“From Hull-House to Herland”: Lorraine Krall McCrary’s Guest Blog Post

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Library of Congress)

I had the pleasure of asking Lorraine Krall McCrary about her new article “From Hull-House to Herland: Engaged and Extended Care in Jane Addams and Charlotte Perkins Gilman,” (Politics & Gender, August 2018, 1-21). She examines the writings and activities of Jane Addams and Charlotte Perkins Gliman and how the two activists’ opinions on the roles women have in politics, society, and family differed. Here’s what she had to say:

Jane Addams and Charlotte Perkins Gilman (author of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” among many other writings) were exact contemporaries; they were both born in 1860 and died in 1935. Both worked on issues related to women and social reform and their efforts overlapped. They  were both involved with the beginning of the women’s peace movement, worked on the feminist magazine The Woman’s Journal, and were active in the American Sociological Society from its founding (Gilman 1997). Their work in sociology and on feminist projects brought them together—Gilman stayed at Hull-House for several months in 1895, and her visit to Hull-House influenced her fictional utopias.

While they shared common goals, they also had differences in their approach. For example, Gilman’s was on all of humanity, rather than only on those who were poor. Moreover, she struggled with some practical aspects of common life, such as with a roommate at Hull-House over how far to leave the windows open.

In “From Hull-House to Herland: Engaged and Extended Care in Jane Addams and Charlotte Perkins Gilman,” I theorize beneficial and harmful forms of care based on the writings of Addams and Gilman and by probing the differences between them.

Jane Addams reads to children at Hull House. ( Jane Addams Memorial Collection, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Addams’s writings, as well as her own practice of care at Hull-House, outline a care that is engaged—it is personal and relational, concerned with circumstances and people. Addams says these relationships of care should push us into society and politics. In the modern world, we are forced to work together to solve domestic problems. This is true even of the way that Addams writes—she weaves the stories of others into her writing, highlighting specific events and voices that might not otherwise be heard. I argue that this use of stories when used for political ends can take the particularity of care too far; stories used to make a point can imply that there is one appropriate solution to a political problem, and that to think otherwise would make you cruel and heartless.

Gilman, on the other hand, is more focused on a universal care. Equally distributed, for instance, in utopian form among the inhabitants of Herland, a country entirely comprised of women. Gilman’s use of stories is different, too. Rather than using the stories of others, as Addams does, Gilman uses her fictional utopias as experiments in lives lived otherwise; they are contributions to a philosophical conversation about the best life.

By putting Addams and Gilman into dialogue with one another, a conception of care and its limitations emerges. A beneficial form of care is engaged with people and circumstances first and is then connected to the world beyond these; engaged, particular care should be leveraged to promote political care, as Addams teaches. However, care ought not coerce its recipients, but rather, cultivate their agency. Moreover, political care needs to preserve space for rational decisions that are not solely guided by emotional stories, such as those we hear at the State of the Union, as Gilman reveals. Finally, politics has more concerns than only care—it ought to retain commitments to freedom and democracy, in addition to a degree of philosophical detachment.


Works Cited 

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. 1997. With her in ourland: Sequel to Herland, ed. Mary Jo Deegan  and Michael R. Hill. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Lorraine Krall McCrary is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wabash College and a political theorist, writing on the intersection between ethics of care feminism and disability studies, in addition to the relationship between the family and politics. She often draws on literature in her research.


Progressin’: My Experience Working for the Jane Addams Papers Project

by Paige Drews, Susquehanna University

Jane Addams, ca. 1890.

What is the one word every college student is guaranteed to hear during their summer break? Internship.  Everyone wants to know the details: what does your day look like? Do you like your boss? Did you get anyone their coffee or copy papers? No two experiences are the same, but if they’re lucky, that student learns new skills and tools, gains valuable insight from colleagues and even has a little fun.  Through my internship with the Jane Addams Papers project at Ramapo College, I can proudly say that I was fortunate enough to accomplish all of these things and more. Here is a first-hand look inside my internship at Ramapo.

Part of the Team:

My day starts off by checking through a list of to-do’s and figuring out what I want to work on first. As a part of the Education team, I worked with three other talented individuals to create usable lesson plans, history guides and activities that connect with humanitarian Jane Addams and the documents she left behind.  We dove into her vast collection of letters, speeches and research and pulled out pieces that we thought students would resonate with. Frequently, the four of us discussed ideas either in person, through a group text or through our weekly Skype meeting. Once we had these specific documents in place, we built plans around them and asked ourselves questions: how could we explain Addams’s ideas for a modern audience? What activities would be beneficial? Did we have additional media resources on Addams? We answered all of these questions and more as we worked.  When our work was finished, we were left with tools full of information that teachers could access for free no matter where they were.

