“A Reasonable Request”

I am an impatient woman, which makes me feel particularly indebted to patient women like Jane Addams who struggled year after year after year to convince men to give them the right to vote. I salute those women and whisper to their spirits that I am grateful for their patience and that it is lucky good they didn’t have to count on me. I would have wanted to bonk upside their heads those men in power who looked on, made fun, and kept saying “NO!” That the suffragists stayed the persistent course in the face of persistent rejection in order to gain a right so obvious (yes, even back then it was obvious) is heroic to me. I would have found it quite impossible to maintain for decades the energy it took to keep advocating, educating, marching, lobbying, writing, and coming up with new arguments and new nonviolent activities to bring awareness to the injustice of men denying women the right to vote, only to fail in that effort over and over and over again.

Suffragists were superheroes. They are my superheroes.

However, I must admit that it is a challenge sometimes to study the woman suffrage movement knowing how many freaking years it was going to take to be successful. It is hard to see some of the suffrage activities through the long and winding history of the movement as anything other than futile. But, thankfully, there are some suffrage efforts so inspired, so bursting with wisdom and enthusiasm that I wish I could have been there fighting with those goddesses of persistence.

Take the 1909 suffrage train from Chicago to Springfield as one shining example.

In the spring of 1909, there were three suffrage bills bouncing around like playground balls in the Illinois State Capitol, because there were a few suffrage supporters among the men in the Illinois General Assembly (Senators William M. Brown and Charles L. Billings, along with Rep. James M. Kittleman, all of Cook County, for example, each introduced suffrage bills). One such measure was a long-shot constitutional amendment to grant universal suffrage to Illinois women. There was also a Senate bill to allow Illinois women to vote in city and state elections, which had little-to-no support in the House. And there was the Chicago Municipal Suffrage Bill to give women in Chicago the right to vote in city elections. Illinois suffragists understood that the constitutional measure was on par with “when pigs fly,” but they were hopeful for the third measure and praying for the second, which would render the third measure moot.

Enter Superhero Catharine Waugh McCulloch.

Catharine Waugh McCulloch, c. 1907

McCulloch, a lawyer and justice of the peace in Evanston, Illinois, was chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association. In order to raise public awareness of the suffrage bills and hit members of the Illinois legislature with reasoned arguments, coming at them from every angle imaginable, she spearheaded a star-studded, public spectacle, suffrage extravaganza. The event was to start in Chicago with a special suffrage train filled with the “wisest and most influential women” in Illinois, continue with whistle-stop suffrage speeches in six cities on the way to Springfield, and culminate in a public hearing of joint committees of the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives at the State Capitol Building. It would be the biggest, boldest lobbying effort of the Illinois suffrage movement to date, a giant push to collect new converts to the cause.

Illinois Equal Suffrage Association Flyer, c. April 1909

Superhero Jane Addams was one of the other women leading the charge.

Addams was a member of the municipal suffrage committee in Chicago. In January the committee set up headquarters in the Stratford Hotel and “began the work of canvassing the entire city for the right to vote.” They held Saturday morning meetings and covered the city with posters. In February, Addams sent a suffrage postcard to her sister, writing: “Doesn’t this look as if our new movement was coming on?” The suffragists in Illinois were turning up the heat, as Addams declared in March: “There are plenty of things we need in this country for the protection of the health and the morals of our people. We could have them if we would ask for them, but the men won’t ask for them, and the women cannot.”

The women would, therefore, descend upon Springfield to make the case. On Tuesday, April 13, the special train, costing $5.50 for the round-trip fare and with a reported 150 suffragists on board, left Chicago on the Chicago & Alton Railroad at 10:30 in the morning. The train arrived at the first whistle stop in Joliet an hour later. Leading a group of four women who addressed a crowd at the Alton Depot of several hundred from a platform at the rear of the train, Jane Addams said:

“For many years the women have gone to Springfield, and in fact to all the capitals in the United States, asking for the right of voting. Their enfranchisement is no longer considered a radical move. The adherents of the move have steadily grown in numbers until today the movement has assumed an important position throughout the world. The women of today are treated in many ways the same as men. They have equal responsibilities and should be enfranchised. In Finland, which is a part of Russia, there are women in the parliament. It is hard to believe that America would be behind such a country in a matter so important. Belgium, England, and English colonies are giving more and more rights to women, and Illinois should not be in the rear. We ask reasonably for your sympathy in this movement. You have representatives in the legislature. Those men are anxious to please their constituents. A delegation of women is not going to have much weight with them, but your wishes will. We ask you to use what influence you have for our cause. It is but a reasonable request.”

A reasonable request, indeed.

Suffrage Train, leaving Chicago for Springfield, April 13, 1909

After the rousing stop at Joliet, the suffrage train continued on, stopping in Pontiac, Lexington, Bloomington, Atlanta, and Lincoln. Greeted by large crowds at each depot, the women took turns on the rear platform making their case for the vote. The Joliet News called them the “Conquering Heroines.”

At the hearing the next day, Senator Kittleman gave the chair and gavel to Jane Addams, who introduced each of the nineteen suffrage speakers, all women except for one. Each of the speakers made their unique arguments in favor of woman suffrage grounded in their own particular experiences. The sheer magnitude of this brilliant lobbying effort was inspiring. By way of celebrating all the superheroes who took part I offer the full roster of speakers and the titles of their speeches:

Ella Stewart
  • “Increasing Evidence that Women Want the Ballot,” Ella Stewart (1871-1945), President of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association, married to Oliver Stewart, a former member of the Illinois legislature
  • “Changing Public Opinion toward Municipal Suffrage,” Elia W. Peattie (1862-1935), Chicago Tribune literary editor
  • “The Indirect Benefits of the Ballot,” Anna Nicholes (1865-1917), settlement worker and clubwoman
  • “The Ethics of Equal Suffrage,” Prof. Herbert L. Willett (1864-1944), University of Chicago Professor of languages and literature
  • “The Lack of the Ballot the Handicap of the Working Girl,” Agnes Nestor (1880-1948), a trade union organizer representing the International Glove Worker’s Association

    Agnes Nestor, 1914
  • “The Need of the Ballot for Working Women,” Margaret Dreier Robins (1868-1945), President of the Chicago branch of the Women’s Trade Union League
  • “The Woman Official and the Ballot,” Catharine Waugh McCulloch (1862-1945)
  • “The Farmer’s Wife and the Ballot,” Norah Burt Dunlap (1856-1932) a clubwoman from Savoy, Illinois
  • “The Professional Woman and the Ballot,” Marjorie Gomery of Rockford, Illinois
  • “The Foreign Woman and the Ballot,” Lilian Anderson, (b. c. 1883), a librarian at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

    Julia Lathrop, Jane Addams, and Mary McDowell in Washington, D.C., lobbying for woman suffrage, 1913
  • “The College Associations for Equal Suffrage,” Harriet Grimm (b. c. 1886), who earned her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1908
  • “Church Interests and Suffrage for Women,” Eugenia Bacon (1853-1933), a clubwoman from Decatur, Illinois
  • “The Ballot for Women and Progressive Legislation,” Mary McDowell (1854-1936), director of the University of Chicago Settlement
  • “The Experiences of the Chicago Municipal Suffrage Campaign,” Mrs. William Hill
  • “Improved Sanitary Legislation and the Ballot,” Dr. Caroline Hedger (1868-1951), a Chicago physician
  • “The Justice of Equal Suffrage,” Rev. Kate Hughes (b. 1854),  minister of a church in Table Grove, Illinois, and former president of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association

    Elizabeth Hawley Everett, c. 1909
  • “The Attitude of the Illinois Club Woman toward Equal Suffrage,” Elizabeth Hawley Everett (1857-1940), President of Illinois Federation of Women’s Clubs, Highland Park, Illinois
  • “Modern Philanthropy and the Ballot for Women,” Flora Witkowsky (1869-1944), President of Jewish Chicago Women’s Aid
  • “The Ballot for Woman and Legal Protection of Children,” Harriet Park Thomas (1865-1935), Secretary of the Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago

None of the measures about which the speakers hoped to inspire legislative action that day passed into law. However, the suffragists won some allies and shifted momentum in their favor. They showed up and they proved they were in it to win it. They were determined to persevere, and just because I know it would take another four years until Illinois women would win voting rights does not render that suffrage train and hearing futile. The superhero suffragists did not get what they wanted in April 1909, but they made some serious noise and changed the game. The suffrage train of 1909 and the hearing orchestrated by the dynamic Catharine Waugh McCulloch and conducted by the cool and collected manner of Jane Addams was the dramatic beginning of the final push.

Nineteen cheers for these nineteen superheroes. And a hundred cheers for their persistence.

The legislative suffrage campaign in Illinois had begun in 1891 with a failed vote on a constitutional amendment to grant woman suffrage, continuing with more failed bills in 1893, 1895, 1897, 1901, 1903, 1905, 1907, and 1909. Finally in 1913, the Illinois legislature voted on S.B. 63 to grant women aged 21 and older full presidential and municipal suffrage and partial state and county suffrage. The vote in the Senate was 29 to 15 in favor of passage. In the House, the successful vote was 83 to 58. The suffragists had never wilted in the face of rejection. They were persistent. They kept on asking for the vote. And on June 26, 1913, when the bill became law, Catharine Waugh, Jane Addams, and all the other suffrage heroes finally got the answer they deserved.

