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Social Work and Women’s History Month at The Gables

March is an important month at The House of the Seven Gables since it allows us to acknowledge both Women’s history and Social Work months. The conjunction of these two commemorative events gives us a platform to share our story as a community resource founded by Caroline Emmerton – a Salem philanthropist with a passion for preservation and education.

Caroline Emmerton purchased The Gables in 1908 and spent two years investing in a renovation that would allow the home to open as a museum. The proceeds from the museum helped to fund a settlement house – a place where newly arriving immigrant families could pursue educational and social opportunities in the early twentieth century. Our mission and work remain the same in 2021 and our nonprofit is one of about 50 settlement houses that still operate in the United States.

It’s appropriate for Social Work Month and Women’s History Month to go hand-in-hand. Social work was one of the first professional fields where women could make an impact. Columbia University offered the country’s first social work classes in 1898. At this time settlement houses started opening in urban areas around the United States.

Women founded and managed many of these organizations. Settlement houses offered communities a slew of resources that addressed education, food security, housing, labor support, childcare, and social opportunities.

The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association offered many of these services to immigrants arriving in Salem to work at tanneries and the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Mill. A list of programs offered in 1915 included English and cooking classes, well-baby clinics, and social gatherings. Today, The Gables continues this legacy as a community resource in Salem and beyond.

Date: February 28, 2021

Author: sperling

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