Reviews in Digital Humanities

Thanks to Núria Sara Miras Boronat for her review of the Jane Addams Papers Project, published in the most recent release of Reviews in Digital Humanities (Vol. 3, No. 2, Feb. 14, 2022).

We particularly appreciated the kudos, below:

JADE is one of the most important interventions that has occurred in the last decade for not only Addams’ work but also for pragmatist scholarship. It provides very valuable information about the intertextual and contextual references of her writings, which are not obvious to contemporary readers, especially if those readers are not from the U.S. or are not English native speakers. It also informs readers about the density of connections and affections of one of the greatest thinkers and activists of the progressive era. Finally, it has a strong value as a project for teaching digital humanities.

We are happy to address one issue that Núria pointed out, the relative difficulty in locating our blog posts. We are on it, and hope to have a easy way to find all posts up and running soon.

Guest Post: Jane Addams and the Great War

By Neil Lanctot

The onset of a brutal global war in the summer of 1914 shocked Jane Addams and other American pacifists who were certain their cause was gaining widespread acceptance.  “Nobody who was not a mature person…can realize now how remote, how unbelievable, a European war then seemed,” her friend Alice Hamilton later wrote. “Believing as we did then in the slow but sure progress of the human race, we looked forward to nothing worse than sporadic outbursts in such unknown regions as the Balkans or South America, never in the highly civilized countries of the Europe which we knew so well.”

For Addams, a war of this scope (“an insane outburst,” she called it) meant “a changed world,” a world where the rising tide of militarism would undermine the cherished progressive social reforms she had tirelessly advocated over the prior two decades.   “It will be years before these things are taken up again,” she told a reporter, “The whole social fabric is tortured and twisted.”

Almost immediately, Addams concluded that the war was likely to be a watershed event in human history and America would have an enormous role to play.   But military involvement, she believed, was not the answer.  America’s job, as she saw it, was to find a way to bring the belligerent nations to the peace table, alone or with the assistance of other neutral powers.  “The United States,” she observed, “with all neutral nations, should throw every bit of its power into the scale for peace.”

Her activities to achieve this goal in the months ahead were both remarkable and extensive: leadership of an unprecedented female-run organization – the Woman’s Peace Party; a fascinating journey through Europe in 1915 meeting with the heads of state of Germany, France, England, and other belligerent powers; and involvement with the “Peace Ship” scheme of the eccentric mogul Henry Ford.  But she would pay a price for her pacifism as the war raged on.   The onetime most beloved woman in the nation, the so-called “American saint,” would find herself viciously criticized for daring to question American foreign policy and the need for a military buildup at home.   Letters and editorials denounced her as an “ancient spinster,” a “crack-brain old creature who ought to be restrained in some institution,” and a “foolish, garrulous woman” who was “badly overrated.”

Theodore Roosevelt, her old friend and colleague in the Progressive or Bull Moose Party, also soured on Addams.  To TR, the nation’s rather modest defenses needed to be drastically strengthened if the United States wished to be a global force for good.   Any peace efforts at present, he believed, were terribly misguided if not dangerous. As for Miss Addams and her female supporters who had journeyed abroad in 1915 to participate in an international women’s peace congress, they were a “disgrace to the women of America.”

Roosevelt’s hated enemy, President Woodrow Wilson, appeared more sympathetic.   Wilson’s determination to avoid war with Germany despite repeated provocations (most notably the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915) cheered Addams immensely in the early years of the conflict.  He was also willing to keep in regular contact with her, so much so that Addams and other pacifists truly believed they had a real friend in the White House.   Privately, Wilson was not especially receptive to her constant urging that America should act now to bring about peace.  Still, as a skilled politician, he was careful not to show his hand.  His advisor and close friend Colonel Edward House well understood the importance of Addams.  “Her following,” he admitted in his diary, “is large and influential.”

By the fall of 1916, Wilson was finally ready to act.  Germany, he knew, was eager to resume unrestricted submarine warfare, even if it meant embroiling the United States in the war.   Wilson’s peace move that December, though it accomplished nothing, delighted Addams, as did his “Peace Without Victory” speech to the Senate a few weeks later.   But his attitude soon changed once the Germans decided they could wait no longer.  Hoping to win the war in 1917, they planned to unleash their submarines to their full potential as of February 1.

To many Americans, the new submarine policy and subsequent diplomatic split with Germany suggested that war was now inevitable.  Addams believed otherwise.  After all, Wilson had repeatedly told the pacifists he did not want war.  “Thank God Woodrow Wilson is President,” one enthused.  When Addams and her peace colleagues went to see Wilson in late February, she still thought he could be reached.  But the President was uninterested in any of their proposals to avoid war and seemed convinced that his own participation in the peace process was absolutely essential.  “I found my mind challenging his whole theory of leadership,” Addams later wrote. “Was it a result of my bitter disappointment that I hotly and no doubt unfairly asked myself whether any man had the right to rate his moral leadership so high that he could consider the sacrifice of the lives of thousands of his young countrymen a necessity?”

