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.
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.
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.
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…”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
This is the last in Sara Catherine Lichon’s series of blog posts about interesting characters that she came across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.
Life in law can often be exciting, especially when cases take a dramatic turn. For Francis Joseph Heney, a lawyer and politician from California, drama and excitement was part of the job — and sometimes his job even became a matter of life and death. Heney was known for many cases throughout his career, but he was most famous for killing an opposing plaintiff and for being shot in the head by a juror.
As a member of the National Committee of the Progressive Party, Heney’s name appeared numerous times in letters to and from Jane Addams that discussed the National Committee. Heney was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1912 and ran for U.S. Senator from California as a Progressive in 1914. Outside of politics, he was a lawyer in both Arizona and California, and owned a cattle business in Arizona with his brother. From 1893 to 1895 he was Attorney General of the Arizona Territory, and he also served as the U.S. District Attorney for the District of Oregon. Heney was a well-known lawyer, having worked as a prosecutor on famous cases such as the Oregon Land Fraud scandal, where U.S. government land grants were being obtained illegally by public officials, and the San Francisco gaft trials, where members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors were prosecuted for corruption.
In 1889, Heney defended Mary Ann Page Handy, the abused wife of Dr. John Christopher Handy, in a divorce case. Handy was known for being violent and aggressive, having abused his wife throughout their marriage, threatening to kill her when she wanted to file for divorce, and causing her to become addicted to morphine. In July 1889, Handy filed for divorce himself and sent their children to live with his mother. Handy threatened to kill anyone who dared to defend Mary, scaring away most attorneys. Originally, C. W. Wright was to defend Mary, and he asked Heney to assist him. After Heney agreed, Wright withdrew from the case, and Heney decided to do the same. After some reconsideration, though, Heney decided to defend Mary, despite the anger of Handy.
Throughout the case, Handy threatened Heney numerous times, even trying to run him over with his buggy. Ultimately, Handy won the case and received custody of the children, which Heney was quick to appeal, and a new case soon started – and the threats continued. On September 24, 1891, Handy attacked Heney outside his office, grabbing his neck and pinning him to a wall. It’s here where there are different accounts of what happened next; some newspapers say Heney broke free, ran, and drew a revolver, which Handy tried to grab. During the struggle, Heney shot Handy in the abdomen. Other papers say Heney shot Handy while running from him. After the encounter, Handy was taken to Dr. George Goodfellow for an operation but died during the procedure. Heney surrendered to the police but was bailed out by three of his friends. In a hearing two days later, the court ruled Heney acted in self-defense and he wasn’t charged.
This was not the end of Heney’s exciting cases. During the San Francisco graft prosecution, Heney pointed out that one juror, Morris Haas, was ineligible to be a juror because he was an ex-convict. Heney also believed that Haas was planted by political boss Abe Ruef, who was being prosecuted by Heney at that time. Angered and resentful, Haas came into the courtroom a few weeks later while the trial was in recess and shot Heney in the head. Haas was then arrested, but found dead in his cell shortly after, leading some to believe he had been killed by one of Ruef’s gangsters. Others thought he committed suicide. Heney was expected to die, but he survived the attack. The newspapers of the time reveal how loved Heney was by the public; The San Francisco Call had an entire page dedicated to the story, describing how three thousand people gathered at Oakland’s town hall in support of Heney and how President Theodore Roosevelt sent Heney’s wife a telegram of sympathy.
Heney continued to be involved in law and politics after these incidents, and lived a fulfilling life. In 1906, he married Rebecca Wentworth McMullin. She died in 1911. Heney married to Edna I. Van Winckle in 1915, who managed his U.S. Senate campaign. Heney died in 1937.
Heney’s work with the Progressive Party and in law have gone down in history, especially the stories of his near-death encounters. And he is yet another fascinating person who has appeared in Jane Addams’ papers!
Dexter Marshall. “Thrilling Chapters in Lives of Public Men.” The Washington Herald. April 19, 1908, p. 36.
“Hand to Hand.” Tombstone Epitaph. September 27, 1891.
C. Martin. “Territorial Divorce – as Turbulent as the Times.” Arizona Daily Star. November 12, 1972, p. 57.
Oliver Tatom, “Francis J. Heney (1859-1937),” The Oregon Encyclopedia.
“Roosevelt Wires Tribute to Heney: Messages of Sorrow from Friends Abroad: Leading Citizens of Country Praise Prosecutor.” The San Francisco Call. November 15, 1908, p. 23.
“When Francis J. Heney Shot His Man, Too.” The Des Moines Register. December 6, 1908, p. 10.
