Give Peace a Chance: Some Ideas Sent to Jane Addams

Jane Addams and other members of the American delegation on the S.S. Noordam, sailing through embattled waters to attend the International Congress of Women in April 1915. (Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2014698779/)

If you were given three wishes, what would they be? One of the most common answers is world peace. It’s only natural that people want peace, especially with the barrage of headlines screaming about war and conflict. World peace means happiness and freedom for all people and nations. Though it may not seem like it, statistically speaking, we live in the most peaceful era since the 1400s, according to Max Roser, who created a chart that visualizes the global death rate from war over the past 600 years. Some of the deadliest times were during the 20th century due to both World Wars.

Global Deaths in Combat since 1400. For more visualizations on this theme see https://ourworldindata.org/war-and-peace

During the First World War, Americans developed many ideas on how to pave the way for international peace, and often sent them to notable peace activists and politicians, such as Jane Addams, Woodrow Wilson, and Andrew Carnegie. Starting in 1914, Addams began receiving letters that contained proposals on how to secure international peace in a time of war. Some were pragmatic, others idealistic, and some fanciful. All shared the same goal, however, which was to stop war.

James Woodburn Hamilton’s Children’s Creed and International Memorial Day

 James Woodburn Hamilton, a mining engineer, sent his peace plan to Addams in November of 1916. Believing that children play a crucial role in the future of international peace, he wrote a “creed” for children in the United States which read:

Passport photo of James W. Hamilton.

“I believe in the God of all nations who over ruleth all things for His own great purposes. I believe in my country, America, born in the love of liberty and purified in the fires of maintaining it. I believe in her destiny as the great exemplar of freedom; in her honesty of purpose; in her high ideals for the best service of all humanity; a service of which I will be a part and which I will do my best to keep pure.”

“I owe allegiance and honor to her flag and constitution before any earthly interest, and conceive it to be my highest duty to so live day by day a clean and upright life that later on I may be worthy of American Citizenship.

James Woodburn Hamilton, “Peace Plans,” Nov. 27, 1916.

Hamilton also proposed an International Memorial Day, a day of “mourning and humiliation,” that would remind the world of trauma and human cost of war. While Decoration Day, later Memorial Day, were celebrated in the United States, the somber reason for the day has devolved into barbecues, baseball games and the unofficial start of summer.

Samuel Ware Packard’s Federated Government

In December 1915, Samuel Ware Packard proposed that the only way to insure peace was to establish a Federated Government of nations, resembling the structure of the United States government. This government would issue bonds to “disarm all nations would have the capabilities for world peace. Packard’s  Federated Government would have a congress with representatives from each nation, a supreme court for the settling of international disputes, and a president selected by vote. It would tax the exports and imports  of any nation that “did not voluntarily pay its fair proportion of the expenses of maintaining the Federated Government.” As Packard wrote:

1904 Lithograph cartoon of Samuel Ware Packard

“The warring nations in Europe deprecate the present war, but do not dare to give up until there is some guarantee for future peace. At present each side seems to believe that the only way to attain lasting peace is by the complete defeat or exhaustion of their enemies. The foregoing plan would enable these warring nations to obtain lasting and permanent peace without humiliation or dishonor; and the enormous waste of life and resources which each side must sustain if the war is continued would seem to be reason suficient to make every nation willing to submit the adjustment of their differences to an impartial tribunal — when assured that the decisions of such tribunal would be carried into effect.”

Samuel Ware Packard, “Plan for Permanent Peace by the Disarmament of Every Nation in the World, Dec. 1915.

Packard argued that there would be no need for military competition without armaments. Distrust between nations would decrease alongside the need to conquer and dominate the globe. With the Federated Government, each nation would be cared for and protected by all other nations, living together in harmonious peace.

Charles Leopold Bernheimer’s International Public Conscience

Charles Leopold Bernheimer crafted a peace proposal styled as “A Business Man’s Plan for Settling the War In Europe” in January 1915. Similar to Packard’s plan, Bernheimer suggested the creation of a council called the International Public Conscience. He wanted to apply a businessman’s principle of arbitrating commercial disputes” to international relations.

Charles L. Bernheimer’s passport photograph

“War is the phenomenon — the negation of the rule of reason.” he argued.  “The causes are frequently misunderstanding, selfishness, inconsiderateness; the reasons for the perpetration of this war do not yet seem to have been frankly and fully stated. There can be misunderstandings and differences of opinion between nations as there can be between individuals. War will not settle them, — at least not with a settlement that endures, for such a settlement must be built upon reason and acceptance of ethical standards.War will not settle them — at least not with a settlement that endures, for such a settlement must be built upon reason and acceptance of ethical standards.

