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Urbanization, Americanization and the Settlement House Movement
Social Changes and Social Reform
Topic: Immigration, Urbanization, Americanization and
the Settlement House Movement
Date: January 2004
Bibliography Secondary Sources | Annotated
Bibliography Primary Sources
Websites and Web Resources
and annotated by SALEM in History staff
annotated by SALEM in History staff
Bodnar, John. The
Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban America. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1985.
challenging notion that immigrants were victimized by (and their traditional
ways of life destroyed by) both their transatlantic journey and the
urban, capitalistic, society they found in the United States between
1830 and 1930. Bodnar gives agency to the immigrants he studies. He
argues that immigrants brought both traditions and experiences with
them which helped them adjust to and shape the American society they
encountered, in order to better meet their needs and maintain traditions
that were important. He focuses heavily on the intersection of economic
and social forces both in the immigrants' nations of origin and in
the United States. Capitalism, and its related patterns of social
interaction and organization were not, Bodnar makes clear, unknown
to the protagonists of his work. Note: Bodnar restricts this study
to European immigrants and to the male experience within that group.
Boyer, Paul. Urban
Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820-1920. Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 1978.
about Americans' moral response to the city and resulting strategies
for moral and social control among reformers in a nation shifting
from one of small town ideals and "island communities" (Boyer's
term) to one of urban dwellers. Focus is on those individuals and
groups who feared changes wrought by immigration, urbanization, and
religious and family disruptions and sought to influence human behavior
of city dwellers by way of planned efforts. He identifies a shift
in the goals and methods of these reformers; from a moralistic approach
to social control in the mid 19th century to a more sociologically-
informed approach beginning in the 1890s which was reflective of the
newly recognized connection between the material world of city dwellers
and the social and "moral" problems which plagued them.
In practice, this meant a shift from personal contacts and religiously-tinged
charitable organizations and movements, to progressive era transformations
in city planning, settlement houses, patrolled urban spaces and the
creation of new professional personnel like the social worker. Boyer
makes clear that by the 1890s, "reform" took on a secular,
"professionalized," (a major concept in the work) social
scientific hue instead of a religious or explicitly moral one, but
argues that the goals and concerns of the two groups of reformers
were largely the same.
Carson, Mina. Settlement
Folk: Social Thought and the American Settlement Movement, 1885- 1930.
Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.
A study of the
lives and ideas of the most significant thinkers and actors in the
world of social settlements and settlement houses: Jane Addams, Robert
Woods, Mary Simkhovitch, Lillian Wald and Graham Taylor. These articulate
leaders also operated in reform circles outside of the settlement
house movement. In Carson's analysis settlements houses were sites
of a re-working of Victorian ideals to meet the needs of and impact
industrializing America. Carson is concerned primarily with the settlement
workers, not those they set out to serve and with the changes in their
ideas about their roles, their impact, their goals and their practices
over the period of her study.
Chambers, John Whiteclay.
The Tyranny of Change: America in the Progressive Era, 1890- 1920.
2nd ed. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000.
of a classic text providing a sweeping look at the Progressive Era.
Highlights the role of the state and civic volunteerism as well as
idealistic vision and progressive reform in creating change. Gives
credit also, to both conservative and radical forces in shaping the
look, feel and outcomes of the "progressive" era. Covers
social, economic, cultural and political issues and topics. Looks
closely at workers, immigrants, major reformers, corporate giants
and everyone in between.
Pivotal Decades, 1900-1920. New York: W.W. Norton, 1990.
A solid, accessible
examination of American life in the first two decades of the 20th
century that brings to life the confluence and explosion of changes
and major new considerations on all fronts. Cooper integrates and
explores social, cultural, political and economic factors of the period
deftly, bringing each to bear on the other. He argues that these two
decades represent a "turning point" in American history,
establishing an agenda that still dominates American life at the turn
of the 21st century. He delineates the opposing stands taken by the
two parties on social and economic issues and highlights the period-long
tensions between the ideas of those isolationism and international
Crocker, Ruth Hutchinson.
