Header Graphic
Foreigners in Dayton: An Investigation

  This booklet states that Holy Name Church is on Dale Street. The correct address is Conover and Blaine. - Curt Dalton, Editor DHBO

















By Alice M. Doren

Secretary of The Immigration and Foreign Community Department,

Young Women’s Christian Association





I.                   FOREWARD



Census of 1910

Figures of 1917 “to be added” [written in cursive. EH. ]

Location of foreign communities and distribution of nationalities



I.                   COURTS

a.       United States District (Naturalization).

b.      Police

c.       Juvenile

                               2. PUBLIC SCHOOLS

                                    a. Day schools

                                    b. Night schools

                               3. PUBLIC LIBRARIES

                               4. CITY WELFARE DEPARTMENT

                                   a. Vital Statistics

                                    b. Legal Aid

                                    c.State-City Employment Bureau

                               5. MONTGOMERY COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY



I. Associated Charities     6. Churches

2. Visiting Housekeeper        a. American Catholic; Parochial School

3. Visiting Nurses                   b. Foreign Catholic;

4. Playgrounds                        c. American and foreign Protestant

5. Jewish work                  7. Young Men’s Christian Association

                                          8. Young Women’s Christian Association


            I. Hungarian                4. Greek          7. Lithuanian

            2. Rumanian[sic]         5. Syrian          8. Bohemian

            3. Italina                      6. Polish          9. Others


VI.             WHAT TO DO

i.                    Strategic Points for Work

2.                    An “AMERICA FIRST” Campaign

3.                    Community Houses        





            No survey of foreigners in Dayton has ever been made, and there is no census of foreigners since the federal census of 1910. In order to proceed intelligently with welfare work for foreign women and girls, to bring to the knowledge of the public generally, and particularly to inform those interested in the proper assimilation of immigrant aliens in our midst, this investigation has been undertaken. The time allowed being insufficient for exhaustive research, the findings are offered as a report in general of conditions among foreigners in Dayton, the ultimate object being the acquisition of information concerning women and girls. The inquiry sets forth the total population, native and foreign, as given in the United States census of 1910, with the distribution and approximate numbers of the various nationalities in the city; the agencies, public and private, operating among foreigners, including a partial report of the first years work in this field of the Young Women’s Christian Association; some facts relating to the different nationalities here; and a few suggestions as to the things most necessary to be done immediately. It will be borne in mind that we are only just beginning to touch the problem.


Our problem of immigration in Dayton is simple, as yet, compared to that of the cities of large foreign populations on the coasts, the lakes, and inland cross-roads of travel. It is simpler because we are younger and less congested. We have wider and more open streets, lower and smaller buildings. In general, each little home has its own plot of ground to admit air and sunlight. Our tenements are not so forbidding as abodes for the human race as those in older centers. But, in an industrial city of over 120,000 where more than one-third of the population is foreign-born, or of foreign parentage, we should recognize that we have a foreign problem; and with the high standards of efficiency for which Dayton is advertised, we can not ignore the actual living conditions and proper American education of so large a percentage of her people. We have it in our power to make Dayton a model cityin[sic]  her provision for her foreign population. It is only a question of fair treatment and just civic recognition. We have the intelligence and we have the means; we must have the will and the thoroness[sic], and model conditions for our coming American can be achieved. Without this fairness and thoroness in protecting and educating the foreigner, our municipal house-keeping will be sadly defective. The problem of the immigrant is a new and vital factor in our urban life which demands adjustment with the other social problems of the complex system of today; but the women and men of Daytoncooperating [sic] thru public and private agencies, can convert one district after another.




In the absence of more recent figures, we take as a starting point the census of 1910. Doubtless many foreigners answered the call to their colors at the outbreak of the war, and we should expect to find material changes and increase in seven years, and since the flood, in a prosperous manufacturing city as Dayton is. In 1919 the total population was 116,557. Of these, native, and white foreign and mixed percentage, 25,559

Foreign-born white                                                                             15,847

Chinese and Japanese                                                                         28

Negro                                                                                                  4,842

Note that foreign-born plus those of foreign parentageare [sic] 39,434 say one-third of Dayton’s population. Out of 38,000 (round numbers) males of voting age, 21,000 are native white and native parentage; 8,000 of foreign of mixed parentage; and 7,300, or 19.2 percent are foreign-born white. We do not know how many of these 7,300 are naturalized and can vote.


Census of 1910, foreigners in our ten wards:


1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

482      554      4162    898      1917    672      784      2293    1145    860


The numbers of nationalities represented in Dayton as reported in the 1910 census were

Austria                        660                              Italy                 356(now 3,000)

Canada                        552                              Russia              1,526

England           461                              Scotland          140

France             93                                Sweden           42

Germany         5,816                           Switzerland     118

Hungary          2,761 (now 5 to 6,000)Turkey            215

Greece             47 (now 700)               Others             175

Ireland             974

There was no mention seven years ago of Syrians who today number 150; of Dutch, today about 100; of Serbs, today 100; of Bulgarians, today 100; of Poles, today, 1600; of Rumanians, today about 3,000. Note also that Greeks have increased from 47 to 700 tday; Hungarians from 2,700 in 1910, to between 5,000 and 6.000 today; Italians from 356 to 3,000.




1.  The one unadulterated foreign community in Dayton is the Hungarian colony in North Dayton. The whole of north Dayton may be regarded as the largest foreign community in the city, although it is perhaps half American. The “Colony” is composed of five or six hundred Hungarians, one hundred Rumanians, and other nationalities living in an enclosed area bordering on Leo Street, north side. When it was started fourteen years ago by a Hungarian Jewish agent of the Barney and Smith Car Works it was considered Dayton’s jumping-off place. It is still on the north boundary of north Dayton. Hungarians were the first to settle here and had their uprisings and downsittings regulated by the chapel tell and the will of this Jewish agent. Today, the gates are left open, and any one may walk thru a foreign village whose heart and center is Moskowitz’ saloon and clubhouse. Moskowitz, the old-time agent, is still in charge, tho inclined to be more conciliatory to educational influences. He has managed the business of all the foreigners, arranging their arrivals, their employment, their housing, their buying, drinking, and all their interests have always his interests!  The foreigners [word “foreigners” was penciled in] even receive their mail, and cash their checks at his bar!

