The Tragic Case of Baby Bollinger

Photo of Anna Bollinger and Henry Haiselden, Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1917.

A little over 100 years ago, the case of an infant allowed to die in a Chicago hospital captured the nation’s attention. Born on November 12, 1915, “Baby Bollinger” died five days later on November 17, after physician Harry Haiselden refused to operate to save his life. Haiselden made his decision because the child was born with deformities and he believed the the boy was was mentally and morally defective. He convinced the child’s mother, who said “the doctor told me it would be, perhaps, an imbecile, a criminal. Left to itself it has no chance to live. I consented to let nature take its course.” (Boston Globe, Nov. 17, 191

5, p. 1.)  Haiselden’s controversial decision led to a heated debate in newspapers across the country.

Anna Bollinger, who never saw her baby, issued a statement on November 17, supporting Dr. Haiselden’s decision.

 

The baby, John Bollinger, was the fourth child of Anna and Allen Bollinger of Chicago, was born with noticeable disabilities, such as a missing ear and a defect in sk

in development that made it appear that the baby had no neck. Operating on the baby might have saved his life, but Haiselden and other doctors were concerned that as a “defective” the life ahead for the family would be challenging, and that the child would be a burden to society.

A portion of Addams’ statement, published in the Richmond Item, November 18, 1915.

When news of Haiselden’s decision became public, people began calling and begging the doctor and hospital to reconsider the decision. There were threats to kidnap the baby and take him to another hospital.  Leaders weighed in on the issue, including Jane Addams. As a firm believer in equal rights for all, Addams was appalled by Haiselden’s decision. “A physician or hospital board has not the right to assume the prerogative to say that any person shall be killed, but is required by the highest moral law to save every life that possibly can be saved.” (Richmond Item. November 18, 1915.)

Addams offered a list of famous, notable, and historical people who suffered from disabilities (see full article). Helen Keller, John Milton, Lord Byron, and Robert Louis Stevenson were a few named on Addams’ list. Each had made great contributions to society; notwithstanding their disabilities.

Another critic was Dr. James Walsh, who wrote:

The physician has assumed the exercise of a power that is not his. Doctors have the care of life, not death. Physicians are educated to care for the health of their patients, but so far at least as I know we have no courses in our medical colleges as yet which teach how to judge when a patient’s life may be of no service to the community so as to let him or her die properly. Some of us physicians may thank God that we are not yet the licensed executioners of the unfit for the community, and some of us know how fallacious our judgments are even with regard to the few things we know (www.psychologytoday.com)

Haiselden’s critics made moral arguments, claiming that every person has a right to live and doctors must not play God and determine who lives or who dies, but should respect the lives of all patients and give them the best care and treatment. Many believed that the hospital had committed murder and demanded answers.

Some supported Haiselden’s decision, explaining that it was “a mercy to let babies with disabilities die rather than to allow them to experience a lifetime of ‘pain, shame, humiliation, and distress.'” Dr. William Rausch, Jr. from Albany, New York, was one supporter. He wrote that it was humane to “forget” to cut the cord of newborns with disabilities and let them hemorrhage. Even some parents of children with disabilities wrote in support, saying that death might have  been better instead of subjecting their children to abuse in asylums, not knowing where to turn, or worrying about what would happen to their child after its parent’s died.

Helen Keller’s comments in the Pittsburgh Press, November 29, 1915.

Helen Keller issued a statement that “a human life is sacred only when it may be of some use to itself and the world. The world is already flooded with unhappy, unhealthy, mentally sound people who should never have been born.” (Pittsburgh Press, November 28, 1915, p. 14.)

An autopsy was performed that vindicated Haiselden. On November 18 the coroner’s physician claimed that though the operation may have saved the child’s life, “the baby, if it had lived, would have been a paralytic and a cripple all its life.”  Haiselden testi

Advertisement for the Black Stork, Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1917.

fied before a jury of physicians charged with determining whether he should be prosecuted. He was not charged, though the jury censured him mildly. Haiselden was also tried by the Chicago Medical Society’s Ethics Board, for breaching ethics by publishing a book about the case and talking to newspapers during the events. He claimed that he received no monetary gain from the case, and that the “publicity the case had received had been of great benefit to the cause of eugenics.” In 1916, Haiselden was dropped as a member of the Society, but continued working as a physician on similar cases and speaking out for his point of view. In the same year Haiselden created and starred in a film entitled The Black Stork, which promoted euthanasia and continued commenting on the case and issue itself. The film was ridiculed and heavily criticized. A Billboard review said the film was, “a mere cataloguing of the pitiable mess of human dregs which is left, crawling, crippled and criminal, after the fire has burned out.”

Haiselden did not live to enjoy his fame. He died in 1919 of a cerebral hemmorhage. The mother of the child, Anna Bollinger, died in 1917 after two years of “settled melancholy” over the case.


For more on the case, see Elliot Hosman, The Short Life and Eugenic Death of Baby John Bollinger, Psychology Today, October 12, 2015.

Addams’ Living Legacy in Color

Giusti’s “Civilization,” made of india ink and gouache on paper, is owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The inspirational legacy and work Jane Addams left behind is no secret; from Hull House to social reform to woman’s suffrage, Addams’ was a revolutionary thinker for her time and a true inspiration for so many people, including artist George Giusti (1908-1990) who was inspired to take Addams’ vision of equality and bring it to life in one of his best regarded pieces of art.

Jane Addams was an advocate for social justice including inclusivity regardless of skin color. Addams’ wanted to give every person and equal opportunity shown through her lifelong effort to fight for social reform and offer all an equal opportunity for a better life in Hull House. After her passing, her work was still unfinished but she gave hope and opened the door for true equality for all.

