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settlement house,neighborhood welfare institution generally in an urban slum area, where trained workers endeavor to improve social conditions, particularly by providing community services and promoting neighborly cooperation. The idea was developed in mid-19th-century England when such social thinkers as Thomas Hill GreenGreen, Thomas Hill,
1836–82, English idealist philosopher. Educated at Oxford, he was associated with the university all his life. He was professor of moral philosophy there from 1878 until his death.
..... Click the link for more information. , John RuskinRuskin, John,
1819–1900, English critic and social theorist. During the mid-19th cent. Ruskin was the virtual dictator of artistic opinion in England, but Ruskin's reputation declined after his death, and he has been treated harshly by 20th-century critics.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Arnold ToynbeeToynbee, Arnold
, 1852–83, English economic historian, philosopher, and reformer. After his graduation in 1878 he was a tutor at Balliol College, Oxford, and was active in reform work outside the university, particularly among the London poor.
..... Click the link for more information. (1852–83) urged university students to settle in poor neighborhoods, where they could study and work to better local conditions. The pioneer establishment was Toynbee Hall, founded in 1884 in London under the leadership of Samuel Augustus BarnettBarnett, Samuel Augustus
, 1844–1913, English clergyman and social worker. As vicar of St. Jude's, Whitechapel, in the slums of London, he pioneered in the social settlement movement.
..... Click the link for more information. . Before long, similar houses were founded in many cities of Great Britain, the United States, and continental Europe. Some of the more famous settlement houses in the United States have been Hull House and Chicago Commons, Chicago; South End House, Boston; and the University Settlement, Henry Street Settlement, and Greenwich House, New York City. Settlements serve as community, education, and recreation centers, particularly in densely populated immigrant neighborhoods. Sometimes known as social settlements, they are also called neighborhood houses, neighborhood centers, or community centers. The settlement house differs from other social welfare agencies; the latter provide specific services, while the former is aimed at improving neighborhood life as a whole. Its role has gradually altered as some of its varied functions have been assumed by state and municipal authorities and by other organizations. Kindergartens, formerly an important adjunct of the settlement house, are now operated by the public schools; municipal health departments have taken over its clinical services; and labor unions now sponsor educational and recreational activities for workers. The early leaders of settlement houses in the United States met from time to time and in 1911 founded the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers; Jane AddamsAddams, Jane,
1860–1935, American social worker, b. Cedarville, Ill., grad. Rockford College, 1881. In 1889, with Ellen Gates Starr, she founded Hull House in Chicago, one of the first social settlements in the United States (see settlement house).
..... Click the link for more information. served as the first president. In 1926 the International Federation of Settlements and Neighbourhood Centres was established to coordinate community work on an international level.
See L. Pacey, ed., Readings in the Development of Settlement Work (1951); A. Hillman, Neighborhood Centers Today (1960); A. F. Davis, Spearheads for Reform (1967, repr. 1970).