Twenty Years At Hull House
Jane Addams

Part 4 out of 6

tools, they might at least make a beginning toward that education
which Dr. Dewey defines as "a continuing reconstruction of
experience." They might also lay a foundation for reverence of
the past which Goethe declares to be the basis of all sound

My exciting walk on Polk Street was followed by many talks with
Dr. Dewey and with one of the teachers in his school who was a
resident at Hull-House. Within a month a room was fitted up to
which we might invite those of our neighbors who were possessed
of old crafts and who were eager to use them.

We found in the immediate neighborhood at least four varieties of
these most primitive methods of spinning and three distinct
variations of the same spindle in connection with wheels. It was
possible to put these seven into historic sequence and order and
to connect the whole with the present method of factory spinning.
The same thing was done for weaving, and on every Saturday
evening a little exhibit was made of these various forms of labor
in the textile industry. Within one room a Syrian woman, a
Greek, an Italian, a Russian, and an Irishwoman enabled even the
most casual observer to see that there is no break in orderly
evolution if we look at history from the industrial standpoint;
that industry develops similarly and peacefully year by year
among the workers of each nation, heedless of differences in
language, religion, and political experiences.

And then we grew ambitious and arranged lectures upon industrial
history. I remember that after an interesting lecture upon the
industrial revolution in England and a portrayal of the appalling
conditions throughout the weaving districts of the north, which
resulted from the hasty gathering of the weavers into the new
towns, a Russian tailor in the audience was moved to make a
speech. He suggested that whereas time had done much to
alleviate the first difficulties in the transition of weaving
from hand work to steam power, that in the application of steam
to sewing we are still in our first stages, illustrated by the
isolated woman who tries to support herself by hand needlework at
home until driven out by starvation, as many of the hand weavers
had been.

The historical analogy seemed to bring a certain comfort to the
tailor, as did a chart upon the wall showing the infinitesimal
amount of time that steam had been applied to manufacturing
processes compared to the centuries of hand labor. Human
progress is slow and perhaps never more cruel than in the advance
of industry, but is not the worker comforted by knowing that
other historical periods have existed similar to the one in which
he finds himself, and that the readjustment may be shortened and
alleviated by judicious action; and is he not entitled to the
solace which an artistic portrayal of the situation might give
him? I remember the evening of the tailor's speech that I felt
reproached because no poet or artist has endeared the sweaters'
victim to us as George Eliot has made us love the belated weaver,
Silas Marner. The textile museum is connected directly with the
basket weaving, sewing, millinery, embroidery, and dressmaking
constantly being taught at Hull-House, and so far as possible
with the other educational departments; we have also been able to
make a collection of products, of early implements, and of
photographs which are full of suggestion. Yet far beyond its
direct educational value, we prize it because it so often puts
the immigrants into the position of teachers, and we imagine that
it affords them a pleasant change from the tutelage in which all
Americans, including their own children, are so apt to hold them.
I recall a number of Russian women working in a sewing room near
Hull-House, who heard one Christmas week that the House was going
to give a party to which they might come. They arrived one
afternoon, when, unfortunately, there was no party on hand and,
although the residents did their best to entertain them with
impromptu music and refreshments, it was quite evident that they
were greatly disappointed. Finally it was suggested that they be
shown the Labor Museum--where gradually the thirty sodden, tired
women were transformed. They knew how to use the spindles and
were delighted to find the Russian spinning frame. Many of them
had never seen the spinning wheel, which has not penetrated to
certain parts of Russia, and they regarded it as a new and
wonderful invention. They turned up their dresses to show their
homespun petticoats; they tried the looms; they explained the
difficulty of the old patterns; in short, from having been
stupidly entertained, they themselves did the entertaining.
Because of a direct appeal to former experiences, the immigrant
visitors were able for the moment to instruct their American
hostesses in an old and honored craft, as was indeed becoming to
their age and experience.

In some such ways as these have the Labor Museum and the shops
pointed out the possibilities which Hull-House has scarcely begun
to develop, of demonstrating that culture is an understanding of
the long-established occupations and thoughts of men, of the arts
with which they have solaced their toil. A yearning to recover
for the household arts something of their early sanctity and
meaning arose strongly within me one evening when I was attending
a Passover Feast to which I had been invited by a Jewish family
in the neighborhood, where the traditional and religious
significance of the woman's daily activity was still retained.
The kosher food the Jewish mother spread before her family had
been prepared according to traditional knowledge and with
constant care in the use of utensils; upon her had fallen the
responsibility to make all ready according to Mosaic instructions
that the great crisis in a religious history might be fittingly
set forth by her husband and son. Aside from the grave religious
significance in the ceremony, my mind was filled with shifting
pictures of woman's labor with which travel makes one familiar;
the Indian women grinding grain outside of their huts as they
sing praises to the sun and rain; a file of white-clad Moorish
women whom I had once seen waiting their turn at a well in
Tangiers; south Italian women kneeling in a row along the stream
and beating their wet clothes against the smooth white stones;
the milking, the gardening, the marketing in thousands of
hamlets, which are such direct expressions of the solicitude and
affection at the basis of all family life.

There has been some testimony that the Labor Museum has revealed
the charm of woman's primitive activities. I recall a certain
Italian girl who came every Saturday evening to a cooking class
in the same building in which her mother spun in the Labor Museum
exhibit; and yet Angelina always left her mother at the front
door while she herself went around to a side door because she did
not wish to be too closely identified in the eyes of the rest of
the cooking class with an Italian woman who wore a kerchief over
her head, uncouth boots, and short petticoats. One evening,
however, Angelina saw her mother surrounded by a group of
visitors from the School of Education who much admired the
spinning, and she concluded from their conversation that her
mother was "the best stick-spindle spinner in America." When she
inquired from me as to the truth of this deduction, I took
occasion to describe the Italian village in which her mother had
lived, something of her free life, and how, because of the
opportunity she and the other women of the village had to drop
their spindles over the edge of a precipice, they had developed a
skill in spinning beyond that of the neighboring towns. I
dilated somewhat on the freedom and beauty of that life--how hard
it must be to exchange it all for a two-room tenement, and to
give up a beautiful homespun kerchief for an ugly department
store hat. I intimated it was most unfair to judge her by these
things alone, and that while she must depend on her daughter to
learn the new ways, she also had a right to expect her daughter
to know something of the old ways.

That which I could not convey to the child, but upon which my own
mind persistently dwelt, was that her mother's whole life had
been spent in a secluded spot under the rule of traditional and
narrowly localized observances, until her very religion clung to
local sanctities--to the shrine before which she had always
prayed, to the pavement and walls of the low vaulted church--and
then suddenly she was torn from it all and literally put out to
sea, straight away from the solid habits of her religious and
domestic life, and she now walked timidly but with poignant
sensibility upon a new and strange shore.

It was easy to see that the thought of her mother with any other
background than that of the tenement was new to Angelina, and at
least two things resulted; she allowed her mother to pull out of
the big box under the bed the beautiful homespun garments which
had been previously hidden away as uncouth; and she openly came
into the Labor Museum by the same door as did her mother, proud
at least of the mastery of the craft which had been so much

A club of necktie workers formerly meeting at Hull-House
persistently resented any attempt on the part of their director
to improve their minds. The president once said that she
"wouldn't be caught dead at a lecture," that she came to the club
"to get some fun out of it," and indeed it was most natural that
she should crave recreation after a hard day's work. One evening
I saw the entire club listening to quite a stiff lecture in the
Labor Museum and to my rather wicked remark to the president that
I was surprised to see her enjoying a lecture, she replied that
she did not call this a lecture, she called this "getting next to
the stuff you work with all the time." It was perhaps the
sincerest tribute we have ever received as to the success of the

The Labor Museum continually demanded more space as it was
enriched by a fine textile exhibit lent by the Field Museum, and
later by carefully selected specimens of basketry from the
Philippines. The shops have finally included a group of three or
four women, Irish, Italian, Danish, who have become a permanent
working force in the textile department which has developed into
a self-supporting industry through the sale of its homespun

These women and a few men, who come to the museum to utilize
their European skill in pottery, metal, and wood, demonstrate
that immigrant colonies might yield to our American life
something very valuable, if their resources were intelligently
studied and developed. I recall an Italian, who had decorated
the doorposts of his tenement with a beautiful pattern he had
previously used in carving the reredos of a Neapolitan church,
who was "fired" by his landlord on the ground of destroying
property. His feelings were hurt, not so much that he had been
put out of his house, as that his work had been so disregarded;
and he said that when people traveled in Italy they liked to look
at wood carvings but that in America "they only made money out of

Sometimes the suppression of the instinct of workmanship is
followed by more disastrous results. A Bohemian whose little
girl attended classes at Hull-House, in one of his periodic
drunken spells had literally almost choked her to death, and
later had committed suicide when in delirium tremens. His poor
wife, who stayed a week at Hull-House after the disaster until a
new tenement could be arranged for her, one day showed me a gold
ring which her husband had made for their betrothal. It
exhibited the most exquisite workmanship, and she said that
although in the old country he had been a goldsmith, in America
he had for twenty years shoveled coal in a furnace room of a
large manufacturing plant; that whenever she saw one of his
"restless fits," which preceded his drunken periods, "coming on,"
if she could provide him with a bit of metal and persuade him to
stay at home and work at it, he was all right and the time passed
without disaster, but that "nothing else would do it." This story
threw a flood of light upon the dead man's struggle and on the
stupid maladjustment which had broken him down. Why had we never
been told? Why had our interest in the remarkable musical
ability of his child blinded us to the hidden artistic ability of
the father? We had forgotten that a long-established occupation
may form the very foundations of the moral life, that the art
with which a man has solaced his toil may be the salvation of his
uncertain temperament.

There are many examples of touching fidelity to immigrant parents
on the part of their grown children; a young man who day after
day attends ceremonies which no longer express his religious
convictions and who makes his vain effort to interest his Russian
Jewish father in social problems; a daughter who might earn much
more money as a stenographer could she work from Monday morning
till Saturday night, but who quietly and docilely makes neckties
for low wages because she can thus abstain from work Saturdays to
please her father; these young people, like poor Maggie Tulliver,
through many painful experiences have reached the conclusion that
pity, memory, and faithfulness are natural ties with paramount

This faithfulness, however, is sometimes ruthlessly imposed upon
by immigrant parents who, eager for money and accustomed to the
patriarchal authority of peasant households, hold their children
in a stern bondage which requires a surrender of all their wages
and concedes no time or money for pleasures.

