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Early American Settlement Houses

            Settlement houses in Early America were positive, enlightening ways for immigrants to adapt themselves into the new ways of the American lifestyle. Starting in Britain in the late 1800s, the idea of these houses found its way to the United States and began changing the way immigrants lived and adapted themselves into the new world. These houses allowed for middle class citizens to help their fellow poverty-stricken citizens by moving into houses in more poor areas of cities in order to teach the middle class philosophies of how to succeed in the United States. This brought a sense of unity to cities and helped not only adults, but children to become successful in the new country. The houses provided education, art lessons, physical fitness sessions, and social philosophies to immigrants who yearned to better their lives.
             The first settlement house, Toynbee Hall in Great Britain, was founded in 1884 by Canon and Henrietta Barnett, both of whom were social reformers at this time. At this time, nearly 30% of Londerners were living below the poverty line1. So in response, the Barnetts created the Hall in hopes of changing the lives of their fellow British neighbors. This house provided child care, education, and job training. After American student and leader Stanton Coit visited the Hall for approximately three months, he journeyed back to America to found the Neighborhood Guild, in 1886. This settlement house was located in the Lower East side of New York, in hopes that immigrants and poverty stricken men and women would go here in search of help. Another crucial person to start a famous settlement house was Jane Addams. Addams founded the Hull House in Chicago in 1889, shortly after Coit introduced the idea. The reason why these houses seemed so different from other services trying to provide the public with help was that these settlements were based on a philosophy that if a community stayed close together, they could truly bring social reform to the cities they were living in.

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