Flash forward 20 years after Addams’ death, Italian-born artist, George Giusti, created his Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.”–Jane Addams, Speech, Honolulu, 1933. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man in 1955. Giusti wanted to avoid classical art and focus on a more modern and relevant effect, which shows through many of his pieces. Giusti’s works did not relate to the time period he created them in, giving them a futuristic effect that modern society still relates to.

So why did Giusti pick  Addams’ quote for the title? Well, Addams was a known advocate for equality regardless of race. The drawing that Giusti created illustrates a sense of  community, unity and equality, all goals to which Addams had dedicated her life. Her goals were not realized in her lifetime and by the 1950s were still plaguing American society. Racial tension in American society divided the nation, and Giusti was inspired to visualize Addams’ quote as a call for equality.

Despite years of advocating and pushing for change, social reform is still an issue in today’s society. Giusti’s drawing received numerous awards and recognition, while Addams’ work has lead her to be one of the most historical and influential figures of the 20th century. Her unfinished business still inspires thousands to this day, with no sign of slowing down.


Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.”–Jane Addams, Speech, Honolulu, 1933. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man. (Smithsonian American Art Museum.)

George Giusti,” ADC Hall of Fame, 1979.

 

Facing Death Twice: Lawyer Francis J. Heney

This is the last in Sara Catherine Lichon’s series of blog posts about interesting characters that she came across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.

Francis J. Heney, a lawyer and politician whose life was threatened twice during his career.

Life in law can often be exciting, especially when cases take a dramatic turn. For Francis Joseph Heney, a lawyer and politician from California, drama and excitement was part of the job — and sometimes his job even became a matter of life and death. Heney was known for many cases throughout his career, but he was most famous for killing an opposing plaintiff and for being shot in the head by a juror.

As a member of the National Committee of the Progressive Party, Heney’s name appeared numerous times in letters to and from Jane Addams that discussed the National Committee. Heney was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1912 and ran for U.S. Senator from California as a Progressive in 1914. Outside of politics, he was a lawyer in both Arizona and California, and owned a cattle business in Arizona with his brother. From 1893 to 1895 he was Attorney General of the Arizona Territory, and he also served as the U.S. District Attorney for the District of Oregon. Heney was a well-known lawyer, having worked as a prosecutor on famous cases such as the Oregon Land Fraud scandal, where U.S. government land grants were being obtained illegally by public officials, and the San Francisco gaft trials, where members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors were prosecuted for corruption.

Dr. John C. Handy and Mary Ann Page Handy

In 1889, Heney defended Mary Ann Page Handy, the abused wife of Dr. John Christopher Handy, in a divorce case. Handy was known for being violent and aggressive, having abused his wife throughout their marriage, threatening to kill her when she wanted to file for divorce, and causing her to become addicted to morphine. In July 1889, Handy filed for divorce himself and sent their children to live with his mother. Handy threatened to kill anyone who dared to defend Mary, scaring away most attorneys. Originally, C. W. Wright was to defend Mary, and he asked Heney to assist him. After Heney agreed, Wright withdrew from the case, and Heney decided to do the same. After some reconsideration, though, Heney decided to defend Mary, despite the anger of Handy.

Throughout the case, Handy threatened Heney numerous times, even trying to run him over with his buggy. Ultimately, Handy won the case and received custody of the children, which Heney was quick to appeal, and a new case soon started – and the threats continued. On September 24, 1891, Handy attacked Heney outside his office, grabbing his neck and pinning him to a wall. It’s here where there are different accounts of what happened next; some newspapers say Heney broke free, ran, and drew a revolver, which Handy tried to grab. During the struggle, Heney shot Handy in the abdomen. Other papers say Heney shot Handy while running from him. After the encounter, Handy was taken to Dr. George Goodfellow for an operation but died during the procedure. Heney surrendered to the police but was bailed out by three of his friends. In a hearing two days later, the court ruled Heney acted in self-defense and he wasn’t charged.

The San Francisco Call, Nov. 15, 1908

This was not the end of Heney’s exciting cases. During the San Francisco graft prosecution, Heney pointed out that one juror, Morris Haas, was ineligible to be a juror because he was an ex-convict. Heney also believed that Haas was planted by political boss Abe Ruef, who was being prosecuted by Heney at that time. Angered and resentful, Haas came into the courtroom a few weeks later while the trial was in recess and shot Heney in the head. Haas was then arrested, but found dead in his cell shortly after, leading some to believe he had been killed by one of Ruef’s gangsters. Others thought he committed suicide. Heney was expected to die, but he survived the attack. The newspapers of the time reveal how loved Heney was by the public; The San Francisco Call had an entire page dedicated to the story, describing how three thousand people gathered at Oakland’s town hall in support of Heney and how President Theodore Roosevelt sent Heney’s wife a telegram of sympathy.

Heney continued to be involved in law and politics after these incidents, and lived a fulfilling life. In 1906, he married Rebecca Wentworth McMullin. She died in 1911. Heney married to Edna I. Van Winckle in 1915, who managed his U.S. Senate campaign. Heney  died in 1937.

Heney’s work with the Progressive Party and in law have gone down in history, especially the stories of his near-death encounters. And he is yet another fascinating person who has appeared in Jane Addams’ papers!

 

Sources:

Dexter Marshall. “Thrilling Chapters in Lives of Public Men.” The Washington Herald. April 19, 1908, p. 36.

“Hand to Hand.” Tombstone Epitaph. September 27, 1891.

C. Martin. “Territorial Divorce – as Turbulent as the Times.” Arizona Daily Star. November 12, 1972, p. 57.

Oliver Tatom, “Francis J. Heney (1859-1937),” The Oregon Encyclopedia.

“Roosevelt Wires Tribute to Heney: Messages of Sorrow from Friends Abroad: Leading Citizens of Country Praise Prosecutor.” The San Francisco Call. November 15, 1908, p. 23.

“When Francis J. Heney Shot His Man, Too.” The Des Moines Register. December 6, 1908, p. 10.

