Lea Demarest Taylor Papers

An inventory of the collection at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Collection Summary

Creator:Lea Demarest Taylor
Title:Lea Demarest Taylor Papers
Abstract: Lea Demarest Taylor (1883-1975) daughter of Graham Taylor, founder of the Chicago Commons settlement house, and Leah Demarest Taylor was active in Chicago's social settlement movement. The collection contains correspondence, memos, articles, speeches, annual reports, minutes of meetings, and photographs.
Quantity: 9.5 linear feet
Identification: LTaylor

Biographical Sketch

Lea Demarest Taylor (1883-1975) was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the daughter of Graham Taylor and Leah Demarest Taylor. Graham Taylor was a fifth-generation Dutch Reform church minister who, at the urging of the Chicago Theological Seminary, moved to Chicago in 1892 and founded the Chicago Commons, a secular settlement house.

Chicago Commons, founded in 1894, was located at first on Union Street in the lower northwest side, serving a neighborhood that was mostly Italian, Scandinavian, and Irish. Just after the turn of the century, the Commons moved to Morgan and Grand streets into a five-story building designed especially for the settlement by the architectural firm of Pond and Pond.

Lea Taylor grew up in the settlement house, along with her siblings. The settlement was a cooperative, with residents performing housekeeping tasks and settlement work alike. As a child, Lea attended Chicago schools, entering high school at the Lewis Institute in 1900. Even as a schoolgirl, her social life revolved around activities at the settlement house, and in 1899, when she was sixteen, she assumed the title, responsibilities, and salary of a full resident at Chicago Commons.

After graduating from Vassar College in 1904, Lea Taylor returned to Chicago Commons as her father's secretary and assistant. She was involved in editing the periodical The Commons and developed a lifelong interest in local and neighborhood issues, which she effectively combined with her activities in national and international organizations to forge a career in social welfare that lasted even beyond her official retirement in 1954.

Lea Taylor was active in the Chicago Federation of Settlements and attended meetings of the organization with Jane Addams, Mary McDowell, and other Chicago settlement pioneers. She was president of the Chicago Federation of Settlements from 1924-1937 and from 1939-1940. She was president of the National Federation of Settlements from 1930-1934 and 1950-1952. Her involvement with the National Federation of Settlements included work on Young Working Girls, a study published in 1913, and Case Studies of Unemployment, published in 1931.

Through her membership in the Women's Trade Union League, Lea Taylor learned about labor organizing, unions and women's working conditions. She was chairman of the Cotton Dress Industry Wage Board, which created legislation establishing a minimum wage for the industry's mostly female workforce in Illinois.

In 1909, Lea Taylor became active in the Chicago Recreation Commission, and as chair of the Wider Use of the Schools Committee, succeeded in having city schools opened for recreational use by neighborhood residents after school hours.

In 1911, when Katherine Taylor won an academic fellowship to Europe, Lea Taylor accompanied her sister overseas and used the opportunity to visit Toynbee Hall and other international settlement houses. When she returned in 1912, her father had acquired a new secretary, and Lea Taylor assumed additional administrative responsibilities. In 1917, she became Assistant Head Resident of the settlement house, assuming new responsibilities for budget planning, fundraising and public speaking.

Also in 1917, as the U.S. entered the First World War, Chicago Commons operated draft board Local No. 39. Settlement residents were called upon to interview prospective inductees and to explain induction procedures and policies to neighborhood residents, many of who were recent immigrants.

In 1921, Lea Taylor became head resident of Chicago Commons. The 1920s and 30s saw the settlement increasingly occupied with analyzing and responding to the needs of the unemployed and those requiring public relief. The continuing influx of poor people and immigrants into city neighborhoods and the shortage of decent housing resulted in a number of house fires in the neighborhood. Lea Taylor was the first woman to becomes a member of the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council, and served on coroners' juries investigating deaths caused by sub-standard housing.

During the 1940s, the neighborhood served by the Chicago Commons underwent racial change as African Americans moved into a previously all white neighborhood. The settlement's residents responded firmly to white resistance, insisting that neighborhood and settlement resources be shared. Fires in neighborhood buildings persisted, with some of them intended to terrorize African Americans. Chicago Commons and Emerson House, a settlement eight blocks to the west, joined together to form the Chicago Commons Association. William H. Brueckner, head worker at Emerson House was named executive director and Lea Taylor was head resident.

