The SOCIAL SERVICE CLUB was a successful sociopolitical organization founded in Jan. 1901 by members of the Cleveland YMCA, including General Secretary GLEN K. SHURTLEFF. The club essentially disbanded after Shurtleff's death in Jan. 1909, though its members remained active through the organizations it helped create.
Through its Relief Committee, the club ministered to the health needs of poor young men, having at its command a bed in each of Cleveland's principal hospitals and the pro bono services of several physicians. The committee's efforts were guided by William Greenlund. The Introduction Committee was charged with greeting men newly arrived in Cleveland and informing them of every "wholesome" attraction and organization in town. The club's most influential branch, the Physical Condition Committee, observed and recorded conditions in Cleveland neighborhoods, brought them to the attention of the club, and often stimulated municipal action.
Club members, particularly Shurtleff and NEWTON D. BAKER, were instrumental in the formation of the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, and many served as volunteer probation officers for the court until salaried staff could be retained. Shurtleff, Edgar E. Adams, and Henry A. Sherwin served on the Chamber of Commerce's Public Baths Committee and were supported by SSC members who investigated the hygienic conditions of Cleveland's ethnic neighborhoods (they found, for example, 724 houses in the 16th Ward holding 7,728 people, yet providing only 83 bath tubs). Their work and influence led to the construction of bath houses in needy areas of the city.
SSC members also assisted in the organization of Cleveland's playground system, the LEGAL AID SOCIETY, CITY CLUB OF CLEVELAND, and a "Workingman's Collateral Loan Assn.," and contributed to the reorganization of ASSOCIATED CHARITIES and the Civic League. Intent on keeping their motives pure, members shunned publicity and apparently left no official records behind. The Social Service Club remains one of Cleveland's historical enigmas.