Join our Editorial Team!

Swarthmore-JAThe Jane Addams Papers Project is seeking a part-time Assistant Editor to help work on the preparation of Volume 4 of the Selected Papers of Jane Addams. The position is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is renewable year-by-year dependent on funding.

The Selected Papers of Jane Addams is a six-volume, selected edition. Volume 1-3, prepared by Mary Lynn Bryan and her staff covers the years 1860-1900. Volume 4, prepared by Cathy Moran Hajo and the staff at Ramapo College of New Jersey, will cover 1901-1913. The volume will be published by the University of Illinois Press.

The assistant editor will work 25 hours per week, some portion of which may be done by telecommuting. Earliest start date is October 15. The successful candidate will help select documents for inclusion in Volume 4, prepare the manuscript, help identify and organize the annotation research process, conduct research, and assist with proofreading. Duties may also include proofreading transcriptions and identifications for the digital edition, writing blog posts, and supervising student workers.

Required: M.A. in American history or a related field or current enrollment in a graduate program. Meticulous attention to detail and familiarity with computers, including database use, is essential. Preferred: Subject specialization in the Progressive Era with emphasis on Jane Addams, the suffrage and settlement house movements; or experience in scholarly editing or the publication of scholarly materials.  AA/EOE. For more information, and to apply for the position, see job 223009 at Ramapo College’s website.

2016 Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents

Official Editing Institute Class of 20162016’s Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents was held New Orleans, LA, in a hotel on the corner of Bourbon Street and Canal Street.  Its courses promised to educate those new to the field of documentary editing, as well as a chance to ask questions about our own projects.  Just after classes ended, the Association for Documentary Editing held their annual meeting in the same hotel.  And, with a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the Institute offered a stipend for accepted students.

My very first question was – Where can I sign up?

After an application process and multiple emails with the Institute’s Education Director, the excitement of acceptance to the program gave way to agonizing anticipation.  Finally, after months of biding my time and waiting until the night before my flight to pack, I was stepping off the plane into the hot and humid air of Louisiana.

The next day, we began promptly at 8am with breakfast, and at 8:30 transitioned straight into class time.  I was one of 22 classmates, and initial introductions showed just how varied our backgrounds were: There were some, like me, working on a traditional project with a print edition of selected letters, as well as a digital edition on a website.  But there were some working on solo projects, with many questions on how best an institute could help their projects.  There were librarians who had enough of helping with research, and had decided to delve into their own projects.  And there were some still in school as Ph.D. candidates who had become swept up in the world of editing historical documents.

Classes were taught by experts in their fields, and those experts were Amanda Gailey (Scholarly Editing), Cathy Moran Hajo (Jane Addams Papers), and Jennifer Stertzer (Washington Papers).  We were educated in a range of topics, from encoding text to better represent a transcription on the web, to preparing to fund your project through your home institution and private donors.  There were classes on publishing digitally vs. publishing in print, as well as the best method for indexing and annotating those published documents.  And the week of classes wrapped up with a thought on the future of documentary editing.

But there were things we couldn’t learn from our “experts”, and could only discover by talking to the other Institute participants.  Each one had their own obstacles to overcome, such as funding and staffing, and their own experiences with editing documents.  But with each hurdle, they had their own slightly unique solution, and those collective exchanges definitely helped facilitate discussions for the keys to solving unanswered questions.

ADE-2016At the end of our stay, many of us knew how to get to Café Du Monde by heart, and some had walked the length of Bourbon Street multiple times.  But each of us who attended the Institute found ourselves no longer identifying as a singular project, but rather as one documentary editor with a network of peers, never truly alone in our shared quest to preserve and interpret history.

Questions About Settlements? Ask Jane!

Hull-House-Door_UIC-JAMC Neg 557

The main entry to Hull House. (Jane Addams Memorial Collection, University of Illinois, Chicago).

How many people today know what settlements were? If you have heard of them, they conjure up black and white, or sepia images of large buildings in urban neighborhoods, operated by earnest men and women. Or images of immigrant children in classes or urban playgrounds.

When Jane Addams founded Hull-House in 1889 the idea was a new one and part of her work was in popularizing not only the settlement, but the ideas behind it. The first settlement, and the one that inspired Addams and Ellen Gates Starr to found Hull-House was Toynbee Hall, a British settlement located in London’s East End that was founded in 1884. The first settlement in the United States was Neighborhood house, established in 1886 by Stanton Coit.