During the winter of 1916-17 the Y.M.C.A. conducted an evening English class for men, had Sunday night lectures by representative citizens, with moving pictures on profitable subjects, free to all the people, in the club hall over the saloon. The president of the club presided. The full attendance of men, women, and children at these entertainments shows the genuine appreciation that exists [“that exists” is penciled in]for wholesome recreation, a thing [“a thing” is penciled in] which is conspicuously absent among foreigners nominated by liquor dealers.

            Outside the colony anywhere in north Dayton live foreigners of many nationalities. Their residence begins immediately after crossing the Keowee Street bridge. Turning west, some of the streets are almost wholly foreign; others, in either direction, are foreign and American mixed; such as Herman, Webster, Taylor, Herbert, Kiser, Daller, Earl, Ohio, Air, Leonhard, Warner, Notre Dame, Leo, Alaska, Valley, Lucaswitz, etc.

            Besides the Hungarians in the colony, and those scattered throughout North and east Dayton to the number of two thousand or twenty-five hundred, there are three thousand Hungarians on the west side. North Dayton also contains five-sixths of the Poles, two-thirds of the Bohemians, all but one or two families of the Lithuanians, most of the Dutch, a large percentage of the Austrians, Greeks, Italians, Turks, Croatians, Bulgarians, Russians, and Serbs. Outside of the work of the Y.M.C.A., occasional attendants at American churches, and the two public schools, there is no organized welfare work for foreigners located in this our largest foreign community. In this connection, however, two much praise cannot be given to the valuable services of the visiting nurses, and visiting housekeeper, a part of whose time is devoted to the great needs of the district.

2.   The foreign community second in size is on the west side, westof [sic] Broadway and north of Third Street. Here are about six thousand foreigners, of whom are between two and three thousand Hungarians, an equal number of Rumanians, with Poles, Greeks, Macedonians, Serbs, Croatians, Bulgarians, Turks, and Russians, in much smaller numbers. The Holy Name Catholic Church on Dale Avenue forms the center of the Hungarians. Across the street from the Catholic church is the Hungarian Baptist Mission, and on the next block on Blaine Avenue, is the Hungarian Reformed Church. The Rumanians have their St. Gabriel’s Greek Catholic Church on north summit Street near Fifth.


It is in this locality of the west side, because of the greater congestion, and because of the fact that the Y.M.C.A. had started[handwritten: “work”] in this section, that the Young Women’s Christian Association chose to begin work for foreigners.


3. East Dayton, that is, east Monument Avenue, east First, east Second, east Third, east of Keowee Street, --Crane, Findlay, Sachs, Springfield, and many other streets in the neighborhood, are rapidly filling up with foreigners of mixed nationality. The majority are Catholics, but the Catholic priests in most of the parishes visited appear ignorant of or indifferent to their presence with them. The Polish priest is an exception in being interested in the Americanisation of his people. The people themselves are too apathetic in the matter, and not yet awake on the educational side. In this locality, the Springfield Street Settlement House which, under Mrs. Palmer, has done so much for the Americans of the neighborhood, has offered the Y.W.C.A. the use of its equipment for domestic science work among the foreigners, and the first steps for organizing a foreign mothers’ club have been taken.


4.Most of the Russian Jews are in south Dayton east of Brown Street in the neighborhood of Wyoming Street and Wayne Avenue where the two orthodox synagogs[sic] are located. Dayton has a wellestablishet [sic] Jewish population of 4,500 thruout [sic] the city; but only about 200 Jewish immigrants of the last five years. Dayton Jews have plans for a community house to be erected in this part as soon as they can be relieved of the European war burdens which all have been carrying since the beginning of the war.


  1. In the region of south Brown and Hickory Streets, south Main Street, and Burns Avenue, there is a small and scattered colony of Syrians, a few of whom have been here 18 years. They are Roman Catholic. No welfare work has been done for them.


  1. In Edgemont there is a small colony of Austrians, and some Italians.
  2. The Italians are scattered everywhere thru the city. The largest number are living in the east central streets of Bainbridge, Commercial, Montgomery, and McDonough.


III. Public Agencies


The chief public agencies visited are: The courts, the public schools, the public libraries, the City welfare department, the Montgomery County Humane Society.


I.                   The COURTS.

The United States District Court. Naturalization.

We have in our city one of the United States district courts of which aliens may receive naturalization. To become a citizen of the United States, an alien must first “declare his intentions” to become a  citizen, at which time he takes out his “First papers.” In the last year from April 22nd, 1916, to May 3rd, 1917, there were 427 aliens from 22 different countries who asked to take this first step. The second step toward naturalization cannot occur until five years have elapsed after taking out “first papers.” This is called the “Petition for Naturalization”. During the same period of a little more than one year, 133 petitions for naturalization, or “second papers” were issued at our federal court.


      After the second papers have been issued, 90 days must elapse beforethe [sic] applicant can be examined and have it determined whether or not he or she is qualified to be made a citizen. If the applicant passes the examination, he or she receives a “certificate of Naturalization”, when he or she becomes a citizen with the full rights and duties of an American. If a man is married, his wife and minor children also become citizens automatically when he is naturalized. During this past year preceding May 7th, only 32 received certificates of naturalization. Many come up for naturalization and fail to pass. Thirty-two is a very small number in one year to become citizens out of the large foreign population Dayton has. The number ought to be brought up into the hundreds, at least, by there instructions upon our [not sure if I have this right! Hard to read the copy] Constitution and citizenship, in night school or other classes. Perhaps no work in the teaching of citizenship to foreigners in this country is equal to that of Mr. Eyler’s in Cincinnati. There the classes continue thruout [sic] the entire year, and pre-suppose at least two years of night school study in English. The regular course is three months four nights a week, two hours a night. Cincinnati has not so large a foreign population, proportionally, as Dayton; but in nine months of last year they had an excellent enrolment of 285 men and women in citizenship classes alone.


      The question of citizenship is one which should be agitated vigorously, to get foreigners who intend to remain in this country to qualify; for to do so is in every way a benefit to them; and to preserve our institutions, the naturalization of foreigners is imperative to us. Many foreigners neglect to learn English on first coming to America, and then grow more and more indifferent, until often they have been here a generation and are still ignorant of language and customs. Therefore it behoves [sic] Americans to look them up early on their arrival, and introduce them to our schools.


b. Police Court.

