All Nations, in its heyday the largest and most effective social welfare organization in Los Angeles, was begun in 1918 in an east-central section of the city known as "Eastside." The City Missionary Society of the Methodist Church, under pastor Bromley Oxnam, established and ran the church settlement, gathering donations, organizing volunteers, buying land and buildings, and equipping gymnasiums, playgrounds, libraries, and clinics for a community where three-fourths of the families were on public assistance and where much of the population consisted of immigrants from Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Oxnam initially developed the physical facilities of All Nations, acquiring a complex of buildings at 810-816-824 E. Sixth Street just before his resignation from the organization in 1927.
Oxnam's successor was the Reverend Robert A. McKibben, whose work as administrator, social worker, fund raiser, and collaborator with other social welfare agencies, including the Federal and Los Angeles Relief Administrations and the National Youth Administration, ensured the continued success of All Nations. Character-building activities for the children, a vacation bible school, the library, and medical programs--including medical and dental clinics served by a cadre of approximately fifty volunteer doctors, optometrists, and dentists--were critical services in the work of All Nations. Especially noteworthy was All Nations' extraordinarily successful Boys' Club, which became a Boys' Club of America in 1927 with some 950 members from thirty nationalities and fifteen religions. All Nations also operated two other community centers: the Sunset Community Center at 1001-1005 Sunset Boulevard, and the Hollenbeck Heights Social Center at 200 North St. Louis Street. These branches of All Nations concentrated on work with youths. When McKibben began his work with All Nations, the Eastside had the highest delinquency rate in the city, but within the next three years, that rate would drop by 65%.
Reverend McKibben left All Nations in 1952, and was succeeded by James Mixon. By the 1960s, new industrial development in the area and slum clearance had reduced the area's population. Such changes led to questions about the usefulness of traditional settlement programs in this area; at the same time, All Nations' principal support began to come from the United Way rather than from the Methodist Church.
Information in this note is based on the Historical Note for the All Nations Church and Foundation records collection (0403) finding aid, developed by Jane Adler and Clay Stalls, with additional information and editing by Sue Tyson. All information in this history comes from material in the collection; from Robert McKibben, With The Master into the Heart of the City: First Forty Years of All Nations Foundations ([S.l.] [s.n.], 1977?); and from Mark H. Wild, Street Meeting: Multiethnic Neighborhoods in Early Twentieth-Century Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005). The founding date of 1918 is referenced in Wild's book.