Settlement houses first appeared in the United States in the late 1880s, modeled after London’s Toynbee Hall. Located in neighborhoods largely comprised of poor and immigrant populations, the purpose of these houses was to help improve the condition of area residents, both young and old, by offering educational programs and assisting with social services. Settlement houses quickly became a vital resource for members of these communities in the late 19th and early 20th century. The settlement house movement became particularly popular between 1890 and 1910, when more than 12 million immigrants arrived in the United States from Europe. This syllabus covers essential records for tracing your ancestors who benefitted from the services offered by settlement houses, as well as those who worked and volunteered at these centers. It also discusses the historical and social context of the settlement house movement and how it shaped the lives of your ancestors.
This syllabus is intended to accompany our online lecture Settlement House Research (archived recording as of 11/16/23: https://americanancestors.org/video-library). It includes a reference for all resources mentioned in the session, plus links to many others.
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Created by Eileen Curley Pironti
Published: November 2023
PDF Download, 11 pages