      The immigration work of the Young Women’s Christian Association is of course carried on in the interests of foreign women and girls. In visiting the Police Court, I find that cases of foreign women coming before that court/are comparatively rare. Some cases do not reach the policewomen, but are handled directly by the men officers. I was referred to the police matron and learned of her that she had had only nine cases from January 1st to May 10th. Of these, one was for destruction of property while drunk; one for selling liquor without a license; and seven for coal-stealing. Five of these latter had been brought in early one morning in May. Only one of the women could speak English. Her testimony sounds very reasonable, and her misdemeanor seems most natural under the circumstances. She explained that the weather was so cold, coal so high, and they saw so many others doing the same thing who never got caught. She could name persons who had their sheds full. The matron thot [sic] these women would not repeat the offence.


      Occasionally cases of immorality and other troubles get into this court, but foreign women are here conspicuous mainly by their absence, and their number is insignificant in presence of the 1600 cases in  all handled by the policewomen in 1916. But this information which apparently reflects credit on the foreign women must be supplemented by testimony from an intelligent Hungarian as to the presence of flagrant immorality among certain nationalities, due in part to entirely different standards and a different code for correction in their native country; and certainly it is very largely due to the fearful congestion of their living here. Along with the statement from an eye-witness that thirty men and women, married and single, were sleeping in five rooms, it is not so surprising to hear also the appalling statement that there is not a little girl of ten years among the Rumanians who is “an honest girl” ! Think of such a situation with soldiers and an increased number of workmen in our city!


c. Juvenile Court.

      The record of 1915 sh—d [sic]cases of delinquency of foreign children of foreign parents, 46; of American children, i.e., those born in American of foreign parents, 44; total, 90 children of foreign parents in 1915. The probation officer estimated cases of foreigners to be  from 20-33 percent of all cases.


      The Probate Court I have not inquired into. I know of one sad case of a Hungarian mother gone hopelessly insane from drink, committed to the State Hospital. Her two small children were sent to the House of Detention until they could be sent to the Children’s Home.


a.       Day Schools

There are in the public day schools, excluding the count of the kindergartens, 716 foreign children, of 18 different nationalities.

They are

Italian          Russian Jew    Austrian          English

Greek           Lithuanian       German           Scotch

Slav             Hungarian       French             Irish

Pole             Rumanian        Swiss               Canadian

Russian        Italian [mentioned again. –eh]

I am  surprised that the number is as low as this, but the kindergarten would raise it materially. The total enrolment of our day schools is 19,100. If we subtract 1,100 for the kindergartens in the 25 schools the 716 foreigners are about 4 percent of the 18,000 remaining. The schools having the largest number are the Allen in north Dayton with 209 foreigners, where Germans, Hungarians, and Russians lead (this is 28.1 percent of the entire enrolment); and the Webster in north Dayton with 125. The Edison on north Broadway, west side, is third with 168 foreigners.


b.Night Schools

The public night school is in one centrally located school, the Stivers Manual training High School, a most beautiful and splendidly equipt school. There are three classes which are in operation six months of the year from October until March 23rd on three nights a week. These classes are for beginners, intermediates, and the teaching of citizenship. There were 155 foreigners enrolled in all classes last year. About one-fifth of these were women.


3.      PUBLIC LIBRARIES       

The Public Library offers 5200 books and periodicals in twenty languages:

German           Dutch              Russian            Servian            Portuguese

French             Italian              Armenian        Croatian

English for Foreigners             Bulgarian         Danish

Yiddish           Spanish            Lithuanian       Swedish

Classic Hebrew Greek                        Bohemian        Polish

This is one-sixteenth of the total 85,000 volumes in our library.


Among the many foreign readers the Yiddish are the most conspicuous for number. Our libraries are on the alert to furnish and help foreign-speaking patrons to find the books they can read; and are ready to install branch libraries with foreign-speaking attendants in any of the schools in foreign neighborhoods, as soon as the school authorities can provide for them. The librarian will cooperate with leaders of the various nationalities in giving entertainments in the assembly rooms of the Branch Libraries, the programs to be suggested by the leaders themselves. The librarians are always ready to help in providing improving recreation.



a   Vital Statistics

     Vital Statistics taken from the Board of Health records for 1916 show in the first 1,000 of the 3,500 birth certificates, 140 childrenof [sic] full foreign parentage, and 50 of foreign and American parentage, totaling 190, or 19 percent of foreign or half-foreign parentage out of 1,000 births. The ages of the mothers range from 15 to 40. The number of children of these same mothers ranges from 1to [sic] 11. Of the 190, 48, or nearly 25 percent of the deliveries were performed by midwives and 142 by physicians.


b. Legal Aid

     No charge at all is made to recipients of legal aid. By eliminating certain types of cases, the office feels it comes near to serving those who are really unable to pay. The cases eliminated are: (1) Domestic relations-divorce, alimony, non-support, which are referred to the Court of Domestic Relations and the Humane Society; (2) Cases of property owners and store-keepers; (3) Damages to property; Personal injury cases are referred to Workmen’s Compensation thru the State Industrial Commission; (5) Criminal cases; (6) Cases wherein an attorney for reasonable service can receive a reasonable fee.

            Report of legal aid to foreigners for the year 1916:

            Out of a total of 1,027 cases handled are 86 for foreigners in eleven languages: men 66; women 20. The eleven nationalities are as follows:

Hungarians 28             Greeks 9          French 2

Germans     32             Italians 3         Swiss   1

Austrians      1             Rumanians 1   Irish      1

Russians       7             Servians      1


Character of foreign complaints:

(1)   Work and labor; inability to collect pay on quitting job.

(2)   Of women for arrears in payment for board and room.

(3)   Landlord and tenant. Landlord raises rent and does not improve property.

(4)   Domestic relations. Referred to Court of Domestic Relations and Humane Society


c. State-City Employment Bureau.

     Applications from foreign men average 18 to 20 percent; applications from foreign women average 5 to 8 percent of the total number. During two months the number of women applicants was 22, or 8 percent of all women applicants. There is no interpreter in this office.




