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Poster announcing formation of educational study groups for workers at the Henry Street Settlement [View Image]
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Poster announcing formation of educational study groups for workers at the Henry Street Settlement
Photo: Library of Congress
Digital ID cph 3b48851

Settlement Houses


In many ways, Settlement Houses were the “seedbed of social reform” in the first part of the 20th Century.  Residents and volunteers of early settlement houses helped create and foster new organizations and social welfare programs, some of which continue to the present time. Settlements were action oriented and new programs and services were added as neighborhood needs were discovered; settlement workers tried to find, not be, the solution for social and environmental deficits affecting their neighbors.




  • Addams, Jane"Jane Addams (1860 – 1935) – Founder of Hull-House, Social Reformer, Women’s Advocate and Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize," by John E. Hansan, Ph.D.
  • Americanization - selected publications
  • Baden St. Settlement Constitution 1901"The objects of this Association are: To provide a centre for higher civic and social life in the city of Rochester and to institute and maintain therein educational and philanthropic enterprises."
  • Baden Street Settlement 1901-1951A History of Baden St. Settlement in Rochester, New York: 1901-1951. The document describes the origin, the programs established and the how the settlement house responded to the needs of the area residents even as the racial and economic composition of the neighborhood changed.
  • Baltimore Settlements: Lawrence House and Warner HouseThese entries about Lawrence House and Warner House are taken from the "Handbook of Settlements," a national survey of settlements published in 1911 by The Russell Sage Foundation of New York. This collection of detailed information about settlements throughout the nation and operating circa 1910 was collected, organized and written by two settlement pioneers: Robert Archey Woods and Albert J. Kennedy.
  • Barrett, Janie Porter (1865 - 1948)Janie Porter Barrett (1865 -1948): Founder of the Locust Street Social Settlement (1890) and the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls (1915)
  • Chicago CommonsChicago Commons was established in the fall of 1894 and modeled on Hull House.
  • Chicago’s Early Settlement Houses Heritage"The Heritage from Chicago’s Early Settlement Houses: 1967," by Louis C. Wade. "The contrast between progress and poverty in American life was obvious in the 1880s and glaring by the 1890s. Violent confrontations like the Haymarket riot and the Homestead and Pullman strikes served to illuminate the dangerous chasm, which separated the very rich from the very poor."
  • Christodora Settlement HouseWritten by Dr. June Hopkins, this article presents a well-documented history of an early settlement house serving immigrant families living in the crowded slums of the Lower East Side of New York City. It is an especially important part of American social we
  • Christodora Settlement House, 1897-1939Written by June Hopkins, Ph. D., History Department, Armstrong Atlantic State University. "Almost one hundred years ago, when Christina Isobel MacColl and her friend Sarah Carson founded Christodora Settlement House in the slums of New York City's Lower East Side...these two indomitable women, inspired by such social activists as Jane Addams and Lillian Wald, intended to settle in the slums and form bonds of "love and loyalty" with their immigrant neighbors while helping them adjust to the mean streets and squalid tenements of urban America."
  • Church of All Nations, New York City"A Long History of Community Service at the Church of All Nations," by Cristina Vignone. "...the Church of All Nations 'was always a community-oriented building…[cutting] across ethnic boundaries.'"
  • East Side House, New York CityEast Side House, founded in 1891, has served the Mott Haven section of the Bronx since 1963
  • Educational Alliance"Educational Alliance: A History of a Lower East Side Settlement House," by EJ Sampson. "The Educational Alliance...balanced the growing professionalization of settlement house work by becoming community-based, and kept its emphasis on encouraging public civic culture even as in other ways it aligned with a social service “agency” model. And it kept it eyes on its Jewish origins not only in its neighborhood work, but in negotiating its internal ethos. "
  • Father's Voice: 1935The Father’s Voice, was the first newspaper produced by the Father’s Club of Madison House Settlement, March 31, 1935.
  • Greenwich House, New York City"A settlement aims to get things done for a given neighborhood. It proposes to be the guardian of that neighborhood’s interests, and through identification of the interests of the settlement group with local interests, it forms a steadying and permanent element in a community which is more or less wavering and influx."
  • Hamilton Madison HouseMadison House was founded by two young German Jews in 1898 to fight some of the serious problems of the day. Hamilton House was established in 1902 to help the new Italian immigrants who were suffering from Tuberculosis
  • Hamilton-Madison House: Reaching the Hard Core of Poverty This entry was copied from the original document. It is both a history of settlement work on the Lower East Side of New York City and an excellent example of community organization in a racially diverse neighborhood. This proposal was written in the first year that Community Action grants were being awarded as part of the War on Poverty.
