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 theHumanities 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.
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.
On February 21, 1901, little Blanche Ebert performed big musical compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven and Stephen Heller on the piano at a concert at Hull-House. She was a student of the Hull-House Music School and one of four gifted pupils who performed that day. Blanche was nine years old, and her passion for music just blossoming, but her education at Hull-House, a settlement dedicated to expanding the definition of the possible for young people, must have given her early confidence, both as a pianist and as a girl.
Hull-House Music School offered “serious musical training to talented children,” admitting them based upon aptitude tests; and Blanche was no doubt gifted from the start. But as she hailed from a poor immigrant family in the 18th Ward, just north of Hull-House, Blanche was also at least a little bit lucky, too. Most poor children did not have access to the musical instruments, private lessons, and concerts, like those offered at the Hull-House Music School.
In a brochure circulated to raise funds for the Hull-House Music School in the late 1890s, Jane Addams said: “We realize afresh that it is the business of youth to reaffirm the beauty and joy in the world.” In order to succeed in that business, girls and boys deserved cultural nourishment, Addams believed. Much of the focus of the activities at Hull-House revolved around children, each one an effort to expose young people to a world beyond the tenements and dirty streets of urban Chicago, to organize activities to bring art and music and beauty to people in the settlement’s neighborhood. At Hull-House, children were deemed worthy of attention and nurturing in the arts, and activities like private piano lessons , gave them remarkable opportunities to redefine their futures.
Blanche Ella Theodora Ebert was born on Sep. 15, 1891, in Chicago, the tenth child of Norwegian immigrant parents. Her father supported his large family as a painter, and in 1901 Blanche was one of seven children still living at home. We cannot know how Blanche felt as she took the stage to perform the opening piece of music by Beethoven for the Hull-House concert in 1901, but we can imagine something of what the opportunity to play a piano and perform for an audience meant to an underprivileged kid on a cold Chicago day in the early twentieth century. And we do know that Blanche Ebert took full advantage of the opportunity, charting for herself an unlikely and brave career as a pianist and composer.
Until about 1906, Blanche was a piano student and assistant music teacher at Hull-House. Her natural talent and her education at Hull-House afforded her entry into the Chicago Musical College from which she graduated in 1911. In 1912, she felt bold and moved west to Los Angeles, where she became a music teacher at the Egan School of Music and Drama. She also performed as a pianist in a variety of venues in southern California and became a “noted” accompanist. By late 1914, she was teaching at Blanchard Music School in Los Angeles and playing piano for silent films shown at the Majestic Theatre.
One day while riding the streetcar downtown, Blanche met Frank R. Seaver, an attorney eight years her senior. The couple married in Chicago on Sep. 16, 1916. They lived in California for a while before moving to New York, where Frank was stationed during WWI. In New York during that time, Blanche became a successful musical arranger and composer, writing and selling dozens of songs, many to popular artists of the day like the Irish singer John McCormack. Her most famous songs were “Calling Me Back to You,” composed during the war, and “Just for Today.”
In the 1920s, the Seavers lived in Mexico City, and it was there where Blanche discovered a second passion, philanthropy. She established a society to help homeless Mexican children, and that was the start of seventy-years of generous living. The Seavers moved back to the United States in 1928, settling permanently in Los Angeles. Frank Seaver made a fortune in the oil business, and Blanche became a well-known philanthropist.
Inspired and grateful for the education she received in Chicago, Blanche focused her giving on educational institutions. She and her husband donated money to the Harvard Boys School in L.A., the University of Southern California, Loyola Marymount University, Claremont McKenna College, Pomona College, Rockford College in Illinois, and Pepperdine University. After Frank’s death in 1964, Blanche continued her giving, helping Pepperdine establish its Malibu campus and dedicating the Frank R. Seaver College there in 1975.
Throughout her life, Blanche, who never had children, continued to share her love of music and was an active patron of the arts and a supporter of children’s charities. She supported the Los Angeles Music Center, the Los Angeles Symphony, the Los Angeles Pops Orchestra, and the famous Hollywood Bowl. She also founded the Los Angeles Orphanage Guild and served as a member of the Board of Directors of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. In 1963, the Los Angeles Times named her “Woman of the Year;” and MacMurray College in Illinois and Pepperdine University awarded her honorary doctorate degrees in 1973 and 1980, respectively.