A disillusioned Addams watched Wilson take the country into war a few weeks later.  She rejected the popular belief that the war was a necessary evil to achieve a better world or prevent future wars.  Nor could she understand why Wilson refused to seriously consider alternatives such as the conference of neutrals or “continuous mediation” proposals she had championed.  It was, in her nephew James Weber Linn’s words, “the only defeat that she could not forget.” “It seemed to me quite obvious,” Addams later wrote, “that the processes of war would destroy more democratic institutions than he could ever rebuild however much he might declare the purpose of war to be the extension of democracy.”

During the years of American involvement, she found herself increasingly outside of the mainstream, now worked into a war-fueled patriotic frenzy.  Not surprisingly, most Americans were now openly hostile to anything “that woman” had to say, especially what they interpreted as “pro-German twaddle.”  The vitriol dissipated somewhat after she began making speeches for the Food Administration, a new agency which emphasized production and conservation of food for the war effort.  Still, the American public remained suspicious of her pacifist activities throughout the war and the decade that followed.   Addams, some still believed, was the “most dangerous woman in the country.”

By the 1930s, when many Americans began to see involvement in World War I as a tragic mistake, Addams’ pacifist activities no longer seemed so threatening.   Praise and accolades were showered upon her, ranging from selection to Good Housekeep­ing’s list of the twelve “greatest living women” in 1931 to the Nobel Peace Prize that same year.    Much to her credit, she never distanced herself from her unpopular wartime stance.   “We of course never imagined that we could bring the war in Europe to an end,” she explained to journalist Mark Sullivan in 1933, “but we did hope that a body of neutrals with no diplomatic power of course, sitting continuously, might be able to make suggestions for peace which would shorten the conflict.”

That such proposals had only a slim chance of success during World War I never deterred Jane Addams.   “She felt,” her niece Marcet Haldeman later wrote, “that any gestures, any proposals of a pacific nature were infinitely more sensible than such mass murder.”

For more info or to order this new book, see The Approaching Storm‘s publisher’s page.

 

 

Our Thanks to the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

I am delighted to announce that the Jane Addams Papers Project has been awarded a grant by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation! We are extremely grateful to the Foundation for their support of our work and their support for humanities research.

The award for Making the Jane Addams Papers Accessible to the Public
will support the work of undergraduate student assistants who are currently entering Addams documents in 1924 into our system. Our students analyze the digitized texts, creating descriptive metadata that makes them easier to locate and understand, and transcribe the texts. This makes text searches possible and helps readers unfamiliar or unable to read cursive.  The Delmas grant will also fund the work of a student to help us create educational materials for high school AP and honors curriculum.

The grant will also be matched by the National Endowment for the Humanities. A win-win!

If you are able to help support the work of the Jane Addams Papers Project, please click on the donate link to keep our student workers typing away!

 

Jane Addams and the Long 19th Amendment Project

I am very pleased to announce that the Jane Addams Digital Edition has shared content from our site with the Schlesinger Library’s Long 19th Amendment Project, an amazing digital portal that revolves around archival discovery, teaching innovation and collaborative scholarship on the history of gender and women’s rights.

This project, supported by the Schlesinger Library and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks to build collaboration by including digitized materials from  well-known archives like the Papers of Susan B. Anthony and the Papers of Alice Paul at Schlesinger Library, but also includes materials from more than 40 contributing repositories.

When we were approached by the Long 19th Amendment team, we were excited to participate for two reasons. Jane Addams isn’t known primarily for her work for woman suffrage. She is often mentioned in lists, or gets a small part in the larger history, but in her day, Addams was a leading suffragist. She was a vice president of the National Woman Suffrage Association and used her considerable fame to promote the movement. She gave frequent speeches on woman suffrage, especially on its impact for working women, spoke on college campuses, and testified before Congress in 1912 to make her argument.

The other reason that we were eager to participate, is that the Long 19th Amendment Portal offered the opportunity to fulfill one of our long-term project aims regarding data and data sharing. We want to be able to export our Dublin Core-based data from our Omeka content management system so that it can be repurposed and shared with other scholars. This project demonstrated that with just a little effort on our part, we could share more than 500 documents.

Looking at the Jane Addams Digital Edition in terms of woman suffrage, we had several options.

  • To share documents that have been tagged with Woman Suffrage
  • To share biographies of people tagged with Woman Suffrage

Working with the Portal team, we decided to share documents written between 1901-1920 in the first contribution.As we proofread more texts, we will update the data shared to include additional years. Our biographical collection will be included as a linked collection that researchers can locate and consult directly.

