Twenty Years At Hull House
Jane Addams

Part 5 out of 6

Mrs. Stevens, who performed this work for several years, became
the first probation officer of the Juvenile Court when it was
established in Cook County in 1899. She was the sole probation
officer at first, but at the time of her death, which occurred at
Hull-House in 1900, she was the senior officer of a corps of six.
Her entire experience had fitted her to deal wisely with wayward
children. She had gone into a New England cotton mill at the age
of thirteen, where she had promptly lost the index finger of her
right hand, through "carelessness" she was told, and no one then
seemed to understand that freedom from care was the prerogative
of childhood. Later she became a typesetter and was one of the
first women in America to become a member of the typographical
union, retaining her "card" through all the later years of
editorial work. As the Juvenile Court developed, the committee
of public-spirited citizens who first supplied only Mrs. Stevens'
salary later maintained a corps of twenty-two such officers;
several of these were Hull-House residents who brought to the
house for many years a sad little procession of children
struggling against all sorts of handicaps. When legislation was
secured which placed the probation officers upon the payroll of
the county, it was a challenge to the efficiency of the civil
service method of appointment to obtain by examination men and
women fitted for this delicate human task. As one of five people
asked by the civil service commission to conduct this first
examination for probation officers, I became convinced that we
were but at the beginning of the nonpolitical method of selecting
public servants, but even stiff and unbending as the examination
may be, it is still our hope of political salvation.

In 1907, the Juvenile Court was housed in a model court building
of its own, containing a detention home and equipped with a
competent staff. The committee of citizens largely responsible
for this result thereupon turned their attention to the
conditions which the records of the court indicated had led to
the alarming amount of juvenile delinquency and crime. They
organized the Juvenile Protective Association, whose twenty-two
officers meet weekly at Hull-House with their executive committee
to report what they have found and to discuss city conditions
affecting the lives of children and young people.

The association discovers that there are certain temptations into
which children so habitually fall that it is evident that the
average child cannot withstand them. An overwhelming mass of
data is accumulated showing the need of enforcing existing
legislation and of securing new legislation, but it also
indicates a hundred other directions in which the young people
who so gaily walk our streets, often to their own destruction,
need safeguarding and protection.

The effort of the association to treat the youth of the city with
consideration and understanding has rallied the most unexpected
forces to its standard. Quite as the basic needs of life are
supplied solely by those who make money out of the business, so
the modern city has assumed that the craving for pleasure must be
ministered to only by the sordid. This assumption, however, in a
large measure broke down as soon as the Juvenile Protective
Association courageously put it to the test. After persistent
prosecutions, but also after many friendly interviews, the
Druggists' Association itself prosecutes those of its members who
sell indecent postal cards; the Saloon Keepers' Protective
Association not only declines to protect members who sell liquor
to minors, but now takes drastic action to prevent such sales;
the Retail Grocers' Association forbids the selling of tobacco to
minors; the Association of Department Store Managers not only
increased the vigilance in their waiting rooms by supplying more
matrons, but as a body they have become regular contributors to
the association; the special watchmen in all the railroad yards
agree not to arrest trespassing boys but to report them to the
association; the firms manufacturing moving picture films not
only submit their films to a volunteer inspection committee, but
ask for suggestions in regard to new matter; and the Five-Cent
Theaters arrange for "stunts" which shall deal with the subject
of public health and morals, when the lecturers provided are
entertaining as well as instructive.

It is not difficult to arouse the impulse of protection for the
young, which would doubtless dictate the daily acts of many a
bartender and poolroom keeper if they could only indulge it
without giving their rivals an advantage. When this difficulty
is removed by an even-handed enforcement of the law, that simple
kindliness which the innocent always evoke goes from one to
another like a slowly spreading flame of good will. Doubtless
the most rewarding experience in any such undertaking as that of
the Juvenile Protective Association is the warm and intelligent
cooperation coming from unexpected sources--official and
commercial as well as philanthropic. Upon the suggestion of the
association, social centers have been opened in various parts of
the city, disused buildings turned into recreation rooms, vacant
lots made into gardens, hiking parties organized for country
excursions, bathing beaches established on the lake front, and
public schools opened for social purposes. Through the efforts
of public-spirited citizens a medical clinic and a Psychopathic
Institute have become associated with the Juvenile Court of
Chicago, in addition to which an exhaustive study of
court-records has been completed. To this carefully collected
data concerning the abnormal child, the Juvenile Protective
Association hopes in time to add knowledge of the normal child
who lives under the most adverse city conditions.

It was not without hope that I might be able to forward in the
public school system the solution of some of these problems of
delinquency so dependent upon truancy and ill-adapted education
that I became a member of the Chicago Board of Education in July,
1905. It is impossible to write of the situation as it became
dramatized in half a dozen strong personalities, but the entire
experience was so illuminating as to the difficulties and
limitations of democratic government that it would be unfair in a
chapter on Civic Cooperation not to attempt an outline.

Even the briefest statement, however, necessitates a review of
the preceding few years. For a decade the Chicago school
teachers, or rather a majority of them who were organized into
the Teachers' Federation, had been engaged in a conflict with the
Board of Education both for more adequate salaries and for more
self-direction in the conduct of the schools. In pursuance of
the first object, they had attacked the tax dodger along the
entire line of his defense, from the curbstone to the Supreme
Court. They began with an intricate investigation which uncovered
the fact that in 1899, $235,000,000 of value of public utility
corporations paid nothing in taxes. The Teachers' Federation
brought a suit which was prosecuted through the Supreme Court of
Illinois and resulted in an order entered against the State Board
of Equalization, demanding that it tax the corporations mentioned
in the bill. In spite of the fact that the defendant companies
sought federal aid and obtained an order which restrained the
payment of a portion of the tax, each year since 1900, the
Chicago Board of Education has benefited to the extent of more
than a quarter of a million dollars. Although this result had
been attained through the unaided efforts of the teachers, to
their surprise and indignation their salaries were not increased.
The Teachers' Federation, therefore, brought a suit against the
Board of Education for the advance which had been promised them
three years earlier but never paid. The decision of the lower
court was in their favor, but the Board of Education appealed the
case, and this was the situation when the seven new members
appointed by Mayor Dunne in 1905 took their seats. The
conservative public suspected that these new members were merely
representatives of the Teachers' Federation. This opinion was
founded upon the fact that Judge Dunne had rendered a favorable
decision in the teachers' suit and that the teachers had been
very active in the campaign which had resulted in his election as
mayor of the city. It seemed obvious that the teachers had
entered into politics for the sake of securing their own
representatives on the Board of Education. These suspicions
were, of course, only confirmed when the new board voted to
withdraw the suit of their predecessors from the Appellate Court
and to act upon the decision of the lower court. The teachers,
on the other hand, defended their long effort in the courts, the
State Board of Equalization, and the Legislature against the
charge of "dragging the schools into politics," and declared that
the exposure of the indifference and cupidity of the politicians
was a well-deserved rebuke, and that it was the politicians who
had brought the schools to the verge of financial ruin; they
further insisted that the levy and collection of taxes, tenure of
office, and pensions to civil servants in Chicago were all
entangled with the traction situation, which in their minds at
least had come to be an example of the struggle between the
democratic and plutocratic administration of city affairs. The
new appointees to the School Board represented no concerted
policy of any kind, but were for the most part adherents to the
new education. The teachers, confident that their cause was
identical with the principles advocated by such educators as
Colonel Parker, were therefore sure that the plans of the "new
education" members would of necessity coincide with the plans of
the Teachers' Federation. In one sense the situation was an
epitome of Mayor Dunne's entire administration, which was founded
upon the belief that if those citizens representing social ideals
and reform principles were but appointed to office, public
welfare must be established.

During my tenure of office I many times talked to the officers of
the Teachers' Federation, but I was seldom able to follow their
suggestions and, although I gladly cooperated in their plans for
a better pension system and other matters, only once did I try to
influence the policy of the Federation. When the withheld
salaries were finally paid to the representatives of the
Federation who had brought suit and were divided among the
members who had suffered both financially and professionally
during this long legal struggle, I was most anxious that the
division should voluntarily be extended to all of the teachers
who had experienced a loss of salary although they were not
members of the Federation. It seemed to me a striking
opportunity to refute the charge that the Federation was
self-seeking and to put the whole long effort in the minds of the
public, exactly where it belonged, as one of devoted public
service. But it was doubtless much easier for me to urge this
altruistic policy than it was for those who had borne the heat
and burden of the day to act upon it.

The second object of the Teachers' Federation also entailed much
stress and storm. At the time of the financial stringency, and
largely as a result of it, the Board had made the first
substantial advance in a teacher's salary dependent upon a
so-called promotional examination, half of which was upon
academic subjects entailing a long and severe preparation. The
teachers resented this upon two lines of argument: first, that
the scheme was unprofessional in that the teacher was advanced on
her capacity as a student rather than on her professional
ability; and, second, that it added an intolerable and
unnecessary burden to her already overfull day. The
administration, on the other hand, contended with much justice
that there was a constant danger in a great public school system
that teachers lose pliancy and the open mind, and that many of
them had obviously grown mechanical and indifferent. The
conservative public approved the promotional examinations as the
symbol of an advancing educational standard, and their sympathy
with the superintendent was increased because they continually
resented the affiliation of the Teachers' Federation with the
Chicago Federation of Labor, which had taken place several years
before the election of Mayor Dunne on his traction platform.

This much talked of affiliation between the teachers and the
trades-unionists had been, at least in the first instance, but
one more tactic in the long struggle against the tax-dodging
corporations. The Teachers' Federation had won in their first
skirmish against that public indifference which is generated in
the accumulation of wealth and which has for its nucleus
successful commercial men. When they found themselves in need of
further legislation to keep the offending corporations under
control, they naturally turned for political influence and votes
to the organization representing workingmen. The affiliation had
none of the sinister meaning so often attached to it. The
Teachers' Federation never obtained a charter from the American
Federation of Labor, and its main interest always centered in the
legislative committee.

And yet this statement of the difference between the majority of
the grade-school teachers and the Chicago School Board is totally
inadequate, for the difficulties were stubborn and lay far back
in the long effort of public school administration in America to
free itself from the rule and exploitation of politics. In every
city for many years the politician had secured positions for his
friends as teachers and janitors; he had received a rake-off in
the contract for every new building or coal supply or adoption of
school-books. In the long struggle against this political
corruption, the one remedy continually advocated was the transfer
of authority in all educational matters from the Board to the
superintendent. The one cure for "pull" and corruption was the
authority of the "expert." The rules and records of the Chicago
Board of Education are full of relics of this long struggle
honestly waged by honest men, who unfortunately became content
with the ideals of an "efficient business administration." These
businessmen established an able superintendent with a large
salary, with his tenure of office secured by State law so that he
would not be disturbed by the wrath of the balked politician.
They instituted impersonal examinations for the teachers both as
to entrance into the system and promotion, and they proceeded "to
hold the superintendent responsible" for smooth-running schools.
All this, however, dangerously approximated the commercialistic
ideal of high salaries only for the management with the final
test of a small expense account and a large output.

