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.

Striving for Social Justice: Jane Addams and Sophonisba Breckinridge

By Anya Jabour, Regents Professor of History, University of Montana

The subject of my new book, Sophonisba Breckinridge: Championing Women’s Activism in Modern America, worked closely with Jane Addams for decades. The two women, along with other reformers affiliated with Hull House, championed labor legislation, provided services to immigrants, promoted woman suffrage, and advocated for world peace. Together, they were a powerful force for social justice.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Breckinridge came to Chicago to pursue higher education at the coeducational University of Chicago. After earning her M.A. (1897) and Ph.D. (1901) in political science, she graduated with her J.D. (1904) at the top of the Law School’s first graduating class.  After completing her coursework, Breckinridge taught a pioneering course on “The Legal and Economic Position of Women” that brought her into contact with the Second City’s labor organizers and social reformers.

Breckinridge’s concern about the plight of working women initiated her long association with Hull House and its head resident, Jane Addams. In 1905, at Addams’s suggestion, she accepted an appointment as Inspector of Yards, investigating the working conditions of women in Chicago’s infamous stockyard district. Breckinridge spent more than four months inspecting the facilities and interviewing the employees of “Packingtown,” mostly immigrant girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 22.  Working in cold, windowless rooms and standing on “dirty, blood-soaked, rotting wooden floors” for ten hours a day, the workers “toil[ed] without relief in a humid atmosphere heavy with the odors of rotten wood, decayed meats, stinking offal,” and human waste from the doorless privies that vented directly into the workrooms.  Breckinridge found her task exhausting, both physically and emotionally.  To Addams, she confessed, “I was getting where I could not sleep—the vision of the day’s work presses in so!  Not my own day’s work—but that of the crews of girls I see marching past me now.”

Breckinridge translated her emotional response to women workers’ abysmal working conditions into social scientific scholarship and policy recommendations. In addition to publishing her study on women workers in the stockyards, she reported her findings to the U.S. Labor Department. With the support of settlement house workers, clubwomen, and trade unionists, she helped persuade the department to provide funding for a full-scale investigation. Ultimately, the nineteen-volume report on the working conditions of wage-earning women and children, published between 1910 and 1913, provided the basis for the establishment of two new federal bureaus, the U.S. Children’s Bureau and the U.S. Women’s Bureau.  These government agencies would advocate for a ban on child labor and better working conditions for women for decades to come.

Breckinridge (right) with Julia Clifford Lathrop (left) University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf1-02244], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Breckinridge’s work with Addams on behalf of working women soon led to an invitation to live and work at Hull House. As Russell Ballard, one of the few male residents of Hull House, expressed it, “a brilliant company of women were drawn to the settlement to pioneer in the promotion of social change. The scholarly and talented Sophonisba Breckinridge joined the company in 1907 to become one of Miss Addams’ closest friends and most helpful associates.” Although her responsibilities at the University of Chicago prevented her from living at Hull House full-time, Breckinridge spent all of her vacation quarters—and much of her limited free time—at Hull-House, where she was listed as an official “resident” from 1907 until 1921.

Breckinridge became one of Addams’s closest colleagues. She helped to raise funds for the settlement, served as a substitute speaker when Addams was unavailable, and assisted Addams with her correspondence.  Breckinridge’s papers are filled with hastily scrawled notes from Addams, invariably beginning with the exclamatory greeting “Dear Lady!” and closing, “Hastily yours, Jane Addams.” In response to such letters, Breckinridge assisted Addams in innumerable ways, both large and small, leading Addams to close one typical letter asking Breckinridge to perform a task, “I do hope that I am not putting too many things ‘off’ on you.” Breckinridge always came through for Addams, signing one letter, “Yours to command always.”

Soon after Breckinridge took up residence at Hull House, she joined a special committee investigating the conditions confronting young single immigrant women who arrived in the city, lost and alone and vulnerable to both sexual and economic exploitation.  A typical case was that of Bozena, “a nice young Bohemian immigrant girl” who was “so eager for work . . . that she had taken the first job she could find—in a saloon.”  As fellow Hull House resident Edith Abbott, Breckinridge’s colleague at the University of Chicago, explained: “The saloonkeeper had abused her shamefully and then turned her out when he found that she was to become the mother of his illegitimate child.”