This is just the first in what we hope will be other collaborations with scholars working on related collections. If you are interested in accessing data from the digital edition, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

 

 

Saint Jane and the Wicked Wicks –An Audio Musical

Exciting news! On Thursday, August 26 at 8 pm CST, Saint Jane and the Wicked Wicks, an audio musical  written and composed by Evanston playwright Kristin Lems, will open to the public at the  website www.SaintJanePlay.com. The two-hour musical play, which can be enjoyed in one  sitting or in four separate installments, is free, asking for a voluntary donation with a suggested  sliding scale. After the site goes live, listeners may attend the show any time on demand.

Saint Jane and the Wicked Wicks is set in Chicago in the decade of the 1893 World’s  Fair. It is about the friendship between Hull House founder Jane Addams and Nellie Wicks,  Kristin’s great grandmother, in the years 1890-1905, during the early years of Hull House.

Prize-winning Chicago dramatist Douglas Post is the director, with musical direction by  Diana Lawrence and mixing and editing by Dan Dietrich. Piano arrangements and performances were created by Tom Cortese of Champaign, Illinois.

The cast consists of well-known area actors and singers, including Kathy Cowan as Jane  Addams, Rebecca Keeshin as Nellie Wicks, Monica Szaflik as Ellen Gates Starr, Maddie Sachs  as Julia Lathrop, Patrick Byrnes as George Wicks and John Dewey, Frankie Leo Bennett as Gene  Wicks, John B. Leen as Jim Wicks and Sol Friedman, Kingsley Day as Richard Crane, and  Therese Harrold as Addie Wicks. The professional, non-equity cast was auditioned and selected  in December 2020 and recorded in the early months of 2021.

The “audio musical” is a new genre. The singer-actors rehearse their parts together on  zoom, but record and upload them individually to a single destination without being in a  recording studio. Then, the scenes and songs are reviewed, mixed, and edited by the director and  recording engineer. The final product is similar to an audiobook or radio play, but there are also  songs, in this case, 17 original songs including “The Hull House Rag,” “Straight to Hell in Chicago,” and other memorable numbers. The new genre enables artists to release entertaining  musical theatre work while keeping both performers and audience safe.

The musical will open on Women’s Equality Day, August 26, to celebrate the 101st anniversary of American women winning the right to vote. Jane Addams was active in the  suffrage movement 10 years after the time of the play, along with many activist women of Hull  House. Two key organizers, Ellen Gates Starr and Julia Lathrop, are characters with key roles in  the show.

Kristin Lems has won many accolades as a writer, composer, and performing artist, but  this is her first full-length musical. Lems was inspired by stories about the unusual friendship between the two women, told by her mother, musician Carol Lems-Dworkin (1924-2019), and  along with primary materials, including a handwritten diary by Nellie Wicks, two full length  unpublished novels written by Nellie’s eldest daughters, recorded oral histories, and an  autographed picture given to Nellie by Jane Addams shortly before Addams died. Lems also  researched Jane Addams, Hull House, and Chicago history with a 2017 sabbatical from her  employer, National Louis University, where she is a professor.

Many other outstanding talents helped design the trailer, iconic poster, website, video  product, and script, and many people deserve thanks and praise for moving this ambitious project forward to this day. For information about the cast, members of the pre-production, production,  or post-production team, or to contact Kristin Lems, please email saintjane2021@gmail.com.

Thanks to the Ramapo College Foundation!

We would like to thank the Ramapo College Foundation for awarding the Jane Addams Papers a grant of $2,200 to support student work on the project in the 2021-2022 academic year.

These funds will support the salary of one of our excellent student workers, who process documents, transcribing the texts, creating metadata, and identifying the people, events, organizations and publications mentioned in them.

Ramapo College and the Ramapo College Foundation have been extremely generous to the project and their support has been critical to keeping our work on schedule.

We are still seeking funding to support additional student workers. If you can help, please donate to the project!

Segregation At Hull-House: A Closer Look

In June, Addams biographer and Project Advisory Board member Lucy Knight got in touch with a query regarding a claim that Hull-House was a segregated space until the 1930s. The claim first made by Thomas Lee Philpott in his 1978 work: The Slum and the Ghetto: Housing Reform and Neighborhood Work in Chicago, 1880-1930.  It  was repeated by Khalil Gibran Muhammed’s Condemnation of Blackness (2010), and then repeated by me in a 2015 blog post reporting on Khalil Muhammed’s talk at Ramapo College. Lucy wanted to know more, because the claim had begun appearing all over the web. Since then she has gathered evidence that refutes the statement.

I wrote that blog post a few weeks after launching the project at Ramapo and did not question the statement. I probably should have, but assumed that given the time and the place it was likely true. Today I want to give the question a little more light and attention.

There is no smoking gun document — one in which a policy of segregation was clearly established. Without that it can be extremely difficult to prove whether or not African-Americans were welcome at Hull-House or in its programs and sponsored clubs. A majority of the records of Hull-House have not survived, which makes it unlikely that we will ever be able to definitively confirm or debunk the statement.

