Broken Homes - A Study of Family Desertion and its Social Treatment
by Joanna C. Colcord
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"Man earning $30 to $40 a week at ammunition factory. Can earn $20 with no overtime. Has been sending woman $10 a week but has threatened to leave town. Judge said: 'You can't keep up $10 a week—how much can you give?' Finally ordered $8 a week. Woman said she couldn't live on that and Judge told her she had to go to work herself then; that they should live together anyway. Woman says she is unable to work—is ill. When man stated he was giving $10 great consternation seemed to take hold of the entire court force. He did not say he couldn't pay $10; the judge simply told him he couldn't keep that up."

The practice of assigning less than half the man's weekly earnings to the wife and children has been defended on the ground that if he is forced to live too economically, he will disappear and the family will be left with nothing. This would seem to be a self-confession on the part of the court that it cannot enforce its reasonable requirements. It would appear that the first thing to be considered is the minimum needs of the wife and children, taking into consideration whether the wife can be expected to contribute anything toward her own support or whether all her time is needed for her children. This amount should be cut down only when there is actually not enough left for the man to live on; and his wife and children should not be pinched for necessities in order that he may have luxuries or indulge in vices. The habit some judges have of accepting the man's own statement on oath as to what his earnings are is responsible for many unjust orders. A man who does not want to contribute to his family's support is almost sure to understate his earnings, oath or no oath; and the confirmation of his employer (or when the employer is suspected of being in league with him, the inspection of the employer's books by the probation officer) is often needed. Probably the most difficult form of evasion to combat is that of the man who deliberately takes a lower salary than he is capable of earning, so as to have less to give his wife. Surprising as it may seem, this is a common practice; but skilful probation work can nevertheless find a remedy.

In cases of suspended sentence, payments ought always to be made through the court and not handed by the man to his wife. It is better to have the amount received and transmitted by some bureau attached to the court, and so managed that the man can send the money in without "knocking off work" to bring it and that the woman can receive it by mail. The probation officer should not be bothered with the actual handling of the money, but he should be promptly notified of any delinquency in the payments.

Whether the man under court order is on probation or not, the cessation of payments should automatically reopen the case. At present, in most courts, the order goes by default until the wife comes in to make another charge. This, through discouragement or fear of a beating from the man, she often neglects; with the result that the orders of the court mean little in the eyes of the men, and that arrears, once allowed to mount up, are never cleared off.

This statement applies as well to long term orders for separate support where the circumstances are such that no reconciliation is contemplated. These orders are now made for a definite period of months, at the end of which time the case drops unless the wife renews charges. A case of this sort ought not to be terminable without a reinvestigation and final hearing in court. Indeed it would seem, in such cases, that the children involved should have at least as much protection as the children in bastardy proceedings, and that the order should be made to cover the term of years until the oldest child becomes of working age.

The most important step in advance with regard to payments is undoubtedly the law which has been tried with signal success in the District of Columbia and in the states of Ohio and Massachusetts, requiring men serving prison sentences for non-support and abandonment to be made to work, and a sum of money, representing their earnings, to be turned over to their families.

In an interesting paper in the Survey for November 20, 1909, entitled "Making the Deserter Pay the Piper," Mr. William H. Baldwin discusses in detail how this plan was made to work successfully in the District of Columbia.

The movement for special courts to consider cases of juvenile delinquency and marital relations has gained such headway that no word needs to be said here in its favor. In communities where the volume of court business permits such courts to be separately organized, they are generally accepted as the only means of handling these matters. In smaller communities the need may be met by setting aside regular sessions of the magistrates' courts for this purpose.

Juvenile courts and domestic relations courts having proved a success separately, there is a strong movement on foot to combine them into one court, for which the name Family Court has been proposed.

A leader in this movement is Judge Hoffman of the Family Court of Cincinnati, which he describes thus:

"The Court of Cincinnati was organized for the purpose of dealing with the family as a unit and to ascertain possibly the cause of its disruption. It has exclusive jurisdiction in all divorce and alimony cases, and all matters coming under the Juvenile Court Act. It also has jurisdiction in cases of failure to provide. The ideal court would include in connection with the foregoing functions, adoption of children, the issuing of marriage licenses, and bastardy cases."[49]

One advantage of this plan is the economy it effects in the time of probation officers. It is generally admitted that in children's court cases it is the parents rather than the children who are really on probation; and with two courts and two separate probation systems, we may even have the anomaly of the same family being under the care of two probation officers at once. Specialization can no further go! Other leaders in the domestic relations court movement see little merit in the proposal for a one-part family court. They think that, in the large cities at least, the need would be better served by having the domestic relations and juvenile courts under one roof, but as two separate and distinct parts of the same court. All are agreed, however, that the powers of one or the other of the two special courts should be enlarged to cover bastardy cases, where this is not now done.

