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Northwestern University Settlement Association General Administrative Records

Identifier: 41/1

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Scope and Contents

The Northwestern University Settlement Association General Administration Records fill seventy-three boxes and span the years 1892-1995, with the bulk of the materials between 1910 and 1985.

The basic organization of the records reflects their provenance; that is, they are arranged essentially in the same order as maintained by the Settlement. In several instances, however, records not originally part of the arrangement were inserted in appropriate locations within the filing scheme. These include the personal files of Harriet Vittum and Michael and Helen Rachwalski, as well as the histories and studies written about the Settlement.

The records document the daily activities of the organization as well as the personal lives of various individuals who were part of the Settlement. Most of the folders contain correspondence to and from Settlement staff. Many folders also contain reports, meeting minutes, and memos pertaining to the operation of the Settlement.

While most of the subject titles are self-explanatory, several categories warrant further description to make clear the content and context of the records.

Materials relating to the Annual Meetings of the Settlement Association Board of Directors span the years 1909 to 1985. The content varies yearly, but folders typically contain meeting invitations, pre- and post-meeting information, minutes or proceedings, reports from the auxiliary boards, and lists of member. The date of the Annual Meeting ranged between October and January.

The Annual / Quarterly / Monthly Reports of the Head Resident and Executive Director were written at intervals by the Head Resident (later called Executive Director) to report to the Board of Directors on the progress and needs of the Settlement. Reports from 1918 to 1985 are included in this series; these are detailed informative sources on the daily work of the Settlement and the roles that Settlement residents played in the community.

The Annual Reports (1934-1990) were intended to communicate the goals, successes and continued needs of the Settlement and usually concluded with a request for support. In general, these reports include information about the community served (demographics, number of clients served by Settlement programs and services) and the activities offered by the Settlement as well as brief statements from the presidents of the Board of Directors and the auxiliary boards and a financial statement.

Records of the Auxiliary Boards, which worked to raise money for the Settlement, date from 1925 to 1990. Members of the Auxiliary Boards were typically women from the northern and western suburbs of Chicago. The Boards raised funds through benefits, bazaars, and soliciting contributions from friends and neighbors. Included are records from nineteen auxiliary groups which supported the Settlement. Materials found here typically consist of rosters, correspondence, and material relating to the fund-raising efforts. (See also the records of the North Shore Junior Board [Series 41/9] and the Evanston Woman's Board [41/8]).

The Board of Directors / Central Committee / Executive Committee files usually include correspondence, rosters and monthly meeting information: i.e., agenda, attendance, minutes, and income and expense statements. Records are arranged chronologically within each folder. Meetings were attended by the officers of the Northwestern University Settlement Association and by members of the advisory board, which was variously called the Council, the Central Committee, or the Executive Committee, depending on the terms of the By-laws then in effect. For consistency, meetings between 1965 and 1991 have been labeled here “Board of Directors / Central Committee / Executive Committee Meetings.” Between 1915 and 1963, meetings are titled “Board of Directors Meetings.” Similar types of records can be found under the heading “Central Committee Meetings” (1933 to 1964), “Council Meetings” (1896-1922), “Executive Committee Meetings” (1911-1986) and “Executive Finance Committee Meetings” (1909-1939).

The Boys' Department files, spanning the years 1914 to 1977, include the reports of the Director and the records of various related programs and, in particular, the activities of the Settlement Boy Scout Troop 11. Boys' Department files also contain correspondence with the Boys Club Federation of America and records of events in which the Department participated, such as bicycle races and amateur athletic competitions.

Buildings and Structures files consist mainly of correspondence concerning repairs and improvements to the building at 1400 West Augusta, including the installation of the roof-top playground (1910-1912) and the construction of the adjacent Allison Gymnasium (1951-1953). Also included are architectural drawings for the Allison Gymnasium. See also the blueprints in the Camp (House in the Wood) files.

The records pertaining to the Settlement's camping program, Camp (House in the Wood), span the years 1908 to 1990. Records are arranged chronologically by date, and consist of correspondence concerning daily operations, announcements, forms for staff and campers, reports from counselors, and lists of campers. Separate files deal with such issues as insurance, staff and parent manuals, and applications for employment. Beginning in 1973, the Settlement participated in the Title IV-A Outdoor Education Camping Project, directed by the American Camping Association, which subsidized the fees of welfare recipients – both children and senior citizens – at resident summer camps. Records relating to the Camping Project consist of the forms required of the Settlement for participation in the program as well as forms required of the individual campers.

The Central Committee files, arranged chronologically by date, span the years 1933-1964 and typically contain meeting minutes and reports of the directors of the Settlement Association.

The Chicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers records consist of meeting minutes, with some memoranda, correspondence, and reports from the organization, arranged chronologically and covering the years 1927 to 1983. See also files relating to the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers, 1929 to 1981, which consist of reports, studies, and newsletters issued by the National Federation (based in New York City). Harriet Vittum was one of the original directors of the National group, incorporated in 1929.

The Christmas Files span the years from 1936 to 1985 and consist of letters of thanks from the Settlement to contributors, thank-you letters from attendees of Settlement Christmas parties, lists of corporate and individual contributors, and lists of families in need of special assistance.

Beginning in 1934, the Northwestern University Settlement obtained a percentage of its funding from the Community Fund of Chicago, a clearing-house for philanthropic donations. Records relating to the Community Fund typically consist of correspondence, reports, memoranda, and manuals either directed specifically to the Settlement or sent to all participating social service agencies between 1934 and 1979. The Community Fund required exhaustive financial forms from the organizations it subsidized. The Annual Budget forms completed by the Northwestern University Settlement for the Community Fund span the years 1940 to 1978.

The Settlement's general Correspondence files cover the years 1909 to 1990. Between 1909 and 1969 correspondence is arranged chronologically. During the years 1970 to 1978, the Settlement organized its correspondence alphabetically: within annual groupings letters are filed by correspondent's surname. Both incoming and copies of outgoing correspondence are included. Related correspondence on a variety of topics may be found elsewhere in the series filed under topical headings; see especially the files of Helen Loth Blomgren Rachwalski, Michael Rachwalski, and Harriet Vittum.

The records of the Settlement's Day Nursery span the years 1953 to 1958 and consist of registration forms, medical forms, and doctors' permission slips for children to return to daycare after illnesses, and related items. The records are organized first by year and thereafter in alphabetical order according to children's surnames. Also found here are medical records for the Day Nursery staff, 1954-1957. Staff records are arranged alphabetically by surname within yearly groupings.

Classes, programs and some of the club activities which took place at the Settlement operated under the aegis of the various Departments that the Settlement had established. The records of these departments are filed alphabetically by the department name. Records span the years 1893 to 1957 and typically consist of monthly reports from the staff member heading the department, along with some program and attendance information. Departments included are: Boys', Children's, Domestic Science, Dramatics, Girls', Health Education, Health Education and Nutrition, Mens', Relief, Research and the Woman's / Women's Department.

The Financial Records of the Settlement include audits, financial statements, and general financial files. With a few gaps, audits conducted by the Settlement's accountants exist for the years 1922 to 1988. The financial statements, which cover the years between 1908 and 1990, are typically informal reports prepared for Board of Directors' meetings. These statements consist of income and expense reports, budget comparisons, estimates of future budgets, salary summaries, and, occasionally, reports of the Association Treasurer. The general financial files consist of memoranda and correspondence on financial matters between the Settlement and its accountants, federal and state government agencies, and other entities during the years 1922 to 1986, arranged chronologically. See also Series 41/4, the Northwestern University Settlement Association Financial Records, 1918-1971, which consists mostly of ledgers in which the day-to-day financial activities of the Settlement were recorded.

From the beginning, the Settlement devoted much time and effort to securing funding to augment the contributions of the Association members. Much of the effort was made by the Board of Directors and by the auxiliary boards. Fund Raising efforts included events held at the Settlement, benefits sponsored by the Association, and brochures and letters soliciting donations of funds. The Settlement's fund-raising activities, from lectures at the Settlement to days at the races, dinners, and theater and musical performances, are documented in files spanning the years 1893 to 1991. Administrative files contain correspondence relating to the behind-the-scenes organization of events and benefits. Individual benefits are filed alphabetically by the name of the benefit; these folders contain the correspondence, attendance lists, programs, and other paperwork relating to each occasion. Solicitations for funds include letters and brochures generated between 1893 and 1970.

See also the activities of individual auxiliary boards, especially the North Shore Junior Board's annual Antiques Show and the Winnetka Board's Fashion Shows.

The Settlement was the subject of many informal Histories and Studies, some written by Northwestern University students. They range from reports written by undergraduate sociology students to full-length master's theses and doctoral dissertations, and are arranged alphabetically by author's surname, or alphabetically by title when the author cannot be discerned. Also included are historical sketches, prepared by the Settlement, which were used for promotional purposes. The Settlement was the focus of one section of the 1917 Study of the Pre-Adolescent Girl conducted by the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers. Three folders contain general histories and studies of community organizations and the settlement movement.

The Memorial Fund files record donations to the Settlement on behalf of deceased Board members or other contributors to the Settlement during the years 1952 to 1985. For each donation, the Settlement sent a thank-you letter to the donor and a notification to the family of the deceased. The files are arranged chronologically by year; within each year, correspondence is filed alphabetically by the name of the person memorialized and then by the name of the donor.