Dr. Lydia Allen DeVilbiss was a doctor and surgeon in Shelby, Ohio, who wrote Jane Addams a brief letter on August 10, 1912, commending her for her speech to the Progressive Party Convention. DeVilbiss was an active civic leader, serving as president of the Shelby Equal Franchise Association, president of the Richland county Woman’s Suffrage Association, secretary and treasurer of the Shelby Medical Society, president of the Anti-Tuberculosis Society, and medical director of the Better Babies Bureau of the Woman’s Home Companion. In addition, she was the first woman to become a member of the Shelby Socialist local. These accomplishments alone were newsworthy for a woman during the early 1900’s. But in 1912, DeVilbiss made the news for a very different reason; a dramatic divorce case that pushed her private life into the spotlight.
On Christmas day in 1906, Lydia married Albert K. Shauck, a professor and musician who was twenty years her senior. Early on, it appeared as though their life was going well; in 1907, for example, there was news of Albert opening a music school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the same building as his wife’s medical practice. But in November 1912, the News-Journal in Mansfield, Ohio reported that Lydia was suing for divorce. She accused Albert of having verbally abused her, using “foul, indecent and threatening language,” and slandering her reputation by spreading rumors. Lydia surmised that Albert treated her cruelly out of jealousy, as he also “materially interfered with her practice as a physician and surgeon.” Albert had also threatened Lydia’s life, she said, saying he would “take her life” and “circulate such slanderous stories about her” if she tried to leave him. Despite the threats, the couple had been separated for the six months before Lydia filed for divorce. When she made the decision to divorce Albert, she made arrangements to stay with her sisters in Fort Wayne and work as a drug saleswoman for Strong, Cobb & Company in Cleveland.
Shortly after this news broke, Albert came forward with his own accusations. The News-Journal reported in early December that Lydia “treated him [Albert] worse than a dog,” subjecting him to verbal and physical abuse. He claimed that while he never abused Lydia or threatened her life, she had done so to him; in a statement made to the press, Albert presented a record of threats Lydia had made against him, which included “I wish someone would kill you” and “I wish there was no law against killing. I would just like to kill you.” Albert also alleged that Lydia once threw a butcher knife at him, smashed a bottle against his head, and broke his finger. He also complained of how, due to Lydia’s work, most of the housework fell to him.
The dramatic news coverage of the divorce case did not end there. Only about two weeks later, Albert refused to eat, and his health rapidly declined. He was sent to the Marion, Ohio sanitarium, and Lydia collected money due to him in order to pay for his treatment.
No news appeared on the Shaucks until one year later, when, in December 1913, Lydia dropped the divorce case. The case was dismissed without prejudice, but not because the couple had reconciled; rather, the courts believed that Lydia’s suit was not strong enough to warrant a divorce. Lydia chose to remain in Fort Wayne rather than return to Shelby. That was the last time the Shaucks’ marriage appeared in the news, but by 1920, Lydia and Albert were divorced.
After the divorce, Lydia moved to Miami, Florida, where she opened the Mothers Health Clinic in 1928. There, she conducted research on birth control and came up with inexpensive soap-based spermicidal jellies to be used with a sponge. However, Lydia believed only educated women could understand these methods. She practiced sterilization on those she deemed less intelligent. Most of the sterilized patients were African-American women who may have been forced or mislead into having the procedure. DeVilbiss initially supported the work of African American physicians who opened a black branch of the Mothers Health Clinic, but after disagreeing with their methods, she shut them down.
All that is known of Lydia’s private life after her divorce is that by 1930, she married to Dr. George Bradford. She died in Florida in 1964. We will never know the details of the Shaucks’ private lives, nor whose account held the most truth. For now, we are left with newspaper articles as the main glimpse into the life of Lydia Allen DeVilbiss, and what may have happened behind closed doors.
Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.
Cathy Moran Hajo, Birth Control on Main Street: Organizing Clinics in the United States, 1916-1939 (2010), pp. 70-71, 117.
Esther Katz, Peter C. Engelman, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Amy Flanders, eds. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger: Volume 2: Birth Control Comes of Age, 1928-1939 (2006), pp. 230-1.
Albert K. Shauck, 1920 United States Federal Census.
“Dr. Shauck is Now Medical Director of Magazine’s ‘Better Babies’ Bureau,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), January 16, 1914, p. 7.
Lydia DeVilbiss Bradford, 1930 United States Federal Census.
Lydia D Shauck, 1910 United States Federal Census.
“A New Conservatory,” The Monroeville Breeze, August 15, 1907, p. 8.
“Professor was a Good Dodger,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 2, 1912, p. 5.
“Refuses to Eat,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 18, 1912, p. 9.
“Shauck Case is Dismissed,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 13, 1913, p. 8.
“Suffragette Asks Divorce,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), November 29, 1912, p. 5.
Working as a research assistant at the Jane Addams Papers is enjoyable for many reasons. That being said, something particularly rewarding about my job is when the people I research unfold in ways I did not initially suspect they would.
