Portland State University. Department of History
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Arts (M.A.) in History
1 online resource (vi, 126 pages)
Many scholars on the settlement movement have mentioned Hull-House's interactions with the Catholic Church and/or the surrounding immigrant communities, but have failed to fully examine the dynamic between Hull-House women, Catholic laywomen who took up settlement work, and the various Catholic immigrant groups of Chicago. This research seeks to place these relationships within the context of space -- meaning physical space in the neighborhood, access to spaces, and space as influence. This lens acts as a thread connecting the tangled and fluctuating dynamics of race, ethnicity, religion, and gender surrounding the settlement house movement.
Hull-House residents and Catholic laywomen contended for influence among immigrant communities as they sought to carve out space for themselves in their respective spheres. Hull-House women positioned themselves as experts pushing for government intervention in ways that would elevate women's involvement and expand their rights in the public sphere. Catholic settlement workers on the other hand operated within a kind of third space between the male clergy and the orders of religious sisters. They had to work harder for visibility and funding within the Church hierarchy by establishing that their work was a new contribution, but that they were not challenging prescribed roles for women within the Church. In the realm of settlement work these two groups of women found much common ground, but they clashed with each other on issues concerning motherhood, children, and the home -- traditionally areas of women's influence. Meanwhile the Catholic immigrant groups of Chicago cared little for the division between the Church and the Hull-House, organizing their communities at times around the churches and the settlements according to their own needs and priorities. But not all groups had equal access to the settlements. The way in which settlements regulated access to their space marginalized their Mexican and African American neighbors while helping to solidify and define the boundaries of whiteness.
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Murphy, Johanna, "Social Saints in the City: Race, Space, and Religion in Chicago Women's Settlement Work, 1890-1935" (2020). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5559.