Past Events & Activities

Primary Sources


Lesson Plans

Links and Resources

Meet our partners
Staff/Management Plan
Contact Us!





Return to this topic's index page

Visit other sections
in this topic:

Primary Sources
Resources and Links


Immigration, Urbanization, Americanization and the Settlement House Movement
Content Session Material

Theme: Social Changes and Social Reform
Topic: Immigration, Urbanization, Americanization and the Settlement House Movement
Date: January 28, 2004
Scholar: Brad Austin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of History, Salem State College

Overview | Required Reading | Reading Questions

Materials selected and syllabus created by Brad Austin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of History, Salem State College () and SALEM in History staff


In response to both a variety of push factors in their native countries and the pull of economic opportunity in the rapidly industrializing and urbanizing United States, a huge wave of "new" immigrants flocked to America's growing urban centers in the years surrounding the turn of the twentieth century, years also marked by an upsurge in reformist tendencies. These immigrants, often settling in ethnic enclaves, posed a challenge to reformers and educators who frequently wanted to find ways to Americanize potential citizens and their children. In this session we will explore the causes and consequences of the "new" immigration (including the urban growth and industrialization that shaped the social and economic landscape of the Progressive Era), and pay particular attention to the efforts of settlement house workers to provide social services and education to America's newest arrivals.

^return to top of page

Required Reading

Secondary Sources

Crocker, Ruth Hutchinson. Social Work and Social Order: The Settlement Movement in Two Industrial Cities, 1889-1930. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1991. (Introduction; 11-18; Chapter 2 "Adjusting Their Life to Ours: From Foreign House to American Settlement")

Diner, Steven J. A Very Different Age: Americans of the Progressive Era. New York: Hill and Wang, 1998. (Chapter 3 "Immigrants and Industrial America" and Bibliographic Essay)

Lissak, Rivka. "Myth and Reality: The Pattern of Relationship between the Hull House
Circle and the 'New Immigrants' on Chicago's West Side, 1890-1919." Journal of American Ethnic History vol. 2 no 2. (Spring 1983): 21-50. (optional)

Sklar, Kathryn Kish. "Hull House in the 1890s: A Community of Women Reformers." Signs vol.10 (Summer 1985): 658-677. (optional)

Primary Sources

Addams, Jane. Twenty Years at Hull House. New York: Macmillan, 1910; New York: Penguin Books 1998. (selections are from the Penguin edition) (Chapter 6 "The Subjective Necessity of Social Settlements"; Chapter 11 "Immigrants and Their Children")

Goldberger, Henry H. English for Coming Citizens. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1921.

^return to top of page

Reading Questions

1. What type(s) of relationship(s) exist between the four major components of this session's title "Immigration, Urbanization, Americanization and the Settlement House Movement"

2. What ideas and/or perceived problems shaped settlement house workers' programs and projects? Did these programs and projects meet the needs of the people they were intended to serve? What disconnects, if any, existed?

3. To what extent and in what ways did settlement houses serve the needs of both those who founded and worked at them and the individuals and groups who were their espoused constituents?

4. Consider the impact of gender and gender roles on both the creation of and activities of settlement houses.

5. In what ways did all "new immigrants" share similar experiences in the United States? In what way(s) did experiences differ for and even within specific groups? What accounts for difference(s)?

6. What were the main goals of "Americanization" activities and movements?

7. Can you identify and describe the following: The challenges facing proponents of Americanization?; The tensions that the movement highlighted?; The unexpected consequences?

^return to top of page