Library of Congress

The idea of the settlement was simple–to bring education and social welfare to the people who lived and worked in impoverished cities. In the United States, settlements were also known as places that helped stir the melting pot of immigration. What was unique about the settlement movement, compared with other Progressive Era charitable efforts, was that the settlement workers moved in to the slum neighborhoods they sought to help, and they sought to act as neighbors, not distant benefactors to the working poor. Addams and other settlement workers wanted to understand the lives of immigrants and the working-class not be analyzing them, but by living side-by-side and helping when they could.

In the December 5, 1905  Toledo Daily Capital, Addams’ theory was described as:

that every man is an individual and equally capable of good. The Hull House idea is to develop the individual. Miss Addams also stated that a much larger number of immigrants could be taken care of in this country and assimilated to advantage than was being done now.

When Addams lectured, she often answered questions about her work. Some questions that were reported included:

What about anarchy in the slums?

I think the cry of anarchy has been greatly exaggerated in America. There is not nearly as much of it as some people seem to think. Much of the violation of law in the slums and among the foreigners is due to ignorance of the law rather than the result of criminal intentions.

How many children are taken care of at the Hull House every day?

We have a day nursery and this takes care of an average of forty children a day.

Are there any day nurses or visitors in connection with Hull House who visit the homes of those in your district?

We never go to any house unless sent for or there is some good reason for our visit. We never make it a practice to invade the homes of the poor.

Is there any religious instruction at Hull House?

No, there are no religious exercises at Hull House on account of the different beliefs of those in the house. We have Roman and Greek Catholics and Jews in addition to other creeds and denominations.

What are the political opinions of the voters of the settlement district?

That depends entirely on which party gets hold of them first. Their political beliefs are easily subject to change. For instance the Italians formerly were almost entirely Republicans. Now, however, they are swimming over to Democracy. The Russian Jews are mostly socialists. Other nationalities have similar political principles. In Chicago there is so much intense interest in ward and city politics that national politics are entirely lost sight of in the shuffle.

Is there any drinking in the Hull House?

No, there is no drinking in Hull House, but there is a great deal of it among certain classes in the slums. Most of the Jews congregate in the shops and little stores instead of in the saloons. Formerly there was very little drunkenness among the Italians when they drank only light wines. Now they are learning to drink the American beer and whisky and drunkenness among them is on the increase.

What is being done to counteract drinking by the Hull House?

We try to counteract it mainly by means of amusements. The social feature of the saloon s what appeals to most of them and so we give Saturday evening parties, dances and socials. The saloon dance hall is one of the great pitfalls of the city and we try to oppose it in particular. We have a big coffee room but it is not a great success for the reason that only a few care for coffee in the evening.

Settlements were one solution proposed by progressive reformers to alleviate the social problems caused by increasing numbers of new immigrants and rapid urbanization. Rather than build walls to keep people out, or hem them into crowded slums, Addams and other social workers sought to learn about them, live with them, and understand their cultures; all in an effort to help them navigate American life.  She believed in treating her neighbors with respect and as intelligent and capable individuals who could contribute mightily to American society.


For more on settlement houses in Chicago, see the University of Illinois at Chicago’s photo exhibit, “Changing Neighborhoods: Photographs of Social Reform from 7 Chicago Settlement Houses.

 

The Averbuch Incident: A Century in Chicago’s Violence

March 3, 1908. Headline proclaiming the death of Lazarus Averbuch. – The Pantagraph, Bloomington, IL.

When thinking about the issue of police brutality in Chicago, many of our first thoughts find their way to the incidents of the recent past.  The images that still burn freshly in our minds are those of Laquan McDonald being fatally shot from behind by Officer Jason Van Dyke, or a recently discovered history of gruesome torture by former police commander Jon Burge.  While Chicago certainly has a history of police misconduct – Burge had reportedly been using torture to provide false confessions from his suspects since 1972 – that history sees its true beginnings in the early 20th century, as Jane Addams attempted to make sense of the violence she saw in her city of Chicago.

