“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!

We are delighted beyond words to announce that the Jane Addams Papers has received two major grants.

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

A Challenge: How You Can Help

Our new NEH Grant offers a way for you to help power the Addams Papers. The NEH will provide us with an additional $150,000 in matching funds if we can raise $150,000 from private sources. These much needed funds are needed to support the salaries of our student workers, research costs, and the editorial salaries that aren’t covered by the NEH and NHPRC.

We are currently short-staffed, with fewer student assistants than usual. Your support will ensure that we meet our goals for 2022-2023:

  • Entering over 1,000 new Addams documents with descriptive metadata in the Jane Addams Digital Edition.
  • Transcribing over 1,000 new Addams documents for the digital edition.
  • Proofreading student work to ensure quality before publication.
  • Submitting Volume 4 of the Selected Papers of Jane Addams to the University of Illinois Press.
  • Continuing research on Volume 5 of the Selected Papers of Jane Addams.
  • Working with high school teachers to develop AP resources.
  • Researching and writing biographies and descriptions of the people, organizations, events and publications mentioned in the Jane Addams Digital Edition.

So, if you can, please donate now. Your contributions will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the NEH and will power the students whose work makes all of this possible.

Thanks for your support!

 

 

 

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.

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.

Jane Addams and the Long 19th Amendment Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Saint Jane and the Wicked Wicks –An Audio Musical

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Segregation At Hull-House: A Closer Look

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Defender continued:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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