Men watching women marching for suffrage in New York City, Oct. 23, 1915

Sources: Steven M. Buechler, The Transformation of the Woman Suffrage Movement: The Case of Illinois, 1850-1920 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1986), 174-82; Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast, eds., Women Building Chicago (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), 560-65, 623-26, 634-36, 846-49; Martha G. Stapler, ed., Woman Suffrage Year Book (New York: National Woman Suffrage Association, 1917), 16, 29; 46th Illinois General Assembly, listed in John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 265-67; Laws of the State of Illinois (1913). 333; “An Act to confer the right to vote at municipal elections upon women citizens of the city of Chicago,” Mar. 23, 1909; Journal of the House of Representatives of the 46th General Assembly of the State of Illinois (Springfield: State Printers, 1909), 324; “An Act granting women the right to vote at certain elections,” Jan. 11, 1910, Journals of the Senate and House of Representatives, Special Session of the 46th General Assembly (Springfield: State Printers, 1910), 86, 218; “Petticoat Diplomacy,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 17, 1908, p. 7; “Chicago Suffragettes to Stop in Joliet Thirty Minutes,” The Joliet Evening Herald-News, Apr. 8, 1909, p. 3; “Crowds Gather at Stations,” Chicago Tribune, Apr. 14, 1909, p. 3; “Critic Fires Hot Blast at Suffragists,” The (Chicago) Inter Ocean, Apr. 14, 1909, p. 1, 3; “The Conquering Heroines Came,” The Joliet News, Apr. 15, 1909, p. 3; Illinois Equal Suffrage Association Flyer, c. April 1909, Jane Addams Papers Microfilm Edition, 41:1082; and from the Jane Addams Digital Edition (JADE): Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, Feb. 23, 1909; Jane Addams Says that American Women are Slower, March 19, 1909; Woman Suffrage Is Needed in Chicago, March 24, 1909; Jane Addams to Agnes Nestor, April 9, 1909; Jane Addams to Agnes Nestor, April 9, 1909; Address to Women’s Suffrage Rally at Joliet, Illinois, April 13, 1909.

Images: Elizabeth Hawley Everett in Illinois Club Bulletin 1 (Oct. 1909): 2; Lathrop/Addams/McDowell, Nestor, Ella Stewart, and NYC parade, all from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs; Suffrage Train from The (Chicago) Inter Ocean, Apr. 14, 1909, p. 3: Postcard, JADE.

Powering the Jane Addams Papers!

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The National Historical Publications and Records Commission awarded us $160,000 in support for 2022-2023. The NHPRC’s program in Publishing Historical Records in Collaborative Editions has been a stalwart supporter of the Project and has published many papers projects that document the lives of women.  Funds from this grant help support the salaries of editors working on the Jane Addams Digital Edition.

 


The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded us a three-year $300,000 grant (2022-2025). The NEH’s program in Scholarly Editing aids in the publication of the Selected Papers of Jane Addams as well as our work on the digital edition. The NEH’s support for historical editions has enriched the study of our nation’s heritage tremendously.


 

E. B. Waters portrait of Jane Addams (1902) Library of Congress

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A Tale of Many Cultures: Clara Landsberg’s Experiences at Hull House

This article in its entirety was published in Volume 46, No. 3 Summer 2022 edition of Chicago Jewish History, a quarterly publication of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society and is being reprinted with the permission of the Society.

A Tale of Many Cultures:  Clara Landsberg’s Experiences at Hull House with Eastern European Jewish Immigrants and White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Social Workers

by Cynthia Francis Gensheimer

Clara Landsberg, a Jewish-born teacher, social worker, and pacifist, lived at Hull House in the room directly adjacent to Jane Addams’s for roughly 20 years and made significant contributions to the Chicago settlement house. However, scholars have paid scant attention to her story until now, perhaps because she never sought prominence during her lifetime.[1] While researching her connection with Bryn Mawr College as part of a larger project on early Jewish women students at the Seven Sisters schools, I have discovered that shortly after graduating in 1897, Landsberg left Judaism to become Episcopalian. Afterward, she maintained ties with her influential Jewish parents but also became a member of the nation’s Protestant elite and of an international sisterhood of pacifists. Like many leading women intellectuals and social workers of her day, Landsberg lived with her lifelong partner—a woman—in a predominantly female world. This article will provide an overview of Landsberg’s biography, with a focus on her role at Hull House.

Clara was the daughter of a Jewish power couple: Rabbi Max Landsberg and Miriam (Isengarten) Landsberg, leading Jewish intellectuals and nationally known experts on charity administration, with 30 years of hands-on experience in helping the less fortunate in Rochester, New York.[2] Clara’s parents had close working relationships with luminaries Jewish and non-Jewish, including Chicago’s Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch, Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, and Jane Addams.[3] Closer to home, Susan B. Anthony attended the Landsberg congregation’s annual interfaith Thanksgiving services and, in 1892, recommended Miriam Landsberg for a statewide position—although that position was ultimately filled by Anthony herself.[4] The Landsbergs helped lead efforts for social good in Rochester with their closest friends: the Unitarian minister William Gannett and his wife, Mary T. L. Gannett. Clara Landsberg followed her parents’ example in many ways.

Clara can be taken as a case study in the difficulties that many Jewish women of her generation would have faced in attempting to achieve the Landsbergs’ highest ideals. Clara graduated from the most intellectually rigorous women’s college on the East Coast and, through her partner, Margaret Hamilton, became a member of one of the country’s most elite Protestant families. Yet even after graduating from college and becoming Episcopalian, she was denied a job at a girls’ preparatory school because she was still considered Jewish. This discrimination against Jews, even those who had left the faith, was leveled against a young woman of eminent qualifications and impeccable manners. It belied her own parents’ fervent wish that Judaism should be considered only a religion, not a race, and that Jews should find full acceptance in American society.

Born in Rochester in 1873, Clara—and her two younger sisters, Rose and Grace—attended Miss Cruttenden’s School for Girls, which offered a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, but also equipped its students for lives of simple refinement. Although their social world was predominantly Jewish, they had Christian friends as well. At Rose’s confirmation, Rabbi Landsberg enjoined the teenagers coming of age in his Reform congregation to take a rational approach to religion and to determine their beliefs for themselves without feeling bound by tradition.[5] As the Landsberg children would have known, Susan B. Anthony and Mary T. L. Gannett had done exactly that by becoming Unitarians after growing up as Quakers.

At Bryn Mawr College, Clara met her future life partner: Margaret Hamilton, daughter of an upper-class WASP family in Fort Wayne, Indiana.[6] Clara also became acquainted with Margaret’s sisters: Alice Hamilton, who would later establish the field of industrial medicine, and Edith Hamilton, who would famously popularize classical Greek and Roman mythology.[7] Bryn Mawr, founded by Quakers, advertised itself as “pervaded by a simple and practical Christianity” and required daily chapel attendance.[8] Clara, the only Jew of the nearly 50 students in her graduating class, lived on campus and studied classical and modern languages, with a concentration in Latin and Greek.[9] After their 1897 graduation, Clara and Margaret studied abroad at the Sorbonne and the University of Munich.[10]

Around 1900, Clara Landsberg moved to Hull House, where she would room with Alice Hamilton for the next two decades.[11] By the time Clara arrived, three-quarters of Hull House’s clientele consisted of Jews from Chicago’s Near West Side and other neighborhoods.[12] These Jews—mostly immigrants from Eastern Europe—came to learn English, attend lectures and concerts, and participate in drama, music, and debate clubs.[13] Despite their apprehensions with respect to Christian proselytizing, they predominated among the 9,000 people who visited Hull House each week.[14] Clara Landsberg earned her living by teaching German and history at a local girls’ school; in her free time, she taught—and later supervised—the evening classes at Hull House.[15]

Jane Addams mentored Clara, who was initially in the unique position of being the only resident who had been born and raised Jewish. Jane Addams called her the “dean of our educational department”—in other words, supervisor of one of the settlement’s core activities.[16] In 1908, a paragraph in the Bryn Mawr Alumnæ Quarterly—likely written by Clara herself—reported that she was living at Hull House to familiarize herself with the problems of immigrants living in “crowded” quarters. Rather than describing her students as Catholic or Jewish, Clara identified them by their various nationalities: “Italian, Greek, Russian, Roumanian, Polish, Armenian, and German.”[17] She explained that they wanted to learn English not only to get good jobs, but also to “study subjects more or less remote from their daily work for much the same reasons that induce people of more fortunate neighborhoods to study Browning, Shakespeare, Ibsen, or Bernard Shaw.”[18] During her early years at Hull House, Clara introduced her students—primarily Eastern European Jews—to some of the classic works of English literature.[19] According to Jane Addams, Clara possessed “an unusual power” as a knowledgeable teacher with an unassuming, quiet presence.[20] In addition, Landsberg had “many friends among the poor people of the neighborhood who are devotedly attached to her.”[21] Two of those friends were Hilda Satt and Morris Levinson.

