« AnteriorContinuar »
centers, they are human centers, and the teaching of civics and good citizenship is only one phase of our work.
"The people who come to our houses are drawn from all religions and all political parties. Our houses have never lined up with any political party or with any religious propaganda.
"As to the attitude of the people in our neighborhood, the conservative people regard us as radical, and the radicals regard us as extremely conservative.
"We do everything we can to do away with class hatred. However, we are not opposed to changes and stand for anything that is constitutional. The only thing that we consider wrong is violence. We do not permit the presentation of that idea in our houses."
Mr. Harold Riegelman, counsel for the United Neighborhood Houses of New York, was called as a witness and testified in substance, as follows:
"The objects of the United Neighborhood Houses of New York have been defined. The houses themselves that are associated in the organization are not members, but are represented by members.
"Americanization work, especially in a large city like New York, carries with it a tragedy in the fact that the younger generation becomes Americanized much more quickly than the older, and here the settlement house steps in in behalf of the older generation. Also, it provides a place of recreation for the children, who on account of the progress they have made as American citizens are not satisfied with their shabby homes.
"So far as I am aware our attention has not been called to any house which is a member of the United Neighborhood Houses that has fostered consciously or unconsciously any doctrine or any conduct that is subversive of the principles and institutions of the present and existing government. I am sure that if such a complaint were received that the house in question would be rebuked, possibly expelled from the organization, and we even might go so far as to get its charter revoked.
"I believe that there should be open forums for the discussion of arguable questions and that these forums should be
impartial. In the case of a question of Americanism, I think the alien should be allowed to feel that in seeking further light he should be in a position to present the arguments that he had heard elsewhere and to have those arguments answered.
"By having the forums really open, you impress upon the foreigner your desire to give him a square deal. The chairman should be able to sway the meeting in case of subversive arguments being offered."
At this point the chairman of the Committee pointed out that in some of the radical literature in its possession prostitution is commended and the prostitute held up as the ideal of womanhood. Mr. Riegelman was asked if he would bring an advocate of prostitution into a forum and let everybody consider the question - if he would give the impression to the foreigners who might come to such a forum that the question was debatable. Mr. Riegelman replied:
"I certainly don't think that the subject should be emphasized. In other words, I do believe that the question. impartially requires at least a strong presentation of the other side. Logically, I should say that if such a man were permitted to come into the house that I was entrusted with the guardianship of, I should take mighty good care that on the same platform, at the same time, there was a man who would completely answer the propositions that were made by the advocate of prostitution."
Mr. Riegelman further stated that if such an advocate should transgress the laws of decency" he would get him to leave the platform!
"One of the difficulties of the settlements has been that we have not been able to get enough men to expound in clear, vigorous fashion pro-American propaganda in language which will meet the particular objections that are raised by the disloyalists, the Bolshevists, the seditionists, and whoever else is opposed to our form of government. Neither are we able to get enough of the proper sort of literature to put into the hands of these people."
d. Communications From Members of the United States Neighborhood Houses of New York
ARMITAGE HOUSE SETTLEMENT, 451 East 121st street, New York City, Katherin Fairbairn, resident worker, January 8, 1920:
"We regret that we can be of no help to you in formulating your Americanization program.
"We are not conducting, at present, any classes in English for foreigners, owing to our inability to secure teachers. "Armitage House is small, but when we have succeeded in acquiring a larger plant and an increased staff of workers, we are planning to do more intensive work in making good citizens of our neighbors."
BETH-EL SISTERHOOD, 329 East 62d street, New York City, Miss S. Nassaner, head worker, January 5, 1920:
"During the school term of 1918-19 we conducted one Americanization class for adults.
"Since September, 1919, we have had two classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The teachers are provided by the Board of Education. The nationalities represented are Hungarian, Russian and a few Italians."
BOWLING GREEN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION, 45 West street, New York City, Edmund Leamy, executive secretary, November 17, 1919:
"I have your letter of November 14th and would reply that through the following work we come in contact with the foreign population of this small district of New York.
"Health clinics, recreation department, social service department, mothers' clubs, boys' clubs, girls' clubs, playgrounds, library, dance club, young men's club, young women's club, mother's club, and in co-operation with the Department of Education, 'Mothers' Learn English Clubs.'
"We also have numerous neighborhood meetings, which without being openly called Americanization meetings are got up for that purpose. Some of the subjects discussed are current events, civic government, historical events and citizenship.
"We are planning at present for a good deal more work on Americanization amongst the people here and we expect to be quite successful.
"If there are any further particulars you care for in regard to our work I would be very glad to write you, or better still, if you should be in this neighborhood I would be very glad to talk the matter over with you.
"The dominating nationalities down here are Slavic, Polish, Syrian, Greek and Irish.
"Mrs. T. C. Pecha, who is in charge of the Americanization work we are doing, and with whom I have discussed your letter, has made the following suggestions as to what she thinks would be helpful:
"Stricter immigration laws; passports; registration of arrivals and follow-up work; compulsory attendance at schools; control of the immigrant through employers of labor; time limit for declaration of citizenship intention; possibility of deportation for obvious undesirables."
CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH PARISH HOUSE, 422 West 57th street, New York City, Helen Van Voorhies, November 26,
"Referring to your letter of November 14th I would say that we have at most only three or four Italian families connected with our House and are not doing any very definite Americanization work. I fear that I have no new suggestions to offer. Of course, to make foreigners true and loyal Americans our work must go beyond the teaching of English, we must reach them in their homes, etc."
CHRISTODORA HOUSE, 147 Avenue B, New York City, C. I. MacColl, head worker, December 22, 1919:
"Your second letter to Miss Hoag, one of my associate workers, has just been received. I deeply regret that the first letter was not promptly answered, but at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the United Neighborhood Houses of New York it was decided that action should be taken by that body instead of through the individual settlements at least I so understood it.
"Christodora House and all its staff have stood for the work of Americanization ever since our organization in
1897. At the beginning of the Great War, before our country was involved, we formed classes in English in the homes of our neighbors, and in this House had similar classes, as well as instruction in citizenship, and gatherings of foreign-born men and women, which made toward a better understanding of them by us and also a clearer vision on their part as to what the privileges of an American citizen might be, and also the duties of a citizen.
"We have for these many years been helping the foreignborn secure their naturalization papers. We have held community gatherings with open forums where there has been frank discussion of the problems of the day, and the whole character of these meetings has been to enlighten and develop the foreign-born in what constitutes a loyal citizen of this country. We are in active co-operation with all the organizations working along the same line that we are. Our slogan is, 'We are all Americans and must be nothing but Americans.""
THE COLLEGE SETTLEMENT, 84 First street, New York City, Anna N. Noble, head worker, November 18, 1919:
"I am very much interested in your letter of November in regard to an increased program of education and Americanization for adult foreigners.
"The work of the College Settlement has been in the past, and is now, entirely with Jewish people-particularly the Russian Jew. Our problem is not one of teaching English, as our people are extremely ambitious and eager for education, putting their children in school immediately upon arrival in this country and keeping them there as long as it is possible.
We have, however, done a very important work in giving to these ambitious people high ideals of American citizenship. The House, in its thirty years of existence, has sent out fine Jewish leaders as professional men, business men, women teachers and home makers.
"I think in this time of social unrest, we are beginning to realize the work of Americanization that has been so quietly done by the settlements in these foreign neighborhoods. We have coming to our House now weekly about seven hundred (700) adults."