In this long struggle for a quarter of a century to free the public
schools from political interference, in Chicago at least, the high
wall of defense erected around the school system in order "to keep
the rascals out" unfortunately so restricted the teachers inside
the system that they had no space in which to move about freely and
the more adventurous of them fairly panted for light and air. Any
attempt to lower the wall for the sake of the teachers within was
regarded as giving an opportunity to the politicians without, and
they were often openly accused, with a show of truth, of being in
league with each other. Whenever the Dunne members of the Board
attempted to secure more liberty for the teachers, we were warned
by tales of former difficulties with the politicians, and it seemed
impossible that the struggle so long the focus of attention should
recede into the dullness of the achieved and allow the energy of
the Board to be free for new effort.

The whole situation between the superintendent supported by a
majority of the Board and the Teachers' Federation had become an
epitome of the struggle between efficiency and democracy; on one
side a well-intentioned expression of the bureaucracy necessary in
a large system but which under pressure had become unnecessarily
self-assertive, and on the other side a fairly militant demand for
self-government made in the name of freedom. Both sides inevitably
exaggerated the difficulties of the situation, and both felt that
they were standing by important principles.

I certainly played a most inglorious part in this unnecessary
conflict; I was chairman of the School Management Committee
during one year when a majority of the members seemed to me
exasperatingly conservative, and during another year when they
were frustratingly radical, and I was of course highly
unsatisfactory to both. Certainly a plan to retain the undoubted
benefit of required study for teachers in such wise as to lessen
its burden, and various schemes devised to shift the emphasis
from scholarship to professional work, were mostly impatiently
repudiated by the Teachers' Federation, and when one badly
mutilated plan finally passed the Board, it was most reluctantly
administered by the superintendent.

I at least became convinced that partisans would never tolerate
the use of stepping-stones. They are much too impatient to look
on while their beloved scheme is unstably balanced, and they
would rather see it tumble into the stream at once than to have
it brought to dry land in any such half-hearted fashion. Before
my School Board experience, I thought that life had taught me at
least one hard-earned lesson, that existing arrangements and the
hoped for improvements must be mediated and reconciled to each
other, that the new must be dovetailed into the old as it were,
if it were to endure; but on the School Board I discerned that
all such efforts were looked upon as compromising and unworthy,
by both partisans. In the general disorder and public excitement
resulting from the illegal dismissal of a majority of the "Dunne"
board and their reinstatement by a court decision, I found myself
belonging to neither party. During the months following the
upheaval and the loss of my most vigorous colleagues, under the
regime of men representing the leading Commercial Club of the
city who honestly believed that they were rescuing the schools
from a condition of chaos, I saw one beloved measure after
another withdrawn. Although the new president scrupulously gave
me the floor in the defense of each, it was impossible to
consider them upon their merits in the lurid light which at the
moment enveloped all the plans of the "uplifters." Thus the
building of smaller schoolrooms, such as in New York mechanically
avoid overcrowding, the extension of the truant rooms so
successfully inaugurated, the multiplication of school
playgrounds, and many another cherished plan was thrown out or at
least indefinitely postponed.

The final discrediting of Mayor Dunne's appointees to the School
Board affords a very interesting study in social psychology; the
newspapers had so constantly reflected and intensified the ideals
of a business Board, and had so persistently ridiculed various
administration plans for the municipal ownership of street
railways, that from the beginning any attempt the new Board made
to discuss educational matters only excited their derision and
contempt. Some of these discussions were lengthy and disorderly
and deserved the discipline of ridicule, but others which were
well conducted and in which educational problems were seriously
set forth by men of authority were ridiculed quite as sharply. I
recall the surprise and indignation of a University professor who
had consented to speak at a meeting arranged in the Board rooms,
when next morning his nonpartisan and careful disquisition had
been twisted into the most arrant uplift nonsense and so
connected with a fake newspaper report of a trial marriage
address delivered, not by himself, but by a colleague, that a
leading clergyman of the city, having read the newspaper account,
felt impelled to preach a sermon, calling upon all decent people
to rally against the doctrines which were being taught to the
children by an immoral School Board. As the bewildered professor
had lectured in response to my invitation, I endeavored to find
the animus of the complication, but neither from editor in chief
nor from the reporter could I discover anything more sinister
than that the public expected a good story out of these School
Board "talk fests," and that any man who even momentarily allied
himself with a radical administration must expect to be ridiculed
by those papers which considered the traction policy of the
administration both foolish and dangerous.

As I myself was treated with uniform courtesy by the leading
papers, I may perhaps here record my discouragement over this
complicated difficulty of open discussion, for democratic
government is founded upon the assumption that differing policies
shall be freely discussed and that each party shall have an
opportunity for at least a partisan presentation of its
contentions. This attitude of the newspapers was doubtless
intensified because the Dunne School Board had instituted a
lawsuit challenging the validity of the lease for the school
ground occupied by a newspaper building. This suit has since
been decided in favor of the newspaper, and it may be that in
their resentment they felt justified in doing everything possible
to minimize the prosecuting School Board. I am, however,
inclined to think that the newspapers but reflected an opinion
honestly held by many people, and that their constant and
partisan presentation of this opinion clearly demonstrates one of
the greatest difficulties of governmental administration in a
city grown too large for verbal discussions of public affairs.

It is difficult to close this chapter without a reference to the
efforts made in Chicago to secure the municipal franchise for
women. During two long periods of agitation for a new city
charter, a representative body of women appealed to the public, to
the charter convention, and to the Illinois legislature for this
very reasonable provision. During the campaign when I acted as
chairman of the federation of a hundred women's organizations,
nothing impressed me so forcibly as the fact that the response
came from bodies of women representing the most varied traditions.
We were joined by a church society of hundreds of Lutheran women,
because Scandinavian women had exercised the municipal franchise
since the seventeenth century and had found American cities
strangely conservative; by organizations of working women who had
keenly felt the need of the municipal franchise in order to secure
for their workshops the most rudimentary sanitation and the
consideration which the vote alone obtains for workingmen; by
federations of mothers' meetings, who were interested in clean
milk and the extension of kindergartens; by property-owning women,
who had been powerless to protest against unjust taxation; by
organizations of professional women, of university students, and
of collegiate alumnae; and by women's clubs interested in municipal
reforms. There was a complete absence of the traditional women's
rights clamor, but much impressive testimony from busy and useful
women that they had reached the place where they needed the
franchise in order to carry on their own affairs. A striking
witness as to the need of the ballot, even for the women who are
restricted to the most primitive and traditional activities,
occurred when some Russian women waited upon me to ask whether
under the new charter they could vote for covered markets and so
get rid of the shocking Chicago grime upon all their food; and
when some neighboring Italian women sent me word that they would
certainly vote for public washhouses if they ever had the chance
to vote at all. It was all so human, so spontaneous, and so
direct that it really seemed as if the time must be ripe for
political expression of that public concern on the part of women
which had so long been forced to seek indirection. None of these
busy women wished to take the place of men nor to influence them
in the direction of men's affairs, but they did seek an
opportunity to cooperate directly in civic life through the use of
the ballot in regard to their own affairs.

A Municipal Museum which was established in the Chicago public
library building several years ago, largely through the activity
of a group of women who had served as jurors in the departments
of social economy, of education, and of sanitation in the World's
Fair at St. Louis, showed nothing more clearly than that it is
impossible to divide any of these departments from the political
life of the modern city which is constantly forced to enlarge the
boundary of its activity.

[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 Margaret Sylvia.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]

[A Celebration of Women Writers]

"Chapter XV: The Value of Social Clubs." 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. 342-370.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]



From the early days at Hull-House, social clubs composed of
English speaking American born young people grew apace. So eager
were they for social life that no mistakes in management could
drive them away. I remember one enthusiastic leader who read
aloud to a club a translation of "Antigone," which she had
selected because she believed that the great themes of the Greek
poets were best suited to young people. She came into the club
room one evening in time to hear the president call the restive
members to order with the statement, "You might just as well keep
quiet for she is bound to finish it, and the quicker she gets to
reading, the longer time we'll have for dancing." And yet the
same club leader had the pleasure of lending four copies of the
drama to four of the members, and one young man almost literally
committed the entire play to memory.

On the whole we were much impressed by the great desire for
self-improvement, for study and debate, exhibited by many of the
young men. This very tendency, in fact, brought one of the most
promising of our earlier clubs to an untimely end. The young men in
the club, twenty in number, had grown much irritated by the
frivolity of the girls during their long debates, and had finally
proposed that three of the most "frivolous" be expelled. Pending a
final vote, the three culprits appealed to certain of their friends
who were members of the Hull-House Men's Club, between whom and the
debating young men the incident became the cause of a quarrel so
bitter that at length it led to a shooting. Fortunately the shot
missed fire, or it may have been true that it was "only intended
for a scare," but at any rate, we were all thoroughly frightened by
this manifestation of the hot blood which the defense of woman has
so often evoked. After many efforts to bring about a
reconciliation, the debating club of twenty young men and the
seventeen young women, who either were or pretended to be sober
minded, rented a hall a mile west of Hull-House severing their
connection with us because their ambitious and right-minded efforts
had been unappreciated, basing this on the ground that we had not
urged the expulsion of the so-called "tough" members of the Men's
Club, who had been involved in the difficulty. The seceding club
invited me to the first meeting in their new quarters that I might
present to them my version of the situation and set forth the
incident from the standpoint of Hull-House. The discussion I had
with the young people that evening has always remained with me as
one of the moments of illumination which life in a Settlement so
often affords. In response to my position that a desire to avoid
all that was "tough" meant to walk only in the paths of smug
self-seeking and personal improvement leading straight into the pit
of self-righteousness and petty achievement and was exactly what
the Settlement did not stand for, they contended with much justice
that ambitious young people were obliged for their own reputation,
if not for their own morals, to avoid all connection with that
which bordered on the tough, and that it was quite another matter
for the Hull-House residents who could afford a more generous
judgment. It was in vain I urged that life teaches us nothing more
inevitably than that right and wrong are most confusingly
confounded; that the blackest wrong may be within our own motives,
and that at the best, right will not dazzle us by its radiant
shining and can only be found by exerting patience and
discrimination. They still maintained their wholesome bourgeois
position, which I am now quite ready to admit was most reasonable.

