In the 1800s America saw a flood of immigrants from all over the world. Many fled to America for freedom -- political or religious -- or economic opportunities they could not find in their home countries. Most immigrants entered the United Stated through New York City, with approximately 12 million immigrants arriving between 1870 and 1900.
Immigration To The United States
Immigrants could enter the U.S. through several ports. European immigrants entered through ports on the East Coast, and Asian immigrants through West Coast ports. According to the Library of Congress nearly 70 percent -- most from Germany, England and Ireland -- entered through New York City. By 1892, a new immigration processing center was opened on Ellis Island in New York Harbor.
The settlement house movement began in the late1800s to help immigrants and refugees transition to living in the United States. Settlement houses existed in the Unites States in Chicago, Boston, and New York. The major purpose of the settlement houses was to help to ease the transition of immigrants into the United States. Immigrants were taught American values and helped to transition into the American workforce. Among them was Hull House, located in Chicago and started in 1889 by Jane Addams. Hull House provided necessary social services to reduce the effects of poverty, including a public bath, daycare center, homeless shelter and public kitchen. Denison House in Boston also had a library, gymnasium and clinic.
Children’s Aid Society
The Children’s Aid Society was established in 1853 by Charles Loring Brace, a Methodist minister. His concern was for the growing number of immigrant children living in poverty. Most of the children the Children’s Aid Society helped were abandoned or orphaned. They were living on the streets of New York and were unable to work to earn wages due to their ages. Brace opened low-cost homes where these children could live. He also established a system where these children in New York were taken to rural locations in the United States and taken in by families who wanted children or were looking for cheap labor.
The North Bennet Street Industrial School in Boston was established in 1880 to assist new immigrants in learning skills that would help them find employment. Boys learned skills such as drawing, clay modeling, printing, carpentry and leatherwork. Girls, in preparation for family life and employment, studied clay modeling, cooking, housekeeping, printing and laundry. Day care was provided so that women could learn new skills. The Women’s Educational and Industrial Union had departments such as the Domestic Reform League, School of Housekeeping, Handwork Shop, New England Kitchen and School Lunches,. All were established to assist immigrant women and widows to gain employment.
- Library of Congress: Immigration to the United States - American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources - Library of Congress
- Davis, A. F. (1977). Settlements: History. In J. B. Turner (Ed.). Encyclopedia of social work, 17th ed, vol 2. Washington, D.C.: National Association of Social Workers
- Harvard University Library: Open Collections Program: Immigration to the US, Settlement House Movement
- Harvard University Library: Open Collections Program: Immigration to the US, Denison House
- Harvard University Library: Open Collections Program: Immigration to the US, The Children's Aid Society
- Harvard University Library: Open Collections Program: Immigration to the US, North Bennet Street Industrial School
- OASIS Online Archival Search Information System: Women's Educational and Industrial Union (Boston, Mass.) Records, 1894-1955: A Finding Aid
- Thomas Northcut/Stockbyte/Getty Images