Dead body of Lazarus Averbuch held up in a chair by Captain Evans of the police department, front view. – Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society

Addams’ first published opinion on file of a police brutality incident comes during the time of the “Averbuch Incident” in 1908. The chronicle, told in the papers from the point of view of Officer Shippy, begins with Lazarus Averbuch, as the press called him, though in realty his name may have been Harry or Jeremiah, a Russian born Jew who had recently immigrated to America.  Averbuch was a young man, almost 19, who in the early morning of March 2, 1908 called upon Chicago’s Chief of Police, George Shippy, at his home in Chicago’s North Side.  Shippy, having been informed that this was the fourth time Averbuch had called upon him in two days, became suspicious; assuming Averbuch was an anarchist bent on assassination, Shippy seized Averbuch by the arms.  Before Shippy could disarm him, Averbuch drew a knife and stabbed Shippy in the arm.  As Shippy’s son, Harry, ran downstairs due to the commotion, Averbuch drew a revolver and fired two shots, one of which struck Harry.  At this, James Foley, an officer assigned to be George Shippy’s driver and bodyguard, entered and attempted to seize Averbuch.  Before being embraced by Foley, however, Averbuch fired a shot into Foley’s hand.  Very shortly after, both Foley and Shippy emptied their revolvers into Averbuch’s body, who then fell dead.

Funds were raised by prominent Jews for a private investigation into the claims made by Shippy that Averbuch was an anarchist intent on assassinating the Chicago Chief of Police.  Jane Addams organized an investigation to be led by young Chicago attorney Harold Ickes, who later served as Secretary of the Interior under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  At the same time, the Jewish press, mainly the Jewish Courier, tried to argue that Averbuch was following foreign protocol in order to obtain a letter from the chief of police indicating that he was in good standing and of good character in order to obtain a job outside his community.  All shots, the Jewish press argued, were the result of wayward bullets fired from either Foley’s or Shippy’s guns.  Addams witnessed the aftermath of the Averbuch Incident from an immediate proximity.  Addams’ Hull-House was located near Averbuch’s community, and the settlement often served as an interpreter between foreigners and the city’s native populace, and vice versa.  She understood that foreign-born anarchists were feared in the city of Chicago after their involvement in the Haymarket Riot two decades prior.  Addams, however, was not convinced of Shippy’s story, believing there to be too many inconsistencies.

Caption under photograph: Lazarus (Harry) Averbuch, anarchist and assassin. (From a postcard photograph he had made recently to send to his mother in Austria.)

Caption under photograph: Lazarus (Harry) Averbuch, anarchist and assassin. (From a postcard photograph he had made recently to send to his mother in Austria.)

In the wake of the aftermath of the Averbuch Incident, Addams wrote a piece for Charities and the Commons, a publication created to help charities give and receive information and advice, called “The Chicago Settlements and Social Unrest”.  This article, while spurred by the Averbuch Incident, also gave Addams’ opinion on the cause of and solutions to the growing unrest around immigrants with varying political and religious beliefs.  Addams believed that she had a unique vantage point as the head of a settlement house – as a member of a prosperous family, Addams understood the points of view of the fearful public, as well as those of the fearful immigrant population.  “This settlement interpretation,” she said, “may be right or wrong, but it is at least based upon years of first hand information and upon an opportunity for free intercourse with the foreign people themselves.” (Addams, 1908)  She attempted to assuage the fears on Chicago, reminding the city that

“the more excited and irrational public opinion is, the more recklessly newspapers state mere surmises as facts, and upon these surmises arouse unsubstantiated prejudices against certain immigrants, the more necessary it is that some body of people be ready to put forward the spiritual and intellectual conditions of the foreign colony which is thus being made the subject of inaccurate surmises and unjust suspicion.” (Addams, 1908)

Addams reminded the public that Russian-Jews, like Averbuch, had escaped very harsh treatment from police while in their home country; she also argued that the treatment they received from American police was no better.  “The older men,” she stated, “asked whether constitutional rights gave no guarantee against such violent aggression of police power, and the hot-headed ones cried out at once that the only way to deal with the police was to defy them; that that was true of the police the world over”.  “It registered,” she said, “a conviction that in a moment of panic a republican government cared no more for justice and fair play than an autocratic government did” (Addams, 1908).

In true Addams fashion, the philanthropic philosopher gave her own homegrown solution to the problem at hand.  “The only possible way to break down such a persistent and secretive purpose,” she said, “was by the kindliness which might have induced confession, which might have restored him into fellowship with normal men” (Addams, 1908).

