Ohio History Journal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16




From Progressive to Patrician:

George Bellamy and Hiram House

Social Settlement, 1896-1914


The institution most closely associated with the birth and early

development of turn of the century Progressivism was the social

settlement house, which best symbolized the movement's drive for

reform and order in urban America. As aptly described by Allen Davis,

the settlement houses were "spearheads for reform," whose partisans

were among the first to recognize and attack problems of the in-

dustrial city: the plight of the immigrant, child labor, urban decay,

the social basis of crime, organized political corruption.1 Settlement

work, moreover, provides a key to an understanding of Progressivism

because the nation's pioneer settlement houses were frequently an

extension of the social philosophy of their founders. Hull House,

Chicago Commons and Henry Street Settlement are rightfully linked

to the names Jane Addams, Graham Taylor and Lillian Wald. Likewise

in Cleveland, Hiram House, the first social settlement in the city, be-

came identified with the commanding figure of George Bellamy, a

founder of the house and director for more than fifty years. A closer

look at Bellamy and the institution he did so much to shape tells us

much about the character of the Progressive impulse, both in Cleveland

and throughout urban America.


Dr. Grabowski is an archivist at the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland,


1. Allen F. Davis, Spearheads for Reform, the Social Settlements and the Progres-

sive Movement 1890-1914 (New York, 1967). Davis' book is considered the standard

source on the settlement movement prior to World War I. Judith Trolander's Settle-

ment Houses and the Great Depression (Detroit, 1975) chronicles the movement to the

end of the 1930s. Older, non-analytical works that still provide insight into the move-

ment include: Albert J. Kennedy and Robert Woods, The Settlement Horizon (New

York, 1924); Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House (New York, 1910); Graham

Taylor, Chicago Commons Through Forty Years (Chicago, 1936), and Pioneering on

Social Frontiers (Chicago, 1930); and Lillian Wald, The House on Henry Street (New

York, 1915). The last four titles cited are of interest in that they are autobiographical

views of settlement work. Analyses of the philosophy and contributions of Jane Ad-

dams and Graham Taylor have been prepared by Daniel Levine, Jane Addams and the

Liberal Tradition (Madison, 1971); and Louise Wade, Graham Taylor; Pioneer for Social

Justice, 1851-1938 (Chicago, 1964).