Hull House residents helped Bozena file charges, obtain childcare, learn English, gain citizenship, and find work. But Breckinridge and Addams soon realized that the problem of “lost immigrant girls”—as well as the difficulties confronting immigrant men and children—was too widespread for existing service agencies to address.  As Addams explained the problem:

Every year we have heard of girls who did not arrive when their families expected them, and although their parents frantically met one train after another, the ultimate fate of the girls could never be discovered; we have constantly seen the exploitation of the newly arrived immigrant by his shrewd countrymen in league with the unscrupulous American; from time to time we have known children detained in New York and even deported whose parents had no clear understanding of the difficulty.

With Addams’s enthusiastic support, Breckinridge proposed the creation of a new organization, and the Immigrants’ Protective League was established in 1908.  As Abbott recalled: “This problem of the unaccompanied girls proved to be challenging; but nothing that ought to be done seemed impossible to Miss Breckinridge!”

Breckinridge at Green Hall at the University of Chicago. (Courtesy of University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf1-02252], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.)
The Immigrants’ Protective League provided essential assistance to Chicago’s immigrants—women, men, and children. One of the League’s first major accomplishments was establishing “a kind of immigration station” to welcome new arrivals.  Immigrants who arrived in Chicago by train met with League agents—chosen to represent the nationalities and speak the languages of their clients— who helped orient newcomers to the city.  Agents provided new arrivals with information about employment opportunities, social services, and evening classes. One of the principal goals of the League was to protect immigrants from exploitation.  At the welcome station, agents helped new arrivals steer clear of unscrupulous cab drivers, fraudulent employment agents, and the ever-present “cadets” who recruited young women into prostitution.  Breckinridge also persuaded local women’s clubs to provide funds for the League to provide temporary lodging for young immigrant women.  In only four years, the League served close to 80,000 immigrants at its welcome station.

Breckinridge and Addams continued to team up to advance social reform. In 1911, they were elected vice-presidents of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Under their leadership, the Second City quickly became a “stronghold for the cause.” However, internal dissension caused both women to dread meetings of the national board, which Addams compared to being immersed in “boiling oil.”

Tensions came to a head in Fall 1912, when Breckinridge and Addams, in defiance of the suffrage organization’s traditional commitment to non-partisanship, declared their support for Progressive Party presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt. Addams, Breckinridge, and other activists not only convinced the third-party candidate to support woman suffrage, but also helped to shape the Progressive Party’s agenda. The third-party platform, known as the “Contract with the People,” was modeled on the “Platform of Industrial Minimums” adopted at the 1912 National Conference of Charities and Corrections, where both Breckinridge and Addams played prominent roles. The platform included demands for a “living wage,” unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation for all workers, as well as special protections for women and children in the workforce.

However, Breckinridge and Addams failed to convince NAWSA leadership that the suffrage movement should use party politics to promote either women’s rights or social welfare. Instead, president Anna Howard Shaw publicly denounced “party ties.” This uncomfortable situation led both Addams and Breckinridge to resign their posts after only a year in office.

Although they remained active in the suffrage movement, after leaving office, Breckinridge and Adams shifted their focus away from NAWSA and toward the Woman’s Peace Party, which they co-founded in 1915 in response to armed conflict in Europe—what would later become known as World War I. The Woman’s Peace Party was the first U.S. pacifist group to treat “peace as a women’s issue.” Many members believed that women had a special responsibility to protect life and thus to prevent war. The party preamble and platform called on women, as “the mother half of humanity,” to oppose the “reckless destruction” of human life resulting from warfare.  At the same time that they emphasized women’s special responsibility for peace work, feminist pacifists also demanded equal political rights for women.  Believing that women’s full participation in the political process was essential to ending global conflict, members of the Woman’s Peace Party worked for both women’s rights and world peace.