Blanche Ebert Seaver died on April 14, 1994, ninety-three years after playing Beethoven at Hull-House. Her story is a second-generation American story. Her hard-working immigrant parents could only have dreamed of such a robust life for their children. But Seaver’s story is also a story of what Hull-House could offer little girls and little boys with talents and courage and dreams. Jane Addams could not write such a story as Blanche’s for every child who took advantage of the programs at Hull-House. But every single day, through its programs and activities, the settlement exposed young people to the arts and made a difference in the lives of the children in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. Blanche’s story is one shining musical example of how Hull-House was a house of possibilities.
Stacy Lynn, Associate Editor
Sources: Los Angeles City Directory (1915), 757; Blanche Ebert and Frank R. Seaver Papers, Finding Aid, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA; 1900 U.S. Federal Census; 1910 U.S. Federal Census; Blanche Ebert Baptismal Record, U.S. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969; Ebert and Seaver Marriage Record, Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriage Index, 1871-1920; “Chicago at a Glance,” Chicago Tribune, June 17, 1900, p. 50; “Reception to Pianist,” Los Angeles Express, Oct. 19, 1912; “Egan Recital Will Be Given Tomorrow,” Los Angeles Express, Jan. 8, 1913, p. 7; “The Festival Choir,” Los Angeles Express, Mar. 21, 1913, p. 10; “Whittier Choral Society,” The Whittier (CA) News, Mar. 24, 1914, p. 3; “Coronation of Queen Thelma Chamber Music Featured,” The Daily Telegram (Long Beach, CA), June 6, 1914, p. 5; “Important Musical,” Hollywood (CA) Citizen, July 3, 1914, p. 5; “Lost and Found,” Los Angeles Express, Nov. 27, 1914, p. 17; “Brahms Quintet Will Give Concert,” Los Angeles Express, Feb. 25, 1915, p. 6; “Majestic,” The Los Angeles Times, Mar. 31, 1916, p. 16; “Seaver-Ebert Nuptials, Chicago Event,” The Bulletin (Pomona, CA), Sep. 17, 1916, p. 9; “Mac to Confer Five Honorary Degrees at Commencement,” The Jacksonville (IL) Journal Courier, May 20, 1973, p. 36; “Blanche E. Seaver, Major Donor to Colleges, Dies,” The Los Angeles Times, Apr. 13, 1994, p. 206; “Seaver, Blanche Ebert,” The Los Angeles Times, Apr. 17, 1994, p. 164; Hull-House Music School,” pamphlet, c. 1935, Jane Addams Papers, Microfilm Edition (JAPM), 36:78-81; Hull-House Bulletin, 4 (January 1-May 1, 1901), 4-5, JAPM, 53:1123-24; Hull-House Bulletin, 5 (Semi-Annual, 1902, no. 1), 5, JAPM, 53:1141; Hull-House Bulletin, 6 (Autumn, 1904, no. 2), 4, JAPM, 53:1193; Hull-House Bulletin, 7 (1906-1906, no. 1), 6, 53:1219; Selected Papers of Jane Addams, 3:421, 473n3; Jane Addams’ Own Story of Her Work: How the Work at Hull-House Has Grown (Third of Three Installments), May 1906; Hull-House Year Book 1906-1907; Hull-House 1889-1909, 1909, all in Jane Addams Digital Edition.
Last spring I had the pleasure of working with two undergraduate students, Taylor Lundeen and Catie Olson, enrolled in the University of Michigan’s School of Information. They worked on a capstone project on data visualization, using our Jane Addams digital edition databases. Anneliese Dehner, our web developer, helped out with the some technical aspects of the collaboration.
One of the many great things about digital publication is that the information we create can be reused and repurposed in ways that we might not have thought of. Making our data available to researchers to explore has been one of our goals from the start of our work on Jane Addams, and with this investigation we have learned what we can do fairly easily, and what is more complex.
Accessing the Data
Our first step was to get a copy of our data exported out so that Taylor and Catie could work on it. What they found worked the best was an Omeka plugin (Omeka Rest API) that allowed them to export data in a format that worked well with data manipulation software.
Our ultimate goal is to have a utility on the digital edition that will enable users to download all or parts of the data for investigation.
One problem that reared its head immediately is that we have a very large dataset, and it is growing larger every day. This made it difficult, using the tools they had available to work with the whole set.
Natural Language Processing
One of the approaches, which Catie worked on, was seeing what we could learn from analyzing the “Text” field in our database, where transcriptions are stored. This kind of analysis can track the frequency of words, or compare word usage over time. Eventually it could be used for topic modeling, where a digital tool tries to make sense of words that appear together. These groupings can uncover connections that we sometimes don’t expect.
An important step in working with our texts was data cleaning, the process by which HTML and special characters were cleaned out and text was split word by word. Then Catie built bar charts that displayed the most common words. She built a separate chart for each year to allow us to compare years to see what Addams was thinking and writing about.