Social Work and Social Order: The Settlement Movement in Two Industrial
Cities, 1889-1930. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press,
A valuable reassessment
of the American settlement house movement that looks not at the most
well-known houses and reformers but at those people who created worked
in and were changed by a set of "second tier" settlements-in
this case, in both Gary and Indianapolis, Indiana. Her study illustrates
the vast diversity of goals, programs and impact of settlement houses
in the United States that often look very little like the patterns
found in places like Hull House. Outcomes, too, varied from settlement
to settlement and, like policies and programs, were often directly
tied to the mission, specific founders and funders, and population(s)
served. An important book for thinking about or analyzing the activities
of settlement houses in small cities across the nation. Each chapter
focuses on a specific element of the settlement story: funding, race,
Davis, Allen Freeman.
Spearheads for Reform: The Social Settlements and the Progressive
Movement, 1890-1914. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.
houses as only directly impacting the a small fraction of America's
poor. Rather the settlement's role was primarily one of educating
reformers who used the settlement houses as laboratories for policy
changes and reform, thereby demonstrating the effectiveness or efficacy
of programs/approaches that the public and politicians could/did embrace
on a wider scale.
Diner, Steven J.
A Very Different Age: Americans of the Progressive Era. New York:
Hill and Wang, 1998.
overview of an era which synthesizes the work being done recent years
and makes an important contribution to the short list of readable
works aiming to make sense of and guide readers through the forest
of changes, groups, activities and concerns of this watershed period
in American history. Book chapters each cover a different topic ranging
from immigration to economics and labor issues to political agendas
and foreign policy to cultural and technological changes. Fluid reading
and very usable information. Much on immigrants, people of color and
women. Identifies both successes and failures of the period.
Ewen, Elizabeth. Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars: Life and
Culture on the Lower East Side, 1890-1925. Monthly Review Press,
1985. (esp. Chapter 4 "Agents of Assimilation")
Focuses on the
lives and experiences of two generations of women in Jewish and Italian
immigrant families at the turn of the twentieth century in New York
City-mothers from the "Old World" and daughters from the
"New"-as they worked to settle in to life in urban modernizing
America. Makes extensive use of oral histories. Highlights the process
of Americanization for these women and the ways in which their past
and present combined to shape their futures. Chapter 4 "Agents
of Assimilation" brings female settlement house workers and their
ideas about reform and progress into the story; these "agents"
were as both positive and problematic forces in women's lives.
Glenda ed. Who Were the Progressives?: Readings. Historians at
Work Series. Boston and New York: Bedford/ St. Martin's Press, 2002.
Part of the well-respected
and well-received "Historians at Work" series, this volume
includes eight essays from leading historians of the so-called "Progressive"
era, exploring the multiple backgrounds, goals, agendas, methods,
successes, failures and challenges faced by a remarkable (albeit hard
to easily categorize) group of Americans who were committed to making
Higham, John. Strangers
in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-1925. 2nd ed. New
Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1988.
seminal work on nativism in American thought. Nativism is presented
as an idea and a sentiment (tied to nationalism), more than a set
of practices, and thus, Higham is able trace a fairly consistent nativist
vein in America over some six decades, even as he shows its increasing
Kraut, Alan, The
Huddled Masses: The Immigrant in American Society, 1880-1921. Arlington
Heights, Ill.: Arlan Davidson, 1986.
A good introduction
to the varied pre and post-immigrant experiences of those who came
to (and often left again) the United States during the second major
"wave" of immigration.Includes information and explorations
of European immigrants as well as those from China and Japan. Argues
that many factors influenced the decision to immigrate to the United
States and the shape of life once in America; emphasis is on the individual
variation and experience of immigration rather than on generalizations
Black Neighbors: Race and the Limits of Reform in the American Settlement
House Movement, 1890-1945. Chapel Hill, N.C: The University of North
Carolina Press, 1993.
Provides an important
view of the American Settlement Movement by focusing on the relationship
between settlement houses and workers and the needs of African Americans.
