BECAUSE the modern industrial city is so new that we are as yet ignorant of its ultimate reactions upon human life, the following study should be valuable, as a revelation of the impressions and scars which this new type of city makes upon that most highly sensitized material, the body and soul of the young girl at the moment she is most keenly conscious of her surroundings.
That the study is confined to those girls who live in the crowded quarters of the city, and who work in its least skilled industries, make it none the less significant; for the young girl is quite as sensitive when she is rudely jostled in noisy tenement houses and factories as she is when sheltered in the silence of woods and country lanes. [page 2]
These young people, with their newborn instincts, whether walking in the teeming streets or in the open fields, continually test the achievements and short-comings of the life about them, by their own standards of romance as old as the world. At moments they are curiously aloof and critical, and they are prone to feel separated from their elders by a great gulf which is, indeed, seldom crossed unless the elders make the first effort.
Settlements have always hoped to know something of the inner lives of their constituents, realizing that such knowledge must be based upon years of simple companionship and mutual understanding. In so far as the conclusions in this study show sympathetic insight, that mission has been successful.
It is possibly in keeping with the multiple object of the study, that it records the experiences of more than two thousand people who are daily concerned with [page 3] the welfare of young girls, and that these experiences gathered from a score of cities fall so easily into a composite impression.