Neighborhood Service Reports, spanning the years 1920 to 1966, record the ways in which the Settlement worked with clients outside the walls of the Settlement. The monthly reports list the number of cases reported to, accompanied to, or referred to other social service agencies or municipal authorities. Reports also show the number of home visits made and the number of interviews conducted. See also the Statistical Reports, 1913-1961, which give the numbers of participants in Settlement clubs and classes, as well as the number of neighborhood service calls. The Club and Class Attendance Records (Series 41/5) are another source for information on the level of participation in Settlement programs.

The Plays and Pageants files span the years 1924-1945 and consist of scripts for a variety of plays and skits performed by the Settlement staff and neighborhood community to mark patriotic and seasonal holidays. A few of the plays exist in several versions.

Rachwalski, Helen (Loth Blomgren), 1901-1977. Helen Loth Blomgren had been working at the Northwestern University Settlement for twenty years when she married Michael Rachwalski in 1943. Her correspondence files date from 1909 to 1966. They are arranged chronologically, and include letters from her first husband and from other suitors. The files also includes Loth family correspondence between 1865 and 1945.

Rachwalski, Michael (1900-1987). Since Rachwalski was associated with the Settlement from his youth, grew up in the neighborhood, and served as Head Resident for forty years, these files include both personal and Settlement materials. Records span the years 1919 to 1987 and include biographical materials, correspondence (including letters to and from Helen Rachwalski), awards and certificates.

The files pertaining to Helen and Michael Rachwalski date between 1943 and 1977 and include their appointment books, correspondence, and financial records.

Materials relating to the resident and non-resident Staff of the Settlement span the period 1917-1987 and are arranged chronologically. Employment applications, dating between 1920 and 1982, include application forms and correspondence of staff members employed as residents, non-resident workers, and camp counselors at the House in the Wood. Staff meeting minutes date from 1917 to 1985 and related memoranda cover the years 1977 to 1987.

Summer Programs files consists of schedules, announcements, and other materials detailing the activities offered at the Settlement during the summer months. The Summer Youth Employment Program files contain correspondence, memoranda, and employment forms pertaining to the young people hired by the Settlement as part of the Model Cities / Mayor's Youth Employment Program during the 1970s and 1980s.

Thank you / Rummage Donations. Between 1963 and 1981, many of the letters sent by the Settlement to donors of clothing, furniture, and other items, were filed separately from general correspondence. A portion of the materials donated were used by the Settlement itself, while some of the items were included in the frequent fund-raising Rummage Sales. Thank you letters are arranged chronologically by year and alphabetically by surname.

Vittum, Harriet (1872-1953). While the Settlement records do not include many of Vittum's personal papers, the series does document Vittum's years at the Settlement. Materials found here include biographical information, clippings (1911 to 1977), correspondence (1908 to 1949), and addresses, speeches and writings done on behalf of the Settlement and on other social and political issues. The annual, quarterly, and monthly reports of the Head Resident and many of the early fund-raising letters, also are expressive of Vittum's personality and view of the Settlement.

In addition, University Archives Series 41/6 and 41/7, Settlement scrapbooks and photographs, provide valuable information about Vittum's work. Of particular note are the scrapbooks documenting Vittum's involvement in the woman suffrage movement and in the campaign to elect Charles Evans Hughes (1916).

The Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago generated reports and statistics on welfare services and agencies in Chicago. The Settlement maintained chronological files of reports and memoranda issued by the Welfare Council. Files spanning the years 1950 to 1966 contain daily attendance records of Settlement classes kept by the Northwestern University Settlement and submitted to the Welfare Council

Description of the Addition, Boxes 74-76 (1947-1985)

This addition consists of correspondence files of the Head Resident/Executive Director, dating from 1947 to 1985, comprised primarily of copies of letters sent by Michael Rachwalski (Head Resident, 1947-1981) and Ron Manderschied (Executive Director, 1981- ). Many are “thank you” letters to donors for their contributions of goods and services to the Settlement; others are concerned with the daily operation of the Settlement. There are also a few letters received by Rachwalski and Manderschied, as well as occasional memos, reports, and other items.

The files have been maintained in their original order, with the correspondence arranged by year, and, within each year, in alphabetical order by surname or organizational name of the recipients.

For the bulk of Settlement correspondence, see the Chronological and Alphabetical Correspondence files (1909-1990), and the Rachwalski and Manderschied correspondence files, in Series 41/1.

Description of the Addition, Boxes 77-108 (1988-2000)

This addition to the Northwestern University Settlement Association General Administrative Records fills 31 boxes and spans the years 1988-2000, with the bulk of the materials dating between 1990 and 1999. Reflecting the original order of the records, the folders are arranged alphabetically by subject title, and records are arranged chronologically by date within the folders.

As in the original 76 boxes, many of the files relate to the work of the Board of Directors and to the various auxiliary boards; to the activities of the House in the Woods camp; and to the Settlement’s relations with funding agencies such as the United Way.

