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Title: Woman's work in municipalities

Author: Mary Ritter Beard

Release date: June 5, 2019 [eBook #59678]

Language: English

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Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.



Copyright, 1915, by



The plan of this volume demands a few words of explanation. It was originally intended to be a collection of readings illustrating the varied phases of women’s work in municipalities, but an examination of the available literature failed to reveal succinct, up-to-date summaries of the several important branches of that work. It was therefore necessary to search the records of hundreds of organizations and societies in order to obtain a just view of the extent and character of the labors of women for civic improvement of all kinds. Accordingly the volume as finally drafted combines both readings and original surveys.

The method followed has been dominated by a fourfold purpose: (1) to give something like an adequate notion of the extent and variety of women’s interests and activities in cities and towns without attempting a statistical summary or evaluation; (2) to indicate, in their own words, the spirit in which women have approached some of their most important problems; (3) to show to women already at work and those just becoming interested in civic matters, the interrelation of each particular effort with larger social problems; and (4) to reflect the general tendencies of modern social work as they appear under the guidance of men and women alike.

The task has been difficult owing to the immense amount of material which months of research accumulated and the limitations of space which made necessary the compression of important narrative and descriptive accounts within a narrow compass. This difficulty has been further increased by the desire to escape the danger of overemphasizing women’s activities in great cities and of omitting the no less viimportant and significant work of women in smaller towns. Even at the risk of distorting the perspective by giving much space to minor cities and to local club activities, it has seemed worth while to make the book truly representative of American urban life as a whole. All city dwellers do not live in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Limited as are the purposes of the book and serious as its shortcomings may be, it certainly contains the material and suggestions which warrant a new interpretation of that age-worn slogan, “Cherchez la femme,” so long the final suggestion to those who would do detective work into the causes of waywardness in men.

One who accepts the challenge of this slogan and attempts an investigation into the activities of modern women, as here imperfectly outlined, may come to the conclusion that, instead of being the source of all evil, woman comes quite as near to being the source of all good. This does not interfere with the belief that she might be the source of more good.

The “female of the species” may still be pictured as “more deadly than the male” but her attack, we find, is not upon man but upon the common enemies of man and woman. If this new evaluation of woman’s work in civilization seems to err on the side of woman, we shall be satisfied if it helps to bring about a re-evaluation which shall include women not in an incidental way but as people of flesh and blood and brain—feeling, seeing, judging and directing, equally with men, all the great social forces which mold character and determine general comfort, well-being and happiness.

Whichever evaluation is ultimately accepted, the following data are offered not for the purpose of imparting an inflated sense of woman’s importance. Indeed, in spite of what she has done, woman must still feel humble in the presence of the work outlined for the future and of the human problems that appeal to her for solution. Instead, therefore, of seeking to inspire an exaggerated ego by means of this story of woman’s achievements and visions, it is told in the hope that, viiby the assembling of hitherto disconnected threads and an attempt at the classification of civic efforts, more women may be induced to participate in the social movements that are changing the modes of living and working and playing, and that those who have watched their own threads too closely, may perhaps lift their eyes long enough to look at the whole social fabric which they are helping to weave.

Finally the story is told in the hope that more men may realize that women have contributions of value to make to public welfare in all its forms and phases, and come to regard the entrance of women into public life with confidence and cordiality, accepting in their coöperation, if not in their leadership, a situation full of promise and good cheer.

M. R. B.


With a truly remarkable grasp of a widely extended movement, Mrs. Beard has summarized and emphasized the work that the women of America have done in behalf of rescuing the city from the powers of evil and inefficiency, and placing it upon a higher standard of morality and effectiveness. The story she tells is a striking one and will serve to enhearten the increasing groups of women who are coming into the field of civic endeavor through the inspiration of organizations like those identified with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the lengthening list of associations for specialized effort. Mrs. Beard has very appropriately stressed the part women have played in the modern civic movement, and yet she would be the last to maintain that women were alone responsible for it. As a matter of fact, one of the chief manifestations of the civic movement has been the proper stressing of the duties and obligations of a citizenship which knows no sex lines and enforces no sex obligations. We are all men and women, boys and girls, alike, members of the community, with common duties and obligations, and as such should bear our part and do our share. In the march forward, however, it seems necessary to organize the mass of citizens along various lines in order that the most productive results may be obtained.

Mrs. Beard’s book illustrates again, if that were necessary, the very large contribution which the private citizen has made to municipal and political development and progress in this country. As Mr. Deming pointed out in his address at Harvard when the National Municipal League met in Boston in 1902, the chief improvements in our political machinery xhave come as a result of the initiative of private citizens and of organizations of private citizens. Mrs. Beard, quoting Franklin MacVeagh, one of Chicago’s most effective civic workers, says that it was the women of Chicago who started every one of the fifty-seven civic improvement centers in that city. Whether the impulse be feminine or masculine, but rarely have progressive measures been initiated by public officials. This is not intended as a criticism of public officials, because their duties as a rule are so exacting, and are every day becoming more so, that they have little time except for their discharge. The impulse for initiative must therefore come from without.

This book is sent forth with the hope that it will stimulate the women of America to still greater endeavors to make American cities better places in which to live. Women by natural instinct as well as by long training have become the housekeepers of the world, so it is only natural that they should in time become effective municipal housekeepers as well. This book demonstrates how successfully they may fulfill this rôle. May the volume prove an inspiration and a guide to those whose interests it may have stimulated. Mrs. Beard has done her work well. May the response be a fitting one.

Clinton Rogers Woodruff


I. Education 1
II. Public Health 45
III. The Social Evil 97
IV. Recreation 131
V. The Assimilation of Races 170
VI. Housing 199
VII. Social Service 220
VIII. Corrections 259
IX. Public Safety 287
X. Civic Improvement 293
XI. Government and Administration 319
  Index 339


Women’s connection with the schools and the educational system lies both in professional, or official, and volunteer service. We shall consider their professional relation to the schools in the first place, because it is the older.

The history of the education of women from the early days, when to educate “shes” was viewed with horror as an immoral proposition, to the present time when more “shes” graduate from the high schools than “hes,” is an interesting record in itself. Even more significant, however, is the fact that both hes and shes are educated largely by women in the secondary schools which are the schools of the “people.”

The dominance of women in the secondary schools does not meet with universal approval. The more vigorous of the opponents of the educational monopoly by women argue that women teachers do not comprehend the realities of modern business and political and social life, and are therefore not fitted to give a wide social training to the young, especially to boys.

There is a certain truth in this contention undoubtedly but women are facing this objection, as far as it relates to the mental and moral equipment of teachers, by insisting that women with a broad social training and enlarged outlook can be found today and that the crux of the question is one of pay. They incline to the point of view that equal 2pay for equal work and better salaries for women teachers generally are two of the means for securing women equally capable with men of imparting the type of education demanded by modern industrial and social conditions. Preparation for such teaching is expensive and can only be entered upon when there is reasonable hope of something approaching a suitable reward. The better pay of men teachers gives them an added stimulus for prolonged study and preparation and the same stimulus will operate in the same way with women, is the reply to the critics who seek a sturdier and more virile leadership in education.

Another reply made to those who criticize the monopoly by women of secondary education is that equal educational facilities for men and women will promote wider social knowledge and sympathy on the part of women students. Certainly in those colleges where courses in Politics and Government, Law, Medicine and technical sciences are now open to women, they are registering in large numbers, and manifesting a readiness to fit themselves properly for the occupation of teaching, among other professions.

This question was recently discussed at length in The Educational Review, where Admiral F. E. Chadwick pleaded for male teachers. Miss Laura Runyon of the State Normal School at Warrensburg, Missouri, in an answer to him said:

Everyone familiar with the history of education knows that men predominated as teachers before the Civil War, and, therefore, if the American boy has been under woman tutelage for generations, it has been the tutelage of his mother.... The American nation has developed more in the last fifty years than in the preceding one hundred. Does this show the evil of women teachers?...

Admiral Chadwick is wrong in his conception of what is wrong in education. Unquestionably, we have confined the school curriculum too closely to a book-course—but throughout the United States courses of study are made chiefly by men. The notable exception is in the Chicago 3system, where a woman has introduced most radical changes for both boys and girls, and changes which are being hailed as the most satisfactory progressive educational work of the country, and these are due to Mrs. Ella Flagg Young.

Our school courses need revising, and the long hours need to be spent in vigorous, active occupations as well as book and desk work. Along this line should the evolution proceed, not by excluding the efficient and cheap workers who have been discovered.

If the teaching by women in the schools has been narrow, ineffective, and unsuited to the realities of American life, the responsibility lies in part upon the colleges and normal schools that train them, and these institutions, in administration and curricula, have been largely dominated by men. By concentration of attention upon unapplied and inapplicable natural science, narrative history, English literature, and empty “methods,” women actually have been deprived of the educational opportunity for discovering what the world is really like. It will be only when more women alive to the necessities of modern social life, industry, and government gain some power in the training colleges and schools that curricula will be devised to supply the needs of women teachers for the great tasks that, in present day society, fall upon them.

In passing from this problem of the influence of women upon the content and systems of education, it is worthy of note that one of the first names in the field of education today is that of Maria Montessori. Her ideals have spread rapidly in the United States. Speaking of her recent visit to this country, The Survey said:

Most people in the United States had to wait until Maria Montessori came to this country to learn that her educational ideas are being applied in scores of schools here and that Rhode Island has officially indorsed her methods. Experimentation with Montessori practices is being conducted in the Rhode Island Normal School. It is declared that out 4of a class of eighty-odd teachers who took the Montessori four months’ course at Rome last year, over sixty were Americans.

Madame Montessori’s brief visit is giving rise to a more active discussion of her educational “system” than usual. Those who think it is destined to revolutionize child-training and those who see in it no advance beyond the ideas of Froebel are giving their reasons over again. How much new light will be thrown on the real content of her methods remains to be seen.

Madame Montessori’s way of spreading her gospel during her visit has been by public lectures in large cities. At these she has talked through an interpreter and has illustrated her work with children by motion-picture films. Her visit has been under the auspices of the newly formed American Montessori Association, in whose leadership are Mrs. Alexander Graham Bell, Margaret Wilson, Frederick Knowles Cooper, Anne George (Dr. Montessori’s first American pupil), William Morrow, S. S. McClure and others.

Although we talk of equal educational opportunities for men and women, as a matter of fact in many states, particularly in the East and South, there is nothing approaching equal facilities. There are many “opportunities” for education in most states, it is true, but until the best opportunities are open to women, there is nothing like equality. In states where adequate facilities are not open, we find women awaking to the obligation to see that they are soon provided through public or private funds.

New Jersey club women have been pushing the work for the establishment of a state college for women “to fit our girls to render the best service to New Jersey in many lines as well as to fill teaching positions better, 80 per cent. of which are now filled by women.” The population of New Jersey is over 2,537,167, of whom 1,250,704 are women, yet no provision is made for their higher education. Only in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, besides New Jersey, is that now true. A state college with free tuition is 5demanded. New Jersey has Princeton, Rutgers, Stevens, for men, but only normal schools for women.

School Administration

Moreover, when the charge of inefficiency is brought against women teachers, it must be remembered that the administration of the schools very largely has been in the hands of men, and the women have been merely routine agents of the authorities. The type of person always content to carry out some other person’s orders is not likely to have either force or initiative. Women seem to have both. Women are no longer content to be mere agents of school authorities. They are seeking and obtaining high administrative positions, and demonstrating by their efficiency and capacity for sustained and unselfish labors their fitness for such work.

For example, “four states, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming, have women at the head of their state school systems, and there are now 495 women county superintendents in the United States, nearly double the number of ten years ago. In some states women appear to have almost a monopoly of the higher positions in the public school system. In Wyoming, besides a woman state superintendent and deputy superintendent, all but one of the fourteen counties are directed educationally by women. In Montana, where there are thirty counties, only one man is reported as holding the position of county superintendent. The increase in the number of women county superintendents is most conspicuous in the West, but is not confined to that section. New York reports forty-two women ‘district superintendents,’ as against twelve ‘school commissioners’ in 1900.”

The most conspicuous battle waged by women for a share in the administration of schools took place in Chicago. It was thus described in The Survey:

6The struggle over the superintendency and the policy of Chicago public schools acutely emphasizes the crises which popular local government must meet and turn for better or worse. Coming to the superintendency four years ago in the most troublous times the Chicago public schools had ever experienced, Mrs. Ella Flagg Young brought the badly divided teachers into harmonious relations with each other and with her management and secured an equally remarkable unanimity in the public support of her administration, after a long period of bitterly divisive discussion in the press and among the people.

Within the Board of Education, however, whose twenty-one members have never been able to agree very well with each other, disagreements with Mrs. Young and her policies have come to the surface, especially among the members of the board appointed by Mayor Harrison. He protests his preference for her administration and once before came to the support of her policies when she tendered her resignation rather than surrender the superintendent’s prerogative in the selection of textbooks. The mayor’s opposition to the acceptance of her resignation then kept enough members of the Board in line with her to warrant its withdrawal.

But the divisiveness of that controversy both widened and deepened at many points of personal and administrative difference. Except the two outspoken opponents, the other disaffected members of the board combined their opposition in silence and secrecy. To the surprise of the public, which the mayor, many members of the school board, and even the opposition itself, claimed to share, Mrs. Young failed to receive the eleven votes necessary for her reëlection. Ten members voted for her, six against her, and four were recorded as “not voting” in the secret ballot.

Mrs. Young immediately withdrew her name, claiming that no superintendent can succeed who requires a second ballot for election. The second ballot was taken at once, after reconsideration of the first ballot was refused and John D. Shoop, first assistant superintendent, was elected by a vote of eleven to five, without discussion. The president of the board immediately resigned, as did Dean Walter T. Sumner, from the chairmanship of the school management committee.

7Instantly teachers’ organizations, parents’ societies, the Chicago Woman’s Club, the Woman’s City Club, and many other women’s organizations lined up for action. A mass meeting called by them crowded the Auditorium with 4,000 women and men on a Saturday morning. Rousing and determined speeches were made by many representative citizens, among whom were Jane Addams, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, Harriet Vittum, and Margaret Haley of the Teachers’ Federation.

The meeting adopted resolutions calling upon the mayor to accept the responsibility for the reinstatement of Mrs. Young to her place in the school system, demanding the immediate resignation of the superintendency by John D. Shoop and appointing a committee to urge him to withdraw; asserting that two of the remaining members of the school board should add their resignation to the four already in the hands of the mayor and asking Governor Dunne to call a special session of the legislature to enact a law making the membership in the school board an elective office and giving the voters the right to recall board members.

Litigation resulted and Mr. Shoop refused to be a party to that and so resumed his former position as first assistant superintendent. The vote at the newly constituted board recorded thirteen for Mrs. Young, seven not voting and one absent.

While Mrs. Young had accepted, before her reinstatement, the position of educational editor of the Chicago Tribune and had published her salutatory, she intimated her willingness to be reinstated on condition that the board of education should be so reconstituted as adequately to support her administration. Although the mayor exacted pledges from his new appointees to assure Mrs. Young’s reëlection, yet the majority of the board is still so negative in its ability and so colorless in its attitude toward educational policies that at best Mrs. Young will find inadequate support for the continuance or development of her positive program. Nevertheless she promptly resumed her duties at the end of December, 1913.

The opposition to Mrs. Young seems to be personal rather than political. Her stout stand for the prerogative of the 8superintendent to select textbooks and initiate the educational budget may have disappointed the hopes of some members of the board for commercial prestige in letting large contracts. Her cautiously planned instruction for parents and older scholars in sex hygiene, although authorized by a majority of the board, arouses stubborn antagonism, especially among the people in certain ecclesiastical circles.

The most fundamental issue raised by the whole controversy is whether the city administration should be recognized to have any control over the school board and its policies. To safeguard the non-political management of the schools, some are appealing to the legislature to make the office of school trustee elective, while others are content to leave it within the appointive power of the mayor in their hope to make the office of mayor and alderman non-partisan by securing their nominations by petition and their election by a ballot from which the party circle and column shall be eliminated.

The Women’s League for Good Government of Elmira, New York, in the election of November, 1913, was very earnest in its desire to improve the school conditions. In October, before the municipal election there were school elections in three districts of the city. As the machine politicians controlled the schools with other city departments, the Women’s League nominated strong candidates in two of these districts in opposition to the candidates of the machine and carried on a spirited campaign in their behalf. It took the “whole force of the machine” to defeat the candidates of the women and openly “fraudulent” methods were used to win. Hundreds of women in open fight against the “gang,” and almost winning, served as an object lesson to male voters to such an extent that in the November election following this, the non-partisan ticket was victorious.

The Committee of Fifteen on “School Efficiency” of the National Council of Education, to “give heed and guidance to the growing demand for investigating schools and testing the efficiency of school systems,” has three women members: 9Katherine Blake of New York, Mrs. Young of Chicago, and Adelaide S. Baylor of Indiana, deputy state superintendent.

A league is being organized by Denver women to secure the proper recognition of women in the management of the schools. Forty women’s organizations are interested. Three women are wanted on the board, a woman as medical director of schools, and the repeal of a recent edict against married women as teachers is demanded.

All through Connecticut in the autumn of 1914 an effort was made to get women out to vote on school matters and in many towns the results were unprecedented. Women not only voted in greater numbers but placed their representatives on school boards in some of the towns. In Norwalk they agitated for thorough reorganization, improvement and central control for schools and secured a certain measure of reform.[1]

This contest of women for places of power and for more attention to educational administration is now gaining momentum. Women serve on school boards at present in at least thirty cities.

While an analysis of the school vote in Massachusetts as exercised by women does not indicate any remarkable enthusiasm on the part of women for that slight franchise, in numerous other places and in certain special towns even in that state, school elections have been participated in by women with zest and effect.

Discriminations between the sexes in the teaching profession still extend in many directions. Politics plays an all too important part in advancements; remuneration is in general unequal; and celibacy is sometimes enforced upon women alone. Where women are allowed to retain their 10positions upon marriage, the birth of a child is occasionally made the excuse for dismissal. Such an explanation is not often frankly made, but in New York, at least, it has been a very thinly veiled excuse, the issue has been fought out on the real grounds and the women have won.

Of course it will not be claimed that women all agree as to the best policy in these and kindred administration matters. Women members of school boards do not always stand as a unit in their attitude toward equal pay for equal work or toward the question of mother-teachers. Women are not like-minded any more than men are like-minded, but they are acquiring positive views very rapidly on all these matters. They are not only holding decided opinions on questions of school administration, but they are seeking more and more a voice in that administration on the inside.

Without going further into the many phased history of the contest of women for a voice in educational administration as well as mute service under it, we may now consider the various lines of women’s interest in school improvement and try to illustrate, by example at least, a portion of the plans which they are supporting in various parts of the country, and their methods of approach to the educational problem.

Educational Experiments

The kindergarten idea appealed from the beginning to women and private experimentation along that line was one of their most successful endeavors. Boards of education have in instance after instance been persuaded to incorporate into the public school system the plan of kindergartens demonstrated to be practical and of social utility by women in their private capacities. Annie Laws, in the Kindergarten Review, states that she “can trace the social spirit of the kindergartner as an important factor in stimulating, and in some cases, even initiating, many of the social 11movements of today, among them playgrounds, social centers, vacation schools, public libraries, mothers’ clubs and school and home gardens.” The New York Kindergarten Association of today, like many others, is composed of men and women but largely supported by the latter, financially, as well as by active service.

Household Arts—cooking and sewing—were first made subjects of instruction in the public schools about 1876, in Massachusetts, through the work of Miss Emily Huntington.

From cooking and sewing have developed the whole domestic science education of today. Women have been supporters of this movement from the beginning and the Federation of Clubs early took an aggressive position in favor of such addition to the school curricula.

“What you would have appear in the life of the people, that you must put into the schools,” is the idea they had in mind. At first, in many cases, women furnished the equipment and paid for its operation until school boards municipalized this work.

Model housekeeping flats have been instituted by women in many cities to supplement the more limited school equipment. Sometimes, as in New York, the Board of Education itself helps to finance this practical educational work. Mabel Kittredge, who started the housekeeping centers in New York, thus explains their purpose: “It is agreed by all that our immigrants must have better homes. This has been the splendid passionate appeal of men and women for years, and fight after fight has been won at Albany: fights for open plumbing, running water in each apartment, decent sinks, more space; all these measures have been worked for and many adopted, but while we rejoice that the Italian and the Russian and the Pole are to realize better home equipment, we forget that these dazed people have no knowledge as to the way to use the improvements.”

The School of Domestic Arts and Sciences in Chicago was established and is managed by club women. In 1905 it 12had 1,100 students. A special effort is made to bring out labor-saving devices, the underlying idea being that the common-sense of the American homemaker will in time lift this work to a professional basis through scientific investigation and the contact of the theoretical worker and the practical housekeeper. Young women are trained in the care of children and extension work is done in homes of the people.

Women everywhere are largely instrumental in establishing courses and departments of domestic science in educational institutions, from vocational schools to the university. The Illinois legislature placed household economics in the five normal schools of the state while all the high schools of Ohio have it. Correspondence schools have also been developed.

A School of Mothercraft has been established in New York for exact and scientific knowledge about everything mothers need to know.

“Domestic Education,” too, is a new profession which has been developed by women to carry into the homes, for immediate use, that training which schools alone can give to the next generation.

Music, art, and dramatic taste as elements in school study and training, too, have been created and fostered by women, and each has an interesting history which lack of space forbids recounting here.

“A thorough textbook study of scientific temperance in public schools as a preventative against intemperance” was the aim of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union as early as 1879. Forty-three states incorporated this instruction into the school system and twenty-four textbooks on the subject circulate. If the development of scientific knowledge and psychology leads to an appreciation of the inadequacy or failure of these textbooks and former methods of teaching temperance, the fact remains that temperance needs to be taught and improved textbooks and methods will doubtless appear soon.

13Today when the major interest in school instruction centers about vocational training, it is interesting to go back over the history of manual training in the schools. “Manual training as a new feature of education was partly the result of an educational philosophy and partly a protest against mere bookishness. The first appearance of constructive work for clearly definite cultural purposes appears to have been in connection with the classes of the workingmen’s school founded in 1878 by the Ethical Culture Society of New York. In 1880, the St. Louis Manual Training School was founded in connection with the Washington University, and in 1882, Mrs. Quincy Shaw of Boston privately supported experimental classes in carpentry at the Dwight School. Two years later the city of Boston also experimented, but it was four years more before manual training was given a place in the curriculum. New York City began instruction in drawing, sewing, cooking and woodwork that same year.”

In Massachusetts, during this decade, eighteen women’s clubs took the promotion of vocational training for their special task and the Federations of Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut urged this upon their members. In some instances this conflict has to be renewed every year in order to maintain that which has been secured with so much labor and expense, owing to new and ignorant or penurious school boards. Sometimes impatient women have raised the money themselves. The Chicago Woman’s Club raised $40,000 for the Glenwood Industrial School for Boys.

Although the charge of lack of virility is so often brought against women school teachers, it is interesting to record that women have been among the pioneers in the advocacy of the introduction of physical training. About 1888, through the efforts of Mrs. Hemenway in Boston, who had experimented with physical training among teachers, the School Board arranged for her to try her system in the schools. Finding it a useful addition to the curriculum, physical training was definitely adopted the following year.

14The Girls’ Branch of the Public Schools Athletic League in New York was formed by women to insure sufficient and wholesome recreation for school girls who need outlet for their energies quite as much as boys. While the coöperation of the Board of Education, the Park Department, the Bath Department and the Health Department has been obtained, far better provision is made for athletics for girls by reason of the activity of these women than would otherwise be secured. The closest coöperation exists between the Board of Education and the Girls’ Branch. The President of the Girls’ Branch is a member of the Board of Education, as are several of its Board of Directors, and the Executive Secretary (Elizabeth Burchenal) is Inspector of Athletics for the Board of Education.

The idea behind athletics for girls and boys is not solely the prevention of mischief and of worse things, important as that is. Those interested in physical training desire that “life shall be lived in its beauty, romance and splendor.” They thus approach the problem with positive ideals.

Women have not blindly said: “Physical training shall be an important element in instruction;” but they have stayed by the task of discovering what kind of physical training is best suited to young children and growing boys and girls and whether different training is necessary for the sexes or a mere question of individual capacity and physique is involved.

One of the women who is giving close attention to this is Dr. Jessie Newkirk, member of the Board of Education of Kansas City, Kansas. Dr. Newkirk has been making an extensive educational survey of girls’ schools in the country, particularly to discover whether there are improved hygienic methods anywhere which have not been as yet used in Kansas City. In a newspaper interview she said: “I am able to say that I believe I found one practice a little better in the East than in the West. In our part of the country we have made the physical work of the girls too strenuous. If a girl is going to be an athlete, it is all right for her to 15take up athletics after she has finished her high school course, but it is a mistake to subject too rapidly growing girls to too rigid physical culture.”

From physical training in the schools to allied forms of hygiene has been an inevitable evolution. Thus we find women supporting and organizing the instruction in sex hygiene in the schools. Dr. Jessie Newkirk, whom we have just quoted, describes this type of instruction and the opposition that it still meets, as follows: “As for our teaching of sex hygiene, it is meeting considerable opposition. We have physicians who deliver a certain number of personal lectures, women physicians to the girls and men physicians to the boys. This we have been trying only for the last year. As we have three physicians on our board, you may imagine we are strongly in favor of it. The opposition of course comes from the parents. I am inclined to think this opposition springs from the objection to the name of ‘sex hygiene.’ If we were to put these lectures into the regular course in physiology, I do not believe the opposition would be anything like as strong. But the term that has been employed has been made fun of and anathematized. We are doing what we can in an educative way through our mothers’ clubs, so that most of the opposition now, I think, comes from the fathers who want to stand on ignorant ground, to keep their children innocent, whereas every thinking person must admit that it is better to be wise and pure than merely ignorant.”[2]

Many of the women still feel that, important as sex hygiene is, it must first be taught in normal schools or to adults and that the effort to introduce it into secondary schools is premature.

One who believes in a system of instruction in hygiene or physical training or what-not is naturally interested in its results when applied and therefore women have watched the effects of attempts at changed curricula on the children themselves. Both the teachers and the promoters of change 16have had a common interest in these results. It has not taken long to discover that children represent unequal foundations in their physical and mental make-ups for grasping instruction of any kind.

First there are the little crippled children for whom hard physical exercise is an impossibility and upon whose minds their physical condition has undoubted reactions. Crippled children seem first to have been given special educational opportunities in 1861 by the efforts of Dr. Knight and his daughter in their own home in New York City. Their home became a combination of school and hospital and furnished the stimulus for the Hospital-School for the Ruptured and Crippled in that city two years later. This was the first institution in America, it is claimed, to employ teachers of crippled children.

The next task, and women assumed that eagerly, was that of seeking out the little patients, and the Visiting Guild for Crippled Children of the Ethical Culture School was started in 1892 to insure continuance of instruction when the children were discharged from the hospital. Several societies developed then to care for crippled children, to feed them, supply them with orthopedic apparatus, and to carry them to and from schools. In 1906, “the Board of Education joined forces with two private guilds. The school equipment and teachers were supplied by the Board of Education; the building, transportation, nourishment and general physical care were looked after by the guilds. This attempt proved successful, and a further advance was made a year later, in 1907, when classes for crippled children were added to the regular public schools whenever rooms were available. At present there are twenty-three classes for crippled children in the public school system of the city of New York.” Provision was made for crippled children in the Chicago public schools in 1899, and in the schools of Philadelphia in 1903.

Blanche Van LeLuvan Browne, a crippled woman, told recently in the World’s Work how she began seven years 17ago with six dollars in her pocket and finally built up a hospital school for cripples in Detroit.

Mental defects were as apparent to teachers as physical defects and here and there sporadic attempts were made to classify and adapt instruction to individual needs. The rigidity of the school system, however, the large classes and need of economy led to no large effort on the part of school authorities to deal with mental defectives until some way was demonstrated to be practical.

Special Schools

In New York City mentally defective children were first given special attention in the public schools in 1900 when a class was formed in old Public School No. 1 under the Brooklyn Bridge, in charge of Elizabeth Farrell, who, backed by Josephine Shaw Lowell, had long and earnestly stressed the needs of these children and the way in which they held back their companions. So helpful did the work done by Miss Farrell prove to be that

At the present time there are 144 classes caring for about 2,300 children, with a constant increase in the number of applicants from the grades....

In March, 1912, the State Charities Aid Association, through its special committee on provision for the feeble-minded, presented to the Committee on Elementary Schools of the Board of Education the following resolutions:

Resolved, That the Board of Education shall be urged: (1) To classify mentally all children of school age under its supervision or brought to its attention by the Permanent Census Board or other agencies. (2) To determine as far as possible, by scientific methods, the degree of mental deficiency of those reported as sub-normal. (3) To keep full and accurate records of all sub-normal children, including school work, home conditions and heredity data. (4) To send to the proper state authorities the names of such children as are deemed to be custodial cases....”

18These resolutions were adopted by the Elementary Schools Committee and sent to the board of superintendents, that they might determine what force would be needed to carry them into effect. After the resolutions had passed through their hands and through the Committee on By-laws, the Board of Education was asked to ratify the following positions: Two assistant inspectors of ungraded classes; two physicians on full time and regularly assigned to the department of ungraded classes; two social workers or visiting teachers.

The Public Education Association took up the matter and obtained the coöperation of various organizations, among them the City Club, the Association of Neighborhood Workers, the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ, the Women’s Municipal League, and the local school boards, in the effort to induce the Board of Education to take favorable action....

After much discussion, ending in a hearing before the Committee on Elementary Schools attended by many physicians, most of whom were entirely in sympathy with the proposed increase in the department, the resolutions ratifying these positions, as well as additional clerical assistance, were passed in October, 1912....[3]

This segregation of mental defectives in classes is continuing rapidly and a normal course for the teachers of ungraded classes is now being given in the Brooklyn Training School for Teachers.

Miss Farrell, who has been the inspiration of the effort that has been made in the city of New York to deal with defective children, continually contributes to the development of the movement in that direction as her own work among this type expands. The Public Education Association has also worked for greater attention to the problem on the part of the authorities. In one of its recent bulletins, the situation is thus presented:

“We have been told by doctors and psychologists, in terms that we cannot dispute, that actual feeble-mindedness 19is incurable, that feeble-mindedness is hereditary, and, therefore, that institutional care and constant supervision are the great safeguards against the rapid and appalling increase of feeble-mindedness. We must all agree that the end to work toward is permanent custodial care for all the feeble-minded who have reached the age of fourteen years. Before this age the schools can do much to develop the incomplete individual and train him to a point of distinct usefulness in his later institutional life, or, if he must remain in the community, they will at least have endeavored to develop his latent possibilities of usefulness to their fullest extent.”

To promote needed legislation, a bill has been drafted along the lines of a memorandum prepared by the Advisory Council to the Department of Ungraded Classes. Such women as Lillian Wald and Florence Kelley are active on this Council. The bill calls for the appointment of a commission by the governor to study the entire subject of the education and care of mental defectives of all ages and conditions and recommend suitable and comprehensive legislation.

Within the Public Education Association of New York City there is a Committee on the Hygiene of School Children which engaged Elizabeth A. Irwin to make a study of the situation, as far as defectives are concerned, in the public schools and the schools subsidized by the city: the parochial schools, the Children’s Aid Society schools, and the schools managed by the American Female Guardian Society. In coöperation with a member of the Children’s Aid Society who came upon her committee, she made a careful study of the situation in schools of that type where hitherto classification had been neglected. The breadth of view of these women is demonstrated in a quotation from their report:

While the first step seems to be the mental classification and recognition of mental defect, the next step is not, in the 20opinion of the committee, to put these children out of school pending their possible commitment to an institution. If the schools are able, in time, to separate all these children into classes for proper instruction and so rid the normal children of this unnecessary burden, they will also be taking the first step toward demanding institutional care for those unfit to be at large in the community. For they will then be showing, as has never been done before, the numbers that exist and the definite limits of their educability. Surely such a demonstration as this will be a stronger argument for institutional care than either leaving them hidden away, as they now are, among their normal brothers and sisters, or plucking them from school and turning them into the street or back into tenement rooms. Once they are excluded, their parents, ashamed to have a child too stupid to go to school, often regard them as little outcasts, only fit, if indeed they are robust enough for that, to be the family drudge.

By means of Binet tests, home visiting for family study, charity and health records, etc., the investigation revealed enough feeble-mindedness to cause recommendations for a thoroughgoing medical and educational examination to be submitted to those in control of the schools of the Children’s Aid Society. This is of importance to the whole social fabric and its influence extends to all phases of public enlightenment for it must reveal certain causes of poverty or change sentimental ideas about the incapacity of the poor as well as lead to better guardianship of the unfit to prevent the perpetuation of the type. The work of Miss Irwin and her volunteer assistants, under the auspices of the committee on special children, was largely responsible for the reorganization of the department of ungraded classes in the school system last year, we are told in a report.

The report on the feeble-minded in New York generally was made for the Public Education Association by Dr. Anne Moore and published by the State Charities Aid Association’s Special Committee on Provision for the Feeble-Minded. This report includes a study of feeble-minded children in the public schools.

21In several cities, women have been active in the study and solution of this problem. The Civic Club of Philadelphia started the first class for backward delinquent children. The city saw its value and incorporated the plan into its school system. Philadelphia now has seventy-five such classes.

Dr. C. Annette Buckel, of Oakland, California, was a director in the Mary R. Smith Trust for delinquent children from its beginning and took a personal interest in each little girl in the cottage homes. So keen was her concern for handicapped children that at her death she gave her home that the proceeds might help in promoting special training for them.

Knowing that venereal diseases are responsible for a certain amount of feeble-mindedness in children, women have backed the legislation in several states for health certificates for marriage, for one thing. The prohibition of the marriage of the unfit or feeble-minded adults is a measure in which they are also interested as well as in proposals and practices that deal with sterilization and compulsory commitment to institutions.

Colored children, although in general they are only slightly behind white children, are now beginning to receive some of that special attention which they so much need and deserve. In addition to the investigation of mentally defective children, a study is being made by Frances Blascoer of the living conditions of colored children in New York City whose school progress has been retarded.

Blind children in New York City receive education from their earliest years as a result of the agitation and legislative work carried on by Mrs. Cynthia Westover Alden of the International Sunshine Society and others. This last winter similar educational care of the blind children of the state was secured through the efforts of Mrs. Alden and the personal appeal to the legislators by a little blind girl, Rachel Askenas. Hitherto children under eight years of age had not been admitted to institutions for the blind. Now 22during those most receptive years they will get the necessary foundation for impressions which play so vital a part in the lives of normal children.

Special schools for foreigners have generally been started by women, we feel safe in claiming, after a review of all the evidence at hand. The Civic Club of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, composed of men and women, inaugurated the work among foreigners in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, but the women seem to have given most of the time necessary to make it a success.

Some months ago the judge of one of the courts in Savannah, Georgia, started the movement for free night schools for those who have to work by day. “Amid many discouragements, through months of wearying opposition, he would be inspired to renewed effort in behalf of an all-embracing education for the poor, by the knowledge of similar work done on a small scale by a few women in a rector’s study. And every now and then the helpful assurance would be given that the Woman’s Club was anxious for the success of the movement. He only learned of this because his wife was a member of the club.”[4] Night schools are regular municipal institutions in the larger cities.

Truant and parental schools are incorporated also into the programs of innumerable women’s clubs today and have been secured in some cities already by the pressure of these organizations. The truant school in New York is under a woman principal who is practically a juvenile court judge.

So many organizations claim credit for the first vacation school that we shall make no effort to locate it. We do know that the Social Science Club of Newton, Massachusetts, a woman’s club, has maintained a vacation school for seventeen years. In Chicago the Civic Federation opened one vacation school in 1896, the first in Chicago. The next was opened by the University Settlement. In 1898 the women’s clubs took up the work and opened five schools. 23By 1906 they had eight. Chicago now has a vacation school board with a club woman as president and another as secretary; other members consist of club women and men. From 1898–1906 club women contributed nearly $25,000 annually to these schools, yet “probably 15,000 children were turned away.” The Civic Club of Philadelphia organized the first vacation school in that city and Philadelphia now has many of them under public control.

Newark, New Jersey, was the first city to incorporate vacation schools into its educational system, but in 1909 over sixty cities had some sort of vacation work going on in their school buildings.

While women’s clubs have long been interested in the vacation school, most credit for it is due to the hundreds of women teachers who have given of their services to make it helpful to the child and to the community. These teachers have often, and nearly always in the beginning, given their services without compensation and where they have been paid a salary they have generally taught for less money than they would have received for regular winter classes.

With these summer school teachers, women librarians coöperate as do visiting nurses and other social workers. The children are taken by their teachers on municipal excursions, often too, to visit places of public interest and gain some idea of municipal enterprise and government.

All-year-round schools are projects now in the air which are a natural combination of regular and vacation schools.

School gardens, an important educational addition to school work, have been largely fostered by women. In Seattle the Women’s Congress has coöperated with the Seattle Garden Club in its program to include all the grammar schools of the city in the garden work; the ultimate hope is to persuade the city to take up this work in a systematic way. Harriet Livermore of Yonkers, New York, says of gardening: “It is a happy mingling of play and work, vacation and school, athletics and manual training, 24pleasure and business, beauty and utility, head and hand, freedom and responsibility; of corrective and preventive, constructive and creative influences, and all in the great school of out-of-doors. It is the corrective of the evils of the schoolroom. It is the preventive of the perils of misspent leisure. It is constructive of character building. It is creative of industrious, honest producers. In fact there is no child’s nature to which it does not in some way make a natural and powerful appeal.”

The Civic Club of Philadelphia seems to have started the first school garden. That city now has over eight large school gardens, nineteen for kindergarten scholars, and 5,000 separate gardens including window boxes, etc. The women of Kalamazoo and Dubuque and Newark are among the groups who inaugurated this work in their towns. The city took over the school garden in Newark after it had been organized and operated for a year by the women. Children’s school gardens in Cincinnati are the result of work started in 1908 by the civic department of the Woman’s Club. In three years’ time thirteen schools were promoting home gardens by distributing seeds among the school children and helping to get results, and there were eight school gardens. Two community gardens crown the educational efforts of the women of Cincinnati.

Mrs. Parsons is president of the International Children’s School Farm League and also director of the Children’s School Farms for the Department of Parks of New York City. The methods used by her in the work in the city parks are original with herself.

The Visiting Teacher

Knowing the vital connection between home life and the proper growth of children in the schools, women interested in educational matters have, within recent years, given great attention to visiting the homes of pupils. The development 25of the function of the “visiting teacher” is the result of a recognition that the school cannot thrive if it is indifferent to the home surroundings of children.

The visiting teacher is akin to the school nurse, and yet distinct in function. This new office is one of the latest creations in educational experimentation, though not based on novel ideas of education, since the sympathetic teacher has always sought to go beyond her pupils to outside influences that retarded or encouraged development. The visiting teacher comes as an aid to the regular teacher solely for educational purposes. Like the school nurse she makes the child the pivotal point on which she focuses her own experience and training. Like the nurse she may recommend that a child be placed under the care of a psychologist, a physician, a more expert teacher, a kindergartner, or that a social agency be called upon to assist in improving the sanitary, health, or financial features of the home environment. Her point of view, however, is ultimately increased intelligence, whereas the school nurse’s primary aim is health. While the functions of these two public servants are distinct, therefore, there is very often need of perfect coöperation, for health may underlie education in some cases and, in others, poverty may underlie both health and education.

In her report on Visiting Teachers for the Public Education Association of New York, Mary Flexner records the very high ratio of 45 per cent. of the cases covered by visiting nurses for the year 1911–1912 as being “cases” because home poverty retarded the development of the child. In explanation of the term poverty, Miss Flexner says: “This term is interpreted broadly to include all cases in which ‘economic pressure’ makes of the child an illegal wage-earner or a household drudge and forces the family to adopt such a low standard of living that there is neither proper space for the child to study nor proper food to give it the stimulus to do so.” Miss Flexner further shows that 57 per cent. of the cases showed lack of family appreciation 26of what are the needs of a normal or an abnormal growing child. A summary of the action taken in all the cases is a most vital part of the report.

The work of the visiting teacher began in New York City in 1906 when two settlements managed by women, Hartley House and Greenwich House, placed two visiting teachers in the field. Richmond Hill House and the College Settlement, where women also are the headworkers, were at the same time coöperating with this committee. The Public Education Association became interested at once and added to the number of such teachers. Other agencies soon began to join in the support of these teachers until, in 1913 after three years’ effort, two visiting teachers were placed upon the city’s payroll for ungraded classes.

The Home and School Peace League of Philadelphia has aroused interest in visiting teachers in that city until several are now supported privately for this work and are used to a considerable extent by the Bureau of Compulsory Education to carry out the preventive work in its charge.

In Boston also there are several privately supported social workers of this character, chiefly working for women’s organizations like the Women’s Educational Association, the Home and School Association, and some settlements. Such visitors are connected with a particular school or district and work there only. Worcester, Massachusetts, and Rochester, New York, also carry on some of this work to help the over-burdened teacher get better results in school.

Eleanor H. Johnson of the Public Education Association of New York, writing in The Survey on “Social Service and the Public Schools,” demonstrates the usefulness of the visiting teacher if further evidence were necessary. One of the visitors herself in her report to her Boston supervisors says: “This new work of visiting the homes of the school children is one of continual coöperation with principals, teachers, truant officers, janitors and the children themselves, also with hospitals, dispensaries, employment agencies, the Associated Charities, or whatever the emergency may demand. 27Too often this sort of effort is scattered and ineffective because of the lack of connection between agencies. With a visitor working from the school as a starting-point and not from any private organization, the connection is quickly made and the influence of each helping agency is strengthened by the added influence of every other. This has proved to be just as true in the case of medical social service, particularly that of public hospitals and institutions, and one might almost prophesy that some day the relief work of philanthropic agencies will come only in response to calls from the social service departments of church, hospital, public institution and school, and that a great clearing house for these agencies, public and private, will be the best way of organizing charity.”

There is great need of the extension of this work. The regular teachers do not have the time and strength to do the visiting that is requisite for successful teaching. Women understand women well enough to know that. They understand teaching of little folks well enough to know that, to keep fit for the classroom, the teacher must have her play time too; and the whole visiting teacher movement which women are fostering is based on their appreciation of the significance of the regular teacher and their realization of the need of her 100 per cent. efficiency for the sake of the child, for the sake of the teacher, for the sake of the taxpayer even, and for the sake of the future.

Vocational Guidance

Not quite as comprehensive in her function as the visiting teacher, but extremely valuable, is the teacher-counselor or vocational guidance visitor. To be able to advise a child intelligently about a preparation for a later vocation, the advisor must know something at least of the family history of the child. Visitors therefore are engaged by those organizations interested primarily in vocational guidance. Miss 28Marshal, director of the Boston Trades School for Girls and agent of the Industrial Commission, in a paper read before the National Society for Industrial Education, set forth the idea of community responsibility for letting boys and girls drift into low-paid, mechanical and often degrading or health-endangering work. She said: “What happens to girls who must earn their living when they go out from the grammar schools untrained for any trade? They inevitably drift into low-paid, mechanical, wearing, or even into dangerous work as packers in factories, as errand girls in stores, with little chance of rising and less chance of real life. The trade-school training for girls—definite preparation for a trade—rapidly increases a girl’s wages and makes her at once self-supporting and self-respecting.”

There are over one hundred vocational counselors in the public schools of Boston whose duty it is to guide the child while in school, after leaving school, and to follow-up the child to ascertain what becomes of him after he goes to work.

Important work for vocational guidance and education has been done in Boston by the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union and by the Women’s Municipal League. The latter supervised the investigations made by college students into employments for boys and girls in different districts in Boston as a preparation for the dissemination of knowledge of educational possibilities in occupations. It also prepared a complete city directory of vocational schools and classes which is of great value to teachers, parents, vocational counselors, employers, business directors, social workers, and to organizations for vocational guidance. This association has moreover financed research workers like Mr. McCracken who investigated for it all commercial schools maintained for profit in Boston.

The Placement Bureau of the Boston Women’s Municipal League developed into a city-wide employment bureau extending to all the schools of Boston. This League and the Girls’ Trade Education League, both interested in, and experimenting 29with, vocational guidance, realized that there should be a close connection between a Placement Bureau and the Employment-Certificate Department, between the Placement Bureau and the Health Examining Department, and the Placement Bureau and the Department of Vocational Guidance and Counseling recently established in the school system. “The Girls’ Trade Education League and the Women’s Municipal League saw therefore that a Central Placement Bureau was the inevitable next step, that the value of what we had already done would be lost unless we carried our work to this further stage and were able to show to School Committee and employers alike, to teachers and parents, to the boys and girls, the real worth to the city of vocational advice, placement, and follow-up. We saw this for the reasons I have already given and also for other reasons, namely: information in regard to industries and individual firms ought to be pooled and centrally filed; for the children also, as well as the employers and the school authorities, the advantages of a general clearing house are large.”[5] The women therefore supported the Boston Placement Bureau as a central board and its directors include representatives of the League and the Girls’ Trade Education League.

