Social Settlement (Omaha, Nebraska) [RG5337.AM]


RG5337.AM:  Social Settlement (Omaha, Nebraska)

Records:  1924-1988, mostly 1924-1947

Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska:  Social Service organization

Size:  1.5 cu.ft.; 3 boxes and 1 volume


Founded in 1908, Social Settlement of Omaha, Nebraska was established to help the immigrant families who had at least one member employed at the Omaha Stockyards, as they adapted to life in America.  Patterned after Jane Addams’ famous Hull House in Chicago, the Settlement was only partially a philanthropic agency.  Its other function was to teach neighborhood residents the value and duties of American citizenship.  Originally located at 1455 S. 14th St. (at approximately 15th and Williams Street) Social Settlement’s workers were to act as “friendly neighbors” in order to provide educational and recreational opportunities to immigrants of diverse backgrounds, and to encourage positive ethical lifestyles.  The Social Settlement Board believed that this was best accomplished by supplying a settlement house in a working class neighborhood staffed with persons capable of providing leadership to the people whom it was their charge to help.  With an average of 3 full time workers (who’s pay included their board and room) and 43 volunteers (in 1930) the Settlement House served as a meeting site for community recreational activities, enabling the organization’s trained social workers to deliver services to hundreds of South Omaha Residents each month.

After several moves between 1923 and 1930 the House remained at 31st and Q Streets throughout the 1930’s.  Two blocks away on 2915 R Street, a Cultural Center was founded for use by South Omaha’s African Americans in 1926.  In 1930 the Culture Center was moved to a larger facility (which had formerly been a saloon) at 30th and R Streets in order to better serve the neighborhood’s growing African American population.  (See Subgroup 1, Series 1:  Special Meeting Minutes; and Subgroup 2, Series 2 and Series 8 for descriptions of Woodson Center’s evolution into a separate entity by May 10, 1940).  Although the Settlement functioned on a semi-segregated basis, in theory arranging for separate use of the facilities according to race from 1908-1926, when a separate house for African American use was established, the necessity of sharing resources and building space created a great deal of interaction and cooperation between the culture center [later Woodson Center] and the Settlement House (see photo collection).  While the main Settlement House was eventually relocated to 4686 Q Street, both houses continued to offer a wide variety of recreational, educational, and community wide improvement clubs for their members, including sewing, cooking, folk dance, and wood shop clubs, night school, visiting nurses, nursery school, billiards, plays, musicals and other community activities.

With the support of the National Federation of Settlement, Omaha Social Settlement served its clientele continuously throughout the Depression years.  The Settlement house remained active through the end of the twentieth century providing area residents with a preschool, counseling, bowling and youth clubs, as well as serving as a tutoring and food distribution center throughout the 1980’s.


The Social Settlement Collection is organized into six Subgroups.  They include 1) Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, 1932-1941, 1965; 2) Board of Directors Materials, 1928-1944; 3) Committees, 1926-1947; 4) Published Material, 1932-1968; 5) Woodson Center, 1932-1938; and 6) Scrapbooks, 1969-1979.  Most of the Subgroups are further arranged into Series and Subseries.  The materials within each Series are arranged chronologically.

Subgroup 1, Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, is comprised of two folders.  Folder 1 includes Social Settlement’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws for 1932-1941.  Folder two contains documents which provide historical background for the researcher on the day to day workings of the Social Settlement of Omaha during the 1930’s when it was located at 31st and Q Streets and ran under the leadership of Mrs. O. G. Wilson, President of the Board until the mid-1960’s.

Subgroup 2, Board of Directors, contains six series, each describing an administrative function of Social Settlement Board members and personnel.

series 1, Board of Directors Meeting Minutes.  This series is comprised of Board Minutes from 1932-1944.  It includes Board Meeting Minutes from January 15, 1940 which discuss neighbors’ reactions to the relocation of Woodson Center.  Series 2, Board of Directors Annual Meeting Minutes, contains minutes from the organization’s Annual Meetings held in January of each year between 1933-1943.  Series 3, Correspondence, contains an interagency Correspondence folder which includes materials outlining plans for reducing Social Settlement’s expenditures due to the country’s participation in World War II.  Series 4, Monthly Reports.  During its first decade Omaha Social Settlement’s officers and employees gave oral committee reports to the board during Monthly Board Meetings. Reports became increasingly formal after 1930.  Series 5, Annual reports, provide a quick overview of Social Settlement’s goals and activities from 1928-1935.  Series 6. Board of Directors Membership and Attendance Rosters, includes lists of Board members and meeting attendance rosters for 1932-1943.