Hilda Satt’s life was transformed through her long association with the settlement and its residents. Hilda, who had first visited Hull House as a young teenager in 1895, later became a member of one of Clara Landsberg’s reading groups. Certain her mother would disapprove, Hilda had initially declined an Irish friend’s invitation to attend that year’s Hull House Christmas party. In her posthumously published autobiography, Hilda recalled her fear that she would be killed if she attended, because in Poland it had been dangerous for Jewish children to play outside on Christmas. She later wrote, “There were children and parents … from Russia, Poland, Italy, Germany, Ireland, England, and many other lands, but no one seemed to care where they had come from, or what religion they professed … I became a staunch American at this party.”[22]

In one of the first reading groups Clara conducted at Hull House, she ignited a love of English literature in Hilda, who spoke Yiddish at home and had left school after fifth grade to work days sewing shirt cuffs. In addition to the books Clara assigned, Hilda was soon reading “every book I could borrow.”[23] Only a few years earlier, Hilda’s English vocabulary had been so limited that she did not yet know the word “mushroom.” During a meal at Hull House, she had been served a mushroom omelet, of which she would later recall, “I was tortured with the question of whether the mushrooms were kosher.”[24] Soon, however, Hilda counted authors like Dickens and Louisa May Alcott among her friends. Months after meeting Hilda, Clara presented her with a Christmas gift of a copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. Hilda would later recall this as her fondest memory of “Miss Landsberg, … a fragile, ethereal, gentle woman … [who] opened new vistas in reading for me.”[25] With Clara Landsberg’s help, Hilda Satt became an exemplar of the path to Americanization and upward mobility that the settlement aimed to encourage.[26]

Another of Clara’s students, Morris Levinson, was, like many immigrants, eager to learn English and become an American citizen in the cultural as well as the political sense of the word. With Clara Landsberg as his mentor, he aspired to learn much more than basic skills of vocabulary, grammar, and usage.[27] Landsberg saved two letters that he wrote to her in 1905, while she was home in Rochester convalescing after a serious illness. In broken English, Morris expressed his concern that “Miss Landsberg” was “too sweet, and delicate, to be confind to bed of illness [sic],” reassured her that Ellen Gates Starr had taken him on as a pupil, and told her that he was studying a book she had given him to read: The Boys of 76, a collection of first-hand accounts of soldiers in the American Revolution:

I bolive I should have to know the history of this Country … I have resolved to read it over agan, so that I will remember everything better … Miss Landsberg, I bolive this history will make me a throught citesin.[28]

Morris also confided in Clara. He planned not to live solely seeking fun, “as a great many of people do,” but rather to “try to egicat [him]self as much as poseble” in order to “see the mining of this beautiful world and of the real uman life.”[29] Clara was not only a teacher but a role model for Morris Levinson: someone he admired and to whom he felt a deep sense of gratitude.

Although Hilda, Morris, and Clara had all been raised in Jewish homes, their similarities ended there. Clara’s highly educated, German-born parents spoke fluent English and shunned Yiddish. Like other Reform rabbis, Rabbi Landsberg jettisoned “superstitious forms and antiquated dogmas,” eliminating rituals he considered outmoded, such as Bar Mitzvah.[30] He endorsed the principles adopted by the Reform movement in its Pittsburgh Platform of 1885, but, like Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch of Chicago’s Sinai Congregation, he saw them as only the beginning rather than the end. In 1893, Rabbi Landsberg spoke in Chicago at the World Parliament of Religions, endorsing an expanded role for Jewish women in congregational life.[31]

Clara’s approach to Judaism was virtually the antithesis of that of many of the Jewish immigrants at Hull House. Her father decried Orthodoxy as well as Jewish nationalism. The Jewish immigrants—familiar and comfortable only with Orthodox Judaism—rejected Reform Judaism. Even those atheists, anarchists, and socialists who spurned all religion felt a connection to Yiddishkeit and Jewish peoplehood, concepts rejected by the Landsbergs and most Reform Jews. Did these immigrant Jews nonetheless recognize Clara Landsberg as ethnically Jewish, or did they see her as one of many Protestant residents of Hull House? Might they have accepted her precisely because they had no idea she was Jewish?

Addams and her cohort respected religious differences and tried hard to make Hull House welcoming to all.[32] Yet Jane Addams was motivated by her Protestant faith—especially by the literature and culture of social Christianity, which she described as a “renaissance of the early Christian humanitarianism … with a bent to express in social service and in terms of action the spirit of Christ.”[33] Addams has been criticized for failing to grasp that for many Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Judaism was far more than a religion. On the other hand, features of Hull House that Orthodox Jews would have found off-putting—the Chi-Rho cross Addams always wore, the Christian artwork on display, the lack of kosher food—would not have offended the most liberal Reform Jews such as Clara Landsberg or her mother, Miriam Landsberg.[34]

Miriam Landsberg, Hannah G. Solomon, and other German Jews mirrored mainstream America’s adulation of Addams. One of these Jewish admirers, Sara Hart, called Addams “the single, most influential citizen of my generation.”[35] Miriam Landsberg visited Hull House frequently and helped spearhead efforts among affluent Jews to establish a settlement in Rochester. In 1905, after spending several weeks at Hull House, she wrote: “I do not wonder that any one who has ever lived at Hull House cannot bear to go back to ordinary life.” She described the 21 residents (including her daughter Clara) as a “family” composed of “people of the finest minds” and life at Hull House as “simple, practical, … ideal.”[36]

Settlement work was popular among graduates of Bryn Mawr and similar colleges. Even so, it was not Clara’s first career choice. She and Margaret had wanted to teach at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, but two of the school’s most influential trustees, Mary Garrett and M. Carey Thomas (then president of Bryn Mawr College), refused to hire her because she was Jewish.[37] In 1899, Edith Hamilton (then headmistress of the Bryn Mawr School) wrote to M. Carey Thomas to apprise her of Clara’s conversion:

My sister has just written me that Miss Landsberg is about to become a member of the Episcopal church, and I have wondered whether this would make a difference in your and Miss Thomas’ opinion that we could not offer her a position because she is a Jewess.[38]

Clara Landsberg’s conversion made “not the least difference,” either to Mary Garrett or to M. Carey Thomas, as Garrett explained in her response to Edith Hamilton:

Our objection is one of policy and very few Jews employed in schools or colleges are Jews by religion; it never had occurred to us that Miss Landsberg was really an orthodox Jew. We are wholly unwilling to connect with the school in any capacity a Jew by race, and in view of our feeling of the financial unwisdom of such a step we think that Jews ought to be ruled out of court for the future in consideration of possible appointments.[39]

Yet Clara persisted. In 1900, M. Carey Thomas wrote to Mary Garrett saying, “The Jews enrage me. Is nothing in the world settled? Have Miss Landsberg & the Jews to come up perpetually. It is awfully bad policy.”[40]

Clara remained at Hull House until 1920, when a Quaker organization sponsored her to travel to Vienna to perform postwar humanitarian relief work. Two letters of recommendation finally qualified her as a WASP and (therefore) fit to represent the U.S. abroad. Jane Addams provided a ringing endorsement, and Mary T. L. Gannett was careful to specify: “As a matter of information, Miss Landsberg, during her college course joined the Episcopal Church – and as far as I know is still a loyal member of that Communion.”[41]

When Addams and her partner, Mary Rozet Smith, learned that Clara Landsberg had been accepted to the Quaker program, they both wrote letters of congratulation and farewell. Addams wrote, “I can’t bear to think of H.H. [Hull-House] next winter without either Alice [Hamilton] or yourself.”[42] Mary Rozet Smith wrote: “… no words will express … [our] sense of desolation … when we think of the year without you. … J.A. and I have decided that it is like losing a mother and a child at once. … With Alice in Boston and you in Vienna what will Hull-House be! It is too depressing to face.”[43]

Did Max and Miriam Landsberg know that their daughter was no longer Jewish? In the 1899 letter announcing Clara Landsberg’s conversion, Edith Hamilton had written, “Under the circumstances her family would prefer her not to be at home.”[44] Yet there is no proof that Clara’s parents did learn of her conversion. To all appearances, she maintained a positive relationship with her mother and father throughout their lives. In his final instructions to his children, Max Landsberg wrote, “[M]y life has been one of uniform happiness. The only serious trouble in my whole life has been the loss of my dear wife, your good mother.”[45]

As tolerant as Miriam was toward other beliefs, however, it is likely she would have cared deeply that Clara had left Judaism. At a national conference, as chair of the National Council of Jewish Women’s Committee on Religion, she worried that many German Jews were “given over entirely to materialism and indifference to all Jewish affairs.” She warned Jewish mothers that children raised without religion could “fall prey to … pious sharks … eager for souls.”[46] A few years later, she implored mothers to transmit a love of Judaism to their children “to preserve to our posterity that Judaism which gave Religion to the world.”[47] Despite Miriam’s fears, it is doubtful her daughter would have fallen prey to “pious sharks.” Rather, through exposure to Christianity at school and through her closest friends and role models, Clara rejected the most modern version of Judaism, one carefully crafted by her own parents, in favor of the Episcopal Church, which her father had criticized for what he saw as its strict adherence to ritual and creed.[48]

Part Two of this article will discuss Clara Landsberg’s becoming godmother to Jane Addams’ grandniece, Clara’s travels with Addams, and Clara’s own work as a pacifist, which was deeply informed by her connection with Addams. It will also document her retaining ties to her birth family, even as she joined the Hamilton family as well. And it will describe Landsberg’s trip to Germany with Alice Hamilton just after Hitler had come to power. In a letter to herself documenting the onset of the Holocaust, Landsberg would write, “I am a Jewess.”