The women went into this work originally because they felt they had a distinct contribution to make in follow-up work. That contribution they have carried into the Central Bureau, and its follow-up work is strengthened through the use of evening recreational centers to which children are required to report and where they can be guided in other ways than in the matter of labor only and so correlate the recreation of the evening with the work of the day.

A connection is also being worked out between the Placement Bureau and the evening schools.

The money for the Placement Bureau had to be raised last year by the Girls’ Trade Education League, the Women’s Municipal League and the employers. “For next year 30we do not speak,” writes the League, “for some of us hope that that magic date—1915—is going to mean for the Boston Placement Bureau a complete official connection with the school, supported in part by the Boston School Committee.”

The Vocation Bureau of Boston was the first to be established, to our knowledge, and the men and women who together founded it were moved by the double conviction that children required a longer period in school and the employment of that period in vocational education. At the Civic Service House in the North End of Boston in 1907 a meeting was called to place this work on its feet and in two years’ time a strong organization had been built up with the Boston school committee interested and anxious for coöperation. Very soon the superintendent of schools, the school board and the Vocation Bureau were working together. Meyer Bloomfield was made director of this work and his very able assistants were, many of them, women. Laura F. Wentworth is secretary of the Vocational Information Department of the Boston Public Schools and Eleanor Colleton has done valuable work in this direction among the Italian and other children in the North End of Boston.

In the autumn of 1906 the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union of Boston established three “Trade School Shops” to supplement the work of the Boston Trade School for Girls. The object of these shops, according to May Ayres, who recently described them in the Boston Common, is “to give the girls who have finished their course in the Trade School an extra year of training in order to fit them more fully for the work of the business world. They are paid for what they do and each girl is carefully watched and guided to the end that her individual possibilities may be developed. Special emphasis is laid on the relation of employer to employee, the problems which the employer has to face are explained, and the young workers are given some insight into the general theory of business. Here also is an opportunity for the woman who wishes to become a 31teacher of industrial branches to acquire a practical knowledge of her subject, through an arrangement with Simmons College.

“A school of salesmanship was next brought about and the leading stores set the stamp of their approval upon the work of the Union. Experience has shown that such training as the girls receive at this school makes them worth much more to the stores which employ them. This idea spread quickly throughout the country and a demand arose for women trained in the art of salesmanship to conduct schools similar to that in Boston. For this reason there has recently been established in connection with Simmons College, a normal course for the training of teachers in this work. Simmons gives the theoretical training; the Salesmanship School the actual experience. For the next few years this will be distinctly pioneer work and women who have been graduated from this course should be sure to obtain interesting and lucrative employment.”

Miss Diana Herschler taught salesmanship in Boston for years. Then the Boston Board of Education introduced the teaching of salesmanship for girls into the public schools. Miss Herschler traveled from coast to coast teaching and then came to New York where she taught in stores and soon organized classes in salesmanship in the evening high schools for women. In New York, a class has been opened in one of the department stores at the instigation of women, and is taught by a teacher supplied by the Board of Education. A Department Store Education Association is now a national project which women are promoting.

The Research Department of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union has made a series of studies of trades and occupations to afford a background of information for those interested in vocational education and guidance. Two books on Vocations for the Trained Woman have already been published. “Millinery as a Trade for Women” has also been announced. The study for last year on “Office Service as an Occupation for Women” was published by the 32Boston School Committee during 1914. Two studies, “Dressmaking as a Trade for Women,” and “Women in the Manufacture of Boots and Shoes,” were advertised by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics for the summer of 1914.

In Connecticut the Child Labor Committee and the Consumers’ League made possible a vocational counselor in schools and planned his work from a previous study of vocational guidance in other countries. In New York City, Mrs. Henry Ollesheimer and Miss Virginia Potter were leaders in the establishment of the Manhattan Trade School for Girls. In 1910 the Board of Education assumed control of the school. The previous year, however, the Board of Education had established a vocational school for boys. In that city the Federation of Women’s Clubs repeatedly urged the Board of Education to appoint a committee on Vocational Schools, and finally the committee was established with Mrs. Samuel Kramer as chairman.

A vocational guidance bureau is to be established in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A committee of fifteen from women’s clubs and other associations are to act as advisors to the Board of Education to help young people to select their life occupation on leaving school. Meyer Bloomfield, of the Boston bureau, gave a series of lectures in Minneapolis recently on vocational guidance and crystallized a strong sentiment already existing in favor of such work.

Vocational Education

One of the most constructive pieces of work recently done on vocational education was the survey of the problem made by Alice Barrows Fernandez under the auspices of the Public Education Association of New York. The portion of the report of this Survey, presented to the subcommittee on vocational guidance of the Committee on High Schools and Training Schools of the Board of Education and submitted at the public hearing of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment 33of New York City, June 16, 1914, shows with what clear analysis of social conditions and forces the chairman and her committee have studied this question.

The report emphasizes the need of pre-occupational education for children under sixteen who are to be wage-earners. The incompatibility between the demands of industry and the education of the child is recognized and is met by the proposal to train the child in underlying principles in various processes of work which will enable it to adapt itself to changes in industry and make it later continually intelligent. It proposes to study the metal industry first, which comprises forty-one different branches, and to make an experiment in pre-occupational training in some schools on the basis of this study. It proposes to do this under the Board of Education, and if it works, let it lead to continuation work for employed children.

The question now being discussed is whether this committee of the Vocational Education Survey shall go on with their work under the authority of the Board of Education or whether it must remain a private enterprise. Mayor Mitchel, who made a trip in 1914 through the West to study vocational training, was greatly interested in the Survey. The suggestion that the Board of Education take over the work of the Survey was made by Dr. Ira S. Wile, a member of that board who is also a member of the Survey.[6] The New York Evening Post in reporting this discussion said: “This was after the Board had conducted a year’s general survey of the field of vocational education. In that time the members came to the conclusion that the subject was too comprehensive to admit of an adequate knowledge being gained by a general investigation. Facts, details, painstaking study of varied industries were needed, and this is what the Vocational Education Survey has been gathering in the year and a half of its existence. Mrs. Fernandez, the prime mover in this work, is most practical in her suggestions.”

34Women are also actively connected with the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education. Under Miss Cleo Murtland, assistant secretary of the Society, a study of the dress and waist industry was made by the New York committee of the Society, and that study together with a study of the cloak, suit and skirt industry, made under the direction of Charles Winslow of the United States Department of Labor, have resulted in a practical program for factory schools which has been approved both by the unions and the manufacturers.

An illustration of the necessity of the woman’s point of view being brought into the discussion and organization of vocational training and guidance is afforded by the criticism made by Alice Barrows Fernandez, of the Vocational Education Survey, in reviewing the report of Dr. Schneider, of the School Inquiry, on “Trade Schools.”

It is unfortunate that Dr. Schneider’s report, which is so valuable in regard to boys’ vocational training, is no different from other reports on the subject of training for girls. One and all devote themselves to what is to be done for boys, and then in an aside mention the girls. Out of every four persons at work in this city one is a woman, and out of every four women here one is earning her livelihood. You can’t dismiss 400,000 women in a parenthesis. This will happen as long as there are not more women on the Board of Education, more women who are workers engaged in gainful employment.

Dr. Schneider says in his report that the New York trade schools for girls should extend their courses so as to give the girls a chance to enter occupations which are not merely humdrum and mechanical, but he does not suggest specifically what trades they should enter. At such schools now the traditional women’s trades are being taught: sewing and millinery, fancy box making, and machine operating. Boys’ trade schools teach the building trades. Women, as shown by the census in New York City, actually work in these trades. There are women carpenters, bricklayers, painters, glaziers, paper hangers, plasterers, and plumbers. These are the 35energizing trades, as Dr. Schneider himself would call them, and why should girls be fitted only for the enervating trades as they are today, especially as these trades are already overcrowded?

Why should girls not be taught the principles of machinery? Such knowledge should be useful to them in energizing as in enervating occupations. It is only a matter of getting used to the idea. Women who own automobiles know how to run and repair them. Why shouldn’t a girl who works at a machine have a knowledge of mechanics which will enable her to handle the machine better? Women swing golf clubs, hockey sticks, and tennis rackets. Why shouldn’t girls swing hammers?

Dr. Schneider brings in the usual double standard idea of fitting the boys for the world and the girls for the home. He says girls’ trade education must be modified by training for the home. He adds that this is true because most factory girls stop work at the end of seven years. So far as I know, there are no facts to support that statement. It is most important to break down this general impression that women leave work at the end of seven years. As a matter of fact, 50 per cent. of the mothers of boy and girl workers in homes I have investigated still work, although they are no longer single. Since women work after marriage, it is essential that they be given as sound and thorough and concentrated industrial training as boys.

Girls, like boys, should be trained to know the joy of doing a piece of work well. It would be interesting to see what effect that would have on their wages. Women do not earn as high wages as men. The mothers of the children investigated receive only one-half to two-thirds the wages of the fathers. If girls were trained to find the same joy in work that boys do they would be better workers when they returned to work after marriage, and they would respect their work enough to demand at least as high wages as men do for the same work.

Dr. Schneider’s analysis of why boys and girls leave school typifies the usual vague treatment of the girls’ problem as compared with the boys’. Boys leave, he says, because “they want to do things, to be out-of-doors, to build, to earn money, to assert partial independence; they hate 36books, they crave action.” He says girls leave “because their desire for wider social activity is dominant, because they want to break away from home ties, because their instinct for personal adornment is strong, and because they want to earn money to satisfy it.” What is a desire for wider social activity? That is vague compared with the statement that boys leave because they want to do things, and yet they mean the same thing. When these two series of reasons are boiled down they come to the same thing for both boys and girls—a desire for activity and for independence.

Again he seems inconsistent in suggesting that girls should learn trades intensively earlier than boys in order that they may get higher wages at an earlier age. If early specialization is bad for the boys it is even worse for the girls, because at the present time industry tends to make them machines. Early specialization will increase that tendency and thereby reduce rather than advance their wages. Contrary to the usual point of view, a broad and general industrial training is perhaps more important for those in the automatic trades than in any others, and therefore it is of special importance for girls.[7]

School Buildings

While thus interesting themselves in educational administration and the content of school curricula, women have not neglected the physical aspects of school buildings. The movement for sanitary school buildings in which women have sometimes led, instigated officials to lead, helped personally, or inspired janitors to act, has been followed up by the decoration of the buildings. The beneficial effect of artistic interiors on children, who spend so large a proportion of their waking hours in school buildings, is incalculable. Their physical comfort and their moral and artistic natures are advanced in a measure difficult to estimate.

Organized first for self-culture of a literary and artistic character, the expansive nature of club women has expressed 37itself in the extension of that acquired culture to the children in the schools. Volumes could be written if an attempt were made to record the stories of the efforts made by women to beautify schools and equip them with books for supplementary reading. That story is one of the best known of all and, for that reason, needs less attention at this place, not because it has been of little importance but because almost every hamlet and town has felt the influence of women in that direction. According to their incomes and their taste, they have sought to introduce as much beauty and harmony and as much literary and scientific appreciation as possible.

Believing that the school yard should receive at least as much care as the town cemetery, women have planted trees, seeds, and bulbs. For the interior of the school building, they have at times furnished an inexpensive photographic reproduction for a school wall and a piece of statuary, or expensive rugs and pictures, or a piano, and many times they have dominated the whole scheme of inside decoration and even the architecture itself.

Apparently women can build as well as suggest how schoolhouses should be built. Miss Alice M. Durkin of New York, who was recently given the contract to build Public School No. 39 in the Bronx, wonders why more women do not go into this work. She built a public school in Jersey City and another in Brooklyn. She employs between 600 and 700 men. In a competitive contest for the $250,000 extension to the Metropolitan Museum in Central Park, New York, Miss Durkin came out second and she was third in the competition for the New York Public Library.

That women have helped to secure better buildings and equipment, abundant testimony, not only from their own reports but from public men, shows. For a single example, under the leadership of Mrs. B. B. Mumford of Richmond, Virginia, former president of the Richmond Education Association, a magnificent high school building costing $500,000 38was secured. In innumerable letters comes the modest word that “we worked hard until we got a high school in our town” or “we secured a much needed addition to the school building” or “we are trying to raise the money for a new building.” In one instance a high school was only made possible by the offer of the women to buy the furniture and other needed equipment if the town would erect the building.

In order to maintain high standards of physical equipment in their schools club women have often acted as school inspectors. Mrs. George Steinmetz of Pekin, Illinois, is one of these and of her election she writes: “At our last election for school inspectors two club women were nominated on an independent ticket. I was elected, and I am the first woman in our town to fill that position, but I hope others will be elected next year. The ticket brought out a large vote, and resulted in a majority vote for the building of a new high school and a new grade school and the remodeling of ten others.”[8]

Educational Associations

In addition to their service along many special lines of educational development, women are actively interested in the various societies which concern themselves with the advancement of education.

Schools have been for a long time the object of civic interest among women partly because of their intimate family relation through little children and partly because of the fact that women teachers formed an easy bond for coöperation. Today there exists an incredible number of organizations whose main purpose is coöperation with the schools in one way or another. A study of these organizations and their aims justifies the belief that many of the very best features of the present educational system owe their existence 39to private suggestion and assistance and experimentation.

Miss Elsa Denison in a book called “Helping School Children” has studied the range of private enterprise in education and throws an interesting light on the part played by women in that form of social service.

Settlements have demonstrated the need of: recreation; child welfare; instruction of mothers in the physical basis of well-being and morals; possible coöperation of home and school; and the need of industrial training. Miss Denison in the study to which we have referred, by means of the following table, illustrates the tendency toward the absorption of these settlement features by the school:

Study Rooms Study-recreation-rooms
Clubs Clubs
Entertainments Social Center Parties
Kindergartens Public Kindergartens
Games Public School Athletic League
Relief School Association
Clinics Inspection Medical
Visiting Nurses School
Music Gardens Music Gardens
Playgrounds Playgrounds
Home Visitors Visiting Teachers and Truant Officers, Vocational and High Schools, Open-air Classes, Popular Lectures, Mothers’ Clubs, Libraries, Defective and Catch-up Classes.

This indicates that the school has already in the most progressive cities become one huge settlement with a thoroughly democratic basis in place of a philanthropic foundation.

The public education associations in our leading cities are among the livest of civic organizations. In all these 40associations, women participate on equal terms with men, where they do not direct the aims and activities themselves. More than one such association, like that of Worcester, Massachusetts, owes its origin directly to the work and agitation of women.

The Public Education Association of the City of New York is an outgrowth of the Committee on Schools of the Council of Confederated Good Governments, a women’s civic organization. Women are very active on the committees of the Association and Mrs. Miriam Sutro Price is chairman of the Executive Committee. This organization has grown from a small committee of women interested in improving the public schools to an organization of over 850 capable members, men and women, under the direction of two trained educators, who supervise a regular staff of trained workers, besides experts employed from time to time and volunteer workers organized in standing committees. Its programs have included bills affecting the educational chapter of the city charter, compulsory education enforcement, truancy and child labor laws, permanent census laws, oversight of the school budget, and the initiation, extension or improvement of many new types of schools for special classes, and the extension of the use of library and school plants.

The Public Education Association of Worcester, Massachusetts, developed from the Committee on Public Schools of the Woman’s Club. Mrs. Eliza Draper Robinson was the energetic organizer of this influential association.

In Philadelphia we have a Public Education Association whose history, “since its organization, is the history of school progress in Philadelphia. To date, it has had a busy career of over thirty years, covering the conspicuously constructive period in the development of city school administration in all the United States and particularly in Philadelphia.”

Providence, Rhode Island, has, in its Public Education Association, Mrs. Carl Barus as secretary, and two of 41the five members of its executive committee are women: Dean Lida Shaw King and Mrs. Albert D. Mead. This association is striving to bring the educational system of Providence up to the standards set by the majority of other cities in the country. One of its most valuable publications is entitled “Should Providence Have a Small School Commission?” It represents a study of school administration in other cities corresponding reasonably in size with Providence.

The Providence Public Education Association has also been greatly interested in industrial education, among other things, and in pushing through a child labor bill. It had written into the measure the requirement “that every child under sixteen years of age must be able to read and write simple sentences in English before it can receive a working certificate” which will undoubtedly increase the regularity and prolong the school attendance of children as well as increase the demand for schoolhouses in mill towns if it is enforced. The Association has worked for medical inspection in the schools, open-air classes, public lectures in the schools at night and proper provision for assembly rooms in which to hold them, visiting teachers, better sanitation of schoolhouses, fire drills, and parents’ education. Many of the investigations and reform measures in Providence undertaken by this Association are directly traceable to its women members.

Among the volunteer associations whose aim is the better education of children, the American Institute of Child Life holds a worthy place. Dr. Wm. B. Forbush is president but the officers and active workers include both men and women. Mrs. M. A. Gardiner of Philadelphia and Miss Edna Speck of Indianapolis are the field secretaries of the Institute and they go from city to city seeking to interest mothers in the study of their own children.

The Institute grew out of a conference held at the White House during the administration of President Roosevelt during which it was argued that most mothers are too busy 42with their home tasks to search in books on child study and in other sources for just the right material to supply their children’s mental and moral requirements. Hence the need of an association to assist them.

The object of the Institute is thus explained by Mrs. Gardiner: “Our Institute of Child Life occupies a unique place among educational organizations. Its purpose is to collect from the most authentic sources the best that is known about children and to put such knowledge within easy reach of busy parents and teachers. The Institute provides expert help in children’s needs, amusements and varied interests.”

Believing that “women can best overcome the superstitions of women and men about their children which would prevent their standing for reforms and proper education,” the Federation for Child Study was recently formed in New York City with Mrs. Howard S. Gans as president. The board of managers, composed entirely of women, is divided into the following committees: reference and bibliography, ways and means, comic supplements, children’s literature, work and play for children, schools, and legislative. Conferences are held regularly by the Federation on matters affecting the nurture and education of children. Well-known educators often address the conference and the women discuss the issues raised by such lectures.

Efforts to unify the educational work of the women of each state are being made by the Department of School Patrons of the National Educational Association. Members in each state are suggested as follows: one member Association of Collegiate Alumnæ; one member General Federation of Clubs; one member Council of Jewish Women; one member National Congress of Mothers; one member Southern Association of College Women; and one member at large.

The union of club and college women in Connecticut is called the Woman’s Council of Education, and affiliated therewith are the W. C. T. U.; the Congress of Mothers; 43Holyoke Association; and Teachers’ League. Each society is assigned a definite line of special study; then all work together for laws and for better prepared and paid teachers.


No survey of women’s work for education would be complete without some mention of their part in promoting the circulation of good books. The educational work which women have done through libraries is both great and obvious, although the public that profits by them may not fully realize the number of traveling libraries and stationary and circulating libraries that women have directly established.

The first large concerted movement on the part of the club women was for the extension of education through books and scarcely a woman’s club in the country fails to report an initial activity in that direction. In little log cabins on the frontiers as well as in splendid buildings in the cities books have been housed and distributed among readers by the earnest efforts of women whose culture early ceased to be individual; that is, they were anxious to pass on to the multitudes such culture as they themselves possessed.

With their interest in reading and encouraging the reading habit in others, women have helped to develop a wonderful social service for the library. As truly as any other group of social workers, librarians are educators and physicians of mind and body. While too many of them still are too circumscribed in their thinking and merely reflexes of their clerical training, there is a rapidly increasing number of library workers everywhere who realize the effect of reading on social thinking and sympathies as well as on individual ambitions, and are seeking to stimulate social forces by encouraging that reading which will increase the interest in the common good. By means of bulletins, exhibits, personal suggestions, public lectures, and in many 44other ways, the library is developing into a people’s school, beginning with early childhood and continuing throughout life.

The library can no longer be regarded as a minor educational institution. Indeed it is closely affiliated in many cities with the schools: the teacher and the librarian coöperating definitely all the time. In some cases the library and school are housed together and this plan is warmly sanctioned by many educators. At any rate the field is growing so rapidly in connection with the furnishing of reading matter for the public that the library and the school must stand as a unit in educational consideration.

Women have kept pace with this library development and have extended the field appreciably. There is no way of measuring statistically how far initiative has been due to them, but anyone familiar with the predominance of women on library forces and governing bodies cannot fail to recognize their great influence in the library movement.

It would be impossible to enumerate all the reading rooms with library equipment that women have established. In settlements, Y. W. C. A.’s, homes for working girls, rescue homes, rural centers, villages, churches, institutions, and wherever there is the slightest chance, women have slipped in the books and the magazines. Their interest has usually been altruistic but now and then it has been augmented by hobbies of health, science, literature, poetry, art, religion, industry, and politics, one often being stimulated by observation of the advance movement of another, the work thus ending in many cases in the creation of a well-balanced assortment of books.

It is a significant fact at the present time that more girls than boys are graduating from our high schools. Women, it seems, are both giving and getting the education.



“The public health is the foundation on which reposes the happiness of the people and the power of a country. The care of the public health is the first duty of a statesman.” Such was Lord Beaconsfield’s standard of public values, and it is that of a veritable army of women health workers in the United States, who not only share his vision but are rapidly learning the processes by which the foundation of general happiness and power may be firmly established on American soil.

It has been through conferences, conventions and publications that women have gained an appreciation of the manifold activities that must be included in any comprehensive public health program, but they have been led up to the point of effective participation in health conferences through their own practical experiences.

In the first place, the self-preservative interest or the mere instinct for a proper environment has forced women into public health activities; in the second place, they have done their health work well considering their own indirect influences, the opposition of interests, and popular indifference; in the third place, they have sought to avoid duplication of effort by establishing clearing houses for information and guidance for themselves and for the public; in the fourth place, they have moved step by step into the municipal government itself, pushing in their activities through demonstrations of their value to the community and often going with their creations into municipal office; and 46lastly and most important of all, as the climax of their wisdom and endeavor, they now begin to realize that the government itself in towns and cities should absorb most of their activities, coördinate them and be itself the agent for public health for the sake of greater economy of time, money, effort and efficiency, and also for the sake of eliminating all flavor of charity. In brief, it may be claimed that women have broadened into the democratic and governmental point of view toward health problems at the same time that they have been perfecting the machinery by which democracy may lay its foundation of health, happiness and power in governmental functions.

This does not mean that even in fundamental matters of physical well-being the accomplishment of the means to that end have been simple in any case. There has had to be a strong organization of the women in a given community who were interested in its health problems. These women have had to study the most intricate mechanical problems like municipal engineering. They have had to understand city taxation and budget making. They have had to educate those less interested to something approaching their own enthusiasm. Moreover they have had to work for the most part without political influence, which has meant that they have had to overcome the reluctance of public officials to take women seriously; they have had to understand and combat the political influence of contractors and business men of all kinds; they have had to enter political contests in order to place in office the kind of officials who had the wider vision; and they have had to watch without ceasing those very officials whom they have helped to elect to see that they carried out their campaign pledges. Sometimes it has happened that women have campaigned for a non-partisan ticket pledged to put through certain municipal health reforms and the ticket has been defeated at the polls. Under such circumstances they have had to renew their courage, maintain their organization, raise more funds and keep up the fight. Women who have experienced these 47political reverses have often become ardent suffragists, because they realized that the direct way to work for sanitary municipal housekeeping is through elected officials, and, having been unable to influence the votes of men, they have acquired the desire and determination to cast the necessary ballots themselves.

All these educational methods which women have used for their own development and for the instruction of voters, the political machinations with which they have had to deal, the necessity they have been under of “nagging” without mercy until they achieved their desired results, the sympathy and encouragement on the part of men, the coöperation of progressive officials, their ways of raising money, their means of perfecting organization, and their publicity enterprises will be illustrated in the pages that follow. Some of their failures to obtain the municipalization of certain proposals will also be recorded.

In spite of all the handicaps under which they have had to labor, women have steadily forged ahead in medical knowledge and skill. It was the munificent gift of a woman to Johns Hopkins on the condition that it admit women as medical students that forced open the doors of that institution to them. Now Dr. Louise Pearce of that university has been appointed assistant to Dr. Simon Flexner at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York. Women moreover hold high executive positions in the leading medical societies of the country today. Only within the last few years, however, have women been accepted anywhere as internes in hospitals and yet some municipalities, Jersey City for instance, have women physicians on the staffs of their city hospitals. Failing to get experience in other hospitals as internes, women have often established their own and they serve as superintendents, internes, consulting physicians in many such institutions.

Large contributions have been made by women for the founding of various types of hospitals, both private and public. In instance after instance, the first hospital to make 48its appearance in a town represents the hard work of the women of that town in the raising of money or in the education of public opinion to demand it.

Free dental clinics, dispensaries and women’s clinics for the dissemination of knowledge of sex hygiene are some of the more recent results of women’s interest and effort. The first hospital ambulance in Chicago was bought by a woman’s club. A long list could be given of the efforts of women to establish adequate public provision for the sick.

In 1910 it was reported at the Biennial of Women’s Clubs that 546 individual clubs had aided in the establishment of camps, sanatoria, tuberculosis clinics and hospitals; 452 had conducted open-air meetings for the improvement of health conditions; and 246 had placed wall cards in public places to convey information about public health ordinances.

The sale of Red Cross Christmas seals alone has produced marvelous results in increased hospital provision, the work of tuberculosis clinics, open-air schools, camps and sanatoria. Hundreds of women in various states act as agents for the sale of these stamps and they sit at their little tables in shops, post-offices and elsewhere day after day during Christmas week, raising money for health work. Emily Bissell of Delaware is responsible for the recent use of these stamps. As president of the Anti-Tuberculosis Society of Delaware, she writes: “All our work on tuberculosis has been done by women and men working together, and while the women’s clubs have done their part, the men, in their benefit societies, labor unions, Catholic and Jewish associations, etc., have all had their part, and it will be difficult to disentangle their activities from ours. All this is as it should be, but it makes data more difficult when restricted to either sex.”

Another example of effective and direct tuberculosis work is afforded by the Association of Tuberculosis Clinics of New York City which includes women on its board of directors and has, for its executive secretary, Miss F. Elizabeth Crowell. The importance of an association like this 49lies in its ideals for prevention and in its stimulation to the individual clinics composing its membership to increase their work among children and their family care. It is of comparatively little use to treat a single adult in a family and neglect the other members. Children may inherit the tendency to the disease or be infected before the adult member appears for treatment or the family’s mode of living may create the same disease for all its members. It is therefore very direct and effective work to make family care the basis of prevention. Partly as a result of the conferences held by this Association, “the Department of Health has enlarged and strengthened its clinical work, has reorganized its system of registration and has increased both the quantity and quality of its nursing service.”

In various ways, women have sought to control the spread of this dread disease. They did much to abolish the common drinking cup and have worked for the establishment of sanitary drinking fountains in public squares and sanitary faucets in public schools and public buildings. They have agitated against spitting in public places, and have seen their agitations rewarded with anti-spitting ordinances; and they have organized junior and other leagues to help with their enforcement. They have pressed upon the attention of the authorities the necessity for medical inspection in the schools and for open-air schools; and Mrs. Vanderbilt of New York has built some splendid open-air homes for tuberculous patients, which have served as models for later attempts to deal with the housing requirements for the permanent cure of tuberculosis.

Testimonials to the initiation and pressure by women along these lines, all of which are of the utmost importance in checking the ravages of tuberculosis, come from all quarters.

The Buffalo Federation of Clubs, the organized women of Minneapolis, the Women’s Municipal League of Boston, and the Civic Club of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, are among the groups that have insisted upon open-air schools for children either infected with the germs of tuberculosis 50or so anæmic that they might readily fall a prey to infection.

Mrs. Ella Flagg Young, superintendent of schools in Chicago, brought the open-air idea into the ordinary schools by seeing that properly devised window boards were installed so that school children might regularly study with open windows. This makes possible the wide extension of preventive health work, and her scheme is being extended to other cities.

Occupational Diseases

In addition to the communicable diseases there are occupational diseases some of which, like tuberculosis, are communicable, while others are not.

Women were behind the agitation for the abolition of poisonous matches—matches which produced sulphur poisoning for those who made them. In the official organ of the Federation of Clubs was found zealous advocacy of the Esch-Hughes law until its passage.

Occupational diseases are ills which are quite distinct in causation from fevers and other epidemics due to germs. Relatively little has been done in the United States toward the study and prevention of such diseases, however, and the recent quickening of consciences and interest in that direction is true of women as well as of men. The reports of Dr. Alice Hamilton on lead-poisoning and of Mrs. Lindon Bates on mercury poisoning are excellent contributions to the subject and are among the rare studies of occupational hygiene in this country.

The widespread interest in industrial accidents may well extend to the more subtle industrial diseases which may not be as sensational as cataclysmic events but are not the less sure in their depletion of vigor and in the hardships they bring into the lives of the workers and thousands of families. The activity of the Women’s Municipal League of Boston affords us an example of the way in which women are awakening to their own and the public responsibility for 51such occupational diseases. In their study of these dread enemies of working people, they have begun with lead-poisoning and, perhaps wisely, since painters come into their homes and they themselves often share directly in the responsibility for the infection through their failure to provide hot water and other cleansing materials at the close of the painter’s day of work. This League has become interested in the physical troubles of telephone operators also, such as the loss of voice and hearing.

Family Visitation

As in other branches of social endeavor, we see public health work tending more and more toward prevention. The ideal now is not merely to provide more ambulances, but rather to reduce the necessity for so many ambulances. This need early became apparent as hospitals discharged patients only to find them soon fallen into sickness again.

In all varieties of hospitals where the poor are admitted as patients, the follow-up treatment is often as vital as the immediate prescription and nursing. This involves family visitation and advice and is called by Miss Katherine Tucker, president of the New York Association of Hospital Social Service Workers, “a new profession.” Miss Ida M. Cannon, headworker of the Social Service Department of the Massachusetts General Hospital, puts these pertinent questions about the social work of hospitals:


If a patient for whom the surgeon orders a back brace starves herself to pay the bill?

If a workman, cured of rheumatism, goes back to his job in the damp cellar which caused it?

If a clerk, fitted to glasses, returns to the dim desk which crippled her sight?

If an unmarried girl, delivered of her child, goes from 52the maternity ward back to the neighborhood that ruined her?

Medicine and surgery, supplemented by social service, not only cure disease but restore to full health and working capacity.

The theory and practice of this youngest handmaiden of medical science are fully, simply and interestingly told in the latest Russell Sage Foundation Publication.

Dr. Richard Cabot, of Boston, was one of the first physicians to emphasize the social background of health; but it is admitted on all sides that women are proper persons to treat the family and discover its needs. They are social physicians in a very real sense and their knowledge must be industrial, economic, psychological, as well as medical.

At the fifteenth annual convention of the American Hospital Association held in Boston last summer (1914), Dr. Frederick Washburn, president of the association, insisted that the function of the hospital is not merely to treat patients acutely sick, but to aid in the prevention of disease, and to undertake social service and coöperation with community agencies. Other speakers dwelt on the necessity of better care of the “out-patient,” the social service side of health work. The Survey had this to say: “A new note was struck by Elizabeth V. H. Richards, headworker of the social service department of the Boston Dispensary, who showed that the social service department is not only of assistance to individual patients, but that the medical social worker can be of value to the managing authorities of the institution as a whole, in studying the efficiency of its clinical work, and in planning the broader relations which its work may bear to other welfare resources in the community.”

The home situation clearly has to be considered as well as the physical ailment in almost every case requiring medical care. Thus the task is a coöperative one between the social worker and the medical scientist. Every attempt to 53improve labor and living conditions is a similar aid to medical science if not to the medical profession, so that any proper study of health or physical well-being must lead us on to an examination of efforts for better housing, a living wage, for social insurance, for workmen’s compensation, and the many other devices that make a decent standard of living possible.

After-care is especially imperative in cases of mental disorder. Patients may be discharged from insane hospitals in some cases if the physician can trust in the home environment. The social worker is his aid in these cases and thus helps to keep families together. The prevention of insanity and the after-care of patients is the object of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene which numbers Julia Lathrop, Jane Addams, Mrs. Philip Moore and several other women among its members. Dr. Thomas Salmon, a leader in this work, writes: “Women are active in this committee and I can say that we rely very much upon the wise counsel of these members of the committee.”

District Nursing

Care of the sick in hospitals, as everyone knows, depends almost as much upon efficient nursing as upon the skill of the physician—in many cases, far more. Of the labors of nurses for humanity, it is not necessary to speak here. But in our present public health campaign, a new type of nurse has appeared, “the visiting nurse,” who watches homes to guard against disease as well as to cure, and she is now regarded by competent observers as the strategic point in the battle for improved health in our cities and towns.

Ysabella Waters in her examination into the system of visiting nursing in the United States shows that in 1913 “50 health departments employed 867 visiting nurses, including 345 school nurses, 350 tuberculosis nurses, 107 infant 54hygiene nurses and 65 employed in other fields of sanitary work. At the same time 64 departments of education reported the employment of 200 visiting nurses in their work and Miss Waters obtained records of 2,367 nurses taking part in public health work under other auspices, most of them being engaged in the campaign against tuberculosis.”

An excellent system of district nursing is that developed by Miss Lillian Wald from her Nurses Settlement in New York City, and, according to Professor Winslow, it was due to her far-sightedness and organizing ability that the application of the educational force of district nursing was made to the problem of tuberculosis. Miss Wald’s belief that the hospitals can never cope with disease and that home treatment is better and more practicable is borne out by the figures given for the total number of patients treated last year by the district nurses which indicates that the number visited and cared for was larger than the number treated by three large city hospitals in the same space of time. Ten per cent. is the proportion usually cited as the ratio of the sick taken to hospitals. Miss Wald contends that the treatment of patients in their homes, especially where children are concerned, is preferable to hospital care in most cases, and can be carried on in a way that compares favorably with the treatment accorded in hospitals and by the private nurse in the homes of the well-to-do.

Miss Wald began her work for public nursing twenty-four years ago and has steadily pushed its importance into public recognition and changed the official attitude, as well as the attitude of doctors and laymen, from that of indifference or contempt to that of sympathy and understanding and public support.

In other cities, the idea has been taken up and developed in many ways. The Visiting Nurses’ Society of Philadelphia wants to increase its force to enter industrial nursing and here as elsewhere in the various aspects of nursing, the demand for training far exceeds the equipment. Here, too, just as the hospital nurse soon sees the necessity of economic 55backgrounds for cure and prevention of disease, so the industrial nurse is seeing and writing on the causes and prevention of ills among working men and women. They are greatly aided in this study by that splendid contribution by Miss Goldmark on “Fatigue and Efficiency.”

Los Angeles was the first city to municipalize the district nurse, and this bold step was taken at the instigation of Mrs. Maude Foster Weston and the College Settlement workers who furnished statistics and reports, which they themselves had gleaned from their own observations with private district nursing, to prove that such a step was municipally advantageous. The first school nurse was also secured in that city through the efforts of the same women. In 1909 a practical demonstration was given of the value of the district nurse in daily coöperation with the city physician in controlling an epidemic of measles.

Mrs. Weston thus explains the woman’s point of view about this work: “Someone has said that infant mortality is the most sensitive index we possess of social welfare. It may be that in our fair climate we need never reach the appalling records of our eastern cities, but we who know the true state of things in Los Angeles believe that if there is not more care of our newly-born, that, while the death list may not compare with the East, we shall produce a sickly, ailing set of children who will be unable, at maturity, to cope with disease. We are accused of standing for a sort of social service which has to do with the effects only and not with the causes which create them.... We approach however our problems in a modern and scientific manner and we always seek for causes.”

The Women’s Municipal League of Boston has made a thorough study of public nursing and has adopted a scheme whereby the nurse and houseworker are combined. This system is called Household Nursing and its aim is to be self-supporting. The nurses are called “attendants” and the problem of their training has had to be worked out by patient experimentation.

56Significant of the times, too, is the awakening of the women of the negro race as well as of the white. The negro woman is especially adapted through her past experiences for the profession of nursing and now, with the addition of scientific training, a means of skilled employment, coupled with an opportunity to render public service, in addition to her age-long domestic service, is open to her.

Women are developing largely for themselves the whole science of training for public nursing. The National Organization for Public Health Nursing has a broad social point of view, realizing that upon the district nurse rests the responsibility of applying in a very practical way among the people the results of scientific thought and research.

Infant Mortality

In this social battle to arrest and prevent disease, the campaign against infant mortality assumes an ever larger proportion, and as we should naturally expect, women are also in the front ranks here. More or less quietly for a long period women have studied and worked on the problem of infant mortality. In addition to their private efforts to reduce its amount, they have served in official capacities. In 1908, for example, a division of Child Hygiene was created in the New York City Health Department, after careful study of the organization of such an enterprise; and a competent woman physician, Dr. S. Josephine Baker, was placed at the head of it. It is believed to be the pioneer—the first bureau established under municipal control to deal exclusively with children’s health. There had previously been diverse or scattered activities in that direction but under the new plan all these were coördinated.

In Milwaukee, baby-saving on a “hundred per cent. basis” was being worked out by Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Phillips when the defeat of the Socialists brought their labors there to an end. Their experiment was made possible largely 57by the financial and personal support of Mrs. Sarah Boyd.

The combination of private and official activities in behalf of Child Welfare led to the agitation of women for a Federal Children’s Bureau to study infant mortality and nutrition. The scheme was proposed by the National Child Labor Committee and supported by the club women. Julia Lathrop was made Chief of the Bureau.

She was given a very small appropriation however. Furthermore she was handicapped from the outset by her lack of satisfactory records as a basis of work. “What do we know of infant mortality when not a single state or city in the United States has the data for a correct statement?” was her first query.

While pursuing the Bureau’s first study therefore, that of infant mortality, Miss Lathrop emphasized the need of better birth and death registration laws and methods.

It was soon recognized that women’s clubs in the various states were the most hopeful agencies for bringing about better statistical records. “The plan [of the Bureau] is to have the actual investigating done by committees of women—in most instances members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs—who will take small areas in which they have an acquaintance and, selecting the names of a certain number of babies born in the year 1913, will learn by inquiry of the local authorities whether the births have been recorded, sending the reports to this bureau. An investigation dealing with about 5 per cent. of the reported number of births will probably constitute a sufficient test. The women’s clubs are responding well and the work is progressing satisfactorily.”

The recent Kentucky vital statistics law is due in a large measure to the women’s clubs of the state, and the Chicago Woman’s Club was also instrumental in getting a state bill for the registration of births.

The first monograph of the Federal Bureau was that on Birth Registration and this was requested by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Other bulletins issued by 58the Bureau up to the present time include Infant Mortality Series, No. 1; Baby-saving Campaigns—a statement of efforts made in cities of 50,000 and over to reduce mortality; Prenatal Care—a study made at the request of the Congress of Mothers which is the first of a proposed series on the care of young children in the home; A Handbook of Federal Statistics of Children, giving, in convenient form, data concerning children which had hitherto been scattered through many unwieldy volumes; a review of child labor legislation in the United States and one of mothers’ pensions systems. All of this information is of the greatest assistance to workers in municipal reforms.

While women in official positions are working to educate the public in child saving, women physicians and social workers are constantly emphasizing the value of baby conservation at conferences of one kind and another. An instance of this among the many that might be cited is the participation of women in the meetings of the American Association for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality. Dr. Mary Sherwood of Baltimore, speaking at the last annual meeting, said: “Communities and individuals must be made to realize the fact that the babies of today will be the fathers and mothers of tomorrow. Make the babies well, prevent mortality, and we have strengthened a great weakness. No community is stronger than its weakest point.”

Dr. Sherwood is chairman of the Association’s committee on prenatal care, instruction of mothers and adequate obstetrical care; Harriet L. Lee, superintendent of nurses of the Cleveland Babies’ Hospital and Dispensary, is chairman of the committee on standards of training for infant welfare nursing and problems that confront the city and rural nurses engaged in baby-saving campaigns; and Dr. Helen Putnam, of Providence, is chairman of the committee on continuation schools of home-making and training for mothers’ helpers, and for agents of the board of health, such as visiting nurses, sanitary inspectors, visiting housekeepers, and 59others. Included in the membership of this Association are over one hundred societies which represent organized baby-saving activities in 53 cities in 27 states. Women are hard workers as well as scientific contributors in this Association.

One of the most effective ways of stimulating the interest of mothers in educating themselves in the care and feeding of young children is through baby contests or shows or “derbies” as they are called in some places. One of the pioneers of this movement was Mrs. Frank De Garmo, of Louisiana, who organized a contest at a state fair there, and later, one in Missouri.

It was Mary L. Watts who so forced the better baby movement upon the attention of Iowa, through a contest for prize babies held at the state fair a few years ago, that farmers and their wives began to ask the question: “If a hog is worth saving, why not a baby?” Baby exhibits with their attendant instructions to mothers, whose pride and interest are aroused by the public admiration of fine infants, are now held from coast to coast.

Pure Milk

In the education of public opinion on the question of reducing infant mortality, it is inevitable that great attention should be given to the matter of pure milk. One cannot think of a baby without thinking of milk, so that the effort to provide pure milk is directly associated with every effort to reduce infant mortality and make children strong. The problem of milk is twofold: to supply the best possible grade for bottle-fed babies, on the one hand, and on the other to provide the mother of the breast-fed baby with necessary conditions for nursing her infant properly. There is no dispute as to the greater importance of the latter phase of the problem.

The milk station to supply pure milk to the poor at low 60cost is an outgrowth of the knowledge that the greater part of infant mortality comes in summer months from the feeding of babies upon unsatisfactory milk. The risk of death among such babies is far greater than it is among breast-fed babies so that emphasis has perhaps naturally been placed there to an undue degree. Knowing that bottle babies were subject to such danger, the first thought was to minimize the peril for such babies. As Miss Lathrop points out, however, in harmony with the best scientific teaching: “There may be and in some places there have been certain attending dangers where the furnishing of milk has been the only thing attempted. On this account in many, if not most, milk stations, positive proof is required that the mother either cannot or ought not to nurse her baby before she can get the pure milk, and this precaution has been found necessary in order to prevent an increase in bottle feeding in the community as a result of the feeling of greater safety which the pure milk station gives to mothers who, while perfectly able to nurse their children, would prefer, for insufficient reasons, not to do so. It is never intended that there should be less insistence upon the duty of breast feeding because of the milk station, for while the death rate among the bottle-fed is reduced by pure milk, the death rate among the bottle-fed from the purest milk possible is still much higher than the death rate among the breast-fed, and if there is any perceptible increase in bottle feeding as against breast feeding because of the milk station the latter might thus become an agency to increase rather than decrease infant mortality.”[9]

Dr. S. Josephine Baker of the Bureau of Child Hygiene of the New York Health Department also has a large perspective in dealing with this problem. She says: “The evolution of the infants’ milk station is essential. Pure milk, however desirable, will never alone solve the infant mortality problem. Under our system of home visiting to instruct mothers in the care of babies we have demonstrated 61that babies may be kept under continuous supervision at the cost of 60 cents per month per baby, and the death rate among babies so cared for by us has been 1.4 per cent. The death rate among babies under the care of milk stations has been 2.5 per cent., and the cost $2 per month per baby. Without overlooking the value of pure milk, I believe this problem must primarily be solved by educational measures. In other words, the solution of the problem of infant mortality is 20 per cent. pure milk and 80 per cent. training of the mothers. The infants’ milk stations will serve their wider usefulness when they become educational centers for prenatal instruction and the encouragement of breast feeding and teaching better hygiene, with the mother instructed to buy the proper grade of milk at a place most convenient to her home.”

Here, as in medical prescriptions, it is futile to insist that a mother who is physically able shall nurse her baby if she is so poor that she must work under conditions that weaken her and thus reduce the grade and quality of her milk or that preclude leisure in which to nourish the infant. The question of poverty, that skeleton in every social closet, looms up here with an insistency that nothing will banish. No kind of philanthropy will solve the requirements of infant welfare when poverty or labor conditions are the root of the problem.

Babies’ milk thus becomes essentially a social-economic problem. It is so recognized by many women and is becoming more and more recognized as such by those who work along baby-saving lines. No one sees this fact more clearly perhaps than Miss Lathrop who joins in the ever-growing cry for a “war on poverty.” Mothers’ pensions, and every attempt to increase the wage of the husband or of the wife before the child-bearing experience has entered into her life, that she may lay by a sum for that function, reaches infant mortality more fundamentally and directly than do milk stations. In spite of this truth, milk stations are a useful supplementary social service and the value of pure 62milk where mothers cannot nurse their offspring or secure a competent wet-nurse must not be underestimated. The milk station, too, for one thing, affords an acceptable avenue through which to reach mothers and instruct them in the care of infants, to assist them with a nurse in times of trouble or crisis, and to prepare them for the hour when milk from the stations becomes a necessity.

In most cases women now recognize the milk station not as a private but as a public responsibility. They first demonstrated the wisdom and practicability of the enterprise as direct health activity, then urged the municipalities to incorporate the plans into their regular health department program. Cities have accepted the lesson readily, although there are still places like our national capital, where the death rate among infants is disgracefully high and where no provision is made by the commissioners, during even the hot summer months, to care for babies in this way.

The superiority of breast feeding is so well-known that the provision of wet-nurses is recognized as a social advantage. The examination, registration, pay and care of wet-nurses are matters of increasing interest to women health workers and the Women’s Municipal League of Boston is attempting to deal seriously with this social mother.

