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In making this investigation of tho habits, morals, and environment of negroes living in cities, three things have been kept constantly in view, viz:
First. To obtain accurate information, without regard to cherished theories or race pride;
Second. To make the inquiry practical and helpful, and not merely for scientifie results; and,
Third. To induce the people to apply the remedies which they have in their own hands for the evils which are found to exist and which retard their progress.
The results to be gained depended entirely upon the intelligence and fitness of the investigators, who were selected with great care from the ranks of well-known colored educators, ministers, physicians, lawyers, and business men living among the people covered by the investigation. All the data were gathered by this body of trained colored leaders, and they are believed to be perhaps more than usually accurato, because of the investigators' knowledge of the character, habits, and prejudices of the people, and because of the fact that they were not hindered by the suspicions which confront the white investigator, and which seriously affect the accuracy of the answers to his questions.
The work of the investigators was entirely voluntary and was done with a willingness and industry highly gratifying.
Tho cities embraced in the investigation, with a singlo exception, are located in regions of heaviest negro population, and are fairly representative of other cities containing large numbers of negroes.
The data obtained were published in the May Bulletin of the United States Department of Labor, and cover so wido a range of useful information that only a fow things can be pointed out here.
Referring to the tables of this Bulletin, we find one noticeable fact in Table 3, namely, that the size of colored families is much smaller than is commonly supposed, the average being 4.17 persona.
Tables 5 and 6, giving household conditions by families—the average persons per sleeping room and the number of rooms per family-show that the general belief that the tenements and houses occupied by colored people are greatly overcrowded is not founded on facts. These tables do not show that any great overcrowding exists, on tho whole, although for certain individual families and groups the averages are somewhat larger. It also appears that tho average number of living roonig is much larger than has been thought to be the case. An average of 2.22 persons to a sleeping room in Atlanta, 2.14 porsons in Nashville, and 1.96 persons in Cambridge, and 2.05 persons in all the other cities covered by the investigation, is an unexpocted and important showing, and roverses the idea that the number of families having but one room each for all purposes was very large and was the rule instead of the exception. Out of a total of 1,137 families investigated only 117, or 10.23 per cent, had but one room each for their use for all purposes.
Table 7, giving number of families and means of support, shows a large proportion of females who either support families unaided or who contribute to the support of families.
Of the male heads only 26.7 per cent were able to support their families withont assistance froin oth ur inembers. Of the 1,137 families 650, or 57.17 per cent, were supported wholly or in part by female heads.
In comparison with whito female heads of families and those contributing to family support there is quite a large excess on the part of colored women.
This table calls attention to the enforced absence of mothers from their homes and the daily abandonment, by these mothers who are compelled to aid in earning the family support, of their young children to the evil associations, the temptations, and vicious liberty of the alleys, courts, and slums.
To attempt to prove from the showing of this table that negro men are unwilling to support their families and that they are lazy and shiftless would be unfair. Careful inquiry by a number of the investigators indicatos very strongly that tho comparatively small support given by these men to their families is not due to unwillingness, but to their inability to get work as readily and constantly as the women. At the South white men refuse to work at the bench, in tho mill, and at other employments with colored men, who for this reason are denied work, and therefore unable to earn means with which to support their families.
This fact was found to exist in the city of Cambridge, where a large per cent of the men in the hundred families investigated, ir reply to an inquiry, said that they had been refused work because they were colored, and a number of them said that they were unable to follow their trades, but had to "job around" with unsteady employment for the same reason.
1 By Mr. Butler R. Wilson (1881), Boston, Mass.
The women in these families find steady employment as domestic servants and laundresses, and at the South find but little competition from white women.
The investigation gives a great many data on this industrial side of the question, whicli want of spaco will not now allow us to consider.
Tables 8 and 9, giving the number and per cent of persons sick during tho year and the number and per cent of deaths during the past fivo years by causes, show that the diseases most fatal to the colored people are consumption and pneumonia. While the average length of tiine of sickness from it is short, malarial fover is shown to be one of the most prevalent diseases. Rhenmatism is also shown to be quite prevalent. Both of theso diseases, as well as typhoid fever and pneumonia, may to a great extent be kept in abeyance by the observance of hygienic rules and a proper care of the health.
