p. 129.

[78] For data concerning attendance in four schools in the West Side
district, and a comparison with attendance in all the public schools,
see Appendix B, p. 132.

[79] Ayres, Leonard P.: Laggards in Our Schools, p. 38. Russell Sage
Foundation Publication. New York, Charities Publication Committee, 1909.

[80] In 1913 the requirements were raised so that a child under sixteen
must reach a 7A grade before she can take the school examinations. The
board of health requirements also have been strengthened.

[81] Wells, Herbert G.: The New Machiavelli. New York, Duffield, 1910.

[82] These statements of the girls are corroborated by the following
paragraphs from a recent study:

“During the past few years aggressive measures have been taken by
different reform organizations aiming to bring about a more wholesome
atmosphere in connection with public dances, especially those attended
by the poorer boys and girls. Proprietors have been induced to employ
special officers to attend the dances and keep order, prevent ‘tough’
and ‘half-time’ dancing, and protect innocent girls from the advances
of undesirable persons. The duties of the special officer are difficult
to perform. If he interferes too much, the dancers go to some other
place where they enjoy more freedom. As a result, the honest proprietor
who endeavors to conduct a respectable hall loses patronage, while
the disreputable owner makes all the profit. Again, the young people
who attend these balls know immediately when a person different from
themselves appears in the hall. At once the dance becomes modest and
sedate, and the visitor goes away to report that ‘while conditions are
not what they should be, yet on the whole there is great improvement.’

“A social club gave a ball on the evening of March 23, 1912, at a
hall in East 2nd Street. The dancing was very suggestive. The special
officer was entertaining a police sergeant, but neither made any effort
to regulate the actions of the dancers. The next afternoon another club
occupied the hall at the same address, with the same special officer in
attendance. Suddenly, when the dancing was in full swing, the officer
hurriedly rushed among the dancers and told them to ‘cut it out’ as
three detectives had just come in and he did not want to see the place
closed up. A girl, apparently thirteen years of age, was dancing at
the time and the officer put her off the floor, loudly declaring
that the proprietor did not allow young girls to dance in the hall.
Things resumed their former aspect, however, as soon as the detectives
retired.”--Kneeland, George J.: Commercialized Prostitution in New York
City, pp. 68-70. Bureau of Social Hygiene. New York, Century Co., 1913.

[83] See Cartwright, O. G.: The Middle West Side: Historical Notes.
(West Side Studies.) Russell Sage Foundation Publication. In

[84] The solidarity of this colony of Italians is not necessarily
typical of other colonies in the city, some of which are known to be
well represented in the charity organization records of their district.
One charitable agency reports, for instance, that in a certain upper
East Side district, nearly 90 per cent of the families applying for
relief in 1912-13 were Italian; but Italians undoubtedly formed a large
percentage of the population.

[85] Among a group of 86 families visited, the length of residence in
the district was obtained for 79. Of these, 51 families had lived in
the district more than ten years. Eighteen of the 51 had come direct
from Italy and 33 had moved here from other parts of the city.

[86] While the men in the group visited were found to be engaged in an
unusual variety of occupations--laborer, barber, waiter, and 40 others
were recorded during a general investigation among Italians in the
district--most noticeable was the group of well represented occupations
in which the whole family can share.

[87] A law prohibiting employment of women in factories after 10 p. m.
became effective July 1, 1913.

[88] When a family is found to be no longer in need of relief, the
case is technically referred to in the offices of the relief society
as “closed.” If further relief is needed at a later date, it is

[89] See Chapter II, In the Grip of Poverty, p. 19.

[90] For statement regarding births and deaths of children in 31
families, not all of whom had relief records, see Chapter II, p. 23.

[91] See Devine, Edward T.: Misery and Its Causes. New York, The
Macmillan Co., 1909.

[92] See Chapter II, p. 22.

[93] Breckinridge, Sophonisba P., and Abbott, Edith: The Delinquent
Child and the Home. Russell Sage Foundation Publication. New York,
Charities Publication Committee, 1912.

[Transcriber’s Note:

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]

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