Nobody's Burden: Lessons on Old Age from The Great Depression

Overview

Nobody's Burden: Lessons on Old Age from the Great Depression is the first book-length study of the experience of old-age during the Great Depression. Part history, part social critique, the contributors rely on archival research, social history, narrative study and theoretical analysis to argue that Americans today, as in the past, need to rethink old-age policy and accept their shared responsibility for elder care. The Great Depression serves as the cultural backdrop to this argument, illustrating that during ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (4) from $88.64   
  • New (3) from $88.64   
  • Used (1) from $88.89   
Sending request ...

Overview

Nobody's Burden: Lessons on Old Age from the Great Depression is the first book-length study of the experience of old-age during the Great Depression. Part history, part social critique, the contributors rely on archival research, social history, narrative study and theoretical analysis to argue that Americans today, as in the past, need to rethink old-age policy and accept their shared responsibility for elder care. The Great Depression serves as the cultural backdrop to this argument, illustrating that during times of social and economic crisis, society's ageism and the limitations in old-age care become all the more apparent.

At the core of the book are vivid stories of specific men and women who applied for old-age pensions from a private foundation in Detroit, Michigan, between 1927 and 1933. Most applicants who received pensions became life-long clients, and their lives were documented in great detail by social workers employed by the foundation. These stories raise issues that elders and their families face today: the desire for independence and autonomy; the importance of having a place of one's own, despite financial and physical dependence; the fears of being and becoming a burden to one's self and others; and the combined effects of ageism, racism, sexism and classism over the life course of individuals and families. Contributors focus in particular on issues of gender and aging, as the majority of clients were women over 60, and all of the case workers - among the first geriatric social workers in the country — were women in their 20s and early 30s. Nobody's Burden is unique not only in content, but also in method and form. The contributors were members of an archival research group devoted to the study of these case files. Research was conducted collaboratively and involved scholars from the humanities (English, folklore) and the social sciences (anthropology, communications, gerontology, political science, social work, and sociology).

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

CHOICE
Old people who are also poor are more or less forbidden to actualize any form of personal identity and are nonetheless punished for it, facing both casual and systematic discrimination. During the Great Depression, as today, many were arbitrarily denied adequate means of survival, even if family members or social workers came to their aid. Editors Ray (English, Wayne State Univ.) and Calasanti (sociology, Virginia Tech) have drawn on the archives of the Luella Hannan Memorial Home in Detroit, Michigan, to produce this narrowly focused but often-moving history. The contributors show how, between 1927 and 1933, the city's poor elderly banded together in support groups and endured years of humiliation and social stigma and how advocates spread awareness of their plight until it became one of the central political issues of the New Deal. The book traces dozens of intersecting story lines—many of them in first-person narratives, case notes, and letters—that together show how ageism in the US fails vulnerable people who seek only to eschew their own vulnerability. The parallels between their era and the contemporary world are uncanny and quite frightening. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.
Choice
Old people who are also poor are more or less forbidden to actualize any form of personal identity and are nonetheless punished for it, facing both casual and systematic discrimination. During the Great Depression, as today, many were arbitrarily denied adequate means of survival, even if family members or social workers came to their aid. Editors Ray (English, Wayne State Univ.) and Calasanti (sociology, Virginia Tech) have drawn on the archives of the Luella Hannan Memorial Home in Detroit, Michigan, to produce this narrowly focused but often-moving history. The contributors show how, between 1927 and 1933, the city's poor elderly banded together in support groups and endured years of humiliation and social stigma and how advocates spread awareness of their plight until it became one of the central political issues of the New Deal. The book traces dozens of intersecting story lines—many of them in first-person narratives, case notes, and letters—that together show how ageism in the US fails vulnerable people who seek only to eschew their own vulnerability. The parallels between their era and the contemporary world are uncanny and quite frightening. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.
W. Andrew Achenbaum
As a gero-historian and grandchild of the Great Depression, who has experienced reversals of fortunes (economic and otherwise), I read Nobody's Burden with great admiration. Ruth Ray, Toni Calasanti, and their collaborators have mined archives to give us vivid history from the bottom up. They have recovered voices from the past which, richly informed by theory and narrative, should heighten our common resolve to fight sexism and ageism as we care for the needy.
Miriam Bernard
Located in a particular time and a particular place, this unique interdisciplinary study reaches out across the years and across the globe to illuminate and inform our understanding of who might care for, and about, old people in the twenty-first century. Couched firmly within a tradition of feminist gerontology, it is a riveting and evocative exploration of what it was like to live into old age during the Great Depression. Marrying detailed archival research with perspectives drawn from anthropology, English studies, communication, sociology, political science and social work, the editors and contributors paint a vivid picture which resonates all too often with current preoccupations: at times disconcertingly, at others poignantly. This 'living story' will speak to everyone concerned with the ethics of elder care, social justice and the need for policy reform.
CHOICE
Old people who are also poor are more or less forbidden to actualize any form of personal identity and are nonetheless punished for it, facing both casual and systematic discrimination. During the Great Depression, as today, many were arbitrarily denied adequate means of survival, even if family members or social workers came to their aid. Editors Ray (English, Wayne State Univ.) and Calasanti (sociology, Virginia Tech) have drawn on the archives of the Luella Hannan Memorial Home in Detroit, Michigan, to produce this narrowly focused but often-moving history. The contributors show how, between 1927 and 1933, the city's poor elderly banded together in support groups and endured years of humiliation and social stigma and how advocates spread awareness of their plight until it became one of the central political issues of the New Deal. The book traces dozens of intersecting story lines--many of them in first-person narratives, case notes, and letters--that together show how ageism in the US fails vulnerable people who seek only to eschew their own vulnerability. The parallels between their era and the contemporary world are uncanny and quite frightening. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739165317
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 8/16/2011
  • Pages: 378
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth E. Ray is professor of English/liberal arts at Wayne State University. Toni Calasanti is professor of sociology at Virginia Tech.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

1 Studying the 'Burden' of Age: The Work of the Hannan Archival Research Group Ruth E. Ray 1

Part 1 The Burden of Age in the Great Depression 31

2 Public Response to the Needs of Old People Thomas B. Jankowski 33

3 Private Response to the Needs of Old People Ruth E. Ray 57

Part 2 This Old Man and That Old Woman 93

Client Sketches 95

Part 3 Old Age in Hard Times 119

4 The Multiple Roles of Social Workers in the Great Depression Faith P. Hopp Nancy Thornton 123

5 Resisting Dependence and Burden: On Refusing to Become a 'Little Old Lady' Donyale R. Griffin Padgett Shu-hui Sophy Cheng 147

6 Privileged But Pensioned? How Two Formerly Well-Off Women Experienced Receiving Aid Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury Heather E. Dillaway 173

7 What is Held Dear: Personhood and Material Culture in Old Age Sherylyn H. Briller Mary E. Durocher 197

8 Race, Class, Gender and the Social Construction of "Burden" in Old Age Toni Calasanti Jill Harrison 223

9 The Haunting Fear: Narrative Burdens in the Great Depression Janet L. Langlois Mary E. Durocher 245

Part 4 Rethinking the "Burden" of Age 271

10 Reflections on Ageism: Perspective of a Septuagenarian on the Avoidance of Burdenhood Elizabeth Edson Chapleski 273

11 The Continuing Struggle for Old-Age Security Toni Calasanti 293

12 Toward a Future When We Truly Care for Old People Ruth E. Ray 317

Afterword: From Charity to Care Ruth E. Ray 347

Index 353

About the Contributors 367

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)