“Francis J. Heney,” Wikipedia.

Addams’ Rhetoric on Home, City, and World: A Guest Blog Post by Dr. Liane Malinowski

Dr. Liane Malinowski is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Marist College. Her research explores Hull House residents’ rhetoric as it relates to their planning of domestic and urban spaces. This post derives from her recently-completed dissertation titled Civic Domesticity: Rhetoric, Women, and Space at Hull House, 1889-1910. Find her on Twitter @lianemalinowski.

My recent research on Addams and her Hull House colleagues focuses on how they reimagined urban space through visual, verbal, and material means. I was particularly interested in how women at Hull House claimed the authority to speak and write about urban space to local and national audiences, especially in the late-nineteenth century when women were not conferred the status of citizen, and rhetorical convention discouraged women from speaking in public.

I was motivated to take up this project in part because I think of Addams as an important but understudied speaker, writer, and theorist of concepts important to rhetorical studies, such as democracy, ethics, and memory. After surveying published and archival sources, I found that Addams and colleagues were prolific producers of experimental and hybrid texts that drew from parlor rhetoric traditions, domestic literature, social science genres, and city planning discourses. The Jane Addams Papers Project was a wonderful resource for studying documents related to Addams, Hull House, other residents, and the interconnected web of social welfare organizations in Chicago and beyond.

Regarding Hull House residents’ rhetorics of urban space, I argue Addams, along with Ellen Gates Starr, Julia Lathrop, Florence Kelley and others represented city spaces at a variety of scales as cosmopolitan, or nationally-diverse. These spaces included their West Side neighborhood and Hull House itself. An obvious example of this kind of representation is Florence Kelley’s “Nationalities Map,” in the collaboratively-written Hull House Maps and Papers, in which she visually locates families of varying national backgrounds in Hull House’s neighborhood.

Not only did residents represent urban space as cosmopolitan in documents, they also curated cosmopolitan spaces for rhetorical purposes. For example, upon founding Hull House, Addams and Starr curated it to reflect a cosmopolitan aesthetic through its artwork and artisan-made furniture and wares. They were motivated to do this in order to establish common ground with their immigrant neighbors with whom they believed they shared an interest in European art, music, and literature.[1]

Hull House Labor Museum

Residents who represented spaces as cosmopolitan, however, did so with troubling political implications because they often spoke about and for their immigrant neighbors, and in so doing, flattened the specificity of their neighbors’ national identity in favor of emphasizing diversity. As part of this problematic history of claiming authority over cosmopolitan geographies, residents often extended their representations of urban space to include nationally-diverse people as objects of display. For example, in the early 20th century, Hull House residents curated a Labor Museum that displayed local immigrants performing artisan labor such as spinning textiles and weaving baskets. Residents also disseminated texts about the museum, such as the First Report of the Labor Museum in 1902. In this report, Addams argued that the Labor Museum presented an evolutionary narrative of work to audiences, and showed manual, pre-industrial labor as preceding industrial labor. She hoped younger people in the neighborhood would learn to appreciate their parents’ and grandparents’ artisan skills that were rendered obsolete by the industrial economy in Chicago. At the same time the museum performed this teaching function, I argue it also objectified immigrant artisans and their cultural artifacts by reinscribing older, neighborhood artisans as outside the contemporary moment by placing them and their labor prior to present industrial conditions. And, while Addams constructed herself as an authority over the entire museum and its message in the First Report of the Labor Museum, neighborhood women were figured as objects of display through photographs, captioned to suggest they are representatives of different kinds of foreign womanhood (the captions read “Italian Woman,” “Syrian Woman,” and “Irish Woman,” for example). Through the museum itself, and also texts such as the First Report, Addams and other residents participated in a trend of American women asserting their privilege to claim knowledge over foreign places and people as a way to join in public discourse about civic space and identity.[2]

After researching Hull House residents’ representations of cosmopolitan spaces in the 1890s and 1900s, I appreciate there is still much to explore about Addams’ rhetoric, especially surrounding her theorizing of how culture and class identities play a role in enabling and constraining communication. Based on my research experiences, I would encourage others undertaking study of Addams’ rhetoric to look across the JAPP Microfilm Edition, the JAPP Digital Edition, and traditional archives dedicated to Addams and Hull House in libraries. Each of these resources is organized in different ways, which can help researchers make new connections between documents. For example, some of the traditional, library archives file documents organized by author name, whereas the JAPP Microfilm Edition is largely filed by the kind of text produced at Hull House (letters, meeting minutes, financial records, etc), and the JAPP Digital Edition gets even more specific because it tags documents by key terms. Triangulating my search for documents across these resources was incredibly generative for my reading of Addams’ rhetoric.

 

[1] To gain a sense of Hull House’s cosmopolitan aesthetic, see Nora Marks’s “Two Women’s Work: The Misses Addams and Starr Astonish the West Siders,” Chicago Tribune. 19 May 1890, or the photographs included in Hull House Maps and Papers.1895. Urbana: UI Press, 2007.

[2] Kristin Hoganson’s Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865-1920. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2007, helped me understand the broader contours of American women’s claims to cosmopolitan geographies.

“Peace, War and World Order”- Dr. James Marquardt’s Web-based Timeline

The influence Jane Addams had on society is no secret; we still talk about her beliefs, achievements and historical footprint today. Jane Addams has done so much in her life that Dr. James Marquardt, Associate Professor of Politics and the Chair of International Relations Program at Lake Forest College, and his students have created an online timeline of her achievements. The timeline is called Jane Addams- Peace, War and World Order: A Web-based timeline.

The abstract of the timeline acknowledges her strides to improve the lives and living conditions for immigrants and the poor, but this timeline focuses more on her “peace advocacy,” during World War I. After looking over numerous primary and secondary sources Dr. Marquardt and his students have completed their timeline, successfully illustrating Jane Addams’ pacifist beliefs and opposition to international armament and war.

