At its height, the Hull House was visited each week by around two thousand people. Its facilities included a night school for adults, kindergarten classes, clubs for older children, a public kitchen, an art gallery, a coffeehouse, a gym, a girls’ club, a bathhouse, a book bindery, a music school, a drama group, and a library, as well as labor-related divisions.(Thx for the reminder, Google.)

Eleanor McMain, a settlement house worker and a progressive reformer who profoundly affected early twentieth-century New Orleans, born in 1868.

Eleanor Laura McMain was born on March 2, 1868, on a farm in East Baton Rouge Parish. Her parents were Jacob West McMain and Jane Josephine Walsh McMain, and Eleanor was one of their eight children. Having arrived from Philadelphia in the 1840s, her father became a prosperous planter and served in the Confederate Army, but lost much of his wealth during the Civil War. Eleanor moved with her family to Baton Rouge, where her father became dean and secretary of Louisiana State University. Reared in a household that encouraged reading, Eleanor attended a series of private schools. After teaching school in Baton Rouge, in the late 1890s she relocated to New Orleans, where she trained in the Free Kindergarten Association. This pioneering organization sponsored by city Episcopalian churches relied on innovative methods for teaching preschool children. In 1900, the directors of Kingsley House, a settlement house in the Irish Channel section of the city, chose her as head resident. To prepare, she spent a summer studying the settlement house movement at the University of Chicago. She also studied at two settlement houses, Chicago Commons and Hull House.

With McMain’s leadership, Kingsley House served as a community center for its working-class neighborhood. The settlement house provided a medical clinic as well as an array of educational opportunities, including a kindergarten, a night school, vocational classes, a circulating library, and the city’s first vocational school. In addition, concerts, dances, athletic events, clubs, annual summer camps, and the city’s first playground offered recreation, especially to children. Although the settlement house had been established by Trinity Episcopal Church, McMain transformed it into a nonsectarian facility to reach out to the entire community, regardless of religious affiliation.

McMain made Kingsley House a focal point for progressive reforms. The settlement hosted the initial meetings of the Woman’s League in 1905. As a founder and the organization’s first president, McMain called for an end to inadequate housing, unsanitary conditions, child labor, long work days, and deplorable schools. While working to remedy these conditions, she played a pivotal role in halting the yellow fever epidemic of 1905. With volunteers from Kingsley House, she went door to door, instructing local residents about preventive health measures. McMain’s activism also included participating in the Anti-Tuberculosis Association, chairing a Tenement House Commission, testifying before the state legislature about child labor, and collaborating with Sophie Newcomb College to open a school for social workers at Kingsley House. 

During World War I, McMain trained Red Cross nurses, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune awarded her its 1918 Loving Cup for community service. She helped organize the New Orleans Council of Social Agencies and served as its president. She died May 12, 1934, and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Baton Rouge.


Henry Street Settlement House

At the settlement house, I found pictures of immigrants from early stages. They do not look happy. They look distressed from adjusting to new country and life style. But immigrants from same country helped each other and created their own communities.

It’s Fun Fact Friday!

Did you know that the Settlement House Movement started in England?

Toynbee Hall, the first settlement house, opened in East London in 1884 to provide social services and education to low-income workers who lived in the area.  However, the movement caught on quickly: Americans started building settlement houses in the late 1880s.

Read more here!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Mayor’s Charity Ball: Great Gatsby Extravaganza

Mayor’s Charity Ball: Great Gatsby Extravaganza

The 2014 Mayor’s Charity Ball- Great Gatsby Extravaganza is an event this summer, planned to help raise money to “rebuild” the Corona-Norco Settlement House.

Would you like to take part in the ultimate fundraising Extravaganza celebrating more than a century worth of Settlement House service? The night will include a red carpet, photo ops, street performers, live band, appetizers and dinner,…

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Prepare for Launch

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our Tumblr page!  The Center is designed to unite stakeholders of all types in studying and promoting the values of the settlement house movement, and we look forward to expanding our work into the Tumblr community.

We already have some great resources out there: our website, Facebook, Twitter, and our Building Neighborhoods blog.  Tumblr, however, is a brand new experiment for us.  Join us in exploring new ways to promote neighborhood revitalization, civic engagement, and our commitment to meaningful, lasting change.

So, what can you expect from this page?  Probably a wide range of things.  Over the course of the next few months, we’re going to test out different content to see how we can best meet the needs of our audience.  Tumblr is a much more visual platform than anything else we use, so we’ll be trying out some new formats in addition to traditional text. 

For example, since gifs are the lingua franca of Tumblr, we’ll sometimes incorporate fun ones like this into our posts:

(Image source)

More importantly, we’re looking forward to using Tumblr to create a hub of original and shared content that provides readers with high-quality information.  Fun but still informative, this page aims to offer a dynamic, engaging learning experience. 

To make the most of this launch, we’d like to take the opportunity to announce some more good news: we are extending the early bird deadline for the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference to July 7th!  If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here. You can save $150 by registering early!

We hope you enjoy the conference, the Tumblr, and everything else the Center has to offer! Follow us and keep watching for more news. 

And so it begins!

Welcome to the Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building’s brand-new Tumblr page!  We hope you enjoy this site as a resource for all things related to civic engagement, neighborhood revitalization, and building stronger, healthier communities.

To start things off, let’s introduce ourselves. 

The Alliance for Children and Families’ Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building is designed to unite stakeholders of all types in studying and promoting the efficacy of settlement house movement values. This movement’s values recognize that all individuals, families, and communities, no matter how challenged, possess aspirations and strengths that can be the foundation for meaningful, lasting change.

The Alliance established the Center as it united its national membership with the United Neighborhood Centers of America (UNCA) network in January 2014 to form a strong network of nearly 500 settlement houses, community centers, and human-serving organizations. By virtue of their heritage in the settlement house movement, UNCA and its network of community centers were key torchbearers for solutions that arise from the collaboration of community residents.

The practice of authentically engaging individuals in identifying their own strengths, aspirations, and solutions was used by the first settlement workers and it still holds true today. It is evident that building on individual and community assets and engaging neighbors and constituents as decision makers creates more lasting and effective change than a model where outside “experts” conceive and impose solutions.

Because of their demonstrated efficacy, the Center works to accelerate the adoption of authentic engagement and person-centered and strengths-based orientations as key cultural elements of all organizations that work to build stronger communities, including human and community development organizations, public sector entities, academia, private industry, and beyond.

Image source