A Week in the Life of Jane Addams, April 9-15, 1906

Over the past couple of years, as I’ve worked to contextualize the documents we have chosen to publish in Volume 4 of The Selected Papers of Jane Addams, I have made a good effort to decipher Jane Addams’s engagement diary. She kept an annual engagement calendar during most of her years in Chicago, although some of them are more rich with details about her life than others. As with any such diary a person keeps, the diaries we have for Jane Addams are riddled with abbreviations and cryptic notes, and some entries are impossible to understand. Addams’s handwriting, which was abominable even in her professional correspondence, is particularly illegible in these private diaries, and the microfilm images we use at the Jane Addams Papers Project (the originals are located in the Jane Addams Memorial Collection at the University of Illinois Chicago) add to the difficulty.  Yet despite all the problems with reading these diary entries, they are invaluable.

Snapshots of these calendar entries offer a good sense of the cadence of Addams’s life, especially when she was in Chicago. They help us track her meetings and lectures, doctor’s appointments, and her special engagements, likes dinners and teas, with friends, family, and fellow reformers. Sometimes Addams would record the speaking fee she collected for a speech, particular trains on which she traveled, or the people she stayed with when she was on the road. Other entries indicate various Hull-House activities she attended or groups she hosted at the settlement. And particularly exciting for me as an editor ferreting out Addams’s daily life and activities, often a diary entry corroborates something Addams mentioned in her correspondence or, better still, provides the definitive clue that helps me unlock the mystery of a vague reference in a letter.

By way of celebrating this hidden treasure chest of documents, I thought it might be fun to offer a Day in the Life of Jane Addams. I’ve chosen a week in the spring of 1906, when Addams was up to her eyeballs with work as a leading member of the Board of Education of the City of Chicago. From the images I’ve provided, you can see for yourself what we are up against with Jane Addams’s dreadful penmanship and get a feel for her daily life. For each day in the calendar, I offer a translation of her entries, followed by sources, which corroborate or contextualize the entries or add the fullness of particular day.

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Since a trip in early February to Baltimore for speeches at the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association convention and for the Maryland Child Labor Committee, Addams had been in Chicago. She was in her first year on the school board, having been appointed in July 1905, and was serving as chairman of the School Management Committee. Regular school board meetings prevented extensive travel and the work load monopolized much of her time. However, a latecomer to woman suffrage, she was finding time to carve out a new place for herself in the movement. In the spring she was also involved with the National Tuberculosis Exhibition at the Chicago Public Library. On April 2, 1906, she shared the podium with Illinois Governor Charles Deneen, at the exhibit’s grand opening.*

Monday, April 9

2.30 School Mag’t

 The Chicago Board of Education had offices on the sixth, seventh, and eighth floors of the Tribune Building, which was located at the corner of Dearborn and Madison streets in Chicago’s business district. Addams likely traveled to and from most meetings on the trolleys; there was a station on Halsted Street near Hull-House. At this afternoon meeting, Addams and her committee considered actions against a chemistry and physics teacher at Jefferson High School for fighting with a school janitor. Thomas H. Furlong made his case for self-defense, and the committee somewhat sympathized with his argument that the janitor had struck first. However, the committee also determined the teacher may have verbally provoked the affray, and because a student had witnessed the fight the committee recommended a one-week suspension for Furlong.

“Fighting Teacher Loses,” The Inter Ocean (Chicago), April 10, 1906, p. 2; “Teacher Suspended a Week for Fighting the Janitor,” Chicago Tribune, April 10, 1906, p. 18.

Tuesday, April 10

2 Finance
H.H. trustees [4]

As the chairman of the Board of Education’s School Management Committee, Addams was also a member of the Board’s Finance Committee. After attending a meeting of the Finance Committee downtown, she hurried back to Hull-House for the regular meeting of the trustees of the Hull-House Association at 4:00 p.m. Meeting with Addams, who was the president, were trustees Mary Wilmarth, Helen Carver, Mary Rozet Smith, and Allen Pond. The trustees accepted Culver’s proposal to sign over Hull-House land, which she owned, to the Hull-House Association; and they discussed plans for the proposed Boys’ Club. At some point during this same day, Addams declined an offer from a publisher who was interested in turning a series of autobiographical articles, which  had recently come out in Ladies’ Home Journal, into book form. Addams noted she liked the idea and had made an outline, but was “so immersed in the Chicago School Board,” she wrote, “that I find it hard to pull my mind out of it long enough to think of books.” This was, of course, an early discussion about Twenty Years at Hull-House, which would be published in 1910.