Charles Leopold Bernheimer, “Peace Proposal,” January 12, 1915.

The International Public Conscience would diffuse these tensions, by building outlets for commercial, civic, religious, labor, agricultural and other disputes. An “International Public Opinion,” would provide a megaphone for public opinion, which would help start dialogues. Other organizations, such as the Commision on Immediate Action, the International Conference, the Council of Nine, and the Treaty of Peace with would be designed to take effective action. 

Elsie M. Gill and Paul Edmund Frind’s Telepathic Peace Movement

Many of the proposals above operated on a pragmatic analysis of the problem. Others were more experimental and radical. In March 1915, Addams received a 6-page telegram from Vancouver, Canada from Elise M. Gill and Paul Edmund Frind. The pair had already written to President Wilson without receiving an answer, so appealed to Jane Addams for help spreading word about their idea. 

Gill’s idea for peace involves spreading peace through telepathy. Telepathy, or extrasensory perception (ESP), involves the transferring of information outside of the natural five senses. Gill wanted to use telepathy as a means of spreading peace and hoped that Addams would use her connections with the Woman’s Peace Party and other peace leagues to get the word out.

“It is impossible to doubt but that the objective would be attained the direct result of thousands of minds thinking peace urgently desiring peace living solely in the thought of peace assisted by minds that have been specially trained in the science of telepathic projection occultists would be to attain the consummation of our earnest desire, universal and eternal peace. I am in touch with several people who are greatly gifted and trained the the practical use of the science of telepathic projection and I would spare neither time nor money in the interests of such as peace movement.”

Elsie Gill and Paul Frind to Jane Addams, March 17, 1915

When faced with what seemed a senseless and increasingly extended World War, people sought to develop proposals that could not only bring the warring nations to sense, but could also prevent the next war. Whether it was the creation of an international government, prayer and moral instruction, arbitration, or telepathic pacifism, people then and now hoped to encourage world peace. With all of the ways the world has tried, not much success has come, so who can say that these methods should be dismissed?

Documents mentioned in this post will be available via the Jane Addams Digital Edition in the near future.

“Trolls” Have Been Around For Years

Jane Addams, ca. 1915 (Swarthmore Peace Collection).

People blame the Internet for what seems like the spread of anger, meanness and bad manners. While the internet makes it easier to reach more people with much more speed, the things that people share is not so terribly different. Internet trolls, hecklers, and flame warriors seem to be modern phenomena, but it is the method, not the content that is modern. In Jane Addams’ day they just used letters. After having lunch with Addams, journalist Arthur Gleason wrote a long diatribe, including:

“She doesn’t care about people. She doesn’t like you. She likes to move you & bend you. . . This is no Florence Nightingale, nor bread-feeding legendary nun! How troubled she would look & empty beside a life of purpose like Moody’s. The lady is just one more consummate trick performer. She only looks one in the eye occasionally & she wears a stoop & forward tilt of the head from constantly speaking into the ear of politicians & getting legislation & into the ear of millionaires and getting money.”–Arthur Gleason to Leila Seward Gleason, May 4, 1906

Trolls spread false information and try to foster anger and emotional outbursts by posting provocative or outrageous comments and reactions to content. Back in Addams’ day it was “hate mail” and while its audience was more focused, the emotions and anger behind it were strikingly similar.

Despite her reputation as America’s best-loved woman, Jane Addams received anonymous and signed attacks. In 1912, when she supported Theodore Roosevelt’s candidacy for President, her mail became a mine field, peppered with angry missives questioning her intelligence and honesty.

Theodore Roosevelt on the campaign trail, 1912. Roosevelt’s candidacy brought out strong feelings, both for and against him. (Library of Congress).