“I started digging into her primary writings on the war,” said Dr. Marquardt, “and I decided that I wanted to do this a little more elaborately so I offered a course called Jane Addams Peace Advocate. It mostly focused on her international peace advocacy before, during and after the war.”

After Lake Forest College received a grant for the school to develop digital pages and Chicago-related events, phenomena and historical developments in the humanities and social sciences, Dr. Marquardt then applied for a grant to build a page dedicated to Jane Addams peace advocacy and her historical significance, which he received and then began hiring students. Together they began studying, analyzing and building the Jane Addams – Peace, War and World Order timeline.

The timeline focuses mostly on Addams’ involvement in WWI and her opposition of the war, but Dr. Marquardt plans to continue to study Addams with the hopes of continuing to expand the timeline from her involvement in the Peace Movement with it ending when Addams received the Nobel Peace Prize. He plans on taking all of his knowledge about Addams and writing a book entitled “Jane Addams: The Great War and Her Quest to Transform National Relations.”

He’s not the only one who feels passionate about Addams; Dr. Marquardt explained that his students are very passionate about her as well. “They’re really into [the project]. Addams is such an inspirational figure that they’re a little too generous towards her, in terms of their writing and their public presentations that they’ve made about her.”

Since the timeline highlights Jane Addams’ peace advocacy I had to ask Dr. Marquardt to define peace advocacy in his own words.

“I would define it as actions, writings, ideas related to efforts to end war. That’s my thinking about it, but my students have a much more generous viewing of peace advocacy, they see peace as not simply something we ought to strive for in our international relations in our social relations generally.”  

Dr. Marquardt has learned a lot from his students during this process. “Their understanding was that advocating for peace is not simply a global issue but an issue of interpersonal relations. It’s about the end of violence along racial lines, it’s about the end of violence against women, violence against children, hunger, deprivation, unemployment.” They share the same vision and beliefs that Jane Addams did and they carry on Addams’ beliefs and visions for a brighter future for everyone.  

The website went live last week and for those interested in viewing Dr. Marquardt and his students work the link is here: http://digitalchicago.lakeforest.edu/exhibits/show/jane-addams/our-purpose. 

Poet and Con-Artist: The Story of Scharmel Iris

Scharmel Iris (Lyrics of a Lad (1914)

Sara Catherine Lichon is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.

As a student, I’ve heard many a time that academic honesty is of the utmost importance, and that plagiarism can end one’s academic career. But back in the early 1900s, plagiarism was responsible for the rise of poet Scharmel Iris’s career, who made a living by fooling others.

Iris was born in 1889 with the name Frederico Scaramella in Castelcivita, Italy. When he was three years old, his mother married a man who helped them immigrate to the United States where they settled in Chicago. Iris changed his name and in 1905, when he was sixteen years old, his first poem was published in a Chicago Catholic newspaper. Soon his career skyrocketed as he was published in Harriet Monroe’s Poetry magazine, received positive reviews from Chicago newspapers, and published his own collections of poems. He received most of his funding and notoriety with the help of other famous poets and artists, such as T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Salvatore Dali, and Picasso, who wrote praise-filled letters to Iris’s patrons.

There was one major problem with Iris’s success, though…it was based entirely on lies. Rather than being a great poet, Iris was simply a con-artist. Letters and praise from Eliot, Yeats, and Picasso were forged by Iris himself, and Iris even wrote about himself to publishers and patrons under the pseudonym Vincent Holme. Forgery and plagiarism, rather than talent, provided the base for Iris’s career and fame.

Jane Addams’ letter to Harriet Monroe, Jan. 20, 1913. Addams stated that Iris had “no right” to claim she advised him to reach out to different poets.

Jane Addams herself was a victim of Iris’s scams. Iris spent part of his life as a Hull-House resident, and when he published Lyrics of a Lad in 1914, he supposedly received praise from art critic John Ruskin and poets Algernon Charles Swinburne and Edmund Gosse. In January 1913, Addams wrote a letter to Harriet Monroe describing how Iris claimed she had told him to reach out to Gosse and even Yeats. Addams stated, “Poor Scharmel Iris really has no right to say that I advised him to write to Miss Guiney, or to Edmund Gosse, or to Mr. Yeats.” Words had been put in Addams’ mouth by Iris, and she was only one of many.

Iris’s scams even extended to his living situation. He lived at Lewis College, a Catholic school near Joliet, despite not working or teaching there. He stayed there until he was asked to leave in 1966, and he spent the remainder of his life at St. Patrick Retirement Hotel. He died in 1967.

A poem by Scharmel Iris, published in Poetry in December 1914.

Regardless of Iris’s talent as a poet, it’s hard to deny that he had a talent for fooling others. Iris’s entire life and career was built on plagiarism, yet he lived the life he had always dreamed of — that of a successful, well-known poet . . . even if it was actually a lie.

 

 


Sources:
Announcement of Lyrics of a Lad by Scharmel Iris, 1914.
Inventory of the Scharmel Iris Papers, 1911-1964, The Newberry Library.
Jane Addams to Harriet Monroe, January 20, 1913.
Nina C. Ayoub, “Forging Fame: The Strange Career of Scharmel Iris,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2007.

Behind Closed Doors: The Divorce Case of Dr. Lydia Allen DeVilbiss

Dr. Lydia Allen DeVilbiss, in News-Journal, Jan. 16, 1914.