No more interesting story of women’s help on the problem of general milk supply is to be found than comes from the Oranges, although it is fairly typical of the way women have viewed their responsibility elsewhere. In the spring of 1913, the Civic Committee of the Woman’s Club of Orange, New Jersey, offered, for the summer, the services of its secretary to the Orange Board of Health in order that a more thorough study of the milk supply might be made than was possible with the limited official staff alone. “Through the courtesy of the Board, Miss Hall was made a temporary special milk inspector in June, 1913, and has enjoyed the use of the department’s laboratory in assisting in the test of over 600 samples on which conclusions are based as to the quality of the milk furnished in the Oranges.” 63Those conclusions are published in a report by the aforesaid club in order to give the consumer a better knowledge of the production and supply of milk “in the hope of arousing citizen interest in a union of effort among the four municipalities, toward a more efficient control.”

The joint effort of the Woman’s Club and of the Department of Health led to their common support of certain proposals dealing with the milk situation in the four Oranges. In this case, after a careful and detailed study of all the elements that enter into the provision of milk for these communities, the women determined upon a citizen support of the health officers that, among other proposals, they might obtain better appropriations for the work of inspection. Their publications and general agitation have been marked by exact information.

From New York on the eastern seaboard to Portland on the western come countless reports of the activities of organized groups of women in behalf of pure milk. The “Portland Pure Milk War” was graphically described by Stella Walker Durham in a recent number of Good Housekeeping. The struggle to secure the kind of milk they wanted meant a year’s fight for the women who knew and proved that they knew the true conditions of their city’s milk supply.

Dr. Harriet Belcher, formerly bacteriologist in the Rockefeller Institute in New York, in her campaign for clean milk, made a close study of dealers, delivery, refrigeration, balanced rations for cows, care of cows, process of milking, soils in relation to cost of production, and many other phases of the problem. She did field work as well as laboratory work, and is justly entitled to the name of expert.

While the advisability of mothers learning to care properly for milk and other food in their own homes instead of relying solely upon public care, is evident and is urged even at the milk stations in their educational capacities, such right care in the home necessitates the ability to secure ice easily and cheaply.



A tragic story of the scarcity and cost of ice in summer has come from more than one large city and the machinations of ice trusts have been among the most scandalous of business revelations. Here and there in the United States sporadic attempts have been made to establish municipal ice plants. Women have been prominent in the agitation for cheaper and more plentiful ice. An instance of this agitation is afforded by the following clipping from the New York Times, May, 1914:

More than one hundred mothers attended a meeting yesterday afternoon in the offices of the East Side Protective Association, No. 1 Avenue B, and discussed plans for the establishment on the east side of a municipal ice plant whereby ice could be distributed to mothers during the coming summer for their infants. At the conclusion of the meeting a letter was forwarded to Mayor Mitchel, signed by Harry A. Schlacht, Superintendent of the Association, asking the Mayor to do all in his power to aid the project, pointing out that through it lives of hundreds of infants would be saved.

A report on Municipal and Government Ice Plants in the United States and Other Countries was prepared last winter by Mrs. Jeanie W. Wentworth, who has been assisting Mr. McAneny, president of the New York City Board of Aldermen, to study the question of ice.

Child Welfare

The reduction of infant mortality is only one phase of child welfare. However imperative it is to save little babies, unless they are watched over and safeguarded physically during the after years of growth and nutrition, the earlier work is wasted. It is this conception of the unity of health 65work that has resulted in the formation by women of child welfare associations and of such committees within women’s associations all over the country.

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs voted several years ago to work for the following five universal needs of the American child:

1. For better equipped, better ventilated and cleaner school buildings.

2. For more numerous, larger and better supervised playgrounds.

3. For medical school inspection and school nurses.

4. For physical education and instruction in personal hygiene.

5. For instruction in normal schools in wise methods of presenting the essentials of personal and sex hygiene.

Every medical inspection of the poor children in the public schools of large cities reveals a state of anæmia from undernourishment. A hungry child cannot learn rapidly, if at all. Teachers are the ones to see the connection between hunger and mentality, and the first school lunch in Cleveland was therefore started by teachers in a neighborhood where many of the mothers of the children were forced to go out of the home each day to earn all or part of the family income. Everywhere women have been largely instrumental in initiating and defending the school lunch.

Promoters of the school lunch often have as competitors the candy vender, the ice cream man and sellers of adulterated and low dietary wares of various kinds who stand even at the school gates to wean the children away from less exciting but more nutritious food. School lunches cannot be compulsory, or are not compulsory, and the child must be led to realize that good nutrition is fundamental and desirable. Then he can be led on to an interest in pure food laws and their enforcement, and kindred civic matters.

The school lunch is therefore of high social utility and an invaluable adjunct to the work of the school medical inspector or nurse. Yet it has its critics.

66Mr. Joseph Lee of Boston is one of the more outspoken of these, claiming that school lunches will disrupt the family.

Mrs. George B. Twitchell of Cincinnati gave a spirited defense of the school lunch in a letter to The Survey:

I want to ask Mr. Lee how it is possible to disrupt a family when our social conditions are such that the mother has to go out to help make a living. Isn’t that family already disrupted? We are all working to bring about social conditions when it will be possible to have a home for all the people, when father will be able to earn enough to make it possible for mother to remain at home; but until such time the children must be given some good, substantial food, not candy, pickles and such trash as they can buy at the candy store....

The teachers of Cleveland proved that their pupils could not work on a diet of candy and pickles. The school lunch has proved so helpful that ten have been established in Boston, all but one in the poor districts. The one in the Mt. Auburn school was started by the Mothers’ Club because they wished to give their children better food than they could get at the candy store at recess time. The mothers report that since they have opened the lunch room and the children get good food at recess time they have better appetites and eat more than they did before.

Many times children do not eat because they are too hungry and tired after the walk home and really have lost their appetites on account of that. Children often eat a very light breakfast and need a lunch at recess. They are like little chicks, they thrive best if fed every three hours. We believe there should be a lunch room in every school which should supply the children with good food, rather than depend on commercialism, as in that case we know the only interest is to make money.

Undaunted by those who fear that the school lunch may pauperize the poor, some of its defenders would go further. Miss Mabel Parker, of New York, proposes to unite with the school lunch a “pre-natal restaurant” in certain districts where poor women in a pregnant condition can get for five 67cents a nourishing lunch which they could not get for a great deal more money at home. With the school plant already equipped for meeting the extra work, these same women, instead of living on bread and bologna, could be provided with a nourishing midday meal and child welfare be promoted from the very start. Her belief is that this extended work would be self-supporting. Miss Parker says: “We have learned from our work in the Board of Health milk stations that education is not enough. The people of the tenement districts simply cannot afford good food, even if they have learned how desirable it is. That is why the city is willing to sell them milk at cost and why mothers must be provided with good food.”

Not only must mothers be taught better care of their infants but the “little mothers” and “little fathers” upon whose young shoulders devolves the burden of taking mother’s place, while she goes out to earn or help earn the family living, must receive the education which will enable them to preserve the lives intrusted to their care until such time as the real mothers and fathers can be placed in an economic situation whereby they themselves are able to assume that burden which is rightfully theirs alone. Dr. S. Josephine Baker appreciates the value of this work and through the organization of groups of young guardians of children, this information is being imparted.

Mrs. Clarence Burns of New York has been among the women who have sought to make the burdens of the “little mothers” lighter and her “Little Mothers’ Aid Society” is one of the well-known institutions of that city. Recently the little fathers have begun to feel that their position of responsibility was ignored too much in the greater efforts made to smooth the way of girls who have parental tasks, and their protest has served to call attention again to the extent to which the oldest child whether boy or girl is the real person charged with the task of prolonging infant life and keeping or making baby brothers and sisters well and strong.


Children Born Out of Wedlock

In leaving the matter of women’s interest in the reduction of infant mortality and the proper preparation of women for motherhood, mention should be made of the growing recognition of the right of the child to be well born. Realizing the responsibility of the father, as well as the mother, for the physical and mental vigor of children, women in many states are discussing in their associations the proposition for requiring health certificates for those who seek the marriage license. In some states such laws have been already passed. The right of the woman (as well as of the man) to know that her children are to have a proper physical heritage is now included in the new Declaration of Independence.

Mothers there are with no legal husbands and for these and their children the problem is difficult indeed. Mrs. Weston of Los Angeles states that the care of such children and their mothers presents a large and serious question economically and that the ratio of these children and their mothers is very high among the patients visited by the nurses. The infant mortality among children born out of wedlock has been suspected of a high ratio but it remained for the Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago, of which Mrs. Bowen is president, to undertake an investigation into child mortality among this group. In its summary of the investigation which was carefully made, the Association states that:

“From the facts obtained it is evident that three main causes lie at the bottom of the prodigious child mortality among the illegitimate.

“First: The lack of method in recording vital statistics, some being kept at the city health department, the logical repository for such records, and others by the county clerk, who has no special interest in the matter.

“Second: The laxity of institutions and individuals in 69reporting promptly and fully the items which the law demands.

“Third: The inadequate provision for disposing of children who cannot be kept by the mothers. This last is perhaps the greatest factor.

“In conclusion, the truth is that thousands of children are lost in Chicago. Physicians and hospitals are careless in reporting demanded facts. Some hospitals give children away indiscriminately. Doctors, midwives and maternity homes do likewise. There is absolutely no check upon such disposition of babies; many hospitals and doctors and others do not want any safe supervision.”

Mrs. Stanley King, of Boston, the Secretary of the Conference on Illegitimacy, is one of the women who insist that the unmarried mother and her child must receive equal consideration with other mothers and children in any sincere plans for the reduction of infant mortality. As for the rest of the Conference, Mrs. King states that[10] “it has faced the question of segregation (of the feeble-minded of this class) in institutions and of sterilization as a means of preventing a continuance of this evil in future generations. They have asked whether it was ever safe to return a feeble-minded girl to the community. While agreeing that marriage of feeble-minded persons ought not to be permitted they have not reached a final conclusion as to the best means of prevention.

“A committee has been appointed to make an investigation of the causes other than feeble-mindedness that are at the root of illegitimacy. This committee has already done valuable work as a by-product of its main purpose in suggesting important points which agencies are apt to omit in their histories and in aiding in a greater standardization of work. A full report of this committee is expected next year.

“Study groups are being organized to take up the questions of legislation, venereal disease, the efficiency and range 70of existing institutions, public opinion, feeble-mindedness and statistics.”

The definite proposals of the Juvenile Protective Association and of the Society for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality for proper care of children born out of wedlock include: better systems of records, a better system for the legal adoption of infants, provision for well-organized infants’ homes, better bastardy laws, and a system of probation for the mother of an illegitimate child during the first year of its life in order to secure proper nursing and care of the child.

The district nurse becomes again the most important agent in the real nurture of infants of this group through her supervision of all young mothers among the poor. Owing to the fact that the deserted mother must assume the burden of her own support and that of her child and therefore finds nursing the child extremely difficult if not, in fact, impossible, the whole question of mothers’ pensions comes to the fore in the discussion as to whether widows alone should be the recipients or whether any needy mother should share their benefits. While women do not stand as a unit for recognition of the unmarried mother where they do support home pensions, there is evidence of strong advocacy among women of her inclusion in the benefits of this legislation. At all events women are opening their eyes to the problem.

Pure Food

Being principally responsible for the food of the family as well as the children, women have joined with spirit in what is known as the pure food movement. In many a city, large and small, women’s associations have taken up the question of the proper food supply and by concerted efforts wrought marvelous results. An illustration of an active municipal campaign for pure food carried on by women is described in the American City for June, 1914, 71by Katherine G. Leonard, secretary of the Pure Food Committee of the Civic League of Grand Forks, North Dakota:

What has been accomplished by the Pure Food Committee of the Civic League of Grand Forks may be equaled or surpassed by any group of determined women in any small city. To be sure, it is somewhat easier to keep clean in a climate which has no excessive heat and moisture and with a population made up for the most part of Americans and Scandinavians. However, vigilance and education will more than make up for differences in climate, but efforts must be ceaseless if results are to be forthcoming.

When this committee was organized under the able leadership of Dr. May Sanders, chairman, the work was new to all, and methods had to be devised. The first step was a consultation with Prof. E. F. Ladd, State Pure Food Commissioner, who was of great assistance in suggesting just and reasonable methods of dealing with the subject of sanitary inspection of foods so that the interests of both merchant and consumer might be safeguarded.

A general educational campaign was inaugurated. The state pure food and drugs act was printed in folder form, and a copy, together with a personal letter calling attention to the provisions of the law and asking coöperation in its enforcement, was mailed to each of the 128 food merchants then doing business in the city. The portion of the law applying to a special class of stores or goods was red-lined when sent to a man selling that article. For example, sections relating to bakeries were red-lined when sent to bakers; those applying to groceries were marked for grocers. Ten days were given the merchants in which to clean house and prepare for state inspection.

The state inspection continued five days, of eight hours each, and the inspector was accompanied by Mrs. R. A. Sprague, who later became local officer. Each merchant was rated on a score card provided by the state commissioner for the purpose.

It became evident that the only way to secure sanitary inspection of food at intervals frequent enough to make the city food supply reasonably clean was to have a regular city 72official for the purpose. To that end a second petition was presented to the city council, with the result that an ordinance was passed providing for the office of food inspector. Mayor Murphy was fortunate in his choice of Mrs. R. A. Sprague, as she had proved her ability in the work of general inspector for the Civic League. The ordinance is an excellent instrument and answers many questions that arise in the work of inspection.

Since her appointment as local food inspector, Mrs. Sprague has also been made resident food inspector by the state pure food commissioner.

The work of the food inspector showed conclusively that the education of the public had only begun and that in order to make her labors most efficient the pure food committee must devise means of keeping the subject before the people. The greatest menace during the late summer and autumn is the house fly, and no work along the line of sanitary food supply can be effective that does not emphasize the necessity of doing away entirely with the breeding places of this deadly pest. Grand Forks has a garbage ordinance which, if strictly enforced, would go far toward accomplishing this end.

However, no matter how good the law, public opinion must be back of it to make it effective, and education must be administered in large and frequent doses. The newspaper and motion-picture theater are excellent teachers, since they reach the largest audience, and the one most difficult to interest. Through the courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald, a fly-page was edited by the pure food committee in August, when the fly season is at its height and the dread of typhoid is strong with the parents of the less fortunate classes. Yellow journalism of the most lurid type was resorted to, and so black was the little pest painted in both prose and verse that the public seemed roused to the situation.

Closely following the press exposé of the fly came the climax of the season’s campaign for pure food and sanitary conditions. The public-spirited proprietor of one of the motion-picture theaters gave the pure food committee the use of the theater with all proceeds for one day for the presentation of the fly-pest film....

As a result of complaints from dairymen and confectioners 73that bottle and ice cream cans were returned in bad condition, cards with hints to housewives were printed and distributed by milkmen to their customers.

The subject of a municipal slaughter house was brought before various organizations and committees were appointed to coöperate in a city-wide effort to solve the problem. The subject of a city incinerator for the disposal of garbage was also agitated.

The pure food committee, through the courtesy of the Minnesota food commission, secured the pure food exhibit of the commission, placing it in a conspicuous place on the grounds during the state fair, with a lecturer in charge. This proved a great attraction, and the space in front of the exhibit was crowded with people from the rural districts who had heard little of the new gospel of pure food. The local food inspector visited each food concession as it was being placed, and explained the pure food law, with a hint that it was to be enforced on the grounds during the fair. Several later visits were made to the concessions, and suggestions were made and many bad practices discovered and stopped. For example, lemonade must be made from lemons rather than from acid powder was one order enforced. It was noticeable that the eating places having screens were the most popular.

The second season of pure food education is naturally less strenuous for the committee, but not so for the inspector, who, if she be the woman for the place, continually finds new problems to be solved. No small part of her time must be devoted to receiving complaints and assisting merchants in planning ways of complying more completely with the law. She should be kind, tactful, firm and resourceful, with a touch of the Sherlock Holmes quality.

It is well to invite the members of the city council and board of health to take an early spring drive to the city dumping grounds and slaughter houses—early enough to find conditions at their worst.

No one factor can make for the health of a community more surely than a strict enforcement of the pure food laws. This enforcement by a special officer makes it possible for bad practices of all kinds to be traced and eliminated, either by persuasion or fine. It makes it possible for the poor to be 74supplied with clean, pure food, and this is really the greatest good that can come of the law, since the well-to-do, who buy at large, well-kept stores on main business streets, where neatness is an asset, can more easily influence the food merchants. The poor, buying in small quantities, patronize the small, ill-kept store in the vicinity of the home, and have little influence. With food inspectors, one store is as rigidly scrutinized as another, and the small buyer at the small, out-of-the-way store has equal protection with the large buyer at the large store in the center of business.

In response to an inquiry the following report comes later from Mrs. Leonard:

The municipal abattoir was built in Grand Forks, and, by dint of all the pressure the Civic League could bring to bear, it was put in working order after being carelessly constructed. After working for years to get the abattoir and telling the Council what features were necessary to make it efficient and sanitary, not one of the women was put on the advisory committee, even, when it was being built. It is still far from perfect and yet scarcely a week passes that the food inspector does not receive inquiries for plans and advice from towns all over the West, such is the interest in the smaller Western cities in doing things for themselves. With all the bad management, the abattoir has some months paid expenses, which is an excellent showing for so new an institution.

The activity of Indiana women was a large factor in the establishment of a state laboratory of hygiene under the Board of Health charged with the examination of food and drugs and assistance in the enforcement of health laws. The chief of the food research laboratory in Philadelphia is a woman—Dr. Mary Pennington.

Missouri women pledged their efforts to a pure food crusade some time ago, while the excellent laws in Texas reflect the interest of the women of that state. In 1906 the women of Iowa drafted a pure food bill which they presented 75to the legislature. In Ohio where fair legislation existed, the women worked to have it enforced.

In Kansas State Food Commissioner Fricke appealed to the club women to aid him in enforcing food regulations of that state by acting as volunteer inspectors. Where they have not been asked by city and state officials to act, women have often proceeded to act on their own initiative. An official inspection and report on dairy products were recently undertaken by Chicago Club women during the session of the National Dairy Show. Women in Louisiana are active in the inspection of bakeries, meat markets and dairies. It is largely due to the work of women that fruit stands and markets are screened in New Orleans, a city in utmost need of such care. This is true of many other cities. Louisiana has a woman as state health inspector—Agnes Morris.

In Wheeling, West Virginia, the club women have been asking for a woman food inspector. Tacoma, Washington, is one of those cities which already have a woman serving in that capacity. Such a clean food supply is reported from that city that other communities in the state are imitating its example. The women of Seattle, Washington, transformed some old plants into five large modern sanitary bakeries.

Mrs. Sarah Evans was in 1909 Inspector of Markets in Portland, Oregon, and her publication of clean market requirements was the inspiration of more than one organization of women for better civic conditions.

The Housewives’ League, organized and directed by Mrs. Julian Heath of New York, has the twofold aim of securing pure food uncontaminated by dust and flies and of securing it at a lower cost. In the general pure food war, Mrs. Heath and her assistant, Miss M. E. McOuat, have, among other things, sought to interest girls in their teens in the purity and cleanliness of the candy and soda water they buy. Open-air meetings in the poorer districts of New York City, where cheap and dangerous wares are on every hand, have been held to warn young children against poisons 76of various kinds. At the same time this organization has assisted those officials who have sought to induce storekeepers to carry better varieties. They have also reported violations of the law as they have been discovered.

The Women’s Health Protective Association of Philadelphia had a Bakeshop Committee which visited bakeries and consulted with the bakers themselves over conditions. The state of affairs that was revealed to the women led to a public agitation and legislation controlling the most unsanitary features of these places.

A new bakeshop code secured by the women of Cleveland requires absolute cleanliness and a ten-hour day for employees. A “White List” is published showing those bakers who best observe the code.

Mrs. E. E. McKibber, chairman of the Food Sanitation Committee of the General Federation of Clubs, has sent a letter to the clubs of each state to this effect:

“Do you as club women keep yourselves informed and discriminate against poor food as you do against poor clothing?

“Have you helped pass an ordinance looking to a better food supply, to the better handling of food?

“Have you any organization in your town that looks after the food supply?”

This pressure by the chairman of the Food Sanitation Committee of the clubs indicates that hundreds of committees representing thousands of women are instituting a constructive campaign for better and cleaner food.

The Women’s Municipal League of Boston has been very active. “The cleanliness and hygienic condition of markets seems to me to belong peculiarly to woman’s province,” writes the chairman of its market committee, “and I confess it gives me a certain feeling of shame that a comparatively small and new city like Portland should be more civilized in this respect than Boston. It is, however, encouraging to think that Portland has been brought to this standard 77from a lower condition than Boston’s by the efforts of a few women.”

The Boston League in connection with its market work made a study of oysters last year in their relation to the transmission of infectious diseases, and cold storage.

For an investigation of provision shops, twenty-four Radcliff students were used who conducted the investigations “with enthusiasm and success, bringing to the committee papers of decided ability. Could this plan, modified perhaps in some details, be extended successfully over the whole city there would result from it such a mass of information respecting the small shops as would cast a very strong light upon the whole problem of the proper marketing of the food supply in a big city. As far as we know no such investigation has been undertaken before.”

The Boston League has very positive ideas about legislation and enforcement, as the analysis in its 1913 report indicates.

Sometimes despairing of securing the sanitary conditions that they deem essential in the handling of food, women seek to establish public markets under stricter surveillance. In Pasadena, California, for instance, the Shakespeare Club sought to persuade the City Fathers to establish a free public market under conditions satisfactory to intelligent housewives. The City Fathers ignored the plea and the women are raising money with which to finance the enterprise themselves. The Pasadena Elks have donated a lot and the women will pay an overseer and make rules for the sale of foodstuffs.

Market conditions in New Orleans are being closely studied by a committee of housewives, headed by that very able woman, Mrs. J. C. Matthews. Among the recommendations are:

The repeal of all restricting ordinances which militate against healthy competition in the handling of produce—game, fruits, fish and meats.

78That the city maintain two or three model sanitary central markets for the wholesale and retail handling of supplies.

That a market commission composed of men and women be appointed to coöperate with the commissioner in charge of the markets, so as to secure the best possible sanitary and distributing conditions.[11]

Pure Drugs

In connection with this battle for pure food and drugs, it is interesting to see open credit given, in a conservative and anti-feminist paper in New York like The Times, to a woman for securing the new drug law in 1914. Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt led the fight for this new legislation which goes further than any other in stopping the sale of habit-forming drugs in that it provides a simple and effective way of discovering and punishing the sellers of such drugs as cocaine and opium. Chloral, morphine and opium and any compounds and preparations derived therefrom can no longer be sold except on the prescription of a regularly licensed medical practitioner or dentist or veterinarian. Prosecutions have already taken place under the new law. While the new drug law was due to Mrs. Vanderbilt, according to the newspaper headlines and the discussion of its passage in the above mentioned paper, influential men and women were her active aiders and abettors. Among these were judges of the New York courts, men and women probation officers, representatives of both sexes from reformatory institutions, the prison associations, and others. Dr. Katharine B. Davis, the city commissioner of corrections, worked for the success of the measure.

Pure Water

Pure water as well as pure food and drugs has been the starting-point of many a woman’s organization formed for 79civic purposes or for a combination of cultural and civic endeavor.

National recognition was won by the women of New Orleans, members of the Era Club, in their successful efforts for a municipal sewerage, water and drainage system. The yellow fever epidemic that raged in that city a few years ago and its attendant sacrifice of life aroused the women even more than the men to the imperative need of a pure water supply and a scientific drainage system adapted to the peculiar conditions of that city.

The women seem to have felt the need; the men to have appreciated the difficulties in the way of securing the system. The Era Club believed that, where there is a need, there is a way and the men finally agreed. Practically every house in the city at the time of the epidemic had a cesspool. “The drainage system was incomplete and inadequate, dependent upon a few drainage machines which paddled the water through troughs into the canals and eventually into Lake Ponchartrain. After a heavy rainfall the streets were flooded; in some sections the water would stand for days.”

Still the men hesitated to undertake the kind of an enterprise that local conditions demanded. For the first and only time the women of New Orleans, who were qualified, voted, instigated and led by that splendid Southern woman, Kate Gordon.

The Survey thus describes the attitude taken by the women:

Under the Louisiana Constitution women property-holders may vote at elections for authorizing municipal bond issues, and any woman who objects to going to the polls may send a proxy, provided that the proxy be given in the presence of two witnesses, which witnesses, by a strange mingling of the old and the new order of things, must be men. The work undertaken by the Era Club was to get the signature of one-third of the taxpayers to a petition praying for a special election; to arouse sufficient interest among both men and women 80to induce them to vote at the special election, and to furnish proxies to those ladies who feared that by going to the polls they might incur the stigma of being called a new woman. And all this the Era Club accomplished. The special election was held, the women voted or sent proxies, and the necessary sum was authorized. As three-fourths of the property-holders of the city were women, the significance of this work is apparent.

The area that had to be drained and properly supplied with sewers comprised 37½ square miles and 700 miles of streets, and it is claimed even by outsiders that this undertaking was the largest public work of this character ever put through at one time in the United States.

That the women of New Orleans have not voted since that occasion is no evidence of their discouragement at their first vote. Municipal bonds are not issued at every election and these alone entitle any of them to vote. Suffrage conferences are held in New Orleans and the agitation for a wider suffrage in Louisiana is being carried on by the same women who so ably fought to secure pure water for New Orleans.

This would seem like the most direct kind of health work, for we learn that “the death rate has been reduced 20 per cent., business confidence has been restored and New Orleans is today one of the healthiest and most delightful cities of the country,” according to one of the lovers of the city.

One of the papers on the Pacific Coast, the Pasadena Star, recently reported that:

[United States] Surgeon-General Blue pays a handsome, but deserved, tribute to the efficiency of women in practical aid in making cities sanitary, referring particularly to the excellent work of women in San Francisco, in their invaluable assistance in eradicating the plague from the bay city, a few years ago.

81From the southern extremity of the continent we pass almost to the northern, noting on our way many a successful attempt of women in towns and cities, to improve water conditions.

In Woonsocket in the dry region of South Dakota the women of a club requested the Town Fathers to supply them with pure and more abundant water. Regret was expressed by the fathers that they could not comply with the request. The women, nothing daunted, organized an Improvement Association, collected money and hired an expert to drill an artesian well. When plenty of pure water gushed forth, the town officials consented to lay mains through the streets and allow the people to receive water from this excellent source. The women were then successful also in persuading the fathers to plan a beautiful park, or accept their own plans for the same, with a charming artificial lake as the crowning pleasure.[12]

In New Mexico the Woman’s Club of Roswell behaved in much the same way. It was irrigation that seemed the crying need of that region. The club had a well dug and erected a tank which holds several thousands of gallons of water. As the women had previously planted some hundreds of trees in their town, they were thus able to maintain them also in a healthy condition.

One who reads the following somewhat casual report of a victory in a fight for better water might have no appreciation of the fact that it was the women of New Canaan who did the fighting, and hard fighting it was, for the filtration plant in their vicinity:

Agitation by the local Civic League for an improved water supply for New Canaan, Connecticut, recently won, through the Public Utilities Commission, a victory which may lead to important results throughout the state. The League, aided by an engineer and a sanitary expert, after a three-day hearing at Hartford, secured an order directing the private water 82company to install a filtration plant and equipment to purge the water of all odor and color.

The lawyer for the water company in his brief declared that if the request of the petitioners were granted the previous railroad work of the Commission would be small in comparison with what was ahead in adjudicating similar appeals relating to water supply in other towns. “The Commission,” said one of the petitioners after the verdict had been handed down, “has rendered this decision, so let us hope that good days are ahead for Connecticut in regard to water supply, and that it may lead to an efficient system of state inspection.”

It was the women who refused to accept the findings of the male authorities with reference to the purity of the water and proposed methods for its control. Experts were engaged by them and their activity at the hearings at Hartford made their determination to have better water so clear that the men yielded and now New Canaan is proud of its achievement—so proud that notices of the same necessitate an inquiry into the personnel of the Civic League for a complete story.

Public Baths

Women were instrumental in establishing public baths in several cities; notably in Pittsburgh, where The Civic Club of Allegheny County led in the agitation. The Woman’s Institute of Yonkers campaigned for baths in that community and some were secured. In cases where women have been directly interested in having baths arranged for the people, better sanitary conditions seem sometimes to have prevailed than in cases where they just passively approved and the city established the baths. In Newark, New Jersey, for example, a few women made an examination of the conditions of the public baths which had been established in that city for some time. To their horror they found them in a positively infected condition and their task 83therefore was the purification of existing bathing places. This they had to bring about by public sentiment and its concentration on the officials responsible for the condition of affairs. A water supply in every home, therefore, interests many women far more than any public bath proposal.

Public Laundries

There is more foundation for the arguments in favor of public wash houses than for the arguments in favor of public baths. Whatever the equipment in individual homes for bathing, and however excellent the individual water service, there are health considerations of a very different character to be met in connection with the family laundry work. In large towns and even in small towns in congested areas there are no facilities for drying the clothes and the sanitary conditions which result from indoor home drying are deplorable and dangerous. In addition to health considerations, the mental effect of sitting in rooms filled with damp clothes is so depressing that many a man and many a boy or girl has fled from home to the saloon and dance hall as a more cheerful place to spend the evening. The poor mother who has done the washing must bear its company in solitary submission.

In an effort to alter this pathetic condition of affairs, some attempt has been made to establish public laundries with drying rooms attached and every facility for rapid and sanitary disposal of the weekly laundry. There are economic features which add reasonableness to the agitation for public laundries, for the waste of fuel and energy involved in individual fires for washing and ironing is incalculable and useless, for the most part.

The Civic Club of Allegheny County has laundries in connection with its bath houses, but their use is a matter of gradual education as the masses are slow to give up cherished customs, however harmful and wasteful. Where day 84nurseries exist side by side with the public wash house or in close proximity the situation is more easily met as then the mothers can leave their babies in safe hands while they are at work in the laundry. Philadelphia, Buffalo, Baltimore and Elmira and a very few other cities have already these public wash houses.

Clean Streets

Woman’s historic function having been along the line of cleanliness, her instinct when she looks forth from her own clean windows is toward public cleanliness. Her indoor battle has been against the dirt that blew in from outside, against the dust and ashes of the streets, and the particles of germ-laden matter carried in from neglected refuse piles. Ultimately she begins to take an interest in that portion of municipal dusting and sweeping assigned to men; namely, street cleaning.

A volume itself could be written on the activities of women for clean streets and public places. Little towns have needed and received the treatment even as the great cities—not every little town nor every large city but countless numbers of them. Lack of space prevents the recounting here of many significant or typical cases of women’s work for public cleanliness as an aid to general health.

The Women’s Civic League of Baltimore originated in that city the idea of a “Clean City Crusade,” and its application was acknowledged by city officials to have been of great assistance to various departments: street cleaning, fire and health. Chief Engineer August Emrich of the Fire Department said, in 1913, that the fire losses for 1912 were less than they had been for the previous 34 years, and he gave much of the credit for this result to the Clean City Crusade which led to the removal of rubbish and other inflammable materials.

That Pennsylvania women generally are alert to the 85needs of greater public cleanliness is evidenced by the publication issued by the Civics Committee of the State Federation of Pennsylvania Women of which Mrs. Owen Wister was chairman. This is a list of suggestions for the “Observance of Municipal Housecleaning Day,” and consists of practical directions for this work with a list of civic activities closely allied with “housecleaning day” which should be undertaken as rapidly as possible.

The Civic Club of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, says: “It is no longer necessary for us to maintain at our own cost the practical experiment we began in street cleaning or to advocate the paving of a single principal street as a test of the value of improved city highways, nor is it necessary longer to strive for a pure water supply, a healthier sewerage system, or the construction of playgrounds for the pleasure of our fellow-citizens. This work is now being done by city councils or the Board of Public Works and by the Park Commission.” That was in 1906 and it proves that, after one or two demonstrations of the possibilities and practical advantages of cleanings, the city proves ready to assume the responsibility for them.

The next great problem is how to keep the city clean, for real health protective work is not a matter of annual and sensational hauling away of miscellaneous rubbish, but an every-day-in-the-year campaign for the elimination of disease-breeding germs and dust provokers. As they volunteered to show the wisdom of better disposal of rubbish and of street flushing and oiling, so women are volunteering to educate the people to desire permanent cleanliness. The inherited instincts of the cleanly housekeeper thus become a valuable municipal asset.

In Philadelphia, Mrs. Edith Pearce, a club woman, is a city inspector of street cleaning. The Woman’s Home Companion thus described the way she goes about her work:

First she planned for making the children her aids, teaching them not only to refrain from throwing fruit skins, paper 86and other rubbish into the street, but also to prevent others from so doing. She reached the children and awoke in them a wholesome interest in the city’s appearance by means of addresses in the public schools and the distribution of simple circulars. Then she urged clubs, neighborhood groups and whole communities to coöperate with the street cleaners. In one week she addressed ten of the city’s leading clubs for women on her chosen theme. In the crowded poorer sections she speaks from a soap box to corner gatherings of the housekeepers of the neighborhood, telling them, often with the aid of an interpreter, how to handle their waste, and inspiring them to do their part in keeping their surroundings clean and sanitary. She has found that the Italian, Polish, and Russian mothers whom she addresses become deeply interested in municipal housecleaning; some of them “point with pride” to alleys, formerly reeking with filth but now clean and orderly.

The American Journal of Hygiene recently printed a paper by Mrs. Ellen H. Richards of Boston on “Instructive Inspection,” elucidating the advantages to be derived from the Board of Health’s appointment of a teacher to be sent with power like any other inspection officer “wherever ignorance, usually diagnosed as stubbornness,” is found.

Detroit club women are asking to be appointed as instructive inspectors to do this kind of work while women in the Municipal League of Boston are already performing a somewhat similar service, clothed with official authority. Fifty St. Louis club women have volunteered and been accepted as city inspectors “to help make St. Louis the healthiest city in the country.”

In the sphere of municipal housekeeping, which forms such an easy transition from domestic housekeeping, women have proved themselves interested and efficient in suggesting reforms and helping to see them completed to the minutest detail.

The sanitary survey of a municipality has had to precede, of course, any large constructive proposals for improvement. One of our leading experts in this field is Mrs. Caroline 87Bartlett Crane, who has been pressed into service far and wide for this purpose. A number of her reports on sanitary and social conditions have been published, describing such places as Nashville, Tennessee; Erie, Pennsylvania; Saginaw, Michigan; Rochester, New York; and seventeen cities in Minnesota. These reports represent comparative studies on different topics; such as, water works, sewers, street sanitation, garbage collection and disposal, the smoke nuisance, milk supply, meat supply, markets and food factories, hygiene and sanitation of school houses, housing problems, almshouses and jails. These surveys were made at the request of local associations and officials, usually instigated, we believe, by women. The surveys in Minnesota, for example, were made at the invitation of the State Board of Health and the Federation of Women’s Clubs with the coöperation of the State Medical Association, the local medical societies, and the commercial clubs of some of the larger cities. In Rochester the survey was undertaken at the invitation of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union seconded by the mayor and a number of official and civic organizations. Mrs. Crane has written on “Factors of the Street Cleaning Problem,” and similar questions, in a way that shows intimate acquaintance with the technique of road-making and other municipal enterprises.

The organization of junior leagues for guarding the streets has seemed to some persons, women included, as a very trivial public activity. They have had an impression that budget-making or public accounting were far more intellectual operations and of more social value. Are they?

One of the most expensive of public departments is the street cleaning one. Shall any sum demanded by the present incumbent in the office of chief of that department be granted lightly and the books be well kept and the affair end? Or shall causes of dirty streets be investigated to the full and the problem of heavy expense for cleaning be tackled perhaps by some measure for the prevention of dust and refuse? The education of the people so that they may 88desire permanent cleanliness instead of the mere excitement of a spectacular clean-up week is of the most fundamental concern. No element in that education is too insignificant to deserve attention.

Children, through ignorance, are habitual misusers of city streets, but they are also the most enthusiastic clean-up crusaders and rubbish preventers when they are once aroused. All sections of the country announce the formation of these children’s leagues to assist the women and the city officials in cleaning-up enterprises, and in carrying home the messages of prevention and the feeling of public interest which they have acquired at school or at their little meetings. In New York, circulars were printed recently in Yiddish, Italian, and English and distributed to children by women’s clubs, teachers, churches, and civic organizations, to aid the Health Department in its annual clean-up program.

Junior leagues may greatly reduce the cost of the street cleaning department and the work of the courts in enforcing city ordinances and thus materially assist in the city budget-making; but it requires tact and patience and more than a mere bookkeeper’s mind to make them effective.

Garbage Disposal

Jane Addams and other members of the Woman’s Club of Chicago on their own initiative gave a practical demonstration of their ability to keep hitherto neglected streets clean and of the wisdom of the municipal exercise of such a function. Two members of the Club later were appointed on the Municipal Garbage Commission which helped to solve Chicago’s problem in an expert and comprehensive way. Miss Mary McDowell of the University of Chicago Settlement made effective contributions to this work through a personal study of refuse disposal systems in Europe. The story of the efforts of Chicago for a proper refuse disposal system here reprinted from The Survey is well worth study:

89Recent municipal purchase of a private company’s reduction plant provides a temporary plan for the disposal of Chicago’s garbage and ends a hard civic struggle to overcome exploitation of the public on the one hand and amazing lack of official foresight and planning on the other. But it is merely an escape from a bad muddle. The struggle is still on to secure for the city a scientific and adequate city-wide system of garbage collection and disposal.

During most of the time prior to this crisis the issue had been mainly a plaything of politicians. But it began to assume a new aspect when the vote was given to women and they thus came to have a voice in municipal housekeeping.

The care of the city’s waste had been a serious matter to the Woman’s City Club, whose committee on the subject had been for three years urging the wisdom of preparing for the day, September 1, 1913, when the contract with the reduction plant would end. For nineteen years the University of Chicago Settlement had protested against making the twenty-ninth ward the city’s dumping ground, but without avail.

In the midst of the intense political fight over the garbage question there seemed to be no one with courage to lead toward any constructive plan. The administration and the aldermen played battledore and shuttlecock with the question of responsibility. At this crisis—when the summer’s heat was intense and no definite plans were in sight for caring for the daily six hundred tons of garbage—the Woman’s City Club’s Waste Committee sent a series of pointed questions to the city officials whom they held responsible for this situation. The press published these questions and, as the questioners had secured the vote, the city officials were much disturbed. They then brought the matter before the city’s Health Committee, making an adequate and scientific city-wide plan for the collection and disposal of the city’s refuse. The chairman of the Health Committee, Alderman Nance, backed by Alderman Merriam, from that moment became the leader of the movement to secure a scientific report and plan.

The members of the City Council, glad to have a definite thing to do to save themselves politically, created a City Waste Commission with an appropriation of $10,000. Two 90women from the Woman’s City Club were appointed on this commission, Mrs. William B. Owen, chairman of the Clean-up Day Committee, and Mary E. McDowell, chairman of the City Waste Committee. The club for the three years had carried to every section of the city its welfare exhibit. In connection it gave stereopticon lectures showing the city dumps and noxious garbage wagons overloaded with reeking garbage and then in contrast the motor garbage wagon of the city of Furth, Bavaria, and the model incineration plants which Miss McDowell had seen in Germany. By this method the average citizen was made more intelligent and wideawake than the city government. He had been educated to look upon dumps as antediluvian and intolerable.

The Woman’s City Club has issued bulletins to educate a public that will demand the best collection and disposal system known, one that will not be an unpleasant industry in any community, and a collection system that will make short hauls, with frequent collections in wagons that are closed tight and fly-proof. This is possible to any people who demand sanitation first and economy second, who take municipal housekeeping out of the hands of politicians, put at the head of “the cleansing department” a sanitary engineer and give the city the right to collect all garbage from hotels and restaurants as well as households. According to the data shown by the Woman’s Club, the city can in this way make enough money to pay for the whole system of collection and disposal.

The movies which are being utilized all along the line have been brought into play in several places for sanitary education. In Boston one of the theaters is coöperating with the Women’s Municipal League “by giving an eight-minute picture act showing striking facts about children playing on top of sheds, in dark alleys and in the refuse from overturned garbage cans; about dirty and unsanitary streets and unsightly and obnoxious dumping at sea and on land; showing, also, better ways of doing things and better places to play, and giving the theater-goers something interesting and worth while to think about.”



Perhaps the position taken by the Civic League of St. Paul in demanding the enforcement of the Smoke ordinance illustrate very well the attitude of the women toward this nuisance. Its campaign is thus described:

This occurred quite early in our career and kicked up quite a dust, really making the atmosphere almost as murky as the smoke had done. We succeeded in doing what no power in the city had hitherto been able to do; that is, in getting the ordinance actually enforced—for about a week. The mayor’s orders were positive and not to be ignored. Several arrests were made, prosecutions by the city were conducted with vigor and judgments rendered against several offenders. It was proved to most people’s satisfaction that there were smoke consumers which consumed and smoke preventers which prevented smoke. But on an evil day it fell out that an officer “on the force” said unto himself, “Go to, this is my day for arresting somebody.” He put his telescope to his eye and, turning his back upon the wicked city where burglars and gamblers and such like birds of night disport themselves and a forest of chimneys was belching furiously, he espied a flying plume of smoke outlined upon the horizon of the Sixth Ward. “Ah,” said he, “there is my man,” and he went forth and laid rough hands upon him and fetched him into court.

Now, it happens in this city that there is one whose cry strikes terror to all hearts—it is the manufacturer. When the manufacturer doesn’t like anything, he says: “If you interfere with me I won’t play on your cellar door any more, but I’ll go over and play in Minneapolis.” That settles it. It mattered not that in this case he bought two smoke consumers on his way home, which people in his employ testify not only materially decreased the smoke, but saved fuel as well. The mischief was done. The newspapers went into spasms and told how there was “money in the smoke,” as the current saying runs in Pittsburgh.

Far be it from the loyal women of the Civic League to 92interpose a barrier to the tide of our city’s prosperity. Rather let our carpets lose their patterns and our draperies forget their color—if there’s “money in the smoke,” our lords can buy us more. Though the clothes we wear are ruined, though the air we breathe is foul, though we cannot see the sun, we will wipe our smut-begrimed faces, Oh my sisters, and be joyful if there’s “money in the smoke.”

But is there? Is it not true that 99 per cent. of the smoke which pollutes the atmosphere we breathe is belched forth, not from the chimneys of factories, not from the smokestacks of producers in any capacity, but is the direct result of the carelessness, selfishness and indifference of the owners of office buildings, apartment houses and—more shame to us—the public buildings of the city. If citizens are to be required to put up patiently and peaceably with the smoke, it behooves the men of the city who profess to like it so much to make their boast good. Let them develop manufactures; let them found new industries; let them turn the energy and creative force of our people to making things which the world wants to buy—let them put “money in the smoke.” Then at least will there be some compensation for the inconvenience, the filth and the waste which the people are called upon to endure.[13]

The women of Baltimore have been educating their city to see the folly of smoking chimneys, with considerable success.

From every section of the country come reports of antismoke committees in women’s organizations and it all points to the fact that women are just housecleaning as usual.

Flies, Mosquitoes, Rats

Flies, mosquitoes, and rats as spreaders of disease have been attacked with avidity by women.

“The anti-fly campaigning is a movement of more far-reaching importance and more promising of prolonged life 93and freedom from disease than perhaps any other single activity going forward in the community,” said Mayor Baker of Cleveland recently in a letter to the city council.

The leader in the effort for a “flyless city of Cleveland” has been Jean Dawson, professor of civic biology at the Normal School. In her work emphasis was as usual these days laid on prevention, and breeding places were attacked. As it had been estimated that a single pair of flies is capable of reproducing two million young flies, the necessity of such a movement was evident. Owners of stables throughout Cleveland were compelled to clean-up, and keep clean, their premises. The schools were utilized in an educational campaign and various civic bodies together with the health officials eagerly coöperated.

The interesting thing about this campaign in Cleveland is that it started before the flies hatched; in fact, it was directed against the winter flies before they could lay their eggs. Miss Dawson issued a “fly-catechism” which helped to win the coöperation of the women of the city in her effort to eliminate the pest.

The occasional threat of bubonic plague and its actual appearance now and then in port cities draws the serious attention of the public to the necessity for the elimination of the rat. “Starve the rat and let him go” is the war cry of women in New Orleans as well as in other cities, especially as it becomes recognized that it is not merely the rat but the fleas which live upon it which are carriers of disease.


The excessive noise in urban communities adds to the nervous tension under which city dwellers must live. Effort has been made with some success to reduce the “yelling peril” as it has been called; namely, the nervous peril that results from trying to study, to sleep, to convalesce, or to work in the midst of constant uproar.

94Mrs. Isaac Rice instigated the anti-noise crusade in New York in the desire to make her city a better place in which to sleep, for one thing. Nerve specialists and hospital superintendents and baby doctors have been among those who have added the weight of their testimony to the value of a quieter urban life. Through the agitation carried on by Mrs. Rice and the committee she formed, 80 per cent. of the river whistles were driven, by means of congressional and municipal legislation, out of the waters that surround the island-city. New legislation which Mrs. Rice and her colleagues secured caused certain streets like those in front of schools and hospitals to be marked as such, and driving laws enforced to prevent fast driving and the blowing of automobile horns in the vicinity of such places. “Walk your horses—hospital street” is as familiar a sign in New York now as “Keep off the grass.”