Of course there were many disappointments connected with these
clubs when the rewards of political and commercial life easily
drew the members away from the principles advocated in club
meetings. One of the young men who had been a shining light in
the advocacy of municipal reform deserted in the middle of a
reform campaign because he had been offered a lucrative office in
the city hall; another even after a course of lectures on
business morality, "worked" the club itself to secure orders for
custom-made clothing from samples of cloth he displayed, although
the orders were filled by ready-made suits slightly refitted and
delivered at double their original price. But nevertheless, there
was much to cheer us as we gradually became acquainted with the
daily living of the vigorous young men and women who filled to
overflowing all the social clubs.

We have been much impressed during our twenty years, by the ready
adaptation of city young people to the prosperity arising from
their own increased wages or from the commercial success of their
families. This quick adaptability is the great gift of the city
child, his one reward for the hurried changing life which he has
always led. The working girl has a distinct advantage in the
task of transforming her whole family into the ways and
connections of the prosperous when she works down town and
becomes conversant with the manners and conditions of a
cosmopolitan community. Therefore having lived in a Settlement
twenty years, I see scores of young people who have successfully
established themselves in life, and in my travels in the city and
outside, I am constantly cheered by greetings from the rising
young lawyer, the scholarly rabbi, the successful teacher, the
prosperous young matron buying clothes for blooming children.
"Don't you remember me? I used to belong to a Hull-House club."
I once asked one of these young people, a man who held a good
position on a Chicago daily, what special thing Hull-House had
meant to him, and he promptly replied, "It was the first house I
had ever been in where books and magazines just lay around as if
there were plenty of them in the world. Don't you remember how
much I used to read at that little round table at the back of the
library? To have people regard reading as a reasonable
occupation changed the whole aspect of life to me and I began to
have confidence in what I could do."

Among the young men of the social clubs a large proportion of the
Jewish ones at least obtain the advantages of a higher education.
The parents make every sacrifice to help them through the high
school after which the young men attend universities and
professional schools, largely through their own efforts. From
time to time they come back to us with their honors thick upon
them; I remember one who returned with the prize in oratory from
a contest between several western State universities, proudly
testifying that he had obtained his confidence in our Henry Clay
Club; another came back with a degree from Harvard University
saying that he had made up his mind to go there the summer I read
Royce's "Aspects of Modern Philosophy" with a group of young men
who had challenged my scathing remark that Herbert Spencer was
not the only man who had ventured a solution of the riddles of
the universe. Occasionally one of these learned young folk does
not like to be reminded he once lived in our vicinity, but that
happens rarely, and for the most part they are loyal to us in
much the same spirit as they are to their own families and
traditions. Sometimes they go further and tell us that the
standards of tastes and code of manners which Hull-House has
enabled them to form, have made a very great difference in their
perceptions and estimates of the larger world as well as in their
own reception there. Five out of one club of twenty-five young
men who had held together for eleven years, entered the
University of Chicago but although the rest of the Club called
them the "intellectuals," the old friendships still held.

In addition to these rising young people given to debate and
dramatics, and to the members of the public school alumni
associations which meet in our rooms, there are hundreds of others
who for years have come to Hull-House frankly in search of that
pleasure and recreation which all young things crave and which
those who have spent long hours in a factory or shop demand as a
right. For these young people all sorts of pleasure clubs have
been cherished, and large dancing classes have been organized.
One supreme gayety has come to be an annual event of such
importance that it is talked of from year to year. For six weeks
before St. Patrick's day, a small group of residents put their
best powers of invention and construction into preparation for a
cotillion which is like a pageant in its gayety and vigor. The
parents sit in the gallery, and the mothers appreciate more than
anyone else perhaps, the value of this ball to which an invitation
is so highly prized; although their standards of manners may
differ widely from the conventional, they know full well when the
companionship of the young people is safe and unsullied.

As an illustration of this difference in standard, I may instance
an early Hull-House picnic arranged by a club of young people,
who found at the last moment that the club director could not go
and accepted the offer of the mother of one of the club members
to take charge of them. When they trooped back in the evening,
tired and happy, they displayed a photograph of the group wherein
each man's arm was carefully placed about a girl; no feminine
waist lacked an arm save that of the proud chaperon, who sat in
the middle smiling upon all. Seeing that the photograph somewhat
surprised us, the chaperon stoutly explained, "This may look
queer to you, but there wasn't one thing about that picnic that
wasn't nice," and her statement was a perfectly truthful one.

Although more conventional customs are carefully enforced at our
many parties and festivities, and while the dancing classes are
as highly prized for the opportunity they afford for enforcing
standards as for their ostensible aim, the residents at
Hull-House, in their efforts to provide opportunities for clean
recreation, receive the most valued help from the experienced
wisdom of the older women of the neighborhood. Bowen Hall is
constantly used for dancing parties with soft drinks established
in its foyer. The parties given by the Hull-House clubs are by
invitation and the young people themselves carefully maintain
their standard of entrance so that the most cautious mother may
feel safe when her daughter goes to one of our parties. No club
festivity is permitted without the presence of a director; no
young man under the influence of liquor is allowed; certain types
of dancing often innocently started are strictly prohibited; and
above all, early closing is insisted upon. This standardizing of
pleasure has always seemed an obligation to the residents of
Hull-House, but we are, I hope, saved from that priggishness
which young people so heartily resent, by the Mardi Gras dance
and other festivities which the residents themselves arrange and
successfully carry out.

In spite of our belief that the standards of a ball may be almost
as valuable to those without as to those within, the residents
are constantly concerned for those many young people in the
neighborhood who are too hedonistic to submit to the discipline
of a dancing class or even to the claim of a pleasure club, but
who go about in freebooter fashion to find pleasure wherever it
may be cheaply on sale.

Such young people, well meaning but impatient of control, become
the easy victims of the worst type of public dance halls, and of
even darker places, whose purposes are hidden under music and
dancing. We were thoroughly frightened when we learned that
during the year which ended last December, more than twenty-five
thousand young people under the age of twenty-five passed through
the Juvenile and Municipal Courts of Chicago--approximately one
out of every eighty of the entire population, or one out of every
fifty-two of those under twenty-five years of age. One's heart
aches for these young people caught by the outside glitter of
city gayety, who make such a feverish attempt to snatch it for
themselves. The young people in our clubs are comparatively
safe, but many instances come to the knowledge of Hull-House
residents which make us long for the time when the city, through
more small parks, municipal gymnasiums, and schoolrooms open for
recreation, can guard from disaster these young people who walk
so carelessly on the edge of the pit.

The heedless girls believe that if they lived in big houses and
possessed pianos and jewelry, the coveted social life would come
to them. I know a Bohemian girl who surreptitiously saved her
overtime wages until she had enough money to hire for a week a
room with a piano in it where young men might come to call, as
they could not do in her crowded untidy home. Of course she had
no way of knowing the sort of young men who quickly discover an
unprotected girl.

Another girl of American parentage who had come to Chicago to
seek her fortune, found at the end of a year that sorting
shipping receipts in a dark corner of a warehouse not only failed
to accumulate riches but did not even bring the "attentions"
which her quiet country home afforded. By dint of long sacrifice
she had saved fifteen dollars; with five she bought an imitation
sapphire necklace, and the balance she changed into a ten dollar
bill. The evening her pathetic little snare was set, she walked
home with one of the clerks in the establishment, told him that
she had come into a fortune, and was obliged to wear the heirloom
necklace to insure its safety, permitted him to see that she
carried ten dollars in her glove for carfare, and conducted him
to a handsome Prairie Avenue residence. There she gayly bade him
good-by and ran up the steps shutting herself in the vestibule
from which she did not emerge until the dazzled and bewildered
young man had vanished down the street.

Then there is the ever-recurring difficulty about dress; the
insistence of the young to be gayly bedecked to the utter
consternation of the hardworking parents who are paying for a
house and lot. The Polish girl who stole five dollars from her
employer's till with which to buy a white dress for a church
picnic was turned away from home by her indignant father who
replaced the money to save the family honor, but would harbor no
"thief" in a household of growing children who, in spite of the
sister's revolt, continued to be dressed in dark heavy clothes
through all the hot summer. There are a multitude of working
girls who for hours carry hair ribbons and jewelry in their
pockets or stockings, for they can wear them only during the
journey to and from work. Sometimes this desire to taste
pleasure, to escape into a world of congenial companionship takes
more elaborate forms and often ends disastrously. I recall a
charming young girl, the oldest daughter of a respectable German
family, whom I first saw one spring afternoon issuing from a tall
factory. She wore a blue print gown which so deepened the blue
of her eyes that Wordsworth's line fairly sung itself:

The pliant harebell swinging in the breeze
On some gray rock.

I was grimly reminded of that moment a year later when I heard
the tale of this seventeen-year-old girl, who had worked steadily
in the same factory for four years before she resolved "to see
life." In order not to arouse her parents' suspicions, she
borrowed thirty dollars from one of those loan sharks who require
no security from a pretty girl, so that she might start from home
every morning as if to go to work. For three weeks she spent the
first part of each dearly bought day in a department store where
she lunched and unfortunately made some dubious acquaintances; in
the afternoon she established herself in a theater and sat
contentedly hour after hour watching the endless vaudeville until
the usual time for returning home. At the end of each week she
gave her parents her usual wage, but when her thirty dollars was
exhausted it seemed unendurable that she should return to the
monotony of the factory. In the light of her newly acquired
experience she had learned that possibility which the city ever
holds open to the restless girl.

That more such girls do not come to grief is due to those mothers
who understand the insatiable demand for a good time, and if all
of the mothers did understand, those pathetic statistics which
show that four fifths of all prostitutes are under twenty years
of age would be marvelously changed. We are told that "the will
to live" is aroused in each baby by his mother's irresistible
desire to play with him, the physiological value of joy that a
child is born, and that the high death rate in institutions is
increased by "the discontented babies" whom no one persuades into
living. Something of the same sort is necessary in that second
birth at adolescence. The young people need affection and
understanding each one for himself, if they are to be induced to
live in an inheritance of decorum and safety and to understand
the foundations upon which this orderly world rests. No one
comprehends their needs so sympathetically as those mothers who
iron the flimsy starched finery of their grown-up daughters late
into the night, and who pay for a red velvet parlor set on the
installment plan, although the younger children may sadly need
new shoes. These mothers apparently understand the sharp demand
for social pleasure and do their best to respond to it, although
at the same time they constantly minister to all the physical
needs of an exigent family of little children. We often come to
a realization of the truth of Walt Whitman's statement, that one
of the surest sources of wisdom is the mother of a large family.

