One of the goals of the Jane Addams Papers Project at Ramapo College is to make our documents available and accessible to a wide audience. We have a dedicated cadre of student workers and volunteers here at the project who are transcribing and indexing the documents for web-based publication. While we have been interested in using crowd-sourcing as a tool to help complete first drafts of Addams’ letters, we had been thinking about it largely in terms of building an it as an option on our website. Last week, however, we started a collaboration with the staff and residents of Brandywine Senior Living in Mahwah.
The idea came from a conversation I had with Jo Anne Zellers, Ramapo College’s Director of Constituent Relations, about the difficulty that readers had with Jane Addams’ handwriting. Addams’ letters are daunting when you first look at them, hastily written, and filled with proper nouns and turns of phrase that are difficult for college students and all but impossible for younger readers. Providing transcriptions is critical to our mission, as they enable readers to make sense of the letters and enable text searches. Jo Anne surmised that older people might have an easier time of reading Addams and her contemporaries, and that led naturally to the idea of seeing whether there was interest from the seniors.
We met with Brienne Fuellhart, the Escapades Producer at Brandywine, and she was enthusiastic about the idea. On Wednesday, Tori Sciancalepore (Assistant Editor at the project), Jo Anne and I traveled to Brandywine and did a presentation on Jane Addams’ life and then a short introduction to transcription and Jane Addams’ hand. While the residents at first found Addams writing difficult, within a few minutes they were calling out their guesses. The next morning Brienne reported that “residents were excited and impressed and I think we should be able to put together a good group to help with this project.”
Our plan going forward is to share a folder of handwritten documents, via a share drive. Brienne will display them in the large screen movie room at Brandywine and residents will come and tease out the meaning of the documents in a transcription group. Brienne or another helper will type up their transcriptions and upload them to the shared drive, where we can access them and add them to our digital archive. Tori and I will proofread the transcriptions and make any corrections needed before we post them on the public site. We will visit Brandywine frequently, giving them some new pointers and introducing the project to residents who did not attend the initial meeting.
Engaging the public in this way is exciting and we feel certain that it will become a model for working with other community groups–schools, clubs, or anyone interested in historical documents. If you know of a group that would like to participate, whether in our neck of the woods, or at a distance, please contact me and we can set things up.
What does the new editor of the Addams Papers get for Christmas? Addams trading cards, of course, thanks to my sister! And that sent us down the rabbit hole of the Web, investigating other Addams memorabilia. While nowhere as common as collectibles on the Founding Fathers, movie stars or athletes, these quirky mementos are evidence of efforts to popularize history, commemorate famous Americans, and separate history buffs from their hard earned cash. Enjoy the variety of Addams memorabilia below, and please let us know if you have or know of any other collectibles focused on Addams in the comments below.
If you thought that baseball cards were just for, well, baseball, then you haven’t delved deep enough into the word of collectible cards. In 2009 Topps issued a 150-card collection in its Heritage series, called the American Heroes Edition. Topps identified people who were “the most courageous, valiant, progressive and enlightened American women and men in our nation’s history,” and created a series of cards with designs drawn from the company’s historic baseball card designs.
The Jane Addams card (#78 in the series) is one of the Humanitarian series, which also includes well-known figures like Florence Kelley, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Clara Barton and Jimmy Carter. Other series include Heroes of Spaceflight, Authors and Journalists, Diplomatic Heroes and Civil Rights Heroes. It uses a photograph of Addams from 1914, colorized, and designed in the style of a Topps 1966 baseball card.
Addams also appears in a smaller set of seven “Peacemakers” mini-cards issued in 2013 by Allen & Ginter, a Topps subsidiary. The others appearing are Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and Jimmy Carter. The Peacemaker card uses an older vintage look, with the same photo, just colorized differently.
Historically significant women are not often made into commercial dolls, but there is a market for specialty dolls featuring historical figures. The Jane Addams-Hull-House Museum offers a nattily dressed Addams (currently out-of-stock) that we hope will grace our shelves one day! She carries a copy of Twenty Years at Hull-House and wears her Nobel Prize as a necklace.
Searching etsy.com brings up UneekDollDesigns‘ page which offers a series of historical and cultural icons made into handcrafted dolls. Jane Addams’s doll is posed holding a replica Twenty Years at Hull-House. Photographed with a historical photograph in the background, this Jane seems a bit dour. Others in this series include actress Bette Davis, the Marx Brothers, and Sojourner Truth.
In 1979 Dover published the Notable American Women Paper Dolls book, by Tom Tierney, with 16 “accurately rendered” historical women, with a change of clothes. Addams appears along with Margaret Sanger, Emily Dickinson, Clare Booth Luce, Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart. This book features short biographies of each woman and outfits that are based on historical photographs of the women.
