One of the earliest examples
of advocacy in the United
States was found in the social settlement movement in the first two decades of the twentieth century
concentrated mainly in the industrial cities of East and Midwest.
Social settlements were first and foremost "houses" set up in working class neighborhoods by
the college educated sons and daughters of the middle class who were disturbed by the massive social problems of the day that
accompanied rapid industrialization, urbanization, immigration. These were problems such as working class poverty, tenement
housing, child labor, tuberculosis.
These early settlement workers were also bothered by the increased distance between the middle
and lower classes that also accompanied industrialization and the growing income gap.
Many of the settlements brought philanthropic resources to deliver many specific services to
neighborhoods. Many of these services were in the form of education, for example, classes in English, sewing, wood and sheet
metalworking. Some settlements went beyond this approach and were active in lobbying for tenement reform, publicly provided
kindergartens, school nurses, child labor laws.
Settlement workers attempted to translate some of the new concepts of scientific thinking into
strategies that would give their work maximum impact and efficiency. The early settlement workers attempted to apply
scientific thinking through what they often referred to as the three Rs of settlement work: Research, Reform and Residence.