There are many convincing illustrations that this parental
harshness often results in juvenile delinquency. A Polish boy of
seventeen came to Hull-House one day to ask a contribution of
fifty cents "towards a flower piece for the funeral of an old
Hull-House club boy." A few questions made it clear that the
object was fictitious, whereupon the boy broke down and
half-defiantly stated that he wanted to buy two twenty-five cent
tickets, one for his girl and one for himself, to a dance of the
Benevolent Social Twos; that he hadn't a penny of his own
although he had worked in a brass foundry for three years and had
been advanced twice, because he always had to give his pay
envelope unopened to his father; "just look at the clothes he
buys me" was his concluding remark.

Perhaps the girls are held even more rigidly. In a recent
investigation of two hundred working girls it was found that only
five per cent had the use of their own money and that sixty-two
per cent turned in all they earned, literally every penny, to
their mothers. It was through this little investigation that we
first knew Marcella, a pretty young German girl who helped her
widowed mother year after year to care for a large family of
younger children. She was content for the most part although her
mother's old-country notions of dress gave her but an
infinitesimal amount of her own wages to spend on her clothes,
and she was quite sophisticated as to proper dressing because she
sold silk in a neighborhood department store. Her mother
approved of the young man who was showing her various attentions
and agreed that Marcella should accept his invitation to a ball,
but would allow her not a penny toward a new gown to replace one
impossibly plain and shabby. Marcella spent a sleepless night
and wept bitterly, although she well knew that the doctor's bill
for the children's scarlet fever was not yet paid. The next day
as she was cutting off three yards of shining pink silk, the
thought came to her that it would make her a fine new waist to
wear to the ball. She wistfully saw it wrapped in paper and
carelessly stuffed into the muff of the purchaser, when suddenly
the parcel fell upon the floor. No one was looking and quick as
a flash the girl picked it up and pushed it into her blouse. The
theft was discovered by the relentless department store detective
who, for "the sake of example," insisted upon taking the case
into court. The poor mother wept bitter tears over this downfall
of her "frommes Madchen" and no one had the heart to tell her of
her own blindness.

I know a Polish boy whose earnings were all given to his father
who gruffly refused all requests for pocket money. One Christmas
his little sisters, having been told by their mother that they
were too poor to have any Christmas presents, appealed to the big
brother as to one who was earning money of his own. Flattered by
the implication, but at the same time quite impecunious, the
night before Christmas he nonchalantly walked through a
neighboring department store and stole a manicure set for one
little sister and a string of beads for the other. He was caught
at the door by the house detective as one of those children whom
each local department store arrests in the weeks before Christmas
at the daily rate of eight to twenty. The youngest of these
offenders are seldom taken into court but are either sent home
with a warning or turned over to the officers of the Juvenile
Protective Association. Most of these premature law breakers are
in search of Americanized clothing and others are only looking
for playthings. They are all distracted by the profusion and
variety of the display, and their moral sense is confused by the
general air of openhandedness.

These disastrous efforts are not unlike those of many younger
children who are constantly arrested for petty thieving because
they are too eager to take home food or fuel which will relieve
the distress and need they so constantly hear discussed. The
coal on the wagons, the vegetables displayed in front of the
grocery shops, the very wooden blocks in the loosened street
paving are a challenge to their powers to help out at home. A
Bohemian boy who was out on parole from the old detention home of
the Juvenile Court itself, brought back five stolen chickens to
the matron for Sunday dinner, saying that he knew the Committee
were "having a hard time to fill up so many kids and perhaps
these fowl would help out." The honest immigrant parents, totally
ignorant of American laws and municipal regulations, often send a
child to pick up coal on the railroad tracks or to stand at three
o'clock in the morning before the side door of a restaurant which
gives away broken food, or to collect grain for the chickens at
the base of elevators and standing cars. The latter custom
accounts for the large number of boys arrested for breaking the
seals on grain freight cars. It is easy for a child thus trained
to accept the proposition of a junk dealer to bring him bars of
iron stored in freight yards. Four boys quite recently had thus
carried away and sold to one man two tons of iron.

Four fifths of the children brought into the Juvenile Court in
Chicago are the children of foreigners. The Germans are the
greatest offenders, Polish next. Do their children suffer from
the excess of virtue in those parents so eager to own a house and
lot? One often sees a grasping parent in the court, utterly
broken down when the Americanized youth who has been brought to
grief clings as piteously to his peasant father as if he were
still a frightened little boy in the steerage.

Many of these children have come to grief through their premature
fling into city life, having thrown off parental control as they
have impatiently discarded foreign ways. Boys of ten and twelve
will refuse to sleep at home, preferring the freedom of an old
brewery vault or an empty warehouse to the obedience required by
their parents, and for days these boys will live on the milk and
bread which they steal from the back porches after the early
morning delivery. Such children complain that there is "no fun"
at home. One little chap who was given a vacant lot to cultivate
by the City Garden Association insisted upon raising only popcorn
and tried to present the entire crop to Hull-House "to be used
for the parties," with the stipulation that he would have "to be
invited every single time." Then there are little groups of
dissipated young men who pride themselves upon their ability to
live without working and who despise all the honest and sober
ways of their immigrant parents. They are at once a menace and a
center of demoralization. Certainly the bewildered parents,
unable to speak English and ignorant of the city, whose children
have disappeared for days or weeks, have often come to
Hull-House, evincing that agony which fairly separates the marrow
from the bone, as if they had discovered a new type of suffering,
devoid of the healing in familiar sorrows. It is as if they did
not know how to search for the children without the assistance of
the children themselves. Perhaps the most pathetic aspect of
such cases is their revelation of the premature dependence of the
older and wiser upon the young and foolish, which is in itself
often responsible for the situation because it has given the
children an undue sense of their own importance and a false
security that they can take care of themselves.

On the other hand, an Italian girl who has had lessons in cooking
at the public school will help her mother to connect the entire
family with American food and household habits. That the mother
has never baked bread in Italy--only mixed it in her own house
and then taken it out to the village oven--makes all the more
valuable her daughter's understanding of the complicated cooking
stove. The same thing is true of the girl who learns to sew in
the public school, and more than anything else, perhaps, of the
girl who receives the first simple instruction in the care of
little children--that skillful care which every tenement-house
baby requires if he is to be pulled through his second summer. As
a result of this teaching I recall a young girl who carefully
explained to her Italian mother that the reason the babies in
Italy were so healthy and the babies in Chicago were so sickly,
was not, as her mother had firmly insisted, because her babies in
Italy had goat's milk and her babies in America had cow's milk,
but because the milk in Italy was clean and the milk in Chicago
was dirty. She said that when you milked your own goat before
the door, you knew that the milk was clean, but when you bought
milk from the grocery store after it had been carried for many
miles in the country, you couldn't tell whether it was fit for
the baby to drink until the men from the City Hall who had
watched it all the way said that it was all right.

Thus through civic instruction in the public schools, the Italian
woman slowly became urbanized in the sense in which the word was
used by her own Latin ancestors, and thus the habits of her
entire family were modified. The public schools in the immigrant
colonies deserve all the praise as Americanizing agencies which
can be bestowed upon them, and there is little doubt that the
fast-changing curriculum in the direction of the vacation-school
experiments will react more directly upon such households.

It is difficult to write of the relation of the older and most
foreign-looking immigrants to the children of other people--the
Italians whose fruit-carts are upset simply because they are
"dagoes," or the Russian peddlers who are stoned and sometimes
badly injured because it has become a code of honor in a gang of
boys to thus express their derision. The members of a Protective
Association of Jewish Peddlers organized at Hull-House related
daily experiences in which old age had been treated with such
irreverence, cherished dignity with such disrespect, that a
listener caught the passion of Lear in the old texts, as a
platitude enunciated by a man who discovers in it his own
experience thrills us as no unfamiliar phrases can possibly do.
The Greeks are filled with amazed rage when their very name is
flung at them as an opprobrious epithet. Doubtless these
difficulties would be much minimized in America, if we faced our
own race problem with courage and intelligence, and these very
Mediterranean immigrants might give us valuable help. Certainly
they are less conscious than the Anglo-Saxon of color
distinctions, perhaps because of their traditional familiarity
with Carthage and Egypt. They listened with respect and
enthusiasm to a scholarly address delivered by Professor Du Bois
at Hull-House on a Lincoln's birthday, with apparently no
consciousness of that race difference which color seems to
accentuate so absurdly, and upon my return from various
conferences held in the interest of "the advancement of colored
people," I have had many illuminating conversations with my
cosmopolitan neighbors.

The celebration of national events has always been a source of
new understanding and companionship with the members of the
contiguous foreign colonies not only between them and their
American neighbors but between them and their own children. One
of our earliest Italian events was a rousing commemoration of
Garibaldi's birthday, and his imposing bust, presented to
Hull-House that evening, was long the chief ornament of our front
hall. It called forth great enthusiasm from the connazionali
whom Ruskin calls, not the "common people" of Italy, but the
"companion people" because of their power for swift sympathy.

A huge Hellenic meeting held at Hull-House, in which the
achievements of the classic period were set forth both in Greek
and English by scholars of well-known repute, brought us into a
new sense of fellowship with all our Greek neighbors. As the
mayor of Chicago was seated upon the right hand of the dignified
senior priest of the Greek Church and they were greeted
alternately in the national hymns of America and Greece, one felt
a curious sense of the possibility of transplanting to new and
crude Chicago some of the traditions of Athens itself, so deeply
cherished in the hearts of this group of citizens.

The Greeks indeed gravely consider their traditions as their most
precious possession and more than once in meetings of protest
held by the Greek colony against the aggressions of the
Bulgarians in Macedonia, I have heard it urged that the
Bulgarians are trying to establish a protectorate, not only for
their immediate advantage, but that they may claim a glorious
history for the "barbarous country." It is said that on the basis
of this protectorate, they are already teaching in their schools
that Alexander the Great was a Bulgarian and that it will be but
a short time before they claim Aristotle himself, an indignity
the Greeks will never suffer!

To me personally the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of
Mazzini's birth was a matter of great interest. Throughout the
world that day Italians who believed in a United Italy came
together. They recalled the hopes of this man who, with all his
devotion to his country was still more devoted to humanity and
who dedicated to the workingmen of Italy, an appeal so
philosophical, so filled with a yearning for righteousness, that
it transcended all national boundaries and became a bugle call
for "The Duties of Man." A copy of this document was given to
every school child in the public schools of Italy on this one
hundredth anniversary, and as the Chicago branch of the Society
of Young Italy marched into our largest hall and presented to
Hull-House an heroic bust of Mazzini, I found myself devoutly
hoping that the Italian youth, who have committed their future to
America, might indeed become "the Apostles of the fraternity of
nations" and that our American citizenship might be built without
disturbing these foundations which were laid of old time.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK
Initiative at the Celebration of Women Writers. Initial text
entry and proof-reading of this chapter were the work of
volunteer Terri Perkins.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]

[A Celebration ofWomen Writers]

"Chapter XII: Tolstoyism." by by Jane Addams (1860-1935) From:
Twenty Years at Hull-House with Autobiographical Notes. by Jane
Addams. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1912 (c.1910) pp.