In 1940 the United States Postal Service issues a series on Famous Americans that was comprised of 35 stamps, issued in groups: Artists, Authors, Composers, Educators, Inventors, Poets, and Scientists. Jane Addams was included in the Scientist category, along with John James Audubon, Dr. Crawford W. Long, Luther Burbank and Dr. Walter Reed. A mint condition 10-cent Addams stamp goes for about $3.50 today.
The Post Office also commemorated the 100th anniversary of Hull-House in 1979, with a printed post-card. The example on the right, a first-day issue, is postmarked from Chicago and has a drawing of Addams, her neighbors, and Hull-House.
Jewelry-maker Sarah Wood crafts necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, using historic photographs under the slogan “History is Handmade.” She has a gallery on Women’s History and Feminism that includes Jane Addams pieces like the one shown to the left. The designs are also available with images from a wide array of historical women, many lesser known, as well as a series of suffrage images.
Off the Beaten Path….
Famous women on sugar packets? Sure, why not! Red & White Sugar released a set of sugar packets with the likenesses of Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Pocahontas, Helen Keller, Margaret Sanger, Carrie Nation, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Addams, Annie Oakley, & Juliette Gordon Low. These emptied packets go for a mere $17 on eBay.
Those who are over 21 can drink a toast to Jane Addams and others founders of sociology using a set of shot glasses featuring Jane Addams, Harriet Martineau, W. E. B. DuBois, and Marianne Weber offered by CalacaCreations, available along with a series of other printed items on etsy.com.
Finally, there are the puns! You can get the slogan “Jane Addams Ran a Hull of a House” on nearly everything, from pacifiers and infant onesies, to iPhone cases, t-shirts, and coffee mugs. These are offered through zazzy.com.
For a look at how Jane Addams and the Hull-House residents celebrated the Christmas season, we have reproduced Amalie Hannig’s 1911 article “Christmas at Hull-House,” which was published in the Ladies Home Journal. Hannig was the co-founder and director at Hull-House’s Music School, which was opened in 1893.
Christmas at Hull-House
The activities at Hull-House cover a wide field at any time of the year. About nine thousand people come to us each week during the winter months. But when Christmas approaches Hull-House appears like a huge ant-hill where all the inhabitants are turning their efforts with great intensity into one channel–into making this particular Christmas better than any of its predecessors.
To begin with the small people: A Christmas play, performed by children for all the club children, is given in our theater and the same performance is presented three times before different audiences of at least two hundred and fifty wide-eyed and breathless children each time, and when the performance is again twice repeated for their parents there is no loss of interest. It is difficult to find a suitable children’s play that brings in good old Santa Claus and a Christmas tree. But usually this is done by using a fairy tale that is elastic enough to admit a Christmas touch at the end.
If anybody happens to see our large drawing-room on the day before Christmas he will be inclined to believe that he has accidentally dropped into a grocery store. His nostrils, too, will be greeted by all the characteristic odors. Rows of market-baskets fill the middle of the large space. In one corner of the rooms stand barrels filled with chickens, sacks of potatoes and onions, boxes of various groceries–as coffee, tea, sugar–boxes of apples, oranges and candy; another corner is stacked with small Christmas trees; and all these things send forth and mingle with their particular odors. On large tables and on all available chairs packages containing warm, comfortable wearing apparel, dress goods or shoes and an endless variety of toys are awaiting distribution. Soon many hands begin to sort and label, and by noon three hundred baskets are filled, varying according to the sizes of the families to whom they are addressed.
By the evening all baskets have disappeared; the little Christmas trees alone are still waiting. But at about nine o’clock a most delightful and mysterious activity begins. Each little tree, accompanied by candles, tinsel and all sorts of fascinating decorations, is brought forth and carried to some household in our neighborhood where an expectant, smiling mother is ready and waiting. The children are safely asleep; the small, and for the most part very poor, dwelling is clean and shiny and shows itself at its best; a table is ready to receive the tree and the presents. Quickly the tree is trimmed and the candles are put on the safe branches, and, after a friendly exchange of Christmas greetings, “Santa Claus” retires, leaving the rest to Mother. Back he goes to Hull-House to fetch another tree and place it in another home. Sometimes it happens that the last “Santa Claus” returns from his errand at about one or two o’clock in the morning. Twenty-eight trees were sent out last Christmas.
Some of us remember how on one Christmas Eve a tree and some presents were taken to an Irish mother who supported her six children and three of her dead sister’s children by scrubbing day and night. Even on this evening she was not expected back in her three-roomed home until half-past twelve. When “Santa Claus” appeared at this late hour, loaded down with gifts for ten, he found six children sleeping peacefully in one bed–three at the foot and three at the top–in one room, and three others were in another room. Nine stockings were hanging up; and who would be surprised to learn that some of them showed holes so big that an orange was dropped in first so that other articles might not fall through? “Santa Claus” had to move on tiptoe, hardly daring to breathe, while he made his arrangements in the same room with the sleeping children.