As chairperson and treasurer of the Woman’s Peace Party, respectively, Addams and Breckinridge represented the new organization at an international feminist-pacifist gathering known as the International Congress of Women and held at The Hague in 1915. The Congress enthusiastically adopted many of the measures proposed by the U.S. representatives, calling for the creation of an international peacekeeping body, national self-determination for all countries, and equal political participation for women. Following the Congress, two delegations visited political and religious leaders of both neutral and belligerent nations.  When Addams, who participated in the visits, returned home, she did so as the first president of the new International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace.

Addams, Breckinridge, and other members of the Woman’s Peace Party took the lead in attempts to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing war.  After Addams returned to the United States, she and Breckinridge worked with both male and female pacifists in Chicago and New York to pressure President Woodrow Wilson to intervene in the European conflict as a neutral intermediary. Addams hand-picked Breckinridge for a special committee assigned to consult with other pacifists within and beyond the U.S. on strategies to “make propositions to the belligerenets [sic] in the spirit of constructive internationalism.”

Throughout the war, Addams, Breckinridge, and other members of the Woman’s Peace Party pressured President Wilson to intervene in the war to produce a “negotiated peace.” Wilson had made initial overtures in this direction at the war’s outset, but his offer was rebuffed. Thereafter, Wilson adopted a pose of watchful waiting.  Although he steadfastly maintained his intention to offer mediation when the time seemed propitious, that time never arrived. However, Wilson’s willingness to meet with pacifist delegations, his cordial relationship with Addams, and his assurances that he considered the women’s proposals at The Hague “by far the best formulation” for world peace, encouraged the pacifist women to continue their efforts.

 

Addams and Breckinridge co-founded the Woman’s Peace Party, later to become the U.S. chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, in 1915. (Courtesy Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Collection, Special Collections, University of Illinois at Chicago Library)

Addams and Breckinridge continued their search for ways to prevent U.S. entry into the conflict, to end the war, and to prevent future wars. In the aftermath of the Lusitania episode, they urged President Wilson to steer clear of what they called “a preposterous ‘preparedness’ against hypothetical dangers” and instead to provide “the epochal service which this world crisis offers for the establishment of permanent peace”—that is, to offer his services to mediate the ongoing conflict. Subsequently, they appeared before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee of Foreign Affairs to express their support for a House Joint Resolution proposal to establish a “Commission for Enduring Peace.”

The U.S. delegation to the International Congress of Women in 1915 on board the Noordam. Jane Addams in center behind the banner, Breckinridge is on the far right. (Courtesy Swarthmore College Peace Collection)

Despite their best efforts, American pacifists were unable either to halt the ongoing war or to prevent the United States’ entry into it.  Once hostilities ceased, Breckinridge and Addams—now part of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom—sought new routes to “enduring peace.” They achieved a partial victory in the establishment of the League of Nations, which incorporated many of the principles adopted at the International Congress of Women. Although the U.S. failed to join the new organization, Addams and Breckinridge persisted in promoting their vision of a peaceful postwar world.  In 1923, they discussed submitting “our” set of principles for the American Peace Award.  The plan that Breckinridge and Addams proposed called for the United States to join the World Court and the League of Nations. They also demanded that the U.S. military refrain from defending the interests of private businesses abroad, that the U.S. end both the production and the sale of armaments, and that the U.S. cooperate with other nations in a process of universal disarmament.  Finally, they recommended “cancelling or reducing debts due to the United States” from the other Allied countries in return for an agreement to “divide the costs of commissions hitherto charged against Germany alone equally between Germany and the former allies” and offering “a long moratorium to Germany” to allow that nation “eventually to pay the balance on her reparations debt as estimated by an impartial commission of experts to be constituted for the purpose.” Addams’s and Breckinridge’s joint plan thus called for the United States to promote peace not only by agreeing to abide by arbitration in future disputes and participating in a process of universal disarmament, but also by removing the reasons for rising resentment in Germany that would soon allow Adolf Hitler to rise to power. Sadly, their plan was never implemented. Nonetheless, in the years after the Second World War, many of their ideas would be adopted by the United Nations.

