These are some of the books I used as I did my research. Most of them are out of print and available only in libraries, but some are available as used books on Amazon.
One of the best books on this subject is Unloving Care: The Nursing Home Tragedy, by Bruce C. Vladeck, (New York: Basic Books, 1980). Vladeck later became Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), the agency that oversees both Medicare and Medicaid, from 1992-1997. (HCFA has since been renamed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS). The book includes a comprehensive history of nursing homes and long term care, and is so well recognized as an important source of information that it is extensively referred to in nearly every book or report on the subject written after 1980. The book is out of print, but you can find it in many libraries, and, last time I checked, you could buy it as a used book on Amazon.
»Find it on Amazon (hard cover)
»Find it on Amazon (paperback)
Some other useful books include:
Tender Loving Greed: How the Incredibly Lucrative Nursing Home 'Industry' Is Exploiting America's Old People and Defrauding Us All. by Mary A. Mendelson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974). This book focuses on for-profit nursing homes, especially the large national chains, up to the early 1970's. This book created quite a stir at the time it was published. It also provides some useful background information about the nursing home industry in general. The book is out of print, but you can find it in many libraries, and, last time I checked, you could buy it as a used book on Amazon.
»Find it on Amazon
Too Old, Too Sick, Too Bad. Frank E. Moss and Val J. Halamandaris. (Germantown, MD: Aspen Systems Corp, 1977). Frank Moss headed up the Senate Committee on Aging for many years, and wrote this book to outline some of the things the committee found as they studied nursing homes and long term care policy in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The book is out of print, but you can find it in many libraries, and, last time I checked, you could buy it as a used book on Amazon.
»Find it on Amazon
The Nursing Home in American Society. Colleen L. Johnson and Leslie A. Grant. (London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985). The book has some good historical information on the evolution of the nursing home industry. The book is out of print, but you can find it in many libraries, and, last time I checked, you could buy it as a used book on Amazon.
»Find it on Amazon
Institute of Medicine. Improving the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes. (National Academy Press, 1986). "Appendix A: History of Federal Nursing Home Regulation", has a history of regulation from the early 1900's to the mid-1980's.
Institute of Medicine. For-Profit Enterprise in Health Care. (National Academy Press, 1986). One chapter, "The Changing Structure of the Nursing Home Industry and the Impact of Ownership on Quality, Cost, and Access", has a lot of history on the nursing home industry in general and the large for-profit nursing home chains up to the mid-1980's.
Medical History of Michigan (Michigan State Medical Society, 1930). A comprehensive look at the evolution of medical care, nursing, institutional care, etc. in Michigan provides a lot of insight into when and why various things happened. It illustrates how both hospitals and homes for the aged emerged from the poorhouse system as solutions for caring largely for the poor, before they began providing care to the population at large. I have provided an excerpt in the appendix describing the History of Hospitals in Michigan, and History of Nursing in Michigan. The book in its entirety is online at:
Medical History of Michigan, Volume I
Medical History of Michigan, Volume II
Henry Seager, Social Insurance: A Program of Social Reform. (1910). This classic book provides a lot of insight into early twentieth century views on old age and public assistance, both in the United States and around the world. It also provides a commentary on a number of relevant issues, like the responsibility of family members for the elderly parents, the responsibility of employers to provide financial assistance to their retired employees, and the role of private insurance and annuities in preparing the elderly to provide for their own needs. I have provided an excerpt of the chapter on Old Age Assistance online. The book in its entirety is available online at http://www.ssa.gov/history/seager.html.
Government Publications and Data
Data from national surveys of nursing and personal care homes is available on the National Center for Healthcare Statistics (NCHS) web site, including the National Nursing Home, Master Facility Inventory, and Resident Places Surveys. Series 12, 13, and 14 Reports and Advance Data Reports show statistics on nursing home characteristics and utilization from 1963 to today.
Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy. Caring for Frail Elderly People: Policies in Evolution. (1996). This report has a pretty complete description of events that shaped public policies about long term care.
Administration on Aging. Historical Evolution of Programs for Older Americans. This is mostly a timeline of events.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS/HCFA History. These pages have information about the history of the program from the creation of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) in 1978 to the present.
Social Security Administration. Social Security Online History Page has dozens of pages of information on the history and origin of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The oral histories provide lots of insights into the intent and debate about the laws, and the administrative problems of getting the programs operating.
Abe Bortz Lecture on the History of Social Security. (Early 1970's) Abe Bortz was the first historian of the Social Security Administration.
Library of Congress American Memory Project. You can browse the collections, or search them using terms like "poorhouse" or "pension" to view narratives, photos, film, and sound related to any subject.
National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. Medicare from the Start to Today.
LBJ Oral Histories, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library. These oral histories provide some insight into political maneuvering that went on at the time that Medicare and Medicaid were enacted. Note especially the histories of Wilbur Mills, Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee, 1958-1974 and Lawrence O'Brien, Special Assistant to the President for Congressional Relations, 1961-1965 as they recall the congressional debates about Medicare and Medicaid.
Texas Department of Human Services, Living Life With Dignity, We Magazine, Spring 1991. A short history of the Social Security Old Age Assistance (OAA) Program in Texas.
Social Security Administration, 2001 SSI Annual Report, includes a history of the Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and its predecessor, the Old Age Assistance program.
National Library of Medicine. History of Medicine.
Peter Corning, History of Medicare (1969), a lengthy but very readable story of all the debate that occurred for many years prior to the passage of the Medicare program.
Charlotte Twight, Medicare's Origin. Cato Journal (Volume 16, Number 3, Winter 1997).
The Poorhouse Story. History of 19th Century American Poorhouses.
Public Broadcasting System (PBS). The Evolution of Nursing Home Care in the United States.
Robert B. Helms. The Origins of Medicare.
Steven Hayward and Erik Peterson.The Medicare Monster, Reason Online.
Odd Fellows Postcards of Old Age Homes. These pages show postcard photos of many of the oldest Odd Fellows Homes for the Aged.
AARP Public Policy Institute. 1999 National Survey of Section 202 Elderly Housing. A paper that describes the outcomes of this program to finance housing for the elderly.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center. The web site of what used to be Sailor's Snug Harbor old age home for retired seamen.
Leora Friedberg, The Effect of Old Age Assistance on Retirement. (NBER Working Paper No. 6548, 1998)
Dora L. Costa, A House of Her Own: Old Age Assistance and the Living Arrangements of Older Nonmarried Women. (NBER Working Paper No. 6217, 1997) Very interesting research that shows that providing financial assistance to older women through welfare or pensions resulted in more of them being able to live on their own instead of as dependents in the homes of others.
APWA Honors a Silver Anniversary of Service, Journal of the American Public Welfare Association, Volume 18, Number 3, 1960. This special issue includes interviews with many of the pioneers of the Social Security Administration.
American History Files, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has articles on family life and health that go back to Colonial times.
Harry Perlstadt, The Development of the Hill-Burton Legislation: Interests, Issues and Compromises, Journal of Health & Social Policy, 1995, 6(3): 77-96. This paper outlines the policy decisions that created the earliest federal regulation of healthcare institutions.
Visiting Nurse Society of New York History, an extensive history of home nursing care in New York City from the late 1800's to today.
Indian River Home Health Care, History of Home Health Care, a history of home health care in the United States from the late 1800's to today.