Out Italian friends gladly receive the American “Santa Claus.” Their homes are made to look festive and bright. The freshly scoured floor, still damp, is covered with newspapers, a little altar adorns the wall, the lamp of devotion is lighted, and when the little tree, gaily trimmed, stands on the floor before the altar the Virgin and Child seem to crown it with their blessed presence.
One feast at Hull-House fills hosts and guests alike with deep satisfaction. The Friendly Club, consisting of whole families of our people, come to a Christmas dinner, a real turkey dinner where everything is “grand” and “delicious.” Here are parents and their children dining with a joy that might make the chief cook of a King envious. Such a precious fowl as a turkey is an event to all of the diners. Last year about two hundred and sixty guests were placed in our spacious coffee-house, and when thirty-five late comers found all seats occupied the children politely gave up their legitimate places to the older people and stood between the chairs.
An effort is made, however, to observe Christmas in such a way that is shall not consist solely of presents and dinners and parties, but that the spiritual side shall also be accentuated. Handel’s “Messiah,” rendered every year through the courtesy of a chorus from Evanston, has been a source of great pleasure to our neighbors, to those of the Christian faith and to many of our Jewish friends. Perhaps the most spontaneous celebration of the birth of Jesus finds expression in our own Christmas concert, which has been given for eighteen years on the Sunday before Christmas. On this page is printed a recent program.
This concert consists of folk songs, carols and canons through which the people of many lands have for generations striven to express their joy and devotion, and is rendered by young people of the many nationalities represented in the Hull-House neighborhood. Possibly it is the spirit of Christmas, possibly it is the influence of music which holds together the souls of these people, but certain it is that, although most of the songs are of a religious character, Russian and Polish Jewish children participate with the consent of their parents.
An eminent author who has made a study of immigrants, especially of the Jews, said after he had listened to one of those concerts: “It is wonderful to see people, who in Russia would have died rather than speak the name of Christ, here singing these dongs, and their families in the audience enjoying this music.” Nobody who knows the principles of Hull-House will accuse us of trying to influence the religious convictions of our friends; but the fact that all these people are united in the true spirit of Christmas may perhaps be a genuine expression of “Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men.”
This Christmas Carol was composed by one of the older pupils in the Music School, and, given for the first time at one of these concerts, was sung by a group of his younger brothers and sisters.
After the concert the children, with their families, take supper together in a spacious room lighted only by the tapers of a large Christmas tree. This “Music-School Tree” is always the same and unlike any of the others which flourish at Hull-House. It is a large fir tree which reaches from floor to ceiling and is fastened to a secure stand. To the top is tied a star made of silver tinsel wound around a frame of strong wire. Many “icicles” of glass are attached to conspicuous branches, and a large number of candle-holders are made of unpainted tin. Then we carefully spread soft fluffy asbestos or a new German non-combustible cotton over all the thicker and finer branches to make them look as if they were snow-covered. Twelve packages of plain silver-tinsel thread are also put on, starting at the top so that the tinsel covers the tree like a silver veil. The threads are laid on the branches almost singly and must not be in the least tangled. White candles are placed in the holders and holly is laid on the floor around the tree. After the candles have been lighted–beginning at the top–all lights in the room are turned out. There it stands in wonderful, mysterious, silent beauty, like the Spirit of Christmas, glittering softly in green, white and silver.
This perhaps is the climax of our Christmas celebration, although the holiday week is full of all sorts of jollifications, ending with the “Old Settlers” party on New Year’s Day.
Looking for a timely post on Thanksgiving, we came across a newspaper article that detailed a Thanksgiving banquet held at Chicago’s Union League Club on November 22, 1894, a week before the actual holiday on November 29. Jane Addams was one of the featured speakers at the event, which was given by the Life Underwriters’ Association of Chicago.
Setting the stage, the Inter Ocean reporter described tables adorned with:
“endless ferns dotted with chrysanthemums in cut-glass vases. . . fruit dishes heaped with red and yellow apples, the Vermont cheeses, and–not the least in flavor of ye olden time–candles in little bits of japanned candle-sticks. But the best decoration was of course the ladies, interspersed so thickly among the men.”
Describing a menu decorated with two turkeys facing each other, comprised of foods from all over the country, including “Fresh echoes from the woods of Maine.” The diners wrote “Thanksgiving cards,” with whimsical notes about what they were thankful for, which mostly involved the items on the menu. Songs were sung, “My Last Cigar” (lyrics), “Welcome Song,” and “Sweetheart.” An address by the club president J. K. Stearns welcomed the women guests, including “one who is well known for good word and work and of whom it may be said, ‘Her step is music and her voice is song,’ whose life is devoted to neglected humanity and whose work is so nobly represented in the Hull House social settlement.”