Dr. Lydia Allen DeVilbiss was a doctor and surgeon in Shelby, Ohio, who wrote Jane Addams a brief letter on August 10, 1912, commending her for her speech to the Progressive Party Convention. DeVilbiss was an active civic leader, serving as president of the Shelby Equal Franchise Association, president of the Richland county Woman’s Suffrage Association, secretary and treasurer of the Shelby Medical Society, president of the Anti-Tuberculosis Society, and medical director of the Better Babies Bureau of the Woman’s Home Companion. In addition, she was the first woman to become a member of the Shelby Socialist local. These accomplishments alone were newsworthy for a woman during the early 1900’s. But in 1912, DeVilbiss made the news for a very different reason; a dramatic divorce case that pushed her private life into the spotlight.

On Christmas day in 1906, Lydia married Albert K. Shauck, a professor and musician who was twenty years her senior. Early on, it appeared as though their life was going well; in 1907, for example, there was news of Albert opening a music school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the same building as his wife’s medical practice. But in November 1912, the News-Journal in Mansfield, Ohio reported that Lydia was suing for divorce. She accused Albert of having verbally abused her, using “foul, indecent and threatening language,” and slandering her reputation by spreading rumors. Lydia surmised that Albert treated her cruelly out of jealousy, as he also “materially interfered with her practice as a physician and surgeon.” Albert had also threatened Lydia’s life, she said, saying he would “take her life” and “circulate such slanderous stories about her” if she tried to leave him. Despite the threats, the couple had been separated for the six months before Lydia filed for divorce. When she made the decision to divorce Albert, she made arrangements to stay with her sisters in Fort Wayne and work as a drug saleswoman for Strong, Cobb & Company in Cleveland.

The first news announcement of the Shauck divorce case, News-Journal, Nov. 29, 1912.

Shortly after this news broke, Albert came forward with his own accusations. The News-Journal reported in early December that Lydia “treated him [Albert] worse than a dog,” subjecting him to verbal and physical abuse. He claimed that while he never abused Lydia or threatened her life, she had done so to him; in a statement made to the press, Albert presented a record of threats Lydia had made against him, which included “I wish someone would kill you” and “I wish there was no law against killing. I would just like to kill you.” Albert also alleged that Lydia once threw a butcher knife at him, smashed a bottle against his head, and broke his finger. He also complained of how, due to Lydia’s work, most of the housework fell to him.

The dramatic news coverage of the divorce case did not end there. Only about two weeks later, Albert refused to eat, and his health rapidly declined. He was sent to the Marion, Ohio sanitarium, and Lydia collected money due to him in order to pay for his treatment.

Albert K. Shauck’s account, News-Journal, Dec 2, 1912.

No news appeared on the Shaucks until one year later, when, in December 1913, Lydia dropped the divorce case. The case was dismissed without prejudice, but not because the couple had reconciled; rather, the courts believed that Lydia’s suit was not strong enough to warrant a divorce. Lydia chose to remain in Fort Wayne rather than return to Shelby. That was the last time the Shaucks’ marriage appeared in the news, but by 1920, Lydia and Albert were divorced.

After the divorce, Lydia moved to Miami, Florida, where she opened the Mothers Health Clinic in 1928. There, she conducted research on birth control and came up with inexpensive soap-based spermicidal jellies to be used with a sponge. However, Lydia believed only educated women could  understand these methods. She practiced sterilization on those she deemed less intelligent. Most of the sterilized patients were African-American women who may have been forced or mislead into having the procedure. DeVilbiss initially supported the work of African American physicians who opened a black branch of the Mothers Health Clinic, but after disagreeing with their methods, she shut them down.

All that is known of Lydia’s private life after her divorce is that by 1930, she married to Dr. George Bradford. She died in Florida in 1964. We will never know the details of the Shaucks’ private lives, nor whose account held the most truth. For now, we are left with newspaper articles as the main glimpse into the life of Lydia Allen DeVilbiss, and what may have happened behind closed doors.

Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.

Sources:

Cathy Moran Hajo, Birth Control on Main Street: Organizing Clinics in the United States, 1916-1939 (2010), pp. 70-71, 117.

Esther Katz, Peter C. Engelman, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Amy Flanders, eds. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger: Volume 2: Birth Control Comes of Age, 1928-1939 (2006), pp. 230-1.

Albert K. Shauck, 1920 United States Federal Census.

“Dr. Shauck is Now Medical Director of Magazine’s ‘Better Babies’ Bureau,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), January 16, 1914, p. 7.

Lydia DeVilbiss Bradford, 1930 United States Federal Census.

Lydia D Shauck, 1910 United States Federal Census.

“A New Conservatory,” The Monroeville Breeze, August 15, 1907, p. 8.

“Professor was a Good Dodger,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 2, 1912, p. 5.

“Refuses to Eat,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 18, 1912, p. 9.

“Shauck Case is Dismissed,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 13, 1913, p. 8.

“Suffragette Asks Divorce,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), November 29, 1912, p. 5.

Jane Addams and Christian Primitivism- By Dr. Kyle Crews

Dr. Kyle Crews is an Assistant Professor at Saint Louis University where he also directs a program in interdisciplinary studies. His research explores the relationship between literature, theology, and culture. This post on Addams derives from his work on the theological roots of American literary anti-imperialism. You can contact Dr. Crews at kyle.crews@slu.edu.

My recent work on Jane Addams explores the moral imagination or theological vision that animated her commitment to social reform. She was an outspoken critic of corrupt politicians, avaricious capitalists, and city officials who colluded against the working class, immigrants, and other disenfranchised peoples to maintain their political and economic control. She may be most notable for establishing Hull-House in Chicago, but Addams’ activism was far more robust, particularly her peace advocacy. For instance, she co-founded the Central Anti-Imperialist League in 1899 and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1915. In fact, Addams exerted considerable influence as a female leader in the anti-imperialist movement.[1]

Addams’ writings also captured her moral vision. Like Walter Brueggemann’s depiction of the Hebrew prophets, Addams nurtured, nourished, and evoked “a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture” through her social activism and literary production.[2] She challenged existing power structures with the artist’s “resistant intellectual consciousness.”[3] In language similar to Brueggemann, Katherine Joslin describes Addams’ artistry in this way: “Her imagination ranged beyond creativity for its own sake into dense moral thickets that confounded her generation and continue to vex us today: the social and economic disparity between rich and poor; the cultural ramifications of migration; the lure of the capitalist marketplace; the politics of fair play, especially in cities; and the strains of nationalism on world peace.”[4] Addams’ moral consciousness or imagination propelled her social activism; it empowered her desire to solve some of the “dense” social problems that confounded her generation.

