Descriptive inventory for the Erie Neighborhood House (Chicago, Ill.) records, 1897-2004, bulk 1960-2004

Erie Neighborhood House (Chicago, Ill.) records

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Descriptive inventory for the Erie Neighborhood House (Chicago, Ill.) records, 1897-2004, bulk 1960-2004

Prepared by Magdalena Casper-Shipp, 2009; rev. by Jon Schechinger and Dominique Tremblay, 2009; rev. by Julie Wroblewski, 2015.
Please address questions to:
Chicago History Museum, Research Center
1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614-6038
Instructions for accessing this collection

Collection Overview +/-

Title: Erie Neighborhood House (Chicago, Ill.) records, 1897-2004 (inclusive), 1960-2004 (bulk)
Creator: Erie Neighborhood House (Chicago, Ill.)
Dates: 1897-2004 (inclusive), 1960-2004 (bulk)
Accession numbers: M1966.0618
Bib number: 00209689
Call number: MSS Lot E
Size: 7 linear feet (14 boxes)
Language of material:Collection is written in English.

Provenance statement:

Gift of Erie Neighborhood House (accession #: M1966.0618 and 2008.0204.1).

Terms governing use:

Donor deeded all rights owned by the donor to the 2008 accession, including copyright, to Chicago Historical Society. Other copyright may be retained by the creators of items or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.


Research use of this collection is governed by the standard rules and regulations of the Chicago History Museum Research Center.

Please cite this collection as:

Erie Neighborhood House (Chicago, Ill.) records, Chicago History Museum, plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Additional Materials +/-

Related material:

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include the Erie Neighborhood House photograph collection (1966.0571).

Separated material:

Photographs and other visual materials were separated from collection and can be found in the Erie Neighborhood House collection of visual materials (2008.0204.2).

Collection Summary +/-

Administrative files, correspondence, contracts, minutes, financial records, annual reports, newspaper clippings, research papers, and other materials from Erie Neighborhood House, a community center and social service organization, located in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago (Ill.). Files cover a long time span, but the majority date from the 1990s. Topics include operation and history of the organization; programming, such as youth activities, community service, childcare, health services, and ESL classes; and events, including the 125 anniversary celebration and an oral history project; and neighborhood topics, such as immigration and gentrification. Erie's site at 1347 W. Erie Street plus a later building at 1701 W. Superior Street worked with a changing population that included many Polish Americans and Italian Americans early in the 20th century and many Mexicans and other Hispanic Americans later in the century.

Includes a group of early board minutes and reports (1915-1922, 1951-1959); contracts for a new building (1935-1936); and Erie Chapel Sunday School attendance records (1937-1947).

Biographical/Historical Note +/-

Erie Neighborhood House began in 1870 as a branch of the Holland Presbyterian Church (also known as the Little Dutch Church) in a neighborhood of predominately Norwegian and German immigrants in a small frame building at Erie and Noble streets in Chicago (Ill.). By 1882 it became the Noble Street Mission of the Third Presbyterian Church. In 1886, the Holland Presbyterian Church renamed itself Erie Chapel, relocating to 1347 W. Erie Street, with a new building to serve the rapidly growing congregation. Erie kindergarten was a part of Chicago's Free Kindergarten Association in 1893. By 1895, the Erie Chapel had to expand its building to accommodate growing programs such as extended church services, youth groups, Sunday school, and numerous other meetings and classes.

In 1909, the Third Presbyterian Church withdrew as a sponsor, but the Erie Chapel continued to grow as an institution and continued its association with the Presbytery of Chicago. New immigrant groups moved into the area as the Scandinavians and Germans tended to move out. In 1915, the Erie Chapel Institute was incorporated and continued its work as a social welfare agency with an influx of new immigrants from Poland and Italy.

By 1933 the old buildings were unsatisfactory and efforts began to build a new Erie Chapel Institute. On March 15, 1936, the new building was dedicated as the Erie Neighborhood House, with 12 staff members and 50 WPA (Works Progress Administration) workers. In 1938 the Erie Neighborhood House was incorporated separately from the church, yet remained under the supervision of the church extension board and the Presbytery of Chicago, promoting a unified Christian ministry to the neighborhood.

In 1939, the Erie Dental Clinic was founded, followed by Erie Daycare in 1942. Between 1948 and 1953, the annual budget of the Erie Neighborhood House agency almost tripled, and it continued to grow through the 1960's, co-founding community organizations and redevelopment corporations and enrolling in federal projects for disadvantaged populations. The Carmella Jacob Clinic, now known as the Erie Family Health Center, started in 1956.

By the 1950s, Puerto Rican immigrants began to arrive in Chicago and found their way to Erie House, which established a Puerto Rican community outpost by 1959.

With the construction of the Kennedy Expressway in the early 1960s, the neighborhood Erie House served witnessed major outmigrations of many local residents to the suburbs and the area became a target for urban renewal and massive demolition plans. With support of local Catholic churches and protestant settlement houses like Erie, Saul Alinsky was approached and helped to organize the Northwest Community Organization (NCO) to provide residents with a voice about the future of their neighborhood. To ensure that future, NCO, Erie House and Holy Innocents Church worked together to found the Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp (BRC) in 1967 to develop new and affordable housing for the West Town community. The first BRC office was located at Erie House and the organization went on to become one of the most successful developers of affordable housing in Chicago.

By 1980, Mexicans became Chicago's largest immigrant population, and Latinos became the largest population served by the Erie Neighborhood House throughout the decade. In the early 1990s, the Erie Neighborhood House opened a second site at 1701 W. Superior Street. The Erie Family Health Center joined in the acquisition of this site and has since occupied the top two floors. The Erie Neighborhood House also founded West Town United in 1995, which eventually became West Town Leadership United, a non-profit organization addressing issues of safety, immigration, housing, and education.

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, Erie Neighborhood House continued to provide new services to growing populations and communities, such as the opening of its Community Technology Center in 1996, a satellite in Little Village in 2004, and the Erie Elementary Charter School in 2005.

Catalog Subject Headings +/-

Child care services--Illinois--Chicago
Community centers--Illinois--Chicago
Community health services--Illinois--Chicago
Community organization--Illinois--Chicago
English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers
Hispanic Americans--Illinois--Chicago
Presbyterian Church--Illinois--Chicago
Social settlements--Illinois--Chicago
Social work with immigrants--Illinois--Chicago
Women volunteers in social service--Illinois--Chicago
Towne, Florence H., b. 1886
1347 West Erie Street (Chicago, Ill.)
1701 West Superior Street (Chicago, Ill.)
Erie Chapel Sunday School (Chicago, Ill.)
Erie Family Health Center (Chicago, Ill.)
Erie Neighborhood House (Chicago, Ill.)--Archives
Annual reports
Financial records
Legal documents
Newspaper clippings
Chicago (Ill.)--Social conditions
West Town (Chicago, Ill.)

Organization and Arrangement of Collection +/-

The collection is arranged in two series.

Click on heading to view series description.

Series 1. Administrative records, 1905-1959 (box 1-2)
Series 2. Administrative records, 1897-2004 (box 3-14)

About This Finding Aid +/-

Creation: Finding aid encoded by Brienne Callahan using Oxygen editor, 2015.
Language: Finding aid is written in English.
Other Finding Aids: Finding aid also submitted to Explore Chicago Collections portal.
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