Addams and Breckinridge were not always fully successful in their efforts to promote social justice, but they shared a passion for justice that allowed them to persist in the face of difficulties and setbacks. Their collaboration with one another and with fellow reformers also enabled them to meet challenges with strong resolve and good cheer. Together, Addams and Breckinridge were a powerful force for social justice.

Coda: Because Breckinridge’s own papers, while extensive, are comparatively scant for the Progressive Era, to conduct my research on these decades of her life, I relied heavily on the 82-reel microfilmed edition of the Jane Addams Papers and the accompanying “Pink Bible,” the 674-page guide to the microfilm collection, created with the guidance of Jane Addams Papers Project founder Mary Lynn Bryan. I am delighted that future researchers’ work will be facilitated by the next generation of the Jane Addams Paper Project, spearheaded by Cathy Moran Hajo, which will make the Jane Addams Papers accessible in a digital format.


Anya Jabour is Regents Professor of History at the University of Montana. Her books include Topsy-Turvy: How the Civil War Turned the World Upside Down for Southern Children and Scarlett’s Sisters: Young Women in the Old South

Sources:

Abbott, Edith, and Breckinridge, Sophonisba P. “Women in Industry: The Chicago Stockyards,” Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 19, No. 8 (October 1911), 632-654.

Addams, Jane. “Woman’s Suffrage and the Progressive Party,” Chicago Tribune, October 28, 1912, pg. 9.

Addams, Jane, Balch, Emily G., and Hamilton, Alice. Women at the Hague: The International Congress of Women and Its Results (New York: Macmillan Company, 1915).

Alonso, Harriet Hyman. Peace as a Women’s Issue: A History of the U.S. Movement for World Peace and Women’s Rights (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1993).

Ballard, Russell. “The Years at Hull House,” Social Service Review, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Dec. 1948), 432-433.

Brush, Mary Isabel. “Society Leaders Will Promote Suffrage Cause in Chicago’s Fashionable Circles: National Association to Open Branch,” Chicago Daily Tribune, December 24, 1911, pg. 13.

Bryan, Mary Lynn McCree, et al., eds., The Jane Addams Papers: A Comprehensive Guide (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996)

Buroker, Robert L. “From Voluntary Association to Welfare State: The Illinois Immigrants’ Protective League, 1908-1926,” Journal of American History, Vol. 58, No. 3 (December 1971), 643-660.

“Charity Honors for Chicago,” Chicago Tribune, June 20, 1912, pg. 13.

Commission for Enduring Peace: Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, Sixty-Fourth Congress, First Session, on H.R. 6921 and H.J. Res. 32, Statement of Miss Jane Addams and Others, January 11, 1916 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1916),10-12.

“Conditions in Stockyards Described in the Neill-Reynolds Report,” Chicago Tribune, June 5, 1906, pg. 4

Costin, Lela B. “Feminism, Pacifism, Internationalism, and the 1915 International Congress of Women,” Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 5, No. 3-4 (1982), 300-315.

Gonzalez, Suronda. “Complicating Citizenship: Grace Abbott and the Immigrants’ Protective League, 1908-1921,” Michigan Historical Review, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Fall 1998), 56-75.

Hull House Collection, Special Collections, Richard J. Daley Library, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Jane Addams Papers, 1860-1960 (microfilm edition).

Leonard, Henry B. “The Immigrants’ Protective League of Chicago, 1908-1921,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 66, No. 3 (Autumn 1973), 271-284.

“Meet of Suffrage Chiefs: Chicago Women to Attend Executive Committee Session Today: Officers Will Be Chosen: Members Enthusiastic in Praise of the Progressive Party,” Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1912, pg. 5.

Patterson, David S. The Search for a Negotiated Peace: Women’s Activism and Citizen Diplomacy in World War I (New York: Routledge, 2008).

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Dangerous Jane author Suzanne Slade Talks Inspiration for Children’s Book

Suzanne Slade is no stranger to Jane Addams, who is commonly referred to as “the mother of social work.” Addams was a pioneer American settlement activist/reformer, social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, public administrator, protestor, author, and leader in women’s suffrage and world peace. Continue reading “Dangerous Jane author Suzanne Slade Talks Inspiration for Children’s Book”