Finally introduced as “one of the queens of Illinois,” Jane Addams took the podium, speaking of her interest in Chicago’s Seventeenth Ward, and then on the celebration of the holiday:
I sometimes think our patriotism is a little like our compunction of conscience–it is apt to run backward. After a thing has been done, and well done, we like to think about it; we like to think about how patriotic we have been, and how very well we did it altogether and how much we like the stars and stripes. Now I suppose in our thanksgiving and especially looking toward our thanksgiving of the future, it may be well if we bring to bear some of this patriotic feeling of emotion upon the present problems. I remember the last Fourth of July, which, as you know occurred in the midst of a strike, we were trying to arrange for a celebration when a workingman said: ‘Why should we celebrate when the whole country is so upset?’ I said to him: ‘It seems, on this Fourth, more fitting than ever to rally together–all of us–and bring to bear all our patriotism and unity of feeling upon the present condition, and see what we can do about it.
In other words, there was just as much need for common action then as there was among the Pilgrims fighting the Indians. We are no longer struggling to keep our conscience from outside interference, but we forget the equal demand that comes from the multiplied conditions of our modern life, especially the great poverty all about us. Hence I say that all of Chicago, all the business men and women so full of good will, if they would face together some of our problems, perhaps then we could have a rousing Thanksgiving dinner together afterward. I have very little advice to offer as to how this should be done. I have very little belief in the ready-made scheme of reform, but I do long every day that the good will which you know does exist in Chicago, that the good sense which you see exhibited all about you, should be brought to bear on these very pressing problems; that they should be held as a part of the patriotic citizenship; that they should be considered just as much of a duty as it was a duty years ago to fight Indians and go out with the musket to fight against the mother country.
Surely it is Christian altruism to say that we should be uncomfortable to have another Thanksgiving dinner unless some of the crooked place are made straighter than they are now. There are various schemes in my mind which I would like to suggest. I do not feel myself, as the old minister did, that nine-tenths will be damned. Many are doing very well, but they do need help, just as our early politics needed help. The heart of the nation needs to be brought to this modern problem in the same spirit of patriotic endeavor as it was brought to the early problem and we have no right to say all is well until we have made this effort. We are at least bound to give our minds to it, to give our endeavor to it, steadily and systematically as becomes patriotic men and women.
Addams’ speech was received to “much applause,” but the program turned again to the light-hearted and humorous, before the “assemblage sang a popular song and dispersed.”
“Call Back Old Times,” Inter-Ocean, Nov. 23, 1894, p. 4.
A few weeks ago on Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver lampooned the growing use of “historical” quotes as a means of legitimizing current political opinion. While this is by no means a new problem, it has gone viral through the use of memes, such that, as Oliver said, “If you have the right font and the right photo, any quote can seem real.” Oliver proceeded to put up a website (http://www.definitelyrealquotes.com/) with a set of historical photos randomly combined with dubious quotes.
While Jane Addams doesn’t appear on his site (Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart do), you can find many lists of Jane Addams’ quotes and illustrations, most noble-sounding and completely unattributed. How many of them are accurate? It can be difficult to be certain that someone did not say something, and until we are able to transcribe the entire corpus of Addams’ work, we can only offer initial results–but there are enough problems that you should be wary.
Searching for this text in Google Books, in quotes, results in a hit from James Weber Linn’s 1935 biography of Addams, Jane Addams (p. 104). He claims that it comes from an 1892 paper given at a Plymouth, Mass. summer institute on ethical culture, but provides no citation. Linn uses the quote two times in the biography, the first rendered: “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain . . . until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” A few pages later Linn uses the quote again, this time without the ellipses.
What was missing from the quote? In this case, it wasn’t much. It came from “The Subjective Necessity of Social Settlements,” which was republished in Philanthropy and Social Progress (1893), p. 7. The excluded portion is not terribly significant, but by omitting it, it becomes harder to locate the source of the quote using search engines. We’ve highlighted the differences in orange:
The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.
Jane Addams “sort of” wrote this one, in “The College Woman and Christianity,” an article published in the Independent (Vol. 53, No. 2749) from Aug. 8, 1901, on page 1853. The full quote is:
“I once heard Father Huntington say that the essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of one’s self and I would like to add that to consider one’s self in any wise unlike the rank and file of human life is to walk straight toward the pit of self righteousness.”
Addams refers to Father James Otis Sargent Huntington (1854-1935), founder of the Order of the Holy Cross, a monastery near West Point in New York. So while Jane Addams “wrote” it, she credited the sentiment to another. Her own addition isn’t half bad though!
Jane Addams wrote this too, though the beginning of the sentence was removed. It is from A Second Twenty Years at Hull-House (1930), p. 101, and says:
“As congress at Honolulu proceeded we felt that Oriental women had unique opportunities to stand free from the tyranny of mechanization and to act upon the assumption that civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.
This is a good example of a specific sentence being turned to serve a far broader purpose. Citations help us to determine whether or not the quote is being used properly when it is pulled from its context.
Several lists of quotes (WisdomQuotes and AboutEducation for example)credit Jane Addams as the author of this William Shakespeare line from Measure for Measure.