Addams’ theory of kindness as an eradicator of terrorism has never really been tested in the city of Chicago, or anywhere else.  One of the most recent stories about police brutality, mentioned above, states that former police commander, Lt. Jon Burge oversaw a torture ring of detectives from 1972 until 1991.  In October of 2014, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot fatally in the back 16 times by Jason Van Dyke – an officer who alone has accumulated 20 complaints, all of which have gone undisciplined.  Citizens are so concerned about the escalation of crime in Chicago, that a website has been created to chronicle police misconduct spanning the years 2002-2008 and 2011-2015.  The Citizens Police Data Project’s findings are astounding.  Without revealing the entirety of the Project’s report, of all 56,384 of the allegations in the study, 54,089 of these, or 95.93%, were found to be “Unsustained”.

In another disheartening flurry of statistics, we also know that violence in Chicago is the highest among all US cities with 2,900 shootings in 2015.  How much of a correlation do these two numbers have?  And if the statistics are intertwined, is the answer to employ and release more officers into a populace that obviously entertains varying degrees of fear for their “protectors”?  Or should we attempt to appeal to our better natures and try actions of kindness?  Perhaps another of Addams’ solutions can be used, an effort to better educate officers, citizens, and members of immigrants and working class communities in lessons of cultural assimilation and understanding could be implemented to foster partnership based on harmony rather than discord.

Documentary Editors at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute

IMG_20160617_124340732(This post was originally published on the Association for Documentary Editing’s website.)

Since 2001, the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI), held annually in Victoria, B.C., Canada, has been an annual gathering of technologists, scholars, librarians, graduate and undergraduate students…and editors. For the past three years, Jennifer Stertzer and I, joined this year by Erica Cavanaugh (George Washington Financial Papers Project), have offered a course entitled “Conceptualising and Creating Digital Editions,” one of a rich slate of hands-on and theoretical week-long immersions into digital humanities (for course lists shaping up for 2017, click here)

Students working on their website designs.

Students working on their website designs.

The twenty students who took our course came with some incredibly varied and fascinating projects. Just a few include Deanna Stover’s plan to create a digital edition of H.G. Wells’s Floor Games and Little Wars, a 1911 narrative set of gaming rules, Fiona Coll’s work on a digital editions of Morgan Robertson’s short works of fiction based on his sea-going experiences, and Elizabeth Honing’s plan to create a classroom module featuring a digital edition of Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations (1598-1600). The breadth of topics spanned centuries, from Rachel Roberts’ work on Anne Dowriche’s The French Historie (1589) to Eric Rasmussen’s plan to create an online web resource for studying the artistic and social networks around the contemporary American writer Lynne Tillman, and Kate Sikloski’s project to create a digital companion to her critical biography of Tobagonian-Canadian poet M. NourbeSe Philip. Paula Johanson was seeking guidance on turning her guide to kayaking, Green Paddler, into a digital edition, while Ellen Malenas Ledoux investigated creating a critical edition of Mary Darby Robinson’s Memoirs. All the projects represented rich resources that will be greatly enhanced by the editorial work planned for them.

Jennifer with Rachel Roberts and Melinda Creech at the class showcase on Friday afternoon.

Jennifer with Rachel Roberts and Melinda Creech at the class showcase on Friday afternoon.

The four and a half day course covered a lot of ground, but was focused on introducing students to many of the editorial issues that arise when contemplating a digital edition. We discussed how the main tasks of editing, selection, transcription, annotation, and research are changed when the materials are presented in a digital platform. We spent time talking about the pros and cons of various digital edition platforms and the tactics editors need to use to adapt them, focusing on TEI/XML, Drupal, Omeka, WordPress and Scalar. Through description, demonstration, and analysis, we helped students decide between platforms by focusing on the goals of their edition and the nature of their documents.

Erica and I at the course showcase on the last day of DHSI.

Erica and I at the course showcase on the last day of DHSI.

Students used one of the tools, Omeka, to begin to craft plans for their digital projects. They drafted policies on selection, transcription, annotation, and searching, developed site maps to envision navigation, page appearance, and useability, and estimated the time and work hours that it would take to complete their projects. Students played with metadata by creating sample documents, transcriptions and descriptions of their materials. They had one on one time with Erica, Jennifer and I to ask for advice, to experiment with visualization tools such as text analysis, digital maps and timelines, and some created rough prototypes of their site plans using Drupal.

Whales!

