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Gads Hill Center Collection

Identifier: spe-nhrc-ghc

Scope and Contents

The materials in the Gads Hill Center Collection consists of individual photographs, a photo album and drawings that document the activities of the settlement house from 1914-1940. The photographs include the Gads Hill Center interior and exterior, activities and playground scenes, theatrical performances and parades. The scrapbook is retained in its original format and its images are summarized in the description. Some photographs in the album depict the same events as individual photographs. The two drawings may be drawings on photographs that were used to create mock-ups for printed promotional materials.


  • 1914-circa 1940, undated

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

In 1898, Gads Hill Center was established as a settlement house at 1919 W. Cullerton Street to serve poor immigrant families in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago’s Lower West Side. Until 1916, the organization was known as Gads Hill Social Settlement and had the founding mission “to improve the living conditions of the neighborhood and to assist and stimulate the people of the district through education, helpful recreation, wholesome social intercourse, and neighborly cooperation…” Through the years the center has offered services which include: a nursery school, kindergarten, Head Start programs and parent education classes; a music school and an alternative high school; an employment agency and a Community Technology Center. Gads Hill Center was also the home of a Chicago Public Library sub-branch until 1988.

Over the course of the twentieth century, the Lower West Side has been populated by recent immigrant groups, including Poles, Czechs, Italians, Germans, Lithuanians and Mexicans.


2.25 Linear Feet (in 3 boxes, includes 357 photographs, 2 drawings)

Language of Materials



Established in 1898 as a settlement house to serve poor immigrant families in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago’s Lower West Side community area, Gads Hill Center offered education, job training, recreational activities and other social services. The photographs in this collection depict a range of activities and facilities in the early part of the twentieth century.


The individual photographs had no order when accessioned. The photographs are arranged alphabetically by description with the scrapbook contents summarized within one description. Some of the individual photographs are related to and may have been removed from the scrapbook.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Mr. Reginald Horsman in 2008.

Related Materials

Dewey Roscoe Jones Papers

Norman B. Barr Papers

Lower West Side Community Collection

Guide to the Gads Hill Center Collection
Original author unknown, July 2009. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Michelle McCoy, 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875