Frontiers in Community Service: The U.S. Settlement House Movement

2023 Guides - Theme: Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas
Newspaper clipping image with a large group of children and a few teachers standing in the foreground of a playground. Several children are sitting up high on climbing equipment in the background. Further in the background is a large building. Written on the bottom of the image is "The West Side Neighborhood House and Playgrounds. 966 Galapago Street."

"The West Side Neighborhood House and Playgrounds. 966 Galapago Street," Neighborhood House Scrapbooks, WH330, Western History Collection, The Denver Public Library.

Getting Started

Begin your research by brainstorming keywords - the words and phrases you’ll use to search for books, articles, websites, government documents, and other resources. These may include names of people and places or historical concepts like eras and movements. A librarian can suggest “subject headings” to find the most relevant resources.

Example Keywords & Catalog Subject Headings

Emily Griffith Opportunity School
Neighborhood House
Progressive Era
Settlement House
West Side Neighborhood House

Genealogy, African American and Western History Resources

The Western History & Genealogy department focuses on Colorado and the West and features many primary source materials.  

The Blair Caldwell African American Research Library collections focus on African American history and culture in Colorado and the West, and also feature many primary source collections. 

Items from these two departments do not check out and are available to see at the Central Library when we are open. Western History and Blair-Caldwell staff are available to assist by phone and email and can provide scans of collection items for your project. To contact these two departments, email or and include "National History Day" in your subject line. You may also call 720-865-1821.

Database/Online Resources

Library databases are online collections of information, organized for research. Databases contain articles, eBooks, images, maps, primary sources and more. If you don’t have a library card, register online for immediate access to these resources. The following recommended databases are available on our Research and Teen Social Studies pages.

U.S. History (Gale)

Provides a complete overview of our nation’s past that covers the most-studied events, decades, conflicts, wars, political and cultural movements, and people from reference sources, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted web sites.

Available with library card

Gale eBooks

Access full-text encyclopedias covering the arts, biography, country studies, history, law, literature, religion, science, social science and more! Great for research and homework. Video tutorial

Available with library card

Prospector: Materials from Other Colorado and Wyoming Libraries

​​As a Denver Public Library customer, you can also borrow materials from other libraries in Colorado and Wyoming. Use Prospector to request materials that DPL does not own.

Internet Sources

Before using information you find on the internet for assignments and research, it is important to establish that the information comes from a reliable and appropriate source. The following websites, from government, academic and nonprofit organizations, have been evaluated for authority, accuracy, content and currency.

The Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection currently includes more than 2.3 million digitized pages, representing more than 615 individual newspaper titles published in Colorado from 1859 up thru 2021. This search is for articles that have the phrase "Settlement House" in them.
Chicago's Hull House Settlement, founded by Jane Addams, is now a museum dedicated to settlement houses and Jane Addams' life. This site includes historical information and a virtual tour.
New York's Henry Street Settlement is still in operation, providing social services, arts, and health care programs. This page presents their history and links to an online exhibit.
Settlement House workers provided childcare and educational support for the children of working families at the turn of the last century. They also focused on adult education, literacy and citizenship classes, health services, and social events and entertainments. The Library of Congress has produced this primary source set with images, essays, and links to additional ebooks and other materials.
Immigrants to the United States at the turn of the last century faced many challenges to finding work, social supports, and acceptance by Americans already here. Settlement workers in many cities concerned themselves with providing newcomers with work training, literacy and citizenship classes, childcare, healthcare, and entertainment events. The Library of Congress has produced this primary source set with images, essays, and links to additional materials.
Jacob Riis was an urban social reformer, journalist, and photographer whose book "How the Other Half Lives" was instrumental in highlighting living conditions in poor New York City tenements. He also documented child labor conditions, and supported the efforts of a New York settlement house that would come to be named after him. This Library of Congress exhibit highlights his life and work, and the conditions he strove to improve.
The Digital Public Library of America makes millions of materials from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions across the country available online to all in a one-stop discovery experience. This search for "Settlement House" produced nearly 300 results for communities across the country, from Boston to California, Texas to Minnesota, and points in between.
From the digital Hathi Trust collection: Being a history of the first year in a new settlement house, as gathered from reports presented at the anniversary meeting, held June 19th, 1898.

Contact the Reference Services department for help with your research project