Whales

DHSI offers many other courses of interest to editors, from intensive work with TEI encoding to text analysis, and project management. Victoria is beautiful (we went whale watching!), and the immersion on hands-on work with other people passionate about documents, scholarship, and technology makes for an experience unlike any other.

Reading Jane Addams’ Palms

Fortune telling, in the forms of reading tea leaves, tarot cards, palms, and crystal ball gazing, have long been popular forms of entertainment. People were and are fascinated to see readings of celebrities, hoping to learn more about them.

Nellie Simmons Meier

Nellie Simmons Meier

Palm readers could become celebrities in their own right, like Nellie Simmons Meier (1864-1944) who built an international reputation as a palmist by insisting that it was a scientific practice rather than an occult hobby. Meier did not tell fortunes–she conducted “character readings”–but she gathered them for some of the most famous people in the early 20th century–Albert Einstein, Margaret Sanger, George Gershwin, Walt Disney, and Jane Addams. Meier organized over 100 palm prints and character readings into chapters in a book, called Lion’s Paws, that she published in 1937.

Addams’ palms were included in the chapter “Can The Leopard Change His Spots?,” along with Norman Thomas, Margaret Sanger, Susan B. Anthony, Ben B. Lindsey, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Jacob Riis. She prefaced the readings with a question:

If a reformer or a radical makes his living in the very work of reform, he is doubly suspect; if he makes no money, he is believed to be seeking notoriety, honor, distinction. Do the hands of reformers and radicals sustain this suspicion?

Addams's right hand print, as published in Lions Paws

Addams’s right hand print, as published in Lions Paws

When Meier observed Addams’ palms she noted both the extraordinary similarities and important differences between her prints and those of Susan B. Anthony’s. Both women, she reported, demonstrated practical and executive ability, appreciation of the arts, and honesty, as well as strong wills and love for others. However, she saw important differences, primarily centering around the reasons that they did what they did.

Addams, Meier claimed, was motivated by the individuals she helped. For her it was not about fame or even about the “common good” as she claimed it was for Anthony. Rather, everything came down to her interactions with individuals, and the justice and mercy served, rather than a more nebulous greater good. It is certainly evident that Addams cared about those around her and wanted to help people–if she had not she probably would not have started Hull House or crusaded for the rights of workers and immigrants.

Addams's left palm print, as published in Lion's Paws.

Addams’s left palm print, as published in Lion’s Paws.

According to the palm reader, Addams was also a born conservative, cautious about everything. Something that, intriguingly enough, appears to be present in many of her letters, which paint a picture of Addams as a woman who is faultlessly polite and dignified- the very image of a conservative woman.

Is Meier’s character reading an accurate one? It certainly seems to be in line with the Jane Addams in the letters being transcribed. However, this is also information anyone could get just by reading her books and news articles about her. These present a picture of a woman who sounds exactly as Meier described. Of course, it is possible that Jane Addams’ kindness, generosity, and care for others was indeed written in her hand, but perhaps it is more important that it was written in her life.


For more on Nellie Simmons Meier and her character readings, see finding aids to collections of her papers at the Library of Congress and the Indiana Historical Society. For details on her home, see a description of Tuckaway from Historic Meriden Park.

If Only Walls Could Talk: Making the West Side

May 19, 2016_O'Connor_Knight_Scott

The “closers” for the May 19, 2016 Hull-House public forum, “Making the West Side,” left to right, Alice O’Connor, University of California Santa Barbara; Yolanda Knight, program officer for the Steans Family Foundation; and Jennifer Scott, director of the Hull-House Museum. (Photograph by Ellen Skerrett)

The elegant Hull-House dining room was filled to the proverbial rafters on May 19, 2016 as historians, community residents, and activists shared insights and experience about neighborhood change on Chicago’s West Side.  Could any place have been more perfect for this wide-ranging conversation, part of a one-year NEH “Humanities in the Public Square” grant?

Jane Addams, ca. 1896-1900 (Swarthmore Peace Collection)

As Hull-House Museum director Jennifer Scott noted in her welcoming remarks, the Arts and Crafts dining room was the place where Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr and settlement residents broke bread with visitors while discussing the burning questions of the day, on labor, immigrants’ rights, the criminal justice system.  At the heart of the conversation was always the question, “How we can be better neighbors to one another?”

It’s the rare conference that connects the past and the present, but what struck me throughout the day was the way in which history illuminated and deepened the experience of West Siders who are engaged in finding solutions to issues of inequality in education and healthcare and disinvestment in their neighborhood.