The most obvious finding to me, was that we needed to think about stop words — words that are excluded in the results because they are too common or have no analytical meaning. Articles, like “a” and “the” are common stop words– we also had to consider “page” which we use to signify the next page in our transcriptions, and, gulp, even “Hull House” because we transcribed the letterhead that Jane Addams used. Other words like “Mrs,” “Mr.” and “Miss” and salutations like “Dear” are candidates for being pulled from the analysis.
We also got to see the frequency of that nemesis of editors – “illegible.” This comes up far more frequently than I would like, but I was gratified to see that in the years where we have proofread the texts, the frequency is much lower.
It will surprise no one that “peace” and “war” shot to the top in 1915.
In 1905, the most frequent words deal more with the plight of children and represent Addams’ work on child labor and welfare in Chicago.
Catie also worked on another way to show the content of Addams’ writings, plotting the frequency of a word over time. Similar to the Google n-gram viewer that can compare the frequency of words in Google Books over time, this gives you a sense of the chronology. We did not have the capacity at this point to allow users to type the words they want, but were able to produce n-grams for some of the most popular words.
Seen together, it is a little frightening, but on the live version on the site, you can select a single word to analyze.
The n-gram for “Illegible” shows the power of proofreading! When the data was downloaded for use, we had just finished proofreading 1915!
Social Network Analysis
Another approach was to see what we could learn from social network analysis. Using Omeka’s Item Relations plugin, we have been tracking relationships — mostly between documents and the people, organizations, and events that are mentioned in them. We also are building connections between people and organizations, tracking which people were members of which organizations, for example, or who participated in a specific event. We wondered whether the relationships between people and organizations might yield some interesting insights, or whether we could find other connections between people and the metadata gathered about them. Taylor was responsible for this project.
Our large dataset proved to be problematic for developing a meaningful social network based on shared connections. We think there is promise for this in future by controlling which people are included in the network, but the sheer number of people and the amount of common tags produced a daunting graph.
Instead, Taylor created a geographical visualization of Addams’s social networks related to several topics. We used our tags for movements like “Woman Suffrage,” “Child Labor,” and “Peace” and plotted their geographic locations. Compare Addams’ Settlement Movement network and her Peace network below to see the expansion of her work internationally.
It was amazing to see what two talented students could do in such a short period of time! The experience has helped us think more about how we want to make our data accessible, and has uncovered challenges that we need to think about. Our database is large and complex and developing means to limit the queries is going to be important.
We are looking forward to working with other UMSI students and any digital humanists interested in advancing this work.
What is the one word every college student is guaranteed to hear during their summer break? Internship. Everyone wants to know the details: what does your day look like? Do you like your boss? Did you get anyone their coffee or copy papers? No two experiences are the same, but if they’re lucky, that student learns new skills and tools, gains valuable insight from colleagues and even has a little fun. Through my internship with the Jane Addams Papers project at Ramapo College, I can proudly say that I was fortunate enough to accomplish all of these things and more. Here is a first-hand look inside my internship at Ramapo. Continue reading “Progressin’: My Experience Working for the Jane Addams Papers Project”
This blog is a short exploration into the realm of female love and partnership within the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. Jane Addams and Alice Austen, two women of notable character during this era, provided the main case studies for this research. Continue reading “Jane Addams, Alice Austen, and Virginia Woolf”
Over the last year, the Jane Addams Papers Project has been working on expanding audience participation by creating National History Day guides and lesson plans. This effort was funded by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. I worked with Christina Dwyer and Mike Romano, Ramapo College teacher education students who work at the Jane Addams Papers. We were eager to apply what we learned in our courses and at the project for use in our classrooms. Continue reading “Teaching with Jane Addams”
Dr. Lydia Allen DeVilbiss was a doctor and surgeon in Shelby, Ohio, who wrote Jane Addams a brief letter on August 10, 1912, commending her for her speech to the Progressive Party Convention. DeVilbiss was an active civic leader, serving as president of the Shelby Equal Franchise Association, president of the Richland county Woman’s Suffrage Association, secretary and treasurer of the Shelby Medical Society, president of the Anti-Tuberculosis Society, and medical director of the Better Babies Bureau of the Woman’s Home Companion. In addition, she was the first woman to become a member of the Shelby Socialist local. These accomplishments alone were newsworthy for a woman during the early 1900’s. But in 1912, DeVilbiss made the news for a very different reason; a dramatic divorce case that pushed her private life into the spotlight.