Our thanks to Cynthia Francis Gensheimer and the Chicago Jewish History for allowing us to share this article with you.


[1] Even one of Clara Landsberg’s fellow residents, Francis Hackett, seemingly forgot her surname: “Miss Clara, of Bryn Mawr vintage, valiant, tense, souffrante, at once impatient and remorseful, indefatigable and worn-out.” Francis Hackett, “Hull-House: A Souvenir,” 100 Years at Hull-House, eds. Mary Lynn McCree Bryan and Allen F. Davis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969), 69.

[2] Max Landsberg, born in Berlin in 1845, was a rabbi’s son and a protégé of Abraham Geiger. American Jewish Year Book 1903–1904, 72; http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1903_1904_3_SpecialArticles.pdf. When Miriam Landsberg, who was born in Hanover in 1847, died, the American Israelite called her death a “loss to American Jewry.” American Israelite, April 25, 1912. Peter Eisenstadt, Affirming the Covenant: A History of Temple B’rith Kodesh, Rochester, New York, 1848–1998 (Rochester: Temple B’rith Kodesh, 1999), ch. 2 and 3; Stuart E. Rosenberg, The Jewish Community in Rochester, 1843–1925 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1954). At a 1910 meeting of the National Conference of Jewish Charities, during Miriam Landsberg’s term as vice-president, Jane Addams gave the opening address, and Rabbi Landsberg served as delegate representing the Jewish Orphan Asylum of Western New York, which he had co-founded and led for decades. Sixth Biennial Session of the National Conference of Jewish Charities in the United States Held in the City of St. Louis, May 17th to 19th, 1910 (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollock, 1910). American Israelite, February 5, 1914, 3. Rabbi Landsberg was elected president of the New York State Conference on Charities and Correction in 1910, when Miriam Landsberg was the outgoing vice-president. “Conference of Charities Holds Three Busy Sessions,” Democrat and Chronicle, November 17, 1910, 17.

[3] As chair of the Committee on Religion of the National Council of Jewish Women, Miriam Landsberg worked closely with Hannah G. Solomon, the organization’s founder. Susan B. Anthony wrote to Miriam Landsberg giving instructions for a meeting of the National Council of Women in Washington, D.C. and letting her know that Hannah G. Solomon and Sadie American had already arrived. Susan B. Anthony to Miriam Landsberg, February 12, 1899, University of Rochester Archives. After Hannah G. Solomon’s daughter, Helen, visited the Landsbergs in 1902, Rabbi Landsberg wrote to Hannah telling her what a “great treat” it had been to have her visit: “Helen reminds me so much of you, although she looks more like the best husband on earth.” He signed the letter, “With love for your husband and all the sisters within your reach.” Max Landsberg to Hannah G. Solomon, April 2, 1902. Helen Solomon Wellesley Correspondence, Hannah G. Solomon Family Collection, MC 749, American Jewish Archives. For the working relationship among Rabbi Hirsch, Hannah G. Solomon, and Jane Addams, see Rina Lunin Schultz, “Striving for Fellowship: Sinai’s Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch and Hull-House’s Jane Addams, A Not-So-Odd Couple,” unpublished manuscript, February 24, 2015.

[4] Ida Husted Harper, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony (Indianapolis: Bowen-Merrill, 1898), 2:730. In 1891, Susan B. Anthony, Rabbi Landsberg, and Rev. William C. Gannett spoke at the annual Thanksgiving service. “The Benefits of Unrest,” Democrat and Chronicle, November 27, 1891, 6.

[5] “Rochester, N.Y.,” American Israelite, June 20, 1889, 2.

[6] For background on Bryn Mawr College, see Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women’s Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984) and Horowitz, The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994).

[7] For a significant biographical work on the nature of Clara Landsberg’s relationship with Margaret Hamilton, as well as Edith’s connection to Bryn Mawr College and the Bryn Mawr School, see Judith P. Hallett, “Edith Hamilton,” The Classical World  90, nos. 2/3, Six Women Classicists (November 1996–February 1997): 107–147.

[8] Bryn Mawr College Program 1892 (Philadelphia: Sherman & Co., 1892), 77.

[9] Clara Landsberg’s student transcript, Bryn Mawr College Archives. Religious affiliations researched by the author.

[10] Clara Landsberg’s alumna record, Bryn Mawr College Archives. Sandra L. Singer, Adventures Abroad: North American Women at German-speaking Universities, 1868–1915 (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2003), 75, 212.

[11] Presumably by the time that Clara Landsberg moved to Hull-House, she had become a member of the Episcopal church, but evidence surrounding the conversion is scanty, and that surrounding the exact dates of Clara Landsberg’s tenure at Hull-House is contradictory. For Alice Hamilton’s experience at Hull-House, see Alice Hamilton, Exploring the Dangerous Trades (Fairfax, Virginia: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1995), ch. 4 and 5; Barbara Sicherman, Alice Hamilton: A Life in Letters (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1984), 3–4, 5, 115–136, 139–141, 144–152, 182, 244. Both Hamilton’s and Sicherman’s books are valuable resources that contain references to Clara Landsberg throughout.

[12] Hannah G. Solomon, introducing Jane Addams as a speaker at a national convention of the National Council of Jewish Women. “General Council of Hebrew Women Meets,” The Washington Times, December 3, 1902, 2.

[13] Philip Davis, “Educational Influences,” in The Russian Jew in the United States, ed. Charles S. Bernheimer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The John C. Winston Co., 1905), 217.

[14] Hull-House was not the only center serving immigrant Jews in its neighborhood. German Jews in Chicago organized their own institutions, and in fact Jane Addams mediated between the German and eastern European Jews when the Jewish-run Maxwell Street settlement was established a few blocks from Hull-House. The first organizational meeting, held at Hull-House in 1892, nearly disbanded due to the terrible arguing between the immigrants and the German Jews who convened the meeting. In an essay titled “A Resented Philanthropy,” one of the immigrants at the meeting later credited Addams with reestablishing civility. He said, “The ‘culture’ which was to emanate from the settlement and permeate all corners of the Ghetto was conspicuously absent from the heated discussion of the ‘enlightened’ benefactors.” In 1907, 150 people visited Hull-House weekly to lecture, teach, or supervise clubs. For Hull-House’s purpose, the names of its residents, and its weekly attendance, see Hull-House Year Book 1907, 5–6 (Archive.org, https://archive.org/details/hullhouseyearboo1906hull/page/38/mode/2up?q=jewish).

[15] Clara’s work evolved over time. She worked full-time at Hull-House for one year, but, finding that too difficult, she eventually taught at the University School for Girls (Miss Haire’s). Alice Hamilton to Agnes Hamilton, [mid-June? 1902], in Sicherman, Alice Hamilton, 142–143. Clara Landsberg’s alumna record, Bryn Mawr College.

[16] Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House (New York: Macmillan, 1912), 437 (A Celebration of Women Writers, ed. Mary Mark Ockerbloom, https://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/addams/hullhouse/hullhouse.html).

[17] Italians came to predominate during Clara’s second decade. In 1902, the Chicago Tribune reported on a “Hebrew invasion” in the “crowded west side district”: “As soon as a Jewish family gets a foothold in a tenement other occupants vacate.” “Races Shift Like Sand,” Chicago Tribune, September 26, 1902, 13.

[18] Bryn Mawr Alumnæ Quarterly Vol. 1–2 1907–1909 (Bryn Mawr, PA: Bryn Mawr Alumnæ Association, 1907–1909) (https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/214021114.pdf).

[19] Francis Hackett wrote in his memoir: “Russian Jews and Jewesses came in great numbers to the classes at Hull House, and had special leanings toward literature” (72). Some English classes were composed entirely of Jews. Philip Davis, “Intellectual Influences,” in The Russian Jew in the United States, ed. Charles S. Bernheimer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The John C. Winston Co., 1905), 217.

[20] Jane Addams to Anita McCormick Blaine, June 29, 1901, Anita McCormick Blaine Correspondence and Papers, 1828–1958, Wisconsin Historical Society (Jane Addams Papers Project, https://digital.janeaddams.ramapo.edu/items/show/1015).

[21] Jane Addams, American Friends’ Service Committee (AFSC) letter of recommendation for Clara Landsberg, May 1, 1920. AFSC Archives.

[22] Hilda Satt Polacheck, I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 51–52, 66.

[23] Polacheck, I Came a Stranger, 66.

[24] Polacheck, I Came a Stranger, 66.