Subgroup 3, Committees, contains the minutes, reports, and other documents from seven of Social Settlement’s Standing Committees.  Some material from the agency’s other committees can be found in Series 8 (Other Committees) and include:  a research committee, a Handicrafts Committee, and Building Equipment, House and Yard, Clubs and Classes Library and Music Committees.

Series 1, Culture Center.  The Culture Center was founded in 1926 to serve the educational and recreational needs of the African Americans in South Omaha, Nebraska. In July 1937 a special meeting was held to consider recommending that the [Woodson] Center become an independent organization.  (see Subgroup II, Series 1) By 1940 the Center became completely independent of Social Settlement House and reported directly to the Omaha Community Chest.  Series 2, Executive Committee.  In its early years Social Settlement was actually a house. or large home and its head resident or head worker was also the agency director and a member of the Executive Committee.  Series 3, Finance Committee.  Treasurer’s reports were at times part of the Board’s monthly reports and at other times were issued separately.  Series 4, Program Committee.  Early in the organization’s history Settlement House directors were referred to as Head workers as a result of the room and board being part of their salaries and their residence being several rooms on an upper floor of the Settlement House.  This Series documents the activities of the Head worker in managing all programming for the Settlement House.  Series 5, Agency Study Committee, includes a study of the Settlement’s efficiency from 1941-1942.  Series 6, Nominating Committee, contains reports of selections of the committee for 1931-1942.  Series 7, Membership Committee, is comprised of lists of Social Settlement Association Members from 1933-1937, and membership registration materials.  Series 8, Other Committees.  A list of other active Social Settlement Committees during the 1920-1940s is included in this series.  Researchers will find that Visiting, Courtesy, and Motor Committees were important aspects of the Settlement House’s earliest service to the community.  Also included are materials from Advisory Committee for Self-Help, 1938-1940.

Subgroup 4, Published Materials, includes the publications of Omaha’s Social Settlement from 1932-1965.  It encompasses publications by other groups in Omaha, including the Omaha Community Chest, Social Settlement’s benefactor, as well as publications by the National Federation of Settlement in New York, of which the Omaha based organization was a member.

Series 1, Publications by Omaha Social Settlement, includes a Social Settlement newsletter from the 1930s and informal descriptions of the organization’s founding and purpose.  Series 2 contains publications by National Federation of Settlement during 1936.  Series 3, Published Materials By Other Groups, includes printed materials by other agencies from 1935-1985.  Series 4, Newspaper Clippings, contains clippings on Social Settlement from 1965-1988.

Subgroup 5, Woodson Center, is comprised of reports, publications, program materials, and other documents emanating from the former Culture Center between July 1932 and December 1938.  After July 1932 the Center’s name was changed to Woodson Center (presumably after Carter G. Woodson founder of Negro History Week) and Bylaws establishing the center on a semi-independent basis were formulated.  After this date, according to the Bylaws, the organization was managed by an interracial committee of which 51 percent where to be African American.  Woodson Center henceforth maintained its own records while still working in cooperation with Social Settlement until it become totally independent between 1937 and 1940.

Series 1 includes Woodson Center Bylaws from July 1932.  Series, 2 Reports, contains programming and financial information for Social Settlement’s African American Community Center from 1932-1938.  The Center became partially independent in 1932 and began producing reports under the name Woodson Center.  Records before that date can be found with Social Settlement materials in Subgroup III, Series I.  Researchers may also search Social Settlement’s Monthly Reports (Subgroup II, Series 4) and the Settlement’s Finance and Program Committee records (Subgroup III, Series 3 and 4), since both entities collected documentation from the Cultural Center during various periods, and sometimes added that data to the Settlement’s programming, and fiscal records.  The arrangement of these materials approximates their organization within the agency’s files, and follows the evolution of the “Negro Culture Center” into an independent community facility.  Series 3, Publications, includes a Woodson Center newsletter from the 1930’s.

Subgroup 6 contains a single volume Scrapbook primarily of newspaper clippings on the Social Settlement of Omaha from 1969-1979.

Note:  Photographs for this collection are available in RG5337.PH.