The domestic relations court, whether separate or as part of a family court, ought to have equity powers, so that the usual rules of evidence need not be so closely adhered to and more latitude could be allowed the magistrate in disposing of cases, not necessarily according to ruling and precedent but according to the social needs disclosed. A constitutional amendment now pending in New York is a model for this sort of legislation. It is in part as follows:

"The legislature may establish children's courts and courts of domestic relations as separate courts or parts of existing courts, or courts hereafter to be created, and may confer upon them such equity and other jurisdiction as may be necessary for the correction, protection, guardianship and disposition of delinquent, neglected or dependent minors, and for the punishment and correction of adults responsible for or contributing to such delinquency, neglect or dependency, and to compel the support of a wife, child or poor relative by persons legally chargeable therewith who abandon or neglect to support any of them."[50]

Many courts of domestic relations which now exercise equity powers, such as ordering that a man remain away from home or that a wife allow her husband to see his children at stated times, do so without actual legal warrant and subject at any time to appeal of counsel. The conferring of equity powers on courts of domestic relations is a form of protection both to the court and to its clients which social workers should stand ready to work for.

Juvenile courts have in the main outstripped the domestic relations courts in the use of physicians and psychiatrists. The best examples of both these courts have, however, facilities for the making of physical examinations and mental tests, where necessary, before adjudication. Judge Hoffman says that the fact that so many cases in courts of domestic relations disclose abnormal or perverted sex habits, makes important the services of a psychiatrist accustomed to diagnosing these conditions.[51]

In most states the jurisdiction of the courts of domestic relations should be extended and co-ordinated. Few states escape some glaring inconsistencies in the laws governing desertion and abandonment. There is, for instance, much confusion between states as to whether a woman whose husband brings her to a strange city and there deserts her must prosecute him in the city where their home is or where the desertion took place. Under certain circumstances the woman is forced to travel to the city where her husband has gone, and bring action against him there, if the courts in that place will entertain a suit. In New York state there is no law which covers the case of a man who abandons his wife while she is pregnant, if there is no other living child. To constitute an extraditable crime there must have been abandonment of a child in esse not merely in posse.

But no institution, however carefully established by law, is any more effective than the people who run it; and the usefulness of the domestic relations court in any community depends entirely upon the social-mindedness and freedom from political entanglement of the judge and the amount and quality of probation service. From a social point of view, the latter is more important than the former; for a bad decision of the court can be mitigated by good case work later on, while a poor probation officer may nullify the effects of the wisest judicial decision ever made.

The importance of having enough probation officers to handle the work of the court has already been touched upon. An overworked officer is perforce an inefficient officer. He has usually to spend at least half his time in the court and attending to the clerical end of his job. From 50 to 60 cases is probably all that one probation officer can be expected to handle thoroughly at one time, if, as is to be hoped, he is required to make careful preliminary investigations to be presented to the judge before the trial.

In training and in equipment for the job, probation officers should be the equals of case workers in private agencies. Examinations for probation officers ought to be conducted by social workers of skill and high standards. A few months of cramming at a civil service school, or a few weeks of volunteer visiting with some case working agency, should not suffice to enable candidates to pass the examinations. The standards should be high enough and the salaries sufficiently attractive to draw into this field people who have successfully completed their apprenticeship in the art of case work. Only then can the status of the probation officer be raised to what it should be in the court itself. The relation of the probation officer to the judge ought to be exactly like the relation of the medical social worker to the physician—that of a person acting under his direction in a general way, but with a special contribution to make to the treatment of the case and with a recognized standing as an expert in his own particular field.


[46] Now changed to The National Conference of Social Work.

[47] Motion, J.R.: Wife and Family Desertion: Emigration as a Contributory Cause. Glasgow Parish Council, 1912.

[48] Handling of Cases by the Juvenile Court and Court of Domestic Relations of the Philadelphia Municipal Court. Bulletin 2, Bureau for Social Research, the Seybert Institution, Philadelphia, 1918.

[49] Hoffman, Charles W.: The Domestic Relations Court and Divorce, The Delinquent, February, 1917.

[50] For a fuller discussion of equity powers see an article by Judge C.F. Collins in the Legal Aid Review for January, 1919.

[51] Hoffman, Charles W.: Domestic Relations Courts and Divorce. The Delinquent, February, 1917.



At this time of writing it is too soon after the signing of the armistice to make predictions as to what the Great War may do to marriage. Whether desertion and divorce will increase or decrease it is impossible to say, and the experience of Europe is beside the mark. The war will leave traces on this generation—no doubt about that; but our losses have not been heavy enough seriously to disturb the balance of the sexes. The war, which has been to the common people of our country a war of service and ideals, has erased much that was petty and selfish; it has also caused nervous shocks and strains incalculable and unimagined. Years from now we may be able to strike the balance, but today this cannot be done. It is impossible also to say whether the growing irresponsibility that was generally recognized to be threatening married life in the years before the war is still operating with like effect, or whether the full tide of emotion in which the world has been lately submerged may have swept at least a part of it away.

We are dealing here, however, not so much with modifications in the spirit of the times, as with prevention in the individual case.