The total number of complaints for the year 1916 was 625. Complaints of foreigners, 260, or 41.7 percent, in 8 known, and some unknown nationalities.

                  Irish 42            Polish  9

                  German 111    Austrian  2

                  English 10       Hungarian 30

                  Jewish  9         Others   39

                  Italian 7

Nature of complaints:

            (1) Non-support and abandonment     356[numbers are not clear on copy.—eh]

            Children involved

            (2) Abuse and mistreatment                138

            Children involved                                168


p. 8

(3)        Immoral conduct of parent     43

(4)        Destitution                              23




i.                    THE ASSOCIATED CHARITIES

Statistics for 1916017.

Number of families assisted, 52. Persons involved, 236.

Nationalities, 12.

                     German      13 Slavish    3       Rumanian        2

                     Polish         11 Russian   2       Mexican          1

                     Hungarian  11 Italian      2      Syrian               1

                     Lithuanian    3 Irish          2     Japanese          1

The average relief to each family was $21.54 in groceries, coal, and special relief.


2. Visiting Housekeeper.

         One-third of the visiting housekeeper’s work is in foreign families. She has made 746 visits in foreign homes in the last year, in north Dayton, the east end, and on the west side, mainly. Miss Appenzellar enjoys her work among foreigners, and finds them open-minded and more responsive in taking suggestions than her American families. At every point she feels the need of a community house and practical house-keeping center. At present, she is preparing for the expected food shortage by offering thruout the city demonstrations of the canning and preserving of vegetables and fruits. Among those given for foreigners was that at the Edison School for the west side for which an interpreter was provided.


3. Visiting Nurses Association.

         Foreign patients cared for during 1916, men, women, and children total 172.

Visits of nurses to                            112        patients in 15   nationalities.

             visiting housekeeper       21                         10 

           “ 2 dispensary                      39                             8 “

During the summer months a milk station and baby clinic is conducted at the Edison School in the west side foreign district. The nurses find their foreign patients teachable and appreciative of their services.



Of the 21 playgrounds of the city, three are in neighborhoods of foreigners. These are on Benn Avenue, on the west side; Walters Grove, in north Dayton; and in the neighborhood of Springfield Street Settlement House near Irwin Street in east Dayton. There are some bad dumping-grounds at various points in the city that are ideally located for playgrounds, if the city would force the owners to clean up. One disgraceful spot is a large area, the interior of the two blocks bounded on the west side bounded by North Summit, Negley Place, Falkner, and River streets, owned by M.S. Bonn. The homes of hundreds of little children open out in the rear to this ground which is a wilderness of dump heaps and miscellaneous refuse, revolting to the eyes and an unsanitary breeding-place for flies. Those living in the houses adjacent complain of the bad smells and the flies. The man who owns the land, owns many of the houses abutting it, and neglects their repairs as he does the vacant ground, at the same time advancing the rent. The poor people have no other place to go. No other houses are to be had. They are obliged to endure the dangerous steps, the leaking roves, unsanitary back yards, and the whole vista of ash heaps and garbage at their back doors, tho they pay for wholesome and respectable surroundings but do not enjoy them. The visiting housekeeper says it is futile to urge cleanliness inside and about the house, when their constant outlook is this degrading spectacle. The situation admits of entire transformation at not excessive cost. It is patent to the most casual observer that the ground should be leveled off and at least made wholesome and decent for the crowded population living on its border. Since the land is private property, it becomes a question of the city’s requiring the owner to clean it up.


5.                    Jewish Work.

Dayton Jews are conspicuous among our most progressive and philanthropic citizens. Their societies reach out to all their people. Of the reformed Jews of the Temple there are the B’nai B’rith; and the B’nai Ashuro; the Young Men’s and the Young Women’s Hebrew Association; the Jewish Charities; the beneficial societies of the two orthodox synogogs, the House of Jacob, and The House of Abraham, of which there are three in each, one for men, women, and children. A visiting committee of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association conducts a class in English for twenty-four Jews at the Patterson School night class in English for twenty-four Jews at the Patterson School during the past year. The Jews themselves “rush the process of citizenship,” and of all our immigrants, need the least stimulus toward self-improvement educationally. They are eager for the privileges which were denied them thru unsympathetic governments in the old country. There are only about 200 Jews who have come here within the last five years. Dayton Jews have plans for the erection of a community house in the southeastern part of the City after the war.


6.                    Churches.

a.       American Catholic, and their parochial schools.

There is usually a small sprinkling of foreigners in all the Catholic churches, with one or more children in the parish school, whether the priest notices the fact, or not. No particular attention, however, is paid to them as such, and in some cases, the priest stated that he had no foreigners, where we had evidence that there were foreigners in the parish.


b.      Foreign Catholic, and their parochial schools

I.                   Poles.

The Poles, numbering 1,600, wherever located thruout the city, have their membership at the St. Adelbert’s Polish Catholic Church on east Valley Street, north Dayton. The pastor, Father Rufus Baranski, is a liberally educated man and a good American, anxious for his people to learn English and American customs. He deplores their apathy and indifference in attending night schools, and their intemperance, and would gladly encourage Americanization or domestic science work among them, as indeed many of the people themselves would welcome such teaching.

      Most of the Poles belong to the men’s and women’s societies in the church. The organizations for women are the societies of “The Sacred Heart”, and “Poor soulds” (for young women). The St. Adelbert’s parochial school has 80 boys and 70 girls who are taught English and Polish.


2. Lithuanian.

Seventy-five percent of the 706 Lithuanians are Catholic and belong to the Holy Cross Lithuanian Church on Leo Street between Alaska and Lucaswitz. Their church edifice is incomplete; the basement and first floor being now finished in handsome brown brick give promise of a substantial building. The congregation was organized in 1912. They have no parochial school, but send most of their children to the public schools.


3. Hungarian.

On the west side the Hungarians have their Church of the Holy Name on Dale Avenue, built in 1906. Attached to it is their parochial school of 231 children.


4. Rumanian.

St. Gabriel’s Greek Catholic Church was organized in 1916, when the Rumanians bought the old Summit Street United Brethren Church, very much to the displeasure of the Hungarian priest. For a few months the Rumanians had a Russian priest, who afterward removed to Canton, Ohio, and came to Dayton once a month to hold services. They have no school.


c.       American and foreign Protestant Churches.