It is but natural, perhaps, that the members of the Hull-House
Woman's Club whose prosperity has given them some leisure and a
chance to remove their own families to neighborhoods less full of
temptations, should have offered their assistance in our attempt
to provide recreation for these restless young people. In many
instances their experience in the club itself has enabled them to
perceive these needs. One day a Juvenile Court officer told me
that a woman's club member, who has a large family of her own and
one boy sufficiently difficult, had undertaken to care for a ward
of the Juvenile Court who lived only a block from her house, and
that she had kept him in the path of rectitude for six months. In
reply to my congratulations upon this successful bit of reform to
the club woman herself, she said that she was quite ashamed that
she had not undertaken the task earlier for she had for years
known the boy's mother who scrubbed a downtown office building,
leaving home every evening at five and returning at eleven during
the very time the boy could most easily find opportunities for
wrongdoing. She said that her obligation toward this boy had not
occurred to her until one day when the club members were making
pillowcases for the Detention Home of the Juvenile Court, it
suddenly seemed perfectly obvious that her share in the salvation
of wayward children was to care for this particular boy and she
had asked the Juvenile Court officer to commit him to her. She
invited the boy to her house to supper every day that she might
know just where he was at the crucial moment of twilight, and she
adroitly managed to keep him under her own roof for the evening
if she did not approve of the plans he had made. She concluded
with the remark that it was queer that the sight of the boy
himself hadn't appealed to her, but that the suggestion had come
to her in such a roundabout way.

She was, of course, reflecting upon a common trait in human
nature,--that we much more easily see the duty at hand when we
see it in relation to the social duty of which it is a part.
When she knew that an effort was being made throughout all the
large cities in the United States to reclaim the wayward boy, to
provide him with reasonable amusement, to give him his chance for
growth and development, and when she became ready to take her
share in that movement, she suddenly saw the concrete case which
she had not recognized before.

We are slowly learning that social advance depends quite as much
upon an increase in moral sensibility as it does upon a sense of
duty, and of this one could cite many illustrations. I was at one
time chairman of the Child Labor Committee in the General
Federation of Woman's Clubs, which sent out a schedule asking each
club in the United States to report as nearly as possible all the
working children under fourteen living in its vicinity. A Florida
club filled out the schedule with an astonishing number of Cuban
children who were at work in sugar mills, and the club members
registered a complaint that our committee had sent the schedule
too late, for if they had realized the conditions earlier, they
might have presented a bill to the legislature which had now
adjourned. Of course the children had been working in the sugar
mills for years, and had probably gone back and forth under the
very eyes of the club women, but the women had never seen them,
much less felt any obligation to protect them, until they joined a
club, and the club joined a Federation, and the Federation
appointed a Child Labor Committee who sent them a schedule. With
their quickened perceptions they then saw the rescue of these
familiar children in the light of a social obligation. Through
some such experiences the members of the Hull-House Woman's Club
have obtained the power of seeing the concrete through the general
and have entered into various undertakings.

Very early in its history the club formed what was called "A
Social Extension Committee." Once a month this committee gives
parties to people in the neighborhood who for any reason seem
forlorn and without much social pleasure. One evening they
invited only Italian women, thereby crossing a distinct social
"gulf," for there certainly exists as great a sense of social
difference between the prosperous Irish-American women and the
South-Italian peasants as between any two sets of people in the
city of Chicago. The Italian women, who were almost eastern in
their habits, all stayed at home and sent their husbands, and the
social extension committee entered the drawing room to find it
occupied by rows of Italian workingmen, who seemed to prefer to
sit in chairs along the wall. They were quite ready to be
"socially extended," but plainly puzzled as to what it was all
about. The evening finally developed into a very successful
party, not so much because the committee were equal to it, as
because the Italian men rose to the occasion.

Untiring pairs of them danced the tarantella; they sang
Neapolitan songs; one of them performed some of those wonderful
sleight-of-hand tricks so often seen on the streets of Naples;
they explained the coral finger of St. Januarius which they wore;
they politely ate the strange American refreshments; and when the
evening was over, one of the committee said to me, "Do you know I
am ashamed of the way I have always talked about 'dagos,' they
are quite like other people, only one must take a little more
pains with them. I have been nagging my husband to move off M
Street because they are moving in, but I am going to try staying
awhile and see if I can make a real acquaintance with some of
them." To my mind at that moment the speaker had passed from the
region of the uncultivated person into the possibilities of the
cultivated person. The former is bounded by a narrow outlook on
life, unable to overcome differences of dress and habit, and his
interests are slowly contracting within a circumscribed area;
while the latter constantly tends to be more a citizen of the
world because of his growing understanding of all kinds of people
with their varying experiences. We send our young people to
Europe that they may lose their provincialism and be able to
judge their fellows by a more universal test, as we send them to
college that they may attain the cultural background and a larger
outlook; all of these it is possible to acquire in other ways, as
this member of the woman's club had discovered for herself.

This social extension committee under the leadership of an
ex-president of the Club, a Hull-House resident with a wide
acquaintance, also discover many of those lonely people of which
every city contains so large a number. We are only slowly
apprehending the very real danger to the individual who fails to
establish some sort of genuine relation with the people who
surround him. We are all more or less familiar with the results
of isolation in rural districts; the Bronte sisters have
portrayed the hideous immorality and savagery of the remote
dwellers on the bleak moorlands of northern England; Miss Wilkins
has written of the overdeveloped will of the solitary New
Englander; but tales still wait to be told of the isolated city
dweller. In addition to the lonely young man recently come to
town, and the country family who have not yet made their
connections, are many other people who, because of temperament or
from an estimate of themselves which will not permit them to make
friends with the "people around here," or who, because they are
victims to a combination of circumstances, lead a life as lonely
and untouched by the city about them as if they were in remote
country districts. The very fact that it requires an effort to
preserve isolation from the tenement-house life which flows all
about them, makes the character stiffer and harsher than mere
country solitude could do.

Many instances of this come into my mind; the faded, ladylike
hairdresser, who came and went to her work for twenty years,
carefully concealing her dwelling place from the "other people in
the shop," moving whenever they seemed too curious about it, and
priding herself that no neighbor had ever "stepped inside her
door," and yet when discovered through an asthma which forced her
to crave friendly offices, she was most responsive and even gay
in a social atmosphere. Another woman made a long effort to
conceal the poverty resulting from her husband's inveterate
gambling and to secure for her children the educational
advantages to which her family had always been accustomed. Her
five children, who are now university graduates, do not realize
how hard and solitary was her early married life when we first
knew her, and she was beginning to regret the isolation in which
her children were being reared, for she saw that their lack of
early companionship would always cripple their power to make
friends. She was glad to avail herself of the social resources
of Hull-House for them, and at last even for herself.

The leader of the social extension committee has also been able,
through her connection with the vacant lot garden movement in
Chicago, to maintain a most flourishing "friendly club" largely
composed of people who cultivate these garden plots. During the
club evening at least, they regain something of the ease of the
man who is being estimated by the bushels per acre of potatoes he
has raised, and not by that flimsy city judgment so often based
upon store clothes. Their jollity and enthusiasm are unbounded,
expressing itself in clog dances and rousing old songs often in
sharp contrast to the overworked, worn aspects of the members.

Of course there are surprising possibilities discovered through
other clubs, in one of Greek women or in the "circolo Italiano,"
for a social club often affords a sheltered space in which the
gentler social usages may be exercised, as the more vigorous
clubs afford a point of departure into larger social concerns.

The experiences of the Hull-House Woman's Club constantly react
upon the family life of the members. Their husbands come with
them to the annual midwinter reception, to club concerts and
entertainments; the little children come to the May party, with
its dancing and games; the older children, to the day in June
when prizes are given to those sons and daughters of the members
who present a good school record as graduates either from the
eighth grade or from a high school.

It seemed, therefore, but a fit recognition of their efforts when
the president of the club erected a building planned especially
for their needs, with their own library and a hall large enough
for their various social undertakings, although of course Bowen
Hall is constantly put to many other uses.

It was under the leadership of this same able president that the
club achieved its wider purposes and took its place with the
other forces for city betterment. The club had begun, as nearly
all women's clubs do, upon the basis of self-improvement,
although the foundations for this later development had been laid
by one of their earliest presidents, who was the first probation
officer of the Juvenile Court, and who had so shared her
experiences with the club that each member felt the truth as well
as the pathos of the lines inscribed on her memorial tablet
erected in their club library:-

"As more exposed to suffering and distress
Thence also more alive to tenderness."

Each woman had discovered opportunities in her own experience for
this same tender understanding, and under its succeeding
president, Mrs. Pelham, in its determination to be of use to the
needy and distressed, the club developed many philanthropic
undertakings from the humble beginnings of a linen chest kept
constantly filled with clothing for the sick and poor. It
required, however, an adequate knowledge of adverse city
conditions so productive of juvenile delinquency and a sympathy
which could enkindle itself in many others of divers faiths and
training, to arouse the club to its finest public spirit. This
was done by a later president, Mrs. Bowen, who, as head of the
Juvenile Protective Association, had learned that the moralized
energy of a group is best fitted to cope with the complicated
problems of a city; but it required ability of an unusual order
to evoke a sense of social obligation from the very knowledge of
adverse city conditions which the club members possessed, and to
connect it with the many civic and philanthropic organizations of
the city in such wise as to make it socially useful. This
financial and representative connection with outside
organizations, is valuable to the club only as it expresses its
sympathy and kindliness at the same time in concrete form. A
group of members who lunch with Mrs. Bowen each week at
Hull-House discuss, not only topics of public interest, sometimes
with experts whom they have long known through their mutual
undertakings, but also their own club affairs in the light of
this larger knowledge.

Thus the value of social clubs broadens out in one's mind to an
instrument of companionship through which many may be led from a
sense of isolation to one of civic responsibility, even as another
type of club provides recreational facilities for those who have
had only meaningless excitements, or, as a third type, opens new
and interesting vistas of life to those who are ambitious.

The entire organization of the social life at Hull-House, while it
has been fostered and directed by residents and others, has been
largely pushed and vitalized from within by the club members
themselves. Sir Walter Besant once told me that Hull-House stood
in his mind more nearly for the ideal of the "Palace of Delight"
than did the "London People's Palace" because we had depended upon
the social resources of the people using it. He begged me not to
allow Hull-House to become too educational. He believed it much
easier to develop a polytechnic institute than a large recreational
center, but he doubted whether the former was as useful.