[Editor: Mary MarkOckerbloom]



The administration of charity in Chicago during the winter
following the World's Fair had been of necessity most difficult,
for, although large sums had been given to the temporary relief
organization which endeavored to care for the thousands of
destitute strangers stranded in the city, we all worked under a
sense of desperate need and a paralyzing consciousness that our
best efforts were most inadequate to the situation.

During the many relief visits I paid that winter in tenement
houses and miserable lodgings, I was constantly shadowed by a
certain sense of shame that I should be comfortable in the midst
of such distress. This resulted at times in a curious reaction
against all the educational and philanthropic activities in which
I had been engaged. In the face of the desperate hunger and
need, these could not but seem futile and superficial. The hard
winter in Chicago had turned the thoughts of many of us to these
stern matters. A young friend of mine who came daily to
Hull-House consulted me in regard to going into the paper
warehouse belonging to her father that she might there sort rags
with the Polish girls; another young girl took a place in a
sweatshop for a month, doing her work so simply and thoroughly
that the proprietor had no notion that she had not been driven
there by need; still two others worked in a shoe factory;--and
all this happened before such adventures were undertaken in order
to procure literary material. It was in the following winter
that the pioneer effort in this direction, Walter Wyckoff's
account of his vain attempt to find work in Chicago, compelled
even the sternest businessman to drop his assertion that "any man
can find work if he wants it."

The dealing directly with the simplest human wants may have been
responsible for an impression which I carried about with me
almost constantly for a period of two years and which culminated
finally in a visit to Tolstoy--that the Settlement, or Hull-House
at least, was a mere pretense and travesty of the simple impulse
"to live with the poor," so long as the residents did not share
the common lot of hard labor and scant fare.

Actual experience had left me in much the same state of mind I
had been in after reading Tolstoy's "What to Do," which is a
description of his futile efforts to relieve the unspeakable
distress and want in the Moscow winter of 1881, and his
inevitable conviction that only he who literally shares his own
shelter and food with the needy can claim to have served them.

Doubtless it is much easier to see "what to do" in rural Russia,
where all the conditions tend to make the contrast as broad as
possible between peasant labor and noble idleness, than it is to
see "what to do" in the interdependencies of the modern
industrial city. But for that very reason perhaps, Tolstoy's
clear statement is valuable for that type of conscientious person
in every land who finds it hard, not only to walk in the path of
righteousness, but to discover where the path lies.

I had read the books of Tolstoy steadily all the years since "My
Religion" had come into my hands immediately after I left
college. The reading of that book had made clear that men's poor
little efforts to do right are put forth for the most part in the
chill of self-distrust; I became convinced that if the new social
order ever came, it would come by gathering to itself all the
pathetic human endeavor which had indicated the forward
direction. But I was most eager to know whether Tolstoy's
undertaking to do his daily share of the physical labor of the
world, that labor which is "so disproportionate to the
unnourished strength" of those by whom it is ordinarily
performed, had brought him peace!

I had time to review carefully many things in my mind during the
long days of convalescence following an illness of typhoid fever
which I suffered in the autumn of 1895. The illness was so
prolonged that my health was most unsatisfactory during the
following winter, and the next May I went abroad with my friend,
Miss Smith, to effect if possible a more complete recovery.

The prospect of seeing Tolstoy filled me with the hope of finding
a clue to the tangled affairs of city poverty. I was but one of
thousands of our contemporaries who were turning toward this
Russian, not as to a seer--his message is much too confused and
contradictory for that--but as to a man who has had the ability
to lift his life to the level of his conscience, to translate his
theories into action.

Our first few weeks in England were most stimulating. A dozen
years ago London still showed traces of "that exciting moment in
the life of the nation when its youth is casting about for new
enthusiasms," but it evinced still more of that British capacity
to perform the hard work of careful research and self-examination
which must precede any successful experiments in social reform.
Of the varied groups and individuals whose suggestions remained
with me for years, I recall perhaps as foremost those members of
the new London County Council whose far-reaching plans for the
betterment of London could not but enkindle enthusiasm. It was a
most striking expression of that effort which would place beside
the refinement and pleasure of the rich, a new refinement and a
new pleasure born of the commonwealth and the common joy of all
the citizens, that at this moment they prized the municipal
pleasure boats upon the Thames no less than the extensive schemes
for the municipal housing of the poorest people. Ben Tillet, who
was then an alderman, "the docker sitting beside the duke," took
me in a rowboat down the Thames on a journey made exciting by the
hundreds of dockers who cheered him as we passed one wharf after
another on our way to his home at Greenwich; John Burns showed us
his wonderful civic accomplishments at Battersea, the plant
turning street sweepings into cement pavements, the technical
school teaching boys brick laying and plumbing, and the public
bath in which the children of the Board School were receiving a
swimming lesson--these measures anticipating our achievements in
Chicago by at least a decade and a half. The new Education Bill
which was destined to drag on for twelve years before it
developed into the children's charter, was then a storm center in
the House of Commons. Miss Smith and I were much pleased to be
taken to tea on the Parliament terrace by its author, Sir John
Gorst, although we were quite bewildered by the arguments we
heard there for church schools versus secular.

We heard Keir Hardie before a large audience of workingmen
standing in the open square of Canning Town outline the great
things to be accomplished by the then new Labor Party, and we
joined the vast body of men in the booming hymn

When wilt Thou save the people,
O God of Mercy, when!

finding it hard to realize that we were attending a political
meeting. It seemed that moment as if the hopes of democracy were
more likely to come to pass on English soil than upon our own.
Robert Blatchford's stirring pamphlets were in everyone's hands,
and a reception given by Karl Marx's daughter, Mrs. Aveling, to
Liebknecht before he returned to Germany to serve a prison term
for his lese majeste speech in the Reichstag, gave us a glimpse
of the old-fashioned orthodox Socialist who had not yet begun to
yield to the biting ridicule of Bernard Shaw although he flamed
in their midst that evening.

Octavia Hill kindly demonstrated to us the principles upon which
her well-founded business of rent collecting was established, and
with pardonable pride showed us the Red Cross Square with its
cottages marvelously picturesque and comfortable, on two sides,
and on the third a public hall and common drawing room for the
use of all the tenants; the interior of the latter had been
decorated by pupils of Walter Crane with mural frescoes
portraying the heroism in the life of the modern workingman.

While all this was warmly human, we also had opportunities to see
something of a group of men and women who were approaching the
social problem from the study of economics; among others Mr. and
Mrs. Sidney Webb who were at work on their Industrial Democracy; Mr.
John Hobson who was lecturing on the evolution of modern capitalism.

We followed factory inspectors on a round of duties performed with
a thoroughness and a trained intelligence which were a revelation
of the possibilities of public service. When it came to visiting
Settlements, we were at least reassured that they were not falling
into identical lines of effort. Canon Ingram, who has since
become Bishop of London, was then warden of Oxford House and in
the midst of an experiment which pleased me greatly, the more
because it was carried on by a churchman. Oxford House had hired
all the concert halls--vaudeville shows we later called them in
Chicago--which were found in Bethnal Green, for every Saturday
night. The residents had censored the programs, which they were
careful to keep popular, and any workingman who attended a show in
Bethnal Green on a Saturday night, and thousands of them did,
heard a program the better for this effort.

One evening in University Hall Mrs. Humphry Ward, who had just
returned from Italy, described the effect of the Italian salt tax
in a talk which was evidently one in a series of lectures upon the
economic wrongs which pressed heaviest upon the poor; at Browning
House, at the moment, they were giving prizes to those of their
costermonger neighbors who could present the best cared-for
donkeys, and the warden, Herbert Stead, exhibited almost the
enthusiasm of his well-known brother, for that crop of kindliness
which can be garnered most easily from the acreage where human
beings grow the thickest; at the Bermondsey Settlement they were
rejoicing that their University Extension students had
successfully passed the examinations for the University of London.
The entire impression received in England of research, of
scholarship, of organized public spirit, was in marked contrast to
the impressions of my next visit in 1900, when the South African
War had absorbed the enthusiasm of the nation and the wrongs at
"the heart of the empire" were disregarded and neglected.

London, of course, presented sharp differences to Russia where
social conditions were written in black and white with little
shading, like a demonstration of the Chinese proverb, "Where one
man lives in luxury, another is dying of hunger."

The fair of Nijni-Novgorod seemed to take us to the very edge of
civilization so remote and eastern that the merchants brought
their curious goods upon the backs of camels or on strange craft
riding at anchor on the broad Volga. But even here our letter of
introduction to Korolenko, the novelist, brought us to a
realization of that strange mingling of a remote past and a
self-conscious present which Russia presents on every hand. This
same contrast was also shown by the pilgrims trudging on pious
errands to monasteries, to tombs, and to the Holy Land itself,
with their bleeding feet bound in rags and thrust into bast
sandals, and, on the other hand, by the revolutionists even then
advocating a Republic which should obtain not only in political
but also in industrial affairs.

We had letters of introduction to Mr. and Mrs. Aylmer Maude of
Moscow, since well known as the translators of "Resurrection" and
other of Tolstoy's later works, who at that moment were on the eve
of leaving Russia in order to form an agricultural colony in South
England where they might support themselves by the labor of their
hands. We gladly accepted Mr. Maude's offer to take us to Yasnaya
Polyana and to introduce us to Count Tolstoy, and never did a
disciple journey toward his master with more enthusiasm than did
our guide. When, however, Mr. Maude actually presented Miss Smith
and myself to Count Tolstoy, knowing well his master's attitude
toward philanthropy, he endeavored to make Hull-House appear much
more noble and unique than I should have ventured to do.

Tolstoy, standing by clad in his peasant garb, listened gravely
but, glancing distrustfully at the sleeves of my traveling gown
which unfortunately at that season were monstrous in size, he
took hold of an edge and pulling out one sleeve to an
interminable breadth, said quite simply 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; 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 our ward.
Fortunately the countess came to my rescue with a recital of her
former attempts to clothe hypothetical little girls in yards of
material cut from a train and other superfluous parts of her best
gown until she had been driven to a firm stand which she advised
me to take at once. But neither Countess Tolstoy nor any other
friend was on hand to help me out of my predicament later, when I
was asked who "fed" me, and how did I obtain "shelter"? Upon my
reply that a farm a hundred miles from Chicago supplied me with
the necessities of life, I fairly anticipated the next scathing
question: "So you are an absentee landlord? Do you think you
will help the people more by adding yourself to the crowded city
than you would by tilling your own soil?" This new sense of
discomfort over a failure to till my own soil was increased when
Tolstoy's second daughter appeared at the five-o'clock tea table
set under the trees, coming straight from the harvest field where
she had been working with a group of peasants since five o'clock
in the morning, not pretending to work but really taking the
place of a peasant woman who had hurt her foot. She was plainly
much exhausted, but neither expected nor received sympathy from
the members of a family who were quite accustomed to see each
other carry out their convictions in spite of discomfort and
fatigue. The martyrdom of discomfort, however, was obviously
much easier to bear than that to which, even to the eyes of the
casual visitor, Count Tolstoy daily subjected himself, for his
study in the basement of the conventional dwelling, with its
short shelf of battered books and its scythe and spade leaning
against the wall, had many times lent itself to that ridicule
which is the most difficult form of martyrdom.

