SOCIAL SETTLEMENTS, associations of men and women of the educated classes who take up residence in the poorer quarters of great cities for the purpose of bringing culture, knowledge, harmless recreation, and especially personal influence to bear upon the poor in order to better and brighten their lives. Practically, the watchword of such settlements is personal service. To Arnold Toynbee (q.v.) may be given the credit of leading the way in this direction, and the Hall which Canon Barnett established (in 1885) to his memory in the east end of London was the first material embodiment of the movement. Since then many settlements of the same or similar nature have sprung up in Great Britain and America, some too on the continent of Europe and some in India and Japan. The sympathies of young men at the universities have been enlisted towards the movement, and an Oxford house, a Cambridge house, and other university missions have been founded in London. There are also many in connexion with various religious bodies. The practical spirit is shown in the formation of gilds, camps and institutes. Lads and girls, and even children, are gathered together; efforts being made to organize for them not only educational and religious opportunities, but harmless recreation, while the dwellers in the settlements share in the games and identify themselves most sympathetically with all the recreations. Many of the residents take also a considerable share in the work of local administration. Women's settlements probably are more general in the United States than in Great Britain; but in both countries they carry out a great variety of useful work, providing medical mission dispensaries, district nurses, workrooms for needle-women, hospitals for women and children, etc.
See W. Reason, University and Social Settlements (1898); S. Coit, Neighbourhood Guilds (1892); G. Montgomery, Bibliography of College, Social, University and Church Settlements (Boston, 1900).