Onward Neighborhood House was an early adopter of social services practices pioneered in the late 1800s by Jane Addams. As an original settlement souse, 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 was with Onward House during the 1920s. This type of primary source document gives 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 everyday activities in the log here!