The social clubs form a basis of acquaintanceship for many people
living in other parts of the city. Through friendly relations
with individuals, which is perhaps the sanest method of approach,
they are thus brought into contact, many of them for the first
time, with the industrial and social problems challenging the
moral resources of our contemporary life. During our twenty
years hundreds of these non-residents have directed clubs and
classes, and have increased the number of Chicago citizens who
are conversant with adverse social conditions and conscious that
only by the unceasing devotion of each, according to his
strength, shall the compulsions and hardships, the stupidities
and cruelties of life be overcome. The number of people thus
informed is constantly increasing in all our American cities, and
they may in time remove the reproach of social neglect and
indifference which has so long rested upon the citizens of the
new world. I recall the experience of an Englishman who, not
only because he was a member of the Queen's Cabinet and bore a
title, but also because he was an able statesman, was entertained
with great enthusiasm by the leading citizens of Chicago. At a
large dinner party he asked the lady sitting next to him what our
tenement-house legislation was in regard to the cubic feet of air
required for each occupant of a tenement bedroom; upon her
disclaiming any knowledge of the subject, the inquiry was put to
all the diners at the long table, all of whom showed surprise
that they should be expected to possess this information. In
telling me the incident afterward, the English guest said that
such indifference could not have been found among the leading
citizens of London, whose public spirit had been aroused to
provide such housing conditions as should protect tenement
dwellers at least from wanton loss of vitality and lowered
industrial efficiency. When I met the same Englishman in London
five years afterward, he immediately asked me whether Chicago
citizens were still so indifferent to the conditions of the poor
that they took no interest in their proper housing. I was quick
with that defense which an American is obliged to use so often in
Europe, that our very democracy so long presupposed that each
citizen could care for himself that we are slow to develop a
sense of social obligation. He smiled at the familiar phrases
and was still inclined to attribute our indifference to sheer
ignorance of social conditions.

The entire social development of Hull-House is so unlike what I
predicted twenty years ago, that I venture to quote from that
ancient writing as an end to this chapter.

The social organism has broken down through large
districts of our great cities. Many of the people living
there are very poor, the majority of them without leisure
or energy for anything but the gain of subsistence.

They live for the moment side by side, many of them
without knowledge of each other, without fellowship,
without local tradition or public spirit, without social
organization of any kind. Practically nothing is done to
remedy this. The people who might do it, who have the
social tact and training, the large houses, and the
traditions and customs of hospitality, live in other parts
of the city. The club houses, libraries, galleries, and
semi-public conveniences for social life are also blocks
away. We find workingmen organized into armies of
producers because men of executive ability and business
sagacity have found it to their interests thus to organize
them. But these workingmen are not organized socially;
although lodging in crowded tenement houses, they are
living without a corresponding social contact. The chaos
is as great as it would be were they working in huge
factories without foremen or superintendent. Their ideas
and resources are cramped, and the desire for higher
social pleasure becomes extinct. They have no share in
the traditions and social energy which make for progress.
Too often their only place of meeting is a saloon, their
only host a bartender; a local demagogue forms their
public opinion. Men of ability and refinement, of social
power and university cultivation, stay away from them.
Personally, I believe the men who lose most are those who
thus stay away. But the paradox is here; when cultivated
people do stay away from a certain portion of the
population, when all social advantages are persistently
withheld, it may be for years, the result itself is
pointed to as a reason and is used as an argument, for the
continued withholding.

It is constantly said that because the masses have never
had social advantages, they do want them, that they are
heavy and dull, and that it will take political or
philanthropic machinery to change them. This divides a
city into rich and poor; into the favored, who express
their sense of the social obligation by gifts of money,
and into the unfavored, who express it by clamoring for a
"share"--both of them actuated by a vague sense of justice.
This division of the city would be more justifiable,
however, if the people who thus isolate themselves on
certain streets and use their social ability for each
other, gained enough thereby and added sufficient to the
sum total of social progress to justify the withholding of
the pleasures and results of that progress from so many
people who ought to have them. But they cannot accomplish
this for the social spirit discharges itself in many
forms, and no one form is adequate to its total

[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, proof-reading, and html layout of this chapter were the
work of volunteer Adrienne Fermoyle.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]

[A Celebration of Women Writers]

"Chapter XVI: Arts at Hull-House." 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 Mark Ockerbloom]



The first building erected for Hull-House contained an art gallery
well lighted for day and evening use, and our first exhibit of
loaned pictures was opened in June, 1891, by Mr. And Mrs. Barnett
of London. It is always pleasant to associate their hearty
sympathy with that first exhibit, and thus to connect it with
their pioneer efforts at Toynbee Hall to secure for working people
the opportunity to know the best art, and with their establishment
of the first permanent art gallery in an industrial quarter.

We took pride in the fact that our first exhibit contained some of
the best pictures Chicago afforded, and we conscientiously insured
them against fire and carefully guarded them by night and day.

We had five of these exhibits during two years, after the gallery
was completed: two of oil paintings, one of old engravings and
etchings, one of water colors, and one of pictures especially
selected for use in the public schools. These exhibits were
surprisingly well attended and thousands of votes were cast for the
most popular pictures. Their value to the neighborhood of course
had to be determined by each one of us according to the value he
attached to beauty and the escape it offers from dreary reality
into the realm of the imagination. Miss Starr always insisted that
the arts should receive adequate recognition at Hull-House and
urged that one must always remember "the hungry individual soul
which without art will have passed unsolaced and unfed, followed by
other souls who lack the impulse his should have given."

The exhibits afforded pathetic evidence that the older immigrants
do not expect the solace of art in this country; an Italian
expressed great surprise when he found that we, although
Americans, still liked pictures, and said quite naively that he
didn't know that Americans cared for anything but dollars--that
looking at pictures was something people only did in Italy.

The extreme isolation of the Italian colony was demonstrated by the
fact that he did not know that there was a public art gallery in
the city nor any houses in which pictures were regarded as treasures.

A Greek was much surprised to see a photograph of the Acropolis
at Hull-House because he had lived in Chicago for thirteen years
and had never before met any Americans who knew about this
foremost glory of the world. Before he left Greece he had
imagined that Americans would be most eager to see pictures of
Athens, and as he was a graduate of a school of technology, he
had prepared a book of colored drawings and had made a collection
of photographs which he was sure Americans would enjoy. But
although from his fruit stand near one of the large railroad
stations he had conversed with many Americans and had often tried
to lead the conversation back to ancient Greece, no one had
responded, and he had at last concluded that "the people of
Chicago knew nothing of ancient times."

The loan exhibits were continued until the Chicago Art Institute
was opened free to the public on Sunday afternoons and parties
were arranged at Hull-House and conducted there by a guide. In
time even these parties were discontinued as the galleries became
better known in all parts of the city and the Art Institute
management did much to make pictures popular.

From the first a studio was maintained at Hull-House which has
developed through the changing years under the direction of Miss
Benedict, one of the residents who is a member of the faculty in
the Art Institute. Buildings on the Hull-House quadrangle
furnish studios for artists who find something of the same spirit
in the contiguous Italian colony that the French artist is
traditionally supposed to discover in his beloved Latin Quarter.
These artists uncover something of the picturesque in the foreign
colonies, which they have reproduced in painting, etching, and
lithography. They find their classes filled not only by young
people possessing facility and sometimes talent, but also by
older people to whom the studio affords the one opportunity of
escape from dreariness; a widow with four children who
supplemented a very inadequate income by teaching the piano, for
six years never missed her weekly painting lesson because it was
"her one pleasure"; another woman, whose youth and strength had
gone into the care of an invalid father, poured into her
afternoon in the studio once a week, all of the longing for
self-expression which she habitually suppressed.

Perhaps the most satisfactory results of the studio have been
obtained through the classes of young men who are engaged in the
commercial arts, and who are glad to have an opportunity to work
out their own ideas. This is true of young engravers and
lithographers; of the men who have to do with posters and
illustrations in various ways. The little pile of stones and the
lithographer's handpress in a corner of the studio have been used
in many an experiment, as has a set of beautiful type loaned to
Hull-House by a bibliophile.

The work of the studio almost imperceptibly merged into the
crafts and well within the first decade a shop was opened at
Hull-House under the direction of several residents who were also
members of the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society. This shop is not
merely a school where people are taught and then sent forth to
use their teaching in art according to their individual
initiative and opportunity, but where those who have already been
carefully trained, may express the best they can in wood or
metal. The Settlement soon discovers how difficult it is to put
a fringe of art on the end of a day spent in a factory. We
constantly see young people doing overhurried work. Wrapping
bars of soap in pieces of paper might at least give the pleasure
of accuracy and repetition if it could be done at a normal pace,
but when paid for by the piece, speed becomes the sole
requirement and the last suggestion of human interest is taken
away. In contrast to this the Hull-House shop affords many
examples of the restorative power in the exercise of a genuine
craft; a young Russian who, like too many of his countrymen, had
made a desperate effort to fit himself for a learned profession,
and who had almost finished his course in a night law school,
used to watch constantly the work being done in the metal shop at
Hull-House. One evening in a moment of sudden resolve, he took
off his coat, sat down at one of the benches, and began to work,
obviously as a very clever silversmith. He had long concealed
his craft because he thought it would hurt his efforts as a
lawyer and because he imagined an office more honorable and "more
American" than a shop. As he worked on during his two leisure
evenings each week, his entire bearing and conversation
registered the relief of one who abandons the effort he is not
fitted for and becomes a man on his own feet, expressing himself
through a familiar and delicate technique.

Miss Starr at length found herself quite impatient with her role
of lecturer on the arts, while all the handicraft about her was
untouched by beauty and did not even reflect the interest of the
workman. She took a training in bookbinding in London under Mr.
Cobden-Sanderson and established her bindery at Hull-House in
which design and workmanship, beauty and thoroughness are taught
to a small number of apprentices.

From the very first winter, concerts which are still continued
were given every Sunday afternoon in the Hull-House drawing-room
and later, as the audiences increased, in the larger halls. For
these we are indebted to musicians from every part of the city.
Mr. William Tomlins early trained large choruses of adults as his
assistants did of children, and the response to all of these
showed that while the number of people in our vicinity caring for
the best music was not large, they constituted a steady and
appreciative group. It was in connection with these first
choruses that a public-spirited citizen of Chicago offered a
prize for the best labor song, competition to be open to the
entire country. The responses to the offer literally filled
three large barrels and speaking at least for myself as one of
the bewildered judges, we were more disheartened by their quality
than even by their overwhelming bulk. Apparently the workers of
America are not yet ready to sing, although I recall a creditable
chorus trained at Hull-House for a large meeting in sympathy with
the anthracite coal strike in which the swinging lines

"Who was it made the coal?
Our God as well as theirs."

seemed to relieve the tension of the moment. Miss Eleanor Smith,
the head of the Hull-House Music School, who had put the words to
music, performed the same office for the "Sweatshop" of the
Yiddish poet, the translation of which presents so graphically
the bewilderment and tedium of the New York shop that it might be
applied to almost any other machinery industry as the first verse
indicates: --

"The roaring of the wheels has filled my ears,
The clashing and the clamor shut me in,
Myself, my soul, in chaos disappears,
I cannot think or feel amid the din."