One letter, written by G.H. Bastian, begins by calling Addams “possibly blind to the fact that ‘Evil Communications Corrupt Good Manners.'” The letter goes on to savage Roosevelt,

Out of his own mouth a Liar, a most audacious liar, Lied about himself, about the President, about numberless persons and things. An international burglar “I took it,” he shamelessly prates, in reference to his theft of Columbian possession Panama. A consuming perjurer in that he violated his oath of office, an open flagrant violator of every confidence ever [reposed] in him. A shameless dirty mouthed black-guard whose vile tongue spoke evil of our best of men and women, even went so low as to label men “liars,” Crooks, brigands, 2nd story men, vampires and numberless other names degrading and dirty, can there be a doubt, a doubt in this day of [reckoning], in the day of exposé that Theodore Roosevelt is about the most unclean, the most vile, and contaminating citizen in the whole Country. – G.H. Bastion to Addams, August 26, 1912.

But then he turns towards Addams, and in language archaic, but with sentiments all  too familiar to what we see on Twitter and in web comment sections:

Can it be possible that in all New England a woman — Yes even in this vast Country a woman can be found who would be willing to stoop low enough to espouse such a man. Now in order to be Consistent you should at once move to New York. Secure an office in the Tenderloin, in the Red light district, in fact you should display a red light in the front window, and label the door a “Negro Assignation House in the rear.” In addition to espousing the noble degrading cause of Rooseveltism you could handle a few “white slaves.”- G.H. Bastion to Addams, August 26, 1912.

Similarly, Addams received an anonymous letter from a woman complaining:

I have been reading after you for some time and I thought you would be a help to Ignorant [women] — but I see Instead: you are only a dupe to Roosevelt. [He] never has been; nor never will be any help to [womankind] — outside of the use that man makes of them for their [passion] sake. . . –Anonymous to Jane Addams, 1912.

The author compares women supporting Roosevelt to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Adam (Roosevelt) was only looking out for himself, and “If women is going to vote the same spiteful way that men are voting It will only add fuel to their hellfire and women and girls will only be slaughtered more than we are now.” The letter goes on explaining that women have to work hard to “Redeem their Honor.”

Buffalo Times, January 25, 1919.

A study of internet “trolls” found that they score higher on the “Dark Tetrad” of personality traits (narcissism, sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism). A 2016 study found that they espouse “negative social potency,” — their cruelty and willingness to hurt other’s for personal gain or pleasure.  It is interesting to see what kinds of behaviors provoke such reactions. One of the instances when Addams received the most criticism and hate was in the early days of America’s entry into World War I. Addams had opposed the war since its outbreak, but unlike others, continued to speak out against it after the United States joined the Allies. It was not just individuals who called her out, it was the government, the press, and even former friends.

Newspaper editorials blasted her for stepping outside of her “place” and the attacks turned personal quite quickly. The Courier-Journal:

The World takes Miss Jane too seriously. She is by no means a mystic. Properly construed there is nothing ‘inexplicable’ about her. A commonplace woman of limited mentality, somewhat over-educated, she made a useful place for herself at Hull House. . . . But when, unsatisfied with plain, everyday settlement work, for which she seemed to have been fitted, she began to fancy herself a philosopher and started out as a writer and lecturer, she got away beyond her depth.” –Quoted in the Montgomery Advertiser, June 23, 1917.

Atlanta Constitution, August 10, 1917.

In another case, Addams was attacked by Mildred Rutherford who called Addams “pro-German,” a believer in “the amalgamation of the races,” and that her father “was a white slave trafficker.” In this case, Addams’s response was published in the Atlanta Constitution (right).

Most times, Addams did not respond to these jibes and slanders, preferring to follow the advice most apply when confronted with such people — Don’t feed the troll.

 

 

 

 

To read some of the criticisms, both mild and fierce, that Addams received, click here.

Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells, and Racial Injustice in America

Jane Addams made the acquaintance of renown African-American journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells in the summer of 1899. The circumstance of these two extraordinary women in Chicago engaged in different but overlapping endeavors to make the world a better place is one of those remarkable and inspirational historical coincidences that reinforces my fascination with the past. I can only imagine the conversations that took place between such formidable activists as Addams and Wells, but I can feel the power of their connection to each other and their mutual respect for each other’s work. Wells regarded Addams “as the greatest woman in the United States,” and Addams admired Wells’ exposés on lynching and considered the controversial woman a friend.

It was Wells who inspired Addams to take a public stand against lynching. After a mob in Maysville, Kentucky, burned alive an African-American man on Dec. 6, 1899, Wells organized a mass meeting in Chicago to protest the violence, and she invited Addams to participate. After the meeting attendees passed resolutions of protest to send to President William McKinley, Addams delivered a speech. She condemned the mob’s murderous actions and argued that such violence “further runs a certain risk of brutalizing each spectator, of shaking his belief in law and order, of sowing seed for future violence.” It was a simple truth, she argued, “Brutality begets brutality.” The speech was an important public assertion of her support for African-American civil rights, and it was her first significant connection to the movement for racial justice.