Scholars typically associate Addams’ moral imagination or theological vision with a popular current in American Christianity at the turn of the nineteenth century: the Social Gospel.[5] The association is not without merit since many of Addams’ progressive theological perspectives did align with social gospel teaching. My exploration into Addams’ moral imagination, however, revealed a more profound connection to Christian primitivism.[6] In fact, I would argue that Addams constructed a social imaginary through her writings and activism that was nourished by a fascination with earliest Christianity.[7] It was her attraction to the simplicity, pacifism, and social humanitarianism of the early Christians that energized her social-theological vision. She imagined her work as a participation in the purest form of Christianity exemplified by the pre-Constantinian church.

A few examples will demonstrate Addams’ fascination with this period in Christian history, and its popularity in American religious thought. Her interest in early Christianity began with a second trip to Europe from 1887 to 1888. During her travels she encountered Christian paintings and sculptures, admired Byzantine Cathedrals and mosaics in Ravenna, and experienced an epiphany in the Roman catacombs. These embodied forms of Christian teaching cast a vision of the earliest Christians that charmed Addams and guided her social reform efforts and critique of American militarism. She came to believe “that pre-institutionalized, underground Christianity, the faith shared by the early Roman poor before it became a symbol of power under Constantine, represented the most authentic form of Christianity.”[8]

The experience that really fomented Addams’ enthusiasm for early Christianity was her visit to the Roman catacombs. She prepared for her visit in early February by reading several studies of the cavernous graveyards decorated with Christian frescoes. In a 22 March 1888 letter to her sister, Sarah Alice Addams Haldemann, Addams described her initial impression of the catacombs:

The catacomb of St Agnese’s is one of the best preserved in Rome and although it has not paintings as St Calixtus has, it is one of the most interesting in Rome.  The inscriptions are quite undisturbed and there are fewer graves of martyrs which have become shrine & hence chapels.  The early Christian symbols are so beautiful and attractive, as if they could scarcely find anything joyous and pe[a]ceful enough to express their eagerness for death and belief in immortality.[9]

Chi Rho in Catacomb of St. Callixtus

Her interest in the iconography in the catacombs fueled her admiration for the earliest Christians. She was particularly influenced by one image imprinted on walls and ceilings: the Chi-Rho symbol. Chi and Rho are the Greek letters X and P, the first two letters of the word for “Christ” in Greek.  The early Christians overlaid these two letters to fashion a symbol for the religion that actually predated the later popularity of the cross. At some point during her visit to Rome, Addams purchased a Chi-Rho pin, which she frequently wore during the 1890s.  According to Victoria Brown, the Chi-Rho pin “announced Jane’s identification with that early moment in Christian history when, in Jane’s mind, followers of Jesus’ teachings comprised a democratic counterculture…For her, the brooch was symbolic of the pre-Constantinian era, as well as a pre-crucifix era, when Jesus was a guide to peaceful love in this life, not disembodied salvation in the next.”[10] The Chi-Rho pin signified Addams’ solidarity with the Christians of the first three centuries of the church as she worked for social justice and peace.

Addams continued to believe that a restoration of early Christianity could serve as a panacea for social injustice and war.  After opening the doors of Hull-House in 1889 she was invited to speak to The School of Applied Ethics in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1892 to explain the necessity for social settlements and the motives underlying the movement.  The social reformer identified three motivating factors behind the settlement movement: the desire to “extend democracy,” the “impulse to share race life,” and “a certain renaissance of Christianity, a movement toward its early humanitarian aspects.”[11] Addams’ use of “renaissance” to describe the growing popularity of early Christian humanitarianism among social settlement advocates reflected the language of American theologians who promoted the “restoration” of the early church.  American restorationism descended from Christian humanists and Protestant reformers in the sixteenth-century who viewed antiquity, and especially the primitive church, as the normative standard for all subsequent Christian faith and practice. In their study of Protestant primitivism, Richard Hughes and C. Leonard Allen explain how the restoration perspective has impacted American life:

Some Americans have enshrined first times as an ideal to be approximated and even as a kind of transcendent norm that stands in judgment on the ambiguities of the present age. In this case, the myth of first times has been a beacon summoning Americans to perfection.  On the other hand, some Americans have fully identified their religious denomination or even their nation itself with the purity of first times.  The allusion thereby fostered in the minds of these Americans is that they are an innocent and fundamentally natural people who, in effect, have stepped outside of history, thereby escaping the powerful influences of history, culture, and tradition.  These Americans therefore have often confused the historic particularities of their limited experience with universal norms that should be embraced, they have thought, by all people in all cultures and all times.[12]

Addams’ emphasis on the “renaissance” of early Christian humanitarianism mirrors at least two aspects of Hughes’ and Allen’s description of American restorationism: she undoubtedly “enshrined first times” as the “transcendent norm,” and she identified the social settlement movement with “the purity of first times.”  She was “certain” that the renaissance of early Christian humanitarianism was “going on in America, in Chicago”; it was, indeed, the “spiritual force” at work in the success of any settlement.[13] As far as Addams was concerned Hull-House restored the true character of the early church where people from every ethnicity and socio-economic condition lived together in peace, love, and unity; it stood “on something more primitive than either Catholicism or Protestantism.”[14] Chicago’s first settlement was a light to the world, a beacon pointing xenophobic, corrupt, and violent Americans to the pure humanitarianism of the early church.