You could see and hear nods of recognition from neighborhood activists in the room as Rutgers’ historian Beryl Satter showed images of North Lawndale and discussed her father’s efforts to represent African Americans who purchased homes under the segregated practice of contract buying in the 1950s and 1960s.  Her award-winning book, Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America, put a human face these predatory lending practices that devastated the social fabric of the neighborhood and its housing stock.

Rufus Williams of the Better Boys Foundation and Amara Enyia of the Austin Chamber of Commerce argued convincingly that the loss of manufacturing jobs and the closing of public schools has made it difficult to attract development and investors.  Indeed, many stores have become vacant lots since the riots along Madison Street in 1968 following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   In a city with a flourishing downtown and North Side, Williams and Enyia agreed, the challenge is how to get policy makers to see value and equity in the West Side.

Hull_House,_Smith_Hall

Hull-House’s Smith Hall in 1910 (Library of Congress)

The West Side wasn’t always invisible.  In fact, just the opposite.  In the second panel, historian Rima Lunin Schultz reminded the audience that 126 years ago on May 19, 1890, Chicagoans got their first glimpse of Hull-House in a Tribune feature illustrated with exterior and interior drawings of the settlement. Entitled “Two Women’s Work,” the newspaper story praised Addams and Starr for organizing “lectures and classes and parties [for] the uncultivated.”

Committed to being better neighbors, the Hull-House residents investigated conditions in local sweatshops and mapped thirty blocks east of the settlement as a way “to focus attention on the worst scenario of industrial conditions that immigrant laborers faced.” Part of a federal study of “slums,” Hull-House Maps and Papers was published in 1895 and received widespread acclaim as innovative and influential.

Ironically, noted Schultz, “by defining its neighborhood as the poorest and most disadvantaged, Hull-House unintentionally . . . began a process of urban renewal.”

3572646676_e019688eb3

A map from Hull-House Maps and Papers (1895) that identifies the ethnic background of the neighborhood.

Continuing the discussion of the role of social scientists and neighborhood change, UIC historian Cynthia Blair characterized the 1895 study as a “map of exclusion that begins to define African Americans in Chicago.”  Hull-House Maps and Papers were not free of bias. In the wages map, for example, Blair noted that brothels near the train stations were designated white, even though they employed African American women.

Ohio State University historian Lilia Fernandez recounted the presence of Mexican Americans in the Hull-House settlement, particularly in the pottery program in the 1920s and 1930s.  So it is all the more puzzling that the displacement of Mexican Americans by urban renewal and expressway construction is so little known.

Richard Anderson of Princeton brought the conversation full circle in recounting the attitudes of reformers in the 1950s and 1960s who believed that urban renewal was the “surgery” necessary to eradicate “blight and slums.” Often glossed over in accounts of the siting of the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois, for example, is the role the federal government played in terms of public housing and expressway construction.  Understanding this history also challenges us to reclaim the work and vision of women activists such as Florence Scala, dismissed as a “housewife” in the battle to save Hull-House from demolition in 1963.

The fourth and final panel of the afternoon featuring Rosa Cabrera, Dave Stovall, Kathy Catrambone, and Quiwana Bell was a powerful reminder that community organizers and activists work on behalf of ordinary people whose voices are not heard in public policy debates over education and health care. As I listened to their stories, I couldn’t help but think of the old saying, “If only walls could talk.”

More than a century ago in the Hull-House dining room, Jane Addams and the Hull-House residents engaged visitors from around the world who were eager to debate solutions to the thorny problems of poverty and workers’ rights.  What I heard on May 19th was something else: historians and community activists grappling with the legacy of Hull-House and the challenge of making the West Side, once again, visible.

A Nation in Mourning: The Death of Jane Addams

Jane Addams's funeral at Hull-House. Photographed by Wallace Kirkland. (Courtesy of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Special Collections, Lea Demarest Taylor Papers).

Jane Addams’s funeral at Hull-House. Photographed by Wallace Kirkland. (Courtesy of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Special Collections, Lea Demarest Taylor Papers).

On May 21, 1935, Jane Addams died, at the age of 74. Her funeral was held at Hull-House 81 years ago today.