  • Hartley House SettlementAccording to the Association, Hartley House was to be a small “homemaking” school, where poor girls could be taught to make and keep a home neat, tidy, and attractive, not for their own good merely, but for the good also of their families and husbands, brothers, and friends."
  • Henry Street Settlement (1910)This description of Henry Street Settlement in 1910-1911 is largely copied from the "Handbook of Settlements" written by two settlement house pioneers: Robert Archey Woods and Albert J. Kennedy. The handbook included the findings of a national survey of all the known settlements in existence in 1910 and was published by The Russell Sage Foundation of New York in 1911.
  • Henry Street Settlement Pioneers: Lillian Wald and Helen HallFor its first 74 years Henry Street had but two directors, one served 40 years, the other 34. Our current executive director, Bertram M. Beck, follows the tradition of Lillian Wald and Helen Hall by living in the House at 265 Henry Street.
  • Henry Street Settlement: Certificate of IncorporationThe 1903 official document authorizing the name of the proposed corporation: Henry Street Settlement
  • Henry Street Settlement: Fortieth Anniversary ProgramHistory reveals that humane progress is made and nobility of life created by the march of men and women who have had faith in an ideal of a more complete, more wholesome life, who have been courageous in expressing their beliefs and have consecrated their lives to engendering the realization of their vision.
  • Heritage from Chicago’s Early Settlement Houses (1967)Article by Louise C. Wade. "Close cooperation with neighborhood people, scientific studies of the causes of poverty and dependence, communication of the facts to the public, and persistent pressure for reforms that would “socialize democracy”—these were the objectives of the most vigorous American settlements. According to one worker, the three R’s of the movement were residence, research, and reform."
  • How A Settlement House Functions"An Insider’s View of How a Settlement House Serves Its Neighborhood," comments by Ruth Tefferteller, Program Director, Henry Street Settlement House, New York City
  • Hudson GuildWritten by John E. Hansan, Ph.D. "The Hudson Guild is a community-based social services organization rooted in and primarily focused on the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City."
  • Hull HouseJane Addams and her friend Ellen Gates Starr founded Hull House in 1889 on the South side of Chicago, Illinois after being inspired by visiting Toynbee Hall in London.
  • Hull House - circ. 1910"Hull-House endeavors to make social intercourse express the growing sense of the economic unity of society and may be described as an effort to add the social function to democracy."
  • Hull House as a Sociological Laboratory (1894)The following is "Instruction in Sociology in Institutions of Learning," a presentation by the chairman of the committee, Mr. Daniel Fulcomer, of the University of Chicago. Miss Julia C. Lathrop had been invited to speak of Hull House as a sociological laboratory.
  • Jane Addams on the Subtle Problems of Charity (1899)"The Subtle Problems of Charity," an article written by Jane Addams, Founder of Hull House in Chicago, The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 83, Issue 496, February 1899
  • Lawrence House BookletLawrence House: A 1905 Booklet Depicting Activities of a Settlement House in Baltimore, MD.
  • Lenox Hill Neighborhood HouseLenox Hill Neighborhood House was founded in 1894 by the Alumnae Association of Normal College (now known as Hunter College of the City University of New York) as a free kindergarten for the children of indigent immigrants. Since then, we have remained at the forefront of community advocacy and social and educational change.
  • Locust Street Settlement HouseModeled after Jane Addams‘ Hull-House, Locust Street Settlement House opened in 1890 in Hampton, VA.
  • Madison House and the Great DepressionThis retrospective view of Madison House highlights the contributions of Felix Adler and the Ethical Culture Society. Madison House was funded by the Ethical Culture Society but was governed democratically by club members and staff who planned activities and programs for all ages. By Jeanne Talpers, Daughter of Philip Schiff, Headworker of Madison House 1934-1939
  • Madison House in 1938"A Day in the Life of Madison House – 1938." This entry about Madison House was contributed by Jeanne Talpers, daughter of Philip Schiff who attended Madison House as a youngster from the age of 10 and grew up to become the Headworker in 1934.
  • Madison House Speaks in 1916In 1916, using personification, a very different type of progress report was prepared to describe the growth and changes experienced by Madison House over its first 18 years. Titled "The Old House Speaks" thats document is displayed here.
  • Madison House: Tops In Every RespectThis Is a Retrospective View About the Origins and History of a Settlement House on the Lower East Side of New York City written by Jeanne Talpers, Daughter of Philip Schiff, a Social Work Pioneer, Who Attended Madison House as a Youngster and Grew Up to Become the Headworker in 1934.