As fun and interesting as making the lesson plans was, sometimes I felt I needed to switch gears and find a different project to work on.  There had to be some other ways to learn about Jane Addams besides just having these plans. Then it hit me: why not write a rap? I have long been a big fan of Epic Rap Battles of History, a series of fun and educational raps made by YouTubers Nice Peter and EpicLLOYD.  The way they were able to use clever wordplay and music, while also teaching something to their listeners, has always inspired me. What better way was there than bringing Jane Addams to life through a rap?

Working with the Education team had brought me a few scattered pockets of Addams’s long and fascinating life, but I needed more.  I looked back through documents on the Jane Addams Digital Edition (see below), to find key events that shaped her. Finding notes from her book Twenty Years at Hull House, I gained new insights: how her father’s work as a senator instilled moral fiber in her, how her hero was Abraham Lincoln and how seeing urban poverty was her inspiration for change.  The more I read, the more pieces I had for my rap and the deeper my appreciation for her grew. I connected these pieces together in one big story, Hamilton-style and found a free backing track on Youtube to give it a more professional feeling.  After everything was finished, I walked away with two things: a fun and engaging rap and a feeling of accomplishment for trying something outside the box.  

Progressin’: A Jane Addams Rap, by Paige Drews

Using the Jane Addams Digital Edition:

Of course, none of the work I did on my internship would have been possible without the Jane Addams Digital Edition.  Serving as our project’s main database, it currently houses nearly 4,000 documents written by or to Jane Addams between 1901 and 1915.  Eventually, the Project hopes to have documents up to 1935 transcribed and available, providing a window into the less-studied final years of Addams’s life.  In addition to these documents, the site also provides mini biographies on key figures connected to Addams, all the lesson plans and history guides written by the Education team and even a funny guide on how to read Addams’s unique (i.e.: hard-to-read) handwriting.  Everywhere you go on the site, you can see the dedication the members had to helping people understand this fascinating woman.

Unfortunately, navigating the website is not as easy.  As soon as you boot up the homepage, you notice a score of different tabs, each a different way to search up information about Jane Addams and the times she lived in.  In theory, this is a great idea as it gives you parameters to guide your search, but it has some information holes that lead to some unnecessary hoop-jumping. Take the Organization tab.  When you click on it, it brings you to an eye-catching page listing different historical organizations: a great start. If you select a particular organization, though, you are often met with a note on when that organization was active and little else.  This means that in order to figure out the significance of the group, you have to leave the site, which makes research less efficient. There are some marks on the bottom that can lead you to documents mentioning the organization, but only some organizations have these pathways.  These minor problems are easily correctable by supplementing in additional information and forging more connections to Addams’s documents, but by no means do they hamper the good qualities of the site. It is still a valuable tool for historical analysis and finding of primary source documents about Jane Addams, saving students and teachers valuable time and money.  

A Final Word:

I cannot be more thankful for the experience I had this summer as part of the Jane Addams Papers Project.  Not only did I get to learn about this fascinating humanitarian and leader, but I also collaborated with other educators, used up-and-coming research tools and even created some fun music.  These are all valuable skills that are difficult to obtain all in one setting, which is exactly why we have internships. Through our work, we students learn from those around us, taking note as they pass down their knowledge.  We get a chance to experiment with our peers giving feedback. We learn to work in harmony with our colleagues. If we put all of these aspects together, we have an experience that is truly inspirational and one that every young person should have.  

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Paige Drews interned with the Jane Addams Papers in June and July of 2018. In addition to working on her rap, she also wrote a lesson plan, and a guide to National History Day theme: The Individual in History

Jane Addams, Alice Austen, and Virginia Woolf

Mary Rozet Smith and Jane Addams.

This blog is a short exploration into the realm of female love and partnership within the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. Jane Addams and Alice Austen, two women of notable character during this era, provided the main case studies for this research

This blog examines the success of these women and how female love was essential in their ability to develop as independent voices in the politics of society. The female relationships of both Jane Addams and Alice Austen were what allowed for them to have a “room of one’s own,” an otherwise unlikely reality if Addams and Austen had submitted to the conventional expectation of a heterosexual marriage and family.

Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois, on September 6, 1860. Alice Austen was born less than one thousand miles away in Staten Island, New York, on March 17, 1866. Though these women most likely never met within their lifetime, they shared common life choices that carried them both beyond the confines of their home. Addams was of the first graduating class at the Rockford Seminary College, in which she spoke as valedictorian during their 1881 graduation ceremony. She was also well traveled, having gone with her stepmother to Europe after college and again in 1888. It was in Europe that Addams would become inspired by the London settlement house, Toynbee Hall. Alice Austen was a traveler herself. She and her own mother journeyed to Europe in 1893, as well as traveling within the States.

Jane Addams was a major figure in the reform movements of child labor, peace, women’s suffrage, and immigration that shook society during the turn of the twentieth century. Austen, though a lesser-known figure of history, was integral to the professionalization and documentary discipline of one of the newest inventions, the camera. Alice Austen had a mechanic’s mind and so when given this new instrument experimentation was only natural. One of these experiments was the use of a trigger system to allow her to get in the photo while simultaneously taking the picture. Using a thread attached to the camera, Austen could pull on it from her position in front of the lens to capture an image. Today, that seems like quite an easy feat, but the camera in the 1880s was a very new product and so the idea that one could be both the subject and photographer was certainly innovative. Austen also added another element to her work through the manipulation of the camera, in which she communicated her questioning reality of gender and sexuality.

Briefly, it is important to note that the lives of Addams and Austen do not represent all women of the time frame because elements of social class, race, and varying educational levels rendered their experiences quite distinct from say women of color and poverty. In terms of the wealthy family though, men were the income providers, so in focusing exclusively on the position of class for the women of these families it becomes again a man’s story; if not for the male’s wealth the female dependents would never have been able to do such and such. Though true that wealth provided the opportunity, it did not, however, require anything of the woman to act on those opportunities; that was all her own.

Where then in this society could women be themselves? The answer is with other women.

Portrait of Mary Rozet Smith at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

For over thirty-five years Jane Addams maintained a special relationship with a woman named, Mary Rozet Smith. Their relationship does not fit within the parameters of modern ideas of sexuality because terms like “lesbian” or “gay” did not yet exist. Their correspondence of nearly four decades provided an opportunity to understand their bond for what it was, one based on love. The choice to live together and remain unmarried was meaningful given the pressure society held for marriage and children. A 1915 Kentucky newspaper, The Courier Journal, lamented the loss of future George Washingtons, Jeffersons, Lincolns, and Edisons when women like Jane Addams remained celibate. The writer concluded that though the “cocksuredness of the consciously intellectual woman,” might give her the impression that “ no mere man whom she might become the mother could serve the world as she can serve it. But she is bound to admit that but for their mothers there would have been no Jane Addams or Susan B. Anthony!” This article echoed the many concerns society had for women that were voluntarily unmarried and childless, which was often considered a consequence of their education. Women’s value was dependent on the child they bore, and more specifically the male child they would raise as upstanding citizens, or the future George Washington.

So how then might a connection exist between the female world and Virginia Woolf’s concept of “a room of one’s own?” Virginia Woolf theorized the very life a woman of talent would lead if born with the same brilliance as Shakespeare himself. Woolf named this woman as Shakespeare’s fictive sister, Judith, and placed her within the same household and therefore same potential as Shakespeare.

Judith’s stages of life went as followed: denied schooling, beaten by her father for rejecting marriage to a wood-stapler, laughed at the theater door for her desire to act, but pitiable enough for the theater manager to take her in and grow not her skill with words but a child in her. No outlet, no space, and no room to write or release the overwhelming nature of her mind, Judith killed herself. Woolf contended that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Though for the purpose of this essay, the phrase, “to write fiction,” can be substituted with other disciplines of art, science, and social thought while still remaining applicable to Woolf’s argument. If written as a checklist, a check could be placed in the box next to “have money” since both Addams and Austen were born financially comfortable. It becomes more complicated when considering “a room of her own.”