[25] Polacheck, I Came a Stranger, 66–67.

[26] In 1905, Hilda Satt took over supervision of the evening classes in Clara’s absence. In 1906–07, she taught beginners’ English at Hull-House. Jane Addams to Clara Landsberg, July 4, 1905, Clara Landsberg Papers, University of Illinois at Chicago Library (Jane Addams Papers Project, https://digital.janeaddams.ramapo.edu/items/show/840); Hull-House Year Book 1906–1907, 8.

[27] Addams noted the frequency with which young Jewish men who had patronized Hull-House also graduated from high school with help from their parents and then managed on their own to go on to college. Twenty Years at Hull-House, 346.

[28] Morris Levinson to Clara Landsberg, May 26, 1905, Additional Papers of the Hamilton Family, 1850–1994, box 13, 83-M175-94-M77, Schlesinger Library. Levinson’s letters are quoted as written, without corrections as to spelling, grammar, or usage.

[29] Morris Levinson to Clara Landsberg, n/d, Additional Papers of the Hamilton Family, 1850–1994, box 13, 83-M175-94-M77, Schlesinger Library.

[30] “Dr. Landsberg’s Closing Lecture,” Jewish Tidings, March 30, 1888, 19.

[31] Max Landsberg, “The Position of Woman Among the Jews,” World Parliament of Religions, Chicago, Illinois, 1893 (GoogleBooks, https://books.google.com/books?id=q2U-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA241&dq=%22max+landsberg%22+%22The+Position+of+Woman+among+the+Jews%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-3aifgMLPAhUk_4MKHRbLCOIQ6AEIIDAA#v=onepage&q=%22max%20landsberg%22%20%22The%20Position%20of%20Woman%20among%20the%20Jews%22&f=false). When virtually no other rabbi in America would perform an interfaith marriage, both Hirsch and Landsberg did so. Rosenberg, The Jewish Community in Rochester, 93–94. Tobias Brinkmann, Sundays at Sinai (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 136.

[32] In Twenty Years at Hull-House, Addams explained that over time, she and the other residents abandoned Protestant evening prayer, and their demographic composition at least in part reflected the make-up of the neighborhood, including Catholics and Jews, “dissenters and a few agnostics.” Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House, 448–449. Rivka Shpak Lissak has claimed that although many traditional Jews avoided Hull-House, it “had a closer relationship with the marginal Jewish elements, the assimilationists and the radicals.” Lissak, Pluralism and Progressives: Hull House and the New Immigrants, 1890–1919 (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 80.

[33] Rima Lunin Schultz wrote: “For Addams, who affixed a Chi-Rho Cross to her bodice, her work at Hull-House was religious; yet by establishing her settlement as an independent association without ties to any religious organization, university, or other agency, and by not requiring religious worship or religious education, she set out to spread a Christian humanism that she envisioned as cosmopolitan and democratic, inclusive and tolerant. Did this mean that she resolved to exclude religious ideas from Hull-House? I would argue that this has been an area of misunderstanding about Addams’s intentions.” Rina Lunin Schultz, “Jane Addams, Apotheosis of Social Christianity,” Church History 84, no. 1 (March 2015): 207.

[34] Many eastern European Jewish immigrants were strongly attached to Jewish culture and Zionism, even as they lost their connection to Jewish worship. Jane Addams wanted children of immigrants to respect their parents, yet she also saw that many old customs and religious traditions made no sense to the younger generation and in some cases held them back. Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House, 247–248; Rivka Shpak Lissak, Pluralism and Progressives, 80–94. In contrast, on a family trip to Germany when Clara was ten years old, the Landsbergs had appreciated the aesthetic value of medieval Christian architecture such as the Hildesheim cathedral. Clara Landsberg, “Leaves from my Diary,” 1887, 1–4, Additional Papers of the Hamilton Family, 1850–1994, 83-M175-94-M77, box 13, folder 81, Schlesinger Library.

[35] Sara Hart wrote of Jane Addams, “It was my pleasure to know her intimately for more than thirty years.” Sara L. Hart, The Pleasure is Mine: An Autobiography (Chicago, Illinois: Valentine-Newman, 1947), 82. Hannah G. Solomon considered Jane Addams a leader of “all humanity” and  “the greatest woman of our century.” Jane Addams inspired Jewish women at the NCJW’s third biennial in 1902, which Solomon attended as president and Miriam Landsberg as vice-president (Hannah G. Solomon, “Council Welfare Work Forty Years Ago and Today,” 4, n/d, Hannah G. Solomon Collection, Library of Congress, box 11, folder 5).

[36] “Sings Praises of Hull House,” Democrat and Chronicle, March 17, 1905, 10.

[37] To understand Mary Elizabeth Garrett and the early history of Bryn Mawr School, see Kathleen Waters Sander, Mary Elizabeth Garrett: Society and Philanthropy in the Gilded Age (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2008).

[38] Edith Hamilton to Mary Garrett, April 18, 1899, Bryn Mawr College Archives, Papers of M. Carey Thomas, reel 214.

[39] I am indebted to Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, who cites this letter and gives a good overview of M. Carey Thomas’s antisemitism in M. Carey Thomas, 230–32, 267, 486. Mary Garrett to Edith Hamilton, April 24, 1899, Bryn Mawr College Archives, Papers of M. Carey Thomas, reel 214.

[40] M. Carey Thomas to Mary Garrett, September 26, 1900, Bryn Mawr College Archives, Papers of M. Carey Thomas, reel 23, nos. 37–39.

[41] Mary T. L. Gannett, letter of recommendation, May 4, 1920, Clara Landsberg’s personnel file, AFSC Archives.

[42] Jane Addams to Clara Landsberg, August 7, 1920, Hamilton Family Collection, 84-M210, box 1, folder 7, Schlesinger Library. Alice Hamilton had just been appointed the first woman professor at Harvard’s School of Medicine.

[43] Mary Rozet Smith to Clara Landsberg, August 7, 1920, Hamilton Family Collection, 84-M210, box 1, folder 7, Schlesinger Library.

[44] Edith Hamilton to Mary Garrett, April 18, 1899.

[45] Max Landsberg to his children, January 16, 1918, Max Landsberg SC 6602, American Jewish Archives.

[46] “The Council’s Report on ‘Religion,’ ” The Reform Advocate, March 24, 1900, 167 (The National Library of Israel, https://www.nli.org.il/en/newspapers/?a=d&d=refadv19000324-01.1.11&e=——-en-20–1–img-txIN%7ctxTI-%22miriam+landsberg%22————-1).

[47] Miriam Landsberg, “Report of Committee on Religion,” The Reform Advocate, January 3, 1903, 452 (The National Library of Israel, https://www.nli.org.il/en/newspapers/refadv/1903/01/03/01/article/29/?srpos=12&e=——190-en-20–1–img-txIN%7ctxTI-landsberg+committee+on+religion————-1).

[48] Max Landsberg criticized Episcopalians for requiring members to “believe in the forty-nine articles of faith” and Presbyterians for the Westminster catechism. “What is Judaism?” Democrat and Chronicle, November 22, 1899, 11. The Hamilton sisters, whose family Clara Landsberg joined, had been reared in the Presbyterian congregation founded by their grandfather, but, as children, they preferred the small Episcopal church on Mackinac Island, where they spent their summers. For a thorough discussion of the Hamilton sisters’ religious upbringing, see The Education of Alice Hamilton, eds. Matthew C. Ringenberg, William C. Ringenberg, and Joseph D. Brain (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019), esp. 13–14, 23–24. For a discussion of religion among the residents of Hull-House, see Eleanor J. Stebner, The Women of Hull House: A Study in Spirituality, Vocation, and Friendship (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997).

 

 

Jane Addams on Guns

In the wealthy suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, a place where Jane Addams sometimes vacationed on the shore of Lake Michigan, a gunman with a high-powered assault rifle mowed down innocent people attending the city’s Independence Day parade. In a planned attack, from an elevated position, the gunman killed 7 people and injured 30 more. It was another preventable tragedy in a long-line of preventable tragedies in a country in which mass shootings are, outrageously, normal. The Gun Violence Archive in Washington, DC, reported on July 5, 2022, that there have been 318 mass shootings this year, ten alone on July 4 ( including the one in Highland Park). A physician, who was at the Highland Park parade and attended to the victims in the aftermath of the shootings, told a CNN reporter that the injuries he saw were “wartime injuries,” bodies “blown up by that gunfire—blown up.”

But it wasn’t a war zone. It was a parade.

Every day there is a new mass shooting (or two, or three…), and every day I am horrified, like the majority of us, who want gun legislation to stop this madness, are horrified. I can barely read the news anymore for the horrendous stories of senseless gun violence, story after story of people murdered by men with military-grade weapons designed for the battlefields of war.

Someone asked me what Jane Addams would think about this constant violence, about people gunned down in churches, grocery stores, public spaces, and schools. Jane Addams, a pacifist, would be heartsick. She would be in disbelief that she had worked so hard to get small children out of the factories and into classrooms, only to see that 100 years later children are not safe in their schools. She would be disgusted, like she was disgusted by the lynching of Black Americans in her era. She would be shocked, like she was shocked over the unthinkable deaths of more than 600 people, many of them children, burned alive in 1903 in the Iroquois Theatre Fire in Chicago because fire safety laws went unenforced. Most importantly, she would be furious with the inaction of our leaders and would turn that fury into action. If she were alive today, she would be lobbying in Springfield and in Washington, demanding change.

