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Henry Street Settlement


?? Henry Street Settlement
Photograph courtesy of Henry Street Settlement.

Lilian Wald and Mary Brewster in their Henry Street Office, 1895.
Photograph courtesy of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

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Lillian Wald (1867-1940), nurse, social worker

The three-story Federal style homes located on Henry Street comprise the Henry Street Settlement and Neighborhood Playhouse, one of the nation's first settlement homes founded in response to the miserable urban conditions faced by the poor as a result of rapid industrialization and increased immigration. Lillian Wald was a student at the Women's Medical College in New York when she was asked to organize a course of instruction in home nursing adapted to the needs of the immigrants living in New York City's Lower East Side. Wald discovered first-hand the squalid conditions in which many immigrants suffered, and in 1895, Wald created the Henry Street Settlement, determined to live among the poor to better provide a variety of volunteer services. Nursing was central to Wald's idea of neighborhood service, and she introduced the pioneering concept of "public health nursing," which placed medical care within the reach of the poor. By 1940, nearly 300 nurses worked from 20 branches throughout New York City. Wald's most innovative experiment was a "Public School Nursing Service" designed to increase school attendance by having Henry Street nurses provide care at public schools. This was so successful that the New York City Board of Health soon organized a public school nursing program, the first such service offered anywhere in the world.

The Henry St. Settlement and Neighborhood Playhouse, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 263-267 Henry St. and 466 Grand St. in New York City, NY. For further information visit the Henry Street Settlement website.

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Last Modified: Monday, 30-Mar-98 15:42:58EST