As planning and construction began for developing the Kennedy expressway through their community, Commons neighborhood residents began to move away. The settlement house itself relocated to the former Bowman Dairy Company building in a Polish neighborhood north of Chicago Ave. and west of Ashland.

From 1950 to 1952, as president of the National Federation of Settlements, Lea Taylor focused her energies on housing, integration in cities, poverty programs, and international settlement work. In 1951, she traveled to Europe with Lillie Peck, secretary of the Federation, and visited European settlements. In 1952, in Germany, Lea Taylor participated in a series of institutes and workshops focusing on settlement and social work.

Lea Taylor retired in1954 to her family home in Highland Park, a north shore suburb of Chicago. Even in retirement she was active, remaining on the boards of Chicago Commons, the National Federation of Settlements, and the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council. She also joined the Highland Park League of Women Voters, and was a founder of the Highland Park Committee on Human Relations. In 1960, she traveled to Europe for a reunion of the Unitarian Service Committee. Lea Taylor died on December 3, 1975.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, memos, articles, speeches, annual reports, minutes of meetings, and photographs. The materials pertain to operation and activities of Chicago Commons, the Chicago Federation of Settlements and the National Federation of Settlements. The collection also includes writing and publications by Graham Taylor.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Chicago Commons--Sources.
Chicago Federation of Settlements--Sources.
National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers--Sources.
Social reformers--Illinois--Chicago--Biography--Sources.
Taylor, Graham, 1851-1938 --Sources.
Taylor, Lea Demarest, 1883-1975 --Sources.
Hull-House and Settlement House History
Midwest Women's History

Detailed Description/Box and Folder Listing

Series I - Subject Files

0This series contains folders based on topics of significance to Lea Taylor.
1Archives, 1969
2Autobiography, 1895-1968
3Chicago Recreation Commission - annual reports, 1935-1936
4Chicago Recreation Commission - Chicago Recreation Conference, 1943
5Chicago Recreation Commission - Citizens' Committee for Wider Use of Schools, 1948-1967
6Chicago Recreation Commission - Citizens' Committee for Wider Use of Schools, 1948-1967
7Chicago Recreation Commission - Conference on Recreation for Older People, 1948
8Children and Youth, 1931-1954
9Consumers - Price controls, 1946
10Council for Social Action, 1954-1965
11Group Work - printed, 1937-1945
12Hall, Helen - paper and clippings, 1939-1967
13Hull House and Jane Addams, undated
14International Conference of Social Work, 1931-1962
15International Conference of Settlements, 1922-1929
16International Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers, 1951-1968
17International Migration Service, 1925
18Labor - Chicago Workers' Committee on Unemployment - leaflet, 1935
19Labor - Children - National Child Labor Committee - conference program, 1932
20Labor - James Mullenbach Industrial Institute, undated
21Labor - marches and protests - broadsides, undated
22Labor - Republic Steel Memorial Day Riot - fliers, clippings, 1937
23Labor - women, 1921-1937
24Labor - youth unemployment, 1932
25Peck, Lillie - correspondence, clippings, 1946-1957
26Perkins, Francis - obituary, 1965
27Race relations - Chicago, 1944-1949
28Race relations - Chicago, undated
29Race relations - Chicago - Race Riot of 1919, 1916-1920
30Race Relations - Chicago - South Central Association, 1945-1947
31Race Relations - School Strikes, 1947
32Settlements - College Settlement Association, 1894-1900
33Settlements - Illinois - Gads Hill Center, 1951
34Settlements - Massachusetts - Andover House, 1894
35Settlements - Massachusetts - Boston Social Union, 1913
36Settlements - Massachusetts - Lincoln House, 1897-1906
37Settlements - Massachusetts - South End House, 1922-1923
38Settlements - Massachusetts - South End House - Bulletins, 1896-1897
39Settlements - Massachusetts - United Settlements of Greater Boston, 1950
40Settlements - Minnesota, undated
41Settlements - New Jersey - Whittler House, 1900-1901
42Settlements - New York - Henry Street Settlement, 1958
43Settlements - New York - Huntington Family Center - Syracuse, 1960
44Settlements - New York - United Neighborhood Houses of New York, 1926-1962
45Settlements - New York - University Settlement, 1902-1965
46Settlements - New York - Welcome Hall, 1902
47Settlements - New York - Westminster House, 1896-1901
48Settlements - Ohio - Welfare Federation of Cleveland, 1946
49Settlements - Pennsylvania - College Settlement, 1896-1897
50Settlements - Pennsylvania - Kingsley House, 1925-1952
51Settlements - Texas - Julia C. Hester House, 1947
52Settlements - Texas - Mexican Christian Institute, 1948
53Settlements - Texas - The Ripley House, 1950
54Settlements - International, 1920-1968
55Stone, Mary - correspondence, 1947
56Woods, Robert A., 1925
57World Conference on Adult Education, 1929
58Writings, 1952-963