That summer evening as we sat in the garden with a group of
visitors from Germany, from England and America, who had traveled
to the remote Russian village that they might learn of this man,
one could not forbear the constant inquiry to one's self, as to
why he was so regarded as sage and saint that this party of
people should be repeated each day of the year. It seemed to me
then that we were all attracted by this sermon of the deed,
because Tolstoy had made the one supreme personal effort, one
might almost say the one frantic personal effort, to put himself
into right relations with the humblest people, with the men who
tilled his soil, blacked his boots, and cleaned his stables.
Doubtless the heaviest burden of our contemporaries is a
consciousness of a divergence between our democratic theory on
the one hand, that working people have a right to the
intellectual resources of society, and the actual fact on the
other hand, that thousands of them are so overburdened with toil
that there is no leisure nor energy left for the cultivation of
the mind. We constantly suffer from the strain and indecision of
believing this theory and acting as if we did not believe it, and
this man who years before had tried "to get off the backs of the
peasants," who had at least simplified his life and worked with
his hands, had come to be a prototype to many of his generation.

Doubtless all of the visitors sitting in the Tolstoy garden that
evening had excused themselves from laboring with their hands
upon the theory that they were doing something more valuable for
society in other ways. No one among our contemporaries has
dissented from this point of view so violently as Tolstoy
himself, and yet no man might so easily have excused himself from
hard and rough work on the basis of his genius and of his
intellectual contributions to the world. So far, however, from
considering his time too valuable to be spent in labor in the
field or in making shoes, our great host was too eager to know
life to be willing to give up this companionship of mutual labor.
One instinctively found reasons why it was easier for a Russian
than for the rest of us to reach this conclusion; the Russian
peasants have a proverb which says: "Labor is the house that love
lives in," by which they mean that no two people nor group of
people can come into affectionate relations with each other
unless they carry on together a mutual task, and when the Russian
peasant talks of labor he means labor on the soil, or, to use the
phrase of the great peasant, Bondereff, "bread labor." Those
monastic orders founded upon agricultural labor, those
philosophical experiments like Brook Farm and many another have
attempted to reduce to action this same truth. Tolstoy himself
has written many times his own convictions and attempts in this
direction, perhaps never more tellingly than in the description
of Lavin's morning spent in the harvest field, when he lost his
sense of grievance and isolation and felt a strange new
brotherhood for the peasants, in proportion as the rhythmic
motion of his scythe became one with theirs.

At the long dinner table laid in the garden were the various
traveling guests, the grown-up daughters, and the younger
children with their governess. The countess presided over the
usual European dinner served by men, but the count and the
daughter, who had worked all day in the fields, ate only porridge
and black bread and drank only kvas, the fare of the hay-making
peasants. Of course we are all accustomed to the fact that those
who perform the heaviest labor eat the coarsest and simplest fare
at the end of the day, but it is not often that we sit at the
same table with them while we ourselves eat the more elaborate
food prepared by someone else's labor. Tolstoy ate his simple
supper without remark or comment upon the food his family and
guests preferred to eat, assuming that they, as well as he, had
settled the matter with their own consciences.

The Tolstoy household that evening was much interested in the fate
of a young Russian spy who had recently come to Tolstoy in the
guise of a country schoolmaster, in order to obtain a copy of
"Life," which had been interdicted by the censor of the press.
After spending the night in talk with Tolstoy, the spy had gone
away with a copy of the forbidden manuscript but, unfortunately for
himself, having become converted to Tolstoy's views he had later
made a full confession to the authorities and had been exiled to
Siberia. Tolstoy, holding that it was most unjust to exile the
disciple while he, the author of the book, remained at large, had
pointed out this inconsistency in an open letter to one of the
Moscow newspapers. The discussion of this incident, of course,
opened up the entire subject of nonresidence, and curiously enough
I was disappointed in Tolstoy's position in the matter. It seemed
to me that he made too great a distinction between the use of
physical force and that moral energy which can override another's
differences and scruples with equal ruthlessness.

With that inner sense of mortification with which one finds one's
self at difference with the great authority, I recalled the
conviction of the early Hull-House residents; that whatever of
good the Settlement had to offer should be put into positive
terms, that we might live with opposition to no man, with
recognition of the good in every man, even the most wretched. We
had often departed from this principle, but had it not in every
case been a confession of weakness, and had we not always found
antagonism a foolish and unwarrantable expenditure of energy?

The conversation at dinner and afterward, although conducted with
animation and sincerity, for the moment stirred vague misgivings
within me. Was Tolstoy more logical than life warrants? Could
the wrongs of life be reduced to the terms of unrequited labor and
all be made right if each person performed the amount necessary to
satisfy his own wants? Was it not always easy to put up a strong
case if one took the naturalistic view of life? But what about the
historic view, the inevitable shadings and modifications which
life itself brings to its own interpretation? Miss Smith and I
took a night train back to Moscow in that tumult of feeling which
is always produced by contact with a conscience making one more of
those determined efforts to probe to the very foundations of the
mysterious world in which we find ourselves. A horde of perplexing
questions, concerning those problems of existence of which in
happier moments we catch but fleeting glimpses and at which we
even then stand aghast, pursued us relentlessly on the long
journey through the great wheat plains of South Russia, through
the crowded Ghetto of Warsaw, and finally into the smiling fields
of Germany where the peasant men and women were harvesting the
grain. I remember that through the sight of those toiling
peasants, I made a curious connection between the bread labor
advocated by Tolstoy and the comfort the harvest fields are said
to have once brought to Luther when, much perturbed by many
theological difficulties, he suddenly forgot them all in a gush of
gratitude for mere bread, exclaiming, "How it stands, that golden
yellow corn, on its fine tapered stem; the meek earth, at God's
kind bidding, has produced it once again!" At least the toiling
poor had this comfort of bread labor, and perhaps it did not
matter that they gained it unknowingly and painfully, if only they
walked in the path of labor. In the exercise of that curious
power possessed by the theorist to inhibit all experiences which
do not enhance his doctrine, I did not permit myself to recall
that which I knew so well--that exigent and unremitting labor
grants the poor no leisure even in the supreme moments of human
suffering and that "all griefs are lighter with bread."

I may have wished to secure this solace for myself at the cost of
the least possible expenditure of time and energy, for during the
next month in Germany, when I read everything of Tolstoy's that
had been translated into English, German, or French, there grew
up in my mind a conviction that what I ought to do upon my return
to Hull-House was to spend at least two hours every morning in
the little bakery which we had recently added to the equipment of
our coffeehouse. Two hours' work would be but a wretched
compromise, but it was hard to see how I could take more time out
of each day. I had been taught to bake bread in my childhood not
only as a household accomplishment, but because my father, true
to his miller's tradition, had insisted that each one of his
daughters on her twelfth birthday must present him with a
satisfactory wheat loaf of her own baking, and he was most
exigent as to the quality of this test loaf. What could be more
in keeping with my training and tradition than baking bread? I
did not quite see how my activity would fit in with that of the
German union baker who presided over the Hull-House bakery, but
all such matters were secondary and certainly could be arranged.
It may be that I had thus to pacify my aroused conscience before
I could settle down to hear Wagner's "Ring" at Beyreuth; it may
be that I had fallen a victim to the phrase, "bread labor"; but
at any rate I held fast to the belief that I should do this,
through the entire journey homeward, on land and sea, until I
actually arrived in Chicago when suddenly the whole scheme seemed
to me as utterly preposterous as it doubtless was. The half
dozen people invariably waiting to see me after breakfast, the
piles of letters to be opened and answered, the demand of actual
and pressing wants--were these all to be pushed aside and asked
to wait while I saved my soul by two hours' work at baking bread?

Although my resolution was abandoned, this may be the best place
to record the efforts of more doughty souls to carry out Tolstoy's
conclusions. It was perhaps inevitable that Tolstoy colonies
should be founded, although Tolstoy himself has always insisted
that each man should live his life as nearly as possible in the
place in which he was born. The visit Miss Smith and I made a
year or two later to a colony in one of the southern States
portrayed for us most vividly both the weakness and the strange
august dignity of the Tolstoy position. The colonists at
Commonwealth held but a short creed. They claimed in fact that
the difficulty is not to state truth but to make moral conviction
operative upon actual life, and they announced it their intention
"to obey the teachings of Jesus in all matters of labor and the
use of property." They would thus transfer the vindication of
creed from the church to the open field, from dogma to experience.

The day Miss Smith and I visited the Commonwealth colony of
threescore souls, they were erecting a house for the family of a
one-legged man, consisting of a wife and nine children who had
come the week before in a forlorn prairie schooner from Arkansas.
As this was the largest family the little colony contained, the
new house was to be the largest yet erected. Upon our surprise
at this literal giving "to him that asketh," we inquired if the
policy of extending food and shelter to all who applied, without
test of creed or ability, might not result in the migration of
all the neighboring poorhouse population into the colony. We
were told that this actually had happened during the winter until
the colony fare of corn meal and cow peas had proved so
unattractive that the paupers had gone back, for even the poorest
of the southern poorhouses occasionally supplied bacon with the
pone if only to prevent scurvy from which the colonists
themselves had suffered. The difficulty of the poorhouse people
had thus settled itself by the sheer poverty of the situation, a
poverty so biting that the only ones willing to face it were
those sustained by a conviction of its righteousness. The fields
and gardens were being worked by an editor, a professor, a
clergyman, as well as by artisans and laborers, the fruit thereof
to be eaten by themselves and their families or by any other
families who might arrive from Arkansas. The colonists were very
conventional in matters of family relationship and had broken
with society only in regard to the conventions pertaining to
labor and property. We had a curious experience at the end of
the day, when we were driven into the nearest town. We had taken
with us as a guest the wife of the president of the colony,
wishing to give her a dinner at the hotel, because she had
girlishly exclaimed during a conversation that at times during
the winter she had become so eager to hear good music that it had
seemed to her as if she were actually hungry for it, almost as
hungry as she was for a beefsteak. Yet as we drove away we had
the curious sensation that while the experiment was obviously
coming to an end, in the midst of its privations it yet embodied
the peace of mind which comes to him who insists upon the logic
of life whether it is reasonable or not--the fanatic's joy in
seeing his own formula translated into action. At any rate, as
we reached the common-place southern town of workaday men and
women, for one moment its substantial buildings, its solid brick
churches, its ordered streets, divided into those of the rich and
those of the poor, seemed much more unreal to us than the little
struggling colony we had left behind. We repeated to each other
that in all the practical judgments and decisions of life, we
must part company with logical demonstration; that if we stop for
it in each case, we can never go on at all; and yet, in spite of
this, when conscience does become the dictator of the daily life
of a group of men, it forces our admiration as no other modern
spectacle has power to do. It seemed but a mere incident that
this group should have lost sight of the facts of life in their
earnest endeavor to put to the test the things of the spirit.

