Onward Neighborhood House was an early adapter to the field of social services pioneered in the 1800s by Jane Adams. As an original Settlement House, Onward House provided classes, room and board, job training, clubs for young children, and even medical care to new European immigrants and low-income Chicagoans.
While many documents from Onward’s founding years have been lost, one of the earliest that has survived is a daily log of an unnamed social worker who worked at Onward House during the 1920s. These type of primary source documents give us a glimpse into the day to day of settlement house life.
Much of what this social worker’s log shows us is a day filled with house calls. Much like the work we still do today, staff spent their time checking in on families that relied on Onward House, as well as recruiting others for clubs and programs.
See if you can find any more details of the day to day life in the log here!