There are a couple of layers to the question. First, was Hull-House itself a segregated space? To that question, the answer is clear. It was not.  Dr. Harriet Alleyne Rice (1866-1958), a Black physician and graduate of Wellesley College, started working at Hull House as early as  1893, working with the Hull-House branch of the Chicago Bureau of Charities and tending to the poor.

Addams invited Black speakers to Hull-House, including prominent figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois, who gave the speech “The Souls of Black Folk” at Hull-House on Lincoln’s birthday 1907 (Hull-House Year Book, 1906-1907). A year earlier, Atlanta newspaperman J. Max Barber spoke about the Atlanta race riot to a Hull House “audience mostly composed of negroes.” (Chicago Tribune, October 8, 190-6,. p. 3).  Addams invited  Ida B. Wells to visit and dine at Hull-House. And in 1912, Addams hosted a meeting of the interracial National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on the Hull-House grounds.

Hull-House hosted a reception for the delegates of the NAACP meeting in Chicago on April 30, 1912.

A more complicated question was whether Hull-House’s clubs and groups welcomed people of all races. Few if any spaces in Chicago were integrated during Jane Addams’s life.  By 1910, the vast majority of African-Americans lived in Chicago’s South Side in what was known as the “Black Belt.” They formed their own organizations to empower their communities, much as other ethnic and religious groups did. African-Americans who came to Chicago during the Great Migration found opportunity, but also oppression.

Hull-House was located in the Near West Side, a overcrowded community that featured a wide range of European immigrants. The area was filled with ever changing languages and customs as Irish, German, Czech, and French immigrants were replaced by Jews from Russia and Poland, Italians and Greeks. In 1895, Hull-House workers surveyed the area showing the cultural (if not racial) diversity. It was not until the 1930s and 1940s that African-Americans and Mexican became a more significant presence in Hull-House’s neighborhood.

Nationalities Map of Polk Street to 12th Street in the Near West Side (Hull House Maps and Papers, 1895).

As a neighborhood-based settlement, Hull-House represented its surroundings, which meant that in its early years, the majority of its clientele were white immigrants. Photographs of early activities show this clearly.

A group of toddlers outside Hull-House in the 1890s. At this point the neighborhood was predominately comprised of Southern and Eastern European immigrants. (Seven Settlement Houses — Database of Photos, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Many of clubs and associations that operated out of Hull House were developed around ethnic affiliations, which was a way to retain community and customs in a time of rapid change and Americanization. The range of clubs at Hull-House was vast, and the numbers of people in and out of the Hull-House grounds reached nine thousand per week between 1906 and 1916. The clubs and associations were organized and operated by their members, some, like the “Greek Olympic Athletic Club,” were made up of Greek immigrants interested in athletics; others like the Hull-House Electrical Club, was made up of men who worked in electrical occupations. There were Greek and Russian social clubs, a 19th Ward Socialist Club, and the Jane Club, which was a co-operative boarding club for young women that operated its own house with thirty bedrooms. There were also general Men and Women’s Clubs, Boys and Girls’ Clubs, and educational programs in art, practical employment skills, and English language classes.

I find it unlikely that many of these clubs or programs were multi-racial in the first decades of Hull-House’s existence. Among the photographs of Hull-House activities located in archives at the University of Illinois at Chicago, photos from before 1920 depict what appear to be white groups.

This photograph, dated only “ca. 1920s” by Wallace Kirkland, shows a group of neighborhood children preparing to leave for the Bowen Country Club. (Hull-House Photograph Collection,University of Illinois at Chicago)

There is some evidence of Black participation in clubs and groups at Hull-House before the 1930s.  In 1913, the Chicago Defender wrote an obituary of George Williams, “the only Negro boy connected with Hull House as a member. He was a member of the band and took part in all the active branches of the settlement. Miss Jane Addams praised him to the highest. The day of his funeral the full band was out and his casket was borne by three Italians and one Jewish boy.” (Chicago Defender, September 20, 1913.)

An African-American women’s club was formed at Hull-House in 1925, first called “The Colored Mothers’ Club,” and later the “Community Club.” They met on Monday evenings and held monthly interracial meetings which the Chicago Defender characterized as “not only harmonious and satisfactory, but very helpful.”

This photo from around 1927 depicts the Hull House Community Club, composed of African-American women. (Hull-House Photograph Collection, University of Illinois, Chicago).

The Defender continued:

In and around Hull House a large number of the foreign population moved into other neighborhoods, and their places have been taken up by our group. The residents of the famous social settlement are still living up to their ideals of helping the people in the neighborhood to adjust themselves, and our boys and girls are urged to join all of the classes, and with their elders are cordially invited to take part in all the activities of the place. (Chicago Defender, December 11, 1926, p. 5.)

But, does this one newspaper article tell the whole story? By 1937, the Defender characterized the Community Club as the medium through which Hull-House worked among the African-American community. The club was affiliated with the National Federation of Colored Women and its focus was on bettering conditions for African-Americans in their community. (Chicago Defender, September 25, 1937, p. 19.) Did Hull-House push African-American activity off to the side into one or two clubs? Did African-Americans feel welcome in the late 1930s when they walked into the settlement?

