Jane Addams helps start The Chicago Federation of Settlements

The Chicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers (CFSNC) was founded at Hull-House in 1894 by representatives from Hull-House, Northwestern University Settlement, Maxwell Street Settlement, University of Chicago Settlement, Epworth House and Chicago Commons. The Federation brought together settlement workers, social work professionals, and supporters of the settlement house movement from all around the City of Chicago. As part of its mission, the CFSNC provided settlement workers with a forum to share objectives and ideas, organized and conducted studies of local economic conditions, planned charitable events, coordinated activities of area settlements, and cooperated with outside social service agencies.

From 1894-1921, the Federation grew to include thirty-six members and opened an office in downtown Chicago. In 1922, the Chicago Federation of Settlements was incorporated by the State of Illinois. The charter named six prominent Chicago settlement workers as directors: Jane Addams, Hull-House; Harriet E. Vittum, Northwestern University Settlement; Lea D. Taylor, Chicago Commons; Ruth Austin, Gad's Hill Center; Mrs. Beryl T. Gould, House of Happiness; and Winifred Salisbury. The enumerated objectives of the Federation were: "to act as a clearing house for information about settlements and their work; a placement bureau for settlement workers; to provide information and advice regarding training and to co-ordinate the activities of the settlement houses of the City of Chicago."

The bulk of the CFSNC Collection chronicles the years between 1961-1980 during the Executive Directorship of Clarence W. Boebel. During Boebel's tenure the CFSNC expanded the national Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, founded pre-Kindergarten education programs (i.e. Head Start and Day Care), and created the United Settlement Appeal as a fund-raising mechanism for social service agencies. The CFSNC also cooperated with outside social service agencies such as the National Federation of Settlement and Neighborhood Centers, Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunity, the Model Cities project, and the Illinois Commission on Children.

Though the Federation served as an umbrella organization for the settlement movement, Boebel's leadership style privileged local autonomy over centralized decision-making. In 1980, Boebel reflected on his career and the necessity for social workers to continue to settle in Chicago's lower-income neighborhoods. Boebel instructed the next generation of social workers: "The only [approach] that really worked was the simplest one. That was: regardless of your culture or ethnic differences, you settled in the neighborhood and said - What is it we can do together?"

Supporting Boebel was a cadre of staff including: Mary De Johnette, Director of Education services; Gladys Hilton, Coordinator of Social Action; Mattie Wright, Director of Finance, and Althea Murray, Director of the summer youth employment program. Hilton served as Director of the Social Education and Action committee (SEA) that lobbied state and city legislators to improve child care and welfare policymaking. De Johnette helped found Head Start and Day Care programs in Chicago in the early 1960s. In 1980, De Johnette replaced Boebel as Executive Director of the CFSNC.

Jane Addams wrote prolifically on topics related to Hull-House activities, producing eleven books and numerous articles, as well as maintaining an active speaking schedule nationwide and throughout the
world. She also played an important role in many local and national organizations. A founder of the Chicago Federation of Settlements in 1894, she also helped to establish the National Federation of
Settlements and Neighborhood Centers in 1911. She was a leader in the Consumers League and served as the first woman president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections (later the National Conference of Social Work).