I.                   American Baptist, Summit Street.

The American churches, with the exception of the Summit Street Baptist under the Rev. O. E. Hall, have done no serious missionary work for foreigners. Mr. Hall and his people have had missions among the Hungarians and Rumanians separately, for six years. The Hungarian work was begun in the mission on Dale Avenue and Dakota Street almost opposite the Hungarian Holy Name Church, which has proven to be a most unfortunate location that has caused the Baptist Hungarians much persecution necessitating recently the sale of their house and removal of the meeting-place. The Rumanians who are Protestants have voluntarily sought Mr. Hall’s church where they have services separately on Sunday afternoons. Two promising Rumanian Young men in whom all of Mr. Hall’s congregation take great interest and pride are being educated at Dennison (Baptist) University for Christian work among their people. Educated Rumanians are not numerous, and ministers among them are scarce, so that it seems there could hardly have been a better selection of work in the investment made.


2. Hungarian Reformed.

There is a Hungarian Reformed Church of 550 souls on Blaine Avenue, which celebrated its 10th Anniversary last December. It has societies for men, women, young men, and young women. The church seems to be prospering materially, having just undertaken the purchase of the Hungarian Mission church (Baptist) which it hopes to convert into a bath and community house. The Immigration Department of the Y.W.C.A. Cooperated with the pastor’s wife in conducting a sewing school during the past year.



The Y.M.C.A. have had 6 classes in four public schools this year: at the Washington, Patterson, Webster, Edison; 9 classes in boarding houses and homes; and 2 classes at the Y.M.C.A. building; altogether 17 classes with a total enrolment of 225. They have conducted lectures with moving picture entertainments on Sunday nights at the Hungarian Club in the north Dayton Colony. Besides this educational work, they cooperated with the Y.M.C.A. in all their social entertainments at the Edison School.


p. 12


I. Staff. One paid secretary, full time. 14 regular volunteer workers; 16 less regular volunteer workers.


2. Friendly Visiting

Visits, 1600

Special Cases advised and helped, 44.

Number of school notices and tickets distributed, 1100.


3. English teaching.

Number of classes in Edison School, 2, enrollment 20.

           of Mother’s Clubs For English, 5, enrollment 37

Nationalities, 6 : Hungarian, Rumanian, Polish, Greek I,

Austrian I, Jewish I.


4. Educational Work, subjects other than English.

Sewing, cooking, nursing, and hygiene (maternity talks to expectant mothers), story-telling, making of Christmas presents three weeks, Red Cross sewing.

Special educational clubs or circles, 12. Enrollment, 130.


5.      Lectures.

Number of lectures of talks in English, 7.

                                            foreign languages, 4.


6.      Community Work.

Baby Welfare Exhibit with City Welfare Department and Hungarian Catholic Church, attendance 600. Two days.

Number of other gatherings 6.

       entertainments, foreigners taking part, 4.

      neighborhood activities aided, 2.

Red Cross Emblem Day canvass, 4 foreign women took part.


7.      Recreation.

Social gatherings, 17, of which 7 were outings.

Attendance, 695.


8.      Younger Girls’ Work.

Groups meeting regularly, 5.

Organized clubs, 4. Volunteer leaders, II. Membership 76.


                  Cooking and domestic science, stories, songs,

                  Games, outings, English thru stories.


9.      Publicity.

Talks presenting work, 22.

Newspaper articles and notices 70.

Many conferences with persons interested in form of social work.


10.  Out of town Conventions, Visits to institutions for foreigners:

June 1916, Cleveland.

August, 1916, Chicago; Lake Geneva, City Y.W.C.A. Conference

April, 1917, Cincinnati Field Conference.

June 3-6, 1917, National Immigration Conference, Pittsburgh

       6-13, 1917, National Conference Social Work, Pittsburgh


**[handwritten note at top of p. 13: “Insert after 8”---erin hunt]

8.                    Clubs for young married women, mostly non-English speaking.

Number foreign-born American women attending, 37-41.

Years in America, 2-15.

Activities: English, cooking, maternity talks.

I think this item tells the story most pathetically for this class of women. They are wholly unlettered and home-staying: their groups must meet in their small crowded homes-often three growing families in one little cottage. Their subjects must of necessity be limited to the most fundamental and practical. With a community house, we could offer a far greater variety of subjects, activities in which even these simple women could participate: and we could brighten their lives of drudgery with wholesome recreation entailing no bad after effects. We could teach them better household management and care for their children, better sanitation, with a practical housekeeping center and day nursery.






There are 5000 Hungarians in Dayton. About 2,000 are in North Dayton and east Dayton east of the Madriver bridge. About 500 live in the North Dayton colony. On the west side there are 3.000. The first Hungarians came to Dayton in 1901 and located in the North Dayton colony. They were the saloonists, Mr. Lizak and Mr. Moskowitz, and Mr. Pohl. Ever since then Hungarians have continued to come and many have grown rich. Very many own their homes and other property as well. But we have reason to believe that the more ignorant among them are frequently exploited by their own rich men—saloonists and so-called “bankers”, who borrow, or “keep” their money without paying interest. When the working-men have no place to cash their checks except over the saloon counter near their shop, they not only lose a considerable part of their wages each week but are constantly drained of their mentality and working strength which is their only capital.

      A large number of Hungarians have been here a long time, say from ten to fourteen years, and are quite content to remain ignorant of English and citizenship. Ninety-seven “first papers” were issued to Hungarians during the year and ten days ending May 3rd, 1917, twenty-eight “second papers”, during the same period. Thirty-five new citizens were reported from one of their number recently.

      Housing as a rule is crowded; often three growing families live in one small cottage. As many as twenty-five and thirty men and women were found in four rooms on Dakota Street, at the expense of all decency and sanitation.

      Living in circumscribed colonies of foreign people of their own and other nationalities, many of the parents lacking ambition and initiative in becoming Americans, the children (obliged to attend school) rapidly advance beyond the parents, and family discipline is upset. Girls graduate to the cigar factories as soon as the law allows them to leave school and they acquire “American” exteriors, at the same time assuming a most unfilial attitude of superiority toward their elders. This dangerous state of affairs is directly traceable to our neglect in educating the parents, mothers, as well as fathers, and comes back to us in an increased number of cases in the juvenile and other courts.