Mr. Edward A. Abbott, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who has also worked for a quieter home city, says of the anti-noise crusade initiated by Mrs. Rice: “The unfortunates in the hospitals and the babies in the cradles of the great city, if they knew their benefactress, would canonize her.” In Chattanooga the campaign was planned to show “by argument and testimony that noise injures health, disturbs the right development of infants, destroys the value of property, hinders the growth of cities, promotes hate and resentment and is useless and silly.” The ringing of railroad and other bells, crowing roosters, barking dogs and church chimes were attacked in that southern city.

That many women are not unmindful of the fact that the anti-noise movement must not be purely a middle-class movement is indicated by their activity against prolonged hours of work amid the whir of factory machinery. Noiseless machinery has not yet been a possibility, whatever the future may hold in store for us in that respect; but any attempt to limit one’s interest in health to a particular group is short-sighted, to say the least. Jaded nerves are to be found in large numbers among the factory men and women 95and boys and girls, whose daily bread is won amid the incessant din of wheels and engines during a long work day. Miss Goldmark has fully established the evils of these conditions, and she speaks for a vast number of women in her analysis of, and emphasis upon, overwork amid machinery as a cause of excessive fatigue. Women physicians also are calling attention to the conditions of factory labor.

Health Associations

Among other miscellaneous health activities of value may be mentioned the American Posture League, which has been incorporated in New York to start an organized campaign to secure “correct posture or carriage of the body as of fundamental importance for health and efficiency.” The points of immediate attack are to be: school furniture, and seats in cars, theaters and other public places. Men and women in medical and educational professions are on the committee.

While women are working in their localities and through their clubs for improved health conditions, they are also affiliated in large numbers with general associations interested in the advancement of public and private hygiene.

The National First Aid Association of America, an inspiration of Clara Barton, is a life-saving agency of incalculable worth. Young and old are taught methods by its members to bring quick and proper relief to the injured, which may preserve their lives until a physician can give them better care. Policemen and firemen are taught this lesson and Boy Scouts are becoming adepts in first aid.

A Central Council of Public Health was lately formed by the Academy of Medicine, in New York, to act “as a medium for concerted action by various health agencies, when need should arise.” While not distinctly a woman’s council, it is composed both of women and men representing women’s and men’s organizations.

96Its general aims and purposes are thus set forth:

1. To provide for conferences of private health organizations,

2. To act as a clearing house for the exchange of ideas and information in reference to the public health of the city,

3. To coördinate and prevent duplication of the various public health activities of the city,

4. To promote coöperation in the investigation and study of health problems,

5. To study the city budget in its relation to public health,

6. To take an active interest in the administration of all such branches of the city government as have a direct bearing on public health, and

7. To provide for a combined expression of opinion on matters relating to public health.

At the first of their conferences on the city’s health, members of the Council discussed the problem with the police commissioner and the health commissioner and there was an exchange of viewpoints that was of inestimable value.

At the great Hygienic Congress held at Buffalo in 1914 women were prominent during the sessions and they helped largely to awaken public interest in the meeting. Report had it that 7,000 representatives of women’s clubs coöperated to secure the participation of school and civic authorities in the Congress. At the Fifteenth International Congress of Hygiene and Demography which was held in Washington, D. C., last year, women not only participated but furnished one of the most interesting features of the event—a notable health exhibit.

If Lord Beaconsfield’s test of statesmanship were applied today, women would be seen to qualify.



The awakening of women to the low social status of their sex is the most encouraging fact of the century. With the revelations which have come both from women and from men physicians, nurses, and scientists of the causes, spread, and effects of venereal diseases, the conscience and intelligence of women have fairly leaped in response to the demand made upon them for recognition of the situation and for remedies and prevention.

Their work here as elsewhere has been varied; for the problem of prevention is complex, many causes more or less combining to produce the undesirable vice conditions. There are those, for example, who make underfeeding—malnutrition—responsible for the physical and mental defects which distort the mind and the will and which feed houses of prostitution and the clandestine trade. Others lay emphasis upon the liquor traffic and refer to the obvious connection between bars and dance halls, between liquor and feeble-mindedness and degeneracy in general. Yet others see in the commercial spirit of the age and the avarice for profits and unearned livelihoods the basis of sex vice. Education, the responsibility of doctors and parents, marriage laws and customs, recreation, labor conditions and wages all receive their emphasis in the discussion of the causes of sex irregularities and morbidity.

In each line of thought and endeavor women will be found today in the United States as leaders in the crusade against the social evil. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs 98some time ago took official cognizance of the imperative necessity for women to attack the evils which eat at the heart of womanhood and maternity and thus endanger the infant and the adult man and woman. At its Biennial Convention in Chicago in June, 1914, the Federation made all aspects of this question one of its main considerations for study and action.

As a further evidence of the determination of club women not to shrink from the discussion of this question, we have The American Club Woman, the organ of the Federation, declaring under the heading, “Women Will Not Hush Up,” as follows:

There is deep significance in the fact that women are rejecting the idea of keeping silent about vice problems. There is strong enthusiasm for the suppression of the social evil. A well-known New York club woman said the other day: “I attend committee meetings and discuss the facts about the social evil in as impersonal a manner as I do child labor or the high cost of living. Twenty years ago I would have blushed with embarrassment at the mention of the social evil in a mixed company of men and women. I know my mother would have been terribly shocked at the idea of my reading a report on the white slave traffic.”

Times change. I believe we may make mistakes, but if we women are asking for political equality, we had better know what is happening to other women. It is as much our duty to try to suppress the so-called social evil as it is to promote higher education or secure a living wage for women in employment.

Apropos of this humane sentiment, we note that women in various parts of the country are tackling the problem with a vigor and common-sense that astonishes city officials.

In Detroit recently the club women persuaded the city officials to coöperate with civic organizations and order disorderly houses to close and stay closed after a certain date.

A peculiar phase of the situation is that no provision seems to have been made for the women who will be turned out of these resorts. Being human, even if immoral, they are likely to continue living and the presumption is that those who 99profit by their traffic will remove them to some other city—which is not exactly a final solution of the evil.

The club women who have labored so earnestly to improve the morals of their city are not to blame. They would be glad to see an asylum provided where such women might be cared for and given an opportunity to return to a normal life, but the State has not provided any such shelter, although the matter has been before the legislature more than once. Possibly some effort will be made by private subscription to do this work which the State should look after.

Michigan is no worse than many other States in this respect and Detroit shows courage in attempting to stamp out an evil which is usually allowed to flourish without restraint. The case only illustrates what confusion exists when practical measures of reform are attempted. The study of social hygiene and eugenics inevitably leads to the consideration of the ugly problems of life. Any attempt at their solution is certainly better than the ignorant or indifferent attitude which women have hitherto been encouraged to take. Women are beginning to revolt against the atrocities of commercialized vice. They do not believe that all this degradation is inevitable. Every protest brings us nearer some right solution of the whole problem of woman’s place in life.

Congress of Mothers

The Congress of Mothers likewise refuses to ignore a matter so vitally related to motherhood. This organization has for one of its chief aims the promotion of high ideals of marriage “and the maintenance of its sacredness and permanence.” Its attitude toward life is primarily religious, and the leaders believe that more religious education in the home is the crying need which will prevent immorality. The Congress of Mothers is active and successful in forming mothers’ circles, fathers’ circles, and parent-teacher associations for the purpose of discussing the needs of childhood and increasing the sense of responsibility among parents.

100Such responsibility undoubtedly can be improved and needs to be improved. The social evil is not solved thereby, however, for economic conditions affect that responsibility in varying degrees. The mother who must work out of the home long hours, or the father who toils on a night-shift or for ten, twelve or fourteen hours a day has no time or strength to devote to children, however great the inclination.

Parents who have themselves grown up in a congested area, who have been overworked and underfed and surrounded from infancy with a vicious environment cannot be reached always with a religious or moral appeal and, even if they are, they cannot always persuade their children to forsake the attractions of the street and the saloon and the resort for a quiet evening of prayer at home with the father and mother. Many women accept the judgment and observation of Dr. Abraham Flexner that the social evil swallows up in greater proportion than any other “the unskilled daughters of the unskilled classes,” and they would therefore substitute for, or supplement, the instilling of moral precept, by industrial training, housing reform, regulation of hours and conditions of labor, control of recreational facilities, the minimum wage, mothers’ pensions and many other reforms.

In these articles of a social program, the Congress of Mothers would join forces part of the way. It is when suffragists insist on the need of political power for mothers that the forces separate, for the Congress of Mothers inclines to the individualist theory of causation and responsibility.

The value of the agitation carried on by the Congress of Mothers lies in its appeal to middle- and upper-class men and women who often lightly ignore their family duties and entrust the care of children to incompetent nurses or maids during their formative years. The organization of parent-teacher associations increases the knowledge of both of these important agencies in the molding of the child’s character and is of inestimable value in the sphere where 101it can be employed. Just as hospital work has to be supplemented by family treatment of an economic character, so this work has to be supplemented by social-economic work to cover larger sections of the community.

This wider social program is now on the horizon of all those women who supplement individualistic morality by social morality and attempt to understand the causes which operate on men and women in masses. Where the women have this larger vision, they are demanding to know the facts—the plain, unvarnished facts. They will not be put off by a “There, there, now,” or “The time is not propitious.” We see women everywhere backing movements for commissions to study the social evil in all its aspects, individual and social, and where such commissions are established we frequently find women serving on them or coöperating in the investigation.

Vice Commissions

While their presence upon state and city vice commissions is of recent accomplishment, it is one of the striking recognitions of the fact that women have a vital part to play in the solution of the social evil.

Dr. Mabel Sims Ulrich was appointed a member of the vice commission by the mayor of Minneapolis in recognition of her pioneer work in education. She took her medical degree at Johns Hopkins and went to Minneapolis in joint practice with her husband. Gradually the question of sex education obtruded itself into her work. She was a mother as well as a physician and mothers came to her for advice; then the Y. W. C. A. sent her about to colleges and universities to impart knowledge on this subject. Thus her experience made her a valuable member of the vice commission.

The Chicago Vice Commission of 1912, the first of its kind appointed by a municipality and financed by the city treasury, consisted of thirty well-known men and women. 102An important part of the investigation was made by women or under their direction.

Following upon the recommendation of a Baltimore grand jury, the governor of Maryland appointed in 1913 a commission of fifteen members, some of whom were women.

Lucia L. Jaquith, superintendent of the Memorial Hospital of Worcester, Massachusetts, was a member of the Massachusetts Vice Commission which reported to the legislature in March, 1914. Its recommendations consist of: a modified form of the Iowa injunction and abatement law, penalizing the property in which prostitution is carried on rather than the prostitute; laws giving licensing boards more stringent supervision over cafés, hotels and saloons and authority to license boarding-houses and public dance halls; and a measure requiring all persons found in a building or place used for prostitution to state under oath their true names and residences. “A constructive plan of favorably modifying the conditions of prostitution demands definite knowledge of the class of men who patronize the prostitute,” is the opinion of this commission. Policewomen were suggested and a state police “untrammeled by local prejudices and alliances” to coöperate with local officials in suppressing immoral resorts in small towns and cities.

The Women’s Municipal League of Boston which had made plans for an investigation of vice conditions turned over much valuable data to this state commission. Another group of workers, under the chairmanship of Miss Marion Nickols, had undertaken similar work and also decided to help the commission.

The most notable report of a vice commission recently issued is, according to The Survey, that of Portland, Oregon (a suffrage state):

It includes a series of reports issued since the commission’s appointment in 1911. One of the series deals with the places of public resort and accommodation affected by 103the social evil. It concludes with the famous “tin-plate ordinance,” which requires that “on the front of every building used, either in whole or in part, as a hotel, apartment house, rooming, lodging, boarding, tenement house, or saloon, there shall be, at the principal street entrance, a conspicuous plate or sign bearing the name and address of the owner or owners of such buildings.” This, of course, greatly facilitates the apprehension and conviction of those responsible for violating the law against disorderly resorts.

This ordinance is reported to have had the effect of driving immoral people from the buildings they have occupied for years, because the owners were afraid to risk the publicity and responsibility of their presence and practices. Many of these buildings are now being remodeled and occupied by a better class of tenants.

Another report of the series deals with the legal and police aspect of the social evil which led to the enactment of the law for enjoining and abating houses of ill fame as nuisances. A bill was also recommended creating a morals court. Finding the division of responsibility a cause of inefficiency and corruption in the police department, the commission recommends the vesting of full authority over the department in one man, as the most effective way of handling the social evil problem. Study of the juvenile aspects of the social evil led to specific sources of vice and the beginnings of moral delinquency, and resulted in the recommendation that a child welfare commission be appointed, which should be “charged with the study of the general subject of juvenile life.”

While realizing the desirability of requiring vice diseases to be reported and registered, the commission doubted whether public opinion would support the enforcement of such a law. It considered a vigorous campaign of education the most necessary step for the control of these diseases. It recommended, however, that all cases encountered in dispensaries, hospitals, juvenile and municipal courts, penal institutions, maternity hospitals, rescue homes, and all places of detention, should be officially reported. The commission also urged that the city contribute to the support of free dispensaries for the treatment of these diseases and that the Department of Health make tests for the diagnosis of these diseases without charge.

104Wage scales were examined to determine the economic sources of the social evil and much interesting information was gathered. Human interest stories were revealed showing the need of a minimum wage for women workers, improved sanitation in shops and stores, shorter hours of labor and industrial education.

The commission records its emphatic opposition to segregation in Portland for the following reasons:

“Segregation does not segregate; deals only with a small percentage of the sexually immoral; promotes and justifies professional prostitution; does not reduce clandestine immorality; helps to establish a double standard of morality by stigmatizing the woman and ignoring the moral responsibility of the man; rests on the false presumption that sexual immorality is necessary; fosters the debauchery of the sex instinct; promotes the spread of disease; and affords official absolution for illegal and immoral conduct.”

Perhaps the most significant assertion in the whole impressive report is this sentence: “When any considerable number of men question the necessity of an evil it marks the beginning of the end. It is here that this commission rests and finds justification of its labors.”

Portland has since passed the “tin-plate ordinance” recommended by the commission and so strongly approved by women voters. Indeed this measure has commended itself to women everywhere in the country.

The Women’s League for Good Government of Elmira, New York, made an investigation of vice conditions under the American Vigilance Association during the summer of 1913. The results of this investigation were first given to the public at a great mass meeting held in one of the theaters in October. At this meeting a summary of the investigator’s report was given by one of the clergymen of the city. The theater was taxed to its utmost capacity, and the overflow filled the largest church auditorium in the city. The great audiences listened with solemnity to the startling revelations of the report. The Committee on Public Morals was at once organized and it was immediately 105requested by the newly appointed police commissioners to keep a watchful eye on the cheap theaters and the “movies.” Copies of the Vice Report were sent to the newly elected city officials, and additional copies were requested by the police commissioners, into whose hands was placed the key to the Report (names of persons and places having been printed in cipher). “We have reason to believe that the Report has been helpful to the police commissioners in their efforts to enforce the laws,” say the women of Elmira.

Valuable reports have issued from the Bureau of Social Hygiene in New York, at the present time composed of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Dr. Katharine Bement Davis, the present city commissioner of corrections and former superintendent of the Woman’s Reformatory at Bedford, Paul M. Warburg, and Starr J. Murphy. For some time this Bureau had maintained a laboratory of social hygiene at the Bedford Reformatory whence Dr. Davis formed her convictions on the causes of sexual immorality. In the first publication of this Bureau—that of Mr. Kneeland on conditions of vice in New York City—Dr. Katharine Davis has a summary of the conclusions of the Bedford laboratory. Her personal convictions she states in this way: “I say unhesitatingly that in the vast majority of cases she [the prostitute] is a victim. Prostitution as now conducted in this country and in Europe is very largely a man’s business; the women are merely tools in the hands of the stronger sex. It is a business run for profit and the profit is large. It is my belief that less than 25 per cent. of the prostitutes in this country would have fallen if they had had an equally good chance to lead a pure life. That they have been dragged into the mire in such large numbers is due to a variety of circumstances, among which are poverty, low wages, improper home conditions and lack of training, the natural desire for pretty things, etc. But while all these may be contributing causes, man is chiefly responsible.”



When commissions make investigations or some crisis forces the issue of the social evil, women are among the first to demand full publicity and effective action. A good example of their determination in this matter is afforded by the battle of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association in Hartford, Connecticut, against a conspiracy of silence on the part of the town council. This interesting episode, which stirred the whole state, is thus described in The Survey:

The names of the Hartford Common Council will not be lost to memory if a six-foot signboard in front of the woman suffrage headquarters can prevent oblivion. The sign, which placards with startling headlines the attitude of each City Father toward the suppression of commercialized vice, is the vigorous protest of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association [led by Mrs. Thomas Hepburn] against a principle which has been largely responsible for the unsavory reputation of Hartford.

In December, 1911, the trial of the notorious white slavers, Morris and Lena Cohen, revealed the fact that a policy of toleration, extending over many years, had made Hartford a recognized market for prostitutes and a center for the white slave traffic between New York and points further east. Following this disclosure, Mayor Smith ordered all houses of prostitution closed and appointed a vice commission that the problem might be attacked still more drastically in the future.

The Common Council refused to appropriate any city funds to make an investigation possible, but the vice commission was not deterred from its undertaking. It raised its own funds, carried on its investigations and in July, 1913, published a report which probes ruthlessly into the underworld of Hartford. Among the fifteen specific recommendations dealing with local conditions, the most emphatic is, “that the present policy of keeping the houses closed be adhered to rigidly.” “The experiment,” the report continues, “if such we may call it, has certainly had no evil results. Most of 107those best qualified to judge affirm that it has led to better conditions. In the face of these facts, a return to the old plan of tolerating houses of ill fame would be a deliberate connivance at an illegal traffic.” Owing to lack of money but 500 copies of this report could be published and the City Council refused to appropriate funds for further editions for general distribution to make facts known to the whole city.

But the Council did not count on the determination of the Hartford suffragists to procure a widespread dissemination of facts regarding the enormity of the vice situation. To the horror of saloon-keepers, dive-keepers, complaisant citizens, and the prominent newspapers, the Woman Suffrage Association reprinted the report and placed it for sale at suffrage headquarters in the midst of the shopping district. So much publicity was given to the matter in this way that it has become difficult for an immediate return to the old condition of a segregated vice district in the city.

Nevertheless, an aroused public sentiment did not mean an aroused Common Council. It has frequently been rumored in Hartford that the connection between commercialized vice and politics was closer than the average citizen realized. But aside from continued delay there was no evidence to show that these suspicions were well founded until, at a recent meeting, the majority of councilmen practically declared their indifference toward an illegal traffic in women. At this meeting Councilman Beadle introduced a resolution “that the Court of Common Council register its approval of the policy of repression in the regulation of vice as inaugurated by former Mayor Edward L. Smith and publicly approved by present Mayor Louis R. Cheney and that the same should be rigidly adhered to.” By a vote of 24 to 5, action on the resolution was indefinitely postponed. In other words, of 29 councilmen present Messrs. Beadle, Havens, Harger, Watson and Brockway were the only ones willing to go on record as inalienably opposed to the toleration of commercialized vice.

It was this definite committal of attitude by the Common Council which precipitated the latest insurrection by the suffrage party. In their efforts to secure a cleaner, safer Hartford, the Woman Suffrage Association is distributing pamphlets which contain salient facts in the history of vice 108regulation in Hartford and at their doors they have erected the sign appealing to the mothers of Hartford.


After investigations and publicity come remedial measures, legislative and social. Legislation for the protection of girls is fostered by women in nearly all the states now and much of it has been initiated by them. The Protective Agency for Women and Children, an outgrowth of the Chicago Woman’s Club, has secured legislation in Illinois, making crimes of indecent offenses against children. One of the most significant stories is that of the struggle for an adequate age of consent law in the states.

Lavinia Dock, in her study of “Sex and Morality,” tells of that struggle in Illinois:

The other bill, presented in the name of the federated club women of the state, amended the existing statute by raising the age of consent from 14 to 18. The course of this bill through the Legislature affords a good illustration of the difficulties met by women when they undertake to create new legislation that affects dominant man. At every meeting of the legislature since the year 1887 an amendment raising the age of consent had been presented and had been smothered in committee. This bill narrowly escaped a like fate. It was introduced in the Senate and the senators were practically unanimous in their promises to vote for it; of course their mental reservation was “if it ever gets out of committee.” The women in charge of the bill were allowed to plead their cause. Two features of the meeting were that many members of the committee who had promised support were “unavoidably absent” and that a lawyer from Chicago who was not required to disclose the interests he represented was allowed to make an elaborate attack on the proposed amendment. It quickly became evident that the Committee would not favorably consider the raise to 18 years. On a compromise at 16 the result hung in doubt until the friendly chairman, Senator Juul, who introduced the bill, decided a 109tie vote on the motion to report the bill. Once before the Senate, the senators stood by their promises and the bill was quickly passed unanimously.

In the House the bill met with a reception that was far from friendly. The committee refused to hear the women in charge of the bill and the program was silence and secrecy. The House Committee, however, did not dare to kill the bill and contented itself with adding several minor amendments apparently intended to afford loopholes of escape to offenders. When the amended bill was returned to the Senate, the women, believing the amendments to be innocuous and regarding the raising of the age by two years as a substantial victory, requested that it be passed. It was.

This bill has been a great aid to all the organizations interested in protecting young girls, and convictions have been frequent under it. But the club women were actually obliged to print both the old law and the amended law and post them in police stations and police courts to secure these convictions.

In this connection it should be stated that the very first legislation undertaken by the Iowa State Federation of Women’s Clubs was in 1894, when it petitioned the legislature to raise the age of consent in that state from 15 to 18 years; the age was raised to 16.

In practically every state in the Union women have worked for a similar age of consent but it is by no means yet established at 18 years in many places. They have also supported all other measures giving more security to girls.

The way in which California women have striven for remedial legislation is thus described by Mary Roberts Coolidge in The Survey, under the title of “California Women and the Abatement Law”:

Women voters, it is now generally conceded, were chiefly responsible for the passage by the California legislature of 1913 of two important measures dealing with the social evil. One, the bill to appropriate $200,000 for a detention home for girls, met with little opposition, because perhaps it was preventive in character. The other, the red-light abatement 110bill, was bitterly fought, not only upon the floor, but by every secret device known to vicious interests throughout the state.

Although it passed the Assembly by a vote of 62 to 17 and the Senate by a scarcely less significant majority of 29 to 11, it was apparent in the debates that many of the legislators were yielding to the demands of urgent constituents rather than to willing conviction. A political pressure, to which all politicians are accustomed when corporate and financial interests are involved, made them squirm unhappily when brought to bear by 50,000 organized women.

The red-light bill had scarcely received the governor’s signature and the women had scarcely turned their minds to the emergency measures which would be needed by those who would be thrown out of their miserable trade by the law, when rumors of a referendum to be invoked against it began to be heard. The so-called Property Owners’ Protective Association, with offices in the Phelan Building, San Francisco, became the distributing center for the referendum petitions. Two months later it was announced that they had secured over 30,000 names. As only 19,283 signatures of qualified voters were necessary to hold up the law, the referendum was assured of a place on the ballot of November, 1914.

Although disappointed that the abatement law was not to go into effect in August, some of the women leaders saw an opportunity in this delay to educate citizens further in the intent of the law itself. In this way they could insure more intelligent public support when it should finally become operative. At this stage of readjustment the questionable methods and support behind the anti-abatement referendum were suddenly exposed by the discovery that hundreds—and since then, thousands—of signatures to the petitions were not genuine. So many, indeed, that, if the facts had been known before the petitions were certified, there might have been enough to invalidate the referendum itself.

The Property Owners’ Protective Association had declared that they would get these signatures outside the bay cities in order to prove that the country was as much opposed as the cities to the law. But a scrutiny of the petitions from each county shows that out of a total of 31,930 signatures certified, 53 per cent. (17,119) were from San Francisco alone and 111that Alameda and San Francisco counties together furnished 60 per cent. of the whole, while Los Angeles gave only 19 per cent., Sacramento less than 5 per cent. and each of the other counties a negligible hundred or two names.

These figures showed where the enemy lived. The fight against this law was being made by the vice-and-liquor combination of San Francisco and Oakland, backed by property owners who were reaping the rentals of the tenderloin districts but dared not let their names be known. Against such as these, women citizens had no direct recourse. But they addressed themselves to the district attorney of San Francisco, whose duty it was to prosecute the offenders.

But in spite of the fact that forged names appeared on the referendum petitions, no indictments were made. Early in December it looked as if nothing further would be done about these frauds. The district attorney gave little evidence of continuing the cases. But until he definitely refused to take action, the governor could not be expected to direct the attorney-general to take the matter out of the district attorney’s hands.

Various committees of women continued to urge action upon the district attorney, and one group from the San Francisco Center of the California Civic League made it their business to visit him week after week to inquire what he intended to do about these forgeries. On each occasion he refused to commit himself definitely, but he could not put his polite questioners out of the office—they were women of too much social backing. Besides, all these committees of women were voters and leaders, perhaps, of unnumbered feminine electors. An uncomfortable plight certainly for an official who might not wish to go on record on a ticklish question.

The district attorney, in search of further evidence, finally sent to the office of the secretary of state at Sacramento for the original petitions. Although he declared that he had been shamefully abused by some of these groups of women, he was nevertheless compelled to take the forgery cases before a new grand jury. And, meanwhile, the press of the state was demanding results and insisting that the attorney general should prosecute the cases if the district attorney failed.

About the middle of February the district attorney again 112presented the matter before the grand jury. Indictment of one Belle Weil, who had circulated one of the referendum petitions, resulted.

In a struggle against entrenched and highly profitable evils, women may seem to be at great disadvantage. In this case there is also a body of men—small, perhaps, but of a sort that cannot be pooh-poohed—who have been carrying on an equally effective campaign of publicity and education. Women, in fact, have some advantages over men in such a contest against the powers of evil. They have as yet no party traditions to hamper them; no direct business relations to be jeopardized; and, above all, they have a larger amount of daytime leisure in which to do detail reform work and to convert small groups of people.

The various bodies of organized women who were behind the demand for the abatement and injunction law last year are now pouring out thousands of leaflets which defend and explain the cause in a simple and effective way. They are training women to speak on the subject and providing them with carefully digested information. In Berkeley the education committee of the civic center is prepared to send a speaker to any meeting where the subject may be presented; and is, moreover, asking every social, civic and religious organization—of which there are over a hundred in the town—to give time for a statement of the issues involved in the anti-abatement referendum.

Whatever the fate of the referendum, the campaign of education, which is now going on, is of the highest value to the citizens of the state. And since this referendum has been invoked by vicious methods it becomes evident that the very principles of direct legislation are at stake. If this law may be held up and perhaps defeated by forgeries, then any other may be.

Whatever the individual citizen may think of the policy of attacking the property owner who reaps the profits of commercialized vice—which is the sole aim of the abatement law—he cannot ignore the duty of guarding the referendum principle. It should be made unpleasant and unprofitable for men to tamper with petitions. And at the next legislature the law should be so strengthened as to make the punishment of such acts swift and easy.

113The act was sustained but a test case was soon made in order to bring the law before the Supreme Court, where its constitutionality must be decided.

Women are equally alert to fight legislation, dealing with the social evil, which discriminates against the sex. This fight is constantly carried to the courts, the final place of appeal, if the battle is lost in the legislature. Women succeeded in having a piece of legislation declared unconstitutional in New York four or five years ago as a result of their almost united protest against it; that is, the social workers, the suffragists, the medical women and nurses, women’s club leaders and others united in an endeavor to prevent an important measure from being put into effect after it had passed the state legislature.

The object of their attack was Clause 79 in what is known as the Page Law, which clause provided for medical examination of convicted prostitutes and their compulsory detention during treatment. Their objection to this process of “hygienizing” vice was made by the women on the ground that the prostitutes were not being imprisoned until reformed, or until sufficiently punished, but until presumably well, when they were to be returned to the streets. It was contended that this clause was utterly worthless from a sanitary standpoint and “its indirect influence, as has been proved by the history of every regulative act, will be to increase the evil which its direct influence will not be competent to cure.”

Pamphlets describing the law and its inevitable consequences were printed by the women and distributed widely among their organizations. One of these was signed by the following groups of persons: the Women’s Prison Association, which took the lead in this struggle; National Woman Suffrage Association; Hygienic Committee of the Woman’s Medical Association; Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, State of New York; The American Purity Alliance; the National Vigilance League (Men’s); Friends’ Philanthropic Committee; Council of Jewish Women, New 114York Section; Woman Suffrage Party, New York City; Equality League of Self-Supporting Women; Brooklyn Auxiliary of the Consumers’ League; and the American Federation of Nurses.

The battle for remedial measures is only half won when the desired legislation is placed on the statute books. It is hardly half won, for the enforcement of these laws is contested inch by inch by powerfully organized forces of vice with almost unlimited financial resources and the aid of the most skilled lawyers. Women are alive to this fact, and realize the necessity of eternal vigilance in law enforcement. A few passages of recent history will illustrate their determination not to relax their efforts simply because good laws have been obtained.

Judicial Decisions

Commercialized vice is a national problem recognized as such by the Mann Act which makes it a violation “for any person knowingly to persuade, induce, coerce, or cause, or to aid or assist any woman or girl to go from one state to another for prostitution, debauchery or other immoral purposes, with or without her consent. The maximum penalty if the victim be over 18 is five years’ imprisonment and $5,000 fine; and twice that amount if she be under 18.”

The difficulty sometimes is to get judgment in the courts in cases of arrest under the Mann Act.

In Minnesota the women’s clubs made a state issue of a case in which a married man, deserting his family, took a girl from Wisconsin to Minnesota, and was sentenced by Judge McPherson to three months in the county jail and a fine of $1,000. The women’s clubs petitioned the judge of the United States Court of Appeals, who makes the assignments of the district judges, to assign Judge McPherson to another district, “lest another case of white slavery be placed upon the calendar subject to Judge McPherson’s judgment.” This petition was refused, on the ground that the degree of punishment is expressly intrusted to the trial judge. It was 115stated also that the United States district attorney who prosecuted the case was satisfied with the sentence. The man had pleaded guilty to taking a girl under eighteen across state borders for cohabitation. Judge McPherson defended his sentence on the ground that there was no evidence to show that the girl was coerced. The club women countered vigorously with a statement to the effect that coercion was not the point; that by the man’s own story, plus all human experience, the girl was surely entered on a life of prostitution; what they wanted was such punishment as would be the talk of every barroom and a specter to any man who contemplated doing it in the future.[14]

The federal judges and attorneys generally take into account the circumstances in the case and only in clear cases where white slavery is accomplished by force have the full penalties been imposed. The transportation of regular prostitutes was not punished, in one instance the judge saying that thus “our own daughters” are better protected. Women with a social conscience take the position that all women are their daughters and that no daughter is safe until the traffic is suppressed. Moreover they seek to protect their sons wherever they are and they call upon the national government to help them do it.

That women voters will not tolerate a wide-open indorsement of vice was proved in the case of the policy pursued by Mayor Gill of Seattle in 1910–1911. It is true that conditions were so flagrantly vile that the instincts of women were in open revolt, yet Mayor Gill, in his alliance with the interests that were profiting by the public traffic, seemed firmly entrenched.

Through the power of the recall, the women of Seattle led a movement against Mayor Gill and his vice policy which was successful; the mayor was removed from office; and a reform policy was instituted.

At the last election, however, contrary to the expectation and to the amazement of women in other parts of the 116country, Mayor Gill was reinstated as mayor. Criticism was rife and men joined with women in attributing the result to the fickleness of women and their superficiality. They were even accused of worse things.

In explanation of their conduct, the women of Seattle stated that Mayor Gill pleaded with them for a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his neighbors and friends and in the eyes of the citizens of his city among whom his family had to live and where his son must suffer from the opprobrium in which his father would be held forevermore unless this chance was given. Mayor Gill testified that he had thought a wide-open town was what the people wanted and what would pay best. He found it was not what the people wanted, least of all the women who now were voters, and he would bow to their will for their sakes and for the sake of his family whose respect he must regain. The women claimed that there seemed more security with Mayor Gill under such pressure and in view of his knowledge of women’s actual power if he failed to make good this time; that a big point of view required them to give him a chance to redeem himself. They gave him the chance and Mayor Gill is carrying out the wishes of the women during his present administration.

The women of California undertook a similar campaign in San Francisco in April of 1913. When a police magistrate reduced the bail which another judge had fixed for a prisoner accused of attacking a young girl and the prisoner immediately fled when released on the reduced bail, the women went to work and soon secured the necessary signatures to a petition for the recall of the magistrate. In the recall election, the erring magistrate was defeated and an able young lawyer with a wider view of this grave social problem took his place.

Miriam Michelson, in the Sunset Magazine, tells the story:

Now this threatened recall of a police judge is undertaken, I should say, not because the women believe this particular 117judge to be unique in flagrant adherence to a police court system of leniency in sex-crimes; not because they think him the worst of his type that San Francisco has known; but because they consider him a type and because they consider the police court system one that must be changed. This recall presents something definite, something to do, which feminine hands have been aching for.

You may talk to women of the futility of figuring social sex sins, but they seem to be congenitally incapable of believing you. I heard a man talk to an audience in behalf of this measure, and when he touched upon that old, old text—it always has been; it always will be—there came a curious resemblance in every woman’s face within my vision; for every face had hardened, stiffened, was marked with the family likeness of rebellion. The lecturer was addressing himself to deaf ears, to eyes determined not to see.

And this is at once the weakness and the strength of the new element in elections. Those who have watched the ardor of the most eager and high-minded reformers burn out in commissions, in barren resolutions and recommendations, see in the average woman’s limitations that power, that one-idead incapacity to look philosophically on both sides of a question which marks Those Who Can Change Things. You may object that such qualities produce a Carrie Nation. They do, but they also make a Joan of Arc, a Harriet Beecher Stowe....

Her recently awakened realization of equality, the new broom that her conscience is, revolts at a policy that establishes a municipal clinic for women prostitutes, yet by a curious, cowardly subterfuge, overlooks the male’s share in infection; as though the plague created and disseminated in common could have but one source! And in addition to all this, she is learning that when she is ready at last to attack the vested, organized, recognized institution of prostitution, the first result of her activities will mean greater misery and perhaps speedier death for the woman who is already at the lowest point of the social scale....

But over against this set this fact: There are seven hundred women in San Francisco whose one aim in civic life is to found a state training school for girls gone wrong who 118would go right. This association has a representative in Sacramento whose sole business it is to further a bill for the establishment of a helping station to girls on the way to usefulness and moral health, modeled upon similar establishments in other states. Here is work, backed by thirty thousand club women of the state, proceeding definitely, practically to a solution of one of the most appalling obstacles to the crusade against vice.... But the time has not yet come when woman will face her individual share of atonement for a social sin in which she has acquiesced. Ultimately, with universal suffrage, the wheel of time must place at the door of the protected woman responsibility for the prostitute. As yet she cannot see herself, in her own home, taking up the broken lives, diseased bodies, debased minds and deadened souls—the by-product of that which men tell her has always been and always must be.


It is not merely by drastic legislation directed immediately at the social evil that women are attempting to solve the problem. They know full well the complexity of the disease. They are coming more and more to the view that the indirect attack on low wages, bad housing conditions, and the other evils which lower standards of living is more effective than the frontal assault. They are also attacking the problem with measures designed to safeguard young girls who for economic reasons must work out of the home.

In their efforts to trace the whereabouts of immigrant girls, to do follow-up work, to establish immigrant homes, to secure matrons on steamers and women inspectors, women are constantly controlling some portion at least of the social evil. Miss Sadie American, Executive Secretary of the Council of Jewish Women, states that her organization, which does so much to safeguard Jewish girls, could do vastly more if it had the facilities that the government has in the way of registered lists of newly arrived citizens 119with their destinations. Certainly the organization of women as a social service adjunct to the Department of Immigration would be a step acceptable to women and of incalculable preventive value to the country.

The women of California are preparing to establish preventive and assimilative work among the foreigners who will doubtless pour into that state in a little while as a result of the opening of the Panama Canal.

“A committee for the protection of girls will be organized by Mrs. F. G. Sanborn, president of the Woman’s Department of the Panama-Pacific exposition. This work is regarded as very important when it is remembered that 6,000 girls were lost during the Chicago World’s Fair. Club women in San Francisco are actively interested in the Woman’s Department of the exposition.”[15]

Intercommunity and interstate responsibility for the diminution of the social evil receives increased emphasis in the writings and the civic work of women. They have learned that suppression of disorderly houses in one city may only drive evil doers into a neighboring city or a neighboring state. Even eternal vigilance to prevent the return of the traffickers and their victims does not satisfy those parents who read of surrounding iniquity and whose young people travel or work from place to place. By the organization of travelers’ aid societies, women and men have sought to protect girls and women in their travel by train and by boat from kidnapping or allurement on misunderstanding or misdirection. Such societies exist in every large urban center and are of the greatest value as preventive work in safeguarding women and girls from criminals.


Among the societies which seek to deal with prostitution, in which women lead or with which they are affiliated, may be mentioned the Kansas City Society for the Suppression 120of Commercialized Vice which has two women on its board of directors. This organization was the outcome of a meeting held by the Public Morals Committee of the Church Federation in September, 1913, when the following resolutions setting forth the program of the society, were adopted unanimously:

Whereas the present conditions of tolerated vice in Kansas City are undermining the foundation of character in our citizens, promoting their physical degeneracy, withdrawing from its proper use an enormous sum of money, and casting reproach upon the fair name of our city;

Therefore, be it Resolved:

That we as citizens of Kansas City in mass meeting assembled, unreservedly condemn the policy of the segregation of vice;

That we abhor the iniquitous fine system by which we as citizens are forced to become partners in the profits of vice, and we favor whatever proceedings may be necessary to divorce the city from a participation in such profits;

That we call upon the prosecuting attorney to use the full powers of his office to enforce the laws against vice;

That we favor a state-wide campaign in Missouri for the enactment of a law similar to the Iowa injunction and abatement law;

That a committee of representative citizens be appointed with power to increase their number to arrange for a permanent organization in opposition to commercialized vice in Kansas City.

The objects of the Society are stated as follows:

The Society is organized to abolish commercialized vice and to prevent the recognition of sexual immorality on the part of the city or state in any way other than constant opposition to and enforcement of laws against it;

The enactment of further legislation to facilitate the abatement of the crime and injunction of property used for the purpose;

121A propaganda which shall by forewarnings cut off both demand and supply.

In writing of results already accomplished, this Society says:

We closed all of the 63 immoral houses on the police fine list. Robert Thornton, resident U. S. officer to enforce the Mann Act, stated that about one-third of his list of 559 immoral women in Kansas City left town and that of the remainder from 100 to 150 found respectable employment and would not return to their old ways. This shows a reduction of 50 per cent. of the immorality in Kansas City due to the 559 prostitutes on the government agent’s list.

Since the closing of the red-light district in the north end the Society has shut up 15 or 20 other houses in various parts of the city. W. W. Knight, the newly appointed police commissioner, assures us that the town will be cleaned up. We have already given him information from our investigators which he says is very helpful.

In coöperation with eleven other civic and religious organizations our society is bringing to Kansas City the next Congress of the World’s Purity Federation, which will convene November 5th to 9th, and will bring to Kansas City the very best specialists on social questions. The Congress will consider causes of the social evil and how best to combat them. It is believed that it will be a strong factor in molding public opinion on this subject.


The recent merger of the American Vigilance Association and the American Federation for Sex Hygiene into the American Social Hygiene Association will doubtless increase the efficiency of the work attempted by the two former societies and prevent duplication. Charles W. Eliot is president of the new society and Jane Addams is an honorary vice-president while the directors include Martha 122Falconer, Mrs. Raymond Robbins, and the Rev. Anna Garlin Spencer.

The purpose of the society is thus stated: “To acquire and diffuse knowledge of the established principles and practices and of any new methods which promote or give assurance of promoting social health; to advocate the highest standards of private and public morality; to suppress commercialized vice; to organize the defense of the community by every available means, educational, sanitary or legislative, against the diseases of vice; to conduct, on request, inquiries into the present condition of prostitution and the venereal diseases in American towns and cities; and to secure mutual acquaintance and sympathy and coöperation among the local societies for these or similar purposes.”

The Society for Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis in New York City is one of the local societies that is doing much to arouse a public sentiment of a constructive character. While the officers are men, the list of members includes 579 women, a large number of whom are either physicians or school teachers and active and valuable members. The lecturers for the society are chiefly women and the work done is more among women than among men. Olive Crosby is the office secretary.

The New York Society is one of twenty branches similarly organized in different cities and states. The work carried on by it is educational; through lectures, conferences, pamphlets and agitation for better legislation and proper sex instruction. Among its educational pamphlets are some prepared by women, like that for teachers on “Instruction in the Physiology and Hygiene of Sex” by Dr. Helen Putnam, of the American Medical Association.

The Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago, of which Mrs. Louise De Koven Bowen is the head, emphasizes the need of labor and other legislation as a basis for some solution of the social evil. Among the preventive measures 123suggested are: the minimum wage law; publicity for the owners of disreputable houses by means of the tin-plate or card in the hallway; a law similar to the Albert Law in Nebraska which declares property used for purposes of prostitution a nuisance and the owner punishable for maintaining such; better regulations of hotels; medical certificates before the issuance of marriage licenses; and wider labor legislation. Mrs. Bowen has made a special study of the department store girl, among other types of workers, and she agrees with the Illinois Vice Commission that the economic conditions which surround the department store girl tend to her moral as well as her physical breakdown and need remedying as the basis for greater stability.

In November of 1912 a federation was effected in Chicago of nearly forty societies interested in social well-being and united against the social evil.

While concentrating on preventive measures, women are not neglecting what is known as “rescue work.” The name of Dr. Kate Waller Barrett is known to thousands of girls who have passed through the Florence Crittenton homes scattered throughout the country. Twenty-two thousand girls, it is claimed, entered these homes last year. In these places of temporary refuge, efforts have been made by the women in charge to accomplish the individual reformation of the girls under their care. Some effort is also made in these missions, under the direction of Dr. Barrett, to give industrial training to their occupants. The equipment, however, largely provides for the traditional cooking, sewing, cleaning and nursing. It is a question whether domestic service or nursing are the most suitable occupations for this type of girl.

Miss Maud Minor, of New York, who is head of Waverly House, a detention home for girls, is another woman deeply interested both in the probationary character of her work and in some of the larger preventive aspects of the social evil problem.



Recognizing that ignorance in matters of sex is one of the leading causes of prostitution, women working on the problem of the social evil have decided that the conspiracy of silence shall be broken all along the line and that we shall have all the light we can get. They are not unaware of the danger that comes from quacks and overhasty action, but they do not intend to be daunted by the collateral evils that seem to accompany every good. Women are therefore seeking to educate public opinion to an abhorrence of the social evil and to a realization of the menaces to health which result from it. Jane Addams by her articles in the magazines and by her more recent books has done a vast deal to draw public attention to the social evil. Anna Garlin Spencer has made a study of state efforts to deal with vice by regulation instead of abolition and “to protect monogamy by putting vice on a legal footing.” Miss Lavinia Dock’s “Sex and Morality” has also been widely read and quoted. There has been a large output of books dealing with woman’s relation to the problem of prostitution, seeking, on the one hand, to arouse woman to her own status and to inspire her to enforce right conduct on the part of man; and, on the other, to arouse men to a sense of their responsibility toward womanhood. Both English and American books are widely circulated and read in this country and suffragists may frequently be seen upon the streets or in meeting halls in various cities selling such importations as “My Little Sister” by Elizabeth Robbins or “Plain Facts about a Great Evil” by Crystabel Pankhurst.

By the drama also women and men have sought to teach sex health and morality. They have supported the Sociological Fund of the Medical Review of Reviews in presenting “Damaged Goods,” by Eugene Brieux, to large audiences in the greater towns and cities. At first presented timidly to audiences carefully selected from ministers, 125teachers and social workers, on which occasions the performance was opened with prayer, the powerful lesson taught by this play has led to braver adventures and “Damaged Goods” has been witnessed by many thousands of people who have not only come to see it through invitations but who have bought their seats at popular prices.

Of course the moving-picture promoters have been quick to seize upon the popular interest in the white slave traffic and to exploit that interest at times in a way that may easily be harmful to young boys and girls. Women have been blamed in the press by other women and by men for promoting an unholy craving for red-light films but it is difficult to see how this charge can be substantiated in view of the well-known commercial methods of the day. Certainly, the exploitation of woman’s work against the social evil by moving-picture show concerns will not deter their efforts for an instant.

Teaching of Sex Hygiene

It is perhaps in the proper teaching of sex hygiene in the schools, to working men and women, to college and other groups of young men and women, and to foreigners, that women expect to accomplish most for the elevation of moral standards and for the elimination of venereal diseases.

In Minnesota the single standard of morals has been widely supported by the club women and sex hygiene has been urged for the schools.