One very fundamental claim can be made concerning marital shipwrecks; namely, that the way to prevent many of them would have been to see that the marriage never was allowed to take place. Marriage laws and their enforcement form a whole subject in themselves which is now receiving careful study, the results of which should be available shortly.[52] This fact precludes any discussion of the subject here, though the relation of our marriage laws to marital discord is so obvious that some mention of the matter is necessary.

It was formerly the belief of students of family desertion that the best way to prevent desertions was to punish them quickly and severely. It should be said that this plan has never received a fair trial on a large scale, for legal equipment has always lagged behind knowledge. It may be true that just as a community can, within limits, regulate its death rate by what it is willing to pay, so it can by repressive measures regulate its desertion rate. But measures that keep the would-be deserter in the home which constantly grows less of a home, simply through fear of consequences if he left it, seem hardly a desirable form of prevention from the social point of view. It would be much better to catch the disintegrating family in whatever form of social drag-net could be devised, and deal with it individually and constructively along the lines which case work has laid down.

Is it possible, however, to recognize a "pre-desertion state?" And if so, what are the danger signals? One case worker answers this question sententiously: "Any influences which tend to destroy family solidarity are possible signs of desertion." Another writes: "We have sometimes found it possible to recognize a 'pre-desertion state' in the intermittent deserter, where we know the conditions which previously led to desertion, but I doubt whether we have very often been able to note it in the case of first desertions. In general, I should say a growing carelessness or a growing despondency as to his ability to care for his family are danger signals in the man, of which it is well to keep track."

The conditions listed in Chapter II as "contributory factors" might in certain combinations be decided danger signals of impending desertion. Non-support itself is, indeed, one of the most common of such signals, though a man who has dealt with hundreds of desertion cases maintained recently that the best and most hopeful type of deserter is the one who supports his family adequately up to the time of leaving home.

In the following case the items that led the case worker to suspect an approaching desertion are set down in the order stated by her. The couple were Irish; the man had never deserted before.

(1) He had spoken with eagerness of the wages that were being earned in munition plants in a city a few hours away—said he would like to go to some of those munition places and see what he could make.

(2) He was an intermittent drinker.

(3) His work record was poor; employers said he was irregular and unreliable.

(4) Visitor felt he had never earned as much as he was easily capable of earning and was rather indifferent to the needs of his family.

(5) The woman was willing to work—had applied for day nursery care, but visitor had persuaded the nursery not to accept the children.

After the visitor had stated the first two of the above items she stopped, and did not add the more significant three that followed until reminded that many workmen who drank intermittently were at that time thinking enviously of munition factory wages; and that these hardly constituted danger signals. The cumulative effect of all five items cannot, however, be denied.

Another statement, similarly obtained, concerns a colored couple, married about two years and with two children, the youngest less than a month old. Man had been out of work and family had gone to live with relatives.

(1) Man earns $20 a week but refuses to start housekeeping again, although they are seriously overcrowded—seven adults and five children in five rooms.

(2) Woman says he makes her sleep on chairs so that he can get better rest.

(3) He is seeing a good deal of another woman, a friend of the wife (wife's statement only).

(4) Woman had applied for nursery care for both children so that she might go to work.

(5) It transpires that she lived with him before marriage, and that the first child was a month old when the marriage took place. He "holds it over her."

(6) Man had been married before and divorced.

(7) The family's habits of recreation are changed; the man no longer "takes her out."

Such attempts to foretell the future are not infallible, of course; but a listing process is a valuable aid to diagnosis, and, by its help, a situation may be uncovered which tends toward complete family breakdown. This may be taken in time and prevented; or, if separation is inevitable it can be prepared for in advance, the necessary legal arrangements can be made to protect the family, and the anxiety, suspense, and useless effort avoided which a sudden and downright abandonment would cause.

But the trouble is that the problem seldom comes to the case worker until matters have progressed farther than this. The real question is—not how to recognize pre-desertion symptoms, but how to get hold of families when these symptoms are in the incipient stage.

Mr. Hiram Myers, manager of the Desertion Bureau of the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, who has made a close study of the subject, holds the theory that the real period of stress in marital adjustment comes not during the "critical first year," about which we have been told so much, but at a later period, which he sets roughly at from the third to the fifth year after marriage. By this time there are usually one or two babies, the wife's girlish charm has gone, and the romance of the first attraction has vanished, while the steady force of conjugal affection which should smooth their path through the years ahead has not come to take its place. It is in this middle period that longings for the delights of his care-free youth begin to come back to a man; if he ever had the wandering foot, it begins again to twitch for the road; of else his fancy is captured by some other girl not tied down at home by children. It is at this time, too, that endless discords and misunderstandings arise—that the last bit of gilt crumbles off the gingerbread.

As a result of his observations, Mr. Myers feels sure that the majority of first desertions take place somewhere from the third to the fifth year after marriage. Miss Brandt's[53] careful statistical study of 574 deserted families shows that in nearly 46 per cent of the families the first desertion took place before the fifth year of married life. Of course the jars that may come in the earlier months of marriage are seldom brought to the attention of social agencies, as it is usually the presence of children in the family and the consequent burden upon the wife which make such agencies acquainted with her.

