Poverty in the United States
An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, and Policy
by Gwendolyn Mink & Alice O'Connor, Editors
November 2004, 895pp, 7x10
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-57607-597-5
$191, £142, 160€, A273
eBook Available: 978-1-57607-608-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” are in fact written on the Statue of Liberty. The problem is, however, the United States may not know what to do with them. Since the founding of the country, poverty has been a driving force behind political and social movements and has played a key role in the development of the nation. Now there is one comprehensive reference for exploring the history of poverty, and following the progression of its impact on American society.

The first interdisciplinary reference to cover the socioeconomic and political history, the movements, and the changing face of poverty in the United States.

Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, and Policy follows the history of poverty in the United States with an emphasis on the 20th century, and examines the evolvement of public policy and the impact of critical movements in social welfare such as the New Deal, the War on Poverty, and, more recently, the “end of welfare as we know it.” Encompassing the contributions of hundreds of experts, including historians, sociologists, and political scientists, this resource provides a much broader level of information than previous, highly selective works.

With approximately 300 alphabetically-organized topics, it covers topics and issues ranging from affirmative action to the Bracero Program, the Great Depression, and living wage campaigns to domestic abuse and unemployment. Other entries describe and analyze the definitions and explanations of poverty, the relationship of the welfare state to poverty, and the political responses by the poor, middle-class professionals, and the policy elite.


  • 300 A–Z entries on topics related to poverty and social welfare, including the political discovery of poverty, antipoverty policies, and debates about legislation
  • Includes five introductory chronological essays covering U.S. poverty since the colonial era, giving a historical foundation to the entries in the book
  • Contributions from over 200 distinguished scholars and experts
  • Numerous illustrations and primary source documents dispersed throughout the work
Gwendolyn Mink is the author of Welfare's End and The Wages of Motherhood: Inequality in the Welfare State, which won the Victoria Schuck Book Award from the American Political Science Association.

Alice O'Connor is associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA. Her published works include Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History and she is coeditor of Urban Inequality: Evidence from Four Cities.


"This encyclopedia is a good entry point to more in-depth study and as such is recommended for academic and large public libraries."—Booklist, March 15, 2005

"The information compiled in this encyclopedia will fill a gap and assist researchers of all ages."—American Reference Books Annual, March 1, 2005

"Highly recommended. College and public libraries; personal libraries of serious students of poverty."—Choice, June 1, 2005
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.