Hull-House Association, Trustees’ Minutes, April 10, 1906, JAPM, 49:1188-89; Jane Addams to Walter Hines Page, April 10, 1906; Jane Addams’ Own Story of Her Work: The First Five Years at Hull-House (Second of Three Installments), April 1906; and Hull-House Year Book 1906-1907, all in Jane Addams Digital Edition (JADE).

Wednesday, April 11

3 dentist
[two illegible words smudged under “dentist”]
4 P.M. [illegible name] Hall
5.00 106 Randolph
Mrs Blaine dine
Bd. of Ed.

There are no letters in 1906 discussing dental work, but Addams did suffer some problems with her teeth over the years. Although dental hygiene was a new science at this time, most people only went to the dentist when they had to go; routine cleanings were not yet the norm. Board of Education meetings were held in the evenings on alternate Wednesdays. Prior to this meeting, Addams dined with Anita McCormick Blaine, who was one of her fellow school board trustees, perhaps at a restaurant on Randolph Street, which was just two blocks north of the Board of Education offices. The two women may have then traveled to the meeting together. It is also possible the meeting with Blaine had nothing at all to do with what Addams was doing on Randolph at 5 p.m. At the school board meeting, Addams’s School Management Committee offered reports on several issues, including the graduation of three young women from the Chicago Normal School and recommending the full board grant them elementary school teaching certificates. Addams also presided over a contentious discussion about high school fraternities and athletic programs, and she recommended the board enforce a rule that prohibited fraternity members from becoming a member of a school athletic organization. The specific reasons for Addams’s opinion are not known, and the board did not solve the issue that night. At the meeting, however, there was a unanimous vote to disallow private competitions for the city’s school children. Addams argued that the “Granting of these medals and other prizes is not a movement for education. It fosters rivalry rather than wholesome competition among the pupils, and has just the opposite effect to that which is intended.”

“Dental Hygiene’s Grand History, RDH Magazine, July 1, 2010 (online); “Renews Fight on ‘Frats,’” Chicago Tribune, April 12, 1906, p. 3; School Management Committee to Board of Education, Report of Diplomas, April. 11, 1906, Jane Addams Papers Microfilm (JAPM), 39:1158; Statement on Chicago Board School Action, April 12, 1906, JADE. For a letter Addams received on this day in her capacity as a school board member, see: Lilian Smith Haines to Jane Addams, April 11, 1906, JADE.

Thursday, April 12

3 Dr [Hebert?]
<[illegible]>
3.30-4 Mrs Henrotin
to see newspapers
tuberculosis [pm]

The doctor reference is curious, and I was unable to identify him (bad spelling, Jane?); nor can I decide if the squeezed in text goes with the good doctor or is another appointment wedged into a busy day. Addams and Ellen Henrotin, a well-known Chicago clubwoman, were serving together on a municipal suffrage committee organized in Chicago to lobby the city charter convention to give women the right to vote. They had been meeting since January and had participated in a mass meeting about suffrage at Hull-House on Sunday, April 8. Addams and Henrotin were likely meeting about their suffrage work on that committee. Addams was likely going to see various newspaper reporters or editors to shop a lengthy article she had written on municipal suffrage, because less than a week after seeing newspapers, at least two of them published the article. At the end of her busy Thursday, Addams attended a session on “The School and Tuberculosis” at the National Tuberculosis Exhibition.

“Women Demand to Vote,” Chicago Tribune, April 9, 1906, p. 11; “To Rid Schools of Tuberculosis,” Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1906, p. 3; Statement on Woman’s Suffrage, January 18, 1906; Statement on Tuberculosis at The School and Tuberculosis Conference, April 12, 1906; Pleads for Suffrage, April 17, 1906, both in JADE.