Series II - Chicago Commons

0This series contains material documenting Lea Taylor's work at the Chicago Commons settlement house.
59Annual reports, 1898-1971
60Annual reports to Welfare Council, 1926-1932
61Annual reports to Welfare Council, 1933-1937
62Annual reports to Welfare Council, 1938-1942
63Annual reports to Welfare Council, 1943-1946
64Articles of incorporation [photocopy], 1895
65Camping - annual reports, 1933-1971
66Dance, 1938
67Emerson House/Chicago Commons merger, 1948
68Influenza Epidemic, 1918
69National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers, 1969-1970
70Neighborhood Fires, 1947-1955
71Neighborhood Fires - racial unrest, 1945-1947
72Neighborhood Fires - racial unrest, 1947
73Neighborhood Fires - racial unrest, 1947
74Neighborhood statistics, 1940
75Photograph - illustration of Chicago Commons Building, 1900-1912
76Prohibition, 1934
77Chicago Commons, vol. 1, 1896-1897
78Chicago Commons, vol. 2, 1897
79Chicago Commons, vol. 2, 1897-1898
80Chicago Commons, vol. 3, 1898-1899
81Chicago Commons, vol. 4, 1900
82Chicago Commons, vol. 5, 1900-1901
83Chicago Commons, vol. 6, 1901
84Chicago Commons, vol. 6, 1901-1902
85Chicago Commons, vol. 7, 1902
86Chicago Commons, vol. 7, 1902
87Chicago Commons, vol. 8, 1903
88Chicago Commons, vol. 8, 1903
89Chicago Commons, vol. 9, 1904
90Chicago Commons, vol. 9, 1904
91Chicago Commons, vol. 10, 1905
92Chicago Commons, vol. 10, 1905
93Chicago Commons, vol. 17, 1907
94Publications - Chicago Commons Council, 1909-1911
95Race Relations, 1945-1948
96Schedule of appointments, 1909-1910
97Taylor, Graham, 1934-1938
98War Draft Statistics - Local Board 39, 1919
99Women Workers, 1924

Series III - Chicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers

0This series contains records documenting Lea Taylor's work with the Chicago Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers.
100Department of Adult Activities, 1929
101Arts Committee, 1926-1927
102Conferences, 1925
103Crime Prevention Conference, 1927
104Girls and Boys Work, 1916-1936
105Group Work, 1932-1936
106League of Mothers' Clubs, 1926-1936
107Minutes of meetings, 1894-1908
108Minutes of meetings, 1921-1929
109Minutes of Meetings, 1933-1939
110Minutes of Meetings, 1940-1949
111Minutes of Meetings, 1950-1956
112Music Committee, 1925-1935
113Neighborhood Service Work - Committee on March, 1936
114Neighborhood Study - Lower West Side, 1925
115Printed Material, 1921-1928
116Settlement expenditures - study, 1924
117Settlement organization and standards - study, 1919
118Settlement personnel management - study, 1925
119Settlement Work - Tentative Statement of Aims and Principles, 1923
120Unemployment Survey, 1928
121Welfare Federation Pan - Committee on, 1934

