• IdentificationMSCFSN82
  • TitleChicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers collection MSCFSN82
  • PublisherSpecial Collections
  • LanguageEnglish
  • RepositorySpecial Collections
  • Physical Description19.0 Linear feet
  • Date1896-1982
  • AbstractThe collection contains minutes, speeches, annual reports, studies, reports, and correspondence dating from 1900 to the present. The materials pertain to Chicago area settlement houses, social work, childcare, public housing, poverty, Jane Addams, and Louise de Koven Bowen.
  • OriginationChicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers.

Old Resource ID was CFNSC

The Chicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (CFSNC) was founded at Hull-House in 1894 by representatives from Hull-House, Northwestern University Settlement, Maxwell Street Settlement, University of Chicago Settlement, Epworth House and Chicago Commons. The Federation brought together settlement workers, social work professionals, and supporters of the settlement house movement from all around the City of Chicago. As part of its mission, the CFSNC provided settlement workers with a forum to share objectives and ideas, organized and conducted studies of local economic conditions, planned charitable events, coordinated activities of area settlements, and cooperated with outside social service agencies.

From 1894-1921, the Federation grew to include thirty-six members and opened an office in downtown Chicago. In 1922, the Chicago Federation of Settlements was incorporated by the State of Illinois. The charter named six prominent Chicago settlement workers as directors: Jane Addams, Hull-House; Harriet E. Vittum, Northwestern University Settlement; Lea D. Taylor, Chicago Commons; Ruth Austin, Gad's Hill Center; Mrs. Beryl T. Gould, House of Happiness; and Winifred Salisbury. The enumerated objectives of the Federation were: "to act as a clearing house for information about settlements and their work; a placement bureau for settlement workers; to provide information and advice regarding training and to co-ordinate the activities of the settlement houses of the City of Chicago."

The bulk of the CFSNC Collection chronicles the years between 1961-1980 during the Executive Directorship of Clarence W. Boebel. During Boebel's tenure the CFSNC expanded the national Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, founded pre-Kindergarten education programs (i.e. Head Start and Day Care), and created the United Settlement Appeal as a fund-raising mechanism for social service agencies. The CFSNC also cooperated with outside social service agencies such as the National Federation of Settlement and Neighborhood Centers, Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunity, the Model Cities project, and the Illinois Commission on Children.

Though the Federation served as an umbrella organization for the settlement movement, Boebel's leadership style privileged local autonomy over centralized decision-making. In 1980, Boebel reflected on his career and the necessity for social workers to continue to settle in Chicago's lower-income neighborhoods. Boebel instructed the next generation of social workers: "The only [approach] that really worked was the simplest one. That was: regardless of your culture or ethnic differences, you settled in the neighborhood and said - What is it we can do together?"

Supporting Boebel was a cadre of staff including: Mary De Johnette, Director of Education services; Gladys Hilton, Coordinator of Social Action; Mattie Wright, Director of Finance, and Althea Murray, Director of the summer youth employment program. Hilton served as Director of the Social Education and Action committee (SEA) that lobbied state and city legislators to improve child care and welfare policymaking. De Johnette helped found Head Start and Day Care programs in Chicago in the early 1960s. In 1980, De Johnette replaced Boebel as Executive Director of the CFSNC.

This collection reflects the history, activity, leadership, and mission of the CFSNC and its relationship with outside service agencies, government bodies, and the public. The bulk of the collection consists of material about social work in Chicago between the years 1960-1980. The collection illustrates the CFSNC's efforts to improve child care, education, housing, and access to health care in lower-income neighborhoods in the City of Chicago. The files contain correspondence, photographs, newsletters, articles, brochures, professional journals, newspaper clippings, legal publications, handbooks, meeting minutes, and annual reports.

The collection is divided into four series reflecting the administrative organization of the CFSNC. The committee file series illustrates the day-to-day operations of the CFSNC through meeting minutes, budget reports, and correspondence. The reference file series reveals the myriad community issues that Chicago social workers addressed from 1960-1980 and consists of reports, surveys, and studies conducted by local, state, and national social service agencies. The member agency series includes organizational records of over thirty Chicago settlements and neighborhood centers between the years 1950-1970. The member agency photograph series contains photographs of Chicago area settlements between the years 1905-1975.

Materials in this collection were donated to the University of Illinois at Chicago, Main Library, Special Collections, in two accessions in 1982 and 1983. Ernie Farir, President of the CFSNC, donated CFSNC's organizational files in 1982. In 1983, Farir donated the photograph collection that comprises the member agency photograph series. Many of the folder titles were assigned by the CFSNC, in these cases the folder is labeled with its original title. In 2003, the accessions were combined and arranged into series and subseries by the cataloger.

Chicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers collection, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Names
    • Addams, Jane, 1860-1935
    • Bowen, Louise de Koven, b.1859
    • Chicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers. -- Archives
    • Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.).
  • Subject
    • Chicago Community Organizations.
    • Chicago Neighborhoods.
    • Midwest Women's History.
    • Social settlements.
  • Geographic CoverageIllinois--Chicago.