The Women’s Municipal League of Boston took the high position that “realizing the physical misery which is resulting from ignorance in regard to matters of sex, and the spiritual degradation following the wrong conception of the high purpose of the sex function, to which must be added the loss of efficiency in human ability, the Committee on Social Hygiene of the League has set itself the task of awakening the community to the dangers of a further continuance 126of this policy of silence and of arousing the public conscience to do its duty; providing sex education both for parents and for those whose parents cannot or will not furnish it for them.” The League was, of course, very careful to choose the members of this committee from those women whom it believed to be qualified to lead in this work. From a recent report we learn:

Because the time left us this season is so limited, we are making our work experimental rather than exhaustive, with the idea of using the results as a guide to the nature of the work to be undertaken next year. We have, therefore, aimed to present the subject through lecturers, to the following groups, selected as types: to a group of mothers desirous of teaching their children in sex matters, and eager to know how to go about it; to a group of teachers, who are continually meeting sex problems among their pupils; to a group of girls already in industry; to a group of boys organized in a club; to a mixed group of men and women representing the present state of public opinion, whose support is most necessary; and to representatives from a committee from neighboring towns who wish to take advantage of our machinery to start similar work at home.

The committee confronted its first difficulty in securing a lecturer, for the work is new and there are few trained speakers available. Dr. Frances M. Greene of Cambridge, the president of the society which initiated this work in California, who has made an intensive study of the question in Europe, was engaged to give a course of five lectures in the League rooms.... Announcements were sent out to 725 people, most of whom were mothers of young children; 77 persons attended the first lecture, and this number has increased with each succeeding meeting. A charge of $1.00 was made for the course. The receipts for the lectures were over $170.00, a sum sufficient to pay the expenses of the lecturer, postage and stationery. The serious interest shown by those in attendance has deepened the conviction of the committee, that the public wishes enlightenment in regard to instructing the young in these fundamental matters, and that the present generation of parents having been brought up 127in ignorance wishes to give its children a better point of view than it ever had itself.

The committee has arranged to have Miss Laura B. Garrett[16] of New York City speak on “Some Methods of Teaching Sex Hygiene” at Huntington Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.... In addition to League members 500 teachers are to be invited to attend this lecture.

On April 14th the plans of the Committee on Social Hygiene were presented, at 41 Brimmer Street, through the courtesy of Miss Ware, to a group of one hundred or more, including representative persons from Boston, Brookline, Worcester, Lawrence, Lowell, Springfield and Providence. Dr. Frances M. Greene, Dr. Abner Post, Dr. William P. Lucas and Dr. Hugh Cabot made short addresses. Mrs. William Lowell Putnam presided.

With the results before us of the work carried on this spring, the committee will form its plans for next year. The present purpose is to hold in October a mass meeting, with speakers representing various shades of opinion and various methods of handling the subject. Best methods of approach to the smaller groups of girls from department stores and factories, boys’ clubs, mothers’ clubs, parents’ associations, etc., will be further considered and the type of speaker best adapted to be most successful with each individual group will be sought out and sent to these various portions of the community as may be desired.

The Committee on Social Hygiene is fully cognizant of the delicate nature of the task before it, and of the necessity of moving slowly, taking each step in accordance with a well-considered plan, rather than of attempting to cover too much ground at the risk of making mistakes. Nevertheless, it is fully convinced that the time has come for speaking frankly in regard to sex matters and dealing honestly with a problem which concerns every one of us. In coöperation with the Public Health Education Committee of the American Medical Association, we have arranged four lectures on different aspects of sex education, to be given at the League. The speakers will be: Dr. Edith Spaulding, of Sherburne Reformatory; Dr. Rachel Yarros, of Chicago; Dr. Edith Hale 128Swift, of Boston; Dr. Kate Campbell Mead, of Middletown, Connecticut.

All over the country we hear of meetings of women to discuss in a sane and dispassionate way the problem of education in sex hygiene. For example, two methods of teaching sex hygiene, the biological and the physiological, and their adaptation to the needs of different groups, were the subject of three conferences held last spring (1914) by the Society for Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis, New York. Dr. Mary Sutton Macy presented the physiological and Nellie M. Smith the biological aspect. The third talk on the adaptability of these two methods to different social groups was given by Harriet McDaniel.

“The Matter and Methods of Sex Education Other Than Instruction in Schools” was discussed at a later meeting. The main speakers were Dr. Eugene LaF. Swain, Nellie W. Smith, Laura B. Garrett and Mabel M. Irwin. The discussion was started by Dr. Ira S. Wile, Dr. Rosalie S. Morton, Dr. Mary Sutton Macy and Harriet E. McDaniel.

Dr. Rosalie Morton, of New York, speaking at the Sixth Triennial Convention of the Council of Jewish Women, on this subject, said:

In the proper understanding of this subject of sex hygiene it is quite impossible for either men or women to go very far alone. I am sure that through the ages there have been men who have had this subject very close to their hearts. They have felt that it was basic, that it was most important; but they felt that it was not a proper matter to discuss with women and so they have blundered on, not getting very far in any solution of it. The subject has also been near the heart of every woman. She hopes that her husband will be a good man; she hopes that her son will be clean; she sees all the wreckage and the heartaches in life that come from ignorance of sex hygiene or lack of attention to it. So women have talked together as to how the standard of morality might be raised, how they might teach their sons and daughters, but they have felt that it was not a topic to discuss with men, so 129they have blundered on. They have been too sentimental, they have been too ignorant of the limitations in the world of practical affairs; they have lacked well-balanced judgment as to how it was best to teach, how it was best to help. It is absolutely necessary that earnest men and women should modify and guide each other in reaching a solution of the problem.

No home can be successful in its teaching of this subject unless the father and mother agree on the teaching; if the father thinks it is not a subject for his wife to consider or to talk about, or if the mother imagines that she alone shall tell her child, those children will grow up with a feeling that there is discord at the root of the family feeling on a most vital subject. Whether the father or mother shall tell the child is very immaterial. The opportunity may come to one, it may come to the other; both should be ready to meet it when it does come.

This last twenty-five years is the first time in the history of the world that any definite effort has been made to teach sex hygiene; and if each one of us will do our duty as we see it—and we must see it clearly now—and pass on our convictions (because no one has a right to receive anything for themselves or their particular group, and hold it, but each person has a tremendous responsibility to pass on to others their influence, their knowledge), we shall awaken a world-wide conscience regarding this thing. The reason that we can do so little is because one child is taught and another child is not taught. Education must be carried on in a widespread way before it can really accomplish what we hope for. That is the reason that a conference such as this means such progress in the history of the world, because you people will go back to your various communities and carry with you that courage of conviction which comes from the comradeship which you had here. Each one of us is afraid to broach this subject until we have had as the soldiers say, “a shoulder next to us to help us up the hill.”

Dr. Morton’s words went home, and a permanent committee on sex hygiene was established at the convention. The sentiments expressed at the formation of the committee may fittingly form the conclusion to this chapter.

130The advance of preventive medicine and the far better understanding of the conditions of health and bodily vigor which obtain today, have put the whole subject of masculine chastity in a new light.

It is now clearly understood that the consequence to offspring of lack of chastity in the father are just as grave as those of lack of chastity in the mother; and that the happiness and security of family life are quite as apt to be destroyed by want of purity and honor in the father as in the mother. It is an established fact that there never was either physical or moral reason for maintaining two standards as regards chastity, one for men and the other for women.

The children of today are destined to be the units of a society whose point of view is to make it unique in the world’s history. It will be characterized by a single standard of morality for both sexes. The child must be so trained and educated that it will later be possible and natural for him to live up to the high standard which the women of his age shall demand of him.

The ideals of society must be so changed that young men may not be weakened and corrupted by the passive acceptance of false standards of morals. One of the most important factors for the attainment of this end is the same education of boys and girls in the matters of sex, from which all secrecy, except that which is necessary from true modesty and refinement, shall have disappeared.

We as parents must recognize and help establish the truth of the law that the same virtue is needed in both sexes for the happy development of that family life on which the security of the race and the progress of civilization depend.



The old maxim, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” has been amplified in the past twenty-five years in many ways. All work and no play may make Jack a sick boy or a delinquent. If Jack plays not at all, neither can he work. What is true of Jack is true of all the members of Jack’s family and of all his relatives and neighbors. What is true of Jack is equally true of Jill. In order therefore to prevent dullness, illness, crime and delinquency, recreation has been provided in cities in homeopathic doses, at least, for Jack and Jill and their relatives and neighbors.

The interest in, and advocacy of, municipal recreational facilities for the people of the urban districts grew out of the knowledge that, unless wholesome recreation is provided, unwholesome recreation will be sought and found. There is no alternative.

Interesting figures have been compiled by Mrs. Max Thalheimer, Assistant Probation Officer of Syracuse, N. Y., which show that in one section of the city, where a public playground has been established, juvenile delinquency has decreased about 30 per cent. in two years. The neighborhood of the Frazer School Playground was selected for the study. The records show that during the year immediately preceding the establishment of the playground there were 127 cases from that neighborhood in the Juvenile Court, as compared with a total of but 180 cases for the two years which have since elapsed. The more time a child spends in well-directed play, the less time does he have to get into mischief.[17]

132It has also been made clear that municipal prevention of arrests, illness, unemployment, inefficiency, is cheaper than municipal care of delinquents and criminals, of the sick, of those illy equipped to earn a livelihood, and of the vicious whose supervision entails such administrative expense and anxiety. Even motives of economy therefore may lead to this form of municipal enterprise.

Because the keynote to all modern social activity is prevention and because prevention is cheaper than cure always, recreation today is of public concern. That the public’s interest and belief in municipal recreation has been guided into faith in its educational advantages is due in no small degree to the patient work of women in behalf of amusement facilities. In their recreational work, women have also sought to make recreation serve the purposes of family unity, community spirit, and an increase in the real joy of living.

The mother’s appreciation of child psychology began in the days when she excused baby pranks often misunderstood by others with the statement that “he is just playing.” Realizing the persistence of that play instinct all through childish development, and never eliminated in fact, women have sought to direct play so that it may not react to the injury of the player. That is the explanation of all the intimate guarding of children from the moment they learn to walk and then on until the child leaves the protection of home.

Public recreation is but the effort to provide better and safer places for babies to play in, for growing boys and girls to combine the work they later desire with play or to make work their play, as they do instinctively themselves when conditions are suitable, and for adults to come together for that conviviality or stimulation through association which leaves no sting in additional family expenditures or ill health or misery. From all over the country we hear of women initiating and carrying through movements to provide play facilities for young and old.



We may cite a single example which may serve as an inspiration to other public-spirited women.

A few weeks before her death, Mary Graham Jones, of Hartford, Connecticut, who did so much during her life for the betterment of child life and neighborhood life in her native city, submitted to the city authorities a plan for providing small local playgrounds for young children in various parts of the city. Her scheme was that each playground should be near enough to its neighborhood to make it convenient and safe for the children to reach and use it. The report recommended the leasing from the city at nominal rent of a dozen or more vacant lots, the preparation of the lots to be in the hands of the park department and their supervision in the hands of the department of education.

The juvenile commission of Hartford petitioned the board of aldermen for permission to lease these lots and for an appropriation to pay for their support. The request was granted, and $2,500 was allowed for the first year’s expense. Nearly all this sum was expended and the work was carried out under the supervision of the superintendent of parks, with various successful results. It seems highly probable that the work will be continued another summer and perhaps something may be done during the winter to provide for skating and like sports.

Thus the citizens of Hartford feel that Miss Jones has left their children a city-wide playground system as an enduring legacy. The Mary Graham Jones Playground is the name given by the North Street Settlement of Hartford to a place set aside for all neighborhood children under nine years of age. Miss Jones had spent sixteen years in settlement and child welfare work in Hartford. In 1900 she became headworker of the North Street Settlement.[18]

In a history of the playground movement in America, Herbert H. Weir, one of the field secretaries of the Playground and Recreation Association of America, says: “No 134age has been without its visioners who saw the light and led the way, so luckily there were men and women, especially women, who saw and understood and acted.”[19]

The history of their work for playgrounds shows that like almost all modern social endeavor, there has been, first, private demonstration of a public utility, then city control, then state-wide legislation to bring backward communities into line with forward urban movement. Women have everywhere been largely instrumental in initiating the playground work, they have followed it in many cases by service on appointed commissions and as paid city playground employees, and in other cases they have held positions on state recreation commissions.

Interesting and important as has been the work of individual women in this great battle for adequate recreation in cities, it is of course the associations of women that have been most powerful and determined. For an instance of the associated effort of women, we may turn to the experience of Winthrop, Massachusetts.

When the cities and towns of Massachusetts were voting on the playground referendum during the fall of 1908 and the spring of 1909, Winthrop, just outside of Boston, seemed to regret that her 7,034 people did not entitle her to a similar privilege. The people of Winthrop, however, are ingenious, and they set about seeing what might any way be done, for they were not willing to give up the idea of having playgrounds. They, particularly the women, proceeded to agitate along many lines. At a town meeting in the spring, when the towns of over 10,000 were voting on the referendum, the people inserted warrants for various appropriations for playground purposes. A special committee was appointed to consider the entire question of parks and playgrounds and report in the fall. The committee gave hearings during the summer, and went extensively into the question of the town’s development, its future needs, its peculiar nature (because of the large areas of marsh land), available sites, and so on.

In the meantime the people kept busy. They decided to 135conduct an experimental playground during the summer so as to gather experience, show what could be done and develop public sentiment. The Woman’s Club, the Improvement Association, the Arts and Crafts Society, the Woman’s Equal Suffrage League, apparently every organization got into the action and did valiant work. The School Committee gave the use of a convenient school yard, with a pond and suitable open area. The societies mentioned provided the apparatus; money was raised to employ a supervisor; articles such as magazines, books, toys, games, raffia, sewing materials, scissors, shovels and hoes, were solicited to give scope to the activities; the meetings of many of the societies were devoted to discussions of various aspects of the playground movement; the newspapers were kept filled with articles, comments, accounts of what other places were doing, notes on the local activities; and, finally, the whole was capped with an exhibit when the playground was closed. This exhibit was witnessed by many people, but particularly by the children, who were by then as active as any of their parents in support of the movement.

When the special town meeting was held in the fall the people were interested. The attendance was so heavy that the voting list had to be used to check off those who came and admit only voters. When business was started every seat was taken. There were other articles ahead, but by a vote of the meeting the playground question was taken up first, and the extensive report of the special committee was read throughout.

This report was an interesting civic document. It called attention to the probable growth of the town, to its peculiar formation, the centers of its present and probable development, the needs of its people, and particularly to the fact that large areas of marsh land had been purchased at low figures to be held till the town would lay sewers, construct streets and develop values. It was pointed out that the planning of the marsh lands by private owners was poorly done, that the lots were small, the houses already built poor, and that here was a chance for a development of which the town could ever be proud.

Then came the recommendation that $75,000 be appropriated to buy a large area of this marsh land for playground 136purposes. There was but little discussion, and the motion was unanimously carried. By this action Winthrop puts herself among the enviable towns of the country.[20]

Ethel Moore, president of the Board of Playground Directors of Oakland, California, has the following to say regarding playgrounds in California:

The first playground in California was opened as an experiment in 1898 by the women of the California Club under the leadership of Mrs. Lovell White. The experiment proved a success, and in a few years the same women educated the public to the point of carrying a bond issue of $741,000 and of amending the city’s charter to provide for the appointment of a playground committee.

Again the women of a city took the initiative, under the able generalship of Mrs. Willoughby Rodman and Miss Bessie D. Stoddard and in 1905 Los Angeles organized its own supervised, all-the-year-round playground, the beginning of a model recreation system.

In Oakland, due largely to the inspiration of Mrs. John Cushing, the women of the Oakland Club opened a vacation playground in a school yard as early as 1899. When, nine years later, the Playground Commission was created by municipal ordinance, it was appropriate that two members of the club that had faithfully provided for the children season after season, Mrs. G. W. Bunnell and Mrs. Cora E. Jones, should be appointed commissioners by Mayor Mott.

In 1911 Oakland adopted a charter embodying the commission form of government. The Playground Department then fell under a Board of Directors (consisting of five members, “not more than three of whom shall be of the same sex”) similar to the boards that control the Public Library, Park Department and School Department.

With the growth of these municipal systems there grew up a state-wide interest in public recreation. Courses for play-leaders were offered at the State University, and under the auspices of the San Francisco Branch of the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ, the Playground Association of California 137was organized in 1909. The first annual meeting of the Association took the form of a three days’ Conference of Playground Workers, the success of the gathering being due largely to the efforts of Mrs. E. L. Baldwin and Mrs. May Cheney, of the Committee.

And now each year sees marked advances in both rural and city communities; larger appropriation, new sites, better trained and better paid supervision, increased attendance, more intensive work, greater coöperation with other agencies, wider usefulness in promoting the opening of school buildings as well as in developing park properties—thus providing recreation for adults as well as for children.[21]

In a note to Miss Moore’s report, the editors of The American City add:

Western cities have been the first to make the control of public recreation a distinct branch of municipal government. Every California municipality of 8,000 inhabitants and over has a playground or will have one within the next year or two; all the large cities have special playground commissions provided for by their charters. Oakland may well be proud of her playgrounds. We understand that the city has now spent about half a million dollars for this purpose, and has 10 playgrounds, 5 in parks and 5 in school yards. The remodeled Moss residence, one of the finest remaining specimens of old California architecture, is to become a municipal country clubhouse, the only one of its kind in the West.

Other reports state that Seattle has already spent more than $500,000 for playgrounds, and has purchased twenty sites, twelve of which have been improved and equipped and are now under supervision. The city has three up-to-date recreational field houses and a large municipal bathing beach. Tacoma’s fine school stadium is well-known. Everett and Bellingham are two other cities of the Northwest that are expending much money and attention upon playgrounds.

Far to the South, as well as the West, we hear of woman’s work. The Civic Club (women’s) of Charleston, South 138Carolina, started twenty years ago a vacation playground and the need of this institution was so well demonstrated that the City Council finally purchased and established in that city the first playground in South Carolina. Five women were appointed on the Playground Commission.

It would be impossible to make even the barest mention of the women who have promoted the playground movement. Mrs. Caroline B. Alexander has mothered it in New Jersey, especially in Hoboken, a small densely populated industrial city; Lillian Wald is secretary of the Parks and Playground Association of New York which welcomed last summer about 300,000 children to the opening exercises of its summer amusement centers; a Playground Commission in Richmond, Virginia, is made up of delegates from the City Council and the Congress of Mothers; in Denver the executive body includes representatives of the school board, of the playground commission, and of the Congress of Mothers. Miss Julia Schoenfeld, field secretary of the National Playgrounds Association, is one of the most inspiring of the women in this movement and she stimulates activity in this direction throughout the country. A list given in its year book of the officers of recreation commissions and associations shows almost equal responsibility assumed by men and women for the offices of president and secretary of the same.

Having established playgrounds, women seek to maintain some supervision over them. They are advocating the use of playgrounds as evening social centers. They are asking for medical inspection and corrective exercises in the playgrounds. They are asking for experimentation in teaching in the playgrounds. They are inculcating ideas of good government among the children.

Inasmuch as in great cities like New York and Chicago there never can be enough playgrounds on the street level to meet the needs of the children, there is a decided movement in such municipalities toward the transformation of roofs into playgrounds. The Parks and Playgrounds Association 139of New York, directed by both men and women, has already opened several of these roof playgrounds and the influence is being felt in various constructive ways. Private owners of apartment houses are beginning to supply these facilities for young tenants as an inducement to mothers to rent homes with them. Schemes for aerial playgrounds over the streets on platforms are being proposed also.

Another very practical scheme for playgrounds is the provision of certain streets for play, traffic being shut off from them during definite hours of the day. A systematic plan is being made of New York by the present administration to ascertain to what degree this scheme can be extended and in this work two lines of interest, in which women are very active, converge: recreation and safety. Frances Perkins and other women have stimulated interest in public safety to a marked degree in New York.

Dance Halls

Since the love of dancing persists without abatement through the centuries, dancing must be accepted as a human need. Dancing should not, however, cause the ruin of young men and women. That would seem to be a trite remark but it has apparently taken infinite pains in investigatory and publicity work to persuade the public or any considerable portion of it that unregulated modern dance halls do injure their patrons and that they must be reformed.

The trail out from the home, when followed by women in urban centers, has led them in almost every case to the dance hall. Health workers, W. C. T. U. women, welfare workers, social workers, educators, propagandists of all kinds have found in the public dance hall their Waterloo. The number of policewomen in the cities now assigned to these places to safeguard young girls is a direct response to the demands made by women that such municipal provision be made for their care.

140Both men and women have been needed in the investigation of dance halls and both have responded to the need, comparing notes and conferring on the general situation. The men can better gain the confidence of the male patrons, follow them to their resorts and learn whether the dance hall is allied with vicious interests. On the other hand, the women can better gain the confidence of their own sex and find out what motives actuate girl patrons in frequenting such places, in drinking the liquor that is almost invariably to be found at dance halls, and in succumbing to the temptations that are offered at the close of the dance. Among the skillful and ingenious women investigators of dance halls, Julia Schoenfeld, now field secretary of the National Playgrounds Association, perhaps takes first rank. Her study of conditions in New York City, which she made under the most difficult requirements, paved the way for the municipalization or municipal control of the dance halls which has become an accomplished fact, if on a small scale at present.

Mrs. Charles Israels of New York and the members of the Women’s Municipal League, with the facts obtained by Miss Schoenfeld, were able to start a substantial movement toward the extension of municipal functions in New York to cover the recreation of dancing, not entirely, of course, but to the extent of providing greater facilities for this recreation under careful supervision and with drinking entirely eliminated. One hears women in New York state as their hope that before long their city will boast a municipal dancing master who will preserve for the foreign colonies, that exist in such, abundance, their old-country folk dancing, who will have facilities for providing inspiring music and halls where the young may dance with safety and freedom. In spite of good beginnings in this direction, however, New York has been slow to follow the excellent example set by Chicago with its system of field houses for dancing in the public parks.

The evil resulting from the commercialization of the dance 141hall can be destroyed only by eliminating the element of profit-making. Municipalization is the remedy. Well-informed women are now arguing this. Mrs. Louise de Koven Bowen, head of the Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago, is one of the women who are educating the public to a realization of the fact that profit-making from dancing must be abolished. In a little pamphlet entitled “Our Most Popular Recreation Controlled by the Liquor Interests,” she presents a study of the public dance halls of Chicago which is most convincing in its plea for a department of recreation in Chicago.

In York, Pennsylvania, the Woman’s Club, in coöperation with the Associated Charities and Mr. Francis H. McLean, compiled an ordinance now in effect, putting dance halls under city control. Other clubs and organizations of women have done the same and scarcely a convention of women anywhere at any time fails to go on record as in favor of similar measures of control.

In many places, the women are not waiting on the tardy action of city councils, but are instituting safeguarded dancing places of their own. “Sunday dances for young people is an innovation by the Women’s Outdoor Club of San Francisco. Club women will supervise the affair. The reply to criticism about encouraging Sunday dancing is that young people will dance anyway on their only free day, and it is better to provide them with proper surroundings than leave them to the temptations of the average dance hall.”[22] It is significant that the Department of Education of the Civic Club of Allegheny County was the one to institute dances on Sunday evenings for young people over sixteen years of age. Bringing the question of amusement home to Bridgeport, Connecticut, Mrs. Upham, industrial secretary of the Y. W. C. A., said that a petition circulated in the city had brought in 600 signatures of working girls demanding dance halls where no liquor should be sold and where they might enjoy themselves in safety.

142Simultaneously with the movement for the regulation of the public dance halls is the movement to establish girls’ dance clubs, non-sectarian and open to girls in employment, largely in order to wean them away from the public dance hall. Mrs. Charles Oppenheim of New York is a promoter of this movement, which she hopes to make one of national proportions. It is in a way the direct antithesis of the movement toward municipalization of recreation, and grows out of the success that private individuals and organizations have met with in making girls so interested in their own clubs that they prefer them to the public dance. The two movements are not necessarily antagonistic, however, as they allow a freedom of choice and insure wider provision for the needs of the young.


Clubs offer the follow-up work that is necessary after the dance. The club and the dance are sometimes combined, but serious class work can often be secured by the relaxation afforded by the weekly dance. Clubs conducted by women for young people and for adults are very often serious educational features in the guise of pleasure, and the results that have already been felt, as well as the realization that far more can be achieved if attempted on a big social scale, a municipal scale, if possible, have led to the movement for the opening of schools as social centers. In Manchester, New Hampshire, the club women organized and support a Boys’ Club. They look after more than 100 young boys who sell papers and black shoes and the like. The boys are taught trades and the clubhouse affords them recreation and protection. No effort is spared to arouse the ideal of good citizenship and the boys respond nobly. The Woman’s Club at Green Bay, Wisconsin, remodeled a building for a center for working women and transformed it into a recreational and educational center. 143The Woodlawn Woman’s Club of Chicago established an organization for housemaids which is a social center. Such centers for domestic workers have been founded in several cities and the reports on waywardness among domestic workers indicate that their neglect in any scheme of recreation is serious indeed. They are a large factor in the patronage of public dance halls and any public control that reaches the hall reaches the domestic worker.

For children too old for the playground and too young for the dance the club is a vital institution. No type of club has appealed to the hearts of men and women more than the Newsboys’ Club and work with these little waifs has led on to an interest in the regulation of street trades for children, mothers’ pensions, and other reform measures.


Music as an element of recreation has been emphasized by women everywhere as a public necessity. The Westchester Club at Mt. Vernon, New York, holds each season a series of high-class educational concerts for the public and these have proved very popular. This Club is composed of nearly 400 women. It built and thoroughly equipped a large auditorium seating 800 people, with smaller halls for recreational uses, greatly needed in that city.

The women and men of Denver have made municipal concerts a striking feature of their city. These concerts are held indoors in winter as well as out-of-doors in summer and are of a very high grade.

San Antonio, Texas, is fast developing into a musical center for the Southwest, owing to the activity of the San Antonio Musical Club of which Mrs. B. F. Nicholson is president, and the Tuesday Musical Club of which Mrs. Eli Hertzberg is president. Besides bringing to San Antonio some of the best artists that appear in New York and Chicago, San Antonio is also treated to a good concert 144every Saturday morning, free to the public, and given by the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra.

Austin, Texas, is apparently inspired to follow the example of San Antonio. The Matinée Musical Club, of which Mrs. Eugene Haynie is president, the oldest musical club there, and the Austin Musical Festival Association, of which Mrs. Robert G. Crosby is president, are the leaders in this movement. They are working with others for a municipally owned auditorium in Austin as there is no satisfactory place at present where concerts can be given.

The objects of the Music Festival Association are declared to be the improvement of its members and the development of musical taste among the people through the presentation of productions by the greatest artists. The president and members serve the community without stint and with no thought of personal gain. Owing to the relative indifference of the business community thus far they are obliged to assume considerable financial responsibility. This organization is especially interested in the school children, and a chorus which the children were permitted to sing to the accompaniment of the Damrosch orchestra a year or so ago was highly praised by Mr. Damrosch. It is hoped that a similar thing may be done when some leading orchestra shall be secured for concerts next spring. This feature was omitted when during the present month of May the St. Louis Symphony orchestra gave a concert. This organization, with its several soloists, was booked at a date too late to give time for chorus practice. Here it may be remarked that the musical instruction and training in the public schools, given under the supervision of Miss Katherine Murrie, is considered a large factor in the artistic growth of the community.

In Indianapolis, Mrs. Ona Talbot is given credit for having transformed that city into the musical center which it is now. It has been largely owing to her interest that the very best of music has been brought to the well-to-do people, at least, of Indianapolis: the Metropolitan and Boston Grand Opera companies; the Boston, New York and 145Chicago symphony orchestras; the Russian Ballet; opera singers and instrumentalists.

The Civic Music Association of Chicago, first suggested by Mrs. George B. Carpenter, was recently launched according to plans made by the Woman’s Club of Chicago. “Music within the reach of all” is its slogan. Mrs. Carpenter is president and she has the coöperation of the Chamber of Commerce and prominent women like Ella Flagg Young. Dora Allen, of the Association, states the aims in an article in The Survey:

It is hoped that local committees may be organized at recreation centers to coöperate, that neighborhood choral and orchestral clubs may be formed, that opportunity may be given for lecture recitals, initial appearances of young artists, production of works of resident composers and all distinctly American music, and that annual musical festivals may be held, to bring together the local groups. It is further planned to extend the work from the playgrounds to the halls in public school buildings, twenty-five of which are now open as social centers.

We cannot think but with a great deal of concern and with some humiliation of the effect which America has on some of the best capacities of the foreigners who come to us. They come singing folk-songs, national songs, and snatches from their operas. We drown these beautiful melodies with the tawdry rags and popular songs of the saloon, the dance hall and cheap theater.

That is a dark picture. A bright one was vividly painted to the writer by Mrs. Edward McDowell, who is devoting herself to the interests which aroused her great husband’s greatest enthusiasm: the development and democratization of music in America. The remarkable success of the Peterboro pageant is well-known throughout the country, and yet as Mrs. McDowell pointed out, the people who worked so hard and who so artistically rendered the music and dances and dramatic action were the townsfolk and laborers of a small New England village. With the achievement of this pageant in mind, Mrs. McDowell after a visit to the Chicago playgrounds in the immigrant districts was enthusiastic over 146what might be done with the coöperation of the Bohemians, Germans, Scandinavians, Italians and Poles and other art-loving nationalities.

In almost all towns and cities there are free public libraries. In a growing number there are institutes in which painting and sculpture are exhibited without charge; and do we not see, here and there, the beginnings of a movement to present good music, either without charge or at a cost so small as to place it within the reach of all?

In this development of the passion for good music through coöperation among the people, we are just beginning to recognize the needs of the negroes who, by poverty or the sharp color line, have been excluded from the proper encouragement of their own talents and tastes. The Music School Settlement for Colored People in New York City is becoming the nucleus of a recreation center for colored people in which the dramatic and musical instincts of the race will be developed in an interesting and creditable way. But it is not alone in the effect it has on the colored people that the Settlement may be said to have demonstrated its usefulness; it has also been the means of interesting an increasing number of white people in the needs and aspirations of the colored. It is only by mutual understanding and sympathy that the negro question can be solved. The Music School Settlement for Colored People is trying in its own way to help in the solution of this grave social problem. The officers of the Settlement include men and women, and women have been generous contributors to the support of its work.

Motion Pictures

As the moving-picture “show” creeps into every crossroads village and multiplies in the cities, it becomes the people’s theater. In proportion as a theater is educational or demoralizing in its influence, the “movie” becomes the 147people’s school. What lessons do the people learn there or is the influence of the movie negative?

“What kind of motion pictures do you like best and why?” was put recently to more than 2,000 school children in the grammar grades of Providence, Rhode Island. Mrs. Dwight K. Bartlett, who conducted this investigation for the Rhode Island Congress of Mothers, classified the replies as follows:

Grade 5 6 7 8 Totals.
Comedy 85 90 99 100 374
Western or cowboy 192 211 186 146 735
Educational 95 183 317 312 907
Drama 25 34 36 44 139
Do not attend 20 44 47 45 156
Crime 5 19 19 29 72

The influence exercised by certain pictures is exemplified by some of the answers Mrs. Bartlett received.

A sixth-grade child said, “A child that goes in and sees exciting pictures comes out excited and starts playing what we saw and becomes wild.”

“Western pictures sometimes make youths go out West to become cowboys and run away from home.”

“I like where men has a wife and three children and the wife has a fellow.”

“I like where the husbun’s go an play pool and then when there money is gone they go home and take their wife jewels and leave them and never come back again.”

“If a person goes to a show he goes to laugh and not to cry, for he has so many troubles at his home.”

“I like love-making picture best. It is exciting when two men want to marry the same girl.”[23]

A study of moving pictures has been made in other cities by women, and all over the country they are giving 148serious attention to the problem of securing the exhibition of high grade films only. Upon the suggestion of club women, the Board of Education of Parsons, Kansas, has undertaken to give two free moving-picture exhibits each month to the school children. The films are selected by the superintendent of schools assisted by the manager of the theaters and the subjects are confined to history, geography and science.

The Mayor of Wichita, Kansas, has asked the club women to appoint a board of three members to serve without pay as censors of moving-picture shows, inspectors of theaters, reading rooms and street cars. Suggestions for correction of evils will be received and acted upon by the Mayor. The board is to be permanent.[24]

In Pittsburg, Kansas, the club women are working out a censorship plan for moving-picture shows, which is proving successful. Mayor Graves appointed a commission of women, headed by Mrs. Harvey Grandle, president of the Pittsburg Federation of Clubs, which confers with the managers of all five- and ten-cent vaudeville and moving-picture shows. A most cordial spirit of coöperation is reported upon the part of these managers, in eliminating all films depicting scenes of crime, drinking scenes, and suggestive “love scenes.” If all mayors would appoint similar commissions, whose work would be as successful, it would not be long before the manufacturers of moving-picture films would take the hint, and cease to put out films of the tabooed classes. Wichita is working out a similar plan through a commission, and this seems the most practical plan. A commission, being clothed with authority, is received with courtesy and acting in coöperative not antagonistic spirit, receives the assistance of the managers. Local federations or clubs should make it a point to bring this work before their city council or city commission.[24]

The American Club Woman declares that “women’s clubs are wisely deciding to coöperate with the film companies 149to make them a good influence upon the millions of young people who patronize them. The censorship plan is proving successful in many cities. Volunteer boards of club women who serve without a salary, find that it is not difficult to secure the rejection of pictures which create a bad impression. Some tact is useful in persuading the managers of moving-picture shows to use the right kind of films. Censorship is rather a formidable term, but is robbed of many of its terrors to managers, when they find that the approval of the censors means increased business for clean shows.”

The women do not always agree, however, as to the kind of film that should be shown. New York last winter witnessed a quarrel among women and also among men as to whether white slave films should be exhibited or prohibited. “Do they suggest or do they warn?” is the issue that must be settled by the stronger combatants, for this is destined to be an issue of increasing insistence.

That the municipality cannot be oblivious to the fact that its restrictive measures may increase evils elsewhere, is shown by Mrs. Bowen, of Chicago, who says in a report:

There should be a state or national censorship committee for motion pictures. The motion pictures of Chicago are very well censored, and something like one hundred and twenty-six miles of films have been condemned and permission to exhibit them refused. In consequence, they have been sent outside the city, all over the state, and many of the pictures exhibited in the small towns are bad—the rest of the state suffering for the virtues of Chicago! A state law should be enacted providing that all moving pictures should be shown in well-lighted halls, and the posters and advertisements outside all theaters and throughout the city should be censored and passed upon by the same committee which censors the moving pictures.

Women play a large part in the work of the National Board of Censorship of Motion Pictures established by the 150People’s Institute of New York. In addition to the members of the Censoring Committee which includes many women, the National Board has some 300 correspondents in different parts of the country who are more or less officially identified with it and who work with women’s clubs, civic and social organizations, in addition to mayors, license bureaus, and others. The work of the national association is, therefore, fairly equally distributed between men and women.

It is not the pictures themselves that are necessarily the worst feature of the motion-picture theater, as the Board brings out and as social workers generally emphasize. The lack of ventilation, the fire hazard, the lack of protection for boys and girls are evils comparable with indecent films. On all those aspects of the problem of the people’s theater, groups of earnest men and women are working, securing ordinances, acting as inspectors and policewomen, and seeking to educate the patrons to demand decencies.

The standard for censorship set up by the Board is thus stated: “Broad problems, such as the effect of scenes of violence on the juvenile mind, still rest in an astonishing obscurity. It is impossible to get either from the lips of psychologists or from the penal statistics of the country, any conclusive verdict on this subject. In the same way, it is hard to distinguish between the immediate effect of a vulgar picture on the audience, which may be presumed to be degrading, and the ultimate effect which may, through reaction, be that of exciting the audience to a permanent disgust with vulgarity in all forms. In matters of this kind, the Board acts on the general assumption of all its members, which are general assumptions of people at large.”

The National Board does not and cannot relieve any community of its local responsibility. As “the motion-picture theater is essentially a form of public service which is licensed by the community for public welfare, the same kind of scrutiny should be applied to it that is applied to 151any public service monopoly, news-stand privilege or park concession.”

A compilation of material from all parts of the country as to existing laws and the methods used in regulating motion-picture theaters in America and Europe has been made by the National Board and these form a partial basis for general facts and principles set forth in a Model Ordinance devised by it with detailed suggestions applicable in all the cities of the country. This work of securing adequate legislation is often taken up locally by women’s clubs. For example, the Wisconsin Federation of Women’s Clubs vigorously supported a bill in the legislature, providing for a censorship of moving-picture films throughout the state.

Charlotte Rumbold is the intermediary between the National Board of Censorship of Picture Films and the St. Louis Police Court. A volunteer committee of which she was chairman made the St. Louis inspection of picture shows and dance halls. Officers of the Good Citizenship Club of Boise, Idaho, a women’s association, act as an advisory committee with the Law Enforcement League and Ministerial Association in censoring movies.

Private enterprise joins with public-spirited women in securing model motion-picture shows. In Boston, Josephine Clement is the manager of the Bijou Dream Motion Picture Theater and has had five years’ experience in providing the public with a model theater. Plans for similar theaters are afoot in two cities. Mrs. Clement declares from her experience that they are self-supporting and a great deal more satisfactory to the owner than those which invite constant interference.

Motion-picture films are really receiving more attention than the plays and comic operas and vaudeville shows which are supported by people who care less for the movies. Thus the percentage of innocuous films probably is lower or is becoming lower than the percentage of innocuous plays in other theaters.


The Drama

Women are working on the elevation of the drama generally, too. Sometimes they may be excessively Puritanical in this endeavor; again they see in the presentation of such plays as “Damaged Goods” by Brieux the highest use to which the stage can be put. This difference of opinion is bound to exist but the important thing is to have women care what is produced, as the first step toward superior drama.

Investigation of five- and ten-cent theaters in Chicago by the Juvenile Protective Association and the presentation of complaints to the building department, the Board of Health, the Chief of Police and the State Factory Inspector have led to important changes in the physical conditions of this grade of theaters in Chicago. Mrs. Bowen of this Association finds that one grave evil in connection with these theaters is their location, which takes many boys and girls and men and women into sections where they would probably not otherwise go and brings them thus into close contact with disorderly houses, saloons, and boarding houses. The phrase in Chicago “A Five-Cent Theater Hotel” has become current because of the general location of these theaters in transient rooming houses. The menace of this thing to young girls may readily be imagined. Mrs. Bowen and her association approve of an ordinance licensing the place rather than the person who operates it, as is now done in many places with dance halls. They would also prohibit amateur nights and extend the censorship of plays to advertisements and posters.

In order that the taste of school children may be educated to seek good drama, the Educational Dramatic League and other similar organizations have been started by women. Mrs. Emma Fry, the organizer of the Educational Dramatic League of New York, has met with enthusiastic response from women and teachers and her movement is well launched.

153The Drama League of America is a women’s and men’s organization with Mrs. A. Starr Best of Evanston, Illinois, as president. Its object is to support the drama that manifests a high level of art and morals in order that the theater may assume its rightful place as an educational and social force.

The Pageant

The pageant is a recent development of the drama in the open-air. The Deerfield Historical Pageant and the Duxbury pageant were directed by Margaret MacLaren Eager. In the great pageant of nations, devised by the People’s Institute in the East Side of New York in 1914, women worked with vigor. Rose Rosner, a Rumanian girl, now connected with the People’s Institute, was one most effective organizer, and all the settlement leaders coöperated with enthusiasm.

The Founding of New Harmony, Indiana, a historical pageant presented by the school children of that community in June, 1914, was also unique in its purpose. Mr. W. V. Mangrum, the superintendent of schools, was the manager and Mrs. Mary H. Flanner the director. Miss Charity Dye who wrote the “Book of Words,” in her prefatory note explains the object of the pageant:

The school children’s historical pageant is a distinct division of pageantry in itself, demanding special considerations of time, preparation, choice of material, and adjustments to the age and development of those taking part. It should be borne in mind that children have no large background of experience and hence the methods used with adults cannot be used with them. The evolution of the school pageant has been in response to the play spirit along educative lines, and marks a difference between the mere spectacular performance, which is gotten up in haste and dies as soon as it is born, and the one that makes permanent impression of what is valuable to the development of the pupil, and is presented in conformity to the known laws of 154education. Under the wise management of Mr. Mangrum, the superintendent of the schools, who began five months in advance, the New Harmony pageant soon proved its educational value. It has made community interest and coöperation a living reality; it has telescoped the history of the town and the region in the minds of the children and taught them of people and events more vividly than could have been otherwise possible; it has united the entire school system of the place by giving every child some active part in preparing for the great historic event of celebrating the founding of the town. The very least ones have been cutting with the scissors the pageant scenes, outlined by the teacher, and making silhouettes; others have been drawing the outlines; some naming the birds of the district; others, the trees; and still others noting the procession of wild flowers, all to show the nature of the region. Older ones are making maps of the town and the topography of the land, or drawing posters, and the prominent buildings of historical note. The higher grades are using the scenes in original composition work of character study and the dramatization of events. Music has been a feature all the way along. Boys have been heard singing “Lo! I Uncover the Land” from the pageant, with happy loud voices. New Harmony is a rural community with only three hundred school children; what has been done there is possible to some degree in every community in the state. The pageant lends itself especially to rural regions wherever there is a school or several schools to unite in a festival for honoring those who have helped to make public education possible. The near approach of the centenary of the statehood of Indiana in 1916 furnishes the psychological moment that makes it both a privilege and a duty to arouse in every school in the state, a new interest in its own environment or local history, thus leading to a wider interest and conception of historic growth. The work of the historical pageant in the schools of Indiana should begin next September so as to give ample time without interfering with the regular work that must otherwise be done. Richmond, Vincennes, Fort Wayne, LaFayette and many other Indiana cities are especially rich in pageant material, to say nothing of the wealth in this respect in the rural communities on every side.

155Through historical pageants, the dramatic play spirit of whole communities of people has been aroused and developed and democratic coöperation achieved. It is only within the past five or six years that pageants have been held in this country on any large community scale, but within that time some remarkable performances have been given, and in all of the pageants women have taken a leading part, in some instances directing the whole affair. In the future many interesting pageants are to be held like the one in Redfield, California, which was suggested by the Contemporary Club of that city.

The pageant given by the town of Arlington, Massachusetts, recently was started by the Woman’s Club and a guarantee fund of $1,000 was secured by it. Several hundred of the townspeople participated in the presentation of the drama.

Charlotte Rumbold was the executive secretary of the St. Louis Pageant and Masque which attracted national interest, and Mrs. Ernest Kroeger, the active chairman, with an Executive Committee composed of men and women. Indeed, this pageant was suggested by Miss Rumbold, Secretary of the Public Recreation Committee, as a fitting way to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of St. Louis. Every agency of the municipal government coöperated to make it a success. “If we play together, we will work together,” was the slogan adopted, the whole object being the development of community spirit and not the commercial advantage of merchants and business men generally. The 7,500 performers were drawn from all walks of life, the idea being to instill democracy into St. Louis affairs, even the funds being democratically raised. Other cities were asked to send official heraldic envoys and general civic pride was to be augmented by a conference of mayors during the celebration. No other pageant has had the big democratic community vision of the St. Louis enterprise or has called for such large scale planning.


Fourth of July

The Safe and Sane Fourth of July has been greatly promoted by women. Independence Day has been until within five years or so, and is still in most places, a thoroughly male day. It has been a day on which the deeds of men have been exploited without conveying the slightest hint that women have helped to build the nation. Histories of the American people have regularly consigned women to a line or two and women have a real grievance there. Their protest against the day, however, has not been due to omission in the speeches of orators, but rather to the wanton destruction of life and property which unregulated celebrations induce. Promiscuous use of fireworks was the object of their organized attack.

Safe Fourths of July are rapidly becoming possible. When the work that women have done in communities, the states and the nation is equally recognized with that done by men, the Fourth of July will be a saner and more patriotic day still. Thus the country’s past and its future will be interpreted in a way that will appeal more directly to all the people and arouse in girls as well as in boys a desire for coöperation in citizenship.

Many women’s clubs have within recent years placed the Safe and Sane Fourth on their list of demands and objects for which to work. The Municipal Bureau of the University of Wisconsin has compiled a list of all the municipal ordinances regarding explosives on the Fourth of July and we venture to claim that in every case where one has been secured the advocacy of women has been at least as pronounced as that of men.

Restriction without substitution, however, is usually idle, as we know very well at last. In advocating ordinances of a restrictive nature, therefore, women have not been unmindful of the need of directing pent-up feelings accustomed to noisy and dangerous exuberance on the Fourth. 157Pageants, processions, municipally managed fireworks and musical festivals are some of the ways in which substitutions have been provided for dangerous celebrations.

Much stimulus has been given to the Safe and Sane Fourth propaganda by those social workers whose interests extend largely to our newcomers from the nations of the world. If to them patriotism expresses itself merely in Independence Day bandages and noise and drunkenness, American civilization affords little inspiration. Any movement therefore which has as its goal an historical explanation of the founding and growth of the nation and the development of our ideals, and which typifies our hope of ultimate democracy, is sane as well as safe. The participation of foreign elements, now being assimilated into our national life, has added to the richness and interest of Fourth of July pageants. Last year in New York forty-two nations were represented in native costumes; Chicago also had a great parade of her nations with floats showing the parts played by various nations in our war for independence. The entertainment in Jackson Park, Chicago, consisting of music, folk dances, drills, games, tableaux and pageants was under the direction of the Chicago women’s clubs. Baltimore had a wonderful naval pageant.

