About 3,000 (5 percent) of New York City's 60,000 annual deaths require some form of city burial assistance, of which about 1,500 adults and 1,000 or more infant and stillborn children are buried annually on Hart Island, the local potter's field (Corn, 2000; New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2005).
Thus, a social context that, perhaps unintentionally, promotes financial depletion at death increases the challenge facing a social worker seeking out resources to avoid a client's anonymous burial in a local potter's field, the lowest common denominator of indigent burial options funded out of the public purse.
Similarly, in 1893 Lucius Nieman of the Journal granted the request of a delegation of newsboys who showed up in his office, "hands washed and hair combed," to borrow money to save fourteen year-old Freddy Munk, one of twenty-five Journal newsboys, from burial in a potter's field. "And if I lend you the money, how will you pay it back?" Nieman reportedly asked.
This caring is best symbolized by their efforts to save each other from the potter's field. Johnny Morrow was most articulate about what such an ignominious ending represented.