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Minneapolis Federation of Settlements records

Identifier: sw0173

Scope and Content

The Minneapolis Federation of Settlements served as the coordinating body of settlement houses in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Settlement records document functions of the programs and committees between 1959 and 1967, with emphasis on youth activities and equal access to housing, education, employment, and supportive programming. The papers exemplify the social and cultural evolution of the time period and the impact upon the structure and mission of the local and national settlement house movement. National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (NFSNC) records document public policy and urban issues critical to the decade of the 1960s. Minneapolis neighborhood organization records inform the extensive community organizing efforts unique to city neighborhoods. Documents include historical sketches, board and annual meeting minutes, NFSNC minutes and papers, and individual settlement house documents.


  • 1959-1967
  • Majority of material found within 1963-1967

Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Open for use in Social Welfare History Archives reading room.


The Minneapolis Federation of Settlements records are open to research use with no restrictions.

Historical Note

The Minneapolis Settlement House movement began in the late 19th century. Desperate living conditions, similar to those that motivated Jane Addams and Lillian Wald to found Hull House and the Henry Street Settlement, led to the foundation of organizations to address the needs of impoverished citizens in Minneapolis and St. Paul. A growing immigrant population, as well as those moving from rural areas to the inner city, faced overcrowded housing, poor sanitation, unemployment, discrimination, and crime. Thousands needed access to the goods and services necessary to afford an improved standard of living. The goals of the Minneapolis settlements were to better living conditions, "strengthen family life," create "a feeling of neighborliness," develop "indigenous leadership," and integrate local neighborhoods into the larger community.

The first settlement in Minneapolis, Plymouth Mission, was started by Plymouth Congregational Church in 1879 and was later renamed Bethel Settlement. In 1905, brothers John and Charles Pillsbury donated funds to expand the facility and the new Pillsbury House opened in 1906. In 1897, Unity House was established by Dr. Marion Shutter, inspired by a visit to Toynbee Hall in London. Following the turn of the century, eight more settlements would be opened: Wells Memorial House (1907), the Margaret Barry House (1912), the Edward F. Waite House and Emmanuel Cohen Center (1913), North East Neighborhood House (1915), Southside Neighborhood House (1922), and the Phyllis Wheatley House (1930).

As the cultural, economic, and political structures of neighborhoods changed in the decade of the 1960s, so did the goals and objectives of the settlement houses.


  1. "History of Pillsbury United Communities and the Settlement House Movement" on the Pillsbury United Communities website.
  2. Simkhovitch, Mary Kingsbury. "The Settlement Primer: A Handbook for Neighborhood Workers." National Federation of Settlements, Inc, 1936
  3. Karger, Howard Jacob. The Sentinels of Order: A Study of Social Control and the Minneapolis Settlement House Movement, 1915-1950. University Press of America, 1987.


2.5 Linear Feet


Records of the Minneapolis Federation of Settlements, a group of four core settlements and fifteen neighborhood organizations, and a directory for the St. Paul Federation of Settlements. Also included are select records and documents of the national settlement organization, the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (NFSNC).


Minneapolis Federation of Settlements records are arranged into eight series:

  1. Series 1. Administrative
  2. Series 2. Committees
  3. Series 3. Membership
  4. Series 4. Minneapolis Federation of Settlements Members
  5. Series 5. Other Organizations
  6. Series 6. Council of Community Councils
  7. Series 7. Speeches
  8. Series 8. Newspaper Clippings and Pamphlets

Acquisition Information

The Minneapolis Federation of Settlement Records and related papers were a gift from Betty Bruce, staff member of North East Neighborhood Services and President of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (1966).

Minneapolis Federation of Settlements records
Christine Jacox
November 2007
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The Social Welfare History Archives Collecting Area