A Study of Omaha Social Settlements

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Mann, Marie Cullen
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The social settlement as defined by John Lewis Gillin is "a center in which men and women of education, wealth and leisure, may meet on terms of neighborly friendliness the less fortunate citizens of their community, where each may learn from the other and through friendship render service to each other resuIting in enlargement of vision, development of personality, and united action for social betterment.” The settlement movement was the result of the desire to bridge the widening gulf between the rich and the poor. About 1850, students at Oxford University became interested in the social problems of the working-class communities caused by the sudden growth of cities and industries. Rusk in, Carlyle, and Kingsley in stirring words told of the abject misery and squalor of East London and of the responsibility that the more favored individuals had toward their less fortunate fellow creatures. Several Oxford students began personal investigations of the conditions among the poor and Frederick Maurice in 1860 established a Workingmen's Club in East London where Cambridge graduates taught in their free hours. Edward Denison and Arnold Toynbee were among the first to become interested in this work and each spent a great deal of time in the poorer districts, there acquiring first hand information concerning actual conditions. They were "the first of that long line of Oxford and Cambridge students who went down to the poor people of the East End to share their lives with them and to learn of them." (1) It was as a direct result of the work of these men and of the leadership of Canon Barnett that the first settlement was established in East London in 1884. It was named Toynbee Hall in memory of Arnold Toynbee who had been so active in the movement but because of his premature death had been unable to see any of his ideas take form. The settlement originated, then, in England in 1884 and in the next two decades many more appeared in the larger English cities. Since 1900 the growth has been steady but not as rapid as in the beginning.
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