Details the ways in which the mainstream, white, well-known settlement
movement failed to address the needs of Black Americans even as they
demonstrated their deep awareness of the struggles of white ethnics.
Lasch then explores the ways in which a variety of other institutions
provided some version of settlement work/services to African Americans.
Ties race to the decline of the settlement movement.
Lissak, Rivka. "Myth
and Reality: The Pattern of Relationship between the Hull House Circle
and the 'New Immigrants' on Chicago's West Side, 1890-1919." Journal
of American Ethnic History vol. 2 no 2. (Spring 1983): 21-50.
the question of how local immigrants viewed Jane Addams and Hull House
and investigates the area residents' degree of involvement with the
settlement. Her findings challenge the idea that Hull House reformers
either understood, met the needs of, or fully became the center of
activity for many immigrants in the neighborhood around the settlement.
In particular, Lissak demonstrates the lack of involvement in Hull
House activities by Jewish and Italian immigrants, and the failure
of Hull House workers and leaders to truly understand either the lived
realities or the desires and goals of those immigrants among whom
they lived and worked.
Link, Arthur and
Richard L. McCormick eds. Progressivism. Arlington Heights, Ill.:
Harlan Davidson, 1983.
An excellent introduction-by
leading historians-to the major people, activities and strands of
the "movement"as well as its complexities and nuances. A
must-read for anyone familiarizing themselves with that wonderfully
complex entity called the "Progressive Era."
Muncy, Robyn. Creating
a Female Dominion in American Reform, 1890-1935. New York: Oxford
on the child welfare reform movement, Muncy argues that there was
a "continuity of reform activities among America's middle-class,
[white, Protestant] women" between the Progressive era and the
New Deal. She illustrates the ways in which women combined traditional
female roles with growing professionalization to create a "female
dominion"-through an interlocking set of organizations and agencies-in
the mostly male world of policy-making. At the head of this dominion
was the Children's Bureau in the federal Department of Labor. The
dominion ended when the movement achieved its goal with the passage
of New Deal legislation.
Painter, Nell Irvin.
Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877-1919. New York:
W.W. Norton, 1989.
history of the United States from Reconstruction to the end of the
first World War. Interpretive bent is toward seeing the U.S. as poised
on the brink of destruction during this period in which so many changes
and challenges faced the American people. More emphasis on social
history than political or economic, although all appear throughout.
T. "In Search of Progressivism," Reviews in American History
In response to
scholars who called for an end to the use of the term "Progressive,"
Rodgers' classic revisionist article proposes a way to reconcile the
inconsistencies and multiple components inherent in the complex of
groups, activities and agendas called "Progressivism" by
scholars. Rejects both group-based explanations and typologies based
on ideology. Instead, Rodgers claims that a set of three distinct
but flexible and overlapping "languages of discontent" (a
distaste for monopolies, a desire for social harmony, and a call for
efficiency) ran through the ways that Progressives talked about society;
this flexibility allowed "Progressives" to hold and pursue
disparate (and sometimes even opposing) goals and ideas.
Sklar, Karen Kish.
Florence Kelley and the Nation's Work: The Rise of Women's Political
Culture, 1830-1900. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.
A biography of
Florence Kelley--one of the nation's leading reformers in the Progressive
Era--covering the first forty years of her life.. Also functions as
a political history of the nation during this period when women, especially,
took on the task of challenging and changing the patterns of abuses
that arose in industrializing, urbanizing America, especially those
tied to unregulated industrial capitalism itself. Discusses the ways
in which earlier generations of women helped make women reformers
centrality in the 1890s possible.
Sklar, Kathryn Kish.
"Hull House in the 1890s: A Community of Women Reformers."