I knew little about the colony started by Mr. Maude at Purleigh
containing several of Tolstoy's followers who were not permitted
to live in Russia, and we did not see Mr. Maude again until he
came to Chicago on his way from Manitoba, whither he had
transported the second group of Dukhobors, a religious sect who
had interested all of Tolstoy's followers because of their
literal acceptance of non-resistance and other Christian
doctrines which are so strenuously advocated by Tolstoy. It was
for their benefit that Tolstoy had finished and published
"Resurrection," breaking through his long-kept resolution against
novel writing. After the Dukhobors were settled in Canada, of
the five hundred dollars left from the "Resurrection" funds, one
half was given to Hull-House. It seemed possible to spend this
fund only for the relief of the most primitive wants of food and
shelter on the part of the most needy families.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK
Initiative at the Celebration of Women Writers. Initial text
entry and proof-reading of this chapter were the work of
volunteer Terri Perkins.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]

[A Celebration of Women Writers]

"Chapter XIII: Public Activities and Investigations." by by Jane
Addams (1860-1935) From: Twenty Years at Hull-House with
Autobiographical Notes. by Jane Addams. New York: The MacMillan
Company, 1912 (c.1910) pp. 281-309.

[Editor: Mary MarkOckerbloom]



One of the striking features of our neighborhood twenty years
ago, and one to which we never became reconciled, was the
presence of huge wooden garbage boxes fastened to the street
pavement in which the undisturbed refuse accumulated day by day.
The system of garbage collecting was inadequate throughout the
city but it became the greatest menace in a ward such as ours,
where the normal amount of waste was much increased by the
decayed fruit and vegetables discarded by the Italian and Greek
fruit peddlers, and by the residuum left over from the piles of
filthy rags which were fished out of the city dumps and brought
to the homes of the rag pickers for further sorting and washing.

The children of our neighborhood twenty years ago played their
games in and around these huge garbage boxes. They were the
first objects that the toddling child learned to climb; their
bulk afforded a barricade and their contents provided missiles in
all the battles of the older boys; and finally they became the
seats upon which absorbed lovers held enchanted converse. We are
obliged to remember that all children eat everything which they
find and that odors have a curious and intimate power of
entwining themselves into our tenderest memories, before even the
residents of Hull-House can understand their own early enthusiasm
for the removal of these boxes and the establishment of a better
system of refuse collection.

It is easy for even the most conscientious citizen of Chicago to
forget the foul smells of the stockyards and the garbage dumps,
when he is living so far from them that he is only occasionally
made conscious of their existence but the residents of a
Settlement are perforce constantly surrounded by them. During
our first three years on Halsted Street, we had established a
small incinerator at Hull-House and we had many times reported
the untoward conditions of the ward to the city hall. We had
also arranged many talks for the immigrants, pointing out that
although a woman may sweep her own doorway in her native village
and allow the reuse to innocently decay in the open air and
sunshine, in a crowded city quarter, if the garbage is not
properly collected and destroyed, a tenement-house mother may see
her children sicken and die, and that the immigrants must
therefore not only keep their own houses clean, but must also
help the authorities to keep the city clean.

Possibly our efforts slightly modified the worst conditions, but
they still remained intolerable, and the fourth summer the
situation became for me absolutely desperate when I realized in a
moment of panic that my delicate little nephew for whom I was
guardian, could not be with me at Hull-House at all unless the
sickening odors were reduced. I may well be ashamed that other
delicate children who were torn from their families, not into
boarding school but into eternity, had not long before driven me
to effective action. Under the direction of the first man who
came as a resident to Hull-House we began a systematic
investigation of the city system of garbage collection, both as
to its efficiency in other wards and its possible connection with
the death rate in the various wards of the city.

The Hull-House Woman's Club had been organized the year before by
the resident kindergartner who had first inaugurated a mother's
meeting. The new members came together, however, in quite a new
way that summer when we discussed with them the high death rate
so persistent in our ward. After several club meetings devoted
to the subject, despite the fact that the death rate rose highest
in the congested foreign colonies and not in the streets in which
most of the Irish American club women lived, twelve of their
number undertook in connection with the residents, to carefully
investigate the conditions of the alleys. During August and
September the substantiated reports of violations of the law sent
in from Hull-House to the health department were one thousand and
thirty-seven. For the club woman who had finished a long day's
work of washing or ironing followed by the cooking of a hot
supper, it would have been much easier to sit on her doorstep
during a summer evening than to go up and down ill-kept alleys
and get into trouble with her neighbors over the condition of
their garbage boxes. It required both civic enterprise and moral
conviction to be willing to do this three evenings a week during
the hottest and most uncomfortable months of the year.
Nevertheless, a certain number of women persisted, as did the
residents, and three city inspectors in succession were
transferred from the ward because of unsatisfactory services.
Still the death rate remained high and the condition seemed
little improved throughout the next winter. In sheer
desperation, the following spring when the city contracts were
awarded for the removal of garbage, with the backing of two
well-known business men, I put in a bid for the garbage removal
of the nineteenth ward. My paper was thrown out on a
technicality but the incident induced the mayor to appoint me the
garbage inspector of the ward.

The salary was a thousand dollars a year, and the loss of that
political "plum" made a great stir among the politicians. The
position was no sinecure whether regarded from the point of view
of getting up at six in the morning to see that the men were
early at work; or of following the loaded wagons, uneasily
dropping their contents at intervals, to their dreary destination
at the dump; or of insisting that the contractor must increase
the number of his wagons from nine to thirteen and from thirteen
to seventeen, although he assured me that he lost money on every
one and that the former inspector had let him off with seven; or
of taking careless landlords into court because they would not
provide the proper garbage receptacles; or of arresting the
tenant who tried to make the garbage wagons carry away the
contents of his stable.

With the two or three residents who nobly stood by, we set up six
of those doleful incinerators which are supposed to burn garbage
with the fuel collected in the alley itself. The one factory in
town which could utilize old tin cans was a window weight
factory, and we deluged that with ten times as many tin cans as
it could use--much less would pay for. We made desperate
attempts to have the dead animals removed by the contractor who
was paid most liberally by the city for that purpose but who, we
slowly discovered, always made the police ambulances do the work,
delivering the carcasses upon freight cars for shipment to a soap
factory in Indiana where they were sold for a good price although
the contractor himself was the largest stockholder in the
concern. Perhaps our greatest achievement was the discovery of a
pavement eighteen inches under the surface in a narrow street,
although after it was found we triumphantly discovered a record
of its existence in the city archives. The Italians living on
the street were much interested but displayed little
astonishment, perhaps because they were accustomed to see buried
cities exhumed. This pavement became the casus belli between
myself and the street commissioner when I insisted that its
restoration belonged to him, after I had removed the first eight
inches of garbage. The matter was finally settled by the mayor
himself, who permitted me to drive him to the entrance of the
street in what the children called my "garbage phaeton" and who
took my side of the controversy.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, who had done some
excellent volunteer inspection in both Chicago and Pittsburg,
became my deputy and performed the work in a most thoroughgoing
manner for three years. During the last two she was under the
regime of civil service for in 1895, to the great joy of many
citizens, the Illinois legislature made that possible.

Many of the foreign-born women of the ward were much shocked by
this abrupt departure into the ways of men, and it took a great
deal of explanation to convey the idea even remotely that if it
were a womanly task to go about in tenement houses in order to
nurse the sick, it might be quite as womanly to go through the
same district in order to prevent the breeding of so-called
"filth diseases." While some of the women enthusiastically
approved the slowly changing conditions and saw that their
housewifely duties logically extended to the adjacent alleys and
streets, they yet were quite certain that "it was not a lady's
job." A revelation of this attitude was made one day in a
conversation which the inspector heard vigorously carried on in a
laundry. One of the employees was leaving and was expressing her
mind concerning the place in no measured terms, summing up her
contempt for it as follows: "I would rather be the girl who goes
about in the alleys than to stay here any longer!"

And yet the spectacle of eight hours' work for eight hours' pay,
the even-handed justice to all citizens irrespective of "pull,"
the dividing of responsibility between landlord and tenant, and
the readiness to enforce obedience to law from both, was,
perhaps, one of the most valuable demonstrations which could have
been made. Such daily living on the part of the office holder is
of infinitely more value than many talks on civics for, after
all, we credit most easily that which we see. The careful
inspection combined with other causes, brought about a great
improvement in the cleanliness and comfort of the neighborhood
and one happy day, when the death rate of our ward was found to
have dropped from third to seventh in the list of city wards and
was so reported to our Woman's Club, the applause which followed
recorded the genuine sense of participation in the result, and a
public spirit which had "made good." But the cleanliness of the
ward was becoming much too popular to suit our all-powerful
alderman and, although we felt fatuously secure under the regime
of civil service, he found a way to circumvent us by eliminating
the position altogether. He introduced an ordinance into the
city council which combined the collection of refuse with the
cleaning and repairing of the streets, the whole to be placed
under a ward superintendent. The office of course was to be
filled under civil service regulations but only men were eligible
to the examination. Although this latter regulation was
afterwards modified in favor of one woman, it was retained long
enough to put the nineteenth ward inspector out of office.

Of course our experience in inspecting only made us more
conscious of the wretched housing conditions over which we had
been distressed from the first. It was during the World's Fair
summer that one of the Hull-House residents in a public address
upon housing reform used as an example of indifferent landlordism
a large block in the neighborhood occupied by small tenements and
stables unconnected with a street sewer, as was much similar
property in the vicinity. In the lecture the resident spared
neither a description of the property nor the name of the owner.
The young man who owned the property was justly indignant at this
public method of attack and promptly came to investigate the
condition of the property. Together we made a careful tour of
the houses and stables and in the face of the conditions that we
found there, I could not but agree with him that supplying South
Italian peasants with sanitary appliances seemed a difficult
undertaking. Nevertheless he was unwilling that the block should
remain in its deplorable state, and he finally cut through the
dilemma with the rash proposition that he would give a free lease
of the entire tract to Hull-House, accompanying the offer,
however, with the warning remark, that if we should choose to use
the income from the rents in sanitary improvements we should be
throwing our money away.

