On November 22, 1927, the grand-niece of Jane Addams was married at her home in Girard, Kansas. Josephine Haldeman-Julius, the daughter of Marcet and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, was joined in a “companionate” union to Aubrey Clay Roselle. The couple’s marriage was a rather sudden one, given their decision to marry only solidified a few months prior. Even by early twentieth century standards in the United States, the couple was considered rather young to marry. Josephine Haldeman-Julius was only just completing her last year of high school, while Roselle was working on his second year at the University of Kansas.
1915 was a momentous year for women’s efforts for peace and suffrage. Jane Addams and others established the Women’s Peace Party (WPP), met at the International Congress for Women, formed the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace (ICWPP), (known today as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom [WILPF]), and held a massive Suffrage parade in New York City, N.Y. While they worked together for one ultimate goal — equality — they used a variety of methods, one of which was revisiting Ancient Greece.
I am delighted to announce that the Jane Addams Papers has received two federal grants, one from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and a two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. We are extremely grateful for this support!
These grants are critical to our work which centers on bringing Jane Addams’ story to the public. Our digital edition (https://digital.janeaddams.ramapo.edu/) provides free access to documents (letters, speeches, articles, and reports) along with resources that make them accessible to every American. Jane Addams (1860-1935), America’s preeminent social worker, peace activist and progressive philosopher, was an icon of her time — called by some “the most dangerous woman in America,” and by others “the world’s best-known and best-loved woman.”
One thing that sets the Jane Addams Papers apart from other projects is its reliance on undergraduate students to create its digital edition. Ramapo College students learn how to work in digital humanities by analyzing and entering data on each document, transcribing it, and researching the people, organizations, and events that are mentioned in it. With a grant from the New Jersey Humanities Council, teacher’s education students at Ramapo have also worked to build student and teacher resources using the digital edition. The unique hands-on experiences we provide make a difference as students look to joining the workforce or apply to graduate school.
A little over 100 years ago, the case of an infant allowed to die in a Chicago hospital captured the nation’s attention. Born on November 12, 1915, “Baby Bollinger” died five days later on November 17, after physician Harry Haiselden refused to operate to save his life. Haiselden made his decision because the child was born with deformities and he believed the the boy was was mentally and morally defective. He convinced the child’s mother, who said “the doctor told me it would be, perhaps, an imbecile, a criminal. Left to itself it has no chance to live. I consented to let nature take its course.” (Boston Globe, Nov. 17, 191
5, p. 1.) Haiselden’s controversial decision led to a heated debate in newspapers across the country.
The baby, John Bollinger, was the fourth child of Anna and Allen Bollinger of Chicago, was born with noticeable disabilities, such as a missing ear and a defect in sk
in development that made it appear that the baby had no neck. Operating on the baby might have saved his life, but Haiselden and other doctors were concerned that as a “defective” the life ahead for the family would be challenging, and that the child would be a burden to society.
When news of Haiselden’s decision became public, people began calling and begging the doctor and hospital to reconsider the decision. There were threats to kidnap the baby and take him to another hospital. Leaders weighed in on the issue, including Jane Addams. As a firm believer in equal rights for all, Addams was appalled by Haiselden’s decision. “A physician or hospital board has not the right to assume the prerogative to say that any person shall be killed, but is required by the highest moral law to save every life that possibly can be saved.” (Richmond Item. November 18, 1915.)
Addams offered a list of famous, notable, and historical people who suffered from disabilities (see full article). Helen Keller, John Milton, Lord Byron, and Robert Louis Stevenson were a few named on Addams’ list. Each had made great contributions to society; notwithstanding their disabilities.
Another critic was Dr. James Walsh, who wrote:
The physician has assumed the exercise of a power that is not his. Doctors have the care of life, not death. Physicians are educated to care for the health of their patients, but so far at least as I know we have no courses in our medical colleges as yet which teach how to judge when a patient’s life may be of no service to the community so as to let him or her die properly. Some of us physicians may thank God that we are not yet the licensed executioners of the unfit for the community, and some of us know how fallacious our judgments are even with regard to the few things we know (www.psychologytoday.com)
Haiselden’s critics made moral arguments, claiming that every person has a right to live and doctors must not play God and determine who lives or who dies, but should respect the lives of all patients and give them the best care and treatment. Many believed that the hospital had committed murder and demanded answers.