Jane Addams, ca. 1910

Addams’ 1899 speech formed the basis of her argument for an article published in January 1901 in The Independent, a popular weekly magazine dedicated to social justice and reform. In 1900, there had been 101 reported lynchings in the United States, and the press coverage of these murders in all of their horrifying detail outraged many Americans, particularly reformers like Addams. In the article “Respect for the Law,” Addams again condemned mob violence and argued that it jeopardized due process of law and legal justice in any society that allowed it. However, in making her arguments, she assumed that African-American victims of lynching might be guilty of the crimes of which white lynch mobs accused them. In the early twentieth century, many whites, particularly in the South, argued that lynching preserved the legal and social order by deterring crimes committed by African Americans. Yet in truth, whites deliberately employed such violence to counter African-American resistance and to reinforce white supremacy. Lynching functioned as a terrifying message to African-Americans who dared step outside the boundaries of the proscribed racial hierarchy. Ida B. Wells had spent her entire career exposing the myth of African-American criminality, and she was disappointed in her friend for lapsing into this old “thread bare” argument.

Four months after Addams’ article appeared, Wells published a rebuttal in The Independent. While she did not necessarily disagree with the power and value of her friend’s “dispassionate and logical argument” against lynching, she did object to the critical and “unfortunate presumption” upon which the argument rested. Wells objected to the assumption that black men were “bestial” and “uncontrolled,” and she believed that Addams’ presumption reinforced the stereotype of African-American inferiority. For Wells, the sole purpose of the lynch mob was to strip African Americans of their civil rights and their humanity. She also argued that any assertions of a lynch victim’s alleged crimes were only “excuses” for violence and “that the figures of the lynching record should be allowed to plead, trumpet tongued, in defense of the slandered dead, that the silence of concession be broken, and that truth, swift-winged and courageous, summon this nation to do its duty to exalt justice and preserve inviolate the sacredness of human life.”

Addams and Wells were both brilliant writers, but they approached the serious problem of lynching from very different experiences and perspectives. It is not surprising that Wells, who had been born a slave and who had personally faced the threat of violence as a journalist in Memphis, Tennessee, more keenly understood the underlying racism that informed the violence. Regardless, every single lynching that occurred in America was abhorrent to both women. Even though the number of reported lynchings were in general decline from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, mobs murdered 4,761 human beings by lynching from 1882-1930, nearly all of the years spanning Jane Addams’ adulthood, and 3,386 of them were African Americans.

Thinking and writing about lynching and interacting with the brave and brilliant Ida B. Wells, solidified in Addams’ mind the significance of racism in America. As a result, Addams became a strong proponent of African-American civil rights. Although racial justice was not directly central to her social work, her efforts for child labor restrictions and pure milk, for example, were meant for the benefit of all children. Jane Addams was an important figure in the movement for racial equality, and her name in connection with the movement no doubt inspired others to come along, as well. With Ida B. Wells, Addams spoke out against an effort to racially segregate the Chicago schools and was, in 1909, a founding member of the NAACP. She supported the establishment of an African-American settlement house in Chicago, promoted the work of Professor W. E. B. Du Bois, stood up for African-American delegates denied a role in new Progressive Party in 1912, and protested against racial segregation in the federal government under President Woodrow Wilson in 1913.

As with all people and cultural groups, Jane Addams viewed African Americans as deserving of social justice, as intelligent and capable, as possessed of a rich and beautiful culture, and as worthy of a voice in the political process. She was not a perfect ally, and she stumbled at times to fully understand the depths of the racism of her era, but her mind was open and she understood as least as well as any other American of her generation that the promise of America depended on equality for all Americans. She was absolutely convinced that respectful interactions of all groups of people within a society was possible, that there was mutual benefit in those relationships, and that every American—including every working-class man, woman, immigrant, child, and African American—was entitled to social, economic, and political justice.

by Stacy Pratt McDermott

Jane Addams Documents for Further Reading:

Respect for Law, January 3, 1901

The Progressive Party and the Negro, November 1912

Has the Emancipation Act Been Nullified by National Indifference, February 1, 1913

Jane Addams, Thomas William Allinson, Cyrus Bentley, et al. to Woodrow Wilson, August 26, 1913