      Most of the Hungarians are Catholics claimed by the Holy Name Church on Dale Avenue. This church has a school with some two hundred and thirty children. There is also a Hungarian Reformed Church of about five hundred and fifty souls which has a summer school for 180 children and a small Baptist mission recently obliged to sell their building on account of the Catholic opposition.

      There are eleven Hungarian societies for men and women, all of which are beneficial in character. A “Dayton Hungarian Newspaper” is published weekly, and “The Hungarian Farmer” monthly is issued from the same office.




Tho not mentioned as a group in the 1910 census, Rumanians now number about 3,000 in Dayton. Perhaps one hundred live in the North Dayton colony, and the rest are on the west side of Broadway and north of Third Street. Those coming from Rumania proper are more intelligent and of a better type than those from Transylvania and Bukowina, two provinces wrested by Hungary from Rumania.

      Nothing I have seen in foreign housing is as bad as that of Rumanians’. Crowded in three upstairs rooms were sixteen burly Rumanian men boarders with a family of four which included two little girls under thirteen. The older girl was kept out of school to do all the housework although she had had only one year’s schooling, while her parents both went out to work. When the truant officer was sent to put the girl in school the mother, very girlish in appearance herself, came home from the cigar factory; but it was not long until the law was again eluded and the daughter sent to keep house for a married sister in Detroit. This incident is indicative in a number of ways of the simple and low standards of life of this group. They have not developed initiative or independence, and they are usually illiterate in their own language, having come from a very poor, agricultural country; but they are pleased and responsive when a kindly attention is shown them by an American. They have good strong bodies and minds only waiting for cultivation. The social unit is the family plus as many boarders as can be crowded in, ten to twenty being a not unusual number; and quite often there are houses of Rumanian men living alone, with sometimes a day and night shift to occupy the same beds. Cleanliness and sanitation are not understood by the majority, and with the exception of a few, the value of an education seems not to have occurred to them. Their indifference to citizenship is seen from the fact that out of 427 “first papers” issued this past year from our United States Court, only two were to Rumanians and out of 133 “second Papers” only one was to a Rumanian.

      Formerly Rumanians attended the Hungarian Catholic Church in their neighborhood; but owing to the differences in creed (these Rumanians belong to the Greek church) and the relations of the two nationalities in the old country, they naturally could not be congenial. About a year ago the Rumanians purchased the old Summit Street United Brethren Church and thankfully withdrew from the Hungarians. A good deal of race antipathy developt [sic] at the time when in dedicating their new church, the Rumanians blessed their flag. These simple people, claiming to be descended from the old Romans, are deserving of our careful supervising help. There is much in our civilization which is altogether unknown to them and they are not strong in initiative, but where they have opportunity, they develop admirable qualities. The Rev. O. E. Hall, pastor of the Summit Street Baptist Church has long been interested in this nationality on the west side, holding separate services for them on Sunday afternoons and taking them into membership. His congregation has been educating two promising young Rumanian men at Dennison University, who expect to enter the ministry or do social work among their own people.


p. 15


There have been Italians in Dayton for twenty-nine years. In 1868 the Satalias came, and three years later, the Catalanos. Today there are about seven hundred families, or three thousand souls, the great majority of whom are Cicilians. Some fifteen families come from the state of Tuscany, Luano, Genoa, and Naples. Italians live in all parts of the city; in north Dayton, South Park, east First, east Second, east Monument Avenue, in Edgemont, Riverdale; but the largest Italian community is in the east central part at Bainbridge, Montgomery, Commercial and McDonough streets.


No Italian immigrants have arrived since the war, and only those with families in the old country returned to join the colors. The social unity is the family. There are few unattached single men here. In no foreign nationality are women and girls so closely guarded as in the Italian. If a girl be invited to a picnic, or to join a girl’s club, it is necessary to win the consent of the whole family, especially of the father and brothers; and even thru courtship there is the closest surveillance of the girl.


Italians are unusually Catholic. Many attend the St. Josephs’ and Holy Angels churches. There is an Italian Lodge for social meetings and mutual benefits which has a membership of one hundred and fifty men and women. A women’s lodge of the “Immaculate Conception” was started, but did not succeed, because as one of the women said, “the women are not used to leaving their homes much.’


Italians like America, and Dayton. It is well known how thriftily they save in order to bring their families over. Even single men try to purchase houses. Frequently leaders of working gangs board their men “three and four in a room.” But Italians are not as eager as we should like in qualifying for citizenship. Only 23 out of 427 took out “First Papers” last year; and only 3 out of 133 took out “second Papers.” Such Italian employers as Mr. Catalano, the fruit wholesaler, encourage their employees to take steps immediately for naturalization as soon as they arrive.


No efforts in social work have been made in behalf of Italians. But I am assured by leading men and women of their number that they would gladly encourage such work among girls and women. One lady suggested that lessons in good housekeeping and American cooking were much needed and would be appreciated; and several thot [sic] that social and choral clubs would be welcomed by the girls.




In 1910, there were 47 Greeks in Dayton. Today, we have 750. Of the number is one veteran of our Civil War, and one of the Spanish-American. The majority are single men. A group of six families live on Sycamore Street, and there are a few families in north Dayton. The men live on west Third, west Second, east Third, east First, east Second, east Monument Avenue, on Keowee, Herman, and other streets of north Dayton.

Greeks are usually very good business men. They begin modestly enough, and gradually establish themselves as manufacturers and retailers of confectionary, as restaurateurs, grocers, an occasional butcher, quite frequently as keepers of shoe-shining parlors in which business they have acquired a most unsavory reputation as exploiters of their own people; and

p. 16

establishments for the cleaning of hats.


There is a liberty-loving strain in the typical Greek which has often broken out in wars for independence in the native land, and Greeks _ _ _ _ appreciate life in America. They seem eager to acquire English. In the year 1915-16, one-third of the number of foreigners in the Stiver Night School were Greeks, and as a class the most enthusiastic and teachable. It is surprising to note, however, that there were only two Greeks, and two Macedonians, out of the 133 “Petitions for Naturalizaton” or “Second Papers” granted last year, and not any Greeks among the 427 applicants for “First Papers”.