Signs vol.10 (Summer 1985): 658-677.
laying out the central role that living and working at Hull House
played in the political influence Hull House workers and leaders were
able to wield in Progressive-era America. Strengthened and kept safe
from criticism by their work with Hull House (a separate women's institution),
Jane Addams, Florence Kelley and others were able to develop solid
political leadership skills and platforms which allowed them to move
into larger arenas and bring about gender-specific reforms which met
class-specific goals. Sklar offers her Hull House example as a paradigm
for the creation and shape of women's political power and influence
in the progressive era-even without the vote.
Ann. Professionalism and Social Change: From the Settlement House
Movement to Neighborhood Centers, 1886 to the Present. New York:
Columbia University Press, 1987.
Traces the changes
in reform ideas and activities of settlement house workers as movement
transformed from experience of upper-middle class living experience/experiment
to a professional world of social work and workers. Covers the decline
of the settlement movement.
The Search for Order, 1877-1920. New York: Hill and Wang, 1967.
work exploring the rise and shape of both mechanisms and movements
to establish order and stability during a period in which American
was being transformed from a nation of what Weibe calls "island
communities" to an urban, interconnected and complex society.
Weibe asserts that there was a "revolution in values" during
this period and that "bureaucratization" was a central means
by which Americans sought to gain control over and organize their
new lives. Scientific management, the professionalization of certain
occupations, and the idea of reform in stages (among other examples)
all reflected a desire to create a structured, ordered society in
the midst of a great deal of change. The actions and ideals of progressives
and Progressivism are both well-explained by this interpretation.
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Addams, Jane. Twenty
Years at Hull House. New York: Macmillan, 1910.
discussing her childhood, the experiences and ideas that led her to
imagine and create Hull House and the shape of life at and goals of
Hull House during its first 20 years of existence. This is both a
personal and institutional story which makes clear the links between
a wide range of forces and factors in late Victorian and Progressive-Era
America: from gender and education, to immigration and capitalism.
As an autobiography this work, like all autobiographies, is a carefully
constructed re-telling of the author's life and it contains inaccuracies
and omissions about the years she writes of. Both in spite of and
because of this, Twenty Years is a wonderfully rich source if/when
contextualized and unpacked.
H. English for Coming Citizens. New York: Charles Scribner's
lessons for teaching English to immigrants The English language lessons,
though, are also explicit in the way they treach rules and expectations
for life in industrial America.
Satt. Edited by Dena J. Polacheck Epstein. I Came a Stranger: The
Story of a Hull House Girl. Chicago: University of Illinois Press,
Memoir of a woman
who, as a young girl, arrived at Hull House after fleeing with her
family from Russian pogroms. Polacheck's story is one rarely heard:
about the mundane details of immigrant life, the dynamism of her place
and time, and the workings of Hull House from the point of view of
an immigrant who was a beneficiary of Jane Addams' greatest creation.
Polacheck's memoir introduces readers to Addams as well as other luminaries
of the Progressive era. Her story, ultimately, is one of upward mobility
and praise for Addams' vision and implementation.
How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York.
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910.
A famed photo-text
based on photographs and observations of urban life in New York City
at the turn of the twentieth century. These images and Riis' accompanying
text not only shaped Progressive-era ideas about the problems of immigration,
immigrants and urban living and working conditions, but have been
reproduced over and over since such that they continue to shape our
modern views of the same.
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and Web Resources
and annotated by SALEM in History staff
Family Immigration History Center: Ellis Island
Here it is possible
to research passenger arrival records of the ships that brought immigrants
who to Ellis Island and through the Port of New York between 1892
and 1924. Original ships' manifests with passenger names are included.
Life of City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906
This silent motion
picture footage--which can be viewed online--highlights New York as
well as the process of urban growth and change at the turn of the
20th century. Footage depicts development of infrastructure, city
workers and city services,the hustle and bustle of the city, transportation
and leisure, workers and laborers, immigrants, skyscrapers and subways,
horse drawn carriages and motor cars. Films made by both the American
Mutoscope and Biograph Company, and the Edison Company. The site offers
essays to help frame and contextualize the films in light of "New
York at the Turn of the Century", "America at the Turn of
the Century," and "Pioneer Cameramen." Included, too,
are selected bibliographies on New York and early motion pictures.
