Richard L.Dugdale was born in Paris in 1841. His parents were English and came from an ancestry of much social distinction. When Dugdale was 7 years old his father suffered pecuniary reverses and returned to England. Despite careful inquiry, there is doubt to what school Dugdale attended, but it is supposed he went to Somerset School for about 3 years. In 1851 the family came to New York City, where Richard attended public school for several years. At the age of 14 he was employed by a sculptor, for whom he did very creditable work. He was very delicate in constitution and when he was 17 the family removed to a farm in Indiana with the hope of improving Richard's strength. Since two years on the farm effected no improvement in his physical condition, the malady being a serious heart trouble, the family returned to New York City. Within a year the father died, leaving a widow, Anna Dugdale, and three children, Agnes, Jane, and Richard. It is assumed the Agnes and Jane were older than Richard, as their names appear in the New York Directory for 1861 as proprietors of a linen shop, while Richard's name does not appear until 1864. They lived in several houses in Greenwich Village until 1871, when they moved into a house now standing at 4 Morton Street, near Bleecker Street. It was in this house that all the members of the family spent the remainder of their lives. Around the corner from 4 Morton Street, at 250 Bleecker Street, the two sisters had their linen shop. After returning to New York Dugdale entered business and in the evenings attended night classes of the Cooper Union, where he distinguished himself in the debating clubs. He became greatly interested in social science and keenly desired to devote himself to the scientific study of social phenomena. He afterwards said of this time:
"At twenty-three, I clearly saw that, even did I possess the most perfect technical training to enable me to analyze the complex questions involved, there was no institution or patron to defray the expenses of a continuous, calm, independent, and unconventional critical study of social phenomena. I, therefore, had to confront this practical question - to earn the costs of an education which no college provided and amass sufficient fortune to purchase the privilege of independent subsequent inquiry. I met the dilemma by entering the career of merchant and manufacturer, because this combined the opportunity for study of a distinct social class of social phenomena and the promise of earning means for future freedom of investigation. After ten years of this double work, I broke down in health, yet I continued business for two years more, until my physicians peremptorily ordered rest, physical and mental; and for four years I could neither earn nor learn."
It is to be regretted that Dugdale, with his sympathetic outlook upon and intelligent insight into social behavior, could not have been aided by such present-day institutions as the Eugenics Record Office, the Carnegie, Russell Sage, and other foundations.
How active and multifarious Mr. Dugdale's interest in social subjects was one can easily infer from an imperfect list of the bodies of which he was a zealous and important member. He was secretary of the Section on Sociology of the New York Association for the Advancement of Science and Arts, of the New York Social Science Society, and of the New York Sociological Club; and vice-president of the Society for the Prevention of Street Accidents. He was later, for a time, secretary of the Civil Service Reform Association, and an active member of the American Free Trade League, of the Chamber of Commerce, and of the American Institute.
He was interested in the condition of the amelioration of the condition of man. In 1868, at the age of 27, he became a member of the executive committee of the Prison Association of New York. The work of this association was two-fold: first, the bettering of the mental and physical condition of prisoners while in prison; secondly, practical help to them after discharge. Dugdale spent much time, energy, and money in this work. He made many visits to the different State prisons and jails of the State. He came into intimate touch and relations with prisoners of all sorts and kinds. He learned their stories and, as Mr. Shepard says, their "case against society, as well as the more obvious though perhaps no stronger case of society against them." That Dugdale was an active member of the Executive committee of the Prison Association is shown by the fact that he was present at practically every meeting of the executive committee from 1868 to 1880. He was secretary [begin italics]pro tempore[end italics] many times and his writing in the minutes shows a nervous, quick hand. A facsimile of his writing and signature is shown here:
In July 1874 Dugdale was appointed a committee of one to inspect thirteen of the county jails of the State of New York. The corresponding secretary of the Prison Association, then Dr. Elisha Harris, had made a list of questions for each prisoner, which included items about heredity,