In the 100 Cambridge families it was found that many of the men work in the water department, and after the day's work eat the evening meal without changing their damp clothing, often going to sleep in their chairs for an hour or more and then going to a lodge or “society meeting,” remaining not infrequently until 11 and 12 o'clock.
These tables also show that the difference between the death rate of the white and colored people from diarrhea, diphtheria, scarlet fever, malarial fever, and typhoid fever, all diseases chiefly atrected by environment, is very slight.
Table 10, giving sickness by sanitary condition of honses, shows that while saniary conditions have a very important boaring, they are not important onongh to account for the difference of per cent in the death rate between tho white and colored people.
Great caution must be observed in making lednctions from this table. While it is intended to show the bearing of sanitary conditions on the health of the conmunity, the results obtained are not conclusive. It would be erroneous, for instance, to attribute to bod sanitary conditions the increased amount of sickness in families, and leave out of consideration such factors as irregular habits, indifference to healthy living quarters, and the intimate relation between poverty and ill health.
By reference to the table it will be seen that the number of persons sick in Atlanta was 163 out of a total of 577, or 28.25 per cent, where the light and air were good; and that out of 367 persons living where the light and air were bad, 120, or 32.70 per cent, were sick, a difference of only 15 per cent between houses with good and bail conditions as to light and air.
One hundred and twenty-eight persons living in lionses with good light and air lost 5,819 days by sickness, or an average of 15.46 days each; while 102, or 26 persons less, lost, under bad conditions of light and air, only 4,361 days, or an average of 42.75 days each, a difference of 6 per cent, the averago days of sickness being more in houses with good light and air than in those where the light and air were bad.
This table further shows that out of 537 persons living in Atlanta in houses with good ventilation 153, or 28.19 per cent, wero sick during the year, losing, for the 124 reporting, 5,927 days, or an average of 47.80 days each; while out of 427 persons living in houses with bad ventilation 151, or 36 per cent, were sick during the year, 133 of whom lost 6,050 days, or an average of 45.49 days each, a difference of only 26 per cent between the per cent of persons sick where vontilation was good and whero it was bad, the average number of days again being greater for thoso under good conditions than for those under bad.
Table 15, giving general description of houses, shows that a large proportion of the houses occupied by tho 1,137 families were wooden structures, detached and located in neighborhoods of fair character. Of the 1,031 louses but 43 had bath"rooms, and 183 had water-closets, 95 of which were in the Cambridge houses. In Atlanta and Cambridge the houses with bad outside sanitary conditions predominated. In all the other cities the houses with good outside sanitary conditions predominated, the latter being greatly in excess for the entire territory covered.
This paper may be summarized as follows:
First. All the data in the investigation have been gathered by intelligent colored men and women living in the communities covered. These investigators voro not hindered by obstacles which make it difficult for a white man to get accurate information of the family lifo, habits, and character of the colored people. These colored investigators can not be charged with prejudice and designs against tho interests of the colored people. For these reasons their work is thought to be more than usually accurate and reliable.
Second. Overcrowding in tenements and houses occupied by colored people does not exist to any great extent, and is less than was supposed.
Third. In comparison with white women, an excess of colored women support their families entirely, or contribute to the family support, by occupations which take them much of their time from home, to the neglect of their children.
Fourth. Environment and the sauitary condition of houses are not chiefly responsible for the excessive mortality among colored people.
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. 1,157 latinos, or SE
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Fifth. Ignorance and disregard of the laws of health are responsible for a large proportion of this excessive mortality.
SOCIAL AND PHYSICAL PROGRESS.
The study of vital statistics is one of the most important subjects that can engage the attention. The death rate, taken in connection with the birth rate, determines the natural increase or decrease of population, the growth or decline of a people, and the strength of nations. Dr. William Farr, late registrar-general of births, deaths, and marriages in England, states the whole matter in the following language: “There is a relation betwixt death, health, and energy of body and mind. There is a relation betwixt death, birth, and marriage. There is a relation betwixt death and national primacy; numbers turn the tide in the struggle of population, and the most inortal die out. There is a relation betwixt the forms of death and moral excellence or infamy."
