Claim: Humorous list is compiled from genuine comments submitted by welfare applicants.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2000]
Origins: As is typical with such humorous lists of supposedly “real-life” examples, the howlers are written by women, a circumstance which invokes the widely-believed stereotype of illiterate welfare moms and thus makes the compilation appear more believable. Could these have come off real
social assistance applications? Anything is possible, of course, but we can only note that this list has been circulating in various forms for decades, with new entries being added and old ones dropped off while various attributions have been added and subtracted throughout the years. For example, the entry about the woman who hasn’t had any relief since the husband’s project was cut off appeared in a collection of funny letters circulated since the 1930s, in which it was headed: “Dere
Some of the items quoted in the example text above appear in the following list found in a 1954 collection of folklore, entitled “E.R.A. Howlers” and presented as excerpts from letters received by ERA Farmers Rehabilitation Project.
Additionally, all the entries in the Internet version quoted above were printed in an anecdotal history of the United States from
Real life? Maybe. But a more likely conclusion to draw would be that most of these entries are more lore than truth.
Barbara “welfare and not-so-fair” Mikkelson
Last updated: 29 June 2007