Sources: Jane Addams, Anti-Lynching Address, Dec. 12, 1899, Jane Addams Papers, 1860-1960 (microfilm), 46:965-68; Call for a Lincoln Conference on the Negro Question, February 13, 1909, Jane Addams Digital Edition; Ida B. Wells, “Lynching and the Excuse for It,” The Independent, 53 (May 16, 1901): 1133-36; Fitzhugh Brundage, Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993); Kristina DuRocher, Ida B. Wells: Social Reformer and Activist (New York: Routledge, 2017); Alfreda M. Duster, ed., Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970); Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Revolt Against Chivalry: Jessie Daniel Ames and the Women’s Campaign Against Lynching (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979); Katherine Joslin, Jane Addams: A Writer’s Life (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004); Thomas C. Leonard, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016); Louise W. Knight, Jane Addams: Spirit in Action (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2010; Michael J. Pfeifer, Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004); Christopher Waldrep, The Many Faces of Judge Lynch: Extralegal Violence and Punishment in America (New York: Palgrave, 2002); Thirty Years of Lynching, 1889-1918 (New York: NAACP, 1919).

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.

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).

Ardent Girls and Amy Merrill’s Passion for Addams

 

Amy Merrill (https://www.amymerrillplays.com)

Amy Merrill, playwright of ARDENT GIRLS, has an upcoming reading of her play on February 22. The play is about Jane Addams, the sisterhood at Hull House and Addams’ 1896 encounter with Leo Tolstoy. She was willing to talk to me about her project, her work and her passion for Jane Addams.

Merrill was inspired to write her play once she read about Jane Addams’ encounter with Leo Tolstoy.  She read an excerpt from the “Second Twenty Years at Hull House,” where Addams traveled to Russia and Tolstoy could not stop staring at her sleeves. Merrill explained that this encounter gave Addams a lot to think about because Addams admired Tolstoy. But the experience gave Merrill “leeway to sort of come up with my own idea about what happened and how she felt about it and how the impact of the visit had on the rest of her life.”

In her play, Merrill depicts her idea of the Addams-Tolstoy encounter. She’s always been attracted to encounters by different types of people. Addams and Tolstoy are very idealistic, high-minded people, but they’re both different types of people. “It’s also fun to write the scene because it takes place in Russia at the Tolstoy Estate whereas most of the place takes place in Chicago. So it’s kind of fun to sort of transport everybody to Russia. So it’s the improbable, real-life encounter with Leo Tolstoy.”

These are rather large sleeves! (Jane Addams, 1898, in the gown she wore to visit Tolstoy).

Not only Tolstoy and Addams, but Merrill also paints the picture of Florence Kelley and Mary Rozet-Smith competing for Addams’ attention. She explains the two as an “effective duo” with Florence Kelley being very passionate with an interesting background and Jane Addams as a moderator. Mary Rozet-Smith was fun for Merrill because she’s not as flamboyant as the other women are, and writing all three of them in “ARDENT GIRLS.”

Addams was a “fighter for people having better lives and it’s inspiring.” With all of the sexual harassment cases and accusations coming out today, it’s important to remember Addams’ legacy. Amy Merrill admires Addams work and legacy and truly enjoyed writing a play about her. “To know Jane is to love her.” People have been thinking about her legacy and wish that she could be with us today.

For those in the Waltham, MA area, the public reading of “ARDENT GIRLS” will be held at the Merrick Theatre (Spingold Building) on February 22 at 7:30 pm at Brandeis University, Waltham, M.A.

How Did You Find Me? Copyright Research at a 20th Century Edition

Write on Jane! Because she died in 1935, all Addams’ unpublished works are in the public domain.

One of the challenges that face 20th century editing projects, especially digital ones, is the need to obtain copyright permission. We are in the midst of researching and contacting heirs to the authors of letters in the Jane Addams Digital Edition. It is a complicated process, but one that is essential for historians, archivists and editors who publish materials online.

The Basics

  • Documents published before 1922 are in the public domain. That means newspaper articles, journal articles, books, and other materials.
  • Documents published after 1922 may be in public domain, but you will need to determine whether the copyright has been renewed.
  • Unpublished documents are in public domain if the author died more than 70 years ago. If the author was a company, they are in public domain if the document was written more than 120 years ago. That means letters, unpublished reports, articles and speeches.