The leadership by women in this general movement was recently described in The American City. “The part which women have taken in creating a sentiment for a safe and sane Fourth and in providing acceptable entertainment is very important. The pioneer work of Mrs. Isaac L. Rice, president of the Society for the Suppression of Unnecessary Noise, New York City, for this object, is well-known. Her pamphlet on a ‘Safe and Sane Fourth’ (published by the Russell Sage Foundation) gives letters from governors, mayors, fire chiefs, commissioners of health, heads of police departments and presidents of Colleges, endorsing the movement.

“The Committee on Independence Day Celebrations of the Art Department of the New Jersey State Federation of 158Women’s Clubs has issued a pamphlet giving suggestions for the management of an Independence Day celebration and material for pageantry taken from New Jersey history. The suggestions for management are detailed and practical for other states than New Jersey and include the formation of an Independence Day Association and the work of sixteen different committees. The chairman of the committee last year was Mrs. Wallace J. Pfleger.... The Department of Child Hygiene of the Russell Sage Foundation reprints this pamphlet and publishes an excellent set on the same general subject.”

Those who study this movement find that women have contributed largely to practical programs and plans and have been indispensable factors in developing the imaginative features and carrying them into execution. The American Pageantry Board, recently organized in Boston under the auspices of the Twentieth Century Club, composed of men and women, has recognized woman’s place in this work by choosing Lotta A. Clark as executive secretary.

Social Centers

It is not by spasmodic effort that full provision can be made for the gratification of the common instinct for recreation under wholesome social conditions. Social centers in abundance and embracing a multitude of recreational features are therefore an essential in modern cities. They have not been easy to secure, however, except by private philanthropy. Indeed we still have to have social center conferences and carry on a publicity campaign, to demonstrate and argue in order to gain the general consent for the use of school buildings and other public property as evening social centers for neighborhoods. Nevertheless, the movement does have real vitality now and most of the larger cities have taken definite steps to make greater use of their schools and other plants, like libraries.

159In describing its entrance into the field of activity for social centers, the Women’s Municipal League of Boston, through its Social Center Chairman, Mary B. Follett, says:

Because it is our endeavor to make our city a true home for the people, it is not enough that we should merely make it a house, though it be clean and healthful to live in; for even health, though essential, is not all-sufficient. We must also insure that there shall be within it recreation, enjoyment and happiness for all. In our great house—the city—a great need exists and it is to supply this that our Committee for Social Centers was formed.

In Boston there are 56,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 18 who are earning their living, working all day, craving amusement in the evening, and with no home to provide it. Our committee organized, as an experiment, this winter, a social center in the East Boston High School, by permission of the Boston School Committee, which allowed us the use of the building in the evenings. Our aim was to offer educational recreation, and at the same time to provide for the working young people an environment which should help to prepare them for their future life.

The League engaged a skilled director and his wife to organize this work. They settled in the district three months before the social center was opened, making friends of their neighbors, young and old, and when October came they were thus enabled to begin work with 14 clubs already organized. These clubs have continued with a constantly increasing membership; there were 300 young people enrolled at the beginning, and now, after six months, there are 500 members. The clubs are called the East Boston Opportunity Clubs and are self-governing. The membership consists almost entirely of young wage-earners, but one club, the Games Club, is made up of high school pupils at the request of their teachers, in order to suggest to the girls some other occupation than stenography; they are being taught kindergarten work for use in vacation schools or with their own future children.

The list of clubs includes two dramatic and two glee clubs, two orchestras, a drum corps, two athletic associations, two 160sewing classes, a folk dancing class, and a junior city council. The clubs for boys and girls are kept separate, but on one occasion the Folk Dancing Club of girls gave a dance, and the members invited their men friends. The clubs often provide the program for the fortnightly entertainment given at the Social Center for young and old people. The Social Center encourages thrift, for each member of a club must pay weekly dues, and in addition many of the boys of the orchestras are saving money to buy their own instruments. One young man surprised us by saying that he had saved money by attending the Social Center, as otherwise he would have spent his time in the saloons and poolrooms. The sewing clubs have held a sale, and with the proceeds will give themselves a day’s outing.

The greatest difficulty we have encountered has been the intense racial prejudice existing between the different nationalities; but the tact and fine judgment of our director have overcome this, and today all members of the Social Center recognize the broadening influence that comes from being Americans together; in fact, one young man tells us that the Social Center is the only place since leaving school where he has met the right kind of friends.

The East Boston Social Center has proved so successful in filling a genuine need that the Boston School Committee has decided, not only to take over this Center next year, but to start three others in different districts, and has engaged our director, Mr. Hawley, to organize the work. Our Committee is now occupied in formulating plans for a large social center movement throughout Boston, and is enlisting the help and coöperation of each neighborhood for its own center, because no social center can be established on a permanent basis unless the neighborhood community realizes its own responsibility in helping to make the plan a success.

There are not enough settlements and other social agencies to provide for more than a small number of our young people. There are thousands of young men who have no place to go nights. There are thousands of girls who used to stay at home in the country but who have been brought by our changed industrial conditions to the cities to work in shops and factories. Many of these will be in the streets nights unless we provide some decent recreation for them. Thus on 161the one hand there is this urgent need; on the other there are all those empty buildings upon which we have spent literally millions and millions of our money. Such a waste of capital seems bad business management on our part.

The Women’s Municipal League of Boston is one among the many organizations that urge the planning of future school buildings with reference to their use as social centers. Many of the old buildings are difficult if not impossible to adapt to this use. The interest of the Boston women in this forward movement toward educational recreation has strongly supported the Boston School Committee which has now in operation several evening centers for young and old in its school buildings.

The little town needs the extension of the use of its school plant quite as much as the great city as Mrs. Desha Breckenridge shows:

In the small town which I come from, Lexington, Kentucky, with about 40,000 inhabitants, we have built a public school in which we take much pride. It is in the very poorest section of the town. The school board had but $10,000 to put into the school. Some years before, the Civic League of Lexington had established a playground in this section; then a little vacation school, with cooking, sewing and carpenter work; and finally it convinced the School Board of the need of a public school there.

As the years went by and the playground was continued, we began to feel that not only a public school, but a public school of a very unusual kind was needed in that section. There was no place for social gatherings except a saloon or a grocery with saloon attachments. The young people were going uptown to the skating rinks and the moving-picture shows, and a little later we were dealing with them through the Juvenile Court. And more and more it was borne in upon us that though we might do our best through the Juvenile Court and the Reform School to repair the damage done, a cracked vase, no matter how well mended, could never be as good as a whole one; and that the sensible thing 162to do was to keep these children out of the Juvenile Court and the Reform School. The School Board simply had not the money to build the sort of school we wanted, nor had it the necessary conviction and faith that a poor part of the town needed so expensive a school. So when we had gotten the Board to appropriate the last remaining $10,000, we started out to add to that sum $25,000, raised by popular subscription, and went to work on the plans for a school building which would not only allow the teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic, but would have a kitchen, a carpenter shop, a laundry, a gymnasium, shower baths, a swimming pool and an auditorium with a stage.

We went to the “professional philanthropists,” and after we had been turned down by most of them we came back to our own people—with just enough help from a few generous outsiders to give standing at home—and raised a large part of the money by a whirlwind campaign, such as the Y. M. C. A. has tried in many places. We could not stop at $25,000; the school and grounds have now cost about $45,000, and we know so well the places we could use a few thousand more!

We began teaching school in the new building last September; it is full of children and is a joy forever. The swimming pool, the crowning glory, is not yet completed, for we had to contract for things whenever the money was in bank, and all trimmings were postponed as late as possible. The shower baths are in full effect. The laundry is being used not only to teach the school children how to wash and iron, but the mothers of the neighborhood, who bring their washing in, pay so much a wash for the use of the water and the steam drier and the beautiful ironing boards, with gas burners at the end. The big room, with the stage at the end, which serves for kindergarten in the morning and gymnasium in the afternoon, is a story and a half high, and is used for theatrical performances and dances at night. It is running full blast. We have various night clubs already started, but we could have more—and will have more when there is a little more money to pay for supervisors, or a little more time to drum up and keep in line volunteer helpers. But, even now, the school has demonstrated that the evening is the best time, not only for reaching the fathers and mothers of the school children, but the young people—girls who work in 163the laundries and in the stores at $3.50 a week, and who have no place to go for dancing and other recreation, and the young men from 20 to 35, working at the distillery or the tobacco warehouses.

Evening is without doubt the great time to offer recreational opportunities to working people. Most of them cannot get these except in the evening, and the meeting at the schoolhouse is a social event; it is of all others the time when teachers and settlement workers may make connection with the parents and those over the school age.[25]

In almost every city, women have been behind the movement for social centers. In Lynn, Massachusetts, for example, the Women’s Political Science Club persuaded the school board to install electric lights in the Breed School so that it could be used in the evenings. One of the leading topics now in the conventions of state federations of women’s clubs is the use of the schools as social centers; and this movement is spreading rapidly to country districts which need it quite as much as do urban communities.

Miss Margaret Wilson, the daughter of the President of the United States, is one of the most ardent supporters of social centers. She has added the weight of her influence privately in constructive work and publicly in propagandist work at conferences and national conventions of various kinds.

Women are also adding to the literature on the subject of social centers for publicity value. “The School House as a Local Art Gallery” by Mrs. M. F. Johnston, and “The Social Center Movement in Minnesota” by Mrs. Mary L. Starkweather, Assistant Commissioner Women’s Department, Bureau of Labor for Minnesota, are two of the nine pamphlets issued by the Extension Division of the University of Wisconsin on Social Centers.

The Social Center Association of America, recently formed, includes among its vice-presidents, Miss Anne Morgan 164of New York, Miss Jane Addams, Mrs. Ella Flagg Young, and Miss Mary McDowell of Chicago.

Wisconsin, California, Indiana, Massachusetts and Ohio have excellent legislation with regard to the use of schools as social centers; and it was secured with the help of women in private and organized advocacy, strengthened by experiments made by them which demonstrated the advisability of municipal control over educational recreation.

In Detroit two women persuaded the school authorities to grant the use of a school for evening dances, desiring to make the school a neighborhood center. The “Buffalo Federation of Women’s Clubs indorses any plan to make social centers of the public schools along lines so successful in other cities. An appropriation is asked from the city to carry on the work.” St. Louis club women have secured the use of several school buildings as social centers. “A social center in every public school is the plan of the club women of Syracuse, New York. Plans are being made to throw open the doors of the school buildings for neighborhood meetings and entertainments on several evenings of each week. The school officials are coöperating with the various forces in favor of social centers.” Women of Chicago asked the coöperation of the Board of Education in conducting a social center in the winter of 1911–1912. It was open thirty-two evenings with 13,000 people in attendance.[26]


Scarcely a town in Illinois and in other states can be found in which a woman’s club is not planning some wholesome recreation for boys and girls. Loan collections of games is a practicable method resorted to in some cases where children have comfortable homes in which to play and such collections are issued from the library just as books are.

165The Good Citizenship Club of Boise, Idaho, a woman’s organization, plans for municipal entertainment, among other ways, by arranging an address or various forms of amusement one evening a week in the plaza in the business district. In planning these entertainments, the women have made every men’s organization in the city responsible for one evening’s program: church brotherhoods, labor unions and other non-partisan and non-sectarian organizations. This Good Government Club is also taking the initiative in providing for a paid supervisor of the public playground in the aforesaid plaza for morning and evening play during vacations.

Bennington, Vermont, had a community sleigh ride one winter as a part of the town’s recreation program. Recreation activities there are in charge of the Civic League, a group of young women, and in one year they included a summer playground providing for tennis, baseball, volleyball and other games, popular concerts, a community Christmas tree, a pageant of patriots on Washington’s birthday, story-telling, a baby contest, athletic meets, skating in safety for five weeks, and folk dancing festivals. The town voted $500 that year and the rest was raised privately. The municipal Christmas tree has grown to be a recognized institution in the larger cities. Mrs. Louise Bowen, however, takes a very thoughtful position on the question of this form of recreation. She would prefer indoor fêtes for the people, owing to the menace to health and young girls in the winter open-air festivity. In support of her contentions she cites the fact that the committee having the Chicago Christmas tree affair in charge promised to provide 50 nurses, 25 doctors, and 500 policemen.

California, so far as we know, was the first state to create a commission for the study of recreation. Five of the members were appointed by the Governor; one by the President of the Senate, and one by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Dr. Grace Fernald, of the Juvenile Court of Los Angeles, is a member, together with Miss Bessie 166Stoddard of the Playground Commission of Los Angeles.

The Public Recreation Commission of St. Louis has broad advisory powers which include supervision of moving-picture shows, dance halls, poolrooms, steamboat excursions and other “commercial recreation,” as well as holiday celebrations and recreation in public schools, parks and libraries. “It is planned to open public dance halls over the public markets. The school yards are to be used as playgrounds for children under ten years of age in the daytime under paid women instructors. Classes will be sent to the swimming pools every morning and afternoon under the care of teachers. The Public Schools Athletic League will use the public playgrounds. There will be public concerts in the schools and the libraries will have clubrooms and evening lecture courses. The playgrounds in the parks will be open for children in the daytime and for adults at night. It is interesting to note the composition of each of the sub-committees of the Commercial Recreation Committee: one picture exhibitor, one school man, one clergyman, two women and one policeman. Is there not here a tribute to the civic influence of womanhood as such, apart from avocation?”[27]

“New York City now has a federation of associations interested in recreation. The widest meaning will be given to the word recreation. Committees will look after both indoor and outdoor amusements from the viewpoints of health and morality. The new federation will act as a clearing house for information gathered by societies working for the same general object, pointing out deficiencies and suggesting plans of work.”

Financing of Public Recreation

Women formed part of a New York group of public-spirited citizens that, in the summer of 1914, presented to 167the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, the budget-making authority of the city, an important memorandum dealing with the great problem of financing the urgent recreational facilities such as those we have outlined. The Survey published the following commentary on this memorandum:

Beginning with the statement that not more than 5 per cent. of the population is reached daily by all the intensive or active recreations under public control, the memorandum finds that “the mass of the people depend on commercialized amusements, notably saloons, motion pictures, and dance halls, and on the street, which is the demoralizing and dangerous playground of most of the children. We urge that wholesome recreation, publicly controlled, is needed by all the people, not by the small fraction now cared for.”

In other words, the signers of the memorandum regard public recreation as being as much a public function as education. “It is impossible,” says the memorandum, “for the individual to buy wholesome recreation. Wholesome recreation, in which the social and civic elements are present, can only be provided through community coöperation.” Public recreation is net only for the poor, but for everyone, and without it the rich are nearly as helpless as the poor.

Free recreation made available to the mass of the people would cost the city between $30,000,000 and $40,000,000, a sum impossible to raise by taxation. Yet, says the memorandum, “the people of New York gladly pay $10,000,000 a year for mediocre commercial motion-picture shows, but the city takes it for granted that they will or should pay nothing at all for amusements more attractive, including motion pictures, which can be offered on public properties. The 600 dance halls of the city are operated in considerable part by voluntary groups who pay for the privilege of using the halls, but the city takes for granted that its public properties cannot be operated, even in part, by voluntary groups, and that the people will not or should not pay.”

The mass of the people are thus paying for poor recreation which is not merely neutral, but often demoralizing. The memorandum goes on:

“It has been shown through complete investigation that 168most juvenile crime is directly due to the attempt to play in the streets or in other forbidden places. There is much evidence that crime among women, especially that which leads to the social evil, is due in large part to the influences which surround women in their search for recreation. Neither commerce nor public effort has provided family recreation places, and most wage-earning families in New York have no leisure resources beyond what they can find in their tenement homes, on the streets, or in a small class of commercial resorts.”

In other words, the memorandum is a challenge to the city to go into vigorous competition with commercialized amusements and develop all public properties to the limit for leisure purposes, as the only means whereby crime can be radically controlled, the family held together in its pleasures, or civic education carried ahead.

The memorandum proceeds to lay down a constructive program by which this wider use of all public properties can be put into effect in line with the social center idea. Its program involves neighborhood organization, the shaping of public amusement according to local needs. It involves equally self-government in the use of public properties for leisure purposes. It goes further and argues that local self-support is necessary before self-government can become a reality.

It urges, in the first place, that public recreation cannot be generally developed unless this be done in a partially self-supporting way, through dues, entrance fees, or the method of private concessions operated on public property. The tax burden would be impossible by any other plan.

It urges also that local self-government in social centers will be a mere pretense unless it be accompanied with the power to disburse funds. Self-government is desired primarily because it means that the local center will, through self-government, begin to take on individuality, to develop a neighborhood policy, to seek the fulfillment of neighborhood needs.

For all these purposes a budget will be necessary, and the most direct, obvious and disciplinary way to raise the budget is through local effort. The natural method, as already demonstrated in several New York schools, is to charge an 169entrance fee to a few popular features of the center, preferably those which compete directly with the commercialized amusements. Moving pictures and public dancing are illustrations. These features, and others such as amateur theatricals, athletic meets, sociables and bazaars, the renting of rooms in the school building, club dues, etc., can be made not only self-supporting but profitable and the surplus can be applied to other non-profitable activities. At present, even in New York, some social centers, such as the well-known center in Public School 63, Manhattan, meet all local expenses, including supervision and janitor service, by such means as these.

The following paragraph from the memorandum is suggestive:

“Those men and women who are members of private clubs, insist on being allowed to spend their social hours with their own group, among people who want what they want in the way they want it. The great mass of the people, who have no private clubs, are entitled to these same privileges. They too are entitled to pay for their own recreation, to govern their own recreation, and to spend their leisure hours with their own social group. The social center, whether it be on school property, park property, or other public property, is such by reason of the very fact that it gives this kind of right to the average man, woman or child.... The aim of the social center is that public money shall provide simply the basic physical opportunity for recreation, while the people themselves, through the effort of organized voluntary groups, shall make their own recreation, govern it and pay for it. The social center is not a form of paternalism, for it merely provides the channels through which the social life can flow, just as the street provides the channel through which the physical city is able to move.”



One of the unique, if not the one unique, American problem has been that of assimilating great masses of nearly all the important races of the earth. As far as European and Asiatic races are concerned the question of absorption into the American nation has been largely an urban one. More and more the assimilation of the negro also is becoming an urban problem, for the migration of negroes to the towns and cities is a significant part of the general movement of the population cityward. The Census of 1910 showed that more than one-fourth of the negro population now dwells in towns of 2,500 population and over. Thirty-nine cities have ten thousand or more negroes; five northern and seven southern cities have more than forty thousand negroes each. Negroes are not only moving to the cities, but the Census further shows that in each of twenty-seven large cities, negroes form one-fourth or more of the total population and in four cities they constitute one-half the population.

On one side the question of assimilation of all races in the cities is a labor problem: one of employment, a living wage, proper housing, and industrial opportunity. On the other, it is a social problem: one of education, recreation, common counsel, investigation, publicity, and protection. It is with the social aspects of assimilation that we shall deal in this chapter.


As a preparation for constructive work with them, women first studied the needs, customs, and labor of foreigners as 171well as they knew how. Louise Montgomery’s investigation of “Old Country Mothers and American Daughters” in the stockyards district of Chicago is an excellent example of such study. It is thus reviewed by Christina Merriman:

It is a remarkably comprehensive, balanced and interesting survey that Miss Montgomery has made, of the industrial and educational problems of a district torn by the struggle between the inherited standards of the European peasants and those of their American daughters, “struggling to keep up with American standards” and making every effort to avoid being classed as a “foreigner.” The same problem concerns every American city which has a foreign industrial community.

The study is based on the records of 900 families known to the University of Chicago Settlement for a number of years, and from which was selected a group of 500 girls from whom it was possible to secure the most reliable information.

Taken all in all, it is an indictment of an educational system which fails to provide a practical education for these restless young daughters, and of an industrial system which permits their employment in industries where they “grow dull with a routine that calls for no exercise of brain power, and where the general stupidity of which many employers complain is increased as the months go by.”

Miss Montgomery contends that the labor of girls under sixteen is not necessary to the continuation of any business, and, as a buttress for her position, quotes one of the largest employers of child labor as saying: “If we could not by law employ the girl under sixteen years, we should find some way to make the machine do her work,” and points to the frank declaration of another, that: “As an employer, I can and do make money out of the work of little girls. As a man, I know it would be better for them and for the state if I were forbidden by law to employ them.”

The author, however, recognizes the problems of constantly changing and inefficient employees with which the employer is faced, and records their “growing sentiment against the employment of children.”

She tells us of the girl who was so “sot” in her mind and 172so well satisfied with what she was doing that she insisted that “pasting labels was her trade and refused to consider anything else”; while an example of the other type of mind is cited in one of three girls who had held eleven “jobs” in fifteen months, and gave as her excuse for one change: “The new boss may have red hair. Anything to change the scenery!”

The report points out again the well-worn but vital problem of providing normal amusement for the young girl, “carrying the premature responsibility of the wage-earner and asserting her right to a feverish search for evening pleasures,” and urges the city, through the Board of Education, to provide more nearly adequate uncommercialized recreation.

While the study is, of course, of a specialized class and of a community with specialized problems, it includes such a keen and sympathetic analysis of the complex factors which influence the relations between the employer and the child worker as to make it an extremely valuable record.[28]

The Jewish immigrant girl in Chicago was studied by Viola Paradise of the Immigrants’ Protective League and her conclusion about the girl whose problems and ideals she has come to know at first hand is this:

Perhaps no other immigrant is so eager to become Americanized as the Jewish girl, and with no other nationality does the Americanizing process begin so soon, and continue so consciously. This is not only because she feels that it is financially advantageous to know the language and customs of her adopted country, but because, notwithstanding the much famed “individualism” of the Jew, there is ingrained in her nature a passion for conformity. She is quick to accept the conventional; she is willing to be better than her neighbor, but she dreads being different. This is of course more or less true of all people, and this is one reason why the Jewish girl accepts so readily the habits and standards of Americans about her. She wants to equip herself with what the American takes for granted, American fashions, American methods, and the language. Having caught up, as it were, with her 173environment, she is ready to give free rein to her individualistic tendencies.

Perhaps at no time of her adult life is the immigrant girl more impressionable, more sensitive to suggestion, than during her first few months in America. She is in a state of self-consciousness which is propitious or detrimental, as circumstances determine. American life can mold her as it will. She brings as her gifts to America strength, youth, and enthusiasm, an eager and curious mind, longings and ideals, gifts which should be accepted less carelessly and used less wastefully. In exchange should we not give her something better than long, hard hours, low wages, unhealthful homes and neighborhoods, dangerous and vicious recreations? Should we not make an effort to justify and realize her boundless faith in America?[29]

Mary Antin, too, has helped Americans to see the immigration problem as a “vivid human experience.” She says of the Jewish girl: “Such girls as these know Socialism as the only savior in their distress, since their only reading has been literature of a Socialistic nature. They do not realize that although Socialism is one of the agencies for working out our national problem, it is being supplemented by the aid and interest of many societies like the Consumers’ League, which are trying to emphasize the fact that liberty means liberty for all; not liberty to exist, but to live, to enjoy, to develop.”[30]

Interesting studies have been made by women of the various nationalities that come to our shores in an effort to interpret them to our people. “Our Slavic Fellow Citizens” by Emily Green Balch and “Little Citizens” by Myra Kelly are among the most successful of them. In addition to these descriptive studies, Anna A. Plass and others have prepared textbooks for the foreigners to help them, in turn, interpret Americans. “Civics for Americans in the Making” by Miss Plass is an attempt to teach English with citizenship.


A Literacy Test

Kate Holladay Claghorn, of the New York School of Philanthropy, who has given special study to the problem, believes that one of the first aids to the proper assimilation of the alien would be a literacy test designed to exclude many non-assimilable elements. Her reasons are thus set forth in an article in The Survey:

Any substantial advance in the solution of the immigration problem must be looked for through legislation, since private activity, no matter how devoted or extended it is, can be expected to make but little impression upon a social group constantly augmented at the rate of from half a million to a million a year.

What new legislation is most needed? From the federal government the establishment of a literacy test, not for the purpose of restricting immigration but for the protection of the immigrant. The true value of a literacy test to secure protection has been observed by making use of it as a subterfuge to bring about restriction. But it should really be regarded as perhaps the best wholesale measure of protection that could be devised.

It has been abundantly shown that the bulk of the immigrant’s own burden and our burden because of him are due not to viciousness or abnormality of any sort, but to sheer helplessness. He is exploitable raw material, and he is exploited, and held, until he can push out of it, at a low grade of living detrimental to him and to the community. And the one effective measure to help the helpless is to bring them to a condition in which they can protect themselves.

The immigrant who has learned to read and write has gained control of the tool that brings him out of the stone age, with all its associated habits, into the age of bronze, where we live and work today. This may be only his own native language—as required by the bill which was vetoed last year—but through it he is at least brought into an immensely wider circle of communication than is afforded by word of mouth only, so that he need not be at the mercy of the nearest rascal who wants to take advantage of his ignorance. Having 175this, he is helped a long stage on the way of acquiring the use of the more effective tool—reading and writing the English language, which would be our next demand for him. For this we should ask state legislation, establishing compulsory education for non-English speaking adults (immigrant or otherwise).

The expense of such an undertaking should not be urged against it, for expense should be measured in relation to return, and, measured in this way, this particular expense would be found a profitable investment, as every citizen properly prepared for citizenship is an asset to the state. The original purpose of public education in this country was to perform this very task.

Does not the adult immigrant need this preparation much more than the native-born child, whose traditions, home surroundings and social advantages can supply many deficiencies in formal education?

Every state where foreign labor is massed in camps or colonies should require the establishment of schools in those places. Such schools would not only bring their own appropriate benefit, but would serve an equally useful purpose in banishing the evil spirits of mischief and disorder that infest places where the normal social influences are hindered in their free play.

If it be objected that school attendance could not be secured on account of the length of working hours, the obvious answer is that hours of labor which shut out all opportunity for exercise of the mental faculties or the social instincts, are thereby shown to be too long and should be reduced.

Should these two requirements be met, we need no longer be troubled whether immigration is heavy or light. Whether few or many, we should have in our immigrants an intelligent working force who can help develop our country, and for whom we may be grateful and of whom we may be proud.

Protective Work

Miss Frances Kellor was one of the leading American women, outside the settlements, to take hold of the protective 176work for immigrants. After studying for some time the destinations of immigrants, and organizing workers to do follow-up work among foreign women, she became head of the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration. Miss Kellor has accomplished many definite results in her work for immigrants, notably their better treatment at the hands of employment agents. She has written much that is pointed on the subject of assimilation and some of the problems involved.

Miss Kellor is also actively directing the work of the North American Civic League for Immigrants which was formed to teach law and order to immigrants, on the one hand, while it also protects them as far as it can from swindlers. This League is an organization of men and women with branches in seaboard cities where women are among the number of special agents who meet steamers and aid immigrants, especially women, in various ways. Mrs. Rudolph Blankenburg of Philadelphia has been greatly interested in the work of the League and she secured the coöperation, for the Philadelphia branch, of women’s aid societies and various civic bodies.

In Providence, Rhode Island, Mrs. E. Haight, the headworker of Sprague House, whose neighbors are largely Italians, has arranged for the North American Civic League for Immigrants to conduct an information bureau and English class, and is also working out a plan for boys’ work there. There are over 40,000 Italians in this colony and no other provision for even a modicum of assimilation of the foreign element into American life.

The New York-New Jersey Committee of the League was organized in 1909 for the purpose of developing permanent city, state, and federal policies regarding conditions created by immigration. Experiments have been tried since then and as soon as a successful policy of meeting conditions has been demonstrated, some private enterprise, or the city, state or federal government, has been urged to pursue the same policy. The necessity of definite systems of protection, 177education, distribution, and assimilation has been continually urged by the League upon public authorities.

The women of the League have experimented in the field of education, first in Buffalo and later in other cities. In these cities, hundreds of foreign-born housewives have been taught domestic science in their own homes. They have been taken to markets and taught to buy wisely; young members of the family have been reached as well as the mother. Domestic education among the foreign women has thus supplemented the work of the schools in such a way as to secure the coöperation of parents and teachers in the nurture and protection of their children in the new country. In order to avoid the stigma of charity, women promoters of this domestic education have been asking Boards of Education to assume responsibility for the same.

Begun in Buffalo, domestic education has now extended to New York and Rochester; to Mineville, a mining community of 3,000; to Barren Island, New Jersey, an industrial community of 1,400; a canners’ camp at Albion, New York; and an aqueduct labor camp at Valhalla. Three distinct types of cities and four distinct types of isolated communities were thus tried and the results, it is felt, amply justify the expenditure of time and effort.

The North American Civic League for Immigrants supported for some time in Rochester a Bureau of Information and Protection for Foreigners, which was the creation originally of Florence Cross (now Mrs. Kitchelt), a social worker among the Italians there. Miss Cross explained the need of this bureau in this way:

“There are in Rochester a large number of foreign-born inhabitants who are ignorant of our civic institutions, ignorant of the laws of sanitation and hygiene, ignorant of the protection offered them by our laws and our various philanthropic institutions. Except through the influence of their children in the schools, many of these adult foreigners have little opportunity to understand those municipal activities which are intended to help rather than to punish. Many 178of them know nothing of the Public Health Association, the Legal Aid Protection Committee, the Provident Loan Association, the evening schools and similar well-established agencies for reaching just such needs as theirs.

“Therefore this bureau was established on a modest scale as a clearing house to bring inquirers to the people who can assist them. The rooms are open every afternoon and evening, where foreigners who are in any kind of trouble or perplexity may come for advice. During four months when the bureau was first opened, the callers averaged 71 per day.”

This bureau received reports from the New York office of the Civic League for Immigrants about all newly arrived immigrant children whose destination was Rochester. The children were located on their arrival and their names sent to the School Census Board. Among these, a number of cases of child labor have been found and reported. Several positions for men out of work have also been found. Leaflets on tuberculosis have been distributed and cases, when discovered, sent to the proper authorities. A pure milk station has been maintained at the bureau and its other activities have included the preparation of Italian dances for the National Playground Congress; a series of articles contributed to the Italian press on living standards, health, duties of citizens, school laws, savings banks, honest elections and similar topics; and a suggestion made to the City Club, which was adopted, that a Fourth of July banquet be tendered the newly naturalized citizens of Rochester.

The Rochester Bureau came most prominently before the public during the directorship of Miss Cross while a strike of Italian laborers was going on in Rochester. The story of this strike illustrates fundamental elements in the work of assimilation. The Italian laborers’ union some nine years previously had succeeded in getting a wage increase. The increased cost of living in the meantime had made their wage inadequate for a decent standard of living, so the union gave contractors a six months’ notice of its demand 179for a second increase. The demand was ignored and the strike commenced. Mr. Kitchelt thus relates the story:

Newspapers began their campaign then. Those who had blamed the Italians for their low standard of living now criticized them for trying to improve it by the only means in their power. The chief of police held a conference with the contractors, and groups of strikers were attacked by the police.

Some men were shot and others arrested. The cases of the latter were twice postponed in spite of their desire for a speedy trial and they were finally discharged for lack of evidence. The strikers appealed to the mayor to try to effect a settlement and several conferences were held in his office. But he was himself a contractor and the results were not apparent. Arbitration through Italian lawyers was tried but with no success.

In this extremity some of the strikers’ executive board turned to the Bureau for help. Miss Cross called together a committee of prominent citizens and had the men tell them their story. It was shown that the wages of the laborers averaged $6.50 a week, an amount inadequate to maintain a family in health and strength; that the city was being injured by a continually lowering standard of living; that the injection into the community of irresponsible strike-breakers was a menace to the public peace and welfare.

The newspapers were induced to print the truth about the strikers. Public sentiment gradually changed in favor of the workmen. Petitions from residents and shop-keepers along the torn-up streets were laid before the mayor. After a strike of four weeks, the contractors consented to a conference which resulted in an immediate increase of one cent an hour and an agreement to arbitrate the wage scale before the next season’s contracts were entered into.

Among the various national associations which aid the immigrant directly and indirectly is the Council of Jewish Women, organized primarily to aid Jewish immigrants to adapt themselves to American conditions of life and labor. It has sections in all the larger cities and towns, with a 180central system of organization whereby rapid coöperation is secured among the sections in times of need.

The Council of Jewish Women seeks, through the promotion of better housing, labor conditions, recreation, education, health conditions, vocational guidance, travelers’ aid, probation and other protective work and institutional care, to throw about Jewish women those safeguards which will make of them creditable citizens in as short a time as possible and prevent their becoming the public burdens, delinquents, insane, and paupers which modern competitive labor conditions all too readily tend to make of them.

The real test of the sincere desire of Jew and Gentile to live together in helpful coöperation is demonstrated by the mutual appreciation which the Council of Jewish Women and the Federation of Women’s Clubs show for each other’s social services. The National Child Labor Committee, the Consumers’ League, legislative committees, and charitable organizations all testify to the helpfulness and efficiency of the Council of Jewish Women.

Like the Y. W. C. A., the Council of Jewish Women is a religious organization but owing to its peculiar relation to the problem of immigration it is forced to take a more decided position on the fundamental labor question than the former organization.

At the Sixth Triennial Convention of the Council, Miss Sadie American made a statement which indicates the serious spirit of this organization as far as the white slave traffic is concerned:

This brings me to the subject of the White Slave Traffic, upon which Resolutions were passed by your Executive Committee and sent to your Sections (which in response sent many letters praising the action), which Resolution instructed your officers to do their utmost to combat this traffic, especially to combat against such Jews as might be in it. It was in pursuance of this Resolution and the urgent invitation of the English Society for the Protection of Girls and Women, of which Mr. Claude Montefiore is the President, that I was 181sent to represent you to the Jewish White Slave Traffic Conference in London and to the International White Slave Traffic Conference in Madrid, and I believe that in this act alone the Council of Jewish Women justified its existence. It is impossible in a meeting such as this to go into details.

The English Association had expected only nine or ten people. There were twenty-eight delegates from nine countries, and an attendance from England that was surprising. These delegates were men and women of highest importance not only in philanthropic but in the financial and larger social world of Europe. Does not this prove the importance of the subject?

The men of America have not yet waked up on this subject. Jewish men, unless they leave a call for themselves, are going to be waked up in a way they will not like.

I take credit to the Council of Jewish Women that it has fearlessly taken a stand on this matter, as it is the duty of Jewish women to do what they can to protect the good name of the Jewess.

To go to those meetings and to listen was horror enough in itself, to realize that the things there told were true is increased horror, to see the victims is horror still more horrible, and only those who have given days and nights to this subject can know its full meaning.

When I was sent to England I thought that I had some information. I learned many things I would prefer not to have had the duty of knowing.

It had been left to my discretion whether it would be worth while to go to Madrid, but this decision was practically taken out of my hands in London when, upon talking with the European men and women who had attended other international conferences, I became convinced there could be no doubt as to its being a duty to go.

It is a matter of surprise to the leading Jewish men in Europe who are so actively interested in this matter to find that the Council of Jewish Women has stood alone for so long in this work, that the Council of Jewish Women was the only one of the organizations of Jews in the United States which thought the matter of sufficient importance to send a delegate to confer with those of Europe on the subject.


Attitude of Settlements

At the Inter-city Conference of Settlement Workers in Boston last year it became very clear that some of the leaders were anxious to make their work among foreigners count for more. Dr. Jane Robbins took the position that assimilation would be expedited and rendered more stable by means of the training of young foreigners, Italians and the like, as social workers in order that they might contribute their own enthusiasm and knowledge of the traditions and prejudices of their people to the task of Americanization. Miss Lillian Wald, the president of the National Federation of Settlements, maintained that the best assimilative work of all could be done through the settlement which she called “The House of the Interpreter.” The inculcation of the neighborhood spirit, she added, stimulates a wholesome rivalry and promotes better housing and social standards than can be secured by other means. Vida Scudder insisted upon the vital necessity of rescuing settlement work from philanthropic tendencies. She suggested that truer democracy and helpfulness in the work of assimilation of all elements of the national life could be brought about by greater attention on the part of settlements to all the forward movements of the working class for whom settlements exist. Miss Scudder argued that settlement workers ought to perfect the technique of the settlement organization in such a way that they would be free in times of crises to assist in all working class movements which have as their aim the improvement of the conditions of life and labor. In this position, Miss Scudder would sympathize with and encourage work along lines similar to that pursued by Miss Cross in her Rochester work, to which we have referred.

The Negro

The problem of fair citizenship for the negro is receiving no little attention from those women interested in the 183assimilation of races. The National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes is an organization of men and women with headquarters in New York, formed “to help in counteracting this migration to the cities and to make efforts for improving the serious social conditions growing up among the negroes in the cities.”

This League is a consolidation of the National League for the Protection of Colored Women formed in 1906, after revelations were made of the abuses in the employment agencies connected with the emigration of negro women from the South, and of the Committee for Improving the Industrial Conditions of Negroes, in New York, which recognized the industrial and educational handicaps of the negro and sought to equip him better for life.

The consolidated body is making studies of negroes in cities, seeking to secure wider recreational, educational, and industrial facilities, and, what is perhaps most important of all, training negro social workers to do themselves the needed work for their own race. Among the effective women workers in this organization is Elizabeth Walton.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is also a body of men and women. It seeks to secure for the negroes “full enjoyment of their rights as citizens, justice in all courts, and equality of opportunity everywhere.” Among the women who are earnest supporters of this society are Miss Mary White Ovington of Brooklyn, Jane Addams of Chicago, Mrs. Florence Kelley, Miss Lillian Wald and Mrs. Max Morgenthau of New York. Miss May Childs Nerney is the secretary.

It is to a woman, Mrs. Louise de Koven Bowen, that we owe one of our best brief studies of the colored people’s problems in a great northern city. Her article published in The Survey, entitled, “The Colored People of Chicago: Where Their Opportunity Is Choked—Where Open,” is such a trenchant presentation of this problem that it deserves quotation at length here. She says:

184In the course of an investigation recently made by the Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago into the condition of boys in the County Jail, the association was much startled by the disproportionate number of colored boys and young men there. Although the colored people of Chicago approximate one-fortieth of the entire population, one-eighth of the boys and young men, and nearly one-third of the girls and young women, who had been confined in the jail during the year, were negroes.

The Association had previously been impressed with the fact that most of the maids employed in houses of prostitution were colored girls and that many employment agencies quite openly sent them there, although they would not take the risk of sending a white girl to a place where, if she was forced into a life of prostitution, the agency would be liable to a charge of pandering.

In an attempt to ascertain the causes which would account for a greater amount of delinquency among colored boys and for the public opinion which so carelessly places the virtue of a colored girl in jeopardy, the Juvenile Protective Association found itself involved in a study of the industrial and social status of the colored people of Chicago.

While the morality of every young person is closely bound up with that of his family and his immediate environment, this is especially true of the sons and daughters of colored families who, because they continually find the door of opportunity shut in their faces, are more easily forced back into their early environment, however vicious it may have been. The enterprising young people in immigrant families who have passed through the public schools and are earning good wages continually succeed in moving their entire households into more prosperous neighborhoods where they gradually lose all trace of their early tenement house experiences. On the contrary, the colored young people, however ambitious, find it extremely difficult to move their families or even themselves into desirable parts of the city and to make friends in these surroundings.

Although no separate schools have ever been established in Chicago, it was found that many colored young people become discouraged in regard to a “high school education” because of the tendency of employers who use colored persons 185at all in their business to assign to them the most menial labor.

Many a case on record in the Juvenile Protective Association tells a tale of an educated young negro who failed to find employment as stenographer, bookkeeper or clerk. One rather pathetic story is that of a boy graduated from a technical high school last spring. He was sent with other graduates of his class to a big electric company where in the presence of all his classmates he was told that “niggers are not wanted here.”

The Association has on record another instance where a graduate of a business college was refused a position under similar circumstances. This young man, in response to an advertisement, went to a large firm to ask for a position as clerk. “We take colored help only as laborers,” he was told by the manager of a firm supposed to be friendly to the negroes.

All the leading business colleges in Chicago, except one, frankly discriminate against negro students. The one friendly school at present, among twelve hundred white students, has only two colored students, but its records show as many as thirty colored students in the past, although the manager claims that his business has suffered in consequence of his friendliness to the negro.

After an ambitious boy has been refused employment again and again in the larger mercantile and industrial establishments and comes to the conclusion that there is no use in trying to get a decent job, he is in a very dangerous state of mind. Idle and discouraged, his neighborhood environment vicious, such a boy quickly shows the first symptoms of delinquency. Even the superintendent of the Illinois Industrial School for Boys at St. Charles complains that it is not worth while to teach trades to colored boys in his institution because it is so very difficult for a skilled colored man to secure employment. The colored people themselves believe that the employers object to treating the colored man with the respect which a skilled mechanic would command. As a result of this attitude, the colored laborer is being driven to lower kinds of occupation which are gradually being discarded by the white men.

Certainly the investigators found that the great corporations, 186for one reason or another, refused to employ negroes. Department stores, express companies and the public utility companies employ very few colored people. Out of the 3,795 men employed in Chicago by the eight leading express companies, only twenty-one were colored men. Fifteen of these were porters.

The investigators found no colored men employed as boot-and-shoe-makers, glove-makers, bindery workers, garment workers in factories, cigar box makers, elevated railroad employees, neckwear workers, suspender-makers or printers. No colored women are employed in dress-making, cap-making, lingerie and corset-making. The two reasons given for this non-employment by the employers are: first, the refusal of the white employees to work with colored people; second, the “colored help” is slower and not so efficient as the white. Some employers solve the latter difficulty by paying the colored help less. In the laundries, for instance, where colored people do the same work as white people, the latter average a dollar a week more.

The effect of these restrictions upon negroes is, first, that they are crowded into undesirable and underpaid occupations. As an example, about 12 per cent. of the colored men in Chicago work in saloons and poolrooms. Second, there is greater competition in a limited field with consequent tendency to lower the already low wages. Third, the colored women are forced to go to work to help earn the family living. This occurs so universally as to affect the entire family and social life of the negro colony.

A large number of negroes are employed on the railroads, largely due to the influence of the Pullman Palace Car Company. There is a tradition among colored people that Mr. Pullman inserted a clause in his will urging the company to employ colored men on trains whenever possible, but while the investigators found 1,849 Pullman porters living in Chicago, they counted 7,625 colored men working in saloons and poolrooms. There is also a high percentage employed in theaters; more than one-fourth of all the employees in the leading theaters of Chicago are colored.

The federal government has always been a large employer of colored labor; 9 per cent. of the force in all the federal departments are negroes. In Chicago the percentage of colored 187men is higher. Out of a total of 8,012 men, 755 are colored, being 10.61 per cent. of the whole, approximately their just share in proportion to the population. The negroes, however, do not fare so well in local government. A study made of the city departments in Chicago showed the percentage of colored employees to be 1.87 per cent.; in Cook County, 1.88 per cent. Three colored men have also been elected as county commissioners, and there is said to be no instance on record in Chicago of a negro office-holder having betrayed his trust.

The investigators found, in regard to the colored men in business: (1) that the greater number of their enterprises are the outgrowth of domestic and personal service occupations; (2) that they are in branches of business which call for small capital and little previous experience.

In the colored belt on the South Side of Chicago a number of business houses are managed by colored people. There is also one bank located in a fine building, of which a colored man is president, but 80 per cent. of the depositors are white. According to the evidence confirmed by the figures of the United States census, there is little possibility for a colored business man to make a living solely from the patronage of his own people. The census report holds that he succeeds in business only when two-thirds of his customers are white. This affords another explanation of the fact that most of his business is of such a character that a white man is willing to patronize it—barber shops, expressing, restaurants, and other occupations suggesting personal service.

There is a large proportion of real estate dealers among colored men, many of whom do business with white people, the negro dealer often becoming the agent for houses which the white dealers refuse to handle. Colored people are eager to own their homes and many of them are buying small houses, divided into two flats, living in one and collecting rent from the other. The contract system prevails in Chicago, making it possible for a man with two or three hundred dollars for the first payment to enter into a contract for the purchase of a piece of property, the deed being held by the real estate man until the purchaser pays the amount stipulated in the contract.

The largest district in Chicago in which colored people 188have resided for a number of years is the section on the South Side, known as the “black belt” which includes a segregated vice district. In this so-called “belt” the number of children is remarkably small, forming only a little more than one-tenth of the population, and an investigation made by the School of Civics showed that only 26 per cent. of the houses in the South Side and 36 per cent. of the houses in the West Side colored district, were in good repair. Colored tenants reported that they found it impossible to persuade their landlords either to make the necessary repairs or to release them from their contracts, but that it was so hard to find places in which to live that they were forced to endure insanitary conditions.

High rents among the colored people, as everywhere else, force the families to take in lodgers. Nearly one-third of the population in the district investigated on the South Side and one-seventh of the population in the district investigated on the West Side were lodgers. This practice is always found dangerous to family life; it is particularly so to the boys and girls of colored families who, because they so often live near the vice districts, are obliged to have the house filled with “floaters” of a very undesirable class, so that the children witness all kinds of offenses against decency within the home as well as on the streets. [Similar conditions exist in some of the colored districts of New York City.]

