The Rose Gregory Houchen Settlement house, founded in 1912 in El Paso, Texas, was a product of the Progressive Era that swept the US from the 1890’s through the 1920’s. Progressive reformers were often white, middle-class women driven by the influx of immigrants that marked this period and sought to encourage the assimilation of recent migrants.[1] Americanization, or the process of assimilating immigrants to dominant white culture, characterized the Progressive Era. Those in charged hoped that the “Americanization… would make the recent arrivals… productive citizens and workers who would accommodate themselves to… capitalism’s insatiable demand for labor.”[2] Settlement houses became sites for Americanization by implementing English classes, civics, cooking, and vocational training to encourage assimilation of immigrants. The Houchen Settlement founders “envisioned [it] a Protestant enclave in South El Paso.”[3] The Methodist church, fearful of Catholicism, sough to convert the Mexican-American community to Protestantism. However, the community was resistant to the Methodist church’s presence and found ways to evade the religious aspect of the Settlement House while still accessing the community programs, such as health care and education. Houchen served thousands of women and children, yet through selective use of services the community resisted religious conversion, one aspect of Americanization.


[1] Teresa Palomo Acosta, María-Cristina García, and Cynthia E. Orozco, “SETTLEMENT HOUSES,” Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed October 26, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

[2] Chavez-Garcia, Miroslava. States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California’s Juvenile Justice System. (Berekely and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), 51.

[3] Ibid., 43