Series IV -- National Federation of Settlements And Neighborhood Centers

0This series contains records documenting Lea Taylor's work with the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers.
122Anniversary (50th), 1961
123Anniversary - 60th Year of Settlement Houses, 1946
124Archives, 1965-1966
125Board of Directors, 1949-1965
126Boys Work, undated
127Conferences, 1913-1917
128Conferences, 1918-1919
129Conferences, 1920-1923
130Conferences, 1928-1938
131Conferences, 1944-1947
132Conferences, 1951
133Conferences, 1960-1968
134Digest of Tropics of Social Action, 1911-1937
135Directory, 1960-1963
136Directory, 1964-1967
137International Committee, 1949-1959
138International Committee, 1960
139International Committee, 1961-1963
140International Committee, 1964
141International Committee, 1965-1967
142Minutes of meetings, 1918-1924
143Minutes of meetings, 1925-1929
144Minutes of meetings, 1930-1933
145Minutes of meetings, 1934-1935
146Minutes of meetings, 1936-1937
147Minutes of meetings, 1938-1940
148Minutes of meetings, 1942-1944
149Minutes of meetings, 1947-1949
150Minutes of meetings, 1950-1951
151Minutes of meetings, 1953-1957
152Minutes of meetings, 1960
153Minutes of meetings, 1961
154Minutes of meetings, 1962
155Minutes of meetings, 1963
156Minutes of meetings, 1963
157Minutes of meetings, 1964
158Minutes of meetings, 1964
159Minutes of meetings, 1965
160Minutes of meetings, 1966
161Minutes of meetings, 1966
162Minutes of meetings, 1966
163Minutes of meetings, 1967
164Minutes of meetings, 1967
165Minutes of meetings, 1968
166Minutes of meetings, 1968
167Minutes of meetings, 1969
168Publications, undated
169Publications, 1920-1930
170Publications, 1931
171Publications, 1936-1939
172Publications, 1940-1950
173Publications, 1952
174Publications, 1960-1964
175Publications, 1965-1969
176Publications, 1970
177Publications - 4 minute report, 1968
178Publications - Neighborhood: A Settlement Quarterly, 1929-1930
179Publications - Neighborhood: A Settlement Quarterly, 1931-1932
180Publications - NFS Legislative News, 1968
181Publications - Round Table, 1946-1955
182Publications - News and Round Table, 1958-1970
183Self-Study, 1958-1961
184Training Center, 1959-1960
185Training Center, 1960-1963
186Training Center, 1964-1967
187Committee on Unemployment, undated
188Whitney, Gertrude Schuyler, 1966
189Workshop, Arden House - Neighborhood Goals in a Rapidly Changing World, 1957-1958

Series V - Hull House and Jane Addams

0This series contains material from the various celebrations of Jane Addams from the centennial of her birth, as well as information about the Hull-House settlement house and the closing of its original buildings in 1963
190Addams, Jane - centennial, 1959-1961
191Addams, Jane - centennial - Rockford College, 1959-1960
192Addams, Jane - centennial - Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, 1955-1964
193Addams, Jane - Death and Funeral, 1935-1936
194Hull-House, 1932-1961
195Hull-House - 50th anniversary, 1940
196Hull-House - 65th anniversary, 1954
197Hull-House - annual meeting, 1963
198Hull-House - printed material, 1936-1963
199Hull-House and the University of Illinois, 1961-1966

Series VI - Publications and Printed Material

0This series contains published and printed material collected by Lea Taylor.
200City of Chicago - housing, urban renewal, race relations, 1936-1945
201City of Chicago - housing, urban renewal, race relations, 1955-1957
202City of Chicago - housing, urban renewal, race relations, 1960-1962
203City of Chicago - housing, urban renewal, race relations, 1963
204City of Chicago - housing, urban renewal, race relations, 1964
205City of Chicago - housing, urban renewal, race relations, 1964-1965
206City of Chicago - housing, urban renewal, race relations, 1965
207Depression era - relief and unemployment, 1929
208Depression era - relief and unemployment, 1932
209Depression era - relief and unemployment, 1933-1935
210Depression era - relief and unemployment, 1936-1937
211Depression era - relief and unemployment, 1938-1939
212Depression Era - relief and unemployment, 1940-1941
213Taylor, Graham - writings about, 1902-1966
214Taylor, Graham - writings by, 1893-1919
215Taylor Graham - writings by, 1925-1939
216Miscellaneous Social Welfare, undated
217Miscellaneous Social Welfare, undated
218Miscellaneous Social Welfare, 1888
219Miscellaneous Social Welfare, 1883-1905
220Miscellaneous Social Welfare, 1911-1919
221Miscellaneous Social Welfare, 1924-1949
222Miscellaneous Social Welfare, 1951-1959
223Miscellaneous Social Welfare, 1960-1963
224Miscellaneous Social