It has been known for a number of years to health officers and students of vital statistics that the death rate of the colored people was larger than that of the white people; that the colored people were dying in larger numbers in proportion to the colored population than the white people were in proportion to the white population. of late years these facts have become known to most intelligent persons, and great interest attaches to the degree of the excess of the colored death rate and to the causes of it.
This paper will deal with the vital statistics of the cities of Atlanta, Ga.; Baltimore, Md.; Charleston, S. C.; Memphis, Tenn., and Richmond, Va. Each of these cities contains a large colored population, surrounded by social, economic, and moral conditions such as exist in other cities where colored people are congregated in considerable numbers, if Philadelphia is excepted. The cities selected are therefore thoroughly representative for the purpose in hand, and the conditions found to prevail in them may be fairly presumed to prevail in the other cities having a large population of colored people.
The average annual death rate per 1,000 of the living population in these five cities for the fifteen years from 1881 to 1895 was 20.74 for the whites and 36.13 for the colored, showing a percentage of excess for the colored of 73.8.
The average annual death rate per 1,000 by race for each of the five cities under consideration for the past fourteen or fifteen years is as follows:
An inspection of the table just given shows that the highest death rate among the colored is in Charleston (which is also true as to the whites) and that the lowest death rate among the colored is in Memphis, the lowest among the whites being in Atlanta. Comparing the white and colored death ratos, it is to be seen that the greatest excess of colored over white is in Charleston, where it reaches 90 per cent, the excess in Atlanta being 87.6 per cent and that in Richmond 83.4 per cent. The least oxcess is found in Memphis, which is 51.3 per cent, Baltimore having 58.1 per cent. These figures seem to justify the conclusion that the worst physical conditions among the colored people are to be found in Charleston, Atlanta, and Richmond and the best in Memphis and Baltimore.
Having found the average death rates of the two races in these five cities for the past fourteen or fifteen years, and having compared them with each other and drawn a conclusion as to the relativo physical conditions of the colored populations in the cities under consideration, it will conduce to a better understanding and a fuller knowledge of these conditions to divide the fourteen or fifteen years which this investigation covers into three periods as nearly equal as possible. By pursuing this method we shall be able, in a measure, to decide whether the physical condition of the colored people is better or worse in 1894 or 189.5 than in 1880 or 1881.
By Mr. L. M. Hershaw (1886). Washington, D. C.
The tabular statement contains, in addition to tho average annual death rate, the períentage of the excess of the colored death rate. Lest the percentages of excess misled somebody, it is necessary to explain that. in comparing the tlıree periods they merely show whether or not the colored death rate has decreased as rapidly as the white death rate, and not the actual increase or decrease of the colored death rate. To illustrato: Comparing the second and third periods in Richmond, it is to be seen that the percentage of exress for the second period is 81.7 per cent and for the third period 89 5 per cent. Without looking at the matter carefully the conclusion is likely to be drawn that the coloreil death rate is greater for the third period than for the second, when, as a matter of fact, it is less, the rates being 38.83' for the second and 31.91 for the third.
An inspection of the above table shows that there has been a constant decrease in the colored death rate from period to period in Atlanta, Memphis, and Richmoud.
In Atlanta the colore i death rate for the first period is 37.96, for the second 33.41, and for the third 32.76; in Memphis 43.01 for tlie tirst period, 29.35 for the second, and 21.11 for the third and in Richmond 40.34 for the first period, 38.83 for the second, and 31.91 for the third. While Baltimore and Charleston do not show the constant decrease from period to period noted in the other cities, they do show a lower death rate for the thirii period than for the first, the death rates in Baltimore being 36.15 for the first period, 30.53 for the second, and 31.47 for the third, and those in Charleston 44.08 for the first period, 46.74 for the second, and 41.43 for the third. Memphis shows the greatest improvement, the average death rate at the end of the third period bring 50.9 per cent lower than at the end of the first, and Charleston shows the least improvement-6 per cent. In Atlanta the improvement is 13.9 per cent, in Richmond 13.4 per cent, and in Baltimore 12.9 per cent.