Dewey Jones, the Assistant Director of Hull-House in 1938 reported during a 1939 speech that one long-time member of the Community Club had complained that its members were not invited to take part in general community events. In 1941 a caption on a photograph depicting Black women at the Jane Addams Memorial Lilac Ball on May 24, 1941 noted that “Director Charlotte Carr insisted that African Americans be invited to the Ball.” The fact that Carr’s action was noted, makes it appear that it was not the norm.

The Jane Addams Memorial Lilac Ball was held May 24, 1941 at the Stevens Hotel in Chicago. (Hull-House Photograph Collection, University of Illinois, Chicago).

Florence  Scala (1918-2007), an Italian-American resident of the West Side  and a volunteer at Hull-House from 1934 to 1954, recalled that though the Near West Side had a great mix of ethnic groups, “there were no blacks, blacks were not active in the Hull-House programs when I was going there.” (Carolyn Eastwood, Near West Side Stories: Struggles for Community in Chicago’s Maxwell Street Neighborhood (2002), p. 139.)

By the 1930s and especially by the early 1940s, photographs of Hull-House activities show the changing composition of the neighborhood.  There were Mexican fiestas, and pottery classes, and photographs of integrated children’s activities at the Joseph T. Bowen Country Club.

A Mexican fiesta was held at  Hull-House on June 13, 1941 for the purpose of bettering relationships between Mexicans and American in s the Chicago area. (Chicago Tribune, June 8,. 1941, p. 41. Hull-House Association Photograph Collection, University of Illinois, Chicago).
Boys at the Bowen Country Club camp run by Hull-House, ca. 1946. (Hull-House Photograph Collection, University of Illinois, Chicago).
Photos like these, with no clear date, save the “1920s-1930s” offer evidence of Black families participating in Hull-House programming, but not enough detail.  (Hull-House Photograph Collection, University of Illinois, Chicago).

So we are left with conflicting recollections and reporting. Did Florence Skala have a very different experience at Hull-House than the children who attended the Bowen camp in the 1940s? Were the adult activities more racially divided, broken into clubs that kept to their own kind? Without additional documentation, it is hard to make a determination that includes all the voices we have.

We can close with a look at what African-American reporters said at the death of Jane Addams in 1935.  In an obituary written of Addams in 1935, Thyra Edwards of the Pittsburgh Courier focused on Addams and Hull-House with regard to race.

Jane Addams had no ‘attitude’ toward the Negro. To her he was just one of the citizenship, one part of the whole. She recognized that the distinction of color exposed him more easily to attack and discrimination at the same time, adding a moral responsibility upon Americans to work against extraordinary exploitation because of color.

When Negroes moved into Hull House, there was no ‘consultant’ as to whether they should be accepted and in what proportions. Quite simply, new neighbors had come to Hull House and they found their way into whatever classes or groups they chose. (Pittsburgh Courier, June 1, 1935, p. 9.)

Another tribute to Addams was published in the Chicago Defender, where Eugene Kinckle Jones remarked:

Jane Addams made no special effort to lead the Negro to the Promised Land but by no act or thought did she eliminate this race from the classes or groups most in need.’ At Hull House, they had no set place but they were eliminated from no place. In her condemnation of crime, she condemned lynching. In her belief in the extension of suffrage to all, she included the Negro in her ‘all.’ (Chicago Defender, June 29, 1935, p. 3.)


Thanks to Louise Knight for her research into the question which she graciously provided.

Excavating the History of Women and the Peace Movement

The peace movement dominates Jane Addams’s work from 1914 until her death in 1935. Working through the Woman’s Peace Party, the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Addams worked with her counterparts in many nations in a global movement to bring about peace, social justice, and equality.  She also served as the de facto leader of the American women’s peace movement.

Our detailed focus on the content of the documents and our efforts to identify the people mentioned in them yields a different kind of history than one that only focuses on the leaders of movements.  As we have begun publishing WILPF documents from both the United States and abroad, we are finding the names of early adherents, donors, and activists and adding them to the project’s database.

We know about Emily Greene Balch, Crystal Eastman, and Lucy Biddle Lewis, who were Addams’s coworkers for peace in the United States. But what about the rank and file? The women whose dollar donations funded the work of the WILPF? It turns out that within Jane Addams’s correspondence, we can learn about them too.

Eleanor Daggett Karsten, the secretary of the Woman’s Peace Party and then the United States Section of the WILPF, updated Addams every few weeks in 1920 with information about the women joining the new league, founded in 1919 at the International Congress of Women. As a document to add to our edition, I have to admit that each time I saw one of these multi-page columnar lists, I sighed, knowing that this one document might take a week or more to completely enter into our system due to the number of names. Thankfully, most of these lists contained street addresses, which made it easier (though not always easy!) to identify the women.

