Settlement Houses

From Ohio History Central

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Americans, especially middle-class Americans, became involved in the Progressive Movement. Progressives generally were affiliated with Protestant churches, and they believed that American society was becoming immoral. They contended that Americans were becoming too concerned with attaining wealth and political power, turning their backs on religion and on their fellow men.

Progressives implemented numerous reforms during the late 1800s and the early 1900s. One of these reforms was the creation of settlement houses. Settlement houses were institutions where immigrants especially could go to seek assistance. Settlement house organizers sought to teach immigrants how to survive and prosper in the United States. They taught the immigrants English, business skills, and about American customs. The settlement houses often provided housing, free meals, and medical care. They also helped organize activities for children and young adults to keep these people out of bars. At the core of the settlement houses' mission was a desire to instill morality in the immigrants. The settlement house organizers emphasized religion in all of their classes, whether the courses were on English, on proper health care habits, or on how to obtain a job.

Settlement houses were located in most major cities. Ohio had numerous settlement houses, including the Goodrich House and the Hiram House in Cleveland. The Goodrich House remained in operation until 1951, while the Hiram House still provides summer camps for children today.

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