It was found that the rent paid by a negro is appreciably higher than that paid by any other nationality. In a flat building formerly occupied by white people, the white families paid a rent of twelve dollars for a six-room apartment for which a negro family is now paying sixteen dollars; a white family paid seventeen dollars for an apartment of seven rooms for which the negroes are now paying twenty dollars.

The negro real estate dealer frequently offers to the owner of an apartment house, which is no longer renting advantageously to white tenants, cash payment for a year’s lease on the property, thus guaranteeing the owner against loss, and then he fills the building with colored tenants. It is said, however, that the agent does not put out the white tenants unless he can get 10 per cent. more from the colored people. By this method the negroes now occupy many large apartment 189buildings but the negro real estate agents obtain the reputation of exploiting their own race.

When it becomes possible for the colored people of a better class to buy property in a good neighborhood, so that they may take care of their children and live respectably, there are often protest meetings among the white people in the vicinity and sometimes even riots. A striking example of the latter occurred recently on the West Side of Chicago; a colored woman bought a lot near a small park upon which she built a cottage. It was not until she moved into the completed house that the neighbors discovered that a colored family had acquired property there. They immediately began a crusade of insults and threats. When this brought no results, a “night raid” company was organized. In the middle of the night a masked band broke into the house, told the family to keep quiet or they would be murdered; then they tore down the newly built house, destroying everything in it. This is, of course, an extreme instance, but there have been many similar cases. Recently in a suburb of Chicago, animosity against negro residents resulted in the organization of an anti-negro committee, which requested the dismissal of all negroes who were employed in the town as gardeners, janitors, etc., because the necessity of housing their families depressed real estate values.

Supplementary to the previous housing investigations, the Juvenile Protective Association studied the conditions of fifty of the better homes occupied by the colored people of Chicago, those in the so-called “black belts” in the city, those in a suburban district and other houses situated in blocks in which only one or two colored families lived. The size of the houses varied from five to fourteen rooms, averaging eight rooms each. The conditions of the houses inside and out compared favorably with similar houses occupied by white families.

Classified according to occupation, the heads of the household in nine cases were railroad porters, the next largest number were janitors, then waiters, but among them were found lawyers, clergymen and physicians. In only four instances was the woman of the house working outside the home. Only four of the homes took in lodgers and children were found in only fifteen out of the fifty families studied.

190The total of thirty-three children found in the fifty homes averages but two-thirds of a child for each family and but for one family—a janitor living in a ten-room house and possessing eight children—the average would have been but half a child for a family. This confirms the statement often made that while the poorer colored people in the agricultural districts of the South, like the poor Italians in rural Italy, have very large families, when they move to the city and become more prosperous, the birth rate among colored people falls below that of the average prosperous American family.

From the homes situated in white neighborhoods, only two reported “indignation meetings when they moved in” and added “quiet now.” One other reported “No affiliation with white neighbors”; another “White neighbors visit in time of sickness” and the third was able to say “Neighbors friendly.” Of the ownership of the fifty homes, thirty-five were owned by colored men, twelve by white landlords and the ownership of three was not ascertained. Thirty-four of the houses were occupied by their owners.

According to the Juvenile Protective Association records, it was found that out of one hundred poor families, eighty-six of the women went out to work. Though there is no doubt that this number is abnormally high, it is always easier for a colored woman to find work than it is for a man, partly because white people have the traditions of colored servants and partly because there is a steadier demand for and a smaller supply of household workers, wash and scrub women, than there is for the kind of unskilled work done by men. Even here they are discriminated against and although many are employed in highly respectable families, there is a tendency to engage them in low-class hotels and other places where white women do not care to go.

Investigators found from consultation with the principals of the schools largely attended by colored children that they are irregular in attendance and often tardy; that they are eager to leave school at an early age, although in one school where there is a great deal of manual work this tendency is less pronounced.

Colored children more than any others are kept at home to care for younger members of the family while the mother is away at work. A persistent violation of the compulsory 191education law recently tried in the Juvenile Court disclosed the fact that a colored brother and sister had been refused admittance in a day nursery, the old woman who cared for the little household for twenty-five cents a day was ill, and the mother had been obliged to keep the older children at home in order to retain her place in a laundry. At the best the school attendance of her five children had been most unsatisfactory, for she left home every morning at half-past six, and the illiterate old woman in charge of the children took little interest in school. The lack of home training and the fact that many colored families are obliged to live in or near the vice districts perhaps accounts for the indifference to all school interests on the part of many colored children, although this complaint is not made of those in the high schools who come from more prosperous families.

The most striking difference in the health of the colored children compared to that of the white children in the same neighborhood was the larger proportion of the cases of rickets, due of course to malnutrition and neglect. The colored people themselves believe the school authorities are more interested in a school whose patronage is predominantly white.

It was found that young colored girls, like the boys, often become desperately discouraged in their efforts to find employment other than domestic or personal service. Highschool girls of refined appearance, after looking for weeks, will find nothing open to them in department stores, office buildings, or manufacturing establishments, save a few positions as maids placed in the women’s waiting rooms. Such girls find it continually assumed by the employment agencies to whom they apply for positions that they are willing to serve as domestics in low-class hotels and disreputable houses. Of course the agency does not explain the character of the place to which it sends the girl, but going to one address after another the girl herself finds that the places are all of one kind.

Recently an intelligent colored girl who had kept a careful record of her experiences with three employment agencies came to the office of the Juvenile Protective Association to see what might be done to protect colored girls less experienced and self-reliant than herself against similar temptations. Another 192young colored girl who, at the age of fifteen, had been sent to a house of prostitution by an employment agency, was rescued from the house, treated in a hospital and sent to her sister in a western state. She there married a respectable man and is now living in a little home “almost paid for.”

The case of Eliza M., who has worked as cook in a disreputable house for ten years, is that of a woman forced into vicious surroundings. In addition to her wages of five dollars a week and food which she is permitted to take home every evening to her family, she has been able to save her generous “tips” for the education of her three children for whom she is very ambitious.

Colored young women who are manicurists and hair dressers find it continually assumed that they will be willing to go to hotels under compromising conditions and when a decent girl refuses to go, she is told that that is all that she can expect. There is no doubt that the few colored girls who find positions as stenographers or bookkeepers are much more open to insult than white girls in similar positions.

All these experiences tend to discourage the young people from that “education” which their parents so eagerly desire for them and also makes it extremely difficult for them to maintain their standards of self-respect.

In spite of various efforts on the part of colored people themselves to found homes for dependent and semi-delinquent colored children the accommodations are totally inadequate, which is the more remarkable as the public records all give a high percentage of negro criminals. In Chicago the police department gives 7.7 per cent., the Juvenile Court 6.5 per cent., the county jail 10 per cent.

Those familiar with the police and the courts believe that negroes are often arrested on excuses too flimsy to hold a white man, that any negro who happens to be near the scene of a crime or disorder is promptly arrested and often convicted on evidence upon which a white man would be discharged. Certainly the Juvenile Protective Association has on record cases in which a negro has been arrested without sufficient cause and convicted on inadequate evidence. A certain type of policeman, of juryman, and of prosecuting attorney has apparently no scruples in sending a “nigger up the road” on mere suspicion.

193There is the record in the files of the Association of the case of George W., a colored boy, nineteen years old, who was born in Chicago and who had attended the public schools through one year at high school. He lived with his mother and had worked steadily for three years as a porter in a large grocery store, when one day he was arrested on a charge of rape.

In the late afternoon of that day a woman eighty-three years old was assaulted by a negro and was saved from the horrible attack only by the timely arrival of her daughter, who so frightened the assailant that he jumped out of a window. Two days later George was arrested, charged with the crime. At the police station he was not allowed to sleep, was beaten, cuffed and kicked, and finally, battered and frightened, he confessed that he had committed the crime.

When he appeared in court, his lawyer advised him to plead guilty, although the boy explained that he had not committed the crime and had confessed simply because he was forced to do so. The evidence against him was so flimsy that the judge referred to it in his instructions to the jury. The state’s attorney had failed to establish the ownership of the cap dropped by the fleeing assailant and the time of the attempted act was changed during the testimony. The description given by the people who saw the colored man running away did not correspond to George’s appearance. Nevertheless the jury brought in a verdict of guilty and the judge sentenced the boy to fourteen years in the penitentiary. When one of the men who had seen the guilty man running away from the old woman’s house was asked why he did not make his testimony more explicit, he replied, “Oh, well, he’s only a nigger anyway.”

The case was brought to the Juvenile Protective Association by the employer of George W., who, convinced of the boy’s good character, felt that he had not had a fair trial. The Association, finding that the boy could absolutely prove an alibi at the time of the crime, is making every effort to get him out of the penitentiary.

As remedies against the unjust discrimination against the colored man suspected of crime, a leading attorney of the race in Chicago suggests that:

Generalizing against the negro should cease. The fact that 194one negro is bad should not fix criminality upon the race. The race should be judged by its best as well as by its worst types.

The public press never associates the nationality of a criminal so markedly in its account of crime as in the case of a negro. This exception is most unjust and harmful and should not obtain.

The negro should not be made the universal scapegoat. When a crime is committed, the slightest pretext starts the rumor of a “negro suspect” and flaming headlines prejudice the public mind long after the white criminal is found.

The investigators were convinced that there are not enough places in Chicago where negro children may find wholesome amusement. Of the fifteen small parks and playgrounds with field houses, only two are really utilized by colored children. They avoid the others because of friction and difficulty which they constantly encounter with white children. The commercial amusements found in the neighborhoods of colored people are the lowest type of poolrooms and saloons, which are disproportionately numerous because so many young colored men find their first employment in these two occupations, and with their experience and very little capital are able to start places for themselves.

All colored people are especially fond of music, but almost the only outlet the young people find for their musical taste is in vaudeville shows, amusement parks, and inferior types of theaters. That which should be a great source of inspiration tends to pull them down, as their love of pleasure, lacking innocent expression, draws them toward the vice districts where alone the color line disappears.

An effort was recently made by some colored people on the South Side to start a model dance hall. The white people of the vicinity, assuming that it would be an objectionable place, successfully opposed it as a public nuisance and this effort toward better recreational facilities had to be abandoned.

In suggesting remedies for this state of affairs, the broken family life, the surroundings of a vicious neighborhood, the dearth of adequate employment, the lack of preventive institutional care and proper recreation for negro youth, the Juvenile Protective Association finds itself confronted with the situation stated at the beginning of the investigation—that 195the life of the colored boy and girl is so circumscribed on every hand by race limitations that they can be helped only as the entire colored population in Chicago is understood and fairly treated.

For many years Chicago, keeping to the tradition of its early history, had the reputation among colored people of according them fair treatment. Even now it is free from the outward signs of “segregation,” but unless the city realizes more fully than it does at present the great injustice which discrimination against any class of citizens entails, it will suffer for this indifference in an ever-increasing number of idle and criminal youths, which must eventually vitiate both the black and white citizenship of Chicago.

Club Work

Of the local work of women’s associations in behalf of better opportunities for the alien, the reports are too numerous for the barest mention. Only an example or two may be cited by way of illustration. Pittsburgh, the city second to Chicago as a distributing center for immigrants, has many individuals and organizations alive to the problem of assimilation. The Y. M. C. A. and the Civic Club of Allegheny County have coöperated to establish a foreign immigration distributing station at the railway depot and will do follow-up work with the new residents of that city. In this work these two organizations will have the coöperation of the Council of Jewish Women and other important social agencies in the city.

The Education Committee of the Civic Club arranged conferences in Pittsburgh on the Americanization of foreign-born families, frankly accepting Miss Kellor’s program: “The State should take up, at the point where the Federal government lays aside its responsibility, the real question of immigration, which is the problem of making the immigrant into a good citizen, protecting him when he is looking for a job and helping him to go to the part of the state where he is most needed, where the best conditions exist, 196where there is the best standard of living and where he may find congenial associates.”

Evening classes for foreigners were also undertaken by this club, and its women members worked hard at that enterprise until the Board of Education decided to assume responsibility for it.

All over the state of Pennsylvania thoughtful women are turning seriously to the question of the alien in their midst. The American Club Woman reports that “the immigration problem is regarded as very important by Mrs. Samuel Semple, State President of Pennsylvania Clubs. She has traveled all over the state and observed the vast throngs of foreign immigrants pouring into the industries. She urges a special effort to educate the immigrant into a good citizen. The establishment of social centers in the schools is the first step advocated.” “Women inspectors at every port where immigrants land is a much needed reform. The Civic Club of Philadelphia has made a study of immigrant stations and finds that there is no adequate provision for the proper handling of women and children, and that no privacy is allowed, and that women are frequently subjected to embarrassment and distress because of being entirely at the mercy of male inspectors.”

In Boston, the Women’s Municipal League is a center for all agencies, including that of the League, which are working for the assimilation of the foreign elements in the community. We are told that “it has also reached the point when it can develop, within the League, a plan to unify all the educational activities of every department until no vital interest in home or school or social life is left untouched; a plan which shall include the emigrant woman and thus become the basis of a genuine democracy.”

In California, the women like many men are beginning to wrestle with the immigration problem, which has been augmented already by the opening of the Panama Canal and which will, unless proper safeguards are at once set up, produce the evil conditions in the western seaports and 197western cities that now exist in the eastern ports and other cities.

The Women’s Civic League of Baltimore has made a serious effort to secure adequate protection for the immigrants that come in such numbers to that city.


The Women’s Municipal League of New York formed in 1906 a Research Committee which made an intensive study of a group of immigrants and reported the need of better public protection. As a result of the pressure exerted by this Committee, the League itself, and the Association of Neighborhood Workers, a state immigration bill was passed in 1908 creating a non-salaried commission of nine members. Miss Frances Kellor, who had directed the research work among immigrants, was made a member of this commission and later became head of the State Bureau of Immigration.

Massachusetts followed with a Commission of Immigration on the lines of the New York commission, for a study of internal assimilation. Grace Abbott, director of the Immigrants’ Protective League of Chicago, was appointed executive secretary.

Governor Johnson recently appointed a similar commission in California and Mrs. Mary E. Gibson is an active member.


Of the work of Jane Addams of Chicago in the foreign colonies the very best tribute is that paid her by one of her alien neighbors: “It was that word with from Jane Addams,” said a working woman, “that took the bitterness out of my life. For if she wanted to work with me and I could work with her, it gave my life new meaning and hope.”

Starting in with a simple desire for service to our new 198citizens, sometimes enlivened by real missionary fervor and again by a semi-religious and philanthropic sentiment, women social workers are now realizing to a gratifying extent that the real basis of assimilation is economic, because the immigrant comes here as a worker. To prevent exploitation thus becomes the main endeavor of a large group of workers in the foreign colonies, and their emphasis on good wages as a basis for housing reform and other standards of living as well as for social opportunity and culture proves the capacity of women for intellectual growth and keenness of penetration. Sometimes in their anxiety to make good citizens of foreigners, women workers among them, or for them, lay emphasis on governmental action and are paternalistic in that they work for legislation more than education among the workers themselves. Others, while not underestimating the value of legislation, feel that exploitation will be more permanently removed or prevented by educating the immigrant to demand those conditions of life and labor for himself or herself which will make exploitation impossible.



It is an interesting fact that among the very earliest pioneers in the movement for better housing conditions were two women, Octavia Hill, of London, and Ellen Collins, of New York. Of these two women, it has been justly said: “They were alike in the fact that before anyone else saw how bad housing underlies more of the mischief that is abroad in a great city than do most other causes, they saw and understood. What is more, they attacked the evil where few in their day had the courage, and fewer the will, to meet it.”

Guided by the work done by Octavia Hill in England, Miss Fox, Miss Parrish, and a few others organized, in the pioneer days of housing reform, the Octavia Hill Association, as a branch of the Civic Club of Philadelphia, a woman’s organization which had been investigating congestion in courts and alleys and presenting reports. This association still exists. The members of the association buy property in the tenement districts, and either build new houses or improve old ones which are rented then in the usual way. The shareholders are guaranteed 4 per cent. on their investment and still the houses are kept in perfectly sanitary condition. It is eleemosynary in its interest though profit-making in its appearance. It handles property for those who want it handled by someone who will take more than a pecuniary interest in the tenants.

The ideals of this association have been copied elsewhere, as in Detroit and Washington. They were the inspiration 200for the Women’s Municipal League of Boston, which now manages the property intrusted to its care on the same principles. It regards the rent collector as a social worker of real assistance to the landlord and the tenant.

The attitude that so many people have of placing the blame for bad conditions upon tenants largely or solely was well answered by a member of the Octavia Hill Association. After showing that the last annual bill for repairs due to carelessness of tenants in the Association’s 500 houses was only $50, someone asked to what extent tenants are responsible for bad housing conditions. Instantly the answer came, “None.”

The work done by Miss Ellen Collins in New York is told by Miss Emily Dinwiddie in “Tenements for a Million People.” Jacob Riis thus had able assistants.

Women of wealth have helped to build some of the model tenements which were, in the earlier stages, regarded as most important contributions to the housing movement. Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt, Sr., for example, spent one million dollars in erecting four model tenements in New York to meet the needs of tuberculosis patients and their families.

As the housing reform movement assumed wider aspects than the destruction of limited slum areas or the construction of model tenements, women were everywhere found active along the new lines of development. The Housing Problem, it is now recognized, offers different aspects for different classes in society, although the requirements for all individuals in the matters of light, air, warmth, sanitation, and freedom from overcrowding, are similar.

Homes for Working Women

Homeless working women, for instance, are face to face with a serious problem, for, as lodgers with very small incomes, they are not only unable to secure airy and sanitary rooms, but they are often forced into immoral surroundings 201and led to supplement their earnings in ways that menace their own future. Homes for working girls have, therefore, been a special concern of women in many of our cities.

Edith Hadley, president of the Chelsea House Association, New York, shows the spirit with which women have generally undertaken this work: “If we who have privileges and warm, comfortable, clean homes, cannot say to these girls, ‘My sister, come home,’ surely it rests upon us to do it in some community way. And if we cannot get the housing of girls taken up as a community duty, then all the more must we struggle by private enterprise to find out the way. We must say there shall be no town throughout the length and breadth of our land where the girl cannot find safe shelter, a place which, if her need is great, she may call home.”

Even better wages would not alone solve this need and women realize that. In New York, the census returns show 22,700 wage-earning women and girls living by themselves in the city; yet there are still only some forty houses where definite preparation for their home comfort has been undertaken. Realizing the inadequacy of the housing provision for such women, a boarding-house bureau was recently organized by certain women, under the chairmanship of Cornelia Marshall, to investigate and report on reliable boarding-houses and bring the list to the attention of working women. This bureau was an outcome of a conference of authorities in charge of working girls’ houses.

Housing reform, in its larger aspects, however, is a persistent struggle to control the situation permanently by legislation, efficient inspection, garden cities, and model small houses in place of tenements. Added to this is the necessity of assimilation work with foreigners, of education in personal and public hygiene in schools and homes, and control of profit-making interests for the sake of homes for the people.



The more thoughtful women interested in housing reform soon came to realize that mere sentimental talk about housing evils is futile, and that effective improvements must be based on actually known conditions, their causes and effects.

Surveys have therefore taken precedence generally of propaganda for legislation or enforcement of laws; and many of the very best of the housing surveys in the country have been made by women. Here again it is because of the greater readiness of women to admit women into the secrets of the home that investigations carried on by them are apt to be more successful. Women can best understand women’s and children’s needs in the way of shelter, for one thing, and how far the labor of one woman can accomplish housekeeping results. Theirs having been the tasks of doing the family wash, guarding the babies at sleep and at play, cooking and serving meals, removing dust and rubbish, they are in a better position than men to know what conveniences facilitate that work and what deprivations retard or prevent its accomplishment. No clearer proof of that fact is needed than the response and testimony which poured into the Bureau of Agriculture in reply to its query as to how it could best serve women on the farms. These farmers’ wives cried with pitiable appeal just for running water. Many instances were given of excellent shelter and water provision for pigs and cattle while the wife and babies were deprived of the commonest decencies.

The following is a partial list of housing surveys made by women within the past five years:[31]

Mount Vernon. 1913. Report of Housing Investigation by Miss Udetta D. Brown.

Pittsburgh. 1909. The Housing Situation in Pittsburgh, by F. Elisabeth Crowell, Charities and the Commons, February 6.

Sacramento. 1913. Report of Investigation of Housing 203Conditions, by Miss Caroline Schleef. Under direction Chamber of Commerce.

Newburgh. 1913. Report of Housing Investigation made by Miss Amy Woods of the Newburgh Associated Charities for the Social Survey, conducted by the Russell Sage Foundation. She pointed out opportunities for a better housing code and will have much to do with the follow-up work.

1913. Housing Investigation by Miss Helen Safford Knowles, supplementing Report of Carol Aronovici, on the Housing Conditions of the Welcome Hall District.

Cambridge. 1913. Report of Investigation by Miss Flora Burton in First Report of Cambridge Housing Association.

Chicago. 1912. Tenement Housing Conditions in Twentieth Ward, Chicago. Report of Civics Committee of Chicago Woman’s Club.

1912. The Problem of the Negro. Report of Investigation by Alzada P. Comstock, for Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy.

1912. Two Italian Districts, by G. P. Norton, ed. by S. P. Breckinridge and E. Abbott of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy. American Journal of Sociology. Consists of seven articles on housing among the different races in Chicago.

Grand Rapids. 1913. Housing Conditions and Tendencies in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Report of Housing Investigations by Miss Udetta D. Brown. Under the supervision of the Charity Organization Society.

Portland, Oregon. A housing survey made by the Consumers’ League which then drew up a housing ordinance to eliminate slums and presented it for the consideration of the city council. Club women and welfare organizations supported it.

Bridgeport, Connecticut. Survey of housing made for Housing Association by Miss Udetta C. Brown.

Elmira, New York. 1913. Esther Denton made report on housing conditions which aroused citizens.

204Hartford, Connecticut. 1912. Through investigation of housing conditions by Mary S. Heilman made for the Civic Club, whose president is Dorothy B. Hillyer, Hartford was aroused and instances of deplorable conditions of affairs were laid before the Board of Health.

California Cities. In 1911 housing conditions were studied and reported on by Mrs. Johanna von Wagner, an expert of the Los Angeles Housing Commission. Her report and influence helped to secure the enactment of the state tenement house law.

In 1908 Charlotte Rumbold prepared for the Housing Committee of the Civic League of St. Louis a report on tenement house conditions so vividly written and illustrated that not only St. Louis but many other localities were stirred and eventually framed reform legislation. It took five years, however, to win a tenement house law in St. Louis.

In 1904 Miss Emily Dinwiddie made an investigation of three typical sections of Philadelphia to pave the way for housing legislation, especially for the enforcement of legislation through adequate inspection. It was years before the legislation sought by Miss Dinwiddie and her colleagues was secured, but in 1911 a state provision was finally obtained. At the present time Miss Dinwiddie is in charge of the Trinity property, of New York City, which was formerly accused of being managed solely for profits. She is proving that rookeries can be turned into homes and made to pay.

Alice S. Griffith, secretary of the San Francisco Housing Association, emphasizes the need of more housing inspections. “How Social Workers Can Aid Housing Reform,” by Mary E. Richmond, indicates their value as inspectors.

The Women’s Municipal League of Boston took for study the Board of Health’s record of 1,500 basements occupied for living purposes and came to the decided opinion that basements at best are unfit for human habitation. The League then petitioned the Legislature to make a law governing 205basements erected subsequent to the passage of the acts of 1907, retroactive.

The housing work done by this League has been under the able leadership of Miss Amelia Ames. The Committee of the League has been enlarged to include representatives of the Massachusetts Civic League, the Roxbury Welfare League, the Roxbury Charitable Association, South End House, Elizabeth Peabody House, Associated Charities, the Homestead Commission, and the Chamber of Commerce.

The first work of the original Municipal League Committee, as of its enlarged group, was an investigation carried on largely by trained women inspectors. The coöperation of the settlements and other organizations helped materially in this survey, as it enabled a district examination to be made, and placed the worst conditions in each district as a definite responsibility on some neighborhood organization, like a settlement, which could be charged with the duty of securing the district improvement. None of this work was haphazard. Only trained investigators were sought and employed. Miss Theodora Bailey, for example, made over 400 inspections and carefully tabulated over 200. She was able to interest legislators and reporters in the deplorable conditions in Boston.


The Women’s Municipal League of New York has also investigated tenements and reported violations of the law to the Department affected. It helped to defeat proposed legislation which would remove all three-family houses from the surveillance of the Tenement House Department, a piece of reactionary legislation which aroused a successful protest from all women interested in social welfare, as well as from all men similarly interested.

This League also wishes to have all two-family houses and the rented room houses placed under the Tenement 206House Department. It made a study of the janitor’s situation and discovered that the janitors labor under such disadvantages that they are responsible for many violations of Health, Fire and Tenement Department laws. “The janitors should be decently paid and decently housed; they should be instructed briefly in the laws,” is the League’s decision.

From across the continent, we hear of women’s associations concerning themselves with housing reform. The American Club Woman reports: “Los Angeles is studying the housing problem. It expects a great influx of laboring population on the heels of the opening of the Panama Canal. The Woman’s Friday Morning Club therefore has built a model cottage for $500. The club proposes to acquire lands along the river bed and through semi-isolated sections and there erect these small houses. Gardens about the houses will help reduce the cost of living. The dream of the club is: a city without a tenement; a city spotlessly clean in every nook and corner; a city where there shall be thousands of small homes, renting at the same cost as in a court, and in which the individuals shall have sanitary comforts, the right of personal development and the privacy which tends toward morality and pride. The Los Angeles Housing Commission of which Mrs. Johanna von Wagner and other women are members, has done some interesting housing in the case of Mexicans transferred from their crude shacks to decently sanitary homes on city land.”

In Chicago, Mrs. Emmons Blaine was one of the founders of the City Homes Association which started the housing movement there and she is still one of the leaders in the Chicago work.

In the middle western states, Miss Mildred Chadsey of Cleveland, Ohio, stands out conspicuously as a housing reformer and in an official capacity. The Cleveland Bureau of Sanitation, of which she is chief, has a sergeant, twenty policemen, and an office force under her direction. Miss 207Chadsey up to the present has succeeded in demolishing over two hundred wretched hovels and is demonstrating that bad housing does not pay the city but is on the contrary frightfully expensive property. Some of the slogans that have developed from her work are these: “It costs less to be comfortable than it does to be uncomfortable.” “A good home is less expensive than a poor one.” “Health and cleanliness come cheap.” “Dirt and diseases are more costly than frankincense and myrrh.” This new vision for Cleveland was largely the result of a survey made by fourteen college investigators, under Miss Chadsey, who went out to ascertain facts in two sections of Cleveland—one the famous “Haymarket” district in the congested heart of the city; the other an open section on the edge of the city. The Survey published the report of that investigation.

Indiana has a splendid housing reformer in Mrs. Albion Fellows Bacon, an officer in the National Housing Association, who started a campaign for a tenement house law before that association was formed. Her book, “Beauty for Ashes,” a narrative of discovery out along the road from a sheltered woman’s threshold, reveals the forces which have drawn most of the women out into social activity and into governmental interest. No woman can read this story without being moved to see what effect bad housing has on the community and woman’s responsibility toward her fellow-creatures in this as in other civic questions. Mrs. Bacon in her observations out from her own threshold has been forced to see that the war on bad homes is a war on poverty and its manifold products, vice and disease among others. She well illustrates the logic and the fearlessness with which even the most sheltered women often face facts when once their human sympathy is awakened and their eyes are opened to a public question. Mrs. Bacon, almost single-handed, secured housing laws for the cities of Evansville and Indianapolis. Last year she secured a still better law than that which crowned her first campaign.

208In Allegheny, Pennsylvania, the Civic Club, a woman’s organization, has been at the forefront in housing reform.

Miss Kate McKnight, of that association, initiated practically every movement of the club till her death in 1907. Mrs. Franklin P. Adams, acting president, drafted the tenement house laws governing cities of the second class in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Adams is chairman of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, and of other societies. The Civic Club also got an increase in the force of tenement inspectors and the chief inspector was for some time a woman member of the club.

In Providence, Rhode Island, the Federation of Clubs passed resolutions and sent letters to the legislature urging the enactment of a housing bill. Moreover, they sent a delegation of women to the hearing before the Judiciary Committee.

In New Orleans, Miss Eleanor McMain, the head of Kingsley House, was very influential in securing the law regulating tenements in her city.

Housing in Washington

In Washington, D. C., the housing problem has been forced upon the attention of Congress which has shown gross neglect all these years in its care of the national capital’s population and especially of the negroes there. The voteless citizens of the capital and their sympathizers from outside attempted for a long time to secure remedial activity in the city of Washington whose alleys and slums were a national disgrace from the standpoint of health, morals and crime. Booklets and reports were published and organizations formed for the purpose of bringing pressure to bear upon Congress to improve housing conditions.

President Roosevelt had appointed a Homes Commission to study and report on the alley dwellings but nothing had resulted from this except possibly the conversion of Willow 209Tree Alley into an interior park. Women and men felt that such an apparent remedy might cause still greater evils by leaving many of the poor altogether homeless, and the agitation was pushed the harder for the creation of a system of minor streets created out of the alleys.

Last year two pamphlets of a vigorous nature were published by the Monday Evening Club and by the Women’s Welfare Department of the National Civic Federation. Public meetings were arranged by the Civic Federation and conferences of social workers in Washington were called, one of the biggest of these being held at the White House last winter—an evidence of the interest taken by the wife of President Wilson in the housing of the people in Washington.

Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, who had been aroused by visits made to the alleys under the guidance of Mrs. Archibald Hopkins and Mrs. Ernest Bicknell, piloted senators and congressmen into the bad areas to make them see and feel the need of change. As a consequence of this work, bills were introduced into both houses of Congress for some solution of the alley problem. How much progress would have been made with the bills it is difficult to know but the significant thing is that Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, in almost her last conscious breath, made an appeal for the passing of that legislation. Her husband, the President, fortunately, sent word that such was her dying wish and out of sentiment for the “first lady of the land” this much needed legislation was hurriedly passed by the Senate of the United States, the lower house promising to add its approval. Mrs. Wilson was told the good news before she died.

In a case where neither the men of the district involved nor the women were voters, apparently an affecting sentimental situation saved the day for the poor families herded in their misery in dark alleys. Certainly up until this time, congressional land speculators in Washington had turned a deaf ear to the pleas of the women and the men who sought help for the slum dwellers.

210In commenting on the situation in Washington, The Survey said:

Washington has long enjoyed the reputation of being the best planned city in America, the one large city in the world which from the day of its foundation has been built more or less consistently along the lines of a carefully thought-out plan. Only recently has it been realized that from the beginning this plan has been incomplete. While it provided for great public buildings and for dwellings of the wealthy and the well-to-do, it not only failed to provide homes for wage-earners, but actually offered temptations to house these wage-earners in an unwholesome manner. The magnificent wide avenues designed by Major L’Enfant, bordered along a great part of their distance by very deep lots, led inevitably to the construction of winding, branching alleys and the erection of hidden houses which had no place in the original plan.

Modern city planning lays the emphasis less on public buildings and boulevards and more on providing sites for homes. So the original plan of Washington must be supplemented by a modern plan providing a system of minor streets to let the wholesome light of publicity into the hidden slums of Washington and to provide economic use for the backs of the overdeep lots that line the avenues. They will do away with the present temptation to keep the old shacks standing or to build houses fronting on the avenues, but extending so far back that their middle rooms are dark and airless. Halfway measures at this time may wipe out the alley slums of the Capital only to give in place of them a far more difficult problem, the deep, unlighted and unventilated multiple dwelling.

Homes of Negroes

In the South, as well as the North, women are at work on the housing question. At the 1912 convention of the National Municipal League, in Richmond, Virginia, it was manifest to the northern delegates that the South and its women are awaking rapidly to the housing needs. Miss Elizabeth Cocke in a talk on housing and morals in Richmond said:

211Our local conditions in Richmond have, as yet, nothing which approaches the tenement. There are a few old houses occupied by, possibly, some half-dozen families to the house, but though these show very bad conditions in room overcrowding, there are no conditions of lack of light and air, if the windows are opened to admit ventilation. In one instance I have found a bedroom, occupied presumably by seven people, in which there is no window at all; one door opening upon another room with two windows, and a second door upon the entry on the upper landing.

Among the comparatively small foreign population there is a very great deal of room overcrowding, but the most extensive of these conditions exist among the negroes. These appear to be the most squalid and least progressive, but this I believe to be largely due to the demoralizing effects of bad housing and surroundings which do not tend to any uplift.

Can children raised in Jail Bottom, whose only outlook is a mountain-like dump of rotting rags and rusty tin cans on the one side, and on the other a stream which is an open sewer, smelling to heaven from the filth which it carries along, or leaves here and there in slime upon its banks, have any but debasing ideas? Can parents inculcate high moral standards when across the street or down the block are houses of the “red-light” district? When a dry-closet blocks the one small window of the kitchen, can lack of decency be called to account? Is the world so small that there is no room left for the amenities of life? Are ground space and floor space of more value than cleanliness and health and morality?

It is certainly a fallacy that the poor do not want good housing. In a wonderful address, given last spring at the Child Welfare Conference, in Richmond, a negro speaker said in substance: “We would use the bath tub as frequently and enjoy it as much as our white brother and sister, if we could afford to rent houses which have the bath tub in them. We do not prefer dilapidation and discomfort, nor being forced to live in districts where there is only depravity and low surroundings; but the better ones of us have too much self-respect to force ourselves on our white brothers, if they do not want us living alongside of them.”

212All that Miss Cocke said was indorsed by the chairman, John Stewart Bryan, who as publisher of one of the most influential newspapers in the South, The News Leader, is in a position to know the facts. “It is an old story to any engaged in work of this sort,” he declared, “that a person situated as the negro is in Richmond pays more taxes than the richest man in Richmond, because the taxes he pays take such a large part of his income and he gets so little in return. All that Miss Cocke says is true. They are segregated in Jackson ward, and under a new ordinance they are being still further segregated. That is radically wrong, it is economically wrong, and nothing in the world can change it but an awakening of public sentiment, and it ought to be awakened and it will be.”[32]

A study of the activities of women and women’s associations along housing reform lines shows that they are beginning to recognize the importance of good homes for our colored citizens. Professor Sophonisba P. Breckinridge, of Chicago University and the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, has given this subject special study, and it is to her that we owe the following thoughtful statement of this particular housing question, published in The Survey:

One of the many serious problems that now confront the negro not only in southern communities but also in many a northern city is the difficulty he experiences in finding decent housing accommodations for his family. In the face of increasing manifestations of race prejudice, he has come to acquiesce silently, as various civil rights are withheld from him in the old “free North,” which was once the Mecca of his race. He rarely protests, for example, at being excluded from restaurants and hotels or at being virtually refused entertainment at the theater or the opera. There are three points, however, which he cannot yield and in regard to which he should not be allowed to yield. He must claim a decent home for his family in a respectable neighborhood and at a reasonable rental, an equal chance of employment with 213the white man, and education for his children. We will consider here only the first of these three demands.

In a recent investigation of general housing conditions in Chicago,[33] the problem of the negro was found to be quite different from that of immigrants. With the negro, the housing dilemma was found to be an acute problem not only among the poor, as in the case of the Polish, the Jewish, or the Italian immigrant, but also among the well-to-do. The man who is poor as well as black must face the special evil of dilapidated insanitary dwellings and the lodger evil in its worst form. But for every man who is black, whether rich or poor, there is also the problem of extortionate rents and of dangerous proximity to segregated vice. The negro is not only compelled to live in a segregated black district, but this region of negro homes is almost invariably the one in which vice is tolerated by the police. That is, the segregation of the negro quarter is only a segregation from respectable white people. The disreputable white element is forced upon him. It is probably not too much to say that no colored family can long escape the presence of disreputable or disorderly neighbors. Respectable and well-to-do negroes may by subterfuge succeed in buying property in a decent neighborhood, but they are sure to be followed soon by those disreputable elements which are allowed to exist outside the so-called “levee” district.

In no other part of Chicago, not even in the Ghetto, was there found a whole neighborhood so conspicuously dilapidated as the black belt on the South Side. No other group suffered so much from decaying buildings, leaking roofs, doors without hinges, broken windows, insanitary plumbing, rotting floors, and a general lack of repairs. In no other neighborhood were landlords so obdurate, so unwilling to make necessary improvements or to cancel leases so that tenants might seek better accommodations elsewhere. Of course, to go elsewhere was often impossible because nowhere is the prospective colored tenant or neighbor welcome. In the South Side black belt 74 per cent. of the buildings were in a state of disrepair; in a more fortunate neighborhood, 214partly colored, only 65 per cent. of the buildings were out of repair, but one-third were absolutely dilapidated.

Not only does the negro suffer from this extreme dilapidation, but he pays a heavy cost in the form of high rent. A careful house to house canvass showed that in the most rundown colored neighborhoods in the city, the rent for an ordinary four-room apartment was much higher than in any other section of the city. In crowded immigrant neighborhoods in different parts of the city, the median rental for the prevailing four-room apartment was between $8 and $8.50; in South Chicago near the steel mills it was between $9 and $9.50; and in the Jewish quarter, between $10 and $10.50 was charged. But in the great black belt of the South Side the sum exacted was between $12 and $12.50. That is, while half of the people in the Bohemian, Polish, and Lithuanian districts were paying less than $8.50, for their four-room apartments; the steel-mill employees less than $9.50, and the Jews in the Ghetto less than $10.50, the negro, in the midst of extreme dilapidation and crowded into the territory adjoining the segregated vice district, pays from $12 to $12.50. This is from $2 to $4 a month more than the immigrant is paying for an apartment of the same size in a better state of repair.

It seemed worth while to collect and to present the facts relating to housing conditions in the negro districts of Chicago because one must hope that they would not be tolerated if the great mass of white people knew of their existence. Most people stand for fair play. The persecutions which the negro endures because of race prejudice undoubtedly express the feeling of but a small minority of his fellow-citizens of the white race. Their continuance must be due to the fact that the great majority are completely ignorant of the heavy burden of injustice that the negro carries. Ignorance is the bulwark of prejudice, and race prejudice is singularly dependent upon an ignorance which is, to be sure, sometimes willful but which more often is unintentional and accidental. It has come about, however, that the small minority who cherish their prejudices have had the power to make life increasingly hard for the black man. Today they not only refuse to sit in the same part of the theater with him and to let him enter a hotel which they patronize, but they also 215refuse to allow him to live on the same street with them or in the same neighborhood. Even in the North where the city administration does not recognize a black “ghetto” or “pale,” the real estate agents who register and commercialize what they suppose to be a universal race prejudice are able to enforce one in practice. It is out of this minority persecution that the special negro housing problem has developed.

But while it is true that the active persecution of the negro is the work of a small minority, its dangerous results are rendered possible only by the acquiescence of the great majority who want fair play. This prejudice can be made effective only because of the possible use of the city administration, and the knowledge that legal action intended to safeguard the rights of the negro is both precarious and expensive. The police department, however, and the courts of justice are, in theory at least, the agents of the majority. It comes about therefore that while the great body of people desire justice, they not only become parties to gross injustice but must be held responsible for conditions demoralizing to the negro and dangerous to the community as a whole.

Those friends of the negro who have tried to understand the conditions of life as he faces them are very familiar with these facts. But it is hoped that those who have been ignorant of the heavy costs paid in decent family life for the ancient prejudice that persists among us, will refuse to acquiesce in its continuance when the facts are brought home to them.

Among the other women interested in the housing of negro families is Mrs. John D. Hammond, the wife and coworker of the president of Paine College in Augusta, Georgia. Believing that a better housed negro can be better educated, Mr. and Mrs. Hammond have worked out a system for negro housing in cities with that end in view. Their plan was recently outlined in The Survey. The Society for the Improvement of Urban Conditions among Negroes, composed of men and women, has a housing bureau in New York which seeks by lectures, by literature, by personal instruction, and by legislation, to promote better housing conditions among the negroes of the city.


Juvenile Leagues

As in city clean-up work and other social activities, so in their housing reforms, women have enlisted the aid of school children, forming them into juvenile leagues to act as housing inspectors for the more obvious and outward defects. Boy Scouts have become greatly interested in certain cities in the work of educating tenants to a sense of responsibility for obedience to health laws and also in pointing out violations to the authorities, not only on the part of tenants but of landlords also. A picture at once comes to mind of a little member of a Juvenile League pointing out to a tenement owner certain needs and improvements which she had been taught to regard as requisite—a picture printed in The American City to illustrate the work accomplished by children. Both men and women have been earnest in enlisting the sympathy of children, partly for the actual inspection help rendered by them, and yet more for the sake of educating the children in proper standards of living in order that they may demand for themselves decent conditions through pressure on their parents while they are minors and through individual, social, and political activity when they are adults.

The importance of far-reaching power for the health officer is realized by women housing reformers as well as by men. For example, Mrs. Bacon, who was so instrumental in securing the enactment of the Indiana state housing law, dealt with this subject at the second national housing conference held in Philadelphia, in her paper on “Regulation by Law.” Mrs. Johanna von Wagner of California did the same under her title of “Instructive Sanitary Inspection.” The spirit of the conference showed an earnest desire to coöperate with public officials, extend their powers, and add to the constructive suggestions pointing the way to improvement in city housing. The women delegates and speakers shared this spirit and contributed to the practical suggestions as well as to plans for coöperation.


Housing Associations

Women are not only interested in the special or local housing problems of their own district or city. They are actively affiliated with the National Housing Association and take part in its national conferences They thus coöperate with the men in the great work of arousing the nation to a knowledge of the deadly peril of low standard homes and to a sense of the immediate urgency of reform.

The New York Congestion Committee has not only been an influential body but it has made a most careful study of the causes of congestion and has drafted many, and secured the passage of some, important laws within the past three or four years. Florence Kelley and Mrs. V. G. Simkhovitch are members of the small executive board of the Committee, and women have helped in the campaign of education which has been necessary to place the evils of congestion and the program of the Committee before the public. They have also helped in that most essential work, the securing of signatures to the petition for the referendum on untaxing buildings. In other ways, too, they have assisted: by making investigations and writing to members of the state legislature urging the passage of laws. They also formed the Women’s Society to lower rents and reduce taxes on homes, similar to the men’s society with the same object. Together these two societies have carried on a propaganda among the people of New York which has had a marked influence on public interest in the housing question. They issue a Tenant’s Weekly in the interest of tenants and small home-owners, the slogan of which is “The City for the People.” One of their most effective pieces of work was the Congestion Exhibit, which presented the economic aspects of housing together with an impression which awakened horror at prevalent conditions.

A review of women’s activities in housing reform shows that they are taking no narrow view of the matter. They 218realize that the problem of congestion, the main element in the housing question, has many elements of an economic, social or administrative nature which involve action on the part of public authorities. Among these elements may be cited the high cost of land; congestion of factories, warehouses, offices and shops; low wages and long hours of labor; immigration; poor and expensive transportation facilities; lack of adequate housing inspection; ignorance of sanitary standards of living; and greed on the part of landlords or real estate managers. Another factor is the temporary foreign dweller who hopes to amass some money quickly and return to his native land to live upon it. Lack of town planning is still another factor that often leads to congestion.

As we shall see, women have entered into the town planning movement to prevent the accumulation of plague spots. They are gradually beginning to realize, as are men, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As town planning is not a private philanthropy, however, their usefulness in this movement is limited wherever they do not possess the ballot.

Women, therefore, are working in far greater numbers in the next phase of housing: that of educating badly housed people in the laws of hygiene. Every social movement which is not strictly evangelical instills some demand for individual and family privacy, and for the material bases of healthful and moral living. In congested areas it is the increase of wants that is essential. More mere things are needed: water, floor space, light, air, toilet conveniences, cooking and laundry equipment for individual or coöperative life, refrigerators, fire escapes, window blinds, wider and safer stairways, and innumerable other material objects. There is no other important outcome of education in hygiene or home beauty or housing standards except an increase of wants and the consequent pressure on the wage standards, without which an improvement in material possessions is impossible. Whatever individual exceptions may 219be found, the general rule is that the poor overcrowd and do so in order to make their pittances buy a little more food, a few more clothes, books for their children, the month’s actual shelter, or a doctor’s services.

Some women are consciously preaching higher standards of living to foreigners, negroes, and the poor of every race assembled here, knowing the ultimate pressure their work will have on labor demands. The settlements which have almost involuntarily helped in this education from the beginning, are more and more being led into the support of working class movements having for their goal better wages and steadier employment, as we discover in the chapter on social service. Other women are unconsciously creating dissatisfaction with congestion and with that poverty which underlies bad housing, through the teaching of domestic science in all its forms, through public school education, health centers, and the rest. The willingness to pay the price accompanies or follows the desire for the things which make for health and culture.



Social service is not an exact science and it does not mean the same thing to all people. Charity or philanthropy was more definite and has always been more or less of an official concern in municipalities. In times of crises, floods, panics, fires, earthquakes, extreme cold or excessive heat, cities and towns have supplemented the help rendered by individuals in alleviating hunger, homelessness, illness and want. The municipality thus often makes charitable doles to the victims of the elements, regarding the service as necessary, but temporary; remedial, not preventive.