It didn’t take long to realize that instead of drudgery, adding the names of the early members of the WILPF was historical excavation of the best kind. Our biographical work is carried out in two steps. First the student or editor who enters the document into our system tries to link the name on the document to an existing name in our database. We use an Omeka-based system and a plug-in called Item Relations, to search the more than 12,0000 names in the system. When the person is not there, we add them. In this stage, the goal is to simply identify the person so that we are sure they are not duplicated and that we have verified their basic information.

We strive to add birth and death dates, full names, and a short biography, which we don’t publish until the second stage, when a student researcher does more in-depth work and drafts a full biography. Our goal is to then create relationships between the people in the edition and the organizations and events they participated in. This social network of Addams’s world being built slowly document by document, is one of the results of the project that we are most excited about. It will take time to build the data up, but it is time well spent.

For women, that means that “Mrs. Jerome H. Frank on 168 Hamptondale Road in Hubbard Woods, Illinois,” becomes “Florence Kiper Frank (1887?-?)” A draft biography, that isn’t publicly available yet notes that she was a member of the United States Section of the WILPF and was married to lawyer Jerome H. Franks and had a daughter named Barbara. Much of this comes from census records (having a street address on these lists is an enormous help),  local newspapers, and other web-based resources to get accurate information.  We create a bibliography pointing to the sources used so that others can follow our trail.

It is extremely exciting to find a photograph of the women, often in the U.S. Passport Applications that we access via Ancestry.com. Though the images are not of the best quality, hopefully we can add scanned originals at some point in the future.  We have also found that having even these short biographical stubs accessible on the web means that family members can find the project and see the associations that their ancestors had with Addams and peace. We have already received some photographs and biographical information from family members and hope that this will increase as we add more names.

Some of the more challenging research revolves around women who worked for peace outside the United States. There are many complicating factors—misspelled or partial names, the lack of genealogical resources for most non-English speaking countries, lack of language skills among our staff to read and search foreign-language resources (Google Translate only helps so much!), and often a lack of detailed geographical  information about where they lived.  Many of these peace activists are hard to trace through World War II, as records of pacifists and peace organizations often did not survive the war.

But adding them, even with partial names and limited dates, accomplishes something. As we enter more documents and move into the 1920s and 1930s, we uncover the names of those who participated in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and in time we will learn more about their lives as well.

Teaching Jane Addams in High School AP Classes

We are delighted to announce that, with a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, we will be working with a group of New Jersey high school  teachers and an educator from the Jane Addams – Hull-House Museum to explore ways to use the Jane Addams Digital Edition in high school AP classes.

The award, Developing Digital Educational Modules for High School AP Courses, will support a series of virtual meetings between Addams Project staff, and a select group of high school teachers from around the state. We are especially excited to also be working with Michael Ramirez, the Education Manager at the Jane Addams – Hull-House Museum in Chicago.

Two Ramapo College teacher-education students, Allie Cheff and Marina Kaiafas, will work with the teachers and Addams staff to develop primary-source-based educational materials that draw from the digital edition.

Jane Addams’s work during the Progressive Era and early 20th century was wide-ranging, and available topics range from her work in establishing social settlements, professionalizing social work, fighting against child labor and the persecution of immigrants and African-Americans, working to win support for woman suffrage, and her efforts for peace and social justice through the Woman’s Peace Party and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

We will hold a virtual symposium at the end of the grant to talk about what we learned and make publicly available to the materials on the project’s Education hub. We will also develop a guide for archives and other editing projects to help them create similar resources based on their holdings.

Teachers invited to participate are from all over the state and have extensive teaching experience. They are: Staci Anson (Ramapo High School), Yvonne Beatrice (Mahwah High School, ret.), Katherine DeVillasanta (Clearville Regional High School), Joseph Dobis (Franklin High School), Joseph Dwyer (Nutley Public Schools), Angela Funk (Indian Hills High School), Keri Giannotti (Bloomfield High School), Scott Kercher (Sparta High School), Faye Johnson Brimm Medical Arts High School), Allison McCabe Matto (Red Bank Regional High School), Louis Moore (Red Bank Regional High School), Frank Romano, Jr. (Perth Amboy Public School), Robert Schulte (Neptune High School), and Patricia Yale (Hillsborough High Schoo).

This grant builds on work that we did a few years back, also funded by the NJ Council for the Humanities, that developed National History Day guides and lesson plans using the digital edition for middle school students. Renee Delora, who led that effort, has joined this project to provide support to the student workers.

Jane Addams’ Pragmatist Theories of Democracy and Education

This is a guest post, written by Parysa Mostajir, a Teaching Fellow in Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago. She is currently researching the role of experience in diverse human practices like science, art, and democracy, and setting up an academic blog, Woman is a Rational Animal, dedicated to diversifying syllabi in the history of ideas.