Some supported Haiselden’s decision, explaining that it was “a mercy to let babies with disabilities die rather than to allow them to experience a lifetime of ‘pain, shame, humiliation, and distress.'” Dr. William Rausch, Jr. from Albany, New York, was one supporter. He wrote that it was humane to “forget” to cut the cord of newborns with disabilities and let them hemorrhage. Even some parents of children with disabilities wrote in support, saying that death might have been better instead of subjecting their children to abuse in asylums, not knowing where to turn, or worrying about what would happen to their child after its parent’s died.
Helen Keller issued a statement that “a human life is sacred only when it may be of some use to itself and the world. The world is already flooded with unhappy, unhealthy, mentally sound people who should never have been born.” (Pittsburgh Press, November 28, 1915, p. 14.)
An autopsy was performed that vindicated Haiselden. On November 18 the coroner’s physician claimed that though the operation may have saved the child’s life, “the baby, if it had lived, would have been a paralytic and a cripple all its life.” Haiselden testi
fied before a jury of physicians charged with determining whether he should be prosecuted. He was not charged, though the jury censured him mildly. Haiselden was also tried by the Chicago Medical Society’s Ethics Board, for breaching ethics by publishing a book about the case and talking to newspapers during the events. He claimed that he received no monetary gain from the case, and that the “publicity the case had received had been of great benefit to the cause of eugenics.” In 1916, Haiselden was dropped as a member of the Society, but continued working as a physician on similar cases and speaking out for his point of view. In the same year Haiselden created and starred in a film entitled The Black Stork, which promoted euthanasia and continued commenting on the case and issue itself. The film was ridiculed and heavily criticized. A Billboard review said the film was, “a mere cataloguing of the pitiable mess of human dregs which is left, crawling, crippled and criminal, after the fire has burned out.”
Haiselden did not live to enjoy his fame. He died in 1919 of a cerebral hemmorhage. The mother of the child, Anna Bollinger, died in 1917 after two years of “settled melancholy” over the case.
For more on the case, see Elliot Hosman, The Short Life and Eugenic Death of Baby John Bollinger, Psychology Today, October 12, 2015.
The inspirational legacy and work Jane Addams left behind is no secret; from Hull House to social reform to woman’s suffrage, Addams’ was a revolutionary thinker for her time and a true inspiration for so many people, including artist George Giusti (1908-1990) who was inspired to take Addams’ vision of equality and bring it to life in one of his best regarded pieces of art.
Jane Addams was an advocate for social justice including inclusivity regardless of skin color. Addams’ wanted to give every person and equal opportunity shown through her lifelong effort to fight for social reform and offer all an equal opportunity for a better life in Hull House. After her passing, her work was still unfinished but she gave hope and opened the door for true equality for all.
Flash forward 20 years after Addams’ death, Italian-born artist, George Giusti, created his Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.”–Jane Addams, Speech, Honolulu, 1933. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man in 1955. Giusti wanted to avoid classical art and focus on a more modern and relevant effect, which shows through many of his pieces. Giusti’s works did not relate to the time period he created them in, giving them a futuristic effect that modern society still relates to.
So why did Giusti pick Addams’ quote for the title? Well, Addams was a known advocate for equality regardless of race. The drawing that Giusti created illustrates a sense of community, unity and equality, all goals to which Addams had dedicated her life. Her goals were not realized in her lifetime and by the 1950s were still plaguing American society. Racial tension in American society divided the nation, and Giusti was inspired to visualize Addams’ quote as a call for equality.
Despite years of advocating and pushing for change, social reform is still an issue in today’s society. Giusti’s drawing received numerous awards and recognition, while Addams’ work has lead her to be one of the most historical and influential figures of the 20th century. Her unfinished business still inspires thousands to this day, with no sign of slowing down.
Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.”–Jane Addams, Speech, Honolulu, 1933. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man. (Smithsonian American Art Museum.)
“George Giusti,” ADC Hall of Fame, 1979.
Dr. Liane Malinowski is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Marist College. Her research explores Hull House residents’ rhetoric as it relates to their planning of domestic and urban spaces. This post derives from her recently-completed dissertation titled Civic Domesticity: Rhetoric, Women, and Space at Hull House, 1889-1910. Find her on Twitter @lianemalinowski.
