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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


From the Ashes, 1872-1900

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 21
RESOLUTION TO REMOVE BEGGARS FROM THE STREETS
May 23, 1881




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Explanation

In its annual report to the city council the Chicago Relief and Aid Society stated that for the period October 31, 1880-October 31, 1881 it had expended $40,251 to provide for the poor. Its distributions were given as follows:

NATIONALITIES FAMILIES NUMBERS OF CHILDREN IN FAMILIES
Irish 612 3,165
German 574 2,890
American 463 1,865
Scandinavian 312 1,331
English 204 781
Scotch 86 358
French 79 362
Bohemian 68 278
Polish 42 254
Italian 28 131
Other 14 64
TOTAL 2,482 11,479


In its conclusion the relief agency wrote, "the great problem before this and all kindred organizations is, how to so conduct its work as to meet all worthy demands and at the same time not foster the spirit of shiftlessness and dependence."

Points to Consider

What is a mendicant?

Why were beggars offensive to businesses?

Which agencies were providing relief to the poor of Chicago at this time?

Is begging currently legal on the streets of Chicago? Does it occur? Should it be allowed?

See Related Document: 42


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