Friday, April 13

11 a.m. C.J.W. at H.H.
[Hebert?]
4 School Mag’t
Moody Play

I have no clue what “C.J.W.” might be, but I suspect it was an organization (Chicago Council of Jewish Women, perhaps?) rather than a person; and there is that mysterious Hebert again. A Board of Education School Management Meeting was cancelled. And finally some leisure for Addams in the evening, when she went to the Garrick Theatre in Chicago to see a play. The theater was in the Schiller Building, which was designed by architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler. The play was “A Sabine Woman,” written by the poet and playwright William Vaughn Moody. Addams was an admirer of Moody’s work, in 1901 writing him a letter of thanks for his poem—“On a Soldier Fallen in the Philippines” published in The Atlantic Monthly—which gave her “clarity and comfort.”

“Advertisement,” Chicago Tribune, Apr. 11, 1906, p. 9; Jane Addams to William Vaughan Moody, February 9, 1901, JADE.

Saturday, April 14

10 doctors
11 preside suffrage meeting
5.00 WTUL
Dinner [Miss?] [illegible name]

On this day, the Chicago Eagle (admittedly not the most reliable of historical resources) reported that Addams and a group of women representing the Consumers’ League met with a Dr. Whalen of the Chicago health commission about meat inspection in the city. This could be the 10 a.m. entry here, but I’m not not even close to certain. I am certain, however, that the second engagement here was a planning meeting of the Chicago municipal suffrage committee, which took place at the Municipal Museum. In the evening, Addams attended a meeting of the Women’s Trade Union League, probably at Hull-House, where it regularly met. As for the dinner afterwards, your guess is as good as mine. If you know the answer, let us know! 

Chicago Eagle, April 14, 1906, p. 7; “Women Plan for Ballot,” Chicago Tribune, April 15, 1906, p. 68.

 Sunday, April 15

2.30 Brands Hall
Erie & Clark sts
tuberculosis

This was Easter Sunday, and Anita Blaine, who was a Hull-House donor as well as a friend, sent a lilac bush to the settlement in celebration. Brand’s Hall, which was located on the corner of Erie and Clark streets, was an auditorium in the Chicago business loop northwest of Hull-House. Perhaps Addams attended an Easter performance of some sort, although I could not find any mention of one in her letters or in the Sunday newspapers. Later in the day, she attended the Tuberculosis Exhibition, still underway at the Chicago Public Library.

“Find Root of Phthisis,” Chicago Tribune, Apr. 15, 1906; Jane Addams to Anita McCormick Blaine, April 16, 1906, JADE.

And so you can see that Jane Addams was a busy woman, and the editors at the Jane Addams Papers are always busy, too, trying to figure out what the heck she was doing and struggling to decipher the woman’s handwriting. At the end of this particular busy week, Addams declined an engagement at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, writing: “I have delayed replying to your cordial letter hoping that I might be able to accept your very attractive invitation. But I have already so many engagements for June and School Board affairs entail so many special appointments for the second and third weeks of that month that I really cannot add another thing.”

I’m exhausted just thinking about the rapid pace of Jane Addams’s daily life, but I never tire of editing her papers. Studying her life and her work is a privilege. Even with the daily frustration of reading her handwriting, it’s a pretty darn good gig.

by Stacy Lynn, Associate Editor

*Sources: Board of Education, City of Chicago, 1905-1906 (Chicago: Board of Education, 1906), 6-9; “What the Woman Suffragists Will Do Today,” The Baltimore Sun, February 9, 1906, p. 7; “Miss Jane Addams Speaks,” The Inter Ocean (Chicago), Feb. 11, 1906, p. 3; JA Diary, April 9-15, 1906; “Phthisis Show Opens Tonight,” Chicago Tribune, April 2, 1906, p. 10, JAPM, 29:1181; Jane Addams to Edward A. Ross, April 16, 1906, JADE.

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