It is to be hoped that further study will be made upon these points. It is well known and accepted that the majority of first deserters are young men; but if certain danger periods in married life can be definitely recognized, many new possibilities in prevention and treatment will be opened up.

A number of experiments and suggestions have lately been made which may prove to be the means of recognizing marital troubles early. The probation department of the Chicago Court of Domestic Relations some years ago established a consultation bureau to which people might come or be sent for advice on difficult matrimonial situations, and without any court record being made. The Department of Public Charities of New York City maintains a similar bureau which is, however, so closely connected with the court that its clients make little distinction between them.

In addition to such conscious efforts to reach out after marital tangles in the pre-court stage, there has recently been an interesting though accidental development in the city of Cleveland. During the thrift campaign of 1918, several savings banks of that city conceived the idea that their depositors could be induced and helped to save more money if the banks opened a bureau for free advice to their patrons on household management. This bureau is still in the experimental stage but it has had an increasing clientele so far. One thing that has astonished its management—but which causes no surprise in the mind of a social worker—has been the great variety of problems other than those connected with the family budget that have come to light in the bureau's consultations. Particularly is this true of marital discord centering about money affairs.

If such bureaus prove their usefulness there is no reason why they might not be greatly extended, and why other agencies than banks (insurance companies, for example) might not be eager thus to serve their customers. This opens a new field for the home economist, but incidentally it would appear that, in order to function successfully, such bureaus would need to have access to the services of agencies employing highly skilled social case workers. It is conceivable that, if there are developed in our large cities consultation facilities under social auspices for people who feel their marriages going wrong, and want help and advice in righting them, such bureaus as those described above would be excellent "feeders" for this new form of social service.

Family social agencies have been distinctly backward in some of their approaches to the fundamental problems of family life. The failure of most of them, for instance, to study or seek improvements in the laws governing marriage or in their administration, is difficult of explanation. Such a consultation service as that suggested does, however, indicate a new point of departure in dealing with marital relations which would seem to fall distinctly within the field of the family case work agencies. It is time that these agencies began to find means of dealing, not with the dependent family alone but with the family in danger of becoming dependent—not with the family broken and estranged only, but with the one whose bonds, even if cracking and ill-adjusted, still hold.

Concretely, why should not family agencies establish such consultation bureaus as have just been mentioned, distinct from their regular activities and hampered by no suggestion in their title of association with problems of dependency? Dr. William Healy of Boston ascribes much of his success in getting the parents of defective and backward children to bring them voluntarily for examination to the fact that the name of his organization (the Judge Baker Foundation) conveys no hint of stigma or inferiority. Here is a valuable lesson in right publicity.

A bureau of family advice such as has been suggested should be under unimpeachable auspices from the point of view of medicine and psychiatry; it should have the services not only of expert social workers and experts in household management, but of doctors and psychiatrists as well. If it could be run as a joint-stock enterprise, in which courts and social agencies might be equally interested, so much the better. Its investigations should be searching enough to discourage applications from curiosity-mongers; but its services, like those of any clinic, should be given for whatever the patient is able to pay. Its relations, needless to say, should be entirely confidential, and as privileged in the eyes of the law as are those of doctor, lawyer, and priest.

It may be objected that people guard their marital infelicities too jealously and are too loath to discuss them to come willingly to such a place; that the idea involves a presumptuous interference in the private lives of individuals. But neurologists know that people in increasing numbers feel the need, under conditions of modern stress, for a safe outlet and a chance to discuss their perplexities and find counsel.

Fifty years ago the interest now taken by the social and medical professions in the question of whether mothers are rearing their infants properly could not have been foreseen. The establishment of baby health stations, or the activities of the Children's Bureau, would have been looked upon as unwarranted interference between the child and its mother, whose natural instincts could be depended upon to teach her how to nourish it. This point of view is no longer held; and the community's duty to take an interest in the upbringing of its children is never questioned. Is it not conceivable that, before another half century has rolled around, the community may take the same intelligent interest in the conservation of the family, and that definite efforts, which are now almost entirely lacking, may be made to stabilize and protect it?

Educational propaganda would, of course, have to be a definite part of the work of such bureaus. By this is meant not such modern specialties as "birth control," "sex hygiene," et al., though we may by that time have enough authoritative information about sex psychology in marriage to be able to afford some help along these lines. Instruction in the ethics of married life and parenthood is of even more fundamental importance. The prevailing cynicism, the present low concepts of marriage, should be vigorously combatted by such an organization. Religious instruction would be, of course, beyond its scope; but it should be able to work sympathetically with all creeds, supplementing their teachings without seeking to duplicate them.

The services of such a bureau could not, of course, be forced upon anyone who did not wish to avail himself or herself of them; but definite though tactful efforts could be made to reach all young couples (just as are now being made to reach young mothers) with information as to where advice could be obtained.

