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Bloomington Settlement House

In 1915 Bloomington had had a Day Nursery and Settlement House since 1908. It was located at 1320 West Mulberry Street and had undergone major renovations in 1914 to enlarge the building. Like Hull House, this was a place for the education and shelter of children whose mothers must work and also a place with the goal of "Americanizing" immigrants.

In October, they were starting a new year. Mrs. Frank Aldrich was president of the House and Jennie Thompson was the head resident. Louise Kessler was the kindergarten teacher and had ten teachers under her, with two present on each day of school.

English classes were offered to both men and women, but only men were taking advantage of the English lessons. In order to become a naturalized citizen it was necessary to take the test in English. The DAR also organized the "Children of the Republic" and taught the children how to salute the flag. The DAR told stories about patriotism and generally worked to turn the little immigrant children into Americans.

There was a dispensary on Thursdays, when local doctors would contribute their time and skills. Drugs were dispensed for the members of the settlement house.

Girls took sewing and cooking lessons, learning to make plain, wholesome food. None of that foreign muck! It was a time of great conviction that the American way was the best way and that immigrants needed to cast off the ways of the old country so that they could be American citizens.

Sometimes the Pantagraph would publish a fictional story based on actual occurences at the Bloomington Settlement House. Lucy Parke Williams (Librarian) wrote a short story about the willingness of the various immigrants to help each other, even if they were not from the same country. The story not only revealed the goodness of the immigrants but the prejudices of Ms. Williams.

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