This one has been attributed to Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and Michael Corrleone from the Godfather. And, per Goodreads, to Jane Addams as well.
Many of the quotes out there are accurate, though few have citations. Below are some that have been verified.
Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics.
This quote comes from Democracy and Social Ethics (1907), p. 273.
Unless our conception of patriotism is progressive, it cannot hope to embody the real affection and the real interest of the nation.
Jane Addams wrote this in Newer Ideals of Peace (1906) p. 216.
Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself.
Jane Addams wrote this in Peace and Bread in Time of War (1912), p. 133.
Old-fashioned ways which no longer apply to changed conditions are a snare in which the feet of women have always become readily entangled.
Jane Addams wrote this in Newer Ideas of Peace (1906), p. 186.
In his own way each man must struggle, lest the moral law become a far-off abstraction utterly separated from his active life.
Jane Addams wrote this in Twenty Years at Hull-House (1910), p. 66.
I am sure that anything we can do to widen the circle of enlightenment and self-development is quite as rewarding to those who do it as to those for whom it is done.
Jane Addams wrote this in “Widening the Circle of Enlightenment: Hull House and Adult Education” (Journal of Adult Education 2, no. 3 [June, 1930]: p. 279.
Private beneficence is totally inadequate to deal with the vast numbers of the city’s disinherited.
Jane Addams wrote this in Twenty Years at Hull-House (1910), p. 310.
If the meanest man in the republic is deprived of his rights,then every man in the republic is deprived of his rights.
Jane Addams wrote this in an address to the Union League Club of Chicago; it was published in Union League Club of Chicago, Exercises in Commemoration of the Birthday of George Washington (1903), p. 9.
A deeper and more thorough-going unity is required in a community made up of highly differentiated peoples than in a more settled and stratified one, and it may be logical that we should find in this commingling of many peoples a certain balance and concord of opposing and contending forces; a gravitation toward the universal.”
Jane Addams wrote this in Newer Ideals of Peace (1922), pp. 16-17.
We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or class; but we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all men and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having.
Jane Addams wrote this in Democracy and Social Ethics (1907), p. 220.
When Quoting Jane Addams
As most historians and students working on history papers know, you should not quote people without citing the source of your quote. And that does not mean the website where you saw the meme or the “Jane Addams Quotes” page you found on an anonymous website (see right).
Try to locate the quote in its original context. That means finding it in one of Jane Addams’ own writings, not on a website or secondary source. A good tactic for locating a good source is to search one of the book sites that have full text for public domain books (Google Books, Internet Archive, Hathi Trust, to name a few). Most of Jane Addams’ books are in public domain, which makes things easier. Using the original texts will not only ensure that the quote is correct, but seeing it in its context will give you a better sense of what Addams meant.
You may find that your search turns up a huge number of hits. Just like on the web, book authors cite quotes from Jane Addams and other famous people, and many of them do not cite the source of their quote either! To get to Addams’ own works, you can limit the date of publication to between 1870 and 1940. You might be tempted to use searches that narrow the author as well, but you may miss documents from compilations with an editor or author.
Putting the text in quotes will narrow your search dramatically, but remember that it will only work if the quote you search for is accurate. If a word is wrong or missing, you may not be able to find it, though it is mostly accurate. So if the whole text does not come up, try a phrase that seems unique, like “precarious and uncertain” or “affection and the real interest of the nation.”
Dig deeply, and if you have too much trouble verifying the quote, don’t use it!
As Halloween nears, we turn to the more spirited side of the Hull House that Jane Addams started. The House itself, which was built by Charles Hull in 1856, was in an area of Chicago that was extremely fashionable before the Great Fire in 1871. After the Great Fire, the wealthy of the area left and moved to other areas, leaving the West Side of Chicago to be turned into a place for the poorest of the poor, from prostitutes to immigrants. It was these people that Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr wanted to reach out to. They therefore rented the house…and made a surprising discovery. The house was haunted by Charles Hull’s late wife.
Addams and Starr were not the first inhabitants of the Hull House to meet the late Mrs. Hull. The house had been rented out before and the tenants saw her ghostly figure in the room that had been hers. Terrified, they attempted to combat it by placing a pitcher of water over the threshold, believing that spirits could not get over the running water.
Addams slept originally in the room where Mrs. Hull died, which was where her spirit allegedly remained. While there, she saw Mrs. Hull a few times and, though Addams determined that she seemed to mean no harm, eventually decided to move into another room. They did not completely close off the room, however, and sometimes had guests stay in there. Some of these guests also saw Mrs. Hull’s spirit. Today, the house is included on Ghost Tours in Chicago and has a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Chicago, despite the relatively benign nature of the ghost.