 

Jane Addams is deservedly well-known for her tireless activism, having spent her life engaged in efforts to improve her society: She served on the boards of national and international organizations like the International Association for Labor Legislation, she campaigned for the rights of women, children, and workers, and she offered educational, recreational, and organizational resources to the immigrant communities surrounding Hull House. Although she spent most of her time in the world of action rather than the world of ideas, fewer people (including philosophers) give Jane Addams due credit for her role in developing a philosophical movement called ‘pragmatism.’

John Dewey (Wikimedia Commons)

Jane Addams was admired by some of the most celebrated pragmatist philosophers of her time, including John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, and William James. The correspondence of these professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard University, show that they recognized Addams as an imposing intellect from whom they had much to learn. In a 1908 letter on the Jane Addams Paper Project Digital Edition, George Herbert Mead describes “how deep an impression” Addams’ speech on ‘War and Progress’ made on him and others in the audience. In a 1902 letter, William James describes Addams’ Democracy and Social Ethics as “one of the great books of our time” and claims he “learned a lot” from it. Dewey’s correspondence reveals years of extensive visits and engagements with Hull House, during which he exchanged ideas with Jane Addams, the latter of whom he described as “the most magnificent exhibition of intellectual & moral faith I ever saw” [1894.10.10 (00206): John Dewey to Alice Chipman Dewey]. He even attributed to Addams the first definite statement of the pragmatist thesis “that democracy means certain types of experience,—an interest in experience in its various forms and types” [Volume 1: Political Philosophy, Logic, Ethics p. 2379].

Jane Addams with Hull House children (ca. 1930)

So what is pragmatism, and how does Jane Addams’ work fit in? Pragmatism is a tradition of philosophy that began in the United States in the late 19th century and was characterized by several core beliefs to do with action and experience. Addams’ major contributions to the tradition of pragmatism were her theories of democracy and education, which contained substantial developments on these core principles of pragmatist philosophy. Pragmatists believed that knowledge and theories should be based on our practical experiences, and be constructed in such a way as to take our practical experiences into account. Most striking about Addams’ writings in philosophy is the extent to which she adhered to the pragmatist conviction that knowledge and theories should be consistent with practice. While other pragmatists were involved in practical applications of their theories, such as John Dewey’s founding of the Laboratory School in Chicago, none of them were quite so embedded in everyday society as Jane Addams was at Hull House. Addams’ theories were derived from her practical activities at Hull House, instead of becoming lost in philosophical speculation. It was appropriate and inevitable, she wrote, that her experiences at Hull House would affect her convictions (Twenty Years, p. 308).

Pragmatists believed not only that theories should be derived from practical experiences, but that they should be applied to practical experiences in attempts to improve, enrich, and make sense of our lives. Unlike many contemporary philosophers who engaged in highly abstract theories having no relationship to the everyday world, pragmatists believed that theories gained their value by serving as instruments for empowering us to successfully take action in the world—this is the practical aspect of ‘pragmatism,’ from which the tradition derives its name. As a pragmatist, Jane Addams therefore rejected the idea, popular among sociologists of her time, that settlements like Hull House were ‘laboratories’ from which to derive pure theory (Deegan 1988, pp. 34-5; Twenty Years, p. 308). She wrote that her energies were directed “not towards sociological investigation, but to constructive work” (Hull House Maps and Papers, pp. vii-viii). Her pragmatist goal was to use the knowledge she gained from her experiences at Hull House in the application of practical changes and improvements to society and the lives of the people she served, not to derive knowledge for its own sake or out of pure curiosity.

These core pragmatist convictions concerning knowledge, practice, and experience are evident in Addams’ theories of democracy and education. To begin with her theory of democracy, Addams did not believe that democracy was a matter of ticking a ballot box once every few years. In her celebrated book on Democracy and Social Ethics, she argued that democracy was not just “a sentiment” or “a creed,” but “a rule of living,” which needed to be integrated practically with people’s everyday lives (Democracy and Social Ethics, p. 6). Many failures of contemporary democracy, she claimed, could be linked to the isolation of different sectors of society from each other, preventing familiarity with each other’s experiences. In order to resolve them and make our democracy more robust, we needed to ensure the connectedness of diverse types of people who shared the same society. For that reason, democracy could not be compartmentalized as a handful of remote political institutions, with the citizens’ democratic participation reduced to a single act of casting a vote. Democracy had to be an active practice for all citizens, embedded in their lived experience as a way of life. This would only be achieved by “mixing” the diverse members of society together and giving them “a wider acquaintance with and participation in the life about them” (Democracy and Social Ethics, p. 5). Addams argued that it was through exposure to the different ways of life, struggles, and needs of the many people with whom we share our society that we can develop attitudes of sympathy, respect, and a democratic sense of moral obligation towards each other. For example, she mentioned the importance of newspaper and literature in giving people the chance “to know all kinds of life” (Democracy and Social Ethics, p. 8). This kind of “diversified human experience and resultant sympathy” were, for Addams, “the foundation and guarantee of Democracy” (Democracy and Social Ethics, p. 7).