The Numbers

We have identified over 4,500 individuals and 600 organizations thus far in our work for the digital edition. Not all of these people wrote letters — some received the letter and others were merely mentioned in it. We do not need to clear permission for those individuals and organizations.

The Process

The Jane Addams Digital Edition tracks all mentions of people in documents. As our editorial assistants enter each document, they create links to the people already in the edition. For example, in a letter written to Jane Addams by Vida Dutton Scudder, we might record eight personal names — the author (Scudder), the recipient (Addams) and the names of four people mentioned.

If one or more of these people are new to the digital edition, the editorial assistant creates a new record for that person. While we don’t do a lot of research at this point on that person, we do try to secure birth and death dates. This year, the magic number is 1947. If our person died before 1947, we can mark their rights as public domain. Any documents written by them are all set for publication.

If, however, we cannot locate a death date, or we locate a date after 1947, we need to conduct some research. Editorial assistants flag the person’s record as copyright permission “pending.”  We do this for all new names, whether or not they are authors.

As we move toward proofreading metadata and transcriptions for publication, we generate a list of all the documents in a given year that are not ready to publish. When we were not able to locate a death date, the editor will make another attempt to find it, and hopefully clear the documents. We are then left with a list of authors that are not in the public domain.

Our copyright research squad consists of two people, researcher Ellen Skerrett and project assistant Nina Schulze get down to the nitty gritty of copyright research.

Research

There are a number of ways to try to locate the copyright holder of a deceased author.

  • If the person’s papers are stored at an archive, you can contact them. Often times they will have some information about the person who donated the papers, or have contact with family members. A good site to search for archival holdings is Archive Grid.
  • If the person is a published author, you may be able to contact their publisher, who may know who controls the copyright on the book, or who gets royalty payments. That can lead you to the next link in the chain.
  • Otherwise, we hope to find the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or more distant relatives. Many people never dedicated their literary rights in a will, but they are assumed to fall to the heirs.

We use the genealogy site Ancestry.com and the digital newspaper site Newspaper.com, among other resources, to try to locate heirs. We look for the names of children in the available U.S. Census records, newspaper articles and obituaries, and other web-based resources. Obituaries are an invaluable resource because they update the names, especially of daughters who might have married, and in many cases provide the city or state where those survivors. We then use internet directories and phone books to try to locate current addresses.

Some people are easier to find than others. People with common surnames can be all but impossible, especially those who lived in large cities. When a person left no children, we try to go up the family tree. looking for a brother or sister, to find nephews, nieces, or cousins.  It is usually easier to locate famous people’s families — the chances are better of finding a long and detailed obituary.

We then write a letter, hoping that we have gotten the right person, and wait for a result. These letters are fun to receive, often enclosing a letter written by an ancestor to Jane Addams that opens up a new story a family’s history. Family members are often amazed and intrigued to know how we were able to find them.

Good faith efforts

We are allowed to publish without securing copyright if we make a good faith effort to locating the heirs. For us, this means following all leads that we can find, tracking all known children. One of the ways that we keep looking after we have exhausted all leads is to post the names of people we still seek on our website. The hope is that you might Google an ancestor and find the project’s site, even if we can’t find you!

If you think your (great) grandmother knew Jane Addams….

We are still searching for more Jane Addams letters. If your family history involves an late 19th or early 20th century social reformer, peace activist, or settlement worker, or if your family had roots in Chicago or worked for woman suffrage, we would love to hear from you. We can check to see whether we have any letters in the archives we have searched, and would be delighted to include any letters your family might still hold.

 

 

Addams Papers Joins SNAC

I am pleased to announce that the Jane Addams Papers will be joining the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Cooperative in its final phase of work. SNAC has been hosted by the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the University Library and funded by the National  Endowment for the Humanities (2010-2012) and the Andrew Mellon Foundation (2012-2017). The Cooperative seeks to improve the economy and quality of archival processing and description, and build a global social-document network using both computational methods and human curation.

I first came across the SNAC web portal when doing research for biographies for our digital edition. SNAC provides biographical information, links to archival collections, and to related people, families and organizations.

I decided that we would make SNAC one of our go-to resources for our biographies. We link all our biographies to the SNAC record to enable our researchers to locate an ever expanding list of resources on that person. SNAC imports data from finding aids, Wikipedia entries, and other sources. As we made links between our biographies and theirs, I started to wonder whether we might be able to contribute materials as well. I reached out to Daniel Pitti, the project director.

