Lecture on Social Settlement System, July 28, 1902



Tells of the Social Settlement Movement and Its Aims and Methods


What it Has Done Among Foreign Population of Chicago



This afternoon Dr. A. R. Taylor, president of The James Millikin University, will be the principal speaker. "Lafe" Young, who was also to have spoken, will speak Friday afternoon. The Wesleyan Male Quartet will take part in the afternoon and evening programs and at night the Ideals will give an exhibition of color photography which is said to rival the moving pictures.

Miss Jane Addams of Hull House, Chicago, spoke to a large audience on Monday afternoon. The day had been designated by the program committee as Woman's club day and the local club requested that Miss Addams be secured to lecture on the Social Settlement system.

The following ladies, past presidents and officers of the Woman's club, had seats on the platform: Mrs. C. J. McConnell, Mrs. Frank Ewing, Mrs. J. [G]. Badenhausen, Mrs. J. W. Evans, Miss Margaret Crissey, Mrs. Harry Crea, Mrs. R. G. Wells and Mrs. George R. Bacon.

After a good program by the Slayton Jubilee singers and an excellent reading by Mr. Cope of the Ideal entertainers, Superintendent Montgomery presented Mrs. C. J. McConnell, president of the Woman's club, who in a neat speech introduced Miss Addams as the pioneer of the social settlement work in this country, a woman who is teacher, preacher, philosopher and philanthropist in one. Miss Addams spoke as follows:

"I am expected to speak on the Social Settlement movement as a whole and to tell you something of the work at Hull House. The social settlement work is really a charitable work. There are three groups of motives which lead to charitable work.

"First, the appeal to the sense of prudence, to the economic sense. We have come to feel that if certain people in the community are neglected, if they are given no opportunities, if they are put to work too early or have to work too hard, they are worn out too soon and become a burden to the community. The work they should have done is withdrawn, to care for them adds enormously to general taxation.

"The second motive is an appeal to sentiment. Certain existing conditions of things outrage our ideas of what is right. Writers in France, England, America and Russia set forth with such power the sufferings of the people that we are roused to do something. Dickens was the first English writer to do this, but there have been hosts of others. No one who has read 'No. 5 John Street' can wear an article made from India rubber without wondering about the people who assisted in its manufacture. In America Jacob Riis is [preeminent] in this line, but there are many others.

"The third group of motives is difficult to describe, it is something that has only come to be in the nineteenth century. It is something which appeals to our sense of human solidarity, a new idea of the dignity of the human race. Something that says that every human being, however degraded or however little seeming his worth, has a right to the same opportunity to make something of himself.

"People living in a settlement represent one of these three motives. They have at least gotten to the place of knowing that certain conditions exist and are anxious to help them.

"The first social settlement was organized nineteen years ago in Whitechapel, the poorest quarter of the east side in London. The thirty young men from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge who organized Toynbee Hall went to that worst place in London or in England not because they were paid nor because they were doing good. They were only sure of one thing: as long as things were wrong they were going to find out at first hand what was the matter, and when they found out and while they were finding out they were going to use every effort in the direction of amelioration.

"The natural first impulse when we see a child fall in the road is to pick it up, to set it on its feet. It takes a second impulse to prevent us from helping it up. The settlement workers claim that it is the most natural impulse to help.

"Now along the lines of prudence as charitable work is developing in England the first child labor laws were passed in 1802. At that time the great textile factories were established in the north of England and the parish apprentices, the orphaned children who were the wards of the parishes were put to work at an incredibly early age in the factories to tend machines where the work was simple, involving only the tying together of two threads. In the mines children of 4 and 5 years were employed, they being able from their size to traverse tunnels and workings too small for a man.

"Lord Salisbury and others started the movement. They said, 'We cannot afford to use up the children in this way, so that they are worn out and in the poor house when they are 25 to linger as an expense to the community for years. The man who employs this labor and gets the returns from it must pay for it.'

"Today in Russia children under 12 years cannot work at confining labor. In Italy which is behind the times children are not allowed to work before 10 years. In this country Massachusetts and Illinois and other states have child labor laws, but, alas, in still others there are none. What happens there is almost as unbelievable as it is wretched. Some time ago I spent a few weeks in the south. The community was very proud of the fact that considerable investments of northern capital had been made there. They showed me their kindergartens and industrial schools and when I asked to inspect the factories they were surprised. They said that they thought that I was interested in charitable enterprises. Well, we went through the factories. There I saw children 7, 8 and 9 years old, working 13 hours a day at the machines. From 6 in the morning till 7 at night. I asked the superintendent who showed us through whether he found it an advantage to have so many children employed in the factory and if he didn't have trouble keeping so many little ones in order. He said that it was often a great nuisance and he added, 'Then they are careless and get their hands caught in the machines. But their families are so poor that it is charity to give them work.' He made the same mistake that many make. Where the child goes to work, the father can never again get full wages.