Folders related to the Board of Directors and their monthly meetings are filed by year under Board Meetings. These materials include minutes, agendas, reports, attendance, and correspondence, and records are arranged chronologically by month within each folder.

Folders titled by General Alphabet consist mostly of limited correspondence relating to donors, neighbors, or political figures. Folders titled with the name of an individual, company, or subject contain extensive correspondence, reports, notes and other materials relating to Settlement employees, board members, political figures, donors, and vendors.

            Of particular interest in the addition are the records of the Noble Street Charter School, documenting the planning, organization and development of the Settlement’s public charter school. The school was granted funding and support from Chicago Public Schools and opened in 1999. Correspondence, minutes from planning meetings, construction plans and publicity materials are included in these folders. Records from administrative meetings regarding the school are organized by month under the title Noble Street Charter School Board Meeting. Additional planning information can be found in folders titled Board of Directors Meetings: 1998 and Ron Manderschied 1998.

Note: chronological runs of files are missing from this addition as follows: 1991--files A-L; 1992--files G-Z; 1998--files O-Z. No files exist for the year 1997.


  • 1892-1995


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


108.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



The Northwestern University Settlement Association was founded in 1891 in a poor, primarily immigrant neighborhood on the near northwest side of Chicago to improve conditions and to help its residents through its clubs and classes, social events, camping programs, and relief and emergency services. The Northwestern University Settlement Association General Administration Records document the daily activities of the organization and the personal lives of various individuals who were part of the Settlement. Most of the folders contain correspondence to and from Settlement staff. Many folders also contain reports, meeting minutes, and memos pertaining to the operation of the Settlement.

Arrangement Note

The records' original arrangement, in alphabetical order by subject, was retained, but several large, coherent categories of records were separated from the General Administrative Records, organized separately, and assigned their own series numbers. (See related materials note.)

The folders are arranged alphabetically by subject title and the majority of the records are arranged chronologically by date within the folders. In a few cases, such as the Memorial Fund files and a portion of the correspondence, the records are arranged alphabetically by surname within the folders.

Method of Acquisition

The Northwestern University Settlement Association Records were donated to the Northwestern University Archives by Executive Director Ron Manderschied and Doris Overboe on October 15, 1990 (Accession No. 90-160); February 1, 1991 (Accession No. 91-51); June 7, 1994 (Accession No. 94-70); January 1, 2003 (Accession No. 03-30).

Related Materials

Several large, coherent categories of records were separated from the General Administrative Records, organized separately, and assigned their own series numbers.

Series 41/1: General Administrative Files, 1891-1995, 73 boxes

Series 41/2: Case Files, 1908-1976, 79 boxes

Series 41/3: Delinquent Boys Case Files, 1929-31, 1938-9, 5 boxes

Series 41/4: Financial Records, 1918-1971

Series 41/5:Clubs and Classes Attendance and Registration Cards, 1936-1953, 25 boxes

Series 41/6: Photographs, 1890-1991, 8 boxes

Series 41/7: Scrapbooks, 1892-1984, 20 boxes

Series 41/8: Evanston Woman's Board, 1911-1990, 7 boxes

Series 41/9: North Shore Junior Board, 1937-1992, 14 boxes

Series 41/10: Lenora E. Clark Diary, 1906-1910, 1 box

Series 41/11: Food Client Records, 1985-1986, 3 boxes

Separated Materials

Approximately three linear feet of material of a general nature related to Chicago have been transferred to the Chicago Historical Society. Twenty-four cubic feet of duplicate and extraneous material was discarded. Three cubic feet of camp medical and payment records, seventeen staff meal reservation books and two cubic feet of financial records (check stubs, bank statements, stock information) were also discarded.

From the Addition (1988-2000), twenty and one-half cubic feet of duplicate and extraneous materials were discarded. One cubic foot of materials related to Chicago in general, West Town/Humboldt Park in specific, and other social service organizations have been separated for distribution to relevant collections elsewhere. A few records dating prior to 1988 have been interfiled in the appropriate folders in the first 76 boxes of the collection. Photographs of Settlement Board and Auxiliary Board Members, Staff and Neighbors were separated and added to the Archives’ Photographic Collection. Twenty-nine 3.5 floppy disks containing Settlement files have been separated and 2 Cassette tapes were separated for addition to the Archives’ Audio-Visual Collection.

Note: Twelve cubic feet of financial and payroll records were separated from this addition and were not processed.

Processing Information

Kaia L. Densch and Janet C. Olson, July 1996- July 1997.

Addition processed by Janet Olson and Chris Mitchell, August 1997.

Addition processed by Alison Kanosky, August 2006.

Guide to the Northwestern University Settlement Association General Administrative Records
Kaia L. Densch and Janet C. Olson; Janet Olson and Chris Mitchell
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US