Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Pp. ix-xxviii in American Charities: A Study in Philanthropy and Economics, by Amos G. Warner, with a new introduction by Mary Jo Deegan. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.


The publication of American Charities in 1894 signaled the start of a new age. It crystallized the views of men and women working in economics, sociology, history, and philanthropy. Massive social changes-in urbanization, industrialization, immigration, the roles of women, and the relation between the home and the marketplace-generated social strains that could not be accommodated by traditional world views. Social problems in this new situation, particularly poverty, were perceived increasingly as secular instead of religious issues. Solutions to these social problems were needed urgently, and Amos G. Warner, the author of American Charities, articulated a new vision amidst the clamor for new answers.

For over four decades--from 1894, when the first edition appeared, to 1930, when the fourth edition was published--American Charities defined the views of people working on the problems of poverty, mental illness, public child care, and philanthropy. This book towered over the intellectual and practical landscape of planned social improvements in the United States. Today, however, it is almost completely forgotten. The reprinting of this classic will help explain its eminence and bring it once more into the intellectual discussions on fundamental texts in applied sociology, institutional economics, social work, and political science. I present Amos Warner's brief but brilliant career, document the book's reception by his colleagues, outline its contents, and analyze its pivotal relation to "women's work" in sociology between 1894 and the publication of the third edition, in 1919.