My recent research on Addams and her Hull House colleagues focuses on how they reimagined urban space through visual, verbal, and material means. I was particularly interested in how women at Hull House claimed the authority to speak and write about urban space to local and national audiences, especially in the late-nineteenth century when women were not conferred the status of citizen, and rhetorical convention discouraged women from speaking in public.
I was motivated to take up this project in part because I think of Addams as an important but understudied speaker, writer, and theorist of concepts important to rhetorical studies, such as democracy, ethics, and memory. After surveying published and archival sources, I found that Addams and colleagues were prolific producers of experimental and hybrid texts that drew from parlor rhetoric traditions, domestic literature, social science genres, and city planning discourses. The Jane Addams Papers Project was a wonderful resource for studying documents related to Addams, Hull House, other residents, and the interconnected web of social welfare organizations in Chicago and beyond.
Regarding Hull House residents’ rhetorics of urban space, I argue Addams, along with Ellen Gates Starr, Julia Lathrop, Florence Kelley and others represented city spaces at a variety of scales as cosmopolitan, or nationally-diverse. These spaces included their West Side neighborhood and Hull House itself. An obvious example of this kind of representation is Florence Kelley’s “Nationalities Map,” in the collaboratively-written Hull House Maps and Papers, in which she visually locates families of varying national backgrounds in Hull House’s neighborhood.
Not only did residents represent urban space as cosmopolitan in documents, they also curated cosmopolitan spaces for rhetorical purposes. For example, upon founding Hull House, Addams and Starr curated it to reflect a cosmopolitan aesthetic through its artwork and artisan-made furniture and wares. They were motivated to do this in order to establish common ground with their immigrant neighbors with whom they believed they shared an interest in European art, music, and literature.
Residents who represented spaces as cosmopolitan, however, did so with troubling political implications because they often spoke about and for their immigrant neighbors, and in so doing, flattened the specificity of their neighbors’ national identity in favor of emphasizing diversity. As part of this problematic history of claiming authority over cosmopolitan geographies, residents often extended their representations of urban space to include nationally-diverse people as objects of display. For example, in the early 20th century, Hull House residents curated a Labor Museum that displayed local immigrants performing artisan labor such as spinning textiles and weaving baskets. Residents also disseminated texts about the museum, such as the First Report of the Labor Museum in 1902. In this report, Addams argued that the Labor Museum presented an evolutionary narrative of work to audiences, and showed manual, pre-industrial labor as preceding industrial labor. She hoped younger people in the neighborhood would learn to appreciate their parents’ and grandparents’ artisan skills that were rendered obsolete by the industrial economy in Chicago. At the same time the museum performed this teaching function, I argue it also objectified immigrant artisans and their cultural artifacts by reinscribing older, neighborhood artisans as outside the contemporary moment by placing them and their labor prior to present industrial conditions. And, while Addams constructed herself as an authority over the entire museum and its message in the First Report of the Labor Museum, neighborhood women were figured as objects of display through photographs, captioned to suggest they are representatives of different kinds of foreign womanhood (the captions read “Italian Woman,” “Syrian Woman,” and “Irish Woman,” for example). Through the museum itself, and also texts such as the First Report, Addams and other residents participated in a trend of American women asserting their privilege to claim knowledge over foreign places and people as a way to join in public discourse about civic space and identity.
After researching Hull House residents’ representations of cosmopolitan spaces in the 1890s and 1900s, I appreciate there is still much to explore about Addams’ rhetoric, especially surrounding her theorizing of how culture and class identities play a role in enabling and constraining communication. Based on my research experiences, I would encourage others undertaking study of Addams’ rhetoric to look across the JAPP Microfilm Edition, the JAPP Digital Edition, and traditional archives dedicated to Addams and Hull House in libraries. Each of these resources is organized in different ways, which can help researchers make new connections between documents. For example, some of the traditional, library archives file documents organized by author name, whereas the JAPP Microfilm Edition is largely filed by the kind of text produced at Hull House (letters, meeting minutes, financial records, etc), and the JAPP Digital Edition gets even more specific because it tags documents by key terms. Triangulating my search for documents across these resources was incredibly generative for my reading of Addams’ rhetoric.
 To gain a sense of Hull House’s cosmopolitan aesthetic, see Nora Marks’s “Two Women’s Work: The Misses Addams and Starr Astonish the West Siders,” Chicago Tribune. 19 May 1890, or the photographs included in Hull House Maps and Papers.1895. Urbana: UI Press, 2007.
