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Twenty Years at Hull-House

by Jane Addams

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How did Addams help people obtain resources?

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Throughout the period covered by Twenty Years at Hull-House, Addams and her colleagues provided a variety of resources to the people who lived in the neighborhoods the settlement house served. For example, one of the earliest projects pursued by Hull House was providing meals to immigrant families. Addams undertook this project based on data from the United States government that indicated immigrant working-class mothers were unable to provide decent meals to their families. So Hull House sold inexpensive meals to area families. To her frustration, Addams quickly found that immigrant families did not like these foods, and generally refused to buy them, preferring their own traditional foods instead. In another example, Hull House started a coal cooperative that provided inexpensive fuel for heating. This failed as well, because it was unable to break even due to low prices. These efforts to directly put resources in the hands of the urban working poor were funded by investors--Hull House was a small corporation--and did not really represent the main thrust of the settlement house experiment. The focus of Hull House was to provide education and other crucial services, and to coordinate charitable organizations that served the area.

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