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The "Problem of Duty": Family Desertion in the Progressive Era

Martha May
Social Service Review
Vol. 62, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 40-60
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30011946
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The "Problem of Duty": Family Desertion in the Progressive Era
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Abstract

This article examines the response of social welfare activists to male desertion of dependent families between 1890 and 1920. Charity workers and settlement residents initially worked to define the unique family problems presented by male desertion, but after 1900 began to advocate revision of existing statutes penalizing the deserter. By 1915, however, this period of punitive reform gave way to a new emphasis on deserters' psychological inabilities to adjust to a "proper" family life.

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