 Kristin Hoganson’s Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865-1920. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2007, helped me understand the broader contours of American women’s claims to cosmopolitan geographies.
The influence Jane Addams had on society is no secret; we still talk about her beliefs, achievements and historical footprint today. Jane Addams has done so much in her life that Dr. James Marquardt, Associate Professor of Politics and the Chair of International Relations Program at Lake Forest College, and his students have created an online timeline of her achievements. The timeline is called Jane Addams- Peace, War and World Order: A Web-based timeline.
The abstract of the timeline acknowledges her strides to improve the lives and living conditions for immigrants and the poor, but this timeline focuses more on her “peace advocacy,” during World War I. After looking over numerous primary and secondary sources Dr. Marquardt and his students have completed their timeline, successfully illustrating Jane Addams’ pacifist beliefs and opposition to international armament and war.
“I started digging into her primary writings on the war,” said Dr. Marquardt, “and I decided that I wanted to do this a little more elaborately so I offered a course called Jane Addams Peace Advocate. It mostly focused on her international peace advocacy before, during and after the war.”
After Lake Forest College received a grant for the school to develop digital pages and Chicago-related events, phenomena and historical developments in the humanities and social sciences, Dr. Marquardt then applied for a grant to build a page dedicated to Jane Addams peace advocacy and her historical significance, which he received and then began hiring students. Together they began studying, analyzing and building the Jane Addams – Peace, War and World Order timeline.
The timeline focuses mostly on Addams’ involvement in WWI and her opposition of the war, but Dr. Marquardt plans to continue to study Addams with the hopes of continuing to expand the timeline from her involvement in the Peace Movement with it ending when Addams received the Nobel Peace Prize. He plans on taking all of his knowledge about Addams and writing a book entitled “Jane Addams: The Great War and Her Quest to Transform National Relations.”
He’s not the only one who feels passionate about Addams; Dr. Marquardt explained that his students are very passionate about her as well. “They’re really into [the project]. Addams is such an inspirational figure that they’re a little too generous towards her, in terms of their writing and their public presentations that they’ve made about her.”
Since the timeline highlights Jane Addams’ peace advocacy I had to ask Dr. Marquardt to define peace advocacy in his own words.
“I would define it as actions, writings, ideas related to efforts to end war. That’s my thinking about it, but my students have a much more generous viewing of peace advocacy, they see peace as not simply something we ought to strive for in our international relations in our social relations generally.”
Dr. Marquardt has learned a lot from his students during this process. “Their understanding was that advocating for peace is not simply a global issue but an issue of interpersonal relations. It’s about the end of violence along racial lines, it’s about the end of violence against women, violence against children, hunger, deprivation, unemployment.” They share the same vision and beliefs that Jane Addams did and they carry on Addams’ beliefs and visions for a brighter future for everyone.
The website went live last week and for those interested in viewing Dr. Marquardt and his students work the link is here: http://digitalchicago.lakeforest.edu/exhibits/show/jane-addams/our-purpose.
Sometimes the pressures of life can make one want to run away and start over. Oftentimes people do not act on these feelings, but in 1923 one person did: Lewis E. Larson. A member of the Chicago Board of Education, Larson once sent Jane Addams a report on kindergarten membership in 1906. Nearly two decades later, Larson went missing for over three years, and was next found in Texas living an entirely different life.
Larson lived a simple life in Chicago, where he served as secretary for the Chicago Board of Education and business manager for Chicago public schools. He also worked as a real estate agent, treasurer of the Portage Rubber company, and general manager of Willoughby & Co. Larson married Mary Wildman in 1897, and they had two children together. When Larson sent Addams a report on kindergarten monthly membership throughout 1905 and 1906, nothing seemed awry. But by 1923, it was clear that Larson was not satisfied with his current life.
On March 7, 1923, Larson mysteriously disappeared without a trace. His disappearance was reported in The News-Palladium, which also spoke of the disappearance of Reverend John Vraniak, suggesting the two cases were connected. Larson reportedly withdrew $200 from the bank before disappearing, and though his work and personal lives were apparently “in excellent shape,” according to the Chicago Tribune, he had been complaining about being overworked. Some thought Larson had amnesia, some thought he was dead, and others believed he hadn’t left Chicago at all; in April, his wife Mary visited a Miss Frances Heiple, who claimed to have seen Larson walking through the city. This story generated no new leads, however, and the search for Larson continued.
