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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hill, Octavia

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HILL, Octavia, English housing and social reformer: b. about 1838; d. 13 Aug. 1912. She began work among the London poor under F. D. Maurice (q.v.); and in 1864, supported by Ruskin, began her great work of improving the homes of workingmen in the slums of London. Her methods were based upon the principle of teaching the people to help themselves, by inculcating in them right notions of cleanliness, order and self-respect. Her efforts were crowned with success; the houses which were improved yielded a good percentage on the money spent in effecting the improvements; and through her hundreds have been helped to lead more comfortable and better lives. She was a member of the Poor Law Commission of 1905, and was the author of ‘Homes of the London Poor’ (1875); ‘Our Common Land and other Essays’ (1878). Consult her ‘Life as told in Her Letters’ (1913).