Addams’ body was brought from the hospital and lay in state at Hull-House from 10am to 6pm on May 22nd and then from 9am to noon on May 23rd. A brief twenty-minute non-denominational funeral was held on May 23 at Hull-House. The papers reported that over 20,000 people pressed in to view and pay tribute to Addams at a rate of over one thousand an hour.

There was no demonstration. There was little conversation. The people stood about in little groups. They were waiting, and had been waiting for hours, just for a chance to pass rapidly through the hall inside and view for a second the peaceful face of their benefactor before she was taken to her girlhood home in Cedarville, Ill. to be buried in the tiny cemetery there. (Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, May 23, 1935)

Reporters talked to mourners, and noted the wide variety of people present. “Foreign-born men and women who claimed her as their best friend grieved beside millionaires and society matrons from the gold coast across town. Shiny limousines stood at the curb where several hundred Hull House “neighbors” waited, unable to find room in the court.” (DeKalb Daily Chronicle, Oct. 23, 1935).

There was no discrimination. A large wreath of orchids and lillies-of-the-valley sent by a wealthy man and his wife was no more prominently displayed than the blanket of bright red roses sent by one of the mothers’ clubs of Hull House.” (Chicago Daily Tribune, May 24, 1935.)

From the Adena Miller Rich Papers, Special Collections University of Illinois at Chicago.

From the Adena Miller Rich Papers, Special Collections University of Illinois at Chicago.

Among the prominent mourners were Anita McCormick Blaine, a long-time supporter of Hull-House, Robert Maynard Hutchins, the president of the University of Chicago, Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior, and Sophonisba Breckinridge, also from the University of Chicago. But there were many more people from the neighborhood, people who knew Addams by her deeds.

A Negro woman trailed by seven solemn children–four boys and three girls–waited hours to reach the casket and then dropped out, tears streaming from her eyes, as she entered the hall. “I’d rather remember her like the day she brought my Martha a doctor when she was dying,” she sobbed. (Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, May 23, 1935)

From Bellaire, Ohio, when she learned of Addams’s death, Eleanor Roosevelt commented, “I’m dreadfully sorry. America has lost a great source of inspiration.”  Katharine Lenroot noted, “America has lost her greatest woman, her greatest social worker and the people of America have lost their most understanding and compassionate friend.” (New York Times, May 22, 1935).

 

Six Remarkable Hull-House Women: Guest Blog by Author Ruth Bobick

What stood out in my research about “six remarkable Hull-House women”–Jane Addams, Julia Lathrop, Florence Kelley, Alice Hamilton, and Grace and Edith Abbott–was the crucial role they played in the reform of America’s industrial system. Equally striking was the Supreme Court’s resistance to regulating it.

When the first generation of college educated women discovered that established professions like the law, government, higher education and the church were reserved for men, they sought alternative occupations. As caregiving had long been a female responsibility, reformers responded to the plight of poor immigrant workers and their families by creating “social settlements,” a Consumer’s League, a federal Children’s Bureau, and the field of Social Work.  In turn, their service-oriented programs opened up career opportunities for women, and provided a supporting network of female organizations that fought for social justice from the Progressive Era to the New Deal.

Before proceeding from Hull-House in Chicago onto the national scene, Lathrop devoted her efforts to the reform of state charities, Kelley to an anti-sweatshop campaign, Hamilton to industrial medicine, Grace Abbott to protecting  immigrants, and her sister Edith to social research. As the settlement’s head resident, Addams united them in pursuing common goals, and in pressing for labor legislation. But such hard-won laws as prohibiting child labor, limiting a woman’s workday, and establishing a minimum wage, were all-too-often declared unconstitutional in Supreme Court decisions setting an individual’s “freedom of contract,” above a state’s right to “promote its citizens’ welfare.”

In 1914 with Europe plunged into World War I–and America’s entry in 1917–the progressive period drew to a close. Early on, women activists had mobilized a peace party in Washington, which met with its European counterparts in Holland in 1915 to protest the fighting. Jane Addams presided over the conference, and after the war was elected president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom that evolved from it. During her remaining years, she shared her time between settlement work and the cause of peace–for which she received a Nobel Prize in 1931.

Of Quaker descent on her father’s side and a pacifist during the war, she toured a devastated Germany following its surrender; and gave speeches back home to raise funds for Quaker relief of the defeated enemy. As much as any woman of her day, she was able to transcend national boundaries in the hope of alleviating human suffering.

–Ruth Bobick