In September 1926, when hope seemed lost, Larson suddenly resurfaced – in Dallas, Texas. James D. Pasho, who used to work with Larson at the Portage Rubber company, saw the missing board member while walking past the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. Pasho and Larson then reminisced about old times. Pasho described Larson as looking “better than I had ever seen him look…He appeared very prosperous.”
In the three years Larson had been gone, he had a variety of jobs and lived in a plethora of places. He later explained to the Chicago Tribune that he left his former life because of a “mental lapse” caused by “nerves and worry.” He stated, “Something within me drove me on. I first went to St. Louis from Chicago. I was dizzy and my brain was reeling…But I couldn’t rest. I took a train to Kansas City.” In a separate Chicago Tribune article he said he “broke down under the strain.” Larson had also been to Shreveport, Louisiana, and Little Rock, Arkansas, before ultimately ending up in Texas. He found employment as a salesman for the General Motors Truck Company, as a truck driver, and as a superintendent of construction for an asphalt company.
Pasho had only heard of Larson’s disappearance in passing, and he wrote to their former boss and relative of Larson’s, W. W. Wildman, recounting the experience. The letter traveled to the Larson family, and soon arrangements were made for Larson to reunite with his family. But the reunification had a rough start. Larson’s son, Leonard, made arrangements to travel to his father, but because of a communication error, Leonard traveled to Baton Rouge while Larson remained in Texas.
But soon father and son were reunited, and Mary and Lucille, Larson’s daughter, traveled to meet him as well. Larson stated he was “tired of it all,” and would “be happy to get back to my family.” However, he did not want to return to Chicago quickly. Leonard and Lucille returned to Chicago shortly after the reunification, but Mary stayed with Larson in Texas for six weeks as he tied up loose ends in his new business ventures.
Eventually, Larson did return to his family and resume his old life in Chicago, though he also maintained business ties in Texas. He also began working for H. C. Speer & Son, an investment and bond company. Larson retired in 1949, and he died in February 1953. His obituary mentioned nothing of the period of his life in which he was missing, and it became just another story to be found in the archives of newspapers.
Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.
“Larson Still in City, Conviction of Mrs. Larson,” Chicago Tribune, April 3, 1923, p. 13.
Lewis E. Larson, 1910 United States Federal Census.
Lewis E. Larson, 1900 United States Federal Census.
Lewis E. Larson, Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920.
“Lewis Larson at Home Again After 3 Years,” Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1926, p. 1.
“Lewis E. Larson Found; Lost 3 Years,” Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1926, p. 1.
“Lewis Larson’s Son Home After Finding Father,” Chicago Tribune, October 12, 1926, p. 3.
“Lewis E. Larson Tells of His Wanderings,” Chicago Daily Tribune, Oct. 7, 1926, p. 1.
“Obituaries,” Chicago Tribune, February 12, 1953, p. 47.
“These Two In Port of Missing Men – But Where?” The News-Palladium, October 4, 1923, p. 1.
When researching those who have corresponded with Jane Addams, you come across a variety of unique individuals. As a research assistant who has been researching and writing biographies for a number of semesters, I’ve seen my fair share of interesting people — and I thought I’d share some of their stories with you!
Among all the people I’ve researched so far, one of my favorites is Herbert George Buss, a journalist who was sent to prison for extortion in 1919. Before being charged with extortion, Buss was a humble cattle rancher who quickly climbed the ladder of the journalism industry. During the Wilson Administration, Buss worked as a congressional reporter. Soon after he became a publicist for the United States Daily. By 1912 he was writing for The Menace, a weekly anti-Catholic newspaper published in Aurora, MO. Buss’s article, “The Torture Tunnel – The Underground Way – From God’s Altar to Hell’s Sweatshops,” a screed against forced labor at a Catholic sweatshop in Cincinnati, was sent to Jane Addams by William Ketchum, who implored Addams to take action.
By 1919, Buss was making the news, not just writing it due to his involvement in “a story of alleged lust, temptation, love, jealousy, hatred, poverty, attempted seduction and threatened murder,” according to the Montana Standard.