Jane Addams’ room was not just a room, but instead an entire house, known as Hull House. It was here, on 800 South Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois, that Addams wrote. She wrote letters, books, speeches, indictments against child labor, recommendations on peace, and much more. Her rooms became rooms for other women, many female college graduates like herself, that faced the similar predicament of what to do after graduating, unable to choose both a family and career. It was in these rooms, Florence Kelley, Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, and other Hull House residents researched and published, Hull House Maps and Papers. This was an important early analysis on the sociological relations between income and nationality in the diverse but poverty-stricken-immigrant neighborhood of Chicago. It was in these rooms also that Addams housed a nursery for immigrant working families, a dance space, summer school, health facility, reading room, and temporary residence for young women.

Addams also had what Judith was never allowed, acknowledgment for the thoughts of her mind. Mary Rozet Smith provided a “room,” or a place of recognition for Addams to write to and express her own gift for words. Addams could write knowing it would be read and replied to. On June 11th, 1909, Addams rejoiced upon receiving Smith’s letter and responded back, “Your letter this morning cheered me mightily — not exactly because it was so cheerful as because I was overjoyed to get a word from you…”

A portrait of Alice Austen, 1892.

From her own room, the dark room, Alice Austen developed thousands of photographs she had taken while abroad or from habitual visits to New York City. Around twenty-six years of age, Alice Austen took what today would be termed a “selfie.” Dressed in a ruffled, wide, scooped neck gown, Alice Austen reclined slightly against a backdrop of ferns and other foliage. She appeared at once part of and at odds with her surroundings. Her clean, pale, elbow length gloves conflicted with the rough and shadowy greenery behind her. Austen maintained a composed or even stern expression as she directed her gaze at the camera. Without context, this photo may seem a nice portrait of a young lady enjoying her surroundings. Though knowing some of her story, several theories were drawn. The most immediate subject of interest when seeing the image was Austen’s evening dress, which seemed to glare out awkwardly and yet proudly from the surrounding shrubbery. The leaves almost served as a natural curtain or symbolized a feeling of not quite fitting into the social order of society, which was often perceived as natural. The juxtaposition of the literal stuff of nature, leaves and trees and dirt, beside a societal idea of natural, a corseted dress, posed a comedic and yet insightful critique to what truly defined “natural.”

A portrait of Gertrude Tate at Clear Comfort, Alice Austen’s Staten Island home, 1892.

Following this line of thought, societal perception of “natural” might also be challenged when considering this photo in relation to one quite similar of Gertrude Tate. Taken in the same year, 1892, Gertrude Tate rested in front of the familiar backdrop of leaves and foliage. Tate also wore a long pale gown and stared straight at the camera. Alone, these photos may seem like portraits, but together they appeared more significant. The long gowns, no longer seemed like evening costumes but instead wedding dresses. Austen appeared to have played on the expectations of the viewers with the use of the gowns as implications of marriage. Austen forced the question of why was marriage a natural assumption when seeing a gown, and how would this be any less natural then if two women were married?

It could be argued that comparing Virginia Woolf’s story of Judith cannot be fairly matched to the story of Jane Addams and Alice Austen. There is a gap of over three hundred years between Judith’s fictive sixteenth century life and Addams and Austen’s nineteenth century reality. The fact, however, that Judith’s struggles as a woman were of equal concern over three hundred years later attested to a much more rooted problem in society. Virginia Woolf published her book in 1929, a time in which she herself could not enter an academic library unless accompanied by a man. The ability for women like Jane Addams and Alice Austen to not only exist, but also live up to a potential unfathomable less than half a century before indicated progress.

The avenues women could succeed in were still regulated though. It was only under the auspices of motherhood or female morality that women could justify their presence outside the home. The newspapers of the day held a particular interest in rationalizing the role of these “spinsters” or “old maids,” in the public sphere. Women, themselves, wielded their identity as mothers and wives to validate their direct action and organizing for work in child labor reform or temperance. The Oakland Tribune featured a mother who argued the “most splendid mothers in our land today are old maids. Jane Addams is one.” Even unmarried and in a same-sex relationship Jane Addams was still a woman and therefore a mother. It is interesting to consider Jane Addams’ identity as both a mother and a woman who never had children. Addams relied on her identity as a mother for all children in order to be of political action and yet her very “spinsterhood,” conversely, was what enabled Addams to be this universal mother figure. Whether Addams was celibate or not makes no difference nor is it really anyone’s business, but rather it was her love and commitment to be with another woman that provided “room” for her to then grow beyond those four walls.

