Talk:How the Other Half Lives

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The deserving poor[edit]

This quote seems questionable to me, but it's not a recent vandalism, and I don't have a copy of the book to check it. Riis also implicitly divided the poor into two categories: undeserving and deserving. Women and small children often fit into the first category, and unemployed and criminally inclined men in the second

Surely the classification should be reversed?

If you've got a copy of the book nearby and are reading this note, perhaps you could take a look.

Catafalque —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:18, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

I don't have a copy of the book handy, but it's a common concept from the period -- enough that a page on the topic ought to be created, particularly since it was an important one.
The 'deserving' poor are those whom, according to them, could not be thought at fault for their own poverty. The 'undeserving' poor are those whose own behaviours are considered to be the reason for their poverty. They are deserving of aid, not of poverty.
This is actually a reasonable argument to make, though perhaps not in the same way they did. 'Deserving' can, in the social context of the time, also be defined as 'those who might be materially helped' -- those whom the social workers believed capable of, with help, leaving poverty.
Meanwhile, those who were 'undeserving' all were those who, for various reasons, were believed to have gotten themselves into the pit they were in by their own poor choices.
This distinction might be very well used now. The old saying about giving a man a fish feeding him for a day is quite true, but so is the corollary: if he expects that daily fish from you, he's not likely to want to learn to catch his own fish. (talk) 00:17, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

My little search in the online Wikisource does not find this opinion. The nearest thing to it is in Chapter 23 which to my eye isn't an exact fit. So, although the article's passage about the deserving and underserving poor may correctly summarize Riis' implicit understanding, the book didn't discuss the matter explicity. Thus, unless there's some other source, I figure it doesn't have a place in this article. Jim.henderson (talk) 20:23, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Bandits' Roost[edit]

Hello, these three pictures have noteworthy differences. Is the third a retouched version i.e. could the woman be inserted? I don't think so. But why the heck I cannot find this photograph? Thanks for sharing your opinions. --Catfisheye (talk) 22:28, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

The first two images are just cropped differently than the third; the woman on the left in the third image is just cropped out of the first two. She's to the left of the two barrels on the ground that are on the bottom left edge of the first two images. Note also that the man on the far right of the first two images is cut in half by the frame in the third image, because in that version the right side is more cropped. As for the black corners, those only appear as corners in the second image because of how it's cropped; the same shadows are visible in the third but stand out less because the (half-tone?) printing method used for that image makes it look darker over all. postdlf (talk) 23:29, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes it is a half-tone print. --Catfisheye (talk) 23:35, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Flash photography[edit]

"The harsh white light from magnesium flash powder often caused a look of shock on the faces of those photographed and was accepted as an indication of candid and objective photography."

This sentence troubles me on several grounds. First, who says the facial expressions in the photographs are an artifact of flash photography? Who accepted their expressions as (presumably) objective evidence of the subjects' misery? There are no sources for these assertions. If you look at the people in the photographs, most in fact have neither "a look of shock" nor a look of misery. They just look like people: many aren't looking at the camera; some are smiling. Winter Maiden (talk) 16:55, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

"Middle class"[edit]

"In the 1890s many people in upper- and middle-class society were unaware of the dangerous conditions in the slums among poor immigrants. Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant who himself could not originally find much work, hoped to expose the squalor of the 19th-century Lower East Side of Manhattan."

As (properly) noted in

"The modern usage of the term "middle class", however, dates to the 1913 UK Registrar-General's report, in which the statistician T.H.C. Stevenson identified the middle class as that falling between the upper class and the working class."

In terms of historical accuracy there was no "middle class" in the 1890's as correct definition was merchant class, or conversely simply "capitalist" or "mercantile-class", and the opening text should reflect as such. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dinosnake (talkcontribs) 22:28, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

The middle class still existed, it just went by a different name. This article is written for the people of today to understand, not people living back then. 2001:48F8:7052:A99:9568:15B3:FEE8:4E12 (talk) 05:55, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

What is the solution proposed in the book?[edit]

The article says Jacob Riis proposed a solution to the problems he wrote about, but never actually says what he proposed. It does say what happened as a result of the book, but did the people that improved tenement housing as a result of the book actually follow Riis's proposal or were they doing their own improvements? Merkava120 (talk) 23:12, 17 July 2015 (UTC)