Address on Settlements, June 24, 1909 (Summary)



By MISS JANE ADDAMS, of Hull House, Chicago, U.S.A.


Miss Addams opened her address on Settlements with a few general remarks, telling us that the first Settlement was established by University men in London a quarter of a century ago, when an earnest group of men strove to apply the arts of friendship and sympathy to the problem of living. [page 2]

A group of people who live in a [neighborhood], bringing into it and developing out of it conditions of life forms the true nucleus of the ideal Settlement.

Miss Addams then went on to say that she should speak more especially of the work of Hull House, because she knew its work and its results more fully than those of any other Settlement. American Settlements have to face the peculiar conditions of a conglomerate [neighborhood]. Over thirty distinct nationalities are represented by the people living in the immediate [neighborhood] of Hull House; and these must be interpreted to the community and to one another.

The children of these people must not be allowed to take on a superficial Americanism and feel contempt for their foreign-born parents. Hull House workers strive not to separate parents and children. Partly to conserve this end and to preserve the filial feeling of the children, as well as to encourage and develop the best that is in the parents, a [Labor] Museum has been established at Hull House, to which women of all nationalities who dye, weave, spin, etc., contribute the products of their handiwork. It is hoped that thus the children may be made to understand that the parents have valuable assets in their hitherto unappreciated old-country hand industries. The child's pride in its parents is fostered, and charm and background are added to its conception of its mother.

Working towards the same, as well as other good ends is a Music School, which has also been established at Hull House. Here the children are taught to compose as soon as to learn to read music. They learn to record beautiful themes heard in church or synagogue, as well as the haunting melodies of the old unwritten folk-songs of the fatherland of their parents.

Another very important section of work at Hull House is found in the relation maintained between it and the factory girls of the community. The Settlement workers follow the girl from the factory to the home of her old-world father, who keeps her in the house every evening for fear of harm coming to her on the streets. She has no opportunity for fun in her life, and this kills the natural joy of life for the hard-worked factory girl.

It is one of the great American experiments this gathering in our factories of these hordes of young girls who have never before known any real freedom from surveillance, who have never even gone unattended on the streets in the old countries, and who have never before known the intoxicating sense of liberty and power that comes to the wage-earner who knows himself or herself economically independent.

Hull House Woman's Club is another important factor in the work of the Settlement. It serves to relate the women of the [neighborhood] to the needs of the district and of the larger community. For instance, the underlying causes of the neighborhood death-rate, which was tremendous, were studied by some of these women, who were appointed to investigate the conditions around Hull House. [page 3]

The Hull House workers also look up lonely, forlorn foreigners and try to make them happier. They introduce the solaces of art and music and social intercourse to people whose lives would be, otherwise, absolutely destitute of any such enriching influence.

Hull House has twelve beautiful buildings, in which forty resident workers live. And nine to ten thousand people belong to the various clubs and organizations, through which a new technique of social intercourse is learned and the obstacles of differing languages and environment are overcome. What unites is greater than what differentiates is the belief of all true social workers and with one accord they all aim to bring about unity of thought, feeling and effort.

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