The Idea of the Social Settlement, July 12, 1903 (excerpts)



Hull House Worker Points Out Lack of Appreciation for Foreigners Who Are Real Artists.

According to Miss Jane Addams of Hull house much technical skill which might be utilized to great advantage in this age of commercial production in America is going to waste each year in the foreign quarters of the large cities.

Miss Addams addressed a large audience at the University of Chicago yesterday morning on the subject of social settlement work. In the course of her address she said:

"Most of the foreigners who come to America are skilled workmen with their hands, but, owing partly to our mania for machine-made goods and partly to the difference in language and custom, we have never learned how to utilize this technical skill.

Looks Into Future.

"I believe that in another generation we will be building technological schools to teach the grandchildren of the present generation of foreign-born men the skill which most of the foreign immigrants bring with them from the old world."

"The foreigners form opinions of us the same as we do of them, and I can assure you they consider us a pretty ignorant lot, because we can speak but one language, and because we take so little interest in art and beautiful things. An Italian came to us with a long face and said he had been 'fired' by his landlord for destroying property, when all he had done was to carve a beautiful pattern on his door posts. He told of the door posts of a church in Naples, which he had carved with that same pattern, and remarked sarcastically that the rich American would go to Naples and admire the pattern on the church door, although he considered it destruction of his property when the same pattern was cut into the door posts of his building in America.

Scope of the Settlement.

"The underlying notion of the social settlement is a scruple; not an idea. The scruple comes from a belief that everything is not fair and just in this world, and from a desire to be identified with the underside. The settlement does not stand for one economic theory as opposed to another."

Miss Mary E. McDowell, head resident of the University of Chicago social settlement in the stock yards district, told about the work done there. She said the labor unions in the stock yards had done great good. "Whatever one thinks of labor unions, theoretically," said Miss McDowell, "one cannot but believe the feeling of independence and dignity which they have created among the laborers in the stock yards is a manly thing. The unions have helped the people in the stock yards district."