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Friendship House Association records

Identifier: MS2142

Collection Scope and Content

This collection contains meeting minutes, correspondence, reports, committee records, newspapers, and other materials associated with the work of this organization. The records are administrative and financial and describe many of the activities and interests of Friendship House. The most consistent and comprehensive record of Friendship House's history is in the minutes of the Board of Directors. There are monthly meeting notes from 1904 to 1985. The Friendship House papers cover the years 1904-92.

The papers of Friendship House, a settlement house in southeast Washington DC, were acquired as a part of the Washingtoniana Collection by Gelman Library, Department of Special Collections. The Friendship House papers were arranged and processed under a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. The grant, entitled "Washington's Hometown History" was granted in the fall of 1990 but actually was not implemented until April of 1991. The one year grant for an archivist, supplies and student assistance, saw the majority of the work completed by June 1992. Because of the volume of the materials to be processed (165 cartons) additional funding was secured from the Mason Fund for completion of the project. The Friendship House papers project was completed in January 1993.


  • Creation: 1904-1992


Restrictions on Access

Some records may be restricted.

Restrictions on Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Historical Note

Friendship House was founded in 1904, and continues today as an active settlement house and neighborhood center in Southeast. It has been described as the oldest and largest settlement house and social service agency in Washington. It was founded with the goal to help those in need to become socially and economically self-reliant. Also Friendship House served as a community center and meeting place for the area. It became in the latter half of the century a conduit to administer social service programs instituted by the city and federal government, and by large private agencies such as United Way. Friendship House had its roots as Rochefort House, begun by a group of young unmarried women who were inspired by the writings of the reformer Jacob Riis. Miss Lydia Burklin began working with the group, and from 1904 until her death in 1964 she devoted all her physical and monetary resources to the project. The house had five rented locations until 1916, when the organization was given deed to 326-328 Virginia Avenue. In 1937 they were able to move to a larger place, their present location. "The Maples" is one of the oldest houses in Washington and is at 619 D Street SE. Generous gifts enabled the organization to add on a theater and annex adjacent property. Miss Burklin lived on the premises for many years and then was given a house nearby. Miss Burklin was able to attract financial help from Washington's businesses and social elite. Friendship House conversely was able to serve this larger constituency by providing an outlet for the charitable volunteer impulses of society women, Congressmen's wives, and also professional social workers , nursery school teachers, musical instructors, etc.


60 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Collection contains meeting minutes, correspondence, reports, committee records, newspapers, and other materials associated with the work of Friendship House. The records are administrative and financial and describe many of the activities and interests of the organization.

Collection Organization

Organized in seven series: Historical materials, Adminstration, Activities, Financial records, Funding sources, Other organizations, and Oversized records.

Acquisition Information


General Physical Description note

no content

Reparative Description Project

This finding aid was revised in 2022 to address harmful descriptive language related to mental illness or disability identified in several folder titles. As this description was provided by the record creator(s) the description was not edited or removed, but additional information was provided in an Historic Context note at each folder level in order to add context. A copy of the finding aid prior to these reivsions was retained. To view that finding aid please use Pre-revision November. 2022 finding aid of Friendship House Association records

Guide to the Friendship House Association records, 1904-1992
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

George Washington University Gelman Library
2130 H Street NW
Washington DC 20052 United States of America