It may be tempting to dismiss Addams’ idealization of earliest Christianity as hagiography, but one cannot deny the formative influence of Christian primitivism on her social thought and peacemaking. She imagined her social activism as a recapitulation of the humanitarianism of the first Christians. The moral imagination that shaped her autobiography, speeches, and books on social reform and peace was enlivened by the mythology of Christian primitivism that other American religious reformers used to promote their vision of the restored faith.[15]


[1] For a fuller discussion of gender politics within the anti-imperialist movement see Erin L. Murphy, “Women’s Anti-Imperialism, ‘The White Man’s Burden,’ and the Philippine-American War: Theorizing Masculinist Ambivalence in Protest,” Gender and Society 23, no. 2 (April 2009): 244-270.

[2] Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), 3.

[3] Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual (New York: Vintage, 1994), 16.

[4] Katherine Joslin, Jane Addams: A Writer’s Life (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 5.

[5] For one example, see Ronald White, Jr. and C. Howard Hopkins, The Social Gospel: Religion and Reform in Changing America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976), 102.

[6] There were primitivist elements in the Social Gospel. For instance, see Matthew Bowman, “Sin, Spirituality, and Primitivism: The Theologies of the American Social Gospel, 1885-1917,” Religion and American Culture 17, no. 1 (Winter 2007). Nonetheless, the type of primitivism that attracted Addams was more closely associated with earlier movements in American Christianity like those identified by Leonard Allen and Richard Hughes in Illusions of Innocence: Protestant Primitivism in America, 1630-1875 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988).

[7] I rely here on Charles Taylor’s definition of “social imaginary”: “By social imaginary, I mean something much broader and deeper than the intellectual schemes people may entertain when they think about social reality in a disengaged mode. I am thinking, rather, of the ways people imagine their social existence, how they fit together with others, how things go on between them and their fellows, the expectations that are normally met, and the deeper normative notions and images that underlie these expectations.” See Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), 23.

[8] Victoria Bissell Brown, The Education of Jane Addams (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 194.

[9] Jane Addams, “Letter to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman 22 March 1888,” in The Selected Papers of Jane Addams: Venturing into Usefulness, 1881-1888, eds. Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Barbara Bair, and Maree De Angury (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 2:586.

[10] Brown, 264.

[11] Jane Addams, “The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements,” in Philanthropy and Social Progress (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, 1893), 2.

[12] Allen and Hughes, xiii.

[13] Addams, “The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements,” 20.

[14] Jane Addams, “The Settlement as a Factor in the Labor Movement,” in Hull-House Maps and Papers, a Presentation of Nationalities and Wages in a Congested District of Chicago, Together with Comments and Essays on Problems Growing Out of the Social Conditions by Residents of Hull-House, a Social Settlement (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1895), 194.

[15] See Richard Hughes, ed., The American Quest for the Primitive Church (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988).

A Double Life: The Story of Lewis E. Larson

Lewis E. Larson was a member of the Chicago Board of Education before he disappeared for three years. Chicago Tribune, Oct. 1, 1926.

Sometimes the pressures of life can make one want to run away and start over. Oftentimes people do not act on these feelings, but in 1923 one person did: Lewis E. Larson. A member of the Chicago Board of Education, Larson once sent Jane Addams a report on kindergarten membership in 1906. Nearly two decades later, Larson went missing for over three years, and was next found in Texas living an entirely different life.

Larson lived a simple life in Chicago, where he served as secretary for the Chicago Board of Education and business manager for Chicago public schools. He also worked as a real estate agent, treasurer of the Portage Rubber company, and general manager of Willoughby & Co. Larson married Mary Wildman in 1897, and they had two children together. When Larson sent Addams a report on kindergarten monthly membership throughout 1905 and 1906, nothing seemed awry. But by 1923, it was clear that Larson was not satisfied with his current life.

On March 7, 1923, Larson mysteriously disappeared without a trace. His disappearance was reported in The News-Palladium, which also spoke of the disappearance of Reverend John Vraniak, suggesting the two cases were connected. Larson reportedly withdrew $200 from the bank before disappearing, and though his work and personal lives were apparently “in excellent shape,” according to the Chicago Tribune, he had been complaining about being overworked. Some thought Larson had amnesia, some thought he was dead, and others believed he hadn’t left Chicago at all; in April, his wife Mary visited a Miss Frances Heiple, who claimed to have seen Larson walking through the city. This story generated no new leads, however, and the search for Larson continued.

In September 1926, when hope seemed lost, Larson suddenly resurfaced – in Dallas, Texas. James D. Pasho, who used to work with Larson at the Portage Rubber company, saw the missing board member while walking past the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. Pasho and Larson then reminisced about old times. Pasho described Larson as looking “better than I had ever seen him look…He appeared very prosperous.”

Larson and his family reunited after three years. Chicago Tribune, Oct. 12, 1926.

In the three years Larson had been gone, he had a variety of jobs and lived in a plethora of places. He later explained to the Chicago Tribune that he left his former life because of a “mental lapse” caused by “nerves and worry.” He stated, “Something within me drove me on. I first went to St. Louis from Chicago. I was dizzy and my brain was reeling…But I couldn’t rest. I took a train to Kansas City.” In a separate Chicago Tribune article he said he “broke down under the strain.” Larson had also been to Shreveport, Louisiana, and Little Rock, Arkansas, before ultimately ending up in Texas. He found employment as a salesman for the General Motors Truck Company, as a truck driver, and as a superintendent of construction for an asphalt company.

Pasho had only heard of Larson’s disappearance in passing, and he wrote to their former boss and relative of Larson’s, W. W. Wildman, recounting the experience. The letter traveled to the Larson family, and soon arrangements were made for Larson to reunite with his family. But the reunification had a rough start. Larson’s son, Leonard, made arrangements to travel to his father, but because of a communication error, Leonard traveled to Baton Rouge while Larson remained in Texas.

