ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
LETTER REQUESTING RELIEF FOR THE DAUGHTERS OF A CIVIL WAR VETERAN
October 18, 1939
Civil War pensions were this country's first nucleus for a social security system. Although following prior wars provisions had been made for veterans, generally they were one-time payoffs. In the Civil War's aftermath hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans and hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans of deceased veterans presented themselves. Numerically these dependents represented a larger percentage of the population than the nation had ever experienced previously.
Legislation enacted in 1862 provided benefits for veterans or their survivors in the event of service related death or disability. By 1890 the service related requirement was dropped. Old age became a disability in 1906. Civil War veterans and their survivors were enjoying benefits in 1910 similar to the ones later provided for a broader range of Americans by the Social Security Act of 1935.
An assistant to the governor responded to this letter on October 23. He advised Minnie Odle to get in touch with her local relief authorities.
Points to Consider
What was Minnie Odle asking Governor Horner to do?
Which items were Ms. Odle and her sister in need of?
What was the "W.P.A."?
How old were Ms. Odle and her sister likely to have been?