Hull-House 1889-1909, 1909

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1889-1909 [page 2]


The beginning of Hull-House was made in the autumn of 1889, when two of us went to live in a portion of the former residence of Mr. Charles J. Hull on the corner of Polk and Halsted streets.

At the end of twenty years, Hull-House, an incorporated association, owns and occupies thirteen buildings covering a city block.

Friends of the House who have confidence in its usefulness have given these buildings one after another as the need of each became pressing. In this way gymnasium, schoolrooms, shops, clubrooms, coffee house, auditorium, woman's club building, boys' club building, music school and other buildings have been added in the course of twenty years. The endowment of Hull-House is totally inadequate for the maintenance of all these buildings and [page 3] the growing activities they represent. The plant, however, is unencumbered by debt. From rents and other sources it has a small income which defrays about one-third of the annual expense.

Nine thousand persons each week avail themselves of the educational, civic and social advantages of Hull-House and occupy to the highest limit the capacity of its buildings.

It is obvious that heavy maintenance charges are unavoidable and that to lessen these by limiting the use of the buildings would be unfair to the purposes of the House and to the neighborhood needs.

To manage and direct the activities of the entire establishment forty-five self-supporting residents live at Hull-House and devote their time, outside of their regular employment, to Settlement activities, paying their own common expenses, on the plan of a [cooperative] club.

Over two hundred other volunteer assistants who do not live at the House come to it regularly each week from different parts of the city to join in the efforts of the residents or to undertake independent management of clubs [page 4] and classes. As the material equipment of Hull-House has only been possible because of the generosity of various donors, so the activities for which the equipment exists have only been possible because of the time and trained ability given by the residents and volunteers. Aside from higher reasons why the largest possible proportion of competent volunteer service is desired, it is certain that the annual budget would have to be at least doubled if all the residents, teachers, club leaders, lecturers and other assistants were paid at the rates such services can command.

Following is a brief summary of the principal activities of Hull-House: It will be observed that certain departments are self-sustaining, others, notably the classes for immigrants, require no direct contribution for teaching, but occupy space which must be heated, lighted and kept in repair. Others require technical teaching -- for example, the cooking and manual training classes. For these it is usually necessary to secure the usual salaries. [page 5] 

Departments Self-Sustaining

Woman's Clubs, 350 members, organized 1893, is connected with various philanthropic agencies of the city, maintains in addition to numerous cultural activities a linen chest for the poor of the district, gives semi-monthly receptions to people of meager social resources, has collected a library of twenty-seven hundred volumes and with its chorus and other departments constantly [cooperates] with Hull-House in many public-spirited ways.

Jane Club Thirty young women have conducted an entirely self-supporting residence club on a [cooperative] plan in one of the buildings of the Hull-House group. The Club has been in successful operation for seventeen years. Pays rent to Hull-House.

Coffee House  Initiated as a public kitchen in 1893, now serves the neighborhood as restaurant and social center, catering to 350 people daily; is also used for parties, [page 6] banquets and weddings by the neighborhood. Pays rent to Hull-House.

Workshops Developed from the Arts and Crafts Classes. The demand for their products meets the expenses of the shops. In connection with them a collection of textiles and implements is displayed, and on Saturday evenings an exhibit is made by immigrants living in the neighborhood of Hull-House of primitive methods in spinning, weaving and pottery as practiced in the old country. The whole is designated as the Labor Museum.

Dramatics The three associations are self-sustaining; the youngest dramatic club uses its excess funds for summer outings. The training in dramatics has been found a most effective means of teaching English history and literature.

Men's Club Seventy-five men over twenty-one years of age who maintain clubrooms and carry out social and educational plans and discuss civic matters. Pays rent to Hull-House.[page 7] 

Departments Not Self-Sustaining

Boys' Club Occupies a building of its own. Two thousand members aged between twelve and twenty-one use the club from after school hours in the afternoon until 10 p.m., although only boys over fourteen are allowed to come in the evening. About forty teachers and leaders are required. While many are volunteers, others, especially technical teachers, must be paid. In addition to the interest shown in games, athletics and a special library, many classes are eagerly filled.

The spring exhibit showed excellent results from the classes in copper, tinsmithing, electrical construction, cobbling, brass molding, carpentry, forging, clay modeling, typewriting, printing, photography, drawing, designing. A bandmaster trains two bands of thirty boys each.

