Cassandra and Bread Givers – The College Speeches of Jane Addams

by Patricia M. Shields, PhD, Texas State University

Jane Addams attended Rockford Female Seminary and was among the first class to receive a Bachelors degree. At Rockford she honed skills that would later be used in her career as the founder of Hull House, leader of the Suffrage, Settlement and Peace movements and her literary career as author of 11 books and hundreds of journal and magazine articles. At Rockford she was the Valedictorian, Editor of the school newspaper, President of the Debate Club and President of her class.

Her addresses at Rockford show that even at ages 20 and 21, Addams saw a new, exciting and complicated future for the women in her class. In her Junior Class Oration (1880), entitled “Bread Givers” she catalogued “the change which has taken place … in the ambition and aspirations of woman.” As women developed their intellect and direct labor something new had emerged. “She wishes not to be a man, nor like a man, but she claims the same right to independent thought and action … [She] has gained a new confidence in her possibilities, and fresher hope in her progress.” At age 20, Addams recognized that women of her generation were poised to cross boundaries. Yet they were not interested in a complete break with the past, woman’s traditional role and experiences had great value. “As young women of the 19th century, we assert our independence … we still retain the old ideal of womanhood – the Saxon lady whose mission it was to give bread onto her household” (Addams, 1880). Over her entire life, Addams acted in accordance with these insights. She, indeed, developed her intellect and claims of “independent thought and action”. She also understood the Bread Giver’s role as she brought an ethic of care to her work at Hull House and organized efforts to feed the starving children of post WWI Europe (Addams, 1922).

In her Valedictory speech (1881), Addams had a cautionary and hopeful message. Here she drew on Greek mythology and the tragic story of Cassandra a princess who was cursed to share true prophesies that no one would believe. As educated women entered the broader world, their gift of intuition and sense of morality could be dismissed as Cassandra’s prophesies. Women should guard against this and bring “force to bear throughout morals and justice, then she must take the active, busy world as a test for the genuineness of her intuition.” Addams believed that educated women had the ability to help establish “actual justice” in the world through their “trained intelligence” and with their “broadened sympathies toward the individual man and woman…  Only an intuitive mind has a grasp comprehensive enough to embrace the opposing facts and forces,” and meet future challenges. If women like she and her fellow classmates are able to balance their intelligence and intuition “the story of Cassandra will be forgotten”. Addams certainly foresaw the difficult struggle she and her future sisters would have to be taken seriously as full participants in the modern world.

—————————-
Addams, Jane. (1880). “Bread Givers” (Junior Class Oration). Dailey Register (Rockford April).

Addams, Jane (1881). Cassandra (Valedictory Speech). Rockford Seminary Magazine (July).

Addams, Jane (1922). Peace and Bread in Time of War. New York: Macmillan.

Patricia Shields is the author of the 2017 book, Jane Addams: Progressive Pioneer of Peace Philosophy, Sociology, Social Work and Public Administration published by Springer.

 

The 1915 Trojan Women Tour

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.

Continue reading “The 1915 Trojan Women Tour”

Addams’ Living Legacy in Color

Giusti’s “Civilization,” made of india ink and gouache on paper, is owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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.

 

Addams’ Rhetoric on Home, City, and World: A Guest Blog Post by Dr. Liane Malinowski

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.[1]

Hull House Labor Museum

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.[2]

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.

 

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

“Peace, War and World Order”- Dr. James Marquardt’s Web-based Timeline

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.