Lesson Plan: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Rivington Street Settlement


Students will be able to analyze how effective the settlement house movement was in the long term.


Essential Questions

  • How did the U.S. handle the massive urban growth and overcrowding of the late 1800s to early 1900s?
  • How effective and successful was the settlement movement in the short and long term. 
  • What techniques did Eleanor Roosevelt use in order to improve the situation of the poor in urban areas?



Primary source handout on Settlement Houses (see appendix ). 


Steps in Lesson 

The teacher can use this lesson during a unit on Gilded Age-Progressive Era urban American growth or in a lesson on the War on Poverty during the 1960s.

Teacher will start class with a discussion about urban growth in America due to immigration and internal migration from the farms to the factories.  If this lesson is being used during the 1960s unit, a discussion of the economic problems in America would be relevant as well.  This should all be review.

Students will then read a primary source article by Eleanor Roosevelt about the anniversary of Hull House. A class discussion or partner discussion can be used to further the analysis.

Finally, students will end the assignment with a write-up, web-task, debate, or oral presentation that deals with one or all of the following questions and tasks:

  • When students study the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, they study the reasons for the massive shift from rural to urban America, the growth of the American city, and the expansion of America’s industrial sector.  To deal with the growing problems in urban areas, the America of the late 1800s and early 1900s sees the birth of the settlement houses of urban America.  Looking at Eleanor Roosevelt’s article, how successful were those houses?  Why did ER believe more needed to be done?
  • This article was written in 1960.  President Kennedy had promised a war on poverty in America when he was elected.  How rampant was poverty and unemployment in America at the time?  How might ER’s article have influenced Kennedy?  How might Kennedy have influenced her?
  • Research the issue of slums and poverty in a local city.  What is currently being done by the mayor and city officials to deal with urban development? 



  • Analysis tasks and/or write-ups.


From Mini-Lessons on Eleanor Roosevelt Teaching American History Grant, funded by Teaching American History Grants