Gymnasium Seven hundred men, boys and girls are enrolled in the classes. If the capacity of this gymnasium were doubled it would still be entirely inadequate to supply the demands of the neighborhood. Its teams compete [page 8] with those of high schools and other organizations and contests are held every Saturday night. The shower baths used during the season by the classes are open to the public at a small fee in summer. 21,910 baths were taken last year.

Education Hull-House is situated in a district constantly receiving large numbers of foreign immigrants and it is natural that the teaching of English should be one of its chief educational activities.

These classes are all in the hands of volunteer teachers, many of whom have had years of experience in devising the most practical and rapid method of imparting knowledge needed for everyday transactions.

This important work of Americanizing could be and should be indefinitely enlarged.

The teaching of cooking, dressmaking and millinery necessitates technical training on the part of teachers and the usual salaries must be paid. Fees are charged for these classes, which in some instances nearly defray the expense of the teacher. [page 9] 

A Music School was founded in 1894. It has its own building, and the salaries of two teachers in singing and two on the piano and one of the violin are secured. The School could be very advantageously extended were more ample funds available.

Studio Has no endowment and the teaching has always been done by volunteers from the year the House was opened. There are regular classes in drawing, sketching, lithography, painting and designing. This work should be extended into various fields of applied art, so that young persons who show talent may be enabled to turn it to industrial account, and at least one salaried teacher should be secured.

Social Clubs Twenty children's clubs meet afternoons weekly with a total membership of about 400. Fifteen evening social clubs of young people meet weekly at Hull-House under volunteer management. Two dancing classes are maintained throughout the [page 10] winter numbering 250 members; these are self-sustaining. 2,400 people were entertained at Neighborhood parties last year, and half that number at young people's parties which were arranged for by the Woman's Club.

Outings In the last two years 5,000 people have been sent out on day's picnics, 1,600 on local excursions to the suburbs, 1,900 on outings of one week, 510 on lake trips. In addition to this a camp for the members of the Boys' Club is maintained for six weeks each summer which takes care of forty boys weekly. This work could be extended indefinitely were more money received. The cost of the outings approximates $3,000 a year.

Relief is extended only to cases well known to the residents and to cases of a type which for various reasons can not be turned over to the present charity organizations of the city, although the House is in constant [cooperation] with them. [page 11]

The Next Twenty Years

Hull-House has for its purpose, as its charter states, to provide a center for a higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago.

During the last twenty years it has borne a conscientious part in the efforts for humanitarian legislation and a better civic life for Chicago which have been especially characteristic of this period. But whatever its relation to larger movements it has never failed to recognize that its most immediate task is to aid in the Americanization of the immigrant colonies among which it is so intimately placed.

This it does as well as the resources placed at its command will permit. The record of twenty years may be said in all fairness to justify the recognition of Hull-House as a useful factor in the life of Chicago. The House needs not only money to carry on its work, it [page 12] needs the continued interest and sympathy of those who approve its aims.

While the gifts for current expenses have increased yearly, they cannot keep pace with the many increasing opportunities for social, educational and civic usefulness which the neighborhood offers.

During the twenty years of its existence Hull-House has made no general public appeal for money. This fact added to the growth of its buildings may have been construed to mean that general contributions were not needed. We are most anxious that no such misapprehension should exist. Quite as the usefulness and the very existence of Hull-House depends upon the [cooperative] activity of hundreds of people, so the financial support should rest upon a broad basis of gifts from the many who are continually contributing to efforts for the better citizenship of Chicago.

It is earnestly hoped that the twentieth anniversary of Hull-House may be signalized by [page 13] many contributions which will insure not only the continuance but the enlargement of its undertakings.

Jane Addams.[signed][page 14]

Hull-House Trustees

Edward B. Butler
Helen Culver
Charles L. Hutchinson
Mary Rozet Smith
Jane Addams, President
Louise de Koven Bowen, Treasurer
Allen B. Pond, Secretary

Finance Committee

Representing Residents:
Fred H. DeKnatel
Alice Hamilton
George A. Hooker
Julia C. Lathrop

Representing Ex-Residents
Edgar A. Bancroft
Edw. L. Burchard
Fred W. Burlingham
A. A. McCormick

Representing Contributors:
Alfred L. Baker
R. T. Crane
Harry Hart
Julius Rosenwald