No trustworthy figures exist as to the number of families broken by desertion or divorce in the United States, or as to the burden of actual dependency caused. Courts, probation officers, psychiatrists, and family case workers are all dissatisfied with our efforts to patch up the families which are already disintegrating. One of the three groups mentioned is likely before long to attempt some more dynamic attack upon the problem in its inception. If any suggestions herein contained find use in that program, the labor of compiling them will have been indeed well spent.


[52] See, for example, American Marriage Laws in their Social Aspects—a preliminary study by the Russell Sage Foundation, June, 1919.

[53] Brandt, Lilian: 574 Deserters and their Families, p. 23. Charity Organization Society of New York, 1905.


Adolph R.: case story of, 69-70, 83

Age: relation of differences in, 27

Agencies: N.Y. Charity Organization Society, 44; National Desertion Bureau, 65, 69, 71. 101; United Hebrew Charities, 71; co-operative methods, 72-78, 84, 86-90; opinions on methods of arrest, 77, 78; N.Y. Association for Improving Condition of the Poor, 136; social problems and consultation bureaus, 195-199

Alcoholism: statistics on, 22; devastating effects of, 42; case story of woman, 57-61; and justifiable deserters, 111-114; relation to non-support, 156

American Marriage Laws in their Social Aspects, study by Russell Sage Foundation, 186

Apparent desertions: illustrated, 8, 9

Baldwin, Wm. H., 169, 177

Bastardy Cases, A Study of Louise de K. Bowen, 95

Bastardy, see Forced marriages

Behind the Service Flag, Red Cross pamphlet, 160

Bigamy: and common law marriages, 98; immigrant deserters, 99

Bosanquet, Helen, 13

Bowen, Louise de K., 95

Brand, Harvey: case story of, 122

Brandt, Lilian, 26, 27, 192

Breed, Mary, 61, 150

Buffalo Charity Organization Society: non-support records, 156

Bureaus: National Desertion Bureau, 65, 69, 101; for consultation, 193-199; Court of Domestic Relations, Chicago, 193; Department of Public Charities, New York, 193; Children's Bureau, 197; importance of educational, 198-199. See also Agencies

Byington, Margaret F., 12

Canada: extradition treaties sought, 119, 169

Carstens, C.C., 68

Case illustrations: of apparent desertion, 8; mental deficiency, 24; reconciliation through education, 30; incompatibility and the "other woman," 40; interviewing the man essential, 57-61; liberal relief policy, 62; agency co-operation, 69, 75, 82, 83, 84; accident case, 79; traced through letter, 81; reconciliation after court marriage, 95; "American" marriages, 99; justifiable desertion, 111, 112-114; antagonism, 111-112; prison sentences helpful, 121, 122; adequate relief rids wife of chronic deserter, 131; adjustment impossible, 134; real affection a basis of reconciliation, 135; rehabilitation of a deserter, 137; wife reluctant to return to man who reformed, 141; non-support and ill-kept homes, 153; re-establishing non-supporters' homes, 158, 160, 161-163; inadequate court orders, 172, 173

Case work, see Social workers

Causal factors: analysis of study, 10, 15; motives and theories, 17-49; rationalization discussed, 17-22; summary of statistics, 21-22, 26-27, 45; feeble-mindedness, 24-25; training and self-control, 25-26; nationality, 26-27; religion, 27; age, 27; environment, 27-28; wrong basis of marriage, 28; common law marriage, 29; ignorance, 29; incompetence, 31; wanderlust, 32; inadequate income, 32; financial mismanagement, 33; physical condition, 34-35; temperamental differences, 36; sex incompatibility, 37-39; vice and disease, 39-43; relatives, interference of, 43-44; racial studies, 44-45; community standards, 45-46; recreation, 47; companions, influence of, 48; shifting responsibility, 48; underlying causes, 49; seeking a working basis, 91-105

Charitable relief: desertion in expectation of, 48, 61; Mary Breed on, 61; immigrant's interpretation of, 99-100. See also Collusion

Chicago Court of Domestic Relations, bureau for marital advice, 193

Chicago Juvenile Protective Association: study of forced marriages by, 94-95

Children's Bureau, 197

Closing the case: extended treatment recommended, 63

Colcord, J.C., 61, 104, 133

Collins, C.F., 180

Collusion: infrequency of, 52, 70; case stories of, 71, 72; statistics of National Desertion Bureau, 71; preventive measures, 73-80

Common law marriages: legal protection under, 29; confusion of state laws, 98

Community ideals, see Standards

Companions: influence, and wanderlust, 47-48; aid in finding deserters, 77, 80

Co-operation of agencies, 68-78, 84, 86-90; suggested methods of finding deserters, 78-90; probation officers, 116, 122-124