"One night in another factory I saw a little five-year-old girl whose work was to tend 110 spindles for eleven hours every night. She was so little that to make herself high enough she had to use a soap box which she pushed along the floor with her foot. Her ankles were swollen and you find them in the poor houses in all stages of the dropsical [anemia] which comes with this work.

"What does it all amount to? We are willing to wear the fabrics made in these mills without [inquiry]. We are careful of the children of our own home, but these others can take care of themselves.

"Take the sweating system. The goods made in that way are manufactured in unsanitary surroundings by underpaid men and women who are overworked until they can work no longer. And when we buy these goods we become responsible.

"The most valuable possession of any nation is the people who compose it. Anything that casts even a part of these people back on the others makes it weaker and poorer.

"The second motive of charity, the appeal to sentiment, is often spoiled. We are prone to take stories of exceptional misery for the general condition. Nothing is ever gained by a false emotion. To waste emotion, to get wrought up unnecessarily is a fearful waste of a fine faculty. We ought to select our stories and weed out the exaggeration. There is much of that done in the larger cities by the daily press, holding up the exceptional things for the usual thing so that it is difficult to get sympathy. In a certain part of Chicago the mortality statistics show that 52 percent of the children die before they are five years old. This is in the abstract a frightful death rate and if they were frozen to death or literally starved we would be horrified, but if we can prove that most of them died in bed and had a certain amount of medical attendance no one is startled, although they may have died from slow poisoning from defective plumbing or been starved by years of malnutrition.

"It would seem that we ought to be able to cope with abstract conditions.

"In certain parishes of the city the London county council offers annually a prize for the parish making the greatest gain in reducing the death rate to the normal for the whole city.

"This is striving to conserve human life not through false sentimentality but through patient effort in presenting facts.

"The third motive, a sense of solidarity, lies more in education. The statement has come to stay that every man has a right to self-expression. Whatever his capacity and however little, he deserves an opportunity to work out what he is best fitted for. We cannot afford to have in our cities quarters filled with untrained men.

"To speak now of the social settlement. A number of persons influenced by one or another of these motives select a community where there is a waste of life, physically, spiritually and mentally. There these people who have had greater advantages live normal healthy lives usually in groups because it has been demonstrated that groups have a greater influence in the direction sought. They bring to bear on the lives of the people among whom [page 2] they live all the machinery which makes for the betterment of their condition. Take the thing as it is done in London. At Toynbee Hall, those thrifty university men found the schools bad, both in the housing and teaching, the mere physical conditions of life, air and water and surroundings bad, of a nature to deplete and depress. They have repaved and made more healthy that quarter of London, they have raised the standard of education, they have brought in reading rooms, art galleries and other things that are found in other quarters of the city.

"You have heard of Charles Booth, whose life and labor have been devoted to the search for those vocations in which the loss of life is greatest, and the attempt to mitigate their severity. Germany is the only nation that conserves the lives of its people. In that country in certain processes of the manufacture of rubber the men are only allowed to work four hours a day and for men who have been worn out in certain lines of work a pension is provided, the fund for which comes partly from their wages and partly from the manufacturer.

"At Toynbee settlement they have built a very beautiful hall where numerous classes are conducted. They try to find out what the people care to study. It is a stupid idea that education is a thing for children only. It is one of the great staple interests of life. So they have all sorts of classes, for young people, for adults and even for the aged.

"These experiments have been repeated in New York and Chicago. There is more need of the social settlement in this country than in England because the grade of civilization is lower and fewer people are interested.

"In both New York and Chicago it has been found necessary to make a certain stand for the neighborhoods largely composed of emigrants, to prevent them from being dominated by native political bosses.

"Three years ago within four blocks of Hull House 2000 Greeks settled who had come over from Sparta because the year before a few men had come over and done well on the railroad extensions. These men came to Chicago utterly without guidance and without a hold either upon the language or institutions of the country. These men came to Chicago and while they were quick and eager to learn the first few months were enormously difficult for them.

"It would seem that we are wasting men of muscle and experienced farmers. We know nothing here of the minute, intensive farming of Italy and Greece. If we had an organized emigration association what good it could do. Think of the waste land in the south and west. We cannot raise olives in California as they do in Italy, we do not know how to get four crops out of the long season. And these men with all this wonderful knowledge are crowded in tenements around Hull House.

"The children have the best of it, they go to school and learn English.

"What a great upheaval in the lives of these people. With our rapid system of communication it needs but eighteen days to transport the Italian peasant from his little farm to Chicago.

"The Greeks we found came in great numbers to our classes to learn English. We soon came to the use of the stereopticon and the dramatic as aids in teaching. We gave them practical glimpses of this new life. Buying a ticket at a ticket office, a scene in a restaurant, seeking a situation in an employment office refusing to pay more than the legal charge of $2.50 for securing a situation. The men learned rapidly. We found that they knew well the stories of their native land such as we teach in our schools. We had them give in the original Greek the Odyssey. They were drilled by a lady from New York, who helped prepare such things in the eastern colleges and they made of it a beautiful thing.

