THE LAW RELATING TO THE RELIEF AND CARE OF DEPENDENTS. VI.
THE STATE ORGANIZATION AND SUPERVISION OF CHARITIES.
The preceding papers of this series have dealt with the laws relating to the care and treatment of the dependent and defective classes. The present paper deals with the provisions made for the supervision of the public (and to some extent the private) charitable institutions of the several states and their organization into state systems.
The poor law is usually administered by civil or judicial offi- cers as one of their many duties. As a rule, each of the several public institutions of the state has a distinct board of directors. Under such circumstances it is not to be expected that each offi- cer administering poor relief, or that each director or officer of an institution, should always know the best thing to be done, or, knowing the best thing, should always do it. Much less is it to be expected that the various local and state institutions should all work together as a system, so that the greatest good might be accomplished by the charitable effort of the state. Conse- quently, a public agency has been created to advise where need- ful, to secure the enforcement of the law where necessary, and to organize the state's charities. This agency is the "state board of charities."
The state organization of charities beg^n soon after the close of the Civil War. This movement has continued until now twenty-four of the forty -eight commonwealths have a "state board of charities," bearing this or a similar title.' Each board
' The dates of the organization of the boards in the several states, together with the references to them, are as follows: Massachusetts (ch. 79, R.S., 1882), 1863; New York (ch. 545, Acts of 1896), and Ohio (655-659, Gaique's R. S., as amended in 1892), 1867; North Carolina, discontinued and reorganized in 1889 (2331-2339, Code of 1883), 1869; Illinois (ch. 85, Kurd's R. S.), Pennsylvania (1-20, pp. 295-8 Brightly Pardon's Digest), and Rhode Island (ch. 291, Gen. Laws, 1896), 1869; Wisconsin (Act of April 17, 1891, as amended in 1895 (ch. 202)), and Michigan (9882-