LOUISE W. KNIGHT
Jane Addams's contemporaries hailed her as "the leader and prophet of the settlement movement in America" and the movement's "grandmother," and declared Hull House "the Mother House." 1 Such acknowledgments suggest the breadth of her influence but fail to convey its shallow depth. Although her views on settlement purpose and method were respected by those active in the movement, she was more often honored than imitated. This development, often the fate of prophets, was perhaps inevitable in a movement that valued settlement autonomy over conformity to any national definition or standard.
How does one sum up the settlement house movement? Although settlement workers launched or supported hundreds of local, state, and national reforms during the movement's peak years of 1893-1922, no single reform or set of reforms was distinctly identified with the settlement. Indeed, during these years the movement, or elements within it, campaigned for the entire Progressive reform agenda. That agenda included access for all Americans to excellent public education, protective labor laws for women and children, woman's suffrage, municipal reform, recreational facilities, affordable housing for low-income people, and city planning.
Yet the settlement movement was something more than the sum of the Progressive agenda. Although the movement was certainly a source of social reform ideas and social reformers, it was intended by its most visionary leaders as something more--as a reform in itself. The settlement was meant to be a new process by which public policy would be developed and social conditions improved.
An urban minister of the Anglican Church, Samuel A. Barnett, and his wife and fellow worker Henrietta Barnett, founded the world's first settlement, Toynbee Hall, in London in 1884. Believing that university men of the middle and