Brief Summary of the Work of the Chicago Urban League, August 1, 1917



March 1st to August 1st, 1917.


Formal vote has been taken by three large federations to cooperate with the League. They are the Baptist Women's Congress, representing most of the Baptist Women in Chicago and vicinity (about 1200 in Chicago); the Federated Women's Clubs, comprising 67 separate groups; and the Federated Colored Association composed of 12 groups. A conference committee of seven was created to confer with the League over important matters that this committee wished the League to undertake. The committee represents the three federations mentioned above, the Methodist Episcopal Church connection, a group under the Negro Fellowship League, the A.M.E. Church connection and several other clubs and institutions which are not affiliated with the above mentioned groups.

We have given assistance to the following:

1. Women's Trade Union League -- conference over the advisability of employing colored women as organizer of girls for union locals.

2. International Lead Refining Co. -- secured a social secretary and laborers for the East Chicago branch.

3. Casseli Chemical Co. --- conferred over the employment of a social secretary to look after the general condition of colored men employed by the company in East Chicago, Ind.

4. Wendell Phillips Settlement -- the League to conduct the activities of Wendell Phillips Settlement.

5. Neighborhood House on Forest Ave. -- information sought as to the policy of such an enterprise -- referred two men as assistants with the activities.

6. Pullman Company -- conferred over difficulties experienced with men and asked to select certain types of men for various grades of work.

7. J. I. Case Co., Racine, Wis. -- Placed first colored men as employees and secured a man as overseer.

8. Daily News Farm Bureau -- asked to list farm hands -- inquiries made as to ways in which the League could be of service to this bureau.

9. Federal Employment Bureau of the Department of Immigration -- the League cooperates freely with this bureau in getting men from and sending men to them.

10. Cook County Hospital -- aid of the League has been sought constantly over the disposition of [cases]. The League is endeavoring to get the social service department of Cook County Hospital to employ a colored visitor. [page 2]

11. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad -- secured a colored section foreman with a gang of 25 men as the first colored men employed by the Baltimore & Ohio in this section.

12. Chicago Tribune -- this paper is referring matters pertaining to colored people, particularly those persons who wish to return to the south, to this office.

13. Havana American Tobacco Company -- assistance of the League secured in placing colored girls in the factory. The League was asked to confer over the difficulties which the factory had experienced in handling a similar experiment with colored girls. Ten girls were placed by the League, who are being taught stemming for the purpose of instructing a larger number of others.

14. Police Department -- the League was asked to give advice in regard to convalescent care for colored men.

15. Juvenile Court -- desired information regarding families with whom children might be boarded.

16. United Charities -- several requests for information regarding the disposition of cases.

17. Illinois Free Employment Bureau -- the League receives daily a bulletin and has advised several times with officials of the office.

I <The Secretary> have spoken before the Baptist and the Methodist denominations and before literaries and clubs and have received the cooperation of all those organizations. The Daily News, Chicago Herald and the Evening Post have given us editorials. The Tribune is now referring all matters relating to colored people to this office. Dr. Graham Taylor has given the League favorable mention in an editorial in the Daily News. We have letters of endorsement from leading citizens. The churches read announcements of jobs at Sunday services and refer people to us for employment. Being located centrally, people are referred to the office by practically all agencies touching the lives of colored people in Chicago.


The League has a placement secretary who gives his entire time to employment. A total of 255 women and 1016 men have received employment. More than 60 separate business establishments have used our office and a larger number of miscellaneous jobs have been filled. We have put the first colored girls into two tobacco factories as stemmers, in a large restaurant as dishwashers, into a paper manufacturing plant, two hotels as maids and dishwashers and have been instrumental in getting several employers to rehire colored girls when for some reason they had decided to discontinue employing them. We have induced a much larger number of places to accept colored men for the first time. In seven neighboring cities we have sent, men, insisting of course, upon proper housing conditions and standard wages for them. In two of these places, we have sent men to act as social secretaries. We have been consulted on numerous [page 3] occasions for advice about difficulties which have been experienced by employers in handling colored help. Four places will not hire people unless they come from this office. This is due to the fact that the League never sends anyone to work unless he or she is fully advised as to the conditions of labor, the requirements under which they must work, and a word of advice as to their obligation to themselves and the race in entering places of employment which only recently have allowed colored people to work.


For eight weeks, the League supervised the work of a volunteer Travelers' Aid worker at the Illinois Central Railroad over which perhaps 7/8 of the colored people come to Chicago. We have finally succeeded in getting the Travelers' Aid Society to employ the worker on its regular staff. Through this connection, we get hold of a number of people who come to the city and are in need of direction and assistance.


Personal inspection of lodging accommodation for 400 people has been made through the League. A list of these places is on file in our office so that we may refer people to them as occasion arises.


Club women have carried advice about health, cleanliness, deportment in public places, care of children, overcrowding and efficiency, into the homes of the newcomers in this section where most of them live. This work is to be continued from time to time. The League believes that the best way to promote good citizenship among the newcomers is to have the women, who have agreed to cooperate with us, go into their homes and talk with the women of the houses.


A selected district of two blocks was taken on Wabash Avenue for an investigation in order to determine whether or not the condition of people is being improved by their moving north. The outstanding disclosures of the investigation are that most of the men are working, that in only one case are the men receiving less than $2.50 a day, that the average wage is $3.18 per day and that only one family was receiving less income now than when it was in the south, that there is need of work for a large number of married women, and that the housing conditions should be improved.

We were instrumental in having a student of Chicago University make an investigation of rents. Mr. Johnson, of our office, is making inquiries among real estate agents to determine the number of people who apply daily for houses, the character of houses desired, the average rent the people wish to pay, the condition of the houses unoccupied, the opinions of the agents in regard to the types of houses needed to supply the demand, and such other information that will be of [page 4] service to the League in presenting before interested individuals a request for better and more houses for colored people. We shall compile statistics of the records of the people coming into the office for assistance. We are looking into delinquency among colored children appearing before the Juvenile Court, with the view to getting some preventive work established.


The League began to work March 1st under a budget of $3,000. Increased work makes it necessary for us to raise $4,500. A total of $1,425.05 has been contributed toward the expenses of the League. 48 white contributors, including Mr. Rosenwald who has given us $410.00, have given $1,218.05 and 99 colored contributors have given $207.00. Mr. Rosenwald will give one-third of our budget of $3,000. There is reason to believe he will give us one third of all we can raise. We need about $2,000 more, over and above reliable pledges.


The League has sent out 2937 pieces of mail. It has assisted 5943 people, 1271 of whom have secured positions. A large number of people have been helped in numerous ways, such as advice to places where they could secure jobs along the line of their trades, assistance in collecting claims under the Workman's compensation act, endorsements in order that they may rent houses and cash checks, adjusting difficulties between employees and employers, reporting tenement house violations, locating relatives, securing convalescent care for the sick, collecting money due employees, forwarding trunks and packages, sending for physicians and nurses, sending children to school, lending money, arranging transportation and furnishing meals.

The League is now supervising the activities of Wendell Phillips Settlement.

We have secured permission from the School Board to have the Committee on Colored Women in Industry of the State Council of Defense, conduct a class in domestic science in one of the school buildings.

We have secured the services of a young man, who is on salary with us, to compile statistics, arrange records and make investigations that will lead to practical pieces of work.

We have organized a Southern Improvement Association, composed of men recently from the south in order to furnish the medium for a discussion of their difficulties and suggestions of things, of which they should not be ignorant, if they are to be desirable citizens.

Have had a conference about boys' work which we hope will lead to Big Brother work.

A committee on housing will start to work in the fall to improve housing conditions among Negroes.