Historical Development of the Angeline Elizabeth Kirby Memorial Health Center

Kathleen Theresa Dorris, Fordham University


The neighborhood Health Center is to some extent an outgrowth of the experience with what is known as a "settlement”. The settlement house originated in England, in the late nineteenth century and the movement subsequently spread throughout the world. Samuel A. Barnett, and his pupil, Arnold Toynbee, considered the pioneer settlement worker was intimately associated with the development of the first settlement, Toynbee Hall, which opened in London on Christmas Eve, 1884 and which became the source of inspiration and information for the subsequent settlements in Europe and America. The first settlements in America were developed in New York and Chicago. Settlements were usually in poorer communities and in neighborhoods where a large part of the population were foreigners. The people of the community came to the settlement houses for information and advice regarding various troubles. Because these centers were organized in response to the need of these people they became important in promoting their adjustment and consequently a constructive force in the life of the community. In some places the residents were trained in the care of sick and such settlements soon became headquarters for dispersing aid in time of illness and injury as well as the neighborhood Center for mothers' clubs, behavior classes, milk stations, pre-school and maternity clinics, kindergarten work. In some "first aid room" care and tuberculosis services were included. In general, neighborhood health services in the settlement houses were mostly preventive and educational, although some settlements maintained treatment and diagnostic clinics. As part of these preventive and educational programs, exhibits were given on various subjects, such as the protection and handling of food in markets and in the homes, baby clinics services, proper clothing and bedding for children. Small instruction groups were organized to supplement exhibits, dealing with first aid and care of the sick, personal and family hygiene. This addition of small groups with specialized functions supplemented the mark of the existing staff and made it possible for the organization to offer a variety of services at a central point for the people of a particular district or community. In many cities this marked a transition from the earlier settlement idea, to a Health Center program. The Health Center gathered under one head a group of services, which in greater or less degree had been undertaken in the past by the settlement.

Subject Area

Health care management|Social work

Recommended Citation

Dorris, Kathleen Theresa, "Historical Development of the Angeline Elizabeth Kirby Memorial Health Center" (1953). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30557666.