"There are twenty-five at Hull House and some have been there for twelve years. We have selected a neighborhood filled with foreigners and have started all sorts of charities. We have a baby room, a district nurse and there are always a number of young physicians connected with the house.

"Under all is an attempt to affiliate, to make an intelligent connection with our neighbors. Like everything else it is one thing to provide a beneficial influence and an even more important thing to teach people to utilize it."

Miss Addams said that she would be very glad to answer any questions on the subject and some of the answers elicited were as follows:

"We have twelve buildings. Part are the residence of the people of the settlement, there is a gymnasium, restaurant, club house and children's house. The residents with the exception of the gymnasium and kindergarten directors give their services free. The expense of the upkeep and care of the settlement are met by contribution mainly from people who give a certain sum annually."

Q. How are we to get rid of the saloons?

"Personally, I don't believe much can be done by restrictive legislation. I think the whole theory of license is wrong; it brings us into a peculiar relation to the saloon.

"If we could find a substitute for the saloon it wouldn't last long. The trouble is that we turn over too much of the social side of life to the saloon. When families in the tenements want to hold any kind of a social celebration, a christening for instance, the only hall they can secure is one connected with a saloon. This they get cheaply on the understanding that a certain amount of money is to be 'passed over the bar.'

"Our neighborhood hall is spoken for weeks ahead. In New York they have started a Social Hall association. If we did a little of that sort of thing instead of such negative talking and legislating against the saloons we would accomplish more. I would favor opening the schools and churches in the evenings, to provide places where the people could meet socially.

"I don't like Mrs. Nation's method; it's bungling. I'm in favor of running the saloon out in fair competition."

Rev. H. L. Strain made an inquiry as to the political influence of the settlement.

"We have in our ward, the nineteenth, the champion 'boodle alderman.' He has been fourteen years in office and we have made three campaigns against him and been beaten in each, the last time badly. He spent $50,000 and we spent $3 and that may have had something to do with it. We think that we made an impression, however, and that we had maybe something to do with the increased interest in the citizens committee.

"At one time we did elect a rather good man into the legislature, but I am afraid the country members spoiled him.

"The trouble is that the better people simply stand by and let the men who know how juggle the ballots.

"The Italians come here from a country where there is a very good civil service system, and they soon say that our system is 'no good,' and that you have to stand in with the aldermen.

"No, we do not attempt to teach the children. They go to the public schools with which we [cooperate] fully, and which we supplement with manual training, etc. The public school teachers greatly need help and are very appreciative of our efforts.

"We do not attempt to make Hull House a home for convicts though we see many of them. We [cooperate] with a society for the care of released prisoners to which we turn over such cases.

"We had a good deal to do with founding the juvenile court. And here again one feels that there is more machinery to take care of the convict after he has become a criminal than there is to look after the boy on the edge.

"We are now drafting a law with the object of extending some of the provisions of the child labor law to street vending with especial reference to the newsboys.

"The conditions of the newsboy in the small towns is quite different from that in the city. And not only the newsboy, but boys who work generally. The head of one of the big department stores is fond of telling that he went to work when he was twelve years old, with the evident interference, 'And look at me now.' But he worked in a country store when he was twelve years old.

Q. By Dr. Walston. "What would you consider the character of the Greeks?"

"The Greeks are wily, 'from way back,' if I may say it. They cheat each other and are not straight commercially.

"The Italians do lose their tempers sometimes and fight among themselves but they don't steal or get drunk. The Italian boys learn to pilfer sometimes.

"The disorder and brawling in the saloons is mostly confined to the Irish. But they have their good points, too.

"I think that intemperance in this country has been largely overworked as a cause of poverty. In point of fact the Russian Jews, the poorest of the poor, drink very little.

"How can churches best assist us? They ought to come to that part of town. I feel that it is a comment on the Protestant churches that there are so few churches and missions in that part of the city. They need to be more adaptive; if church service is unpopular, as it is in our neighborhood, they ought to try to make it different. We are in the parish of the Catholic church of the Holy Family and they have right among us a colony of thirty priests, St. Ignatius college, a school for the deaf and dumb, a boarding school for girls and a married men's sodality with a membership of 6,000.

"The Protestant churches put up one little building and send over a divinity student who preaches three or four times a week. The people don't go and then they go away and say that we don't care for missions. In New York it is different, they are waking up, but the western churches, curiously enough, seem to be slower."

At the suggestion of Mrs. McConnell Miss Addams told of the classes in cooking in which the foreign women are taught to utilize the cheap American food products to which they were unused at home such as rice and corn. She said that in return the foreign women often prepared their national dishes and she said: "You can't imagine how different a dish of genuine Italian macaroni prepared by an Italian is from the usually rather leathery article we make here."

Miss Addams was once appointed garbage inspector for the nineteenth ward and she organized clubs of the women in different blocks to teach them the simpler sanitary methods and rules.

The settlement now supports one public playground and is working to have another supported by the city.

During her stay in the city Miss Addams was the guest of her cousin, Mrs. J. P. Eckles of West William Street.