Over the last twenty years, historians have become increasingly interested in the role of non-state organizations in the development of welfare services. This study is particularly focused on the role of friendly societies and other insurance bodies in the provision of aid for the elderly and the sick. Essays examine the origins and development of welfare both in Europe and America, and concentrate on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They consider the relationship between the commercial sector and the state, and examine some of the ways in which these organizations continue to contribute to welfare provision. The volume will be relevant not just to historians, but also to policy makers involved in healthcare today.