The social investigations which have been made in recent years, together with the revelations made by charitable organizations, have driven home the fact that while intermittent fire and water and industrial crises and heat and cold undoubtedly add to human helplessness or distress, there is a steady and constant helplessness and distress based on underfeeding, homelessness or bad housing, unemployment, lack of vocational training, low wages, ignorance, occupational diseases and accidents, sexual irregularity, and other causes for which spasmodic almsgiving, however tenderly and efficiently applied, is no remedy whatever. Added to this definite knowledge is the knowledge, based on the experience of charity workers, of the opprobrium which is cast upon charity of the personal type, at least, by industrious wage-earners, the products of whose toil, instead of being used to provide them with the creature comforts, are, in many cases, consumed by those who toil not, neither do 221they spin, but who are active in distributing alms to producers.

Partly to satisfy their own intelligence and partly to overcome the resentment among working people at the idea of charity, the social worker has come into being and social service has developed into a philosophy, an education, and to a certain extent into a science. Step by step it has been pushed into municipal departments—notably, the health and educational departments. Where associated charities have been well developed and the city has the idea of social service in its charitable work, the tendency is to use the word “welfare” and to designate this function as “public welfare.”

It is the same development which has characterized all other public work—the growth from remedy to prevention—and the growth is stable for the reason that it represents economy in place of the former waste of money and effort and because popular education is leading to the demand for prevention and justice rather than charity.

In this expansion of municipal functions there can be little dispute as to the influence of women. Their hearts touched in the beginning by human misery and their sentiments aroused, they have been led into manifold activities in attempts at amelioration, which have taught them the breeding places of disease, as well as of vice, crime, poverty and misery. Having learned that effectively to “swat the fly” they must swat its nest, women have also learned that to swat disease they must swat poor housing, evil labor conditions, ignorance, and vicious interests.

Sometimes the mere self-preservative instincts have forced women out to work among their neighbors; for in cities one’s neighbors may murder in innumerable ways besides with the pistol or dirk.

Middle- and upper-class women, having more leisure than middle- and upper-class men, have had greater opportunity for social observation and the cultivation of social sympathies, for the latter accompanies the former instead of 222preceding it, as all active emotions are the reflexes of experience. It is these women therefore who have seen, felt, experimented, learned, agitated, constructed, advised, and pressed upon the municipal authorities the need of public prevention of the ills from which the people suffer. In their municipal demands they have often had the support of women of the working class and of working men, among others, whose own preservation is bound up with legislation and administration to an ever-increasing degree.

Just in the proportion that social service develops into public action, and away from private philanthropy and personal interference, is the help of working people secured. With the increase of the demands of working people for the means with which to prevent their own destruction and the undermining of the rest of society, will come, many predict, the absorption of social service into organized public service just as the absorption of the settlement is gradually being accomplished by the school center.

Whatever may be the outcome of the present tendencies in social service, it is certain that women are actively engaged in every branch of it: in organized charity, in all the specialized branches of kindred work, such as care for the several types of dependents and delinquents, in organizing women workers in the industries, in making social surveys and special investigation, and in creating the literature of social service.


Women have rendered valiant service in various permanent associations concerned in the improvement of social conditions. The largest gift ever given by a single donor to such an organization was that of Mrs. Abram A. Anderson who gave $650,000 to the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, for a specific purpose; namely, the founding of a department of social welfare with experimental and demonstrating laboratories. In 223the letter accompanying her gift, Mrs. Anderson specifically stated that three departments to be established at once shall relate to public health and hygiene, matters pertaining to the welfare of school children, and the solution of problems connected with the food supply.

A study of the work performed by women engaged in the activities of this Association reveals the fact that they prepare many of its important publications. Interior pictures inserted in the last report show large offices filled with women, in one case forty of them preparing their daily reports on visiting. The advisory committees in the Bureau of Rehabilitation and Relief are composed of women who assume the burden, on stated mornings, of meeting applicants and helping with “instruction; with the correction of defects, physical, mental, moral; with patient, careful planning; with continued interest and personal service.”

The National Consumers’ League was organized by women and is largely supported by them. This society “is an association of people who believe to buy is to have power, to have power is to have responsibility. Therefore it seeks to better the industrial conditions of the worker, and to insure sanitary articles to the consumer, by educating the public to avoid rush orders, to shop early in the day, early in the week, and early in the Christmas season; by furnishing a label which guarantees the product bearing it to be made under sanitary conditions and without hardship to the workers; by assisting in the enforcement of present laws relating to child labor, women workers, sweat shops, fire hazards, pure foods, and other matters. Locally it makes investigations and reports facts to city authorities.”[34] In addition to the direct good which the League has accomplished, it has incidentally interested hundreds of women in the conditions of industrial workers.

The Travelers’ Aid Society, a great protective and preventive agency, which assumes large responsibilities in looking after foreigners, women, and girls traveling on railways, 224is helped by personal service and the financial support of such organizations as the following: the Granges, the Gideons, King’s Daughters and Sons, Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Catholic Women’s League, Council of Jewish Women, other women’s clubs, missionary societies, the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association.

Not only do women coöperate with various agencies for social service. Their clubs and associations of all kinds are turning more and more to the consideration of social matters outside of the range of their immediate interests. Indeed one might say with justice that “social economy” is now one of the chief studies of women’s societies and that social service in an ever broader sense is becoming more and more the goal of their activities.

The women’s clubs, singly and in their federations, have now largely outgrown the self-improvement stage of their career and are going into matters of public health, education, recreation, corrections, and labor. For example, the New England Conference of State Federations of Women’s Clubs representing over 55,000 women is a permanent organization of recent formation designed as an alliance for educational and social service. Speeches at this Conference emphasized the need of better housing and divorce laws; vocational training; pure food legislation; a single standard of morality for men and women; the suppression of “nauseous” news in the daily press; health measures; and the enforcement of laws for the protection and conservation of womanhood, childhood and the home.

The general trend of club women’s development in the United States as a whole is shown by the following resolutions passed at the Biennial Convention of Women’s Clubs held in Chicago in June, 1914: approval of equal suffrage; better fire protection; increased appropriations for city and state boards of health; university extension work for the prevention of disease; federal bureau of Home Economics; the use of school buildings as social centers; the support of 225Miss Lathrop in her propaganda for better systems of birth registration; and hostility to the liquor traffic. The social evil question loomed large at the Convention and drastic measures for dealing with it were discussed.

The large and influential Council of Jewish Women is also concerned with these lines of social service. Some of their special activities and interests will be considered in other chapters.

If we turn to localities and study the work of single clubs, we find an ever-increasing interest in social service and that interest accompanied by practical action. For instance, the Woman’s Club of Paducah, Kentucky, proved so efficient in its administration of funds for relief of the poor that the mayor and council asked its assistance in other lines: inspection of dairies, slaughter houses, etc.

The social service work of such a specialized society as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union reflects a wide range of interests and activities, its development being an inevitable response to needs growing out of its study of the evils accompanying the liquor traffic. It has worked among all races and industrial groups of men and their families; it has done prison visiting, reformatory and prisoners’ aid work; it has helped courts and probation work; it has helped to secure police matrons and policewomen: it has stood for the single standard of morals and the suppression of the white slave traffic; it has helped to secure playgrounds and other recreational facilities; it has tried to teach thrift through school savings banks; it has done rescue work; and it has drafted and urged and watched the enforcement of legislation relating to industrial education and vocational guidance, child labor, liquor and narcotics and cigarettes, gambling, curfew, polygamy, segregation of prostitutes, labor, and all similar problems. It has opposed segregated districts and worked whole-heartedly for woman suffrage.

The National Civic Federation has a woman’s department interested in “securing needed improvements in the 226working and living conditions of women and children wage-earners in various industries and the governmental institutions throughout the United States.”

Southern Work

Everywhere among women’s associations the call for social service is sounding forth. The spirit of this movement is admirably illustrated in an article bearing the title of “Women and Social Service,” written by Mrs. R. R. Cotten, of North Carolina, for the Social Service Quarterly:

The term Social Service means work for the welfare of humanity, and there can be no doubt as to the relation between that work and women. Primarily and ultimately it is work for women. As the givers of life, as the mothers of humanity, their activities must be unremitting in the effort to promote the welfare of humanity. In the past their efforts were devoted to the welfare of their families, and to a limited extent reached the communities in which they lived, but now few fields of service are closed to them.

The world has realized that the welfare of a few cannot be assured except by securing the welfare of all, while the security of all assures the safety of our own special few. Christian effort is no longer limited to the churches. The human heart has overflowed with a great yearning to make this earth better by filling it with healthier, happier, more human people. In response to this yearning everywhere heads are planning and hands are clasping in a determined effort to accomplish this result.

This desire led to the formation of the North Carolina Conference for Social Service, the aim of which is “to study and improve social, civic, moral, and economic conditions in our State, especially conditions that injuriously affect child life, or tend to perpetuate preventable ignorance, disease, degeneracy, or poverty among our people.” Every woman’s heart responds to this call to service for the benefit of the children. Every woman is interested in the investigation of the conditions which surround child life, and every woman will coöperate in seeking to remedy such conditions as are injurious.

227The difficulty lies in reaching women and arousing them to the consciousness of their power and the need for their assistance. I hope all the women in the state will ally themselves with the work and “lend a hand” to the general uplift which it will bring. If they cannot all attend the conferences, they can read the Quarterly and thus keep in touch with the work, and coöperate in the effort by working at home and in their communities. They are interested in every line of thought discussed at the conferences, and can select those lines in which they are most interested for the bestowal of their energies.

In educational progress; in the promotion of public health, which necessarily includes individual health; in prison reform; in the study of eugenics; in the improvement of country life, and in all social, civic, and economic problems men need and welcome the help of women. Neither can accomplish much alone; together they must strive and overcome, together they must win or lose. Together they must attack “the conditions which injuriously affect child life” until all children shall have opportunity for development into useful citizens. This being true no one can deny that Social Service is woman’s work.

The day is past when we deluded ourselves with the thought that our responsibility ceased with the performance of our individual duties. We are jointly responsible for the existing conditions, and only by a joint effort can they be improved. Our neighbor’s welfare is our business and our neighbor is all mankind.

The power of environment to influence the life of an individual is known to all, and it is the natural duty of all women to see that all children are surrounded by conditions under which they can develop into good men and women. It may be a difficult task, it doubtless will require a long, persistent effort, but the object is well “worth while.” In the stress of busy lives men may sometimes forget these obligations, but women must ever bear them in mind, doing their own part toward improving conditions, and stimulating to renewed effort on these lines the men who forget. Together they can strive and win, remembering that the welfare of the next generation should be the very highest ambition of this generation.

228The challenge of social service proclaimed by the North Carolina Conference is vigorous:

It is a challenge to the Church to prove her right to social mastery by a universal and unselfish ministry.

It is a challenge to fathers and mothers and all social workers to lift the burdens of labor from childhood and to make education universal.

It is a challenge to all citizens to rally to the leaders of social reforms, so as to secure for the nation civic righteousness, temperance, and health.

It is a challenge to American chivalry to see that justice is guaranteed to all citizens regardless of race, color or religion, and especially to befriend and defend the friendless and helpless.

It is a challenge to the present generation to show its gratitude for the heritage bequeathed to it through the toil and blood of centuries, by devoting itself more earnestly to the task of making the nation a universal brotherhood.

It is a challenge to the men who make and administer laws to organize society as a school for the development of all her citizens, rather than simply to be a master to dispose of the dependent, defective, and delinquent population with the least expense to the State.

It is a challenge to strong young men and women to volunteer for a crusade of social service, to be enlisted for heroic warfare against all destroyers of social health and justice, and to champion all that makes for an ideal national life.

Associated Charities

Outside of their own clubs and associations, constructive, organizing ability in social service has been shown by women, first, in their desire to consolidate social work for reasons of economy and efficiency.

Josephine Shaw Lowell conceived the idea of a New York Charity Organization Society and took the lead in establishing it in 1882, but chose a man for the executive position.

229The Woman’s Club of York, Pennsylvania, took the initiative in the establishment of associated charities.

The Associated Charities of Mt. Vernon, now known as the People’s Institute, was initiated by women, and they are large factors in it still. The second vice-president, recording secretary and treasurer are women, and the Visiting Nurse Association, the Consumers’ League and the Westchester Woman’s Club are members.

In Denver, the Jewish Social Service Federation has been made a permanent organization to work in the field covered by United Hebrew Charities in other cities. Women predominate in this Federation.

Under the inspiration and guidance of Miss McKnight, of the Civic Club of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, organized charities became an accomplished fact in Pittsburgh and Allegheny.

Word comes by letter from clubs and civic organizations of women, where charities are yet to be organized, stating their agitation with this in view.

When it was discovered in 1907 in New York that the care of babies was distributed among some fifty societies, a step was taken toward coördination of activities for babies. Social facts thus attacked at a thousand points gradually converge in one more harmonious and unified effort.

A plan for “benevolence by coöperation in place of benevolence by competition” was recently put into effect in Cleveland when the Federation for Charity and Philanthropy was formed as an alliance of fifty-three social organizations. In the formation of the alliance three hundred social workers, mainly women, toured the city to explain its purpose and secure the concentration of funds in the hands of its board, as well as wider participation in charity-giving. Economy of time and effort, it was felt, would thus be coupled with larger gifts when they came in the bulk. The experiment proved the theory to be sound.

The purpose of the Cleveland Federation is to provide 230clearing house facilities through discussion, committees, files of social data and the like for the interchange of information, ideas and plans relative to community welfare with a view to preventing duplicated or unrelated efforts and to recommend to proper agencies or individuals needed work. Belle Sherwin—prominent in philanthropic work—was elected president of the council. The initial members of the council include: the Chamber of Commerce, Federation for Charity and Philanthropy, Cleveland Foundation of Federated Churches, Catholic Diocese, Academy of Medicine, Western Reserve University, Case School of Applied Science, Federation of Labor, Federation of Jewish Charities, Child Welfare Council, City Club, Civic League, and Chamber of Industry.

The results are more than financial or time saving. What small organizations cannot accomplish in the way of social investigation and education, united they can go far toward accomplishing. The women who do so much of the actual daily labor in connection with social service thus are getting an economic and educational training by their own experiences which render them valuable assets to any community.

Municipal Charities

That which some cities attempt to secure through coördinated private activities, the City of Los Angeles, California, now undertakes as a municipal experiment in its newly created Municipal Charities Commission. This Commission, established by city ordinance, “aims not only to protect the public in its expenditure of money, but to prevent the overlapping and misdirection of philanthropic endeavor. That this is made possible is due to the broad power conferred on the Commission and to the appointment of members who are familiar with all phases of social work.” Two women are members of this Commission. It will be watched with interest: hopefully by those who believe 231in a thorough public correlation of overlapping agencies; somewhat despairingly by those who fear political influence and the reëstablishment of the old system of relief.

The skillful organization of private charity and its success in gathering financial support has led to a comparison of state, county and municipal charitable institutions with those under private management. This comparison has generally revealed an astonishing disproportion in values; in Pennsylvania, for instance, it was shown, “that a single hospital under private management had received a larger subsidy from the legislature than the Eastern Penitentiary, with an average of 1,400 convicts; that of $16,000,000 which had been appropriated at the last session to charitable and correctional institutions nearly half had gone to 273 agencies under private management, and that 263 of these were local in sphere and yet received over $6,000,000; and that there was almost no coördination or articulation among the state, county, municipal and private agencies that have been multiplying of late, some of which were declared to be utterly superfluous; the need was felt for some strong standardizing influence that should bring order out of the chaos, put the state’s care of its wards on a non-political and scientific basis and act as the originator of new and modern ways of fighting poverty, degeneracy and crime.”[35]

To meet this situation men and women came together and formed the Public Charities Association of Pennsylvania. Private support will still be necessary but its aim will be to secure united support for a state-wide plan of charitable distribution. Pennsylvania needs, it is claimed, a woman’s reformatory, an institution for feeble-minded women, one for inebriates, and more extensive provision for the insane. This Association hopes to keep the public informed of these and similar needs. The organizing committee which becomes the first board of managers includes Martha P. Falconer, Mrs. Louise C. Madeira, Mrs. Edward Biddle and 232Mrs. Sarah Rauh. The board will organize county committees in the cities of Pennsylvania.

In other states there are state boards of charities for the establishment of which women have worked and on which they usually serve officially. The powers of these boards vary greatly, from a pure advisory function which is of little avail, unrecommended institutions winning subsidies over its advice, to a department of control carrying on preventive work against insanity, tuberculosis, inebriety, feeble-mindedness and similar evils.

Efficiency of Women

The service of women on charity commissions and as public relief officers has so long been an accepted fact that it scarcely needs notice here, but the argument for it advanced by the Massachusetts Committee on Women as Overseers of the Poor, a committee composed of both men and women, is so emphatic that it deserves special notice:

The experience of the town of Brookline since 1877 and Winchester since 1891 and the city of Boston since 1891 has made it apparent that it is desirable to elect women upon the Boards of Overseers of the Poor—desirable for the following reasons:

Because the time necessary for this important work is more often at their disposal.

Because the classes to be aided are largely composed of women and children.

Because of their special fitness to advise with the matrons of almshouses about the domestic arrangements of these institutions.

Because of their fitness to discharge the duty now devolving upon Boards of Overseers of the Poor of towns, as well as of cities, of finding suitable homes outside the almshouse for dependent children. The Legislature at its 233last session enacted that the Overseers of the Poor of all towns within the commonwealth shall place every child in their charge, and over four years of age, in some respectable family in the state, or in some asylum therein. No such child, who can be thus cared for without inordinate expense is now to be retained in any town or city almshouse in Massachusetts unless idiotic, or otherwise so defective in body or mind as to make his detention in an almshouse desirable or unless he is under the age of eight years and his mother is an inmate thereof and is a suitable person to aid in taking care of him.[36]

In many places, women officials in charge of public charities have shown that directness in action, that promptness, and that efficiency which characterize the new type of public official generally. For instance, Kate Barnard, the secretary of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, is Commissioner of Charities in Oklahoma. The legal department conducted under her direction has wrested from incompetent or dishonest guardians and returned to orphans some $950,000 in cash, in addition to land probably several times the value of that cash return. The number of orphans involved is 1,373. The department also acts as public defender to prevent miscarriages of justice as far as possible for the poor. This work has been with a very limited appropriation and equipment.

Amelia Sears, the Director of the Cook County, Chicago, Bureau of Child Welfare, has under her direction a corps of assistants trained by her largely, who are to do personal work with the inmates of public institutions and their dependent families. The Juvenile Protective Association will thus be relieved of its volunteer work for prisoners in the county jail, and their dependents. The families of children committed to or released from institutions are to be studied in the hope that their after-care may diminish the “in-andout” 234cases which are now a drain upon the expenses of the county.

Whenever there is a single piece of relief work on a large scale to be undertaken, women are always to be found on the spot. One of the most conspicuous pieces of immediate relief on a rehabilitation basis was carried out in Dayton, Ohio, after the recent devastation wrought by the river floods. Newspaper accounts told of tragic losses, the dashes of important federal officers to the scene, and the like, but very little has leaked through the press as to the tedious, yet faithful, skillful, and intelligent work of rehabilitation which alone has pulled out of the wreckage the individuals affected and set them on their feet not only once more, but in many cases more firmly, than they had stood before. Of this unobtrusive local work, The Survey said:

“While Edward T. Devine and Eugene T. Lies went to Dayton originally for the Washington Headquarters of the Red Cross, they also are doing their work under the authority and with appropriations from the local committee. They are assisted by Amelia N. Sears, secretary of Woman’s City Club, Chicago, who took part in the San Francisco rehabilitation work; Rose J. McHugh, secretary of Funds to Parents Committee, Chicago; Ada H. Rankin and Johanne Bojesen of the New York Charity Organization Society, who helped in the relief of the victims of the Triangle shirtwaist fire and the Titanic disaster; Grace O. Edwards of the Chicago United Charities; Edna E. Hatfield, probation officer, Indiana Harbor, Ind.; Edith S. Reider, general secretary, Associated Charities, Evanston, Ill.; Helen Zegar of the Compulsory Education Department, Chicago, who was in special charge of the relief of Polish and other immigrant families at the time of the Cherry Mine disaster. These Red Cross agents are in turn aided by a corps of local citizens, especially principals and teachers in the public schools, members of spontaneously organized local committees, and others.”


Charity Transformed

Active and efficient as women have shown themselves in high offices in public and private associations for charitable work, they have not lagged behind in the movement that is transforming the relief of the needy into a war on poverty. Little by little as the work of associated charities has widened, forces within the very organizations themselves necessitated the expansion of the idea of charity into one with broader implications. The organization of relief and the centralization of funds bring about a greater demand for relief because they abolish much of the personal succor of the old type. Instead of more or less lavish care of a few families intimately, all cases of relief that come to the notice of charitably minded persons are, through an organized system of relief, referred to the central agency which is expected when it receives thousands of dollars to do marvelous things with them. The very centralization of charity, however, creates the necessity for offices, clerks and stenographers, investigators, perhaps a training school, salaried heads, publications, and the like which consume funds rapidly. Indeed it has been estimated that in New York City under the system of the Charity Organization Society, it costs several dollars to distribute every single dollar in relief. The system of charity therefore breaks down of its own weight in time, or is transformed, much of the relief money being used for social workers instead of the poor, and the little money that is left being spread over a larger group of recipients.

Of course a centralized bureau of charities can make appeal for money and get responses, but here again it has been estimated that for public movements it often costs a large portion of a dollar to bring in one, even when the greatest care is used in selecting probable donors.

Owing to the financial situation within organized charity, the inquiries into efficiency in relief, and the criticism of almsgiving, charity workers have sought to alleviate distressing 236conditions by suggesting other means of reform than monetary help. In their own defense they have had to do this, but they have learned by experience that mere monetary relief may sometimes keep a family or an individual under their care in perpetuity. Not being able to secure funds to assist all cases indiscriminately, even had they wished, charity workers began to ask why relief was needed in each case. Thus they learned by home visiting and personal investigation that lack of education, unemployment, sickness, intemperance or poverty, singly or in company, were at the bottom of dependence as it came under their surveillance.

Gradually they realized that the remedy for lack of education was not charity, but schools, and many charity workers went over to vocational education and guidance activity; the remedy for unemployment they found to be a labor issue and many of them joined the working class movement or social reform movements having as their goal continuous labor, well requited; the remedy for sickness they found to be prevention and many of them went into public health work in all the ramifications described in Chapter II; the remedy for intemperance they found to be complex and many of them joined in prohibition or recreational or labor activities in the hope of checking its ravages; the remedy for preventable poverty they found to be its abolition and charity workers studied and divided into groups according as they thought it might be abolished—political groups for the most part.

For example, Josephine Shaw Lowell, who was for years a member of the New York State Commission on Lunacy and Charity, saw that “she was giving the best years of her life to the service of the sick poor in the public institutions. Meanwhile, honest working people were being made sick by overwork in the service of the Christmas shopping mob. Mrs. Lowell proceeded, without loss of time, to invite to her home some leading retail merchants who were her friends, and some working people acquainted with the effects of 237long working hours. She, herself, represented the shopping public. The Consumers’ League was the result.”[37]

The Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor, soon after its establishment, formed a Housing and Tuberculosis Committee. The field workers in all such associations have helped to educate the executive bodies of the organization and the Executive Committee has helped to educate the people and municipal officials, and thus the whole social movement verges toward an increase of public functions.

Indeed, everywhere charity workers are saying: “The people who come to us should be thrown back upon industry. It is a poor sort of an industrial system that cannot support those willing and able to work in it.”

Community Responsibility

Finally social workers have come to the conclusion, many of them, that in most cases these are not private problems at all but socio-economic ones for which the social system, through government, is responsible. They therefore talk “community and public responsibility” and insist more and more that there shall be no public shirking or shrinking.

With the trend toward public social service, organized charity itself becomes more and more a clearing house for other agencies or, in its effort to maintain itself through the self-preservative instinct that all institutions have, it assumes also the task of prevention by offering employment; opening hospitals and rest homes, milk stations, day nurseries; circulating educational pamphlets and the like. Thus duplication of work is occasionally found where the social workers of a hospital, of a settlement, and of a charity branch visit in the same day a tenement mother and force her to repeat the story of her problems. The only way in which such duplication can be avoided is through the organization 238of social service and the extension of municipal functions in that line. When the hospital is a municipal enterprise, its social service department would seem to be the proper and legitimate one to have the right of way and of support; and this is especially justified through the ability of the municipality to coöperate systematically among its departments: the health department working with the education and police departments; public works with health and education; and so on.

The beginnings of the coördinated social service under municipal control are already on the horizon. Take, for instance, the Board of Public Welfare of Kansas City, Missouri. This Board is four years old. Women are active on it as district superintendents, investigators, factory inspectors; in the social service department, parole department, department of lunches and unemployed, and women’s reformatory.

The establishment of this Board makes possible an intensive district study in which is listed every special agency, school, church, institution, foreign, or negro colony. It provides for the teaching of sex hygiene in the schools and has all the up-to-date machinery, like school nurses. The work of the Board comprises studies of housing, recreation, health, temperance, vice, wage-earning women and women employed in industries, labor conditions, welfare work and industrial accidents. In short, its field is as broad as social needs.

“What good does it all do?” asks the Bureau, and then answers the question itself:

Well, in the first place, 4,517 people are living in better homes today because of the work done by our housing inspectors during the past year.

Daily 40,000 men and women go to safer places to work because of the 693 orders issued by our factory inspection department and complied with by the employers of Kansas City.

Thirty-one thousand times during the year have eager 239men looking for work been rewarded in their search by our employment bureau.

Over 3,000 families have been guided, inspired or comforted by our social workers in the Social Service Department.

To over 2,000 prisoners applying for parole our Board has answered with freedom and a chance.

Fifty thousand pleasant evenings were spent in social center meetings last winter, and most of these would not have been except for the efforts of the Board of Public Welfare.

Twenty-six hundred public dances, with an aggregate attendance of over 500,000, were cleaner and safer because of the presence of Board of Public Welfare Inspectors.

For the past few months there has not been a day when the 25,000 attendants on our motion-picture theaters have not, many of them, been shielded from vulgar or brutal scenes eliminated from the shows by the hot educational campaign carried on by our Recreation Department.

Fifteen hundred people, frightened or worried by some crisis in their battle for bread and butter, have turned to the Welfare Loan Agency and found relief in a temporary loan.

About 6,000 people, embittered by fraud, deceit, and oppression, turned to our Legal Aid Bureau for justice, which is often sweeter than any food.

If human life, if morality, health and financial prosperity have any value, then these paragraphs answer what good has been done.

The accomplishment of large results is due to the fact that organization on such a plan frees more money for relief than it consumes in salaries. All employees of the Board are chosen by civil service examinations. The Board “believes that social action should be based on accurate knowledge and investigations should both precede and accompany all efforts to improve social conditions. It strives for harmonious coöperation with all existing agencies, both public and private, and does not duplicate the work of any. The Board gives no public outdoor relief except in cases where the breadwinner of the family is a city prisoner, and then only on the basis of actual destitution, 240and upon the recommendation of the superintendent of the Provident Association.”

The policy of the Board is briefly summarized in its annual report as follows: “It lays emphasis on justice before charity and on prevention rather than cure. It agrees that the burden of caring for the poor should be laid upon the entire community through taxation rather than be provided for by the voluntary gifts of the generous minority.”

This very gradual transition from private to public control is especially apparent in the development of child-helping agencies. The Children’s Clinic in Chicago, for example, was first established by the Children’s Hospital Society. The county looked upon it, saw it was good, and assumed responsibility for it. Then social workers backed by philanthropists went a step further and established a psychopathic clinic with an alienist in charge to examine the children for mental weaknesses. “Of course,” says Jane Addams, “women interested in these children are not more interested in the psychopathic feature, which is philanthropic, than they are in the medical clinic, which is political. They are not more interested in the children who are dependent and are sent to one of the homes which are supported partly by public funds and partly by philanthropy than they are in those children who are sent to the homes which are supported altogether by public funds. And there you are—the whole thing absolutely mixed! Now a child may be paroled in care of its mother and paid by Court—where it once was dependent on private charity. We are not quite out of charity for the judge is often assisted by a committee composed of representatives of various city charities, but it is hard to tell what is philanthropy and what public service.”

Attitude of Social Workers

The spirit of this whole movement from old-fashioned charity to coördinated social service was abundantly manifested 241at the Seattle Conference of Charities and Corrections in 1913. With the opening of the Panama Canal problems are arising along the Pacific coast in increased numbers. As preventive work, the Seattle Charity Organization Society was anxious to secure, and did secure, the National Conference of Charities and Corrections in order to arouse local interest in the impending situation. Of the Seattle Charities, Mr. Richard Hayter is director and Miss Virginia McMechan, widely known for her social work, is general secretary—never an insignificant office, and by no means a purely clerical one.

For the sake of the whole Pacific coast the Seattle charity workers advertised this conference far and wide.

Under the Central Council of Social Agencies, representing the fifty-six leading public and private social agencies of the city—from labor unions to the chamber of commerce, with the mayor at the head—active local committees were formed [consisting of men and women]. The Rotary Club, a business men’s body, raised the necessary $2,000, a corps of speakers was sent to organizations all over the city and state, even into Idaho, and a vigorous advertising campaign was conducted by means of billboards, 50,000 circulars, and columns of newspaper publicity. Country newspapers were reached by news-letter service. Letters sent out along the entire coast brought in three hundred new conference members.

In the midst of this glowing setting the fortieth conference camped on July 5, registering at the close, July 12, an attendance of paid members numbering from outside the state of Washington over 450, and from Seattle and Washington 350 more. Seattle people fairly swarmed to the evening meetings, and the conference sermon drew a packed house of between 3,000 and 3,500. President Tucker estimated the total attendance at the thirty meetings during the week at between 25,000 and 30,000. Enthusiasm was no less remarkable. Through all the seven days the conference was “live.” The newspapers gave it practically unlimited space, one paper running two extra conference pages almost every day containing 242the important speeches in full. This was done, the editor said, “as a good business proposition.”

When the conference got down to work, it was clearly evident that social welfare, not charity, was the spirit of the delegates and speakers. Preventive measures, standards of living and labor, the relation of commercial organizations to social welfare, and the distribution and assimilation of immigrants were predominant over talk of mere relief. Courts, city officials, lawyers, and teachers were drawn into the conference as an evidence of its wider appeal and public importance.

While the conference program was well rounded and covered every accustomed subject and many new ones, the response of the audiences brought out the trend of conference thought. And that trend was unmistakably economic—the challenge to the industrial order for sweeping readjustments. However keen the interest in other topics, this was one which never failed to elicit enthusiastic response. It broke out at the opening meeting when President Tucker sounded the call for a more fundamental and largely economic interpretation of social justice; it rose almost thunderously when Dr. McKelway in the conference sermon declared that at the bottom of the whole problem we now face is the question of wages, and added: “Men do not always know what justice is, and their thoughts widen with the process of the suns, but if there is any current of American thought today, it is the demand among the masses of men for justice. We can tell its course by the ripples on the surface, when some obstacle rears its head. Privilege of any kind must go down before the rush of that current.”

The same response rose with every utterance of the slogan “Not charity but justice.” Appreciation of the industrial situation was voiced by speaker after speaker, even though his topic lay in other fields. The new radical labor groups, the I. W. W., Socialism and the single tax were frequently brought into discussion as movements to be reckoned with practically and studiously by social workers. The industrial 243program was the last ringing note sounded at the closing session with an all-around presentation of the minimum wage, the essence of which, to quote Mrs. Kelley, is that “the payroll has become public property,” and no business can be a going concern which does not pay a living wage, any more than if it could not pay interest or rent.[38]

Many of the organizations represented at the conference had initiated valuable civic institutions like public baths, recreational provisions, medical inspection in schools, and, in discussing development of new instrumentalities of social welfare, the delegates of such societies asked for the further extension of municipal functions to meet the needs of the city’s people. Significant of the new spirit actuating the charity workers of the country is the fact that three committees were discontinued at this national convention—Immigration, Commercial Organizations and Social Welfare, and Church and Social Work—while two new committees were formed—Social Hygiene and Defectives (including defective delinquents). The Committee on Families and Neighborhoods was renamed the Committee on the Family and the Community, including community programs. A new committee was created on Neighborhood Development, including recreation, which is a very different thing from the old type of charity committee in a neighborhood.

The part played by women in this forward movement of social workers, who began as charity workers, is only partly revealed in the list of officers and chairmen of standing committees, interesting as they are. Mrs. John M. Glenn is one of the three vice-presidents and the following is a list of standing committees for 1914 with their chairmen: Social Hygiene, Maude E. Miner; Children, Mrs. Mary Vida Clark; Standards of Living and Labor, Including Social Insurance, Charles P. Neill; Health, Dr. Richard C. Cabot; Public Charities, Dr. J. T. Mastin; Defectives, Including Mental Hygiene and Defective Delinquency, Dr. Llwellys Barker; Family and Community, Eugene T. Lies; 244Neighborhood Development, Mary McDowell; Correction, Amos W. Butler.

Charity workers have thus evidently grown into one definite group of social workers. Another large group is composed of settlement and neighborhood workers who cooperate with, but are distinct from, charity workers. A few may have gone into settlement work from motives of pure philanthropy, but settlements have never been confined to communities of pauperized people and have often been located in communities of industrial workers representing many nationalities affected by the ups and downs of the industrial and social life of our day. Philanthropy, therefore, has been carefully tabooed as a phrase or an ideal by the leaders in the settlement movement, however slowly they have actually been able to lead their colleagues away from instincts of mere pity and charity.

No one can deny that the social functions which have evolved out of the experiments and studies of settlements are in a very large measure the work of women. Jane Addams, Louise Bowen, Julia Lathrop, Lillian Wald, and other social leaders, who have originated many movements, see distinctly that city functions must be extended to absorb their activities as well as those more directly connected with charity. An example is furnished by the work they have done for schools. They feel that private aid should not obscure public responsibility for the welfare of all the people of a community, but rather that interested citizens with constructive programs should but point the way to better assumption of public duties by the city.

The spirit of all these women workers we see in an appreciation of the contributions of Lillian Wald written by the late Jacob A. Riis:

No woman, since Josephine Shaw Lowell, has been able to do what she has done. They trust her absolutely, trust her head, her judgment, and her friendship. She arbitrates in a strike, and the men listen; she sits as one of the Board of Sanitary Control in the cloak and suit trade that has 245wrought such wondrous great good for the workers, and her judgment stands. When she pleads for housing reform, for playgrounds, for a united stand against child labor, her words carry authority. When politics make for better government, the Nurses’ Settlement is a recruiting station; when push-cart peddlers are blackmailed by the police, she will tell the mayor the truth, for she knows. In the plotting and planning and winding ways of life on the East Side there is one pilot whose chart can be trusted—Miss Wald knows.

In the strife that rages forever around our public schools her feet are planted on solid ground. She pleaded for cooking and housekeeping schools and got them; she believes in vocational guidance. She labored for medical school inspection and when it did only half of what was expected of it, it was Miss Wald who put life into it by giving the doctors backing. Perhaps nothing she ever did gives one a better grip on the woman and her work.[39]

Educating the Public by Exhibits

Having discovered the wide ramification of the social diseases which call for social service and come more and more to a recognition of community responsibility in such matters, social workers, men and women, have realized the necessity of educating the public to a sense of that responsibility. Hence the “social exhibit” of every type, and wherever we find an exhibit, even if it be under the direction of men, we also discover a group of patient, skilled, energetic women workers.

Child welfare exhibits took precedence of some of the constructive programs for child nurture that are now coming into prominence and in all these exhibits, from the first to the last, most ardent labor has been contributed by women toward their success. Often they have themselves been the instigators and main support of an exhibit.

Through the first large exhibit of the New York Child Welfare Committee in the 71st Regiment Armory, and 246since, by neighborhood exhibits, a wider knowledge of city child life and conditions affecting it prevails among city people. Public opinion as to what ought to be done has been aroused so that existing agencies with carefully worked out plans for child welfare have received a more sympathetic and generous support.

Charles F. Powlison thus summarizes the leading results of Child Welfare Exhibits:

New York City

1. The city increased its appropriation to the division of child hygiene of the health department by $167,705.

2. The Department of Parks set aside an old mansion in Carl Schurz Park for child welfare work.

3. The city appropriated $235,000 for a new children’s court building.

4. The children of the city were stimulated to a greater use of the children’s department of the public libraries.


1. Establishment of the Elizabeth McCormick Memorial Fund. The work of this foundation is primarily child welfare.

2. Introduction of course on Children’s Welfare in the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy.

3. The City Welfare Exhibits conducted in the public schools and neighborhood centers of Chicago under the auspices of the Woman’s City Club of Chicago used material shown at the Child Welfare Exhibit.

Kansas City, Mo.

Two days after the Exhibit closed the citizens were able to get passed an ordinance requiring the appointment of factory inspectors, thus making operative the laws regarding child labor, etc.

L. A. Halbert, general superintendent of the Board of Public Welfare, writes: “I believe that the popular understanding of the work of the Board of Public Welfare and other social work which was begotten by this Exhibit has been a very important element in protecting this kind of work from any sordid political influences.”


Northampton, Mass.

1. A $25,000 school building is now being constructed in the congested Polish district. Conditions had been reported for six years without result. Four photographs in the Exhibit did the work.

2. The formation of a Central Advisory Council (to be made up of one delegate from each church, civic, charitable or religious organization), to confer monthly and arrange a program for concerted action in all problems touching civic and child welfare.

3. Radical change of policy on the part of one large manufacturing concern relating to work put out in families.

St. Louis, Mo.

1. A close partnership formed between a newly aroused public and existing agencies working for the welfare of children.

2. The Exhibit is continued as a part of the traveling libraries department of the public library.

3. Sections of the Exhibit, dealing with particular subjects, loaned for circulation in churches, schools, settlements and clubs.

4. The Children’s Agencies and the churches stimulated to a stock-taking of progress and furnished an exact basis for mapping out the next steps ahead.

One of the women social workers at an Exhibit said: “We are all of us learning, for the first time, what place our work has in the city’s life. We have worked over our exhibits, trying to state in concrete terms our purpose and our success; then we see our organization placed here beside all the others, and we find out how inadequate we all are, and yet how important, each at our own job. We find out where there is overlapping and where we can use each other in the future. And then we walk over to the section on industrial conditions, or on housing, or on infant mortality, and we see the big underlying problems, that we haven’t any of us touched yet. And we realize that no private organization ever can touch those problems. Only all the 248people, acting for themselves through their representatives, can begin to make a dent in them.”

Dr. Anna Louise Strong, the director of exhibits of the National Child Welfare Exhibit Committee, upholds the service of the Exhibit in the face of certain critics: “I believe in the exhibit method, whatever its risks, through the faith that when the widest publicity possible is secured, truth will win out. The light that beats around a throne is no fiercer than the light that has beat around disputed statements in a child welfare exhibit. And because of this, however and whenever individual exhibitors fail, I feel that the exhibit method is, in spite of its dangers, one of the safest, just because of the wideness of its reach, and the many-sidedness of the comments aroused.”


It is not alone in such more or less spectacular educational work as exhibits of various kinds, that women have participated with such success. They are helping to create the scientific literature of social service which is based upon accurate observation and generalization. To enumerate even the important contributions of women to this literature would be impossible here, but by way of illustration we may cite simply the contributions made by women to the studies issued under the auspices of the Russell Sage Foundation:

The Evening Post of New York said of “Women and the Trades,” by Elizabeth B. Butler, who made her study in the Pittsburgh Survey, that it “represents the most complete and careful study ever made in any country of the actual working conditions of the wage-paid women of a great city.” Miss Butler has also made a study of saleswomen in mercantile stores.

The Scientific American said of “Work Accidents and the Law,” by Crystal Eastman, who made this important study 249in Pittsburgh and who was formerly the secretary of the New York State Commission on Employers’ Liability: “The book is one of the finest exponents we have ever seen of this twentieth century humanitarian interest.”

The Literary Digest said of “Homestead: the Households of a Mill Town” by Margaret Byington: “Miss Byington brought to the task excellent training and made her studies after the most approved methods. It is a book legislators, ministers, editors, and story writers should ponder before they preach to, or write at or about, the wage-earners and their wives, from apprentices to superintendents.”

“The Delinquent Child and the Home” by Sophonisba P. Breckinridge and Edith Abbott, according to the Boston Evening Transcript, is “a storehouse of information to the individual or society seeking to know better the needs of children and to provide them with decent homes, fresh air, education and recreation.”

“Fatigue and Efficiency” by Josephine Goldmark furnishes the basis for arguments in favor of governmental control over health conditions in industry and has already produced results.

“Among School Gardens” by M. Louise Greene is a valuable propaganda for open-air exercises for children.

“One Thousand Homeless Men” by Alice Willard Solenberger, until her death an active leader in the Chicago Bureau of Charities,—a study of original records—is approved by Ernest P. Bicknell, director of the American Red Cross as follows: “A confidence-impelling power was hers which often led to the most unexpected results. Beggars and tramps, confirmed in their manner of life, gave her the real facts about their homes and families and transgressions. More than one hardened fellow became her ally, and helped her search out the young boys and persuade them to go home to their parents. She had so many sources of information that her power of securing hidden facts from the lodging houses and saloons and dark places seemed almost uncanny.”

250“Women in Various Trades in New York” by Mary Van Kleeck maintains the standard set by all the Russell Sage publications.

“Our Slavic Fellow Citizens” by Emily Greene Balch is thus praised by the Chicago Record-Herald: “Miss Balch has given us one of the most valuable books on immigration that we know of, a work full of guidance, of truth, of understanding.”

“Visiting Nursing in the United States” by Ysabella Waters completes these studies at present and is a “convincing argument,” according to the Nurses’ Journal of the Pacific Coast, for nursing and educating in their homes some of the sick who will not or cannot go to hospitals.

Wherever social welfare work reaches the stage of legislation we find women supplying data for intelligent action, arguing before legislative committees, and impressing upon lawmakers their competence to deal with social problems in a large way. Moreover, in every important battle over legislation, women have their own special contributions to make. Space forbids anything like a survey of the legislative work of women in social service, but some notion of their interest and labors is to be gathered from the current discussions of mothers’ pension laws.

Mothers’ Pensions

On account of the fact that the major portion of charitable relief has always gone to poor widows with young children to support, family rehabilitation has been a main study of social workers. Charity and institutional relief have combined forces—orphan asylums taking the children in many cases of destitution while work for her own support was found for the mother. The slight assistance that could be rendered in each case to supplement the mother’s earnings and the necessity of her putting the children to work too early or overtaxing the oldest child in family labor soon showed the ineffectiveness of this method of 251family rehabilitation, for broken-down physiques, undeveloped minds, wrong associations and delinquency were recognized as the outgrowth of the enforced neglect of home care and training by mothers.

Thus arose a general demand for public aid for mothers as a preventive measure, for the sake of the family, and for greater economy, much of the institutional care of delinquents, sick, orphaned, in day nurseries and the like being saved thereby. Mothers’ pension laws now exist in seventeen states, the great majority of which passed the laws within the past year, a year in which women have been their busiest in urging this legislation. In Pennsylvania the law creates an entirely new set of administrative officials—unsalaried boards of women, from five to seven in number, appointed by the governor—in all counties which elect to make use of the act.

New York passed a bill for a commission instead of the pension act itself, being conservative enough to desire further investigation. Two women who have worked for mothers’ pensions in that state are on this commission—Mrs. William Einstein and Sophie Irene Loeb. The New York City Federation of Women’s Clubs asked for this commission.

The Federal Children’s Bureau has taken a great interest in state aid for dependent mothers with children and has published a study by Laura Thompson of laws relating to the same in the United States, Denmark and New Zealand, with all the legislative technicalities so much discussed.

Perhaps more women have agreed on the wisdom of mothers’ pensions than on any other single piece of social legislation. They have even been accused of rushing heedlessly into the support of such laws on purely sentimental grounds, and they are vigorously opposed by many charity workers. Public relief for mothers strikes at the very vitals of private philanthropy which makes its most effective appeals for funds for dependent widows. Dr. Devine, of the New York Charity Organization Society, vigorously 252opposed the idea of public pensions, and published in The Survey his views on the matter. The following spirited defense by Clara Cahill Park, represents the attitude of a large number of women workers who support the measure:

Dr. Devine’s article[40] on mothers’ pensions seems to show that even the learned doctors of our social ills may disagree as to this matter. So perhaps it is not surprising that a plain mother may still go on thinking that such aid is in reality preventive in that it reaches the affairs of the home at a crisis, and tides them over without loss of self-respect. You see, mothers, in spite of the sociologists, feel themselves, for once, on their own ground in this matter; and in possession of all their faculties, will continue to think that, as far as children are concerned, not they, but the learned doctors, are in the amateur class.

As far as care and time and money for children’s needs are concerned, they, and they alone, feel that they know how imperative those needs are, and from the mere fact of being able to gain more aid for more mothers by state subsidies the idea seems to them of value. They, and perhaps they only, can also feel the importance of preserving self-respect as an asset to be saved by the new attitude of the states. It is not, for them, “a mere sentiment and solemn pretense of changing the names of things.”

Why, to most of us, is a marriage service a wholesome formality, if changing the name, if deriving comfort from