  • Mary McDowell Settlement (1961)Service Report. "The purpose for which the corporation is formed is to provide a center for educational and philanthropic work and social services; to engage in and pursue such activities at such places and in such manner as may be necessary and desirable, not including the care of neglected and dependent children.”
  • More Than Sixty Years With Social Group WorkA personal and professional history written by Catherine P. Papell, Professor Emerita, Adelphi University School of Social Work. "Personal history is not Truth with a capital T. It is the way the past was experienced and the way the teller sees it. "
  • National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood CentersWritten by John E. Hansan, Ph.D. "The NFS was a social welfare organization devoted to the promotion and improvement of the settlement movement throughout the United States."
  • Neighborhood House, Richmond VA
  • Nurses In "Settlement" Work (1895)Presentation by Lillian D. Wald at the Twenty-Second Annual Session of the National Conference Of Charities And Correction, 1895. "The actual nursing in the tenements, the lending of sick-room utensils and bedding, and the making of delicacies and carrying of flowers have not been different from the usual methods of district nursing."
  • Nurses Settlement, Richmond, VA - Handbook of Settlements (1911)
  • Organization of Municipal Charities and Corrections (1916)Paper presented by L. A. Halbert, General Superintendent, Board of Public Welfare of Kansas City, Missouri at the National Conference Of Charities And Correction Held In Indianapolis, 1916. "If we were able to ascertain the activities of all incorporated towns and cities, it would show a tremendous volume of activity and an expenditure of many millions of dollars."
  • Origins of the Settlement House MovementExcerpt from "Legacy of Light: University Settlement’s First Century" by Jeffrey Scheuer. "The initial idea was simply to bring the working classes into contact with other classes...and thus to share the culture of university life with those who needed it most. An accompanying theme was that of nurturing the whole person..."
  • Position of United Neighborhood Houses on Issues"[Settlements] differ greatly in opinion and method; however, they unite in sympathy and common aims. They are working always for progress by orderly process of law and for an America in which all classes shall live and work in concord."
  • Schiff, Philip: An Address 1954Address by Phil Schiff at The Annual Meeting of Alumni and Friends of Madison House, Inc. "When did we come in? Where are we? Where are we going? Where did we come in?"
  • Settlement Houses: An IntroductionWritten by John E. Hansan, Ph.D. " The establishment and expansion of social settlements and neighborhood houses in the United States corresponded closely with the Progressive Era, the struggle for woman suffrage, the absorption of millions of new immigrants into American society and the development of professional social work."
  • Settlement Houses: How It All BeganThe following is based on research by Albert J. Kennedy, summarizing the specific ways in which settlements enriched or improved neighborhood life during the first sixty years.
  • Settlement Houses: The View Of The Catholic ChurchNeighborhood and Community: The View Of The Church by Rev. William F. O'Ryan, St. Leo's Church, Denver, Colorado--a presentation at the 52nd Meeting of the National Conference on Social Welfare, Denver, Colorado, June 10-17, 1925
  • Settlement Movement: 1886-1986This booklet was published for the 1986 Centennial of the U.S. Settlement Movement by United Neighborhood Centers of America (UNCA). In addition to being a history of the settlement movement over a period of one hundred years, it includes valuable references and sources of additional information about settlements. The author, Margaret E. Berry, was a former director of the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers, the predecessor of UNCA
  • Settlement Workers of Washington, DC and Baltimore, MDThis original list of settlement houses serving neighborhoods in Baltimore was probably published sometime between 1912 -1915. It briefly describes the many ways early settlement house residents and volunteers provided facilities and resources in order to assist recent immigrants and very poor families to play, socialize, learn a variety of skills, save money, organize and take steps to improve their lives and the communities in which they lived. The document was contributed by Harris Chaiklin, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
  • Settlements and Neighborhood Centers"The settlements and Neighborhood Centers are multifunctional agencies, which exist to serve the social needs of persons in given geographical neighborhoods—the neighborhood is their “client.” It provides: (1) Informal Educational and Recreational Services, (2) Neighborhood Services, and (3) Personal Services."
  • Seventeenth Street Mission, Richmond VA
  • South End House, Boston, MAWritten by John E. Hansan, Ph.D. “The house is designed to stand for the single idea of resident study and work in the neighborhood where it may be located. . . . The whole aim and motive is religious, but the method is educational rather than evangelistic. A second, though hardly secondary, object….will be to create a center, for those within reach, of social study, discussion, and organization.”
  • The Place Of Mental Health Clinics In Settlements And Neighborhood Houses"The settlement psychiatric clinic is significantly different from that in any other setting. It not only offers a more broadly based service in prevention and treatment, but it is the one place where the clinic has the opportunity to work with the total individual in his total situation – a basic treatment principle."