In addition to the rather less frightening ghost of Mrs. Hull, there was the rumor of a Devil Baby ensconced in the attic of the Hull House. Though Jane Addams continually denied the existence of such a disfigured child hidden away in the attic, the legend persisted and even grew before it eventually died down, though it never vanished completely. Jane Addams herself took to The Atlantic in 1916 to explain the truth of the matter. In that article, she explores not just the legend of the Devil Baby, but why that story held the minds of the women that she serviced.
The Devil Baby has two different versions, one for the Italian Catholics and one for the Jews, though they were essentially the same. In both versions, there is an innocent bride whose husband is the villain and causes their child to be born with horns and a tail- a Devil Baby. In some versions, the baby can also spout profanity within a few months. All stories, however, conclude with the distraught mother bringing the baby to the Hull House, where a mystified Jane Addams locked it in the attic because she had no idea what to do with it.
This story, of course, was fervently denied by Addams and the rest of the Hull House staff. They insisted that the first time they ever heard the story was when two women appeared at the doorstep, wanting to see the Devil Baby for themselves. Though they were quickly turned away, they were just the first in a steady stream of visitors, seeking to see this mysterious child. Though the child never existed, the legends of it persisted, and in many ways are similar to other urban legends, such as the Jersey Devil.
So why do these kinds of stories hold the imaginations of the people, even today? Jane Addams’ theory was simply that they were a form of warning tale. Abuse was exceptionally prevalent in this period, particularly domestic abuse of wives by their husbands. Thus, the story of the Devil Baby is a morality tale of what can happen when the man of the household fails to be faithful and appropriately religious and therefore disrespects his wife and family. Though there was no actual Devil Baby caused by a cruel father, the hope that it gave the women that it would keep the menfolk in line to hear of the potential consequences of their actions was an important aspect of Jane Addams’ work and this rumor helped her determine where the women needed the most help.
Whether the hauntings of Hull House were real or not, they are certainly a rich part of the house’s legacy and the importance of the house in the history of Chicago.
On Wednesday evening, the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, spoke to a group of students and faculty here at Ramapo College about the history behind the use of criminal justice as a system of racial control.
One part of the talk looked at the ideas about race and delinquency that came out of the turn-of-the-century Progressive movement, which used statistics about rates of imprisonment to characterize black youth as particularly violent and unlawful. (These kinds of statistics are still being cited uncritically.) The assumption was that the criminal justice system was even-handed when making arrests and thus the disparity between the percentage of blacks in prisons and the percentage in the general population reflected an unbiased truth about African-Americans. This led to calls for blacks, even from black intellectuals like W. E. B. DuBois, to regulate their own behavior and take responsibility for their actions. Black criminality and delinquency were perceived as moral failings, blamed either on the criminal or his or her parents.
Muhammad tellingly contrasted this view with the way that many of the same Progressives, Jane Addams included, looked at white crime. Settlements were established in areas with high poverty and crime, but in the early years of the movement, most settlements were founded in urban immigrant neighborhoods.
Most either refused entry to African-Americans, or set up settlement houses in African-American neighborhoods to serve them. Despite Jane Addams’ support for racial equality, Hull-House was segregated until the 1930s, well after the neighborhood’s African-American population had increased. A recollection by Florence Scala, who attended Hull-House activities in the 1930s was that there was a great mix of ethnic groups there, “however, there were no blacks, blacks were not active in the Hull-House programs when I was going there.” (Near West Side, p. 139.)
Hull-House workers did help found two African-American settlements in Chicago–the Frederick Douglas Center (1904), an integrated settlement located in an African-American neighborhood in the Second Ward, and the Wendell Phillips Settlement (1908), a segregated house also located in an African-American neighborhood in the west side of Chicago.
Addams’ views on the juvenile delinquency are found most clearly in her 1909 TheSpirit of Youth in the City Streets. Addams chronicles the stories of Hull-House neighbors, who were overwhelmingly white immigrants, depicting the causes of crime in far more sympathetic terms:
“A certain number of the outrages upon the spirit of youth may be traced to degenerate or careless parents who totally neglect their responsibilities; a certain other large number of wrongs are due to sordid men and women who deliberately use the legitimate pleasure-seeking of young people as lures into vice. There remains, however, a third very large classes for which the community as a whole must be held responsible. . . traceable to a dense ignorance on the part of the average citizen as to the requirements of youth, and a persistent blindness on the part of educators as to youth’s most obvious needs.” (p. 51)
Delinquent youth, Addams argued, “are overborne by their own undirected and misguided energies.” Young minds were often too immature to avoid “an accidental combination of circumstances” that might entice a youth to crime. Addams argued that the environment of the city, “its thronged streets, its glittering shops, its gaudy advertisements of shows and amusements,” lead young men to seek “adventures,” which often turn into criminal charges. Addams claims that other crimes could also be seen as “illustrating the spirit of adventure, for although stealing is involved in all of them, the deeds were doubtless inspired much more by the adventurous impulse than by a desire for the loot itself” (pp. 54-56).
This is not the way black crime was discussed.