Sources:  Mary Rozet Smith and Jane Addams photograph, 1896, Swarthmore Peace Collection. Accessed October 4, 2018; “Addams, Jane (1860-1935).” Jane Addams Digital Edition. Accessed March 11, 2018; Addams, Jane. “Jane Addams to Mary Rozet Smith, June 11, 1909.” Jane Addams Digital Edition. Accessed April 5, 2018. ; Austen, Alice. Alice Austen Portrait. Alice Austen House. Accessed March 14, 2018. ; Austen, Alice. Gertrude Tate Portrait. Alice Austen House. Accessed March 10, 2018. ; Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own. Orlando: Harcourt Inc., 1929. Accessed March 20, 2018; Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll. “The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations between Women in Nineteenth-Century America.” Signs 1, no. 1 (1975): 1-29; “Here’s Praise for Spinsters: Club Member and Mother Says Mothers Are Not Above Criticism.” The Oakland Tribune. December 9, 1914; Gover, C. Jane. The Positive Image: Women Photographers in Turn of the Century America. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988; Freedman, Estelle B. “Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century America: Behavior, Ideology, and Politics.” Reviews in American History 10, no. 4 (1982): 196-215; “A Dozen Women.” The Courier-Journal. September 10, 1915.

Emma Lucier-Keller is an Editorial Assistant for the Jane Addams Papers Project. Lucier-Keller is double majoring in History and American Studies with a minor in Women and Gender Studies, and will graduate Spring of 2019.

Teaching with Jane Addams

By Renee DeLora

Over the last year, the Jane Addams Papers Project has been working on expanding audience participation by creating National History Day guides and lesson plans. This effort was funded by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. I worked with Christina Dwyer and Mike Romano, Ramapo College teacher education students who work at the Jane Addams Papers. We were eager to apply what we learned in our courses and at the project for use in our classrooms.

National History Guides

National History Day is a year long project that gives students the opportunity to research historical topics and format their research in the form of a website, documentary, exhibit, paper, or performance. Students compete in regional, state, and national competitions. Our team had never worked with National History Day before creating the guides, but having the opportunity to create materials for NHD has exposed us to all the great opportunities for students that come from this program.

Each guide focuses on a National History Day theme, which rotates year by year. For each theme, we selected topics on Jane Addams that best fit the theme. For example, the first guide we developed focused on the theme “Conflict and Compromise.” Our topics for that guide were Addams’ relationship with Theodore Roosevelt, woman suffrage, and child labor. We researched each topic, creating background information, selecting and highlighting primary and secondary sources, and creating links to searches in the Jane Addams Digital Edition to offer students a jumping off place to begin their research.

NHD Guide for 2019’s theme.

Each guide took about two months to create and revise. We started by brainstorming the different topics that fit each theme and selecting the best topics. Each guide has about four to six topics. To ensure that a topic is viable, we made sure that there were enough published primary sources in the Jane Addams Digital Edition, which limited us to 1901-1913. As more materials are published, we’ll amend the guides to add Addams’s efforts during World War I and her later work for peace and social justice. We also made sure that we could link high quality secondary sources. We also highlighted related Jane Addams topics for students to explore in each NHD theme.

We worked collaboratively, using Google Docs, and then transferred the guides to Omeka exhibits when they were ready to go.

Lesson plans

One of Lewis Hines’ photographs of child laborers.

Creating lesson plans based on Jane Addams materials has been an excellent opportunity. Because Addams was involved in almost every major social movement of the Progressive Era, the documents in the digital edition are key resources for teachers looking to add more primary sources to their curriculum. When we conceptualized lesson plans, we placed the documents at the center of each lesson and we encouraged teachers and students to use the digital edition. We wanted them to go beyond a simple analysis of documents and have teachers incorporate different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Because the Jane Addams Digital Edition does not have videos and photographs, we found videos and photographs to supplement the documents which made the lesson plans more interactive for students.

Looking for feedback

Try out our lesson plans and our guide to this year’s National History Day: Triumph and Tragedy.  Whether you are a student or a teacher, we would love to hear your feedback and have provided survey links at the end of each guide. If you would like to work more closely with the Jane Addams Papers Project on reviewing and improving the guides, please contact the editor, Cathy Moran Hajo, at chajo@ramapo.edu.

Renee DeLora was a editorial assistant at the Jane Addams Papers from 2015-2018. A history/teacher education major at Ramapo College, she graduated in 2017 and is currently teaching at Bloomfield Middle School.

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.