  • Theological Foundations of Charity: Catholic Social Teaching, The Social Gospel, and Tikkun OlamA look at theological principles that have motivated Catholics, Protestants, and Jews to charitable acts.
  • Third Street Music School SettlementFounded in 1894, Third Street has helped to establish community arts education in the United States. The School traces its roots to the late 19th century settlement house movement. It was the unique inspiration of Third Street founder Emilie Wagner to make high quality music instruction the centerpiece of a community settlement house that would also provide social services to the immigrant population of the Lower East Side.
  • Toynbee Hall"The Beginning of Toynbee Hall," by Canon and Mrs. S. A. Barnett (1909). "We began our work very quietly and simply: opened the church, restarted the schools, established relief committees, organised parish machinery, and tried to cauterise, if not to cure, the deep cancer of dependence which was embedded in all our parishioners alike, lowering the best among them and degrading the worst."
  • Union Settlement, New York City"Since 1895, Union Settlement has served the people of East Harlem. We believe the key to our endurance lies in our adaptability. East Harlem has long been a portal community whose population shifts with each new trend in immigration..."
  • United Neighborhood Houses Of New York, Inc.,: 1900 - 1950"Organized December 11, 1900, to 'effect co-operation among those who are working for neighborhood and civic improvement, and to promote movements for social progress.'"
  • United Neighborhood Houses, Fiftieth Anniversary - 1951Address by Mr. Mark A. McCloskey, 1951. "Above all, the settlements are called upon to continue to be free, to list where they will, to be different in emphasis, varied in interest and program as well as personal leadership, but called to unity and joint action in support of our common humanity. Time will not tame the settlements in the next fifty years."
  • University House of PhiladelphiaWritten by John E. Hansan, Ph.D. "Members of the University of Pennsylvania’s Christian Association (CA) founded University Settlement House in promote 'spiritual welfare of the students of the University of Pennsylvania by encouraging Christian fellowship and cooperation.' The organization linked its mission for Christian advancement with such social services as operating settlement houses for the poor and providing summer camps for kids from less fortunate families in the vicinity of the University campus.
  • University of Chicago SettlementThe University of Chicago Settlement was established in the packing-house area in the fall of 1894 by a group of faculty members of the University of Chicago. In what is known as the “Back of the Yards” area, the heterogeneous foreign-born population had a peculiar quality that appealed to the new University: This was a place where peoples of different backgrounds might work together.
  • University of Chicago Settlement ProjectThis report was written by a "resident" of the Chicago Settlement in 1925 or 1926, thirty years after the founding of the organization. It includes observations of Mary McDowell, the original Head Worker, and compares her work and vision with the then current programs. The author also gives his and perspective of the other residents, paid staff, and volunteers who lived and worked in the agency.
  • University of Chicago Settlement: 1896Written by George C. Sikes, University Record, 1896. This document provides a detailed description of the neighborhood in which the University of Chicago located just two years after it was founded. It includes details about employment in the packing house industry, the nationality of the residents and the early programs offered to the neighborhood residents by the staff and residents of the agency.
  • University Settlement - 1911This description of the University Settlement in 1910-1911 is from the Handbook of Settlements and was written by two settlement house pioneers: Robert Archey Woods and Albert J. Kennedy. The book included the findings of a national survey of all the known settlements in existence in 1910.
  • University Settlement of New York CityDuring the year 1886, in the heart of the Lower East Side, upwards of 3,000 people lived in a single square block. The tenement buildings of the area normally had four apartments on each floor; a typical apartment would consist of one small room that was well-lighted and ventilated, and several others that were wholly dark, and might house a family of five or more, and perhaps a boarder.
  • Visiting Nurse Service Administered by the Henry Street Settlement (1936)"What the skill and care of these devoted nurses has meant to thousands of the needy sick, of all ages, during these dark times, no statistics can reflect. Home nursing, such as ours, includes health education to the family as well as care to the patient. The charts and facts presented in this report enable those previously unfamiliar with our work to understand in some small measure the significance of the Service."
  • What The Settlement Work Stands For (1896)Presentation given by Julia C. Lathrop, Hull House, Chicago at the Twenty-Third Annual Session of the National Conference of Charities And Correction, 1896. "...the settlement may be regarded as a humble but sincere effort toward a realization of that ideal of social democracy in whose image this country was founded, but adapted and translated into the life of to-day."
  • Women, Settlements and PovertyWritten by Jerry D. Marx, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire, Department of Social Work. This article uses primary source documents from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s to discuss women’s roles in the reconceptualization of poverty in America. It studies the belief drawn from colonial religion that poverty was a result of personal immorality and traces the changing public perception through the turn of the 20th century.
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