Corrective treatment: legislative recommendations, 164-184; military systems aid in tracing deserters, 165-166; obstacles, 167; serving a warrant or summons, 168; extradition treaties recommended, 169; dependency through emigration, report on, 170; deportation laws, 171; court orders to pay, Seybert Institution report on, 172-177; special courts for juvenile delinquents, 177, 178, 179; Family Court of Cincinnati, 178; domestic relations court, 178, 179-180, 181-182; probation officers, 182-184

Court intervention: policy of treatment in past, 50-51; reasons, and laxity of laws, 51-52; social agency statistics, 52; a last resort, 53-54; effect of, 55, 95; for persistent deserters, 114-117; extradition, 117-119; probation, 119-124; warrant served by wife, 127; effecting reconciliations, 132-140; domestic relation courts effect reconciliations, 132; volunteers, 139-140; inadequacy of orders, 172-177; for juvenile delinquents, 178, 181; domestic relations, 179-182, 193

Department of Public Charities, New York City, bureau of domestic relations, 193

Deserters and their Families, 574. Lilian Brandt, 192

Desertion and Non-Support in Family Case Work. Joanna C. Colcord, 61, 104, 133

Detectives: methods objectionable, 74, 77

Disease: statistical analysis, 22; and psychiatry, 24; effects of physical debility, 34; venereal disease, 41; alcoholism, 42. See also Medical-Social work

District of Columbia: non-support laws, 177

Divorce: relation to desertion, 7, 8; not considered, 16; administration of laws, and respect for, 46; by publication, 101; clearing bureau for, 101-102; for long continued desertion, 110; legal separation to protect wife, 127; bureaus might prevent, 193-199

Domestic relations courts: to combine with juvenile, 178, 179; Family Court of Cincinnati, 178; equity powers for, 179, 180; amendment pending, 179; facilities, 181

Domestic Relations Court and Divorce. C.W. Hoffman, 178, 181

Donald, Patrick: case story of, 19

Drug addiction, see Narcotics

Early influences: and self-control, 25-26; educational, 29, 30, 46, 92, 153, 198

Economics: ratio of desertions in "hard times," 21, 32; family finances, 33; service bureaus, 194

Education: social studies of family life, 11-14; early training and delinquency, 26; background for failures, 29-30; destructive forces, 46; suggestions for case workers, 63; Attendance Department traces deserters, 73; non-support and inefficiency eliminated by, 153; propaganda, 198

Ellis, Havelock, 39

Environment: and immigration, 27-28; neighborhood standards, 46, 102

Equity powers, of domestic relations courts, 179, 180

Eubank, E.E., 21

Extradition: state problems, 117-119; for dangerous men, 129-130; non-support law, 150; treaties essential, ratification pending, 169, 170; N.Y. state law, 182

Extravagance: family finances, 33

Family as a Social and Educational Institution, The. Willystine Goodsell, 11

Family Court of Cincinnati, 178

Family Desertion. Lilian Brandt, 26

Family Desertion, A Study of. E.E. Eubank, 21

Family life: permanence of, 9, 11-15; spiritual values of, 12, 29; consultation service to solve problems of, 195-199

Family, The. Helen Bosanquet, 13

Fear of bodily harm from dangerous deserters, 128-129

Federal Employment Service, 166

Finding deserters, 65-90; National Desertion Bureau, 65, 69, 71; urgency of finding the man, 67; C.C. Carstens quoted, 68; example of, 69-70; collusion, instances of, 70-73; literature lacking, 74; detective methods, illustration of, 74-77; suggestions for, 78-80; through military authorities, 81-82; trade places, 82-83; publications, 83, 84, 85; bulletin boards, 84; employment agencies, 84; agency co-operation, 86-90

First desertions: temporary character of, 8; medical-social work a preventive, 9; accident records aid in tracing, 79; critical nature of, 91; when apt to occur, 191-192

First problem in desertion, 67, 91

Forced marriages: irregular unions, 28; investigation of, and statistics, 92-96; study by Chicago Juvenile Protective Association, 94; case illustrations, 95-96

Forel, August, 39

Francis, Mrs.: case story of, 131

Frost, Robert, 14

Gambling: effect upon character, 43; relation to non-support, 156

Glasgow Parish Council, report on dependency, 170-171

Goodsell, Willystine, 11

Gorokhoff, Andreas: case story of, 121

Gray, Aleck: case story of, 161-163

Hart, Bernard, 20

Healy, Dr. William, 196

Heredity: psychopathic personality, 24; feeble-mindedness, 25; racial differences, 26-28

Hoffman, Charles W., 178, 181

Illustrations, see Case illustrations

Immorality, see Sex factors

Inadequate relief: legal separation, and the law, 128; wife's attitude, 130; illustrated, 131; court orders, inconsistency of, 172-176; recent legislation to correct, 177. See also Non-support

Income: economic issues, 21, 22, 30; wages and non-support, 32-33

Incompatibility: temperamental differences, 36; sex relations, 37-39, 40

Industrial deficiency: in husband and wife, 25, 31; national registration to correct, 166