It may be that this plaint explains the lack of labor songs in
this period of industrial maladjustment when the worker is
overmastered by his very tools. In addition to sharing with our
neighborhood the best music we could procure, we have
conscientiously provided careful musical instruction that at
least a few young people might understand those old usages of
art; that they might master its trade secrets, for after all it
is only through a careful technique that artistic ability can
express itself and be preserved.

From the beginning we had classes in music, and the Hull-House
Music School, which is housed in quarters of its own in our
quieter court, was opened in 1893. The school is designed to
give a thorough musical instruction to a limited number of
children. From the first lessons they are taught to compose and
to reduce to order the musical suggestions which may come to
them, and in this wise the school has sometimes been able to
recover the songs of the immigrants through their children. Some
of these folk songs have never been committed to paper, but have
survived through the centuries because of a touch of undying
poetry which the world has always cherished; as in the song of a
Russian who is digging a post hole and finds his task dull and
difficult until he strikes a stratum of red sand, which in
addition to making digging easy, reminds him of the red hair of
his sweetheart, and all goes merrily as the song lifts into a
joyous melody. I recall again the almost hilarious enjoyment of
the adult audience to whom it was sung by the children who had
revived it, as well as the more sober appreciation of the hymns
taken from the lips of the cantor, whose father before him had
officiated in the synagogue.

The recitals and concerts given by the school are attended by
large and appreciative audiences. On the Sunday before Christmas
the program of Christmas songs draws together people of the most
diverging faiths. In the deep tones of the memorial organ
erected at Hull-House, we realize that music is perhaps the most
potent agent for making the universal appeal and inducing men to
forget their differences.

Some of the pupils in the music school have developed during the
years into trained musicians and are supporting themselves in
their chosen profession. On the other hand, we constantly see
the most promising musical ability extinguished when the young
people enter industries which so sap their vitality that they
cannot carry on serious study in the scanty hours outside of
factory work. Many cases indisputably illustrate this: a
Bohemian girl, who, in order to earn money for pressing family
needs, first ruined her voice in a six months' constant
vaudeville engagement, returned to her trade working overtime in
a vain effort to continue the vaudeville income; another young
girl whom Hull-House had sent to the high school so long as her
parents consented, because we realized that a beautiful voice is
often unavailable through lack of the informing mind, later
extinguished her promise in a tobacco factory; a third girl who
had supported her little sisters since she was fourteen, eagerly
used her fine voice for earning money at entertainments held late
after her day's work, until exposure and fatigue ruined her
health as well as a musician's future; a young man whose
music-loving family gave him every possible opportunity, and who
produced some charming and even joyous songs during the long
struggle with tuberculosis which preceded his death, had made a
brave beginning, not only as a teacher of music but as a
composer. In the little service held at Hull-House in his
memory, when the children sang his composition, "How Sweet is the
Shepherd's Sweet Lot," it was hard to realize that such an
interpretive pastoral could have been produced by one whose
childhood had been passed in a crowded city quarter.

Even that bitter experience did not prepare us for the sorrowful
year when six promising pupils out of a class of fifteen,
developed tuberculosis. It required but little penetration to
see that during the eight years the class of fifteen school
children had come together to the music school, they had
approximately an even chance, but as soon as they reached the
legal working age only a scanty moiety of those who became
self-supporting could endure the strain of long hours and bad
air. Thus the average human youth, "With all the sweetness of
the common dawn," is flung into the vortex of industrial life
wherein the everyday tragedy escapes us save when one of them
becomes conspicuously unfortunate. Twice in one year we were

"To find the inheritance of this poor child
His little kingdom of a forced grave."

It has been pointed out many times that Art lives by devouring
her own offspring and the world has come to justify even that
sacrifice, but we are unfortified and unsolaced when we see the
children of Art devoured, not by her, but by the uncouth
stranger, Modern Industry, who, needlessly ruthless and brutal to
her own children, is quickly fatal to the offspring of the
gentler mother. And so schools in art for those who go to work
at the age when more fortunate young people are still sheltered
and educated, constantly epitomize one of the haunting problems
of life; why do we permit the waste of this most precious human
faculty, this consummate possession of civilization? When we
fail to provide the vessel in which it may be treasured, it runs
out upon the ground and is irretrievably lost.

The universal desire for the portrayal of life lying quite outside
of personal experience evinces itself in many forms. One of the
conspicuous features of our neighborhood, as of all industrial
quarters, is the persistency with which the entire population
attends the theater. The very first day I saw Halsted Street a
long line of young men and boys stood outside the gallery entrance
of the Bijou Theater, waiting for the Sunday matinee to begin at
two o'clock, although it was only high noon. This waiting crowd
might have been seen every Sunday afternoon during the twenty
years which have elapsed since then. Our first Sunday evening in
Hull-House, when a group of small boys sat on our piazza and told
us "about things around here," their talk was all of the theater
and of the astonishing things they had seen that afternoon.

But quite as it was difficult to discover the habits and purposes
of this group of boys because they much preferred talking about
the theater to contemplating their own lives, so it was all along
the line; the young men told us their ambitions in the phrases of
stage heroes, and the girls, so far as their romantic dreams
could be shyly put into words, possessed no others but those
soiled by long use in the melodrama. All of these young people
looked upon an afternoon a week in the gallery of a Halsted
Street theater as their one opportunity to see life. The sort of
melodrama they see there has recently been described as "the ten
commandments written in red fire." Certainly the villain always
comes to a violent end, and the young and handsome hero is
rewarded by marriage with a beautiful girl, usually the daughter
of a millionaire, but after all that is not a portrayal of the
morality of the ten commandments any more than of life itself.

Nevertheless the theater, such as it was, appeared to be the one
agency which freed the boys and girls from that destructive
isolation of those who drag themselves up to maturity by
themselves, and it gave them a glimpse of that order and beauty
into which even the poorest drama endeavors to restore the
bewildering facts of life. The most prosaic young people bear
testimony to this overmastering desire. A striking illustration
of this came to us during our second year's residence on Halsted
Street through an incident in the Italian colony, where the men
have always boasted that they were able to guard their daughters
from the dangers of city life, and until evil Italians entered
the business of the "white slave traffic," their boast was well
founded. The first Italian girl to go astray known to the
residents of Hull-House, was so fascinated by the stage that on
her way home from work she always loitered outside a theater
before the enticing posters. Three months after her elopement
with an actor, her distracted mother received a picture of her
dressed in the men's clothes in which she appeared in vaudeville.
Her family mourned her as dead and her name was never mentioned
among them nor in the entire colony. In further illustration of
an overmastering desire to see life as portrayed on the stage are
two young girls whose sober parents did not approve of the
theater and would allow no money for such foolish purposes. In
sheer desperation the sisters evolved a plot that one of them
would feign a toothache, and while she was having her tooth
pulled by a neighboring dentist the other would steal the gold
crowns from his table, and with the money thus procured they
could attend the vaudeville theater every night on their way home
from work. Apparently the pain and wrongdoing did not weigh for
a moment against the anticipated pleasure. The plan was carried
out to the point of selling the gold crowns to a pawnbroker when
the disappointed girls were arrested.

All this effort to see the play took place in the years before
the five-cent theaters had become a feature of every crowded city
thoroughfare and before their popularity had induced the
attendance of two and a quarter million people in the United
States every twenty-four hours. The eagerness of the penniless
children to get into these magic spaces is responsible for an
entire crop of petty crimes made more easy because two children
are admitted for one nickel at the last performance when the hour
is late and the theater nearly deserted. The Hull-House
residents were aghast at the early popularity of these mimic
shows, and in the days before the inspection of films and the
present regulations for the five-cent theaters we established at
Hull-House a moving picture show. Although its success justified
its existence, it was so obviously but one in the midst of
hundreds that it seemed much more advisable to turn our attention
to the improvement of all of them or rather to assist as best we
could, the successful efforts in this direction by the Juvenile
Protective Association.

However, long before the five-cent theater was even heard of, we
had accumulated much testimony as to the power of the drama, and
we would have been dull indeed if we had not availed ourselves of
the use of the play at Hull-House, not only as an agent of
recreation and education, but as a vehicle of self-expression for
the teeming young life all about us.

Long before the Hull-House theater was built we had many plays,
first in the drawing-room and later in the gymnasium. The young
people's clubs never tired of rehearsing and preparing for these
dramatic occasions, and we also discovered that older people were
almost equally ready and talented. We quickly learned that no
celebration at Thanksgiving was so popular as a graphic portrayal on
the stage of the Pilgrim Fathers, and we were often put to it to
reduce to dramatic effects the great days of patriotism and religion.

At one of our early Christmas celebrations Longfellow's "Golden
Legend" was given, the actors portraying it with the touch of the
miracle play spirit which it reflects. I remember an old blind
man, who took the part of a shepherd, said, at the end of the last
performance, "Kind Heart," a name by which he always addressed me,
"it seems to me that I have been waiting all my life to hear some
of these things said. I am glad we had so many performances, for
I think I can remember them to the end. It is getting hard for me
to listen to reading, but the different voices and all made this
very plain." Had he not perhaps made a legitimate demand upon the
drama, that it shall express for us that which we have not been
able to formulate for ourselves, that it shall warm us with a
sense of companionship with the experiences of others; does not
every genuine drama present our relations to each other and to the
world in which we find ourselves in such wise as may fortify us to
the end of the journey?

The immigrants in the neighborhood of Hull-House have utilized
our little stage in an endeavor to reproduce the past of their
own nations through those immortal dramas which have escaped from
the restraining bond of one country into the land of the universal.