Even when we decided that the houses were so bad that we could
not undertake the task of improving them, he was game and stuck
to his proposition that we should have a free lease. We finally
submitted a plan that the houses should be torn down and the
entire tract turned into a playground, although cautious advisers
intimated that it would be very inconsistent to ask for
subscriptions for the support of Hull-House when we were known to
have thrown away an income of two thousand dollars a year. We,
however, felt that a spectacle of inconsistency was better than
one of bad landlordism and so the worst of the houses were
demolished, the best three were sold and moved across the street
under careful provision that they might never be used for junk-
shops or saloons, and a public playground was finally
established. Hull-House became responsible for its management
for ten years, at the end of which time it was turned over to the
City Playground Commission although from the first the city
detailed a policeman who was responsible for its general order
and who became a valued adjunct of the House.

During fifteen years this public-spirited owner of the property
paid all the taxes, and when the block was finally sold he made
possible the playground equipment of a near-by schoolyard. On
the other hand, the dispossessed tenants, a group of whom had to
be evicted by legal process before their houses could be torn
down, have never ceased to mourn their former estates. Only the
other day I met upon the street an old Italian harness maker, who
said that he had never succeeded so well anywhere else nor found
a place that "seemed so much like Italy."

Festivities of various sorts were held on this early playground,
always a May day celebration with its Maypole dance and its May
queen. I remember that one year that honor of being queen was
offered to the little girl who should pick up the largest number
of scraps of paper which littered all the streets and alleys. The
children that spring had been organized into a league, and each
member had been provided with a stiff piece of wire upon the
sharpened point of which stray bits of paper were impaled and
later soberly counted off into a large box in the Hull-House
alley. The little Italian girl who thus won the scepter took it
very gravely as the just reward of hard labor, and we were all so
absorbed in the desire for clean and tidy streets that we were
wholly oblivious to the incongruity of thus selecting "the queen
of love and beauty."

It was at the end of the second year that we received a visit from
the warden of Toynbee Hall and his wife, as they were returning to
England from a journey around the world. They had lived in East
London for many years, and had been identified with the public
movements for its betterment. They were much shocked that, in a
new country with conditions still plastic and hopeful, so little
attention had been paid to experiments and methods of amelioration
which had already been tried; and they looked in vain through our
library for blue books and governmental reports which recorded
painstaking study into the conditions of English cities.

They were the first of a long line of English visitors to express
the conviction that many things in Chicago were untoward not
through paucity of public spirit but through a lack of political
machinery adapted to modern city life. This was not all of the
situation but perhaps no casual visitor could be expected to see
that these matters of detail seemed unimportant to a city in the
first flush of youth, impatient of correction and convinced that
all would be well with its future. The most obvious faults were
those connected with the congested housing of the immigrant
population, nine tenths of them from the country, who carried on
all sorts of traditional activities in the crowded tenements.
That a group of Greeks should be permitted to slaughter sheep in
a basement, that Italian women should be allowed to sort over
rags collected from the city dumps, not only within the city
limits but in a court swarming with little children, that
immigrant bakers should continue unmolested to bake bread for
their neighbors in unspeakably filthy spaces under the pavement,
appeared incredible to visitors accustomed to careful city
regulations. I recall two visits made to the Italian quarter by
John Burns--the second, thirteen years after the first. During
the latter visit it seemed to him unbelievable that a certain
house owned by a rich Italian should have been permitted to
survive. He remembered with the greatest minuteness the
positions of the houses on the court, with the exact space
between the front and rear tenements, and he asked at once
whether we had been able to cut a window into a dark hall as he
had recommended thirteen years before. Although we were obliged
to confess that the landlord would not permit the window to be
cut, we were able to report that a City Homes Association had
existed for ten years; that following a careful study of tenement
conditions in Chicago, the text of which had been written by a
Hull-House resident, the association had obtained the enactment
of a model tenement-house code, and that their secretary had
carefully watched the administration of the law for years so that
its operation might not be minimized by the granting of too many
exceptions in the city council. Our progress still seemed slow
to Mr. Burns because in Chicago, the actual houses were quite
unchanged, embodying features long since declared illegal in
London. Only this year could we have reported to him, had he
again come to challenge us, that the provisions of the law had at
last been extended to existing houses and that a conscientious
corps of inspectors under an efficient chief, were fast remedying
the most glaring evils, while a band of nurses and doctors were
following hard upon the "trail of the white hearse."

The mere consistent enforcement of existing laws and efforts for
their advance often placed Hull-House, at least temporarily, into
strained relations with its neighbors. I recall a continuous
warfare against local landlords who would move wrecks of old
houses as a nucleus for new ones in order to evade the provisions
of the building code, and a certain Italian neighbor who was
filled with bitterness because his new rear tenement was
discovered to be illegal. It seemed impossible to make him
understand that the health of the tenants was in any wise as
important as his undisturbed rents.

Nevertheless many evils constantly arise in Chicago from
congested housing which wiser cities forestall and prevent; the
inevitable boarders crowded into a dark tenement already too
small for the use of the immigrant family occupying it; the
surprisingly large number of delinquent girls who have become
criminally involved with their own fathers and uncles; the school
children who cannot find a quiet spot in which to read or study
and who perforce go into the streets each evening; the
tuberculosis superinduced and fostered by the inadequate rooms
and breathing spaces. One of the Hull-House residents, under the
direction of a Chicago physician who stands high as an authority
on tuberculosis and who devotes a large proportion of his time to
our vicinity, made an investigation into housing conditions as
related to tuberculosis with a result as startling as that of the
"lung block" in New York.

It is these subtle evils of wretched and inadequate housing which
are often the most disastrous. In the summer of 1902 during an
epidemic of typhoid fever in which our ward, although containing
but one thirty-sixth of the population of the city, registered
one sixth of the total number of deaths, two of the Hull-House
residents made an investigation of the methods of plumbing in the
houses adjacent to conspicuous groups of fever cases. They
discovered among the people who had been exposed to the
infection, a widow who had lived in the ward for a number of
years, in a comfortable little house of her own. Although the
Italian immigrants were closing in all around her, she was not
willing to sell her property and to move away until she had
finished the education of her children. In the meantime she held
herself quite aloof from her Italian neighbors and could never be
drawn into any of the public efforts to secure a better code of
tenement-house sanitation. Her two daughters were sent to an
eastern college. One June when one of them had graduated and the
other still had two years before she took her degree, they came
to the spotless little house and their self-sacrificing mother
for the summer holiday. They both fell ill with typhoid fever
and one daughter died because the mother's utmost efforts could
not keep the infection out of her own house. The entire disaster
affords, perhaps, a fair illustration of the futility of the
individual conscience which would isolate a family from the rest
of the community and its interests.

The careful information collected concerning the juxtaposition of
the typhoid cases to the various systems of plumbing and
nonplumbing was made the basis of a bacteriological study by
another resident, Dr. Alice Hamilton, as to the possibility of
the infection having been carried by flies. Her researches were
so convincing that they have been incorporated into the body of
scientific data supporting that theory, but there were also
practical results from the investigation. It was discovered that
the wretched sanitary appliances through which alone the
infection could have become so widely spread, would not have been
permitted to remain, unless the city inspector had either been
criminally careless or open to the arguments of favored

The agitation finally resulted in a long and stirring trial
before the civil service board of half of the employees in the
Sanitary Bureau, with the final discharge of eleven out of the
entire force of twenty-four. The inspector in our neighborhood
was a kindly old man, greatly distressed over the affair, and
quite unable to understand why he should have not used his
discretion as to the time when a landlord should be forced to put
in modern appliances. If he was "very poor," or "just about to
sell his place," or "sure that the house would be torn down to
make room for a factory," why should one "inconvenience" him? The
old man died soon after the trial, feeling persecuted to the very
last and not in the least understanding what it was all about.
We were amazed at the commercial ramifications which graft in the
city hall involved and at the indignation which interference with
it produced. Hull-House lost some large subscriptions as the
result of this investigation, a loss which, if not easy to bear,
was at least comprehensible. We also uncovered unexpected graft
in connection with the plumbers' unions, and but for the fearless
testimony of one of their members, could never have brought the
trial to a successful issue.

Inevitable misunderstanding also developed in connection with the
attempt on the part of Hull-House residents to prohibit the sale
of cocaine to minors, which brought us into sharp conflict with
many druggists. I recall an Italian druggist living on the edge
of the neighborhood, who finally came with a committee of his
countryman to see what Hull-House wanted of him, thoroughly
convinced that no such effort could be disinterested. One dreary
trial after another had been lost through the inadequacy of the
existing legislation and after many attempts to secure better
legal regulation of its sale, a new law with the cooperation of
many agencies was finally secured in 1907. Through all this the
Italian druggist, who had greatly profited by the sale of cocaine
to boys, only felt outraged and abused. And yet the thought of
this campaign brings before my mind with irresistible force, a
young Italian boy who died,--a victim of the drug at the age of
seventeen. He had been in our kindergarten as a handsome merry
child, in our clubs as a vivacious boy, and then gradually there
was an eclipse of all that was animated and joyous and promising,
and when I at last saw him in his coffin, it was impossible to
connect that haggard shriveled body with what I had known before.

A midwife investigation, undertaken in connection with the
Chicago Medical Society, while showing the great need of further
state regulation in the interest of the most ignorant mothers and
helpless children, brought us into conflict with one of the most
venerable of all customs. Was all this a part of the unending
struggle between the old and new, or were these oppositions so
unexpected and so unlooked for merely a reminder of that old bit
of wisdom that "there is no guarding against interpretations"?
Perhaps more subtle still, they were due to that very
super-refinement of disinterestedness which will not justify
itself, that it may feel superior to public opinion. Some of our
investigations of course had no such untoward results, such as
"An Intensive Study of Truancy" undertaken by a resident of
Hull-House in connection with the compulsory education department
of the Board of Education and the Visiting Nurses Association.
The resident, Mrs. Britton, who, having had charge of our
children's clubs for many years, knew thousands of children in
the neighborhood, made a detailed study of three hundred families
tracing back the habitual truancy of the child to economic and
social causes. This investigation preceded a most interesting
conference on truancy held under a committee of which I was a
member from the Chicago Board of Education. It left lasting
results upon the administration of the truancy law as well as the
cooperation of volunteer bodies.