So, of course, I wondered if Jane Addams had any wisdom to impart on the subject of firearms and gun control. And as is always the case when I search the Jane Addams Digital Edition for answers to our modern problems or consolations for our current sorrows, I find in the words she left us nuggets of wisdom, truth, prescient observation, astute analysis, and sane advice. What I was not ready for this time, however, was the setting—Highland Park, Illinois—of the first nugget I found when I starting searching for “guns” and “gun control” and “firearms” in Jane Addams’s papers, dated from 1901-1931.

Below is a sampling of what I found. Some of it is eerie in its relevance:

On Dec. 21, 1903, two armed cavalry soldiers, who had deserted their post at Fort Sheridan, held up a hotel clerk and guests in Highland Park, Illinois, at gun point and robbed them of cash and personal possessions. Upon hearing the news, Howard H. Gross, a Chicago attorney, advocated repeal of the Chicago ordinance, passed in 1881, which made it unlawful “for any person within the limits of the city to carry or wear under his clothes, or concealed about his person, any pistol, colt or slung shot, cross knuckles, or knuckles of lead, brass or other metal, or bowie knife, dirk knife or dirk, razor or dagger, or any other dangerous or deadly weapon.” Jane Addams weighed in on the suggestion the following day, declaring it “a most pernicious idea.”

Chicago Tribune, Dec. 2, 1903, p. 14.

Lawlessness would only be encouraged by such a measure. Enforcement of the existing laws is the proper remedy for crime.

In 1907, the Peace Association of Friends published a pamphlet that asked the question: “Do We Want Rifle Practice in Public Schools?” The effort was a response to a growing military preparedness movement in the United States in which advocates argued that children should conduct military drills in school. Jane Addams, who had served three years on the Chicago Board of Education, was not having it and offered this statement for publication:

I am of course shocked at any proposition to introduce rifle practice into the public schools. The increasing number of accidents and murders due to the totally unnecessary and illegal “carrying of concealed weapons,” makes it difficult to understand why familiarity with fire arms should be encouraged. If war is to continue, at least let us insist that the use of fire arms shall be confined to the soldier, as strictly as the surgeon’s knife is limited to the man professionally prepared to use it.

In an article about juvenile delinquency published in the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1909, Addams wrote:

There is an entire series of difficulties directly traceable to foolish and adventurous persistence in carrying loaded firearms. The morning paper of the day on which I am writing records the following:

A party of boys, led by Daniel O’Brien, thirteen years old, had gathered in front of the house, and O’Brien was throwing stones at [Niezgodzki] in revenge for a whipping that he had received at his hands about a month ago. The Polish boy ordered them away and threatened to go into the house and get a revolver if they did not stop.

Pfister, one of the boys in O’Brien’s party, called him a coward, and, when he pulled a revolver from his pocket, dared him to put it away and meet him in a fist fight in the street.

Instead of accepting the challenge [Niezgodzki] aimed his revolver at Pfister and fired. The bullet crashed through the top of his head and entered the brain. He was rushed to the Alexian Brother’s Hospital, but died a short time after being received there. [Niezgodzki] was arrested and held without bail.

This tale could be duplicated almost every morning; what might be merely a boyish scrap is turned into a tragedy because some boy has a revolver.

In 1927, during Prohibition and much gang violence in Chicago, Addams published an essay that appeared in The Prevention and Cure of Crime, Discussed by the American Crime Study Commission. In that essay, she argued:

The sale of arms should be prohibited, for if a criminal has a gun he will shoot, and that he will try to shoot first, when in danger of arrest is perfectly obvious. We have had a great deal of shooting in our neighborhood in Chicago in connection with bootlegging. Illicit liquor is stored in empty warehouses, in stores and in the basements of disused houses. Bootleggers are much afraid of being detected not only by Federal officers and the police, but by the hijacker—the man who steals goods which are already illicit, so it is almost impossible to arrest him as a thief. 

For all of these reasons the bootleggers employ lookouts to protect their goods, sometimes blocks away, and many of them are boys and very young men. Of course, many of these boys are armed. In fact, they do not like the job unless they are armed. They know that not only the hijackers, but the Federal officers and the police are armed, and in the spirit of sheer excitement they also wish to be armed “to the teeth.” Of course, the whole situation becomes dangerous to the community, perhaps most of all to the innocent passer-by. 

In a statement supporting the presidential candidacy of Herbert Hoover in 1928, Addams argued:

What the prohibition situation needs first of all is “disarmament,” if this necessitates federal control of the sale of firearms so much the better, but whatever is necessary for the final result, the government agents should promptly be taught some other method than those of gunmen. That the police of the Irish Free State established immediately after the evacuation of the English Black and Tans and after Ireland’s civil war, could go unarmed in the midst of a population still carrying “concealed weapons,” encourages me to believe that brave and conscientious men may be found in America who realize that it is their business to bring the culprit to court.

In a speech at the Conference on the Cause and Cure of War in Washington, D.C., in January 1931, Jane Addams, clear and loud as a clanging bell, said:

About two years ago, a bill was introduced into the legislature of Massachusetts, in an attempt to control banditry, which has developed so rapidly into our American cities, by curtailing the manufacture as well as the purchase of firearms. While this bill was being discussed, it is said that a telegram came from Washington, stating that such legislation was contrary to the National defense policy, that wished the manufacturing of firearms to go on at a good pace, so that in time of war, arms might be easily available. 

We have not gotten to the point of discussing this in Chicago, or reducing it to law, but you all know very well that our situation would be enormously improved in every great city, if some such law were passed.

Our thugs are armed and our policemen are armed, so it is largely a question of who shall shoot first; one sometimes longs for the English police who carry no arms…

Dear Jane Addams, please come back to help us. Please. We need you.

By Stacy Lynn, Associate Editor

Sourceswww.gunviolencearchive.org; John W. Leonard, ed., The Book of Chicagoans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Chicago (Chicago: A. N. Marquis & Co, 1905), 247; “Soldiers Hold up Clerk in Hotel,” The Inter Ocean (Chicago), Dec. 22, 1903, p. 2; and Respect for Law, January 3, 1901; Statement on Carrying Concealed Weapons, December 21, 1903; Address at Memorial for Teachers Who Perished in the Iroquois Theatre Fire, January 16, 1904 (excerpt); Statement on Rifle Practice in Public Schools, 1907-1908; The Bad Boy of the Street, October 1909; Problem of Crime Unsolved, Let Us Start at It Anew, May 13, 1927; Draft of Statement Endorsing Herbert Hoover, October 23, 1928; What is Security? Conference on the Cause and Cure of War, 1931; all in Jane Addams Digital Edition.

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.

*****

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.

Every Day an Easter Bonnet

A man once asked me if I thought anyone would see me as a serious scholar wearing such heavy eyeliner. I am sorry now that I did not defend myself to him. But I was a young scholar then, lacking confidence. He was an old scholar, lacking good manners. People called him a curmudgeon, but I called him words that were not euphemisms for what he was. Under my breath, of course. Today if he said such a thing to me, my retort might give him a little ‘ole heart attack. But back then I was polite to my own detriment. I ignored his comment and went on with my life. In eyeliner.

Fast forward about twenty-five years.

Recently, I ran across a photograph of Jane Addams I’d never seen before. In the photo she is young, her face smooth and unlined, and her extraordinary, expressive eyes are bright, and also as yet unlined. She is wearing a hat with a curved brim, atop of which is what looks like a slouchy dark velvet adorned with GIANT chrysanthemum-like flowers, six at least, perched slightly off center. I gaped at the magnificent chapeau atop her brilliant mind, and before I could stop myself, I said out loud, to Jane Addams on my computer screen: “Oh my god, woman, how did people take you seriously in that hat!”

I covered my mouth. My eyes scanned the room as if searching for anyone who might have heard me. Shame on me. Shame, because my mind had immediately conjured the memory, for first time in years, of that old, rude, sexist scholar who dissed me for wearing eyeliner. And now I was dissing Jane Addams for wearing a hat. I know Jane Addams is dead, so it wasn’t like I could actually offend her, or offend anyone for that matter, alone as I was in my home office. But I was so mad at myself for making fun of Addams’s hat out loud with such vehemence, that I answered my own question: “Well, Stace, how does anyone take you seriously in such heavy eyeliner?”

Maybe some people don’t take me seriously in heavy eyeliner, but I am old enough and confident enough in myself and my abilities that I do not care. I’ve written books and given lectures and appeared in history documentaries in eyeliner. I am not a flashy dresser, but I like eyeliner. So what? Jane Addams was a serious woman, a determined advocate for the underprivileged, an innovative reformer, and a brilliant thinker and writer. She lived in the era of spectacular hats, and after a quick search through pictures of her, it became as obvious as the painted lines around my eyeballs that Jane Addams loved a spectacular hat. I still think she might have crossed over the milliner’s line with the chrysanthemum one, but what if she did? So what?