A large colony of Greeks near Hull-House, who often feel that
their history and classic background are completely ignored by
Americans, and that they are easily confused with the more
ignorant immigrants from other parts of southeastern Europe,
welcome an occasion to present Greek plays in the ancient text.
With expert help in the difficulties of staging and rehearsing a
classic play, they reproduced the Ajax of Sophocles upon the
Hull-House stage. It was a genuine triumph to the actors who felt
that they were "showing forth the glory of Greece" to "ignorant
Americans." The scholar who came with a copy of Sophocles in hand
and followed the play with real enjoyment, did not in the least
realize that the revelation of the love of Greek poets was mutual
between the audience and the actors. The Greeks have quite
recently assisted an enthusiast in producing "Electra," while the
Lithuanians, the Poles, and other Russian subjects often use the
Hull-House stage to present plays in their own tongue, which shall
at one and the same time keep alive their sense of participation
in the great Russian revolution and relieve their feelings in
regard to it. There is something still more appealing in the
yearning efforts the immigrants sometimes make to formulate their
situation in America. I recall a play written by an Italian
playwright of our neighborhood, which depicted the insolent break
between Americanized sons and old country parents, so touchingly
that it moved to tears all the older Italians in the audience.
Did the tears of each express relief in finding that others had
had the same experience as himself, and did the knowledge free
each one from a sense of isolation and an injured belief that his
children were the worst of all?

This effort to understand life through its dramatic portrayal, to
see one's own participation intelligibly set forth, becomes
difficult when one enters the field of social development, but
even here it is not impossible if a Settlement group is
constantly searching for new material.

A labor story appearing in the Atlantic Monthly was kindly
dramatized for us by the author who also superintended its
presentation upon the Hull-House stage. The little drama
presented the untutored effort of a trades-union man to secure
for his side the beauty of self-sacrifice, the glamour of
martyrdom, which so often seems to belong solely to the nonunion
forces. The presentation of the play was attended by an audience
of trades-unionists and employers and those other people who are
supposed to make public opinion. Together they felt the moral
beauty of the man's conclusion that "it's the side that suffers
most that will win out in this war--the saints is the only ones
that has got the world under their feet--we've got to do the way
they done if the unions is to stand," so completely that it
seemed quite natural that he should forfeit his life upon the
truth of this statement.

The dramatic arts have gradually been developed at Hull-House
through amateur companies, one of which has held together for
more than fifteen years. The members were originally selected
from the young people who had evinced talent in the plays the
social clubs were always giving, but the association now adds to
itself only as a vacancy occurs. Some of them have developed
almost a professional ability, although contrary to all
predictions and in spite of several offers, none of them have
taken to a stage career. They present all sorts of plays from
melodrama and comedy to those of Shaw, Ibsen, and Galsworthy.
The latter are surprisingly popular, perhaps because of their
sincere attempt to expose the shams and pretenses of contemporary
life and to penetrate into some of its perplexing social and
domestic situations. Through such plays the stage may become a
pioneer teacher of social righteousness.

I have come to believe, however, that the stage may do more than
teach, that much of our current moral instruction will not endure
the test of being cast into a lifelike mold, and when presented
in dramatic form will reveal itself as platitudinous and effete.
That which may have sounded like righteous teaching when it was
remote and wordy, will be challenged afresh when it is obliged to
simulate life itself.

This function of the stage, as a reconstructing and reorganizing
agent of accepted moral truths, came to me with overwhelming
force as I listened to the Passion Play at Oberammergau one
beautiful summer's day in 1900. The peasants who portrayed
exactly the successive scenes of the wonderful Life, who used
only the very words found in the accepted version of the Gospels,
yet curiously modernized and reorientated the message. They made
clear that the opposition to the young Teacher sprang from the
merchants whose traffic in the temple He had disturbed and from
the Pharisees who were dependent upon them for support. Their
query was curiously familiar, as they demanded the antecedents of
the Radical who dared to touch vested interests, who presumed to
dictate the morality of trade, and who insulted the marts of
honest merchants by calling them "a den of thieves." As the play
developed, it became clear that this powerful opposition had
friends in Church and State, that they controlled influences
which ramified in all directions. They obviously believed in
their statement of the case and their very wealth and position in
the community gave their words such weight that finally all of
their hearers were convinced that the young Agitator must be done
away with in order that the highest interests of society might be
conserved. These simple peasants made it clear that it was the
money power which induced one of the Agitator's closest friends
to betray him, and the villain of the piece, Judas himself, was
only a man who was so dazzled by money, so under the domination
of all it represented, that he was perpetually blind to the
spiritual vision unrolling before him. As I sat through the long
summer day, seeing the shadows on the beautiful mountain back of
the open stage shift from one side to the other and finally grow
long and pointed in the soft evening light, my mind was filled
with perplexing questions. Did the dramatization of the life of
Jesus set forth its meaning more clearly and conclusively than
talking and preaching could possibly do as a shadowy following of
the command "to do the will"?

The peasant actors whom I had seen returning from mass that
morning had prayed only to portray the life as He had lived it
and, behold, out of their simplicity and piety arose this modern
version which even Harnack was only then venturing to suggest to
his advanced colleagues in Berlin. Yet the Oberammergau fold
were very like thousands of immigrant men and women of Chicago,
both in their experiences and in their familiarity with the hard
facts of life, and throughout that day as my mind dwelt on my
far-away neighbors, I was reproached with the sense of an
ungarnered harvest.

Of course such a generally uplifted state comes only at rare
moments, while the development of the little theater at
Hull-House has not depended upon the moods of any one, but upon
the genuine enthusiasm and sustained effort of a group of
residents, several of them artists who have ungrudgingly given
their time to it year after year. This group has long fostered
junior dramatic associations, through which it seems possible to
give a training in manners and morals more directly than through
any other medium. They have learned to determine very cleverly
the ages at which various types of the drama are most congruous
and expressive of the sentiments of the little troupes, from the
fairy plays such as "Snow-White" and "Puss-in-Boots" which appeal
to the youngest children, to the heroic plays of "William Tell,"
"King John," and "Wat Tyler" for the older lads, and to the
romances and comedies which set forth in stately fashion the
elaborated life which so many young people admire. A group of
Jewish boys gave a dramatic version of the story of Joseph and
his brethren and again of Queen Esther. They had almost a sense
of proprietorship in the fine old lines and were pleased to bring
from home bits of Talmudic lore for the stage setting. The same
club of boys at one time will buoyantly give a roaring comedy and
five years later will solemnly demand a drama dealing with modern
industrial conditions. The Hull-House theater is also rented
from time to time to members of the Young People's Socialist
League who give plays both in Yiddish and English which reduce
their propaganda to conversation. Through such humble
experiments as the Hull-House stage, as well as through the more
ambitious reforms which are attempted in various parts of the
country, the theatre may at last be restored to its rightful
place in the community.

There have been times when our little stage was able to serve the
theatre libre. A Chicago troupe, finding it difficult to break into
a trust theater, used it one winter twice a week for the
presentation of Ibsen and old French comedy. A visit from the Irish
poet Yeats inspired us to do our share towards freeing the stage
from its slavery to expensive scene setting, and a forest of stiff
conventional trees against a gilt sky still remains with us as a
reminder of an attempt not wholly unsuccessful, in this direction.

This group of Hull-House artists have filled our little foyer
with a series of charming playbills and by dint of painting their
own scenery and making their own costumes have obtained beguiling
results in stage setting. Sometimes all the artistic resources
of the House unite in a Wagnerian combination; thus, the text of
the "Troll's Holiday" was written by one resident, set to music
by another; sung by the Music School, and placed upon the stage
under the careful direction and training of the dramatic
committee; and the little brown trolls could never have tumbled
about so gracefully in their gleaming caves unless they had been
taught in the gymnasium.

Some such synthesis takes place every year at the Hull-House
annual exhibition, when an effort is made to bring together in a
spirit of holiday the nine thousand people who come to the House
every week during duller times. Curiously enough the central
feature at the annual exhibition seems to be the brass band of
the boys' club which apparently dominates the situation by sheer
size and noise, but perhaps their fresh boyish enthusiasm
expresses that which the older people take more soberly.

As the stage of our little theater had attempted to portray the
heroes of many lands, so we planned one early spring seven years
ago, to carry out a scheme of mural decoration upon the walls of
the theater itself, which should portray those cosmopolitan heroes
who have become great through identification with the common lot,
in preference to the heroes of mere achievement. In addition to
the group of artists living at Hull-House several others were in
temporary residence, and they all threw themselves
enthusiastically into the plan. The series began with Tolstoy
plowing his field which was painted by an artist of the Glasgow
school, and the next was of the young Lincoln pushing his flatboat
down the Mississippi River at the moment he received his first
impression of the "great iniquity." This was done by a promising
young artist of Chicago, and the wall spaces nearest to the two
selected heroes were quickly filled with their immortal sayings.

A spirited discussion thereupon ensued in regard to the heroes for
the two remaining large wall spaces, when to the surprise of all of
us the group of twenty-five residents who had lived in unbroken
harmony for more than ten years, suddenly broke up into cults and
even camps of hero worship. Each cult exhibited drawings of its
own hero in his most heroic moment, and of course each drawing
received enthusiastic backing from the neighborhood, each according
to the nationality of the hero. Thus Phidias standing high on his
scaffold as he finished the heroic head of Athene; the young David
dreamily playing his harp as he tended his father's sheep at
Bethlehem; St. Francis washing the feet of the leper; the young
slave Patrick guiding his master through the bogs of Ireland, which
he later rid of their dangers; the poet Hans Sachs cobbling shoes;
Jeanne d'Arc dropping her spindle in startled wonder before the
heavenly visitants, naturally all obtained such enthusiastic
following from our cosmopolitan neighborhood that it was certain to
give offense if any two were selected. Then there was the cult of
residents who wished to keep the series contemporaneous with the
two heroes already painted, and they advocated William Morris at
his loom, Walt Whitman tramping the open road, Pasteur in his
laboratory, or Florence Nightingale seeking the wounded on the
field of battle. But beyond the socialists, few of the neighbors
had heard of William Morris, and the fame of Walt Whitman was still
more apocryphal; Pasteur was considered merely a clever scientist
without the romance which evokes popular affection and in the
provisional drawing submitted for votes, gentle Florence
Nightingale was said "to look more as if she were robbing the dead
than succoring the wounded." The remark shows how high the feeling
ran, and then, as something must be done quickly, we tried to unite
upon strictly local heroes such as the famous fire marshal who had
lived for many years in our neighborhood-- but why prolong this
description which demonstrates once more that art, if not always
the handmaid of religion, yet insists upon serving those deeper
sentiments for which we unexpectedly find ourselves ready to fight.
When we were all fatigued and hopeless of compromise, we took
refuge in a series of landscapes connected with our two heroes by a
quotation from Wordsworth slightly distorted to meet our dire need,
but still stating his impassioned belief in the efficacious spirit
capable of companionship with man which resides in "particular
spots." Certainly peace emanates from the particular folding of the
hills in one of our treasured mural landscapes, yet occasionally
when a guest with a bewildered air looks from one side of the
theater to the other, we are forced to conclude that the connection
is not convincing.