Jane Addams described her views of the Pullman Strike in her 1912 article, A Modern Lear.”

As a true pragmatist, concerned with the connection between theory and action, Addams based her theory of democracy on what she encountered in her practical experiences, and applied her theory of democracy to suggest resolutions to the problems she encountered. For example, Addams was involved in mediating the 1894 Pullman Strike in Chicago, in which the workers of a large factory went on strike to demand better wages. What Jane Addams saw in this conflict was a failure of the democratic practice of connecting with the experiences of others. Pullman, the owner of the factory, had built a town for the use of his factory employees, with parks and recreational facilities, believing that he was acting generously. The factory workers, on the other hand, resented the extension of Pullman’s control into the private lives. When the workers went on strike, Pullman was confused by their anger, and he felt that the factory workers were being ungrateful for the resources he had given them. In her philosophical work, Democracy and Social Ethics, Addams wrote that the “good deeds” Pullman thought he was conducting were in fact incomplete, because they were not conducted democratically. By not “calling upon the workmen either for self-expression or self-government,” he ended up lacking any familiarity with the experiences and desires of the workers (Democracy and Social Ethics, p. 143-4), and had operated undemocratically in making his decisions. “To attempt to attain a social morality,” Addams wrote, “without a basis of democratic experience results in the loss of the only possible corrective and guide” for actions—the daily experiences of other human beings (Democracy and Social Ethics, p. 176).

Addams’ theory of education was also deeply pragmatist in its commitment to connecting educational experiences to the practices and experiences of the individuals being educated. At that time, it was common for people to assume that manual laborers had no need of general education. When education was sometimes offered as part of universities’ charitable efforts—for example, University Extension Programs which sent professors to give general courses to the working class on topics like evolution, astronomy, psychology (Twenty Years, Chapter XVIII), or philanthropists who supported children in receiving clerical education—the idea was that such education either gave laborers a temporary mental escape from the mundanity of their work, or gave them the opportunity to leave their lives as factory workers and enter into more respected professions. Such educators did not consider education as having any possible genuine connection to the ordinary lives of factory workers.

Hull House class on immigration, held at the Coffee House, 1920s (Wallace Kirkland, Jane Addams Memorial Collection, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Addams, unsurprisingly, rejected these assumptions. Her pragmatist theory of education was based on extensive practical experience providing educational resources to the working-class neighborhood surrounding Hull House. In Democracy and Social Ethics, she insisted that factory workers could, and should, be provided with education on topics like history and economics which directly connected to their everyday practical experiences. Because of the division of labor, industrial workers spent most of their waking life operating machinery and manufacturing products to which they had no connection. They had no opportunities to understand the history of the invention and development of the machines they operated; they did not know the uses to which the products were put; and they did not understand the sales and distribution aspects of the businesses they worked for. Addams argued that this contributed to the poor quality of life of industrial laborers, and that education in how they fit into the workings of society would help to improve and enrich their daily experiences of manual labor. If educators, the state, and business owners were to take the value of their employees seriously, they needed to provide them with opportunities to connect their own experiences with the wider social, economic, and historical processes of which their manual labor was an important part. Such education would allow workers to make sense of the significance, purpose, and utility of their work, and would positively alter their sense of self, and their estimation of their own worth. In this way, education could be used not as an escape (either as temporary mental relief from monotony, or as an opportunity to move into a different line of work), but as a way of connecting to the ordinary lives of factory workers in such a way as to improve, enrich, and make sense of their everyday practical experience.

Jane Addams, ca. 1910

Amidst her extensive social, political, and community work, Addams found time to write several books threaded with innovative philosophical ideas and play a key role in establishing the new, pragmatist philosophical tradition in the United States—a tradition which was characterized by its beliefs in the importance of connecting knowledge with action, enriching individual experience, and solving social problems. Because Addams had so much experience taking action in the world, her philosophical writings are, more than any other pragmatist, threaded with connections to social, political, and economic problems, and filled with practical suggestions for how to ameliorate those problems. She remains one of the greatest examples of how our philosophical ideas can impact the practical approach we take to politics, economics, and culture, and how politics, economics, and culture can influence the development of ideas. In a time like ours, when universities are highly specialized and losing touch with the needs of wider society, we can look to Addams as a model public philosopher, who put her theories into action and let her real-life experiences guide her theories.

References:

Addams, Jane. Democracy and Social Ethics. New York, London: The Macmillan Company, 1907.

Addams, Jane. Twenty Years At Hull-house: With Autobiographical Notes. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1911.

Deegan, Mary Jo. Jane Addams and the Men of the Chicago School, 1892-1918. New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1988.

Dewey, John. Lectures, Volume 1: Political Philosophy, Logic, Ethics. Ed. Koch, Donald F., and The Center for Dewey Studies, 2016.