Buss had married Virginia Randolph in 1903, and they lived a happy life for a while with their two children. But in 1915/6 (the newspapers offer differing years), Virginia claimed that a local merchant, John E. Reid, began making advances towards her. He sent her presents and letters, professing his love for her and asking her to leave her husband, even offering her $
10,000 and “the best little ranch in the valley” to do so. Virginia claimed her mother destroyed most of these letters, and only one survived. Virginia asked Reid why he was pursuing her when he himself was married, and he confessed that he had affairs with multiple women in the town. In June of that year, Virginia visited Reid’s store to look at some china. Reid took Virginia to the basement, where he grabbed her and kissed her until she almost called for help. Virginia never told Buss about the incident or the letters – until later when they were fighting over Buss’s drinking.
Once Buss found out about the incident, he met with Reid and threatened to bring the matter to court and sue. Reid offered Buss $10,000 to keep things quiet, which he accepted. But it did not stop there. Reid and his wife claimed that Buss threatened to accuse Reid of sexual assault and even threatened Reid’s life, claiming “there’ll be a new grave in Melrose by Christmas.” By April 1919, the issue was brought to court. Buss was accused of extortion and threats on Reid’s life. The trial was widely covered in the press, and in a twist of irony, the once successful journalist became the subject of one of the biggest stories in the state.
By the time of the trial, Buss and his wife had divorced, and Virginia was married to another Melrose rancher named Roy Bird. Buss was found guilty of extortion, and sentenced to serve six to twelve months in prison. After his release, Buss married again, to Ida M. Carbone. After that, we cannot figure out what happened to Buss. His death date is unknown, and in 1952 his son put a notice in the Chicago Tribune asking for information on his whereabouts. That was the last time Buss’s name appeared in a newspaper.
Though Buss’s name only appeared once in the JAPP collection, by digging a little deeper one can find a huge story. As a journalist, Buss surely would have agreed! And this is just one interesting story I’ve found during my research; keep an eye out for the next unique tale from the JAPP!
Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.
“Buss Takes Club Men Down Trail Ranch to Capitol,” Courier (Waterloo, Ia.) October 1, 1929, p. 4.
Herbert George Buss, U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942.
H . George Buss, Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950.
Virginia A. Buss, Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950.
“Melrose Case to End Today,” The Montana Standard, April 11, 1919, p. 6.
“His Former Wife Tells Her Story,” The Anaconda Standard, April 11, 1919, p. 3.
“Find Buss Guilty Extortion Charge,” The Anaconda Standard, April 12, 1919, p. 3.
Jennie A Randolph, Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002.
Herbert George Buss, Montana, Prison Records, 1861-1968.
“Personal,” Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1952, p. 17.
Two years ago I had the incredible opportunity to join the Jane Addams Papers Project. Thanks to a lot of amazing circumstances, I am happy to be with the project, even after graduating from Ramapo College this spring. On a typical day, I enter and transcribe Addams’ correspondence. I enter various people and do minor research on those I can find. One of the exciting projects that we are working on is the creation of National History Day guides. Only having just started working on them, I am glad to have the opportunity to combine my history skills with the lessons I have learned as I pursue my teaching certificate.
There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new from Addams’s documents. I am currently working on documents from late 1915, which mostly focuses on the international peace movement during World War I, before the United States had entered the war. This is a topic that is rarely covered or taught in high school, so learning about it through the in-depth, step-by-step happenings. It is like learning about history in real time, as every telegram and letter is sent.
For the common American student in 2017, it is unlikely that they will learn much, if anything, about the Woman’s Peace Party. Maybe there are not enough resources and ways for teachers to access the information (although this project will change that). This was certainly the case during 1915. Every couple of days I enter a new document from students across the country asking Addams for materials on the peace movement or the Woman’s Peace Party because they cannot find the materials on their own.
Typically, I cannot find these students in Ancestry or other resources because they were teenagers when they wrote the letters. I was recently shocked when I did find one of these students. I typed her name into Google and an oral history of her life immediately popped up. This woman, Rosita Holdsworth, had lived to be 101 years old (1899-2000) and had received a good amount of news coverage in Texas when she was approaching her 100th birthday. To learn about her life, from an interview directly with, an interview that I might add is younger than I am, was not something I was expecting.
Not every person has such an unexpected story, but when I do find them, or a particularly interesting letter, it is a reminder that every person can have an impact and that everyone has a voice.