• Identification41/3
  • Title
    • Guide to the Northwestern University Settlement Association Delinquent Boy Case Files
    • Northwestern University Settlement Association Delinquent Boy Case Files
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Date1929-1931, 1938-1938
  • OriginationNorthwestern University Settlement (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Physical Description5.00
  • RepositoryNorthwestern University Archives Deering Library, Room 110 1970 Campus Dr. Evanston, IL, 60208-2300 URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives Email: archives@northwestern.edu Phone: 847-491-3354
  • AbstractThe series includes case files and address cards as well as papers containing plans for the Delinquent Boys program, letters, a list of acronyms for agencies, and other administrative documents.

Other Information:

While burglaries and robberies comprised nearly all of the major crimes in West Town prior to 1923, during the 1920s and the 1930s criminal charges of disorderly conduct were the most prevalent. These charges included drunkenness and vagrancy as well as charges relating to quarrels, domestic disputes and violence. The Chicago Police Department claimed that the Settlement neighborhood had the most juvenile delinquency in the city. Juvenile delinquency and juvenile crime was attributed to the abuse of alcohol (especially during Prohibition), participation in gangs and “social-athletic clubs,” and dysfunctional family life. Young boys, mostly from immigrant families, relied on the Settlement for assistance with probation supervision, legal advice, employment referrals, and continuing education.

The Northwestern University Settlement Association was founded in 1891 by a group of administrators and faculty from Northwestern University in order to provide social services, educational programs, referrals, and emergency relief to a poor immigrant neighborhood on Chicago's near northwest side. In 1901, after three moves, the Settlement was established in the building at 1400 West Augusta where it continues to operate as a community center.

Early Settlement activities centered around acculturating the largely immigrant population of the 16th Ward and included a picture loan service, a small library, and dance and music classes. Shortly after its founding, though, the Settlement began to offer additional eleemosynary services relating to public health and hygiene. During the Great Depression, the Settlement suspended many of its regular programs in order to dispense food, fuel, clothing and medicine to needy families. During World War II, the Settlement became a draft registration center and played an active role in various home front activities. In the 1950s and 1960s the Settlement greatly expanded its network to civic, service, social, fraternal, veteran and church organizations and offered many more citizenship and English classes. In the early 1980's, a project to establish an online database for the Settlement program records was initiated. Prior to that time, all program records had been handwritten on index cards and filed in thousands of family files.

For additional historical background on the Settlement, see the historical summary which forms a part of the descriptive inventory for Series 41/1, the General Administrative Records. See also the informal history prepared for the Settlement's centennial, The Worn Doorstep, by Mark Wukas (Chicago: Northwestern University Settlement Association, 1991).

  • NamesNorthwestern University Settlement (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Subject
    • Boys--Societies and clubs
    • Male juvenile delinquents--Services for--Illinois--Chicago
    • Social service--Illinois--Chicago

These records were part of accession number 90-160, donated to the University Archives by Ron Manderschied and Doris Overboe of the Northwestern University Settlement on October 15, 1990.

Rachel Erlich, June 1996. Addition processed by Kaia L. Densch, October, 1997.

These records can only be consulted with the permission of the University Archivist.

The records’ original arrangement, in alphabetical order by subject, was retained, but several large, coherent categories were separated from the General Administrative Files, organized separately, and assigned their own series numbers.

41/1: General Administrative Files, 1891-1995 (73 boxes)

41/2: Case files, 1908-1976 (79 boxes)

41/4: Financial Records, 1918-1971

41/5: Clubs and Classes Attendance and Registration Cards, 1936-1953 (25 boxes)

41/6: Photographs, 1890-1991 (8 boxes)

41/7: Scrapbooks, 1892-1984 (20 boxes)

41/8: Evanston Woman's Board, 1911-1990 (7 boxes)

41/9: North Shore Junior League, 1937-1992 (14 boxes)

41/10: Lenora E. Clare Diary, 1906-1910 (1 box)

41/11: Food Client Records, 1985-1986 (3 boxes)

Boxes 1 – 5: The Delinquent Boys Case Files date from 1929 to 1939, with the bulk of the material covering 1929-1931. The case files fill five boxes, and are arranged numerically by case number.

The collection includes 752 case files relating to delinquent boys, 1929-1931. Additional unnumbered files from 1938-1939 are also included, as well as a list of 365 names and addresses of delinquent boys, presumably from 1938-1939. Each case file includes the following information: Boys’ Court case number, date of file, family and individual delinquent boy (D.B.) case number, name of boy, age or date of birth, nationality, citizenship, address, school, grade level, religion, church affiliation, marital status, reading, writing, and speaking abilities in English, occupation and past employers, social life activities, and a brief description of past arrests, criminal and court record, and updated addresses. The case files also include the names of the boy’s parents (including step-parents), their nationalities, citizenship, occupations, wages, and address, as well as the names, ages, and whereabouts of the other children in the family. Notes from interviews and home visits by Settlement staff members are also included with some of the case files, as well as court record cards listing time served in jail and amounts of bail. This supplementary material is scarce in the records from 1930 and 1931, however, the unnumbered case records from 1938-1939 do contain notes on interviews and home visits.

Filed with the 1938-1939 case files are two short papers: “Plans for Delinquency Work in the Settlement’s Neighborhood,” which outlines follow-up studies, and Settlement programs for delinquent boys under juvenile and boys’ court jurisdiction, as well as programs for parent and neighborhood groups; and “Can the Leisure Time Agencies Be More Effective in the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency?,” which discusses the problems related to the prevention of juvenile delinquency. The 1938-1939 files also include a list of acronyms and abbreviations for different agencies and organizations, a list from the Board of Education of delinquent boys enrolled in Chicago schools in 1938, and Polish language newspaper clippings related to specific cases involving boys from the Settlement (of particular interest are clippings regarding an apparently highly publicized case involving a band of delinquent boys under the leadership of a 25 year old woman). Also included are four letters dated September 12, 1931 from the Boys’ Court Representative of the Northwestern University Settlement, Windham Bonham, to the Superintendents of the Pontiac Reformatory and the State Penitentiary in Joliet regarding the parole of specific boys from the Settlement. There is also a proposal for a follow-up study of 559 delinquent boys under the Northwestern University Settlement’s charge in 1930-1931.

Addition (Boxes 6 – 7): This addition to The Delinquent Boys Case Files is undated and fills two card boxes. Box 6 contains cards divided alphabetically by street name. Cards within each street are filed alphabetically by surname of family. Cards typically contain the names of the delinquent boy and his family, their address and a case number. Over time, many of the street names have changed. The original filing order has been maintained, however, for the following streets, the street name on the heading card differs from the street name on the cards within that subdivision.

Beach = Bringham

Bosworth = Dickson

Chestnut = Cornell

Cortez = Wade and Emma

Crystal = Crystal, Sloan, and Lull

Damen = Damen and Robey

Elizabeth = Keith

Greenville = Holt

Haddon = Chapin

Honore = Newton and Girard

Hubbard = Austin

Lemoyne = Lemoyne, Blanche, McReynolds

Marshfield = Marshfield, Edgemont, Sist

Pearson = Clarinda

Pierce = Keenon

Race = Emerson

St. Louis = Balou

Thomas = Thomas, Tell, and Crittendon

Throop = Temple and McHenry

Willard = Ayers

Wolcott = Lincoln