This is an examination of the American voluntary health organizations, such as the Red Cross, national foundations for polio, heart disease, cancer, mental health and various other associations which operate on smaller scales. Carter recognizes and insists on the importance of the health agencies and asks why they have been singled out and criticized as national annoyances. This leads him into a discussion of the organization of charity, particularly during the nineteenth century, and the origins of the largest agencies: how they go about raising funds, what purposes they serve, what their achievements and problems are, how they recruit their volunteers and administrative staffs, and whether the programs for public health have been financed in a sensible way. In attempting to answer this last question he deals at length with the dispute between the proponents of federation -- united funds, and the individual agencies. He concludes that the claims of the united funds are exaggerated and are based, not on community needs, but solely on the aspects of fund-raising, and that, by contrast the voluntary character of the health associations is in the best interest of American social services. This is a highly detailed book which will probably be of major interest to those individuals directly involved in public welfare.