On Christmas day in 1906, Lydia married Albert K. Shauck, a professor and musician who was twenty years her senior. Early on, it appeared as though their life was going well; in 1907, for example, there was news of Albert opening a music school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the same building as his wife’s medical practice. But in November 1912, the News-Journal in Mansfield, Ohio reported that Lydia was suing for divorce. She accused Albert of having verbally abused her, using “foul, indecent and threatening language,” and slandering her reputation by spreading rumors. Lydia surmised that Albert treated her cruelly out of jealousy, as he also “materially interfered with her practice as a physician and surgeon.” Albert had also threatened Lydia’s life, she said, saying he would “take her life” and “circulate such slanderous stories about her” if she tried to leave him. Despite the threats, the couple had been separated for the six months before Lydia filed for divorce. When she made the decision to divorce Albert, she made arrangements to stay with her sisters in Fort Wayne and work as a drug saleswoman for Strong, Cobb & Company in Cleveland.
Shortly after this news broke, Albert came forward with his own accusations. The News-Journal reported in early December that Lydia “treated him [Albert] worse than a dog,” subjecting him to verbal and physical abuse. He claimed that while he never abused Lydia or threatened her life, she had done so to him; in a statement made to the press, Albert presented a record of threats Lydia had made against him, which included “I wish someone would kill you” and “I wish there was no law against killing. I would just like to kill you.” Albert also alleged that Lydia once threw a butcher knife at him, smashed a bottle against his head, and broke his finger. He also complained of how, due to Lydia’s work, most of the housework fell to him.
The dramatic news coverage of the divorce case did not end there. Only about two weeks later, Albert refused to eat, and his health rapidly declined. He was sent to the Marion, Ohio sanitarium, and Lydia collected money due to him in order to pay for his treatment.
No news appeared on the Shaucks until one year later, when, in December 1913, Lydia dropped the divorce case. The case was dismissed without prejudice, but not because the couple had reconciled; rather, the courts believed that Lydia’s suit was not strong enough to warrant a divorce. Lydia chose to remain in Fort Wayne rather than return to Shelby. That was the last time the Shaucks’ marriage appeared in the news, but by 1920, Lydia and Albert were divorced.
After the divorce, Lydia moved to Miami, Florida, where she opened the Mothers Health Clinic in 1928. There, she conducted research on birth control and came up with inexpensive soap-based spermicidal jellies to be used with a sponge. However, Lydia believed only educated women could understand these methods. She practiced sterilization on those she deemed less intelligent. Most of the sterilized patients were African-American women who may have been forced or mislead into having the procedure. DeVilbiss initially supported the work of African American physicians who opened a black branch of the Mothers Health Clinic, but after disagreeing with their methods, she shut them down.
All that is known of Lydia’s private life after her divorce is that by 1930, she married to Dr. George Bradford. She died in Florida in 1964. We will never know the details of the Shaucks’ private lives, nor whose account held the most truth. For now, we are left with newspaper articles as the main glimpse into the life of Lydia Allen DeVilbiss, and what may have happened behind closed doors.
Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.
Cathy Moran Hajo, Birth Control on Main Street: Organizing Clinics in the United States, 1916-1939 (2010), pp. 70-71, 117.
Esther Katz, Peter C. Engelman, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Amy Flanders, eds. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger: Volume 2: Birth Control Comes of Age, 1928-1939 (2006), pp. 230-1.
Albert K. Shauck, 1920 United States Federal Census.
“Dr. Shauck is Now Medical Director of Magazine’s ‘Better Babies’ Bureau,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), January 16, 1914, p. 7.
Lydia DeVilbiss Bradford, 1930 United States Federal Census.
Lydia D Shauck, 1910 United States Federal Census.
“A New Conservatory,” The Monroeville Breeze, August 15, 1907, p. 8.
“Professor was a Good Dodger,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 2, 1912, p. 5.
“Refuses to Eat,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 18, 1912, p. 9.
“Shauck Case is Dismissed,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 13, 1913, p. 8.
“Suffragette Asks Divorce,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), November 29, 1912, p. 5.
Working as a research assistant at the Jane Addams Papers is enjoyable for many reasons. That being said, something particularly rewarding about my job is when the people I research unfold in ways I did not initially suspect they would.
Because I write biographies, I am required to find the birth and death dates of correspondents and other people mentioned in Jane Addams’s letters and documents. After I scour census records, I use old newspapers that have been digitized, in addition to other research databases, to find out more information about the person I am writing about. Several times my research has led to my digging through the lives of completely fascinating people who have been (seemingly) forgotten.