Insanity: study of defectives, 20, 24

Insanity, The Psychology of. Bernard Hart, 20

Instability: forms of, mental and physical, 17-22; factors that induce, 24-43, 47-49

"Intermittent husbands," 43, 153

Interviewing the man: importance of, 55-57, 105; case story, 57-61

Italy: marriage registration in, 100

Judge Baker Foundation, of Boston, 196

Justifiable deserters: and alcoholism, 42; case illustration, 57-61, 111; procedure with, 112

Justification: thirst for experience, 9, 19; process of rationalization, 20; venereal disease and separation, 41; alcohol, and "justifiable deserters," 42; Williams case illustrates, 57-61, 111; and the non-supporter, 152-154

Juvenile courts: movement for special, 177, 178; Juvenile Court Act, 178; combine with domestic relation courts, 178; Family Court of Cincinnati, 178; facilities, 181

Laflin, Mrs.: case story of, 155

Latham, George: case story of, 137

Legal separation to protect wife, 127-129

Legislation: irregular unions, 29, 98; pioneering methods, 50-52; state aid to mothers, 63; common law unions, legality of, 98, 101; Italian, 100; divorce for permanent desertion, 110; for justifiable deserters, 111-112; court action for persistent deserters, 114-117; extradition, 117-119, 129; probation, 120-124; legal facilities to promote efficiency, 164-184; serving a warrant, 168; extradition treaties, 169-170; deportation, 171; court procedure, 172-177; juvenile delinquency, 177, 178, 180; domestic relations, and special courts, 177, 178, 179, 180-182; marriage laws, 186, 195

Loane, M., 154

Long, Martin: case story of, 141

Making the Deserter Pay the Piper. W.H. Baldwin, 177

Mancini, Onofrio: case story of, 172

Marital vagaries: possible reasons for, 35

Marriage: spiritual values of, 11, 12, 29; homelier elements in, 13-15; wrong bases of, 28; common law unions, 29; disparagement of ideals condemned, 45-46, 198; verification, and state legislation, 98-100; registration in Italy, 100; American marriage laws, 186

McCann, Herbert: case story of, 84-85, 86

Medical-social work: preventing desertion, 9; summary of case analyses, 22; psychiatry and mental deficiency, 24; physical debility, 34; "pregnancy desertion," 34-35; sex incompatibility, 37-39; bureaus of advice recommended, 193-196. See also Psychology

Mellor, Joseph: case story of, 111

Mentality: irresponsible agents, 17-20; psychology of insanity, 20, 24; educational handicaps, 29

Mexico: and extradition, 119, 170

Morgan, Charles: case story of, 147-148

Motion, J.R., 171

Myers, Hiram, 191, 192

Narcotics: percentage of influence, 22, 42

Nationality: statistical facts about difference in, 26-27, 44-45; racial attitude, and percentages of deserters, 44-45; case problem, 49; Jewish desertion bureau, 65, 69, 71, 101-102

National Conference of Jewish Charities, seeks extradition treaty, 169

National Conference of Social Work, extradition treaty urged, 169

National Desertion Bureau, Jewish legal aid, 65; story of tracing a deserter, 69-70; collusive desertion cases, 71; clearing bureau established, 101-102

Neighborhood influence, see Standards

Newspapers, see Publicity

New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor: practice of Desertion Bureau, 136

New York Charity Organization Society: study of racial groups, and percentages, 44-45

New York State Conference of Charities and Correction, Proceedings, on non-supporters, 150

Non-supporters: as potential deserters, 149-163; legal treatment of, 149-150; analogous to deserters, 150-153, 188; characteristics, 151, 189, 190; wife's influence a factor, 152-154; illustrations, 155, 158, 160; reclamation, illustrated, 161-163; approach to desertion, 188-191

Non-support Law: in Massachusetts, 149-150

Normal Family, The. Margaret F. Byington, 12

North of Boston. Robert Frost, 14

One Thousand Homeless Men. Alice W. Solenberger, 157

Overindulgence: teaching self-control, 25-26; wage-earning wives, 154

Pelligrini, Orfeo: case story of, 99

Permanence of family life, 9, 11-15

Permanent desertions, see Divorce

Philadelphia Court of Domestic Relations, report on reconciliations, 135-136

Philadelphia Society for Organizing Charity: report of, 7

Photographs of deserters: society presents to wife, 10; tracing out-of-town clues, 78, 84, 85

Physical condition: ill health, 34; "difficulty" of pregnant women, 35; maladjustments, 38; recreation essential, 47; recommendations, 196-199

"Pregnancy desertion": how explained, 34-35

Preventive treatment: past opinions, 187; non-support leading to desertion, 188-192; for first desertions, 192-193; bureaus for advice and consultation, 193-199; suggestions for, 196-199

Probation: testimony of social workers, 119-120; and imprisonment, 121-124; legal separation proceedings during, 128; officers effect reconciliation, 132; illustrations, 133-134, 137, 141; "stay-away" probation, 138; economy plan for officers, 178; number and efficiency of officers, 182-184; consultation bureau, 193