Another of the Mediterranean peoples represented in Dayton are the Syrians. They have fled terrible persecutions and poverty in their own land which have existed for time out of mind. Tho not mentioned in the census of 1910, they now number in Dayton thirty families with one hundred and fifty persons. A few have been here thirteen years. One, Solomon Zenni, has lived here eighteen years. The largest number are located in the neighborhood of south Brown, south Main, Joe, Hickory Streets, and Burns Avenue. There are a few families in east Dayton on Sachs, Columbus, and Huffman Streets.


Because of the native business ability of the Syrian and because this is a free land, these people prosper and are comparatively happy here; tho to meet their sad-faced women always bowed with the weight of heavy cases of merchandise which they peddle thruout the city in all weathers, one can only think of them as an over-burdened people, knowing little but trouble. But here indeed they are out of the reach of the exterminating Turk and they labor industriously to bring over their relatives. They live in fairly good houses, and not nearly so crowded as immigrants from south-eastern Europe. They appear to rent rather than       [sentence ends abruptly. EH]

Several women with whom I talked spoke very good English; others scarcely any. There are no Syrians listed in the issued of naturalization papers for the past year, tho many have arrived in recent years.

Syrians are all Roman Catholics. Some attended Emmanuel’s Church, and among the children of the parochial school, one of the Syrian boys of the eighth grade is the smartest of his class.

A social club, with the teaching of English and domestic science to the women of this ancient race who appear to have no social resources, would, I believe, be gladly received if offered by wholesouled American women.



There have been Poles in Dayton since 1877, a longer period than that of any other foreign nationality in Dayton. There are at present here two hundred and thirty Polish families of sixteen hundred individuals. One hundred and twenty-eight families are in north Dayton the majority in the neighborhood of the Polish Church on east Valley Street; eighty families are in east Dayton on Sachs, Crane, Findlay, east Monument Avenue, east First, and Springfield Streets; twenty-five families are on the west side on North Summit, west Dakota, west


p. 17

Monument, and Falkner Streets. Among them are one thousand men, “all heavy workers”. They are thankful to be in America, and are loyal to this country as shown by the fact that their national military organization of the “Falcons” has one thousand members all of whom were voluntarily enlisted for the United States long before the conscript.


      The social unit is the family plus boarders; three boarders to a  family being the average . Few of the Polish families visited were living in their own homes, and too many of the homes seen were badly kept, being crowded and unsanitary. The Poles, in common with most ignorant foreigners, are sadly handicapt [sic] by drink which, with the congested housing and boarders, is terribly demoralizing. This is particularly pitiable because of the many fine traits of Polish character. They are generous, affectionate, patriotic, peaceable, they love beauty, and the higher things; yet this finer side of their character is too often choked and submerged thru self-indulgence. They expect to remain in the United States, but they are slow to learn English and become naturalized. Not a Pole is listed among the 427 applicants for “First Papers” during the past year, and only two, among applicants for “second papers”.


      Social resources are those of the church for men and women, a political club, and the military organization for the men, in addition. The women are overburdened in many cases by the triple cares of homekeeping with boarders, child-bearing, and factory work, to allow of the development of the fine possibilities of the Polish race. The crying need for men and women is education which would inspire and lure them away from the lower levels. The women need normal home duties with education in English, and domestic science, and recreation.




Of the Slavic peoples in Dayton, Lithuanians are next to Poles in number. There are 140 families with 706 individuals. Sixty, or less than 18 percent of the 340 heads of families, are naturalized citizens. With the exception of a very few families, they all live in north Dayton. Fifty-eight own their own homes, and the housing is not as crowded as it is with so many of the foreigners. They began coming to Dayton in 1898, migrating from Russia, the Baltic provinces of Suvalki, Grodna, Vilna, Kovno, Courland, and east Russia. They have improved their condition here working in their own private enterprises and in the shops and foundries.


Seventy-five percent of the Lithuanians in Dayton are Catholic and belong to their own church, partially complete, on Leo Street of which the Rev. Joseph Grisius [spelling? EH] is pastor. They have three lodges in the church; the St. Peters, St. Michael’s and Holy Rosary (for women). They have no parochial school. Ninety percent of the children attend the Allen public school. Besides the societies in the church, there is a small socialist lodge of ten members, and a local chapter of the national “Lithuanian Alliance of America” which requires its officers to be naturalized citizens, and supports an immigration secretary in the ports of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. In the spring of 1917 its national membership raised a half million dollars to send to the starving Lithuanians in Europe, to which the Dayton chapter contributed $500.00.

      “Twenty percent of the Dayton Lithuanians speak good English.”

p. 18



The Bohemians are also in the Slavic group and come from Bohemia, a province of the Austro-Hungarian empire. We have thirty families or nearly two hundred persons of this nationality in Dayton living mainly in north Dayton and the east end. Mr. Hampel, a Bohemian, is a resident of thirty-five years in Dayton, and six families have lived here twenty-five years. The family is the social unity. Bohemians starts at once to buy homes and educate their children. Some of them have prospered well. Their houses are good, comfortable, and clean. They settle here with the expectation of progressing as Americans. Two thirds of their number are naturalized citizens. All are Catholic except one family who came to America twenty-five years ago to escape religious persecution.


The Bohemians have a Gymnastic Club, of “Sokol” [spelling? EH], organized in 1912, which meets at Zimmer Hall at the corner of Xenia Avenue and Quitman Streets. They give dances and picnics thruout the year. Their women have no organizations, but need one very much, says the mother of the one protestant family among them, who is herself an energetic social worker and thinks they would develop initiative thru some organized effort.


Bohemians are always staunch Americans. In the United States there are thirty thousand young Bohemians thirty years old and under who have enlisted in the army.