When Progressives looked to immigrant neighborhoods, they saw society’s flaws acted out in juvenile delinquency–child labor, poor housing and education, poverty, and a lack of public entertainments. Fixing the problems did not start with the individual or with the immigrant community itself. Addams called for education as the only means of:
organizing a child’s activities with some reference to the life he will later lead and of giving him a clue as to what to select and what to eliminate when he comes in contact with contemporary social and industrial conditions” (p. 109-110).
Addams and other Progressives saw that when groups of people had trouble adjusting to society, it might be that society had to change or adapt. We are undergoing another period in which we need to address the social problems of inequality and the lack of opportunity, especially with regard to race and the criminal justice system. The first step is understanding how we got here.
Between 1976 and 1983 the original staff of the Jane Addams Papers Project, led by Mary Lynn Bryan, undertook a massive search for Addams documents, searching thousands of archival collections and locating documents in 574 of them. These documents, microfilmed in 1996, will serve as the base of the new Jane Addams Digital Edition. We estimate that they found almost 20,000 letters from the period between 1901 and 1935. They also found evidence that not everything had been preserved. Some documents were lost, but others were deliberately destroyed.
No historian likes to hear stories like this:
According to Ellen Starr Brinton, Curator of the Swarthmore Peace Collection, “A chance call on Jane Addams in Hull House, Chicago, just when she was burning personal papers on the fireplace was the beginning of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.”(1)
or to see what Addams wrote to her nephew and biographer, James Linn shortly before her death:
I have been going over a box full of letters of mine to Mary Smith. They quite filled a drawer of her desk–all sorts of notes. I am destroying a good many and sending others–a lot in fact–on to you. Not that you will want to use them, I hope, but they will give you a certain ‘feel’ of the 1890s, etc. Among those am I destroying are the purely family ones–of her family or mine–but I am sending a few on to you that you may want to read first. Please ‘read–destroy.’ (March 8, 1935)(2)
We are grateful that Linn didn’t do it–what little correspondence remains between Mary Rozet Smith and Jane Addams survives because of Linn’s disobedience.
The Addams Papers editors searched archives and libraries, located private collections, found articles published in newspapers and locked away in attics and basements. As they did so, they identified other holes in the Addams archive, the most prominent being:
All but two of Hull-House’s complex was razed to build the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle in 1963.
Some key Addams’ diaries are missing, including the ones that chronicled her visit to Toynbee Hall, where she and Ellen Gates Starr hit upon the idea to open Hull-House.
Manuscripts for many of her books have not been found.
Many of Hull-House’s records were destroyed accidentally when a basement they were stored in flooded during construction.
After Addams’ death, her family sold or donated various parts of her papers and the family papers to a number of archives, scattering the Addams archive.
As any researcher knows, you can never find everything. Even if you search all known collections for Addams materials, the day that you stop looking, a new collection will be deposited at an archive or an existing collection will finally be processed (described and organized by archivists) and reveal new Addams documents.
As we embark on building a digital edition of Jane Addams’ correspondence and writings, it is time to do another search.
A New World
The last Addams search was done 30 years ago and a world away when you think about it in terms of technological advances. As we begin our search, we have so many research tools that the editors in the 1970s and 1980s did not.
All right, it wasn’t quite that bad!
We used to consult incomplete printed guides to locate archives and libraries that might have holdings. The NUCMC (National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections) was organized by state and city, and editors used to tackle a few pages at a time, writing letters (yes, actual letters!) to them seeking information about their holdings. Smaller libraries might not even be listed. Now we can search the web to find libraries and archives and use databases like ArchiveGrid that provide information and links to specific archival collections, in many cases letting us see the finding aids that describe them. These guides are often so detailed that we can simply e-mail the archives and ask them to look in specific folders and send copies.
To locate newspaper articles written by Addams, or about her activities, editors had access to very few indexed newspapers, and often had to scan old newspapers on microfilm, hoping to find coverage. Looking for journals was a bit easier, as many were indexed, but obtaining copies from them could take months as we relied on inter-library loans and letters (again!) to libraries and archives. Now many journals and newspapers, especially those published before 1923 are available online, through large sites like Google Books, the Digital Public Library of America, the Hathi Trust, or the Internet Archive. Old newspapers are becoming more easy to access, through sites like the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America, though many sites require subscriptions. The Addams Papers has access to ProQuest’s historical newspapers, Newspapers.com, and a number of other databases that we will be able to search, both for missing Addams documents, and for details on her life and travels.
What happened in 1923?
Some things have not changed. It is still a complex process, but one that technology helps us to master. Creating visualizations, like the graph below, have shown us a new potential gap in the collection–the sudden reduction of documents written by Jane Addams in 1923. A serious decline in her usual production might mean a box of documents was lost or destroyed, perhaps she wrote less because she was traveling the world, or because she became ill. Using databases to enter all potential sources of new Addams documents allows us to track our progress in contacting them and obtaining materials. In many cases, we will still have to do the leg work of visiting the archives, checking through boxes and boxes of material, and making copies and scans.