A particularly memorable instance of this happening was when I did research on Anson Phelps Stokes. The Phelps Stokeses were a wealthy, well-known New York City family during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The same week I was assigned to write Anson Phelps Stokes’s biography at JAPP, my art history class happened to be studying a portrait done on his son, Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, and his daughter-in-law, Edith Phelps Stokes, by the painter John Singer Sargent.
Imagine that! My art history major finally coming full circle!
I knew a little about the Phelps Stokes family prior to diving into their lives at the Jane Addams Papers. What I did know was that John Singer Sargent did a fantastic job of depicting the flush in their faces and the hint of New York City money and culture in their clothing.
What I didn’t know was that Anson Phelps Stokes was an incredible archivist of his own life; this man described even the mundane things he experienced in a personal journal that I was able to access on the internet. The careful cataloging of his travels reveals so much about the world as it was. My favorite excerpt being from a summer trip through Europe, in which he describes his decision against visiting Prague, as there was a terrible outbreak of cholera in the city at the time.
Admittedly I spent a little too long perusing Anson Phelps Stokes’s journal, but I could barely help it. It was fascinating and gave me an insight into events that I knew very little about- something that is an important facet of historical research.
So while some of the people I write biographies about are impossible to track down, others are a goldmine of information that I could never really imagine.
That is my favorite part about working at the Jane Addams Papers Project.
The kind of work I’m doing at JAPP is hands on, because I’ve always been interested in working with primary sources and looking at artifacts. This summer, when I started working in the office, I was assigned to search newspaper and find transcriptions of Addams’s speeches. For the first time in my college career, I learned and really enjoyed my summer job. I was pouring through months of newspapers that praised, condemned, and even mundanely wrote about Addams in all forms. It really gave me a different perspective about American history and culture, especially the roots of the suffragist movement as written about in Addams’s speeches. The highlight of my findings was when she was given an honorary Masters of Arts at Yale University’s graduation. The preceding newspaper articles from all over the country were about Addams being the first woman to speak at Yale. Looking back at my summer, I really grew to know and love Addams and all that she worked hard for.
At the end of the summer, and the first few weeks of the Fall 2017 semester, I started looking at letters and logging correspondence between Addams and all her connections; whether it was Dr. Aletta Jacobs, or her family members. The letters ranged from pre-Hull House to her death in 1936. From looking at letters and newspapers, I am now searching through other libraries and archives for more correspondence with Addams. The research that I’m doing really ignites my passion to continue doing research after my time at Ramapo and the Jane Addams Papers Project; I would like to go to graduate school for Library Studies.
At school, I am the president of Ramapo Pride, the school’s LGBT+ club on campus, and am involved with Hillel and other social justice clubs. I’ve wanted to be in the history program here because I have been involved with history all my life, being the historian of my small family, as well as excelling in history in my formative years. I enjoy drawing, laying in bed, making playlists, and listening to music. My favorite era’s to read about is Edwardian and Victorian eras, focusing specifically on fashion and entertainment at the time.
I’m a senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey, double majoring in psychology and literature with a concentration in creative writing. I transcribe documents as well as add in the new documents. A lot of the documents that I find while working are actually really interesting and fun to read, showing the full span of the types of people that Jane Addams was in contact with and communicating with. One document that made me laugh was an article from June 25, 1914, that read more like a long joke than an actual published article, but was in fact a story told by Jane when comparing criticisms about women’s right to vote with other problems that men seem to have. As is written in the article, “A tourist one Saturday evening in Glasglow entered a saloon for a lemonade and saw in huge letters behind the bar, ‘Remember the Sabbath.’
“Quaffling his lemonade, the tourist told the landlord that it gave him very great pleasure to see a man of his profession show such becoming reverence to the day of rest.
“‘Oh,’ said the landlord, ‘that ain’t my reason for putting that there sign up there. The idea is to remind my customers of the Sunday closing law, so’s they’ll bring their flasks to be filled on Saturday night.'”
Another that I liked was from A Peace Movement written by Philip Zenner on May 1, 1915, where he makes great points about people and their outlooks on the world and how much perspective can affect opinions. What he says in this document is, to me, a timeless lesson that people can still learn now which is why I remembered it after reading it. It is about men and war, and how some men are saying that they want Germany destroyed and the men to die and suffer, including their leader. Zenner writes, “ I often thought when speaking to some of these men that if they were on the other side, on the firing line, and felt the pressure of this fearful war in their own person, or in that of their families, they might have the same deep feeling, the same bitter hatred, but they would be very much more anxious for peace than they are now. It is much safer and more pleasant to stand and watch while others do the fighting.”