Segments in this Video

Settlement Houses Respond to Social Problems (02:27)


In the late 19th century, industrial capitalism brought with it social, economic, and cultural problems. Staff and volunteer workers at settlement houses dealt with these problems and created a sense of community for children and families.

African American Social Programs (01:10)

In the deep South, less formal social programs helped black families deal with social problems of poverty and sickness. Usually, this help came out of the southern black Baptist church.

Plight of African Americans in 1920s (02:53)

By the 1920s, the settlement movement is firmly in place in many northern cities. At least five chapters of the Ku Klux Klan exist in and around Minneapolis. Though many blacks are college educated, they are forced to work in the service industries.

1920s: Single Black Women Arrive in Minneapolis (01:45)

In the mid-1920s, an alarming number of single black women arrive in Minneapolis. The white majority and local black businessmen deny their support of a settlement house for these women--but for different reasons.

Establishment of the First Settlement House in Minneapolis (03:26)

From 1919-1924, Mattie Bryan and friends work to forge an "unlikely sisterhood" with the Women's Christian Association (WCA). From this alliance, Phyllis Wheatley House is born in 1924. W. Gertrude Brown takes the leadership role.

Success of the Wheatley House (01:56)

W. Gertrude Brown forges relationships with families in the neighborhood by creating socials and events for them. Local businesses donate toys, clothing, and other necessities for the hundreds of visitors to Wheatley House.

Ethel Ray: Connection With Harlem Renaissance (01:12)

Ethel Ray worked with W. Gertrude Brown and then went to New York where she was friends with W.E.B. Dubois and Langston Hughes. On her return to Minneapolis, she provided Wheatley House with ties to the Harlem Renaissance.

Expansion of the Wheatley House (03:17)

By 1927, 5000 visitors per month visit Wheatley House. With the help of a white female legislator, W. Gertrude Brown designs what she calls "the greatest settlement house in the U.S. for Negroes." The new building opens in 1929.

Wheatley House: Hub of Reform (02:57)

W. Gertrude Brown's energy and vision galvanized local black women in Minneapolis, removing the barriers of class and background. She provided education and training to men, women, and children, and encouraged organized labor groups.

Human Rights and Race Relations (01:09)

Brown opens Wheatley House up to dozens of human rights groups, and stocks the library's shelves with African-American books and newspapers. Brown sends representatives to talk to all-white churches about race relations.

Celebrities Stay at Wheatley House (03:47)

W. Gertrude Brown invited musicians and other celebrities to stay at the Wheatley House and rehearse there. From children to the Board of Directors, everyone enjoyed these free previews of downtown shows.

Wheatley House and Social Reforms (02:28)

By the mid-1930s, Wheatley House is home to countless social, cultural, and educational organizations. Brown takes advantage of New Deal funds for her residents and guests, and provides training for garment workers.

Wheatley House: Safe Haven and Structured Environment for Children (03:19)

W. Gertrude Brown provides children with safety and structure. Alums of Wheatley share their experiences, and discuss the lessons that Brown taught them about life, good manners, and self-esteem.

Summer Camp for Wheatley House Children (03:00)

Nursery school teacher Dorothy Hall recalls taking nursery school children along with children of all ages to summer camp. Children learned to work with others, farm, play, take care of themselves, and enjoy nature.

Children Learn Music and Dance (03:01)

In the 1930s, W. Gertrude Brown provided children and teens with Sumner Park. Here children participated in athletics, and music and singing competitions. Many of these children went on to become well-known performers.

Wheatley House Provides Diversity and Inspiration (02:18)

Wheatley House provided activities for all children, not just ethnic minorities. The diverse population provided children with mixed-race experiences and tolerance for differences. Brown's teachings stick with her former students and visitors.

Profiles of Wheatley House Alumni (03:42)

This segment features many of the children, volunteers, and staff of Wheatley House who have made an impact on society. Profiles include Marian Majors-McElroy, Hilda Sims, and Richard Green.

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The Heart of Bassett Place: W. Gertrude Brown and the Wheatley House

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In the early 20th century, community centers called settlement houses were established across America. This documentary relates the history of one such facility—the Phyllis Wheatley Settlement House, known in its time as “the greatest settlement house in the U.S. for Negroes.” The program profiles its first director, W. Gertrude Brown, who touched the lives of generations of African-Americans, and describes life at the Minneapolis center. The history of 20th-century African American culture is paralleled, since many social and artistic leaders—including Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson, and W. E. B. Dubois—called the Wheatley House their second home. (47 minutes)

Length: 47 minutes

Item#: BVL36286

ISBN: 978-1-4213-5721-8

Copyright date: ©2006

Closed Captioned

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