In 1896, Jane Addams visited Leo Tolstoy at his country estate Yasnaya Polyana, south of Moscow. When she met him that day, she was wearing a dress with extraordinary sleeves, and Tolstoy chastised her for them. In 1911, she published an account of that meeting in McClure’s, writing:

“Tolstoy, standing by clad in peasant garb, listened gravely, but, glancing distrustfully at the sleeves of my traveling gown, which, unfortunately, at that season were monstrous in size, took hold of an edge and, pulling out one sleeve to an interminable breadth, said that there was enough stuff on one arm to make a frock for a little girl, and asked me directly if I did not find ‘such a dress a barrier to the people.’ I was too disconcerted to make a very clear explanation, although I tried to say that, monstrous as my sleeves were, they did not compare in size with those of the working-girls in Chicago, and that nothing would more effectively separate me from ‘the people’ than a cotton blouse following the simple lines of the human form; that even if I had wished to imitate him and ‘dress as a peasant,’ it would have been hard to choose which peasant among the thirty-six nationalities we had recently counted in the Hull-House neighborhood.”

I guess you might say Tolstoy was kind of like the old scholar who questioned my eyeliner. Way more accomplished, of course, but still, rather rude. And Jane Addams might have been stung by Tolstoy’s comments, like I was stung, and clearly she was thinking about them fifteen years later. Yet although she most always wore plain and simple frocks, she never shied away from a magnificent hat. She worked hard and dedicated her life to helping others, so I think it rather grand she afforded herself this luxury. Jane Addams kept her face determined and serious, and I suspect a pretty hat was her smile.

In honor of the season of Easter bonnets, here are some of my favorites. And do, please, place your cursor over each image to treat yourself to the full effect. (P.S. We used that last one as the inspiration for our Jane Addams Papers Project logo).

Jane Addams was not the only serious woman who appreciated a stylish hat. Check out these women changing the world while rockin’ a posh headdress.

Now that I’ve thought about Jane Addams’s hats and my eyeliner and written this fluffy blog post, I’ve changed my mind about the chrysanthemum hat. I actually think I rather like it, all naysayers be damned.

by Stacy Lynn, Associate Editor

Notes: The Selected Papers of Jane Addams, 3:510-11; A Visit to Tolstoy, January 1911, Jane Addams Digital Edition.

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.

 

 

The Patron Saint of Gift Giving

In June 1907, Jane Addams sent her sister Alice Haldeman handmade bags for her birthday. Made by a Hull-House neighbor, likely a poor immigrant, the bags were a typical gift from Addams, who enjoyed sending handmade goods, particularly from the Hull-House Shops. Items like linens and wooden or metal household objects were typical choices for birthday, Christmas, and thank-you gifts Addams gave to friends, family members, and Hull-House patrons. Most of her recipients were likely grateful for these thoughtful gifts or, at least, they were gracious in the receipt of them. Haldeman, however, did not hide her feelings about much of anything, let alone gifts from baby sister. She did not appreciate the bags, and she told Addams so.

In response to Haldeman’s disappointment, Addams wrote: “I am sorry you didn’t like my poor little bags which were made by [an] old lady in the neighborhood who sells them. I have had one in my traveling bag which I have grown attached to. Of course it would be no use in a bureau drawer. However I will try again and send you a book…”

Oooo. Burn.

We cannot know what Haldeman might have written to raise the ire of her sister because her letters to Addams do not survive. However, this passive aggressive response reveals Addams’s frustration, whereas we get so little of her personality in most of her surviving letters, which are guarded, congenial, and professional. Addams’s letters to her sister from 1901 until Haldeman’s death in 1915 contain numerous instances of apologies for failed gifts, evidence that Addams’s failure in this regard caused difficulty between the sisters. To know she chafed at a sister who had the power to put her on the defensive helps us chip away a little at Addams’s constrained, disciplined, public persona.

Haldeman was picky about gifts. Addams was sensitive to Haldeman’s criticism of her gifts. They exchanged strong words. Feelings were bruised. And then the women went on being sisters and friends. Sounds human to me, and I can certainly relate on a personal level. What is interesting to me as a historian, however, is to think about Jane Addams as a sister, as an ordinary human being doing ordinary human-being things, like stressing out over gifts to her nit-picking elder sister. Addams was not just a famous social reformer, or activist, or best-selling author, or recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was a woman, just like me, who was imperfect, who sometimes lost her cool, and who failed on occasion to please the people she loved most.

After the failed birthday bags in June 1907, Addams was determined to get it right at Christmas. That holiday she sent Haldeman a book and followed it up with a box of sparklers, closing her Christmas Eve letter: “I am always, dear Alice, your loving sister Jane.” In other words, sis, give me a break.

The book she sent was Mother by Russian writer Maxim Gorky. Addams deemed the novel “remarkable,” but it was one of Gorky’s least successful works and Addams sent Haldeman the copy she had read because the new one she ordered did not arrive in time to send. I can almost hear Haldeman grumbling that her sister sent her a crappy, used novel for Christmas. She had complained about books before, in fact, one time accusing Addams of sending her a book for Christmas that she deemed inappropriate for her young daughter. To that snub, Addams had replied: “I hadn’t thought of course of Marcet’s reading it. I might easily send you many books that would be too mature for her.”

The Christmas gift debacle of 1909 is my favorite of Addams’s sister-gift failures. That year she sent a kimono, which seems a perfectly glorious gift to me and likely did to Addams, too. Picked out by a wealthy Chicago friend, Addams hoped it might please her finicky sister. Nope. Haldeman poo-pooed the kimono, and Addams, once again, was annoyed: “I am sorry you didn’t like the kimono, it was bought in Chinatown in San Francisco, selected by Mrs Robert Herrick when she was there, perhaps you are disillusioned about Xmas, last year you didn’t like the book I sent—after all it is only the message of remembrance which reaches thru, isn’t it? Please give the kimono to someone and forget it— next year I’ll try something quite different.”

I am not one who buys into the “Saint Jane” moniker for Jane Addams. She was too shrewd and too determined in her activism to live up to that gendered, ridiculous, otherworldly title. It is clear Alice did not think saint when she unwrapped a gift from Jane. But I do think Jane Addams was a wee bit saintly in dealing with her grumpy, perpetually dissatisfied sister. Nowhere is this clearer than in Addams’s persistent attempts to bestow on Haldeman the perfect gift. She kept trying to please her sister, even though her sister kept throwing the gifts back in her face.

Perhaps it was difficult for Haldeman to acknowledge a kindness or the favor of her younger, famous sister. Maybe she liked to play the cranky-butt. Or, most likely I believe, she took a little pleasure in stirring the emotional pot in the belly of the serious, stoic leader of Hull-House. I wonder if she actually liked all the gifts Addams selected for her, but she just couldn’t allow herself to give her sister the win. In the end, I suppose, Alice Haldeman was probably a difficult woman to please; and I love it that Jane Addams just kept on trying.

Regardless of what Haldeman thought about them, Jane Addams’s gifts were good and great and sometimes spectacular. They reflected her economic and aesthetic sensibilities, illustrated her social responsibility and intellectual curiosity, and related to her work at Hull-House, her interest in different cultures, and her respect for the immigrants who lived in Chicago. Jane Addams was a generous, inspired giver of gifts. In honor of her and in the spirit of the coming holiday season, I offer the following annotated list of gift ideas, straight out of the correspondence of the patron saint of gift giving.

Gifts Ideas from Jane Addams (JA)

Art (and for goodness sake, pay for the frame if it needs one)—JA to the wife of her nephew Stanley Linn and her one-year-old great-niece and namesake: “I hope you will like the pictures. We are all very fond of Norah Hamilton’s etching and I put in the Irish geese for Jane. Please have them all framed ‘on me,’ as it were, that is part of it.” Jane Addams to Myra Harriet Reynolds Linn, December 19, 1917

Blanket (Handmade, by YOU. If Jane Addams had time to knit, then so do you. Do you run a social settlement and take trains all over the country giving lectures about starving orphans in Europe? I didn’t think so. Start knitting; the Christmas clock is ticking, people).—JA to her niece and great-nephew: “The blanket I knitted for Henry, got awfully grimy in the process. I did it at H. H. where it is impossible to keep white wool clean. It goes to the little brother with my best love and a Merry Christmas.” Jane Addams to Anna Marcet Haldeman-Julius, December 10, 1919

Books—JA to her niece and great-niece Alice (her sister’s namesake): “I hope her very prosaic little present reached you safely, to [the] rest of you I am sending only books this year — very simple presents indeed! … I am sending things there early because of the crowded mails — don’t open them too soon.”  Jane Addams to Anna Marcet Haldeman-Julius, December 17, 1917

Books for Children (one book for siblings to share so as not to be excessive)—JA to fellow suffragist and friend: “I have sent the children one of the Van Loon books which my little nephew so dotes on. I hope they won’t mind having it together altho I am afraid it is not a favorite plan with children.” Jane Addams to Florence Gottschalk Taussig, December 31, 1921, Jane Addams Digital Edition (JADE).