Subgroup 1: Articles of incorporation, bylaws and organization histories, 1932-1941; 1965

Box 1


    1. Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, 1932, 1939, 1941

    1. Organization Histories, 1965

Subgroup 2: Board of Directors, 1932-1944

Series 1 – Meeting minutes, 1932-1944

Subseries 1: Board meeting minutes

    1. Board Meeting Minutes, 1932-1933

    1. Board Meeting Minutes, 1934-1935

    1. Board Meeting Minutes, 1936-1937

    1. Board Meeting Minutes, 1938-1939

    1. Board Meeting Minutes, 1940-1941

    1. Board Meeting Minutes, 1942

    1. Board Meeting Minutes, 1943-1944

Subseries 2:  Special Meeting Minutes

    1. Special Meeting Minutes, 1936-1940

Series 2 – Annual meeting minutes, 1933-1943

    1. Annual Meeting Minutes, 1933-1943

Series 3 – Correspondence, 1930-1942

    1. Interagency Correspondence, 1932-1942

    1. Correspondence with National Federation of Settlement, 1933

    1. Correspondence with Other Agencies and Individuals, 1930-1939

Series 4 – Monthly reports, 1928-1935

    1. Monthly Reports, 1928-1930

    1. Monthly Reports, 1932-1933

    1. Monthly Reports, 1934-1935

Series 5 – Annual reports, 1928-1935

    1. Annual Reports, 1928-1935

Series 6 – Lists and rosters of Board of Directors

    1. Lists and Rosters Board of Directors, 1932-1943

Subgroup 3: Committees, 1926-1947

Series 1 – Culture Center, 1926-1932

    1. Annual Report, 1931

Box 2


    1. Program Reports, 1928,1929

    1. Treasurer’s Reports, 1926-1932

    1. Budget

Series 2 – Executive Committee, 1929-1943

    1. Minutes, 1933-1943

    1. Joint-Committee Meeting Minutes, 1941

    1. Lists Social Settlement Standing Committees, 1929, 1933

Series 3 – Finance Committee

Subseries 1: Treasurer’s reports, 1926-1947

    1. Treasurer’s Reports, 1926-1929

    1. Treasurer’s Reports, 1930-1933

    1. Treasurer’s Reports, 1934-1936

    1. Treasurer’s Reports, 1937-1938

    1. Treasurer’s Reports, 1942-1947

Subseries 2:  Annual Budget, 1924-1943

    1. Budget 1924-1932

    1. Budget 1933-1943

Subseries 3:  Budget Analysis

    1. Budget Analysis 1932-1938 (Social Settlement’s Budget Analysis for 1932-1938 frequently included an analysis of Woodson Center’s Budget in order to account for all Community Chest funding during the Depression eras fiscal shortfalls)

Subseries 4:  Fiscal Reports

    1. Fiscal Reports, 1933, 1941

Subseries 5:  Fundraising Materials

    1. Fundraising Materials, 1933, 1936, 1944

Subseries 6:  Miscellaneous Fiscal Materials

    1. Miscellaneous Fiscal materials

Series 4 – Program Committee

    1. Program Reports:  Descriptions and Statistics, 1932-1943

    1. Programs in conjunction with other groups

Series 5 – Agency Study Committee

    1. Report, 1941-1942

Series 6 – Nominating Committee

Box 3


    1. Reports, 1933-1936

Series 7 – Membership Committee

    1. Social Settlement Association Members, 1933-1937

    1. Membership Registration Materials

Series 8 – Other Committees

    1. Advisory Committee for Self-Help, 1938-1940

Subgroup 4: Published materials, 1932-1968

    1. Publications by Omaha Social Settlement, 1932-1965

    1. Publications by National Federation of Settlement

    1. Materials Published by Other Groups

    1. Newspaper Clippings, 1965-1968

Subgroup 5: Woodson Center, 1932-1938

Series 1 – Bylaws, 1932

    1. Bylaws, 1932

Series 2 – Reports

Subseries 1: Program reports

    1. Program Reports, 1932-1935

Subseries 2:  Fiscal Reports, 1932-1938

    1. Budget and Budget Analysis 1932-1934 (also see Social Settlement Budget Analysis)

    1. Treasurer’s Reports 1932-1938

Series 3 – Publications

    1. Published Material: Newsletters, Programs, Flyers

Subgroup 6: Scrapbooks, 1969-1979

Scrapbook (primarily newspaper clippings on Social Settlement, 1969-1979) [see oversize]


Subject headings:


Immigrants — Nebraska — Omaha

Omaha Social Settlement Association (Omaha, Nebraska)

Omaha (Nebraska) — History

Social settlements — Nebraska — Omaha

Woodson Center (Omaha, Nebraska)


TJ/kfk                    03-22-2002

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