Provisional quality of desertions, 9

Psychoanalysis: mental deficients, and heredity, 24; incompatibility and sex perversion, 37-39. See also Sex factors

Psychology: rationalization process, 20; mental defectives, 24; sex incompatibility, 37-39; studies on, 39; knowledge of, essential, 103

Publicity: photographs a medium of, 10, 78, 84, 85; agencies and newspapers, 84-90; divorce by "publication," 101; illustration, 196

Queen's Poor, The. M. Loane, 154

Questionnaires: liberal relief policy, 62; searching for deserters, 78; treatment of desertion, 106

Ratio of desertions: economic factors, 21, 31, 32-33

Reconciliation: factors that prompt, 13-14; and the "other woman," 40-41; following court marriage, 95-96; after prison term, 121-122; considerations involved, 125-132; unwillingness of wife, illustrated, 131; criminal tendencies prevent, 134; affection a safe basis of, 135; practice of N.Y. Association for Improving Condition of the Poor, 136-137; volunteer visitors helpful, 139-140; case worker's success in effecting, illustrated, 142-148; bureaus to promote, 193-199

Recreation: why essential, 47

Red Cross Home Service, 81, 159, 160

Relatives: interference of, 43-44, 49

Religion: differences in, a study of, 26, 27

Repeated desertions: frequency of, 8; "intermittent husbands," 43, 153; suggestions for tracing the man, 79; relative nature of, 92

Responsibility: self-therapy illustrated, 8; deserters disclaim, 19-20; essentials of early training, 25-26; education promotes, 29, 198; and charitable relief, 48, 100; wage-earning wives, and non-supporters, 154

Richmond, Mary E.: on volunteers in case work, 78, 106, 140

Ridicule: of matrimony, by press and films, 45-46

Russell Sage Foundation, study, American marriage laws, 186

Selective Service Act, 165

Sex factors: determine forgiveness, 13-14; statistical summary, 21-22; "pregnancy desertion," 34-35; incompatibility, 37-40; immorality, 39, 96; knowledge of sex psychology essential, 103

Sex in Relation to Society. Havelock Ellis, 39

Sexual Question, The. A. Forel, 39

Seybert Institution, Philadelphia, on relation of income to court order, 173

Slacker marriages, 97

Social workers: opinions of, 7-8; appreciative faculties of, 11; knowledge of sex relations imperative, 37-38; diagnoses referred to specialists, 38; undervalue recreation, 47; questionnaires on treatment, 62, 78, 106; detective methods, 68-90; agency co-operation, 78-90; sex problems, 103; necessary information for, summarized, 104-105; protection of legal separation, 127; successful case records, 142-148

Solenberger, Alice W., 157

Spiritual values: of family life, 11-12, 29

Standards: and temperamental differences, 36; community concepts, 45-46; neighborhood influence, 47, 102

State aid to mothers, 63; vital statistics, 93

Temporary desertions: report of Philadelphia Society, 7-8; domestic crises and vagaries, 34-35. See also Reconciliation

Theories to explain desertion, 20. See also Causal factors

Treatment of desertion: policy, past and present, 50-64; court intervention, 50-54; interviewing the man, 55-60, 105; relief to families, 61; opinions of case workers, 62; case story, 62; state aid, 63; closing the case, time for, 63; changes in worker's attitudes, 64; whereabouts known, willing to return, 125-148; Philadelphia Court of Domestic Relations, study by, 135-136; N.Y. Association for Improving Condition of the Poor, practice of, 136; family restoration illustrated, 137; volunteers recommended, 139-140; wife relents, illustration of reconciliation, 141; study of successful worker's records, 142-148

United Hebrew Charities, 71

Vagaries: marital, 34-35

Venereal disease: relation to desertion, 41

Verification: of marriage, 98-99; in Italy, 100; Latin-American custom, 100

Volunteers: service valuable for effecting reconciliation, 139-140

Wanderlust: instability of temperament, 19; relation to desertion, 32

Warrant for arrest: protection afforded wife, 127; system inadequate, 168

West, Alfred: case story of, 30

Wife and Family Desertion: Emigration as a Contributory Cause. J.R. Motion, 171

Wife who deserts, not considered, 15

Williams, Mrs. Clara: case story of, 57-60, 111



Many people have general views in these days upon almost any matter which affects social welfare; we all know how easily such views find expression. On the other hand, only a few have the patience and the insight to gather the specific facts and find out what they mean. Still fewer—having done so much as this—can explain the meaning lucidly and in brief compass.

It is the ambition of the Social Work Series to embody, in the field of social service at least, the message of a representative group of these few. The first three volumes are as follows:

Disasters and the American Red Cross in Disaster Relief. By J. Byron Deacon.

Household Management. By Florence Nesbitt.

Broken Homes. By Joanna C. Colcord.

Price, Cloth, 75 cents each. Other volumes in preparation.

Write for announcements to be forwarded as these books are issued.


130 E. 22d ST., NEW YORK CITY


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