Book of which you are the author—JA to the wife of a HH patron: “May I congratulate you on the new daughter and send you a copy of my new book with best wishes for a merry Christmas. You doubtless know much more about the spirit of youth these days than I can possibly tell you.” Jane Addams to Mary Everts Ewing, December 22, 1909

Car (or a Cow)—JA to her niece-in-law: “I do hope that the baby is better, if the doctor advises a cow you would better get one at once and I will send the Xmas money as soon as I return — of course we would not hesitate between a cow and a Ford if the baby is better fed by the former.” (Hey, I could use a new car this year, a Ford would be fine so long as it’s a hybrid, please). Jane Addams to Myra Harriet Reynolds Linn, November 30, 1916; Jane Addams to Myra Harriet Reynolds Linn, December 3, 1916

Holy Water Receptacle (only old ones from Paris)—JA to Alice Haldeman: “I am sending my Christmas package today to avoid the final rush. Knowing your fondness for worked metal, it is an old holy water receptacle I got in Paris last summer. It can of course be used for matches or anything you like.” Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, December 19, 1913.

Japanese Kimono (who cares what Alice thought, a kimono is a great gift idea; pick a colorful pattern you like, and if your recipient doesn’t like it, keep it for yourself and never buy that ungrateful person another gift.)—JA to Alice Haldeman: “I am sending you a short Japanese kimono which is nice to wear in bed or in your room. It goes with my best wishes for a Merry Christmas.” Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, December 19, 1908

Japanese Sparklers—JA to Alice Haldeman: “I sent you a box of Japanese ‘sparkers’ which seem to be a feature of Christmas this year. You light the end in a flame and all the rest happens merrily.” Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, December 24, 1907

Lamp—JA to her sister’s daughter: “The little Italian lamp is for Marcet. I wish very much that you would be here for Christmas but I hope that it will be a merry one, wherever it is. Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, December 6, 1903

Linens—JA to Alice Haldeman: “I am sending your Xmas present now because the mails are so full later. The bureau scarf is a [Romanian] one, ‘handmade’ from the neighborhood.” Alice probably hated it, but I’m sure JA’s niece-in-law was appreciate of her furniture linen: “The blue table covers were woven at Hull-House, one of the best bits of weaving which we have done.” Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, December 6, 1903; Jane Addams to Myra Harriet Reynolds Linn, December 11, 1919

Money (money is always good)—JA to a widowed friend: “May I send five dollars for Christmas to each child and ten for you. I wish it were ten times more, it would more adequately express my love and best wishes to the dearest family in the world.” Jane Addams to Mary Kenney O’Sullivan, December 18, 1911

Piano—JA to nephew Stanley Linn regarding gift for his wife: “I will send a little package for Jane later, but the real purpose of this letter is to ask you whether you think that between us we might get a piano for Myra’s Christmas. It might be a little solace to her to have music in the house. I could pay $150. down and the rest might come along on the [installment] plan. Could you have a good piano selected at Los Angeles and let me know the cost and terms of payment before buying. I should want to know what we were in for. It might be possible to get a good second hand one for two hundred dollars in which case I would try to do it all at once.” Following up two weeks later, JA wrote: “[Enclosed] please find a draft for the full amount of the piano. I am so glad you found one, and I hope that it is a good one.” Jane Addams to Stanley Ross Linn, December 4, 1919; Jane Addams to Stanley Ross Linn, December 17, 1919

Pin (a simple brooch of some sort)—JA to friend Lillian Wald: “May I send you this very work-a-day little pin from our shop with my most ardent wishes for the very best Christmas of all to you…” Jane Addams to Lillian D. Wald, December 21, 1911

Ad, Chicago Tribune (1917)

Rompers—JA to her grand-nieces and nephews in Kansas and California: “The rompers I had ordered from the Trade School were so big that I sent them all to Cal. and after Xmas they were going to try again.” Jane Addams to Anna Marcet Haldeman-Julius, December 17, 1917

Russian Things, Box of—JA to eight-year-old great niece: “I am sending you a box of some Russian things which I found the other day in the Russian shop, and I am sending a typewritten list so you may know how to divide them. Jane Addams to Jane Addams Linn, December 20, 1924, JADE.

Silver Box—JA to a regular Hull-House donor: “Some of the advanced boys in the shop have lately been venturing upon silver work and I am sending you a box they have made which has received some praise from one or two artists. It ought to be much bigger to contain all the gratitude and affection which I should like to put into it. But perhaps you will know what it ‘represents’ to use kindergarten lingo. With every possible good wish for the New Year.” Jane Addams to Anita McCormick Blaine, December 25, 1904

Typewriting Table (only go for this if you are giving it to someone who has hated every single gift you’ve ever given them for twenty years)—JA to Alice Haldeman: “I sent you a typewriting table today from Fields for Xmas. I almost sent a much prettier one which was not the right height but finally settled on the plainer one. If it isn’t right for the space please use it in the bank and we will look for another when you come, for your own room.” (Good grief, did Addams have to tell her sister there was a prettier one? ) Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, December 10, 1914

Happy Holidays. And good luck.

 by Stacy Lynn, Associate Editor

Notes: It is important to note that there is a disproportionate number of surviving Christmas letters that Addams wrote to her sister Alice and her nephew Stanley Linn and his family. The evidence makes it appear she favored them with her gift giving. While it is true she was fond of the Linns and provided them extra support because they struggled, the extant correspondence only provides a glimpse of Addams’s holiday generosity. Louise W. Knight, Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2005), 489n52, 519; Sherry R. Shepler and Anne F. Mattina, “Paying the Price for Pacifism: The Press’s Rhetorical Shift from ‘Saint Jane’ to ‘The Most Dangerous Woman in America,’” Feminist Formations 24 (Spring 2012): 154-71; “Noiseless Parlor Fireworks,” The Index, 17, Christmas ed. (Dec. 14, 1907): 55; “Rompers and Creepers Come,” Chicago Tribune, Feb. 19, 1917, p. 12 (advertisement); Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, January 10, 1901; Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, June 13, 1907; Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, December 18, 1907; Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, January 10, 1909;  Hull-House Year Book, January 1, 1916 (boys metalworking), all in JADE. Photo of Jane Addams, c. 1912, courtesy Prints and Photographs, Library of Congress.

Fidelity, Accuracy, and the Delicate Balance

A documentary editor’s top priority is unwavering accuracy to their collection’s text.

Wait, that doesn’t sound right.

A documentary editor’s goal should be the regularizing of words and writing styles so as to be easily read and searched by a reader.

But that doesn’t sound quite right, either.

These are the two schools of thought that a documentary editor grapples with when deciding on an editing style early in a project’s life. Fidelity: digitally representing an object exactly how it was created. Accuracy: changing characters or words to standardize and correct mistakes for various purposes. Humans are imperfect beings, leading us to make mistakes every so often, but also giving every person their own unique form of expression. But when someone’s written work, along with the imperfections it will undoubtedly have, is being prepared for increased access by being digitized and transcribed, how faithful should we be to their exact pen strokes?

For an example, take this salutation by W. E. B. Du Bois:

A greeting from a letter from W. E. B. Du Bois.
W. E. B. Du Bois to Jane Addams, April 19, 1905.

A common mistake made by over 400 authors in our digital edition so far, Du Bois spells Addams with a single D. In this case, as per our transcription guidelines, an editor would place [brackets] around the misspelled word and correct it. Our practices lean more toward accuracy than fidelity in this case, and would be applied to any incorrectly spelled name or word. After lengthy discussion, we felt this rule would aid with online searches . We also know that the spelling written above is factually wrong, and feel that correcting the mistake lessens confusion with names that may have been spelled 10 different ways across 10 different documents.

But what about another rule we have, concerning abbreviations:

A closing from a letter to Mary Rozet Smith.
Jane Addams to Mary Rozet Smith, August 24, 1906.

Here, in a closing of the letter to Mary Rozet Smith, Addams writes, “Always yrs J. A.” which is exactly as we have transcribed the line. But wait, “yrs” is decidedly not how you spell “yours” in which case it should be bracketed and corrected, right? In this case we are leaving the spelling as is, arguing that expanding and regularizing abbreviated words changes the tone of the writing too intrusively. By leaning more toward fidelity rather than accuracy here, we hope to retain the unique style of writing that an author may have had.

Our transcription guidelines include dozens of rules about how to treat difficult to read texts or irregularities in spelling and punctuation. With each rule, editors hope to keep the delicate balance between fidelity and accuracy in transcriptions. One rule that is visible across the site is the use of brackets. By using brackets around changed words, editors can easily inform readers that something about the text may be different than the original, and by providing an image the reader can quickly check the spot that the change took place.

The bright side to editors working on a digital edition is the ability to easily change project guidelines. If, for some reason, we decide to change any of our rules, it would be entirely possible, though perhaps time consuming. This allows our relationship with our transcriptions to continue to grow as our editors develop a deeper connection with our texts.

This blog post was inspired by Ben Brumfield’s blog post “The Transcription Quality Balancing Act”.

For further examples of different transcription practices, see the National Archives’ Transcription Tips and Family Search’s How should I index incorrect records?