We have started by listing the archival collections that do not appear in the microfilm. We will search these, by e-mail and in person, and then check the documents found against what was filmed on the microfilm (some could be duplicates). We plan to search digitized newspaper sites and e-journals looking for Addams articles that might have slipped through the original search, and will also look to European archives, which are also far more accessible using digital tools than they ever were before. With luck, we can add to the substantial work done to build the Addams microfilm to make available even more of Jane Addams’s documents.
(1) Mary McCree Bryan, The Jane Addams Papers: A Comprehensive Guide, (1996), p. 68.
(2) Mary McCree Bryan, The Jane Addams Papers: A Comprehensive Guide, (1996), p. 69.
Thanks to the students, faculty and staff who came to last night’s meeting about the work of the Jane Addams Papers. I was happy to provide some background on Jane Addams’ life and talk about the ongoing efforts to preserve, gather, and publish her papers, and about the goals of the Addams Papers here at Ramapo College.
Student participation will be key to the success of the Jane Addams Papers, and I was delighted with the numbers of students who came up to talk about joining the project. The Addams Papers is hiring student assistants right now, through our postings on Archway.
Editorial Assistant (Archway #9533) will anaylze and digitize documents, entering metadata about them in our online content management system. Students will read documents to assign them subjects, and note mentions of people, places, events and organizations. Students will transcribe documents according to project guidelines and help editors proofread transcriptions. Editorial assistants will be researching and writing blog posts about the project and Jane Addams, and researching and writing identifications for people and organizations. We have 2 open positions, for up to 15 hours per week.
Research Assistant (Archway #9543) will focus more on researching and writing identifications for the people, places, organizations and events mentioned in the documents, but will also work on transcribing the documents digitized by the editorial assistants. Research assistants will also help research and clear copyright and publication permissions for documents, and assist the editor in locating and obtaining new Addams documents from archives, newspapers, journals and other sources. We have 2 open positions, for up to 15 hours per week.
Publicity Assistant (Archway #9542) will design and implement a social media publicity and promotion campaign for the Jane Addams Papers. Working with the editors, the assistant will map out a strategy, schedule blog posts and social media updates, and help spread news about the project to related organizations, such as archives, museums, colleges, and activist groups. The assistant will also take part in transcribing documents, and will assist the editor with answering research queries, and attracting volunteers. This position is for up to 15 hours per week.
I also encouraged students to consider volunteer and internship opportunities at the Project. One of the goals for the project is that is serve as a research lab for humanities students and others across the College. We’d like to help you gain practical skills doing historical research, investigating digital humanities tools, and opportunities to get your writings and other creative work published on the web.
We can use more help transcribing documents, conducting research and writing up the results. If you don’t have the time to commit to a job, you can come in as a volunteer on your own schedule.
We are looking for guest bloggers. If you have written a paper or essay using the Jane Addams Papers or focusing on Addams or her associates, write a blog summarizing your findings and we’ll publish it on our website. Or, if you enjoy writing about history, come volunteer to research and write blogs about the project or about Addams’ life.
We would love to involve graphics design students in helping us design logos and promotional materials and improve our website design.
If you are a computer science student with an interest in digital humanities or working with humanists to play with primary source materials, we would be happy to help you get a project or application started. We want to feature these kinds of collaborations on our website.
We welcome education students who might help us develop document-based lesson plans or guides for programs like National History Day.
We will be looking for translators to help with foreign language documents.
Have an idea for an interactive map, a digital chronology, or a digital exhibit about Addams, settlement house, the World War I peace movement, woman’s suffrage, education in Chicago or any of the many other activities Addams undertook? We’ll help you research and present it, and make it a part of our website.
Looking for a research topic for your coursework this semester? Consider the Jane Addams Papers.
NEW DIGITAL HUMANITIES INITIATIVE ANNOUNCED! Dr. Stephen Rice, Dean of the Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies, has announced that Ramapo College has received a major grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) – the funding agency of the National Archives – that will enable us to launch the Jane Addams Papers Project this fall.
Jane Addams was a pioneer in the settlement house movement, having co-founded Hull House in Chicago in 1889. She was also a leader in the women’s suffrage and peace movements of the early twentieth century. In 1931 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end war.
The NHPRC has for a number of years supported the publication of her papers. With this grant the project will move from Duke University to Ramapo, and will take on a new direction as a digital humanities initiative. Starting in September Ramapo students will have opportunities to work on campus in all facets of a digital publication project, including the transcription and editing of documents, historical research, website design and maintenance, blogging, and software coding.
The project will be directed by Cathy Moran Hajo ’85, the former Associate Editor of New York University’s Margaret Sanger Papers Project. Dr. Hajo brings a wealth of expertise not only in documentary editing, but also in the techniques of digital humanities.