But soon father and son were reunited, and Mary and Lucille, Larson’s daughter, traveled to meet him as well. Larson stated he was “tired of it all,” and would “be happy to get back to my family.” However, he did not want to return to Chicago quickly. Leonard and Lucille returned to Chicago shortly after the reunification, but Mary stayed with Larson in Texas for six weeks as he tied up loose ends in his new business ventures.

Eventually, Larson did return to his family and resume his old life in Chicago, though he also maintained business ties in Texas. He also began working for H. C. Speer & Son, an investment and bond company. Larson retired in 1949, and he died in February 1953. His obituary mentioned nothing of the period of his life in which he was missing, and it became just another story to be found in the archives of newspapers.

Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.

 


Sources:

“Larson Still in City, Conviction of Mrs. Larson,” Chicago Tribune, April 3, 1923, p. 13.

Lewis E. Larson, 1910 United States Federal Census.

Lewis E. Larson, 1900 United States Federal Census.

Lewis E. Larson, Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920.

“Lewis Larson at Home Again After 3 Years,” Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1926, p. 1.

“Lewis E. Larson Found; Lost 3 Years,” Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1926, p. 1.

“Lewis Larson’s Son Home After Finding Father,” Chicago Tribune, October 12, 1926, p. 3.

“Lewis E. Larson Tells of His Wanderings,” Chicago Daily Tribune, Oct. 7, 1926, p. 1.

“Obituaries,” Chicago Tribune, February 12, 1953, p. 47.

“These Two In Port of Missing Men – But Where?” The News-Palladium, October 4, 1923, p. 1.

From Journalist to Criminal: The Story of Herbert George Buss

Herbert George Buss’s mugshot, Montana, Prison Records, 1861-1968

When researching those who have corresponded with Jane Addams, you  come across a variety of unique individuals. As a research assistant who has been researching and writing biographies for a number of semesters, I’ve seen my fair share of interesting people — and I thought I’d share some of their stories with you!

Among all the people I’ve researched so far, one of my favorites is Herbert George Buss, a journalist who was sent to prison for extortion in 1919. Before being charged with extortion, Buss was a humble cattle rancher who quickly climbed the ladder of the journalism industry. During the Wilson Administration, Buss worked as a congressional reporter. Soon after he became a publicist for the United States Daily. By 1912 he was writing for The Menace, a weekly anti-Catholic newspaper published in Aurora, MO. Buss’s article, “The Torture Tunnel – The Underground Way – From God’s Altar to Hell’s Sweatshops,” a screed against forced labor at a Catholic sweatshop in Cincinnati, was sent to Jane Addams by William Ketchum, who implored Addams to take action.

By 1919, Buss was making the news, not just writing it due to his involvement in “a story of alleged lust, temptation, love, jealousy, hatred, poverty, attempted seduction and threatened murder,” according to the Montana Standard.

Buss had married Virginia Randolph in 1903, and they lived a happy life for a while with their two children. But in 1915/6 (the newspapers offer differing years), Virginia claimed that a local merchant, John E. Reid, began making advances towards her. He sent her presents and letters, professing his love for her and asking her to leave her husband, even offering her $

Buss’s article, “The Torture Tunnel – The Underground Way – From God’s Altar to Hell’s Sweatshops” in The Menace

10,000 and “the best little ranch in the valley” to do so. Virginia claimed her mother destroyed most of these letters, and only one survived. Virginia asked Reid why he was pursuing her when he himself was married, and he confessed that he had affairs with multiple women in the town. In June of that year, Virginia visited Reid’s store to look at some china. Reid took Virginia to the basement, where he grabbed her and kissed her until she almost called for help. Virginia never told Buss about the incident or the letters – until later when they were fighting over Buss’s drinking.

Once Buss found out about the incident, he met with Reid and threatened to bring the matter to court and sue. Reid offered Buss $10,000 to keep things quiet, which he accepted. But it did not stop there. Reid and his wife claimed that Buss threatened to accuse Reid of sexual assault and even threatened Reid’s life, claiming “there’ll be a new grave in Melrose by Christmas.” By April 1919, the issue was brought to court. Buss was accused of extortion and threats on Reid’s life. The trial was widely covered in the press, and in a twist of irony, the once successful journalist became the subject of one of the biggest stories in the state.

Headline from the Montana Standard, April 11, 1919.

By the time of the trial, Buss and his wife had divorced, and Virginia was married to another Melrose rancher named Roy Bird. Buss was found guilty of extortion, and sentenced to serve six to twelve months in prison. After his release, Buss married again, to Ida M. Carbone. After that, we cannot figure out what happened to Buss. His death date is unknown, and in 1952 his son put a notice in the Chicago Tribune asking for information on his whereabouts. That was the last time Buss’s name appeared in a newspaper.

Though Buss’s name only appeared once in the JAPP collection, by digging a little deeper one can find a huge story. As a journalist, Buss surely would have agreed! And this is just one interesting story I’ve found during my research; keep an eye out for the next unique tale from the JAPP!

Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.


Sources:

“Buss Takes Club Men Down Trail Ranch to Capitol,” Courier (Waterloo, Ia.) October 1, 1929, p. 4.

Herbert George Buss, U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942.

H . George Buss, Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950.

Virginia A. Buss, Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950.

“Melrose Case to End Today,” The Montana Standard, April 11, 1919, p. 6.

“His Former Wife Tells Her Story,” The Anaconda Standard, April 11, 1919, p. 3.

“Find Buss Guilty Extortion Charge,” The Anaconda Standard, April 12, 1919, p. 3.

Jennie A Randolph, Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002.

Herbert George Buss, Montana, Prison Records, 1861-1968.

“Personal,” Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1952, p. 17.