VII-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

VII-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

"Negative or Positive Gospel"

by: Helen Campbell | publication date: December 5, 1886 | Publication: The New York Tribune | pages: 13

Since the Church first began to misinterpret the words of its Founder, since men who built hospitals first made the poor to fill them, the " thou shalt not" of the priest has stood in the way of a human development that, if allowed free play, had long ago made its own code, and found in natural spiritual law the key to the overcoming of that formulated by men to whom the divine in man was forever unrecognized and unrecognizable.

This is no place for the discussion of what, to many good men and women, seems the only safety for human kind ; but to one who studies the question somewhat at least with the eyes of the physician, it becomes certain that no " thou shalt not" will ever give birth to either conscience or love of goodness and purity and decent living, or any other good that man must know; and that till the Church learns this, her hold on men and women will lessen, year by year. Every fresh institution in the miles of asylums and hospitals that cover the islands of the East Biver, and stretch on farther and farther with every year, is an added disgrace, an added count in the indictment against modern civilization. There are moments when the student of social conditions abhors Philanthropy ; when a disaster that would wipe out at one stroke every institution the city treasures would seem a gift straight from God, if only thereby the scales might fall from men's eyes, and they might learn that hiding foulness in an asylum is not extirpation; that something deeper and stronger than Philanthropy must work, before men can be saved.

In this "Prisoners of Povert" column, Helen Campbell criticizes the Church for failing to acknowledge, let alone advocate for the city's poor. She assures the reader that New York's poor are very real and goes on to tell the story of a young mother struggling to support her sick husband and children by working in underwear manufacturing.