In spite of its stormy career this attempt at mural decoration
connects itself quite naturally with the spirit of our earlier
efforts to make Hull-House as beautiful as we could, which had in
it a desire to embody in the outward aspect of the House something
of the reminiscence and aspiration of the neighborhood life.

As the House enlarged for new needs and mellowed through
slow-growing associations, we endeavored to fashion it from
without, as it were, as well as from within. A tiny wall fountain
modeled in classic pattern, for us penetrates into the world of
the past, but for the Italian immigrant it may defy distance and
barriers as he dimly responds to that typical beauty in which
Italy has ever written its message, even as classic art knew no
region of the gods which was not also sensuous, and as the art of
Dante mysteriously blended the material and the spiritual.

Perhaps the early devotion of the Hull-House residents to the
pre-Raphaelites recognized that they above all English speaking
poets and painters reveal "the sense of the expressiveness of outward
things" which is at once the glory and the limitation of the arts.

[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 Andrea Jeddi.

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]

[A Celebration of Women Writers]

"Chapter XVII: Echoes of the Russian Revolution." by Jane Addams

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

[Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom]



The residents of Hull-House have always seen many evidences of
the Russian Revolution; a forlorn family of little children whose
parents have been massacred at Kishinev are received and
supported by their relatives in our Chicago neighborhood; or a
Russian woman, her face streaming with tears of indignation and
pity, asks you to look at the scarred back of her sister, a young
girl, who has escaped with her life from the whips of the Cossack
soldiers; or a studious young woman suddenly disappears from the
Hull-House classes because she has returned to Kiev to be near
her brother while he is in prison, that she may earn money for
the nourishing food which alone will keep him from contracting
tuberculosis; or we attend a protest meeting against the newest
outrages of the Russian government in which the speeches are
interrupted by the groans of those whose sons have been
sacrificed and by the hisses of others who cannot repress their
indignation. At such moments an American is acutely conscious of
our ignorance of this greatest tragedy of modern times, and at
our indifference to the waste of perhaps the noblest human
material among our contemporaries. Certain it is, as the
distinguished Russian revolutionists have come to Chicago, they
have impressed me, as no one else ever has done, as belonging to
that noble company of martyrs who have ever and again poured
forth blood that human progress might be advanced. Sometimes
these men and women have addressed audiences gathered quite
outside the Russian colony and have filled to overflowing
Chicago's largest halls with American citizens deeply touched by
this message of martyrdom. One significant meeting was addressed
by a member of the Russian Duma and by one of Russia's oldest and
sanest revolutionists; another by Madame Breshkovsky, who later
languished a prisoner in the fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul.

In this wonderful procession of revolutionists, Prince Kropotkin,
or, as he prefers to be called, Peter Kropotkin, was doubtless
the most distinguished. When he came to America to lecture, he
was heard throughout the country with great interest and respect;
that he was a guest of Hull-House during his stay in Chicago
attracted little attention at the time, but two years later, when
the assassination of President McKinley occurred, the visit of
this kindly scholar, who had always called himself an "anarchist"
and had certainly written fiery tracts in his younger manhood,
was made the basis of an attack upon Hull-House by a daily
newspaper, which ignored the fact that while Prince Kropotkin had
addressed the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society at Hull-House,
giving a digest of his remarkable book on "Fields, Factories, and
Workshops," he had also spoken at the State Universities of
Illinois and Wisconsin and before the leading literary and
scientific societies of Chicago. These institutions and
societies were not, therefore, called anarchistic. Hull-House had
doubtless laid itself open to this attack through an incident
connected with the imprisonment of the editor on an anarchistic
paper, who was arrested in Chicago immediately after the
assassination of President McKinley. In the excitement following
the national calamity and the avowal by the assassin of the
influence of the anarchistic lecture to which he had listened,
arrests were made in Chicago of every one suspected of anarchy,
in the belief that a widespread plot would be uncovered. The
editor's house was searched for incriminating literature, his
wife and daughter taken to a police station, and his son and
himself, with several other suspected anarchists, were placed in
the disused cells in the basement of the city hall.

It is impossible to overstate the public excitement of the moment
and the unfathomable sense of horror with which the community
regarded an attack upon the chief executive of the nation, as a
crime against government itself which compels an instinctive
recoil from all law-abiding citizens. Doubtless both the horror
and recoil have their roots deep down in human experience; the
earliest forms of government implied a group which offered
competent resistance to outsiders, but assuming no protection was
necessary between any two of its own members, promptly punished
with death the traitor who had assaulted anyone within. An
anarchistic attack against an official thus furnishes an
accredited basis both for unreasoning hatred and for prompt
punishment. Both the hatred and the determination to punish
reached the highest pitch in Chicago after the assassination of
President McKinley, and the group of wretched men detained in the
old-fashioned, scarcely habitable cells, had not the least idea
of their ultimate fate. They were not allowed to see an attorney
and were kept "in communicado" as their excited friends called
it. I had seen the editor and his family only during Prince
Kropotkin's stay at Hull-House, when they had come to visit him
several times. The editor had impressed me as a quiet, scholarly
man, challenging the social order by the philosophic touchstone
of Bakunin and of Herbert Spencer, somewhat startled by the
radicalism of his fiery young son and much comforted by the
German domesticity of his wife and daughter. Perhaps it was but
my hysterical symptom of the universal excitement, but it
certainly seemed to me more than I could bear when a group of his
individualistic friends, who had come to ask for help, said: "You
see what becomes of your boasted law; the authorities won't even
allow an attorney, nor will they accept bail for these men,
against whom nothing can be proved, although the veriest
criminals are not denied such a right." Challenged by an
anarchist, one is always sensitive for the honor of legally
constituted society, and I replied that of course the men could
have an attorney, that the assassin himself would eventually be
furnished with one, that the fact that a man was an anarchist had
nothing to do with his rights before the law! I was met with the
retort that that might do for a theory, but that the fact still
remained that these men had been absolutely isolated, seeing no
one but policemen, who constantly frightened them with tales of
public clamor and threatened lynching.

The conversation took place on Saturday night and, as the final
police authority rests in the mayor, with a friend who was
equally disturbed over the situation, I repaired to his house on
Sunday morning to appeal to him in the interest of a law and
order that should not yield to panic. We contended that to the
anarchist above all men it must be demonstrated that law is
impartial and stands the test of every strain. The mayor heard
us through with the ready sympathy of the successful politician.
He insisted, however, that the men thus far had merely been
properly protected against lynching, but that it might now be
safe to allow them to see some one; he would not yet, however,
take the responsibility of permitting an attorney, but if I
myself chose to see them on the humanitarian errand of an
assurance of fair play, he would write me a permit at once. I
promptly fell into the trap, if trap it was, and within half an
hour was in a corridor in the city hall basement, talking to the
distracted editor and surrounded by a cordon of police, who
assured me that it was not safe to permit him out of his cell.
The editor, who had grown thin and haggard under his suspense,
asked immediately as to the whereabouts of his wife and daughter,
concerning whom he had heard not a word since he had seen them
arrested. Gradually he became composed as he learned, not that
his testimony had been believed to the effect that he had never
seen the assassin but once and had then considered him a foolish
half-witted creature, but that the most thoroughgoing "dragnet"
investigations on the part of the united police of the country
had failed to discover a plot and that the public was gradually
becoming convinced that the dastardly act was that of a solitary
man with no political or social affiliations.

The entire conversation was simple and did not seem to me unlike,
in motive or character, interviews I had had with many another
forlorn man who had fallen into prison. I had scarce returned to
Hull-House, however, before it was filled with reporters, and I
at once discovered that whether or not I had helped a brother out
of a pit, I had fallen into a deep one myself. A period of sharp
public opprobrium followed, traces of which, I suppose, will
always remain. And yet in the midst of the letters of protest
and accusation which made my mail a horror every morning came a
few letters of another sort, one from a federal judge whom I had
never seen and another from a distinguished professor in the
constitutional law, who congratulated me on what they termed a
sane attempt to uphold the law in time of panic.

Although one or two ardent young people rushed into print to
defend me from the charge of "abetting anarchy," it seemed to me
at the time that mere words would not avail. I had felt that the
protection of the law itself extended to the most unpopular
citizen was the only reply to the anarchistic argument, to the
effect that this moment of panic revealed the truth of their
theory of government; that the custodians of law and order have
become the government itself quite as the armed men hired by the
medieval guilds to protect them in the peaceful pursuit of their
avocations, through sheer possession of arms finally made
themselves rulers of the city. At that moment I was firmly
convinced that the public could only be convicted of the
blindness of its course, when a body of people with a
hundred-fold of the moral energy possessed by a Settlement group,
should make clear that there is no method by which any community
can be guarded against sporadic efforts on the part of half-
crazed, discouraged men, save by a sense of mutual rights and
securities which will include the veriest outcast.

It seemed to me then that in the millions of words uttered and
written at that time, no one adequately urged that
public-spirited citizens set themselves the task of patiently
discovering how these sporadic acts of violence against
government may be understood and averted. We do not know whether
they occur among the discouraged and unassimilated immigrants who
might be cared for in such a way as enormously to lessen the
probability of these acts, or whether they are the result of
anarchistic teaching. By hastily concluding that the latter is
the sole explanation for them, we make no attempt to heal and
cure the situation. Failure to make a proper diagnosis may mean
treatment of a disease which does not exist, or it may
furthermore mean that the dire malady from which the patient is
suffering be permitted to develop unchecked. And yet as the
details of the meager life of the President's assassin were
disclosed, they were a challenge to the forces for social
betterment in American cities. Was it not an indictment to all
those whose business it is to interpret and solace the wretched,
that a boy should have grown up in an American city so uncared
for, so untouched by higher issues, his wounds of life so
unhealed by religion that the first talk he ever heard dealing
with life's wrongs, although anarchistic and violent, should yet
appear to point a way of relief?

The conviction that a sense of fellowship is the only implement
which will break into the locked purpose of a half-crazed creature
bent upon destruction in the name of justice, came to me through
an experience recited to me at this time by an old anarchist.

He was a German cobbler who, through all the changes in the
manufacturing of shoes, had steadily clung to his little shop on
a Chicago thoroughfare, partly as an expression of his
individualism and partly because he preferred bitter poverty in a
place of his own to good wages under a disciplinary foreman. The
assassin of President McKinley on his way through Chicago only a
few days before he committed his dastardly deed had visited all
the anarchists whom he could find in the city, asking them for
"the password" as he called it. They, of course, possessed no
such thing, and had turned him away, some with disgust and all
with a certain degree of impatience, as a type of the
ill-balanced man who, as they put it, was always "hanging around
the movement, without the slightest conception of its meaning."


Back to Full Books