The Jane Addams Papers is not an archive, but an edition, and I wasn’t exactly certain how what we we would interact with SNAC. With only two years of work under our belts, we have identified over 4,500 individuals, who wrote letters to Jane Addams, received letters from her, or were mentioned in the documents. Our individuals range from historical figures, like Plato and Wat Tyler, to Chicago police George Shippy and John McWeeny. We have over 100 suffrage activists, including Catherine Karaveloff, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Zofia Golińska-Daszyńska. There are philosophers, criminals, homemakers, and union leaders, and over 200 social workers and welfare activists. About 60% of the names we have linked thus far are men and 40% are women.

The people who come up in Addams’  documents are primarily American, but we have increasing numbers associated with Europe and Asia as Addams broadened her reach and networks. The screen shot below of our map view of individuals will change as we deal with more of Addams’s international peace work.

 

We are looking forward to seeing how SNAC can work with data coming from our Omeka-based digital edition.  We will not be the only editing project joining at this time, the Walt Whitman Archive is also coming on board.

I will keep you posted as the work begins.

 

Maid Labor Without Restitution

Since the Middle Ages, female servants referred to as maids have been serving Masters of prestigious wealth and status.  In the past, maidens, who were young, unmarried women, had to dedicate service to their Masters for life and did not marry; these women did not expect wages as long as they received food, clothing, and a home to sleep in.  As the working and living conditions of house maids have evolved, these domestic workers now have families of their own to serve.  Women needed to earn enough to put food on the table or pay that month’s rent.  Forming a lasting union where housekeepers can advocate for good pay, fair hours, and reasonable employers was often a figment of the imagination in the past and even now.  House maids are still victims of long work hours with underpay.

Ellen Henrotin

Ellen Martin Henrotin, an active social reformer, tried to unite servant girls in 1901, believing that a union would provide better conditions for not only maids but also their employers as well.  Jane Addams supported this movement and agreed that maids should come to know each other through organization. In fact, Addams advocated that maids should have another home to return to at night where they could be surrounded by friends. She told this story,

“I have just received a letter from a clever young woman I know, telling me that she wanted to attend a university this fall and get a Ph. D. She would be glad to do housework as a means to the Ph. D. end, but she could not live with the family by whom she would be employed.”

However, the lack of strategy in organizing these domestic workers is why maids have not yet earned a national union today.  Each maid’s needs and working conditions are diverse, and it’s difficult for them to band together for a specific, common goal.  Housekeeping does not have a formal hiring process because job opportunities come by word-of-mouth, and wages are set verbally.

Mexico saw progress when The National Union of Domestic Workers applied for recognition in 2015.  The group targeted assistance toward victims of discrimination and violence in their employer’s homes.  Yet, exclusion of groups from unions does not bring justice to everyone and leaves women angry.

Jane Addams, circa 1900

When Sophie Becker organized the Working Women’s Association of North America in 1901, scrub women and laundresses were angry for not being asked to join. They cried, “I am just as good as you are.”

While maids have yet to band together for a national union, it is still important for women to fight for fair working conditions.  As Jane Addams wrote,

“The number is increasing of those optimists in this country who are prone to say that everything is right and will come out right in the end. But we who are working for the improvement of the condition of wage-earners, are inclined to think that the conditions of women need improvement and that their condition will be bettered only as we concentrate intelligent thought upon the subject and are active toward that end.”

Sources: Jennings, Karla. “The History of Maids.” Hankering for History, 12 Aug. 2013, http://hankeringforhistory.com/the-history-of-maids/. Accessed 22 Aug. 2017; “In Trouble Already.” The Topeka Daily Capital, 25 Aug. 1901, p. 11; “Union as Aid to Maid.” The Inter Ocean, 23 Aug. 1901, p. 2; “Women Will Organize Women Wage Earners.” Oakland Tribune, March 27, 1905, p. 7.

Looking for a German translator

Else Münsterberg to Jane Addams, 1912.

As we head into the World War I years, Jane Addams’ life and her letters go international!

We are looking for someone familiar with German and early 20th century handwriting to work on a document-by-document basis translating German-language documents. At present we have only a handful, letters by women activists like Else Münsterberg of Berlin and Rosa Manus of the Netherlands, and short pamphlets enclosed in Addams’ incoming letters. But we anticipate adding more over the next few years.

If you are interested, please contact Cathy Moran Hajo (chajo at ramapo.edu) to discuss the work.