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How Much is Enough? 
Catholics and A living wage



Teacher Introduction
(click here for printable version)


Big Issues

Suggested Reading


How Much is Enough Documents
(with student introduction and questions)

Interview with Joseph Podles

Hull House Settlement House Questionnaire

Excerpts from "A Living Wage", by John A. Ryan

Advertisements from the Early 20th Century Sears and Roebuck Catalogue Hire's Root Beer

"The Well-Dressed Woman," Cosmopolitan

"Dressing Well on Small Means," Ladies' Home Journal

"The Cost of Christian Living," Catholic World

"The Fallacy of 'Bettering One's Position," Catholic World

"Influence of Wealth on 'the Higher Life' " Gunton's Magazine

"A Personal Question" Harper's Weekly

"Why Do Americans Prefer Small Families?" by Lydia Kingsmill

"The Small Family and National Decadence" The American Ecclesiastical Review

"More Conscience for the Consumer" by Caroline Hunt

"The Tenement" by Jacob Riis

"Cornelia Stewart's Bedroom"

How Much is Enough?
A Budget Exercise for the Consumer

Document #2

Hull House Settlement House
Questionnaire, 1893


Hull House in Chicago Illinois, is the most well-known of the period's settlement houses. It was found in 1889 by Jane Adams and Ellen Gates Starr. Hull House's 1894 charter stated its intention: "To provide a center for the higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago."1 In 1893, as part of their mission, Hull House participated in the Department of Labor's investigation of "slums" in large United States cities. This was just one of the many investigations in which they participated between 1892 and 1910. For three months, investigators went into each tenement, house, and room to asks its occupants a series of questions ranging from age and nationality to employment and wage history for each member of the family or families in residence. The tendency of people to move often and change jobs frequently made the investigators' jobs difficult.

The final report consisted of a series of notes and maps documenting the conditions in which many immigrants lived and the problems they faced each day. Hull House published the notes and maps "with the hope of stimulating inquiry and action, and evolving new thoughts and methods."2 They believed that by quantifying the condition of the "most inert and long-suffering citizens," they could "state symptoms in order to ascertain the nature of disease, and apply, it may be, its cure, [this] is not only scientific, but in the highest sense humanitarian."3

As you examine the questionnaire the investigators used, note the types of questions and the information the government was looking for.

Click on Image to Enlarge (PDF format)
Settlement House Questionnaire, 1894
Document courtesy of
Mullen Library
Catholic University of America


After reading the Questionnaire, consider the following:

  • What kinds of living and working conditions do you think might have prompted such questions?
  • How would you have felt being asked these questions?

1Robert A. Woods and Albert J. Kennedy, ed., Handbook of Settlements (New York: Arno Press, 1970 [c1911]), 53.
2Residents of Hull-House, Hull-House Maps and Papers (New York: Arno Press, 1970 [c1895]), 13.
3Ibid, 14.

URL: Send questions and comments to: MODIFIED: June-21-2006