The Freedmen's Bureau: A missing chapter in social welfare history
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As the first federal anti-poverty agency, the Freedmen's Bureau represents a significant milestone in social welfare history. The two major antecedent conditions that made the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau a necessity were slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation. Slavery and the emancipation of the slaves generated numerous dysfunctions that the Freedmen's Bureau would be called upon to address.;This study examines the Bureau from a functional analysis perspective utilizing Merton's theory of manifest and latent functions and latent dysfunction. This study also relies on Levy's value typology of preferred conception of people, preferred outcome for people, and preferred instrumentalities.;This study also relies on the purpose(s) of the institution of social welfare in determining whether or not the Freedmen's Bureau was a success or failure. The study concludes that given the purpose(s) of social welfare, the Bureau can be considered to be a successful initiative. Despite its success, the Freedmen's Bureau remained in existence for only seven years. The Freedmen's Bureau functioned in the cauldron of the Civil War and Reconstruction. It also mirrored one central ideology of the nineteenth century: States Rights. This study concludes that a permanent federal role in the institution of social welfare was foreign to the psyche of the nation at the time and as a result, the demise of the Freedmen's Bureau was preordained from its conception.;This study also promoted the view that the Freedmen's Bureau has been sorely neglected by the social work historian. It postulates the view that the social work profession should give greater attention to the importance of the Freedmen's Bureau so that it could learn both from its incontestable achievements and from the reasons for its demise.