Jane Addams Papers Receives Federal Funding

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.

Support Federal Funding for the Humanities

The Jane Addams Papers Project would not be possible if not for the support of the federal government, in our case, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The work that we do, bringing rare archival documents to broad audiences, serves a wide range of the public–from a scholar working on an interpretation of Addams’ philosophy, to a college student writing a thesis on the impact of women on the Progressive Era, or a high school freshman creating a National History Day performance on Hull House. (National History Day, by the way, is also funded by the NEH).

At the Addams Papers, support provided by these two agencies has funded:

  • The microfilming of the Jane Addams Papers in the 1980s, which serves as the basis for our digital edition. Without the work done finding, copying and microfilming materials, identifying dates and authors in a detailed index, our work would be much more difficult.
  • The scanning of the Addams microfilm to build our digital edition.
  • The salaries of eight students who describe and transcribe documents and conduct research. This is an added boon, because federal dollars spent on student workers pay twofold. Besides the help we get on the project, it provides the students with unique experience in historical research and digital humanities work that helps them stand out whether applying for a job or going on to graduate school.
  • The salary of an assistant editor who helps supervises student work and training, and insures quality control over their work through proofreading and verification. She also conducts research, transcribes documents, and works on clearing permissions so that we can publish the documents.
  • The salary of a part-time assistant editor who manages work on our book edition. She selects the initial pool of documents to be published as a fully annotated scholarly print edition. She also helps with proofreading and verification.
  • The work of our Chicago researcher who gathers newly found Addams documents, helps us with difficult transcriptions, and conducts research on Chicago-area topics.
  • The efforts of two web developers who have customized and designed the functionality of the Jane Addams Digital Edition and designed a beautiful site.

Our goal is to provide free public access to Jane Addams’ correspondence and writings, via a digital edition. You don’t have to be a scholar who can travel to an archive, or a student at a large research library to access these documents. The site is also building a unique resource of identifications of the people, organizations, events, and publications discussed in the documents that will provide students of the Progressive Era with a rich resource.

The Addams Papers is but one of the many projects supported by the NHPRC and the NEH that help enrich our understanding of the past.

What you can do

Once a year, the National Humanities Alliance focuses support and attention for federal funding for the humanities. Advocates from every state come to Washington on Humanities Advocacy Day (Tuesday, March 14) to talk to their representative and senators about the importance of this work and its value to all Americans. It is especially important this year due to rumors that funds for the NEH may be eliminated from the President’s budget.

You can help!