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His 312 - Settlement House Movement

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Daniel Sandello

November 5, 2010

His 312

The Settlement House Movement was an influential advocate of social reform in the late 19th and early 20th century. To better understand the Settlement House Movement, we must take a look and some of its key components. The history of settlement houses provides understanding to the goals of the Settlement House movement. Another component is the causes and effects of Settlement Houses, as well as the reform issues that settlement houses faced. An important factor that also gives more understanding to topic is the influential leaders of this movement, as well as the lives immigrants and African Americans faced.

The settlement house movement in American came into effect due to immigration, large scale industrialization, and problems that would associate with urban slums. Immigration increased rapidly due to the rapid spread of industrialization. The work offered by factories, railroads, and coal mines was very appealing towards immigrants who wanted to start a new life. Many flocked to America with hope for work, education, and a brighter future. Some immigrants worked to send money back to their families in their old countries, or to save up enough money so they can bring their family over to the U.S. American urban cities quickly became over populated with the massive influx of immigrants.

The conditions under which these cities grew to become something of the problem, ironically this inexpensive housing would house thousands of immigrants. In a long list of problems, pollution seemed to be the most obvious in these cities, thus causing very unhealthy living conditions. Pollution problems originated with the poor plumbing system and inefficient waste removal. Many immigrants and blacks lived in Tenement houses. The tenement houses were overpopulated, residents could only use the bath houses every once in a while, and there was no sewers. The living conditions for the immigrants were very inhumane. Sometimes multiple families would live in one room of the tenement house. These tenements had reputations for being very dirty, run downed places filled with rats, and disease. Immigrants faced horrible conditions not only in their homes, but their in their workplaces as well. Many factories lowered the wages and lengthened the work hours for these immigrants. Immigrants were forced to work in inhumane conditions and were taken advantage of to the full extent. The immigrants were faced with poverty from the start, and needed to take action immediately.

During The Progressive Reform, a large rally would be in support because it would advocate aid to the poverty stricken, poor working and living conditions of immigrants. Progressives pushed one reform that particularly came to the aid of the immigrants, 'The Settlement House Movement". The movement would take an approach that "strengthens individual and neighborhood assets, and builds collective capacity to address community problems". Another major force responsible for The Settlement House Movement was the Social Gospel Movement. This religious movement emerged during the mid to late nineteenth century. This movement was very influential during the progressive movement, the groups' influence would play a heavy roll in the issues that would be questioned. The Social Gospel Movement also influenced the creation of settlement houses in America. But where did the settlement house idea come from?

Settlement houses emerged first in London. Toynbee Hall was the first settlement house in London, founded by Samuel and Henrietta Barnett in 1884. The reason concerning the establishment was to deal with the problems of poverty, hazardous sanitary conditions, and unemployment. Barnett believed that wealthy people and students should live in the same harsh conditions of the poor working class, so that they can relate and understand the problems that the working class faced. "The settlements taught adult education and English language classes, provided schooling for immigrants' children, organized job clubs, afterschool recreation, initiation of public health services, and advocated for improved housing for the poor and working classes." These ideas for reformation on poor urban slums would soon reach the United States. The main figures in the settlement house movement in America were greatly influenced by Toynbee Hall. Social reformers such as Stanton Coit and Jane Addams took these ideas and established them in the urban slums of America. The first settlement house in America was established in New York's lower east side. The name of the settlement house was The Neighborhood Guild, founded by Stanton Coit in 1886.

One of the most famous settlement houses was The Hull House in Chicago. The Hull House was founded by Jane Addams in 1889. After her return from a visit to London's Toynbee Hall, Addams was inspired to establish the Hull House. The Hull House was located in Chicago's poorest immigrant section of the city. Addams's Hull House provided many women with the chance to make a difference in the city. Addams goals were to serve the poverty stricken neighborhood, and push for various reforms that would better the conditions for the working class. The Hull House offered various programs such as: education for immigrant children, classes on ethnic culture and art, as well as places to meet, visit, bathe, and see health professionals. Addams had many important reforms that she would later take care of. Addams would go on to heavily advocate health and safety issues, but her main concerns were the environmental issues. Addams strived to improve the poor sanitation system in immigrant neighborhoods. The garbage in these neighborhoods would just pile up on the streets and in the tenements. Addams was appointed head garbage inspector of the neighborhoods, she would prove to make a significant difference with the sanitation problem. Addams and Coit were among the founding fathers of settlement houses in America, and their settlement houses would become the foundation for other settlement houses.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries settlement houses proved to be very influential. Many settlement houses were privately funded, the government did not provide much to the settlement houses. Very few settlement houses received some government funding. Most settlement houses were often residential buildings that had been converted for the settlement house. "The purpose of the settlement house movement in America "sought to overcome the centrifugal forces of urban disintegration to restore order to a society that had lost coherence, to maintain face-to-face friendship in a society increasingly impersonal and anonymous". Settlement house programs

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