Or the tive cities with which this paper deals but two have a registration of births-Baltimore and Charleston. Richmond had such a registration, but it was discontinned some years ago. The registrations of Baltimore and Charleston are admittedly incomplete. No view of the vital statistics of a community is complete without a knowledge of its birth rato. The birth rate is closely related to the death rate. The natural increase of population depends upon the excess of the birth rate over the death rate. It would be highly interesting to know what the birth rate of the colored population in the five cities under consideration is. Is it as great as the death rate? Is it greater than the death rate? These questions can not be answered satisfactorily because the health reports do not supply the information. The United States census of 1890 gives the colored birtli rate of the United States as 29.07 per 1,000, but owing to the incompleteness of the records of births by the municipal and State authorities, these figures are not reliable and are probably much too small. Four Enropean countries have birth rates which exceed the colored leath rate in the cities that we have under consideration. In view of the well-known fecundity of the negro race, it is fair to inter that his birth rate is certainly as high as that of the Italian, the German, the Austrian, or the Hungarian. If this is so, then the death rate in these cities has not reached the point where population begins to decrease. It is well-nigh useless to pursue this brauch of the subject further, because of the lack of data.
Having established the fact that the average colored death rate for the past fourteen or fifteen years in the five cities is 73.8 per cent in excess of the whito death rate in the same cities for the same period, and having shown, by dividing these years into three equal periods and comparing the rates of previons with succeeding periods, that the colored death rate shows an improvement over fifteen years ago, it remains to set forth the causes of this excessive mortality.
The principal causes of the excessive mortality of the colored people are the same in all the cities, therefore it will serve our purpose to know the average death rate of the three cities, Charleston, Memphis, and Richmond, combined, for a period of
1 The death rate is generally expressed in terms of 1,000. The phrase "rate of 38.83” means that there were thirty-eight and righty-three one-hundredths deatlis per 1,000 of population. For brority, the words per thousand are omitted.
fifteen years for certain classes of diseases, and to give in full the same facts concerning Atlanta. The table which follows shows for Charleston, Memphis, and Richmond, combined, the average death rate per 10,000 by specified causes for a period of tifteen years, from 1881 to 1895 :
It is to be seen from the table above that for all classes of diseases the colored death rate exceeds the white. Tho greatest excess is found under scrofula and syphilis, where it is 482.7 per cent in excess of the white death rate. The next greatest excess is dno to infantile diseases-cholera infantum, convulsions, and still. born-the excess being 165.1 per cent. The third greatest excess is due to pulmonary discases, and is seen to be 130.4 per cent. We seo also that the least disparity between the white and the colored death rate is found under the group of diseases most affected by en vironment, including typhoid and malarial fevers and diphtheria, where the excess is only 30 per cent. As to syphilis and scrofula, it is to be observed that the number of deaths is small. The white doath rate during fifteen years in Charleston, Memphis, and Richmond has been less than 1 per 10,000 of the popalation, while tho colored was somewhat less than 5. Tho per cent of the excess of the colored over the white is, however, startling, and furnishes much food for reflection as to the morals of the colored people.
The two principal causes of the excessive mortality of the colored people are pulmonary diseases---consumption and pneumonia-and infant mortality. The excessive prevalence of consumption and pneumonia among colored people is brought out very plainly in the foregoing table, where the excess in these cities is shown to be 130.4 per cent.
The following table, containing the total average annual number of deaths and the average annual number of deaths of children under 5 years of age, with distinction of race, will servo to show the extent of the infant mortality among colored people:
There is an enormous waste of child life among both races, not only in the cities under consideration, but in all cities. But from the data at hand the conclusion is justified that the mortality among colored children is not alarmingly in excess of the mortality among white children, unless it be for children under 2 years of age. The figures which we have presented on this subject show that the mortality among children of both races has decreased constantly since 1881 in Atlanta, Charleston, and Memphis.