Because I write biographies, I am required to find the birth and death dates of correspondents and other people mentioned in Jane Addams’s letters and documents. After I scour census records, I use old newspapers that have been digitized, in addition to other research databases, to find out more information about the person I am writing about. Several times my research has led to my digging through the lives of completely fascinating people who have been (seemingly) forgotten.
A particularly memorable instance of this happening was when I did research on Anson Phelps Stokes. The Phelps Stokeses were a wealthy, well-known New York City family during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The same week I was assigned to write Anson Phelps Stokes’s biography at JAPP, my art history class happened to be studying a portrait done on his son, Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, and his daughter-in-law, Edith Phelps Stokes, by the painter John Singer Sargent.
Imagine that! My art history major finally coming full circle!
I knew a little about the Phelps Stokes family prior to diving into their lives at the Jane Addams Papers. What I did know was that John Singer Sargent did a fantastic job of depicting the flush in their faces and the hint of New York City money and culture in their clothing.
What I didn’t know was that Anson Phelps Stokes was an incredible archivist of his own life; this man described even the mundane things he experienced in a personal journal that I was able to access on the internet. The careful cataloging of his travels reveals so much about the world as it was. My favorite excerpt being from a summer trip through Europe, in which he describes his decision against visiting Prague, as there was a terrible outbreak of cholera in the city at the time.
Admittedly I spent a little too long perusing Anson Phelps Stokes’s journal, but I could barely help it. It was fascinating and gave me an insight into events that I knew very little about- something that is an important facet of historical research.
So while some of the people I write biographies about are impossible to track down, others are a goldmine of information that I could never really imagine.
That is my favorite part about working at the Jane Addams Papers Project.
The kind of work I’m doing at JAPP is hands on, because I’ve always been interested in working with primary sources and looking at artifacts. This summer, when I started working in the office, I was assigned to search newspaper and find transcriptions of Addams’s speeches. For the first time in my college career, I learned and really enjoyed my summer job. I was pouring through months of newspapers that praised, condemned, and even mundanely wrote about Addams in all forms. It really gave me a different perspective about American history and culture, especially the roots of the suffragist movement as written about in Addams’s speeches. The highlight of my findings was when she was given an honorary Masters of Arts at Yale University’s graduation. The preceding newspaper articles from all over the country were about Addams being the first woman to speak at Yale. Looking back at my summer, I really grew to know and love Addams and all that she worked hard for.
At the end of the summer, and the first few weeks of the Fall 2017 semester, I started looking at letters and logging correspondence between Addams and all her connections; whether it was Dr. Aletta Jacobs, or her family members. The letters ranged from pre-Hull House to her death in 1936. From looking at letters and newspapers, I am now searching through other libraries and archives for more correspondence with Addams. The research that I’m doing really ignites my passion to continue doing research after my time at Ramapo and the Jane Addams Papers Project; I would like to go to graduate school for Library Studies.
At school, I am the president of Ramapo Pride, the school’s LGBT+ club on campus, and am involved with Hillel and other social justice clubs. I’ve wanted to be in the history program here because I have been involved with history all my life, being the historian of my small family, as well as excelling in history in my formative years. I enjoy drawing, laying in bed, making playlists, and listening to music. My favorite era’s to read about is Edwardian and Victorian eras, focusing specifically on fashion and entertainment at the time.
I’m a senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey, double majoring in psychology and literature with a concentration in creative writing. I transcribe documents as well as add in the new documents. A lot of the documents that I find while working are actually really interesting and fun to read, showing the full span of the types of people that Jane Addams was in contact with and communicating with. One document that made me laugh was an article from June 25, 1914, that read more like a long joke than an actual published article, but was in fact a story told by Jane when comparing criticisms about women’s right to vote with other problems that men seem to have. As is written in the article, “A tourist one Saturday evening in Glasglow entered a saloon for a lemonade and saw in huge letters behind the bar, ‘Remember the Sabbath.’
“Quaffling his lemonade, the tourist told the landlord that it gave him very great pleasure to see a man of his profession show such becoming reverence to the day of rest.
“‘Oh,’ said the landlord, ‘that ain’t my reason for putting that there sign up there. The idea is to remind my customers of the Sunday closing law, so’s they’ll bring their flasks to be filled on Saturday night.'”
Another that I liked was from A Peace Movement written by Philip Zenner on May 1, 1915, where he makes great points about people and their outlooks on the world and how much perspective can affect opinions. What he says in this document is, to me, a timeless lesson that people can still learn now which is why I remembered it after reading it. It is about men and war, and how some men are saying that they want Germany destroyed and the men to die and suffer, including their leader. Zenner writes, “ I often thought when speaking to some of these men that if they were on the other side, on the firing line, and felt the pressure of this fearful war in their own person, or in that of their families, they might have the same deep feeling, the same bitter hatred, but they would be very much more anxious for peace than they are now. It is much safer and more pleasant to stand and watch while others do the fighting.”
