Settlement Houses

I’ve been reading about the late nineteenth century settlement house movement, which is basically a lot of middle class college kids moving into the slums.  When I read this it reminded me of us….

“The twofold objective of the settlements gave rise to a good deal of uncertainty about their exact function.  The story was told of a society matron who, lornette in hand, inspected one of the college settlements from top to bottom.  ‘Well!’ she exclaimed, at the conclusion of her visit, ‘I do think you young ladies down here are doing a magnificent work-whatever it is!’  Like many others she could admire the courage displayed by young ladies who went into voluntary exile in the slums, but it was difficult for her to grasp the real purpose of their ‘magnificent work.’ In fact, the settlement’s mission was not to do any one thing, but to provide an atmosphere in which ties of understanding and sympathy could be established between people of very different backgrounds and material conditions.”  -from The Discovery of Poverty in the United States by Robert H. Bremner

I think I liked this passage because I feel like I am never really sure what I am doing in Franklinton or how to explain it to people who don’t live here.  I also like the definition of the settlements as not really doing any one thing but  providing “times of understanding and sympathy.”  I feel like we all said that being good neighbors was our goal when we moved down here, but it is so hard to just stop and connect with people because we are all so busy.  Especially in the summer!




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