|Mary McDowell and Chicago Settlement Houses
Over the next two decades, she secured independent funding for the University of Chicago Settlement, acquired a gymnasium and auditorium, and built a three-story building to accommodate the residents and programs. For the Irish, German, Bohemian, and Polish families living in the vicinity of the packinghouses, the settlement sponsored classes in English and citizenship, a woman's club, youth groups, a kindergarten, and a playground.
McDowell gave staunch support to the striking packinghouse workers in 1904 and 1921, was a cofounder of the National Women's Trade Union League and an officer of the Chicago League, and was one of the initiators of the federal investigation of wages and working conditions for women and children. As a member of the City Waste Commission, she helped force Chicago to modernize its waste collection and disposal practices. And as head of Mayor William Dever's Department of Public Welfare in the 1920s, she investigated the shortage of low-income housing and helped secure the appointment of Chicago's first Housing Commission.
The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2005 Chicago Historical Society.
The Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2004 The Newberry Library. All Rights Reserved. Portions are copyrighted by other institutions and individuals. Additional information on copyright and permissions.