As someone that has been studying history for some time now, I find that working for the Jane Addams Papers Project as a student editorial assistant is a great opportunity. It allows me to both learn more about a time period of history that I was at first not really familiar with and use my history degree in a professional environment. I have always wanted to work for a history research project, and now I have the great pleasure to work for one.
At the project, I do initial research on Addams’s unpublished and published work and speeches. For the initial research, I look at the original microfilm scans of said documents and begin to enter them into our database. I ensure that the document is correctly entered by the date it was published or the speech was given, as well as make sure all the names of people and organizations are entered into the database, if not already there. The interesting part about this task at the project is that I get to research old newspaper articles to find out who these people and organizations that Addams mentions are. I really get the chance to use all the research training I learned while studying history. This part of my job gives me a chance to really understand and learn more about some of the important events and movements that Jane Addams was a part of. Doing the research on all these people and organizations from the past can be really interesting; the things that I get to learn about them is just fascinating. Sometimes they are kind of funny.
There is one instance when I was looking up information on one of the popes that Jane talks about in one of her speeches. At first I did not know it was a pope I was looking up; the only name I had to go with was “Pionono,” which was his nickname at the time. The interesting thing about this was that there is a popular pastry with the same name. For, what I think was ten minutes, I was searching around Google trying to find out who this person was, and every search the top result and the first couple of pages was this pastry! I was very confused by this; Jane couldn’t have been talking about a pastry in this speech! Confused by only finding pastries, I decided to click on one of the links about this and found out that it was named after Pope Pius IX. It was at that moment that I knew I found the right person; Jane was clearly talking about a pope in context to what she was referencing.
This is just one of the funny moments that happens when trying to find people that Addams talks and writes about. I wouldn’t have known who she was talking about, people at the time would have. I get to learn more things about a time period that I didn’t know about. Though I still don’t know why there is a pastry named after a pope.
When I first heard the Jane Addams Papers Project had come to Ramapo, I was beginning my sophomore year. I had just been thinking about research opportunities for history majors, so it seemed almost like fate when I saw posters around campus advertising for the JAPP interest meeting. Next thing I knew, I was part of the JAPP team as a research assistant and still am part of it as I begin my senior year.
I’ve always had a passion for research and the past, so I knew when I enrolled at Ramapo that I wanted to be a history major. As I advanced in my academic career, I added a minor in international studies, developing an interest in how the past has led to current events. For both my history and international studies classes, I’ve researched international current events and the history behind them, and as a member of Ramapo’s Honors Program, I’ve attended numerous regional and national conferences to present my research. This past June, I published a paper titled “Identity Crisis: How the Outcome of the Cold War affects our Understanding of the Crisis in Ukraine” in the undergraduate research journal The Augsburg Honors Review. Currently, I am working on my Honors senior thesis, focusing on Scotland’s reaction to Brexit and how the historic relationship between Scotland and the United Kingdom contributed to this reaction. To gain a better understanding of Scotland’s culture and history, I studied abroad in Edinburgh over the summer, taking a Scottish History course and exploring the country from the cities in the Lowlands to the small towns in the Highlands. I even climbed Ben Vrackie, a mountain 2,759 feet above sea level, and visited Loch Ness during my travels!
As a lover of research, when I heard about the JAPP, I was immediately drawn to it. I began at the project by transcribing documents but soon realized that I preferred to research the people who made appearances in Jane Addams’s life – and I’ve been researching them ever since! I love uncovering the stories of their lives, and I especially love the challenge of digging for information on people who weren’t well-known. It’s very exciting when I can find information, and I feel like a detective! Sometimes I come across people with fascinating lives; recently I just wrote the bio for actress Mary Miles Minter, who was a suspect in the unsolved murder of her lover in 1922. I have even found myself writing the bios of people I’ve come across before, such as Victor Moore, an actor who starred in one of my favorite movies, It Happened on 5th Avenue. The stories of those who came before us are something that I can never get enough of, and at the JAPP I’m able to gather and share the stories of so many people, writing them into a narrative that will be accessible for years to come.
Outside of history and international studies, I have a passion for music, theater, and the arts. I sing, play ukulele, and am a member and business manager of Orchidstra, a barbershop quartet. I am also a Global Roadrunner, a member of Ramapo’s French Club, and in Phi Alpha Theta (history honors society), Sigma Iota Rho (international studies honors society), and Alpha Lambda Delta (first-year honors society). In addition, I enjoy photography, hiking, and spending time in the great outdoors. I spent two summers interning at the Washington Township (Morris County) Municipal Building, and after graduation, I plan to pursue a career in government. But while still at Ramapo, I continue to research and write the stories of various historic people, and I am loving my role on the JAPP team.