There is a direct link for teachers to a "Collection Connection"
from the LOC's Learning Page.
the Lower East Side
This site, created
by William Crozier to accompany a class at St. Mary's University of
Minnesota documents life at the turn of the twentieth century in Manhattan's
most well-known immigrant neighborhood, which was also full of notorious
tenements. A wide variety of sources can be found here--speeches and
photographs, political commission reports, depictions of life in tenements
written by journalists and social workers. Focus is on immigration
and life in/problems with tenement houses. Highlights include selections
from Jacob Riis' "How the Other Half Lives," the Mayor's
Pushcart Commission, and articles about the Tenement Exhibit of 1900.
Experience in Chicago: Hull-House and Its Neighborhoods, 1889-1963
sources, scholarly essays, and teacher resources. This website was
created (and is being constantly updated and expanded) by scholars,
educators and students at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which
sits in the vicinity of the original Hull House neighborhood, is the
repository for a vast amount of Hull House-related material, and is
a center of scholarship connected to the settlement and its famous
founder. The goal of Urban Experience is to tell the story of, and
make accessible primary sources related to Jane Addams, Hull House
and the social settlement movement, and the history of Chicago's New
West Side neighborhood and the immigrant populations therein. It contains
primary source documents, historic photographs and scholarly essays.
The site is to be commended for making explicit and understandable
the overlapping forces and factors at play in both the Gilded Age
and the Progressive Era, forces that brought Hull House into being
and Addams to such prominence. User friendly, the site offers visitors
a range of options for navigating the interpretive essays and over
750 separate primary sources (including personal correspondence, newspaper
and journal articles, unpublished manuscripts, maps and photographs)
that make this site such a rich resource. Divided into eleven chapters,
a "Historical Narrative" section is the heart of the site.
Each chapter is further subdivided and each combines an interpretive
essay with links to primary sources related to the topic(s) at hand,
topics that include "The Settlement Idea," "The Function
of the Settlement," "Progressive Politics, Suffrage and
the Women's Agenda nationally," "Why Chicago," Race,
Citizenship and Community," "Clubs and Activities,"
"Recreation and Public Space," and "Residents and Education:
The School as Social Center." Site visitors looking for a particular
source or sources can search the entire site by way of the Search
component of this section, or by visiting the "Primary Sources"
section of the site (which allows searches based on titles, authors,
dates and keywords.) The site's "Geography" section deserves
special mention, for it makes available a variety of historic maps
(of both Chicago more generally, and the Hull House neighborhood in
particular) that document urban growth, ethnic and racial diversity,
and architectural and economic patterns in the area of the settlement.
These maps are fantastic teaching tools. Another unique element of
the Urban Experience
is the "Images" section which,
while still under construction, offers a quick link to all of the
photo galleries (image essays with little textual accompaniment) and
image essays (which make historical concepts visual and are accompanied
by text) that appear throughout the site. Finally, a very user-friendly
"Teacher Resources" area of the site suggests strategies
and activities for using the site and the sources it offers in the
classroom. Note that this site is linked to the Jane Addams Hull House
museum at the university. A direct link to the museum's website is
From here visitors can access a bibliography of books and scholarly
articles about Addams and Hull House.
Related Archives and Collections
Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History
The House of Seven
Gables Settlement and Neighborhood Center
An extant settlement
house in Salem, MA at 114 Derby St. on the historic waterfront. Unique
among the annals of settlement houses, the initial funding for this
settlement house and its work came from tourists at the 17th century
Turner House in Salem, a structure made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne's
depiction of it in The House of the Seven Gables. A firm believer
in the power of settlement work, Salem philanthropist Caroline Emmerton
renovated the Turner House, created an historic site and used its
revenue to found and fund The House of the Seven Gables Settlement
Association in 1910. Her goal: to serve Salem's increasingly immigrant
and ethnic population. The Settlement and Neighborhood Center currently
provides educational, social and recreational programs for the families
and children of Salem and the surrounding communities.
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