Monday, March 1, 2010

Metropolis of Reform

Hull-House Museum website:

James Addams info (Harvard University Library- "Women Working, 1800-1930):

The term Black Metropolis evokes the image of a proud, developing urban community, highlighting the availability of opportunities, resources, institutions, and political power whose dearth creates the focus of the “ghettoization model” (Gregory, 114). In these communities rested the “key to new forms of influence and new expressions of identity that would help in the struggle for change” (ibid, 152). While the Black Metropolis offered an avenue for change to an oppressed African-American population, the Hull House, a Chicago settlement house, extended a similar opportunity to both women and the poor, working class.

The American Settlement Movement made work and leadership roles available to the first generation of college-educated women, then confronting a social environment with incredibly limited career opportunities. The founder of Hull House, Jane Addams, strived to offer access to social services and education to the predominantly immigrant population living in Chicago’s overcrowded industrial neighborhoods. These services included classes, daycare, libraries, an employment bureau, and ethnic events aimed to teach residents about diverse cultures. In addition to these local efforts, Addams, along with other women running the settlement, used Hull House to launch programs for social reform. Their legislative achievements, tackling issues including child labor, immigration policy, occupational safety, and women’s suffrage, enabled their influence to burgeon nationwide. This garnered credibility for women and helped construct new understandings of their roles in American society. Like the Black Metropolis, settlement houses reflected changing forms of cultural production and evolving patterns of social structure.

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