Seedtime of Reform: American Social Service and Social Action, 1918-1933
by Clarke A. Chambers
University of Minnesota Press, 1963
Paper: 978-0-8166-5722-3


Seedtime of Reform was first published in 1963. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

This is a detailed history of the social welfare movement in the United States during the period from the end of World War I to the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, an era which most historians characterize as one of normalcy and reaction. In his book Professor Chambers demonstrates that this was actually a seedtime of reform, a period when the groundwork was laid for many of the sweeping social changes which were to take place under the New Deal.

While it is true, as the author points out, that the years from 1918 to 1933 were not hospitable to the cause of reform, it was during these years that reform leaders and welfare workers (and the associations and agencies they directed) elaborated new theories and programs of action to alleviate, prevent, and overcome certain persisting social ills. Although little was constructively achieved until new political leadership, operating in the context of acute and prolonged economic crisis, acted in the 1930s, much of what we identify as the New Deal was rooted not only in prewar progressivism but in the research, agitation, and welfare services of the 1920s as well. Reformers and welfare workers made especially significant contributions in the areas of housing, social security, public works, federal responsibility for dependent groups in society, and working conditions.

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