We continually conduct small but careful investigations at
Hull-House, which may guide us in our immediate doings such as two
recently undertaken by Mrs. Britton, one upon the reading of school
children before new books were bought for the children's club
libraries, and another on the proportion of tuberculosis among
school children, before we opened a little experimental outdoor
school on one of our balconies. Some of the Hull-House
investigations are purely negative in result; we once made an
attempt to test the fatigue of factory girls in order to determine
how far overwork superinduced the tuberculosis to which such a
surprising number of them were victims. The one scientific
instrument it seemed possible to use was an ergograph, a
complicated and expensive instrument kindly lent to us from the
physiological laboratory of the University of Chicago. I remember
the imposing procession we made from Hull-House to the factory full
of working women, in which the proprietor allowed us to make the
tests; first there was the precious instrument on a hand truck
guarded by an anxious student and the young physician who was going
to take the tests every afternoon; then there was Dr. Hamilton the
resident in charge of the investigation, walking with a scientist
who was interested to see that the instrument was properly
installed; I followed in the rear to talk once more to the
proprietor of the factory to be quite sure that he would permit the
experiment to go on. The result of all this preparation, however,
was to have the instrument record less fatigue at the end of the
day than at the beginning, not because the girls had not worked
hard and were not "dog tired" as they confessed, but because the
instrument was not fitted to find it out.

For many years we have administered a branch station of the federal
post office at Hull-House, which we applied for in the first
instance because our neighbors lost such a large percentage of the
money they sent to Europe, through the commissions to middle men.
The experience in the post office constantly gave us data for
urging the establishment of postal savings as we saw one perplexed
immigrant after another turning away in bewilderment when he was
told that the United States post office did not receive savings.

We find increasingly, however, that the best results are to be
obtained in investigations as in other undertakings, by combining
our researches with those of other public bodies or with the
State itself. When all the Chicago Settlements found themselves
distressed over the condition of the newsboys who, because they
are merchants and not employees, do not come under the provisions
of the Illinois child labor law, they united in the investigation
of a thousand young newsboys, who were all interviewed on the
streets during the same twenty-four hours. Their school and
domestic status was easily determined later, for many of the boys
lived in the immediate neighborhoods of the ten Settlements which
had undertaken the investigation. The report embodying the
results of the investigation recommended a city ordinance
containing features from the Boston and Buffalo regulations, and
although an ordinance was drawn up and a strenuous effort was
made to bring it to the attention of the aldermen, none of them
would introduce it into the city council without newspaper
backing. We were able to agitate for it again at the annual
meeting of the National Child Labor Committee which was held in
Chicago in 1908, and which was of course reported in papers
throughout the entire country. This meeting also demonstrated
that local measures can sometimes be urged most effectively when
joined to the efforts of a national body. Undoubtedly the best
discussions ever held upon the operation and status of the
Illinois law were those which took place then. The needs of the
Illinois children were regarded in connection with the children
of the nation and advanced health measures for Illinois were
compared with those of other states.

The investigations of Hull-House thus tend to be merged with
those of larger organizations, from the investigation of the
social value of saloons made for the Committee of Fifty in 1896,
to the one on infant mortality in relation to nationality, made
for the American Academy of Science in 1909. This is also true
of Hull-House activities in regard to public movements, some of
which are inaugurated by the residents of other Settlements, as
the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, founded by the
splendid efforts of Dr. Graham Taylor for many years head of
Chicago Commons. All of our recent investigations into housing
have been under the department of investigation of this school
with which several of the Hull-House residents are identified,
quite as our active measures to secure better housing conditions
have been carried on with the City Homes Association and through
the cooperation of one of our residents who several years ago was
appointed a sanitary inspector on the city staff.

Perhaps Dr. Taylor himself offers the best possible example of
the value of Settlement experience to public undertakings, in his
manifold public activities of which one might instance his work
at the moment upon a commission recently appointed by the
governor of Illinois to report upon the best method of Industrial
Insurance or Employer's Liability Acts, and his influence in
securing another to study into the subject of Industrial
Diseases. The actual factory investigation under the latter is
in charge of Dr. Hamilton, of Hull-House, whose long residence in
an industrial neighborhood as well as her scientific attainment,
give her peculiar qualifications for the undertaking.

And so a Settlement is led along from the concrete to the
abstract, as may easily be illustrated. Many years ago a tailors'
union meeting at Hull-House asked our cooperation in tagging the
various parts of a man's coat in such wise as to show the money
paid to the people who had made it; one tag for the cutting and
another for the buttonholes, another for the finishing and so on,
the resulting total to be compared with the selling price of the
coat itself. It quickly became evident that we had no way of
computing how much of this larger balance was spent for salesmen,
commercial travelers, rent and management, and the poor tagged
coat was finally left hanging limply in a closet as if discouraged
with the attempt. But the desire of the manual worker to know the
relation of his own labor to the whole is not only legitimate but
must form the basis of any intelligent action for his improvement.
It was therefore with the hope of reform in the sewing trades
that the Hull-House residents testified before the Federal
Industrial Commission in 1900, and much later with genuine
enthusiasm joined with trades-unionists and other public-spirited
citizens in an industrial exhibit which made a graphic
presentation of the conditions and rewards of labor. The large
casino building in which it was held was filled every day and
evening for two weeks, showing how popular such information is, if
it can be presented graphically. As an illustration of this same
moving from the smaller to the larger, I might instance the
efforts of Miss McDowell of the University of Chicago Settlement
and others in urging upon Congress the necessity for a special
investigation into the conditions of women and children in
industry because we had discovered the insuperable difficulties of
smaller investigations, notably one undertaken for the Illinois
Bureau of Labor by Mrs. Van der Vaart of Neighborhood House and by
Miss Breckinridge of the University of Chicago. This
investigation made clear that it was as impossible to detach the
girls working in the stockyards from their sisters in industry as
it was to urge special legislation on their behalf.

In the earlier years of the American Settlements, the residents
were sometimes impatient with the accepted methods of charitable
administration and hoped, through residence in an industrial
neighborhood, to discover more cooperative and advanced methods
of dealing with the problems of poverty which are so dependent
upon industrial maladjustment. But during twenty years, the
Settlements have seen the charitable people, through their very
knowledge of the poor, constantly approach nearer to those
methods formerly designated as radical. The residents, so far
from holding aloof from organized charity, find testimony,
certainly in the National Conferences, that out of the most
persistent and intelligent efforts to alleviate poverty will in
all probability arise the most significant suggestions for
eradicating poverty. In the hearing before a congressional
committee for the establishment of a Children's Bureau, residents
in American Settlements joined their fellow philanthropists in
urging the need of this indispensable instrument for collecting
and disseminating information which would make possible concerted
intelligent action on behalf of children.

Mr. Howells has said that we are all so besotted with our novel
reading that we have lost the power of seeing certain aspects of
life with any sense of reality because we are continually looking
for the possible romance. The description might apply to the
earlier years of the American settlement, but certainly the later
years are filled with discoveries in actual life as romantic as
they are unexpected. If I may illustrate one of these romantic
discoveries from my own experience, I would cite the indications
of an internationalism as sturdy and virile as it is unprecedented
which I have seen in our cosmopolitan neighborhood: when a South
Italian Catholic is forced by the very exigencies of the situation
to make friends with an Austrian Jew representing another
nationality and another religion, both of which cut into all his
most cherished prejudices, he finds it harder to utilize them a
second time and gradually loses them. He thus modifies his
provincialism, for if an old enemy working by his side has turned
into a friend, almost anything may happen. When, therefore, I
became identified with the peace movement both in its
International and National Conventions, I hoped that this
internationalism engendered in the immigrant quarters of American
cities might be recognized as an effective instrument in the cause
of peace. I first set it forth with some misgiving before the
Convention held in Boston in 1904 and it is always a pleasure to
recall the hearty assent given to it by Professor William James.

I have always objected to the phrase "sociological laboratory"
applied to us, because Settlements should be something much more
human and spontaneous than such a phrase connotes, and yet it is
inevitable that the residents should know their own neighborhoods
more thoroughly than any other, and that their experiences there
should affect their convictions.

Years ago I was much entertained by a story told at the Chicago
Woman's Club by one of its ablest members in the discussion
following a paper of mine on "The Outgrowths of Toynbee Hall."
She said that when she was a little girl playing in her mother's
garden, she one day discovered a small toad who seemed to her
very forlorn and lonely, although she did not in the least know
how to comfort him, she reluctantly left him to his fate; later
in the day, quite at the other end of the garden, she found a
large toad, also apparently without family and friends. With a
heart full of tender sympathy, she took a stick and by exercising
infinite patience and some skill, she finally pushed the little
toad through the entire length of the garden into the company of
the big toad, when, to her inexpressible horror and surprise, the
big toad opened his mouth and swallowed the little one. The
moral of the tale was clear applied to people who lived "where
they did not naturally belong," although I protested that was
exactly what we wanted--to be swallowed and digested, to
disappear into the bulk of the people.

Twenty years later I am willing to testify that something of the
sort does take place after years of identification with an
industrial community.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK
Initiative at the Celebration of Women Writers. Initial text
entry and proof-reading of this chapter were the work of
volunteer Adrienne Fermoyle.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]

[A Celebration of Women Writers]

"Chapter XIV: Civic Cooperation." by by Jane Addams (1860-1935)
From: Twenty Years at Hull-House with Autobiographical Notes. by
Jane Addams. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1912 (c.1910) pp.

[Editor: Mary MarkOckerbloom]



One of the first lessons we learned at Hull-House was that private
beneficence is totally inadequate to deal with the vast numbers of
the city's disinherited. We also quickly came to realize that
there are certain types of wretchedness from which every private
philanthropy shrinks and which are cared for only in those wards
of the county hospital provided for the wrecks of vicious living
or in the city's isolation hospital for smallpox patients.

I have heard a broken-hearted mother exclaim when her erring
daughter came home at last too broken and diseased to be taken
into the family she had disgraced, "There is no place for her but
the top floor of the County Hospital; they will have to take her
there," and this only after every possible expedient had been
tried or suggested. This aspect of governmental responsibility
was unforgettably borne in upon me during the smallpox epidemic
following the World's Fair, when one of the residents, Mrs.
Kelley, as State Factory Inspector, was much concerned in
discovering and destroying clothing which was being finished in
houses containing unreported cases of smallpox. The deputy most
successful in locating such cases lived at Hull-House during the
epidemic because he did not wish to expose his own family.
Another resident, Miss Lathrop, as a member of the State Board of
Charities, went back and forth to the crowded pest house which
had been hastily constructed on a stretch of prairie west of the
city. As Hull-House was already so exposed, it seemed best for
the special smallpox inspectors from the Board of Health to take
their meals and change their clothing there before they went to
their respective homes. All of these officials had accepted
without question and as implicit in public office the obligation
to carry on the dangerous and difficult undertakings for which
private philanthropy is unfitted, as if the commonalty of
compassion represented by the State was more comprehending than
that of any individual group.

It was as early as our second winter on Halsted Street that one
of the Hull-House residents received an appointment from the Cook
County agent as a county visitor. She reported at the agency
each morning, and all the cases within a radius of ten blocks
from Hull-House were given to her for investigation. This gave
her a legitimate opportunity for knowing the poorest people in
the neighborhood and also for understanding the county method of
outdoor relief. The commissioners were at first dubious of the
value of such a visitor and predicted that a woman would be a
perfect "coal chute" for giving away county supplies, but they
gradually came to depend upon her suggestion and advice.