Besides the groups mentioned are several other nationalities, none of whom are listed in the 1910 census, except the Turks. They are as follows: Austrians, 500, in north and east Dayton, the west side, and especially in Edgemont; Russians, 400, in north Dayton colony, east Dayton, and the west side; Croatians (Slavic), 400, mostly in the north Dayton colony and east Dayton; Serbs, 100, in north Dayton and the west side, thirty-five of whom marched in native costume in our great Lexington day patriotic parade; Bulgarians, 100, on the west side; Turks, 100, in north and east Dayton and the west side; jews immigrants of the last five years, 200, in the south-east part of the city; Dutch, between 70 and 100, mostly in north Dayton.



            NOTE. Estimates of population, 1917, are in the press at this writing. I hope to be able to supply the same as soon as they are available.


p. 19


Strategic Points for Work


            In north Dayton all of the churches are conveniently located to do work among foreigners if the members could find the time to undertake it. The First Presbyterian Bethel Mission at Webster and Herbert Streets is peculiarly well placed and has a few intelligent Hungarians who have voluntarily joined its membership. Among these these [typed twice. EH] is one woman who would make an admirable foreign-speaking visitor and be a great aid to the missionary pastor and his wife. In the same way, the members of east Dayton churches would not have to walk far to find foreigners of many nationalities and to organize friendly visiting and club work among old and young of both sexes. The neighborhoods of Springfield and Findlay Streets might be reached from the Springfield Street Settlement House.


            In south Dayton the Oak Street United Brethren Church is convenient [doesn’t make sense. EH] the Syrians and a little foreign community including Italians and others in Union Street running east from Brown. On the west side, in addition to the work already in progress under the Summit Street Baptist Church, much could be done by the members of the Euclid Avenue United Brethren and the Fourth Presbyterian at Fourth and Summit Streets.

            Tho we naturally look to the churches, as well as to other welfare agencies, to do the work of Christian neighborliness and Americanization and know that unless they do take it up, the work will remain undone and tho whatever is done is done in the spirit of love and conscious service to Christ; yet it is not advisable to go as the agents of any particular church making the religious appeal. Go in simple sincerity and brotherly kindness and continue faithfully with a definite plan for raising standards in home life, in sanitation, health, recreation, education and citizenship; and true religion will certainly become apparent and bear its fruits. We cannot hope, nor should we desire to make foreigners conform to our religious belief. Should we undertake to do that, we would immediately arouse opposition from those whom they regard as authority, and turn them suspicious against us. In the words of our modern prophet, John Dewey, oft quoted by Mary McDowell of Chicago University Settlement, defining Americanization, “The first thing necessary is an intelligent sympathy, or good-will; and next, a cultivated imagination for the things we have in common.” And Miss McDowell and all other successful workers with foreigners reiterate, “We do not want to make Hungarians, Slovaks, and Poles over into New England, or Virginia, or Ohio Americans. We want to develop the native gifts of each, and add to these the best America has to offer, while we in turn are enriched by their best. This is the recognized process of “assimilation”.


            Three Community Undertakings for Foreigners Which Ought to Be


            Several outstanding things needed to be done at once are:

(I)                An “AMERICA FIRST CAMPAIGN”.

The Immigration Department of the Bureau of Education at Washinton awake to the menace of the presence of 3,000,000 non-English speaking foreigners in the United States, are taking aggressive measures to induc [spelling. EH] all cities with foreign populations of 10,000 and more to inaugurate “American First” campaigns to require all foreign-speaking men and women to learn English in public night schools, factories, homes, etc. These campaigns have been successfully carried on in a number of cities, as in Detroit, Buffalo, and Trenton, with wonderful results in stimulating education and better understanding between foreigners and Americans, and also has reacted with splendid effect upon the Americans engaged.

p. 20

The campaign requires the unqualified cooperation of every educational, religious, industrial and social agency of the city. Schools, churches, industries, chamber of commerce, Y.W.C.A., Y.M.C.A., welfare agencies, all joining forces simultaneously upon the object to be achieved.



            Tho the “America First” campaign be an entire success in getting numbers into English classes, and is imperative from the governmental side; yet it solves but one phast of the foreign problem. It does not change the homes, and hence the living conditions, of the foreigners. “No civilization rises higher than its homes.” Home life can only be reached thru settlement work in the midst of the community. There should be a community house with its workers within constant sight and call of the foreigners in every foreign community of any considerable size. The community house should have a practical house-keeping center carried on on a modest scale suited to the economic status of the neighbors, at which residents of the neighborhood could see in operation the systematic routine of a well-ordered home in every phase. Besides this there should be a day nursery, baby clinic, and playground, as well as rooms for baths, clubs, and classes, a reading-room, and room for social and recreational gatherings, freely open to all the “neighbors”.


            Many of the best men and women in Dayton are ready to cooperate in such an undertaking for work for foreigners, and are only held back by the lack of a “community House” in which to operate. The frequent observation of those now engaged in this social work is, “We could do that if we had a community house”. With such a center, the slogan should be “a changed neighborhood; every home a better home in every way”.



            As a war measure, there could be no better short cut to immediate service to foreigners who are necessarily at a grievous disadvantage in the new and unknown country at such a time as this; or a better avenue of information concerning affairs among the foreigners in our midst; th??[letters cut off. EH] the American Foreign Language Service Bureau.

            It is only American fair play, to say the least, that they who have come to us should have one place in the city to which to turn during well advertised stated hours, to get trustworthy information on national events; advice and protection in personal matters sure to be more complicated at this time; reliable interpreters; free English teaching thruout the year; and to hear lectures by “splendid Americans”, as one earnest Pole put it in order to be able to know “what the Americans expect of us”; and to cheer and kindle their hearts occasionally by community singing and good fellowship. All of these things can be accomplished by the splendid plan “which Mrs. Harry M. Bremer, Immigration Secretary of the National Board of the Young Women’s Christian Association, has outlined for emergency or continuous city work for foreigners.

            These three undertakings for foreigners ought to be carried out in the city of Dayton’s size and prosperity. They would greatly simplify the foreign problems here, accelerate assimilation, and strengthen our city life. Foreigners will be what we cause them to be—unsanitary, immoral, discontented; or they will gratefully respond to fair treatment, and become the staunchest supporters of our government.

*Write for pamphlet “AMERICAN FOREIGN-LANGUAGE SERVICE BUREAUS” by Edith Terry Bremer, National Immigration Secretary, Y.W.C.A., 600 Lexington Avenue, New York City.


Typed online by Erin Hunt December 2007