Hull House Questionnaire, 1893
Hull House in Chicago Illinois, is the most well-known of the period's settlement houses. It was found in 1889 by Jane Adams and Ellen Gates Starr. Hull House's 1894 charter stated its intention: "To provide a center for the higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago."1 In 1893, as part of their mission, Hull House participated in the Department of Labor's investigation of "slums" in large United States cities. This was just one of the many investigations in which they participated between 1892 and 1910. For three months, investigators went into each tenement, house, and room to asks its occupants a series of questions ranging from age and nationality to employment and wage history for each member of the family or families in residence. The tendency of people to move often and change jobs frequently made the investigators' jobs difficult.
The final report consisted of a series of notes and maps documenting the conditions in which many immigrants lived and the problems they faced each day. Hull House published the notes and maps "with the hope of stimulating inquiry and action, and evolving new thoughts and methods."2 They believed that by quantifying the condition of the "most inert and long-suffering citizens," they could "state symptoms in order to ascertain the nature of disease, and apply, it may be, its cure, [this] is not only scientific, but in the highest sense humanitarian."3
As you examine the questionnaire the investigators used, note the types of questions and the information the government was looking for.
After reading the Questionnaire, consider the following:
- What kinds of living and working conditions do you think might have prompted such questions?
- How would you have felt being asked these questions?
1Robert A. Woods and Albert J. Kennedy, ed., Handbook of Settlements (New York: Arno Press, 1970 [c1911]), 53.
2Residents of Hull-House, Hull-House Maps and Papers (New York: Arno Press, 1970 [c1895]), 13.