In 1893 this same resident, Miss Julia C. Lathrop, was appointed
by the governor a member of the Illinois State Board of
Charities. She served in this capacity for two consecutive terms
and was later reappointed to a third term. Perhaps her most
valuable contribution toward the enlargement and reorganization
of the charitable institutions of the State came through her
intimate knowledge of the beneficiaries, and her experience
demonstrated that it is only through long residence among the
poor that an official could have learned to view public
institutions as she did, from the standpoint of the inmates
rather than from that of the managers. Since that early day,
residents of Hull-House have spent much time in working for the
civil service methods of appointment for employees in the county
and State institutions; for the establishment of State colonies
for the care of epileptics; and for a dozen other enterprises
which occupy that borderland between charitable effort and
legislation. In this borderland we cooperate in many civic
enterprises for I think we may claim that Hull-House has always
held its activities lightly, ready to hand them over to whosoever
would carry them on properly.

Miss Starr had early made a collection of framed photographs,
largely of the paintings studied in her art class, which became
the basis of a loan collection first used by the Hull-House
students and later extended to the public schools. It may be
fair to suggest that this effort was the nucleus of the Public
School Art Society which was later formed in the city and of
which Miss Starr was the first president.

In our first two summers we had maintained three baths in the
basement of our own house for the use of the neighborhood, and
they afforded some experience and argument for the erection of
the first public bathhouse in Chicago, which was built on a
neighboring street and opened under the city Board of Health. The
lot upon which it was erected belonged to a friend of Hull-House
who offered it to the city without rent, and this enabled the
city to erect the first public bath from the small appropriation
of ten thousand dollars. Great fear was expressed by the public
authorities that the baths would not be used, and the old story
of the bathtubs in model tenements which had been turned into
coal bins was often quoted to us. We were supplied, however,
with the incontrovertible argument that in our adjacent third
square mile there were in 1892 but three bathtubs and that this
fact was much complained of by many of the tenement-house
dwellers. Our contention was justified by the immediate and
overflowing use of the public baths, as we had before been
sustained in the contention that an immigrant population would
respond to opportunities for reading when the Public Library
Board had established a branch reading room at Hull-House.

We also quickly discovered that nothing brought us so absolutely
into comradeship with our neighbors as mutual and sustained
effort such as the paving of a street, the closing of a gambling
house, or the restoration of a veteran police sergeant.

Several of these earlier attempts at civic cooperation were
undertaken in connection with the Hull-House Men's Club, which
had been organized in the spring of 1893, had been incorporated
under a State charter of its own, and had occupied a club room in
the gymnasium building. This club obtained an early success in
one of the political struggles in the ward and thus fastened upon
itself a specious reputation for political power. It was at last
so torn by the dissensions of two political factions which
attempted to capture it that, although it is still an existing
organization, it has never regained the prestige of its first
five years. Its early political success came in a campaign
Hull-House had instigated against a powerful alderman who has
held office for more than twenty years in the nineteenth ward,
and who, although notoriously corrupt, is still firmly intrenched
among his constituents.

Hull-House has had to do with three campaigns organized against
him. In the first one he was apparently only amused at our
"Sunday School" effort and did little to oppose the election to
the aldermanic office of a member of the Hull-House Men's Club
who thus became his colleague in the city council. When
Hull-House, however, made an effort in the following spring
against the re-election of the alderman himself, we encountered
the most determined and skillful opposition. In these campaigns
we doubtless depended too much upon the idealistic appeal for we
did not yet comprehend the element of reality always brought into
the political struggle in such a neighborhood where politics deal
so directly with getting a job and earning a living.

We soon discovered that approximately one out of every five
voters in the nineteenth ward at that time held a job dependent
upon the good will of the alderman. There were no civil service
rules to interfere, and the unskilled voter swept the street and
dug the sewer, as secure in his position as the more
sophisticated voter who tended a bridge or occupied an office
chair in the city hall. The alderman was even more fortunate in
finding places with the franchise-seeking corporations; it took
us some time to understand why so large a proportion of our
neighbors were street-car employees and why we had such a large
club composed solely of telephone girls. Our powerful alderman
had various methods of entrenching himself. Many people were
indebted to him for his kindly services in the police station and
the justice courts, for in those days Irish constituents easily
broke the peace, and before the establishment of the Juvenile
Court, boys were arrested for very trivial offenses; added to
these were hundreds of constituents indebted to him for personal
kindness, from the peddler who received a free license to the
businessman who had a railroad pass to New York. Our third
campaign against him, when we succeeded in making a serious
impression upon his majority, evoked from his henchmen the same
sort of hostility which a striker so inevitably feels against the
man who would take his job, even sharpened by the sense that the
movement for reform came from an alien source.

Another result of the campaign was an expectation on the part of
our new political friends that Hull-House would perform like
offices for them, and there resulted endless confusion and
misunderstanding because in many cases we could not even attempt
to do what the alderman constantly did with a right good will.
When he protected a law breaker from the legal consequences of
his act, his kindness appeared, not only to himself but to all
beholders, like the deed of a powerful and kindly statesman. When
Hull-House on the other hand insisted that a law must be
enforced, it could but appear like the persecution of the
offender. We were certainly not anxious for consistency nor for
individual achievement, but in a desire to foster a higher
political morality and not to lower our standards, we constantly
clashed with the existing political code. We also unwittingly
stumbled upon a powerful combination of which our alderman was
the political head, with its banking, its ecclesiastical, and its
journalistic representatives, and as we followed up the clue and
naively told all we discovered, we of course laid the foundations
for opposition which has manifested itself in many forms; the
most striking expression of it was an attack upon Hull-House
lasting through weeks and months by a Chicago daily newspaper
which has since ceased publication.

During the third campaign I received many anonymous
letters--those from the men often obscene, those from the women
revealing that curious connection between prostitution and the
lowest type of politics which every city tries in vain to hide.
I had offers from the men in the city prison to vote properly if
released; various communications from lodging-house keepers as to
the prices of the vote they were ready to deliver; everywhere
appeared that animosity which is evoked only when a man feels
that his means of livelihood is threatened.

As I look back, I am reminded of the state of mind of Kipling's
newspapermen who witnessed a volcanic eruption at sea, in which
unbelievable deep-sea creatures were expelled to the surface,
among them an enormous white serpent, blind and smelling of musk,
whose death throes thrashed the sea into a fury. With
professional instinct unimpaired, the journalists carefully
observed the uncanny creature never designed for the eyes of men;
but a few days later, when they found themselves in a comfortable
second-class carriage, traveling from Southampton to London
between trim hedgerows and smug English villages, they concluded
that the experience was too sensational to be put before the
British public, and it became improbable even to themselves.

Many subsequent years of living in kindly neighborhood fashion
with the people of the nineteenth ward has produced upon my
memory the soothing effect of the second-class railroad carriage
and many of these political experiences have not only become
remote but already seem improbable. On the other hand, these
campaigns were not without their rewards; one of them was a
quickened friendship both with the more substantial citizens in
the ward and with a group of fine young voters whose devotion to
Hull-House has never since failed; another was a sense of
identification with public-spirited men throughout the city who
contributed money and time to what they considered a gallant
effort against political corruption. I remember a young
professor from the University of Chicago who with his wife came
to live at Hull-House, traveling the long distance every day
throughout the autumn and winter that he might qualify as a
nineteenth-ward voter in the spring campaign. He served as a
watcher at the polls and it was but a poor reward for his
devotion that he was literally set upon and beaten up, for in
those good old days such things frequently occurred. Many another
case of devotion to our standard so recklessly raised might be
cited, but perhaps more valuable than any of these was the sense
of identification we obtained with the rest of Chicago.

So far as a Settlement can discern and bring to local
consciousness neighborhood needs which are common needs, and can
give vigorous help to the municipal measures through which such
needs shall be met, it fulfills its most valuable function. To
illustrate from our first effort to improve the street paving in
the vicinity, we found that when we had secured the consent of
the majority of the property owners on a given street for a new
paving, the alderman checked the entire plan through his kindly
service to one man who had appealed to him to keep the
assessments down. The street long remained a shocking mass of
wet, dilapidated cedar blocks, where children were sometimes
mired as they floated a surviving block in the water which
speedily filled the holes whence other blocks had been extracted
for fuel. And yet when we were able to demonstrate that the
street paving had thus been reduced into cedar pulp by the
heavily loaded wagons of an adjacent factory, that the expense of
its repaving should be borne from a general fund and not by the
poor property owners, we found that we could all unite in
advocating reform in the method of repaving assessments, and the
alderman himself was obliged to come into such a popular
movement. The Nineteenth Ward Improvement Association which met
at Hull-House during two winters, was the first body of citizens
able to make a real impression upon the local paving situation.
They secured an expert to watch the paving as it went down to be
sure that their half of the paving money was well expended. In
the belief that property values would be thus enhanced, the
common aim brought together the more prosperous people of the
vicinity, somewhat as the Hull-House Cooperative Coal Association
brought together the poorer ones.

I remember that during the second campaign against our alderman,
Governor Pingree of Michigan came to visit at Hull-House. He said
that the stronghold of such a man was not the place in which to
start municipal regeneration; that good aldermen should be elected
from the promising wards first, until a majority of honest men in
the city council should make politics unprofitable for corrupt
men. We replied that it was difficult to divide Chicago into good
and bad wards, but that a new organization called the Municipal
Voters' League was attempting to give to the well-meaning voter in
each ward throughout the city accurate information concerning the
candidates and their relation, past and present, to vital issues.
One of our trustees who was most active in inaugurating this
League always said that his nineteenth-ward experience had
convinced him of the unity of city politics, and that he
constantly used our campaign as a challenge to the unaroused
citizens living in wards less conspicuously corrupt.

Certainly the need for civic cooperation was obvious in many
directions, and in none more strikingly than in that organized
effort which must be carried on unceasingly if young people are to
be protected from the darker and coarser dangers of the city. The
cooperation between Hull-House and the Juvenile Protective
Association came about gradually, and it seems now almost
inevitably. From our earliest days we saw many boys constantly
arrested, and I had a number of most enlightening experiences in
the police station with an Irish lad whose mother upon her
deathbed had begged me "to look after him." We were distressed by
the gangs of very little boys who would sally forth with an
enterprising leader in search of old brass and iron, sometimes
breaking into empty houses for the sake of the faucets or lead
pipe which they would sell for a good price to a junk dealer. With
the money thus obtained they would buy cigarettes and beer or even
candy, which could be conspicuously consumed in the alleys where
they might enjoy the excitement of being seen and suspected by the
"coppers." From the third year of Hull-House, one of the residents
held a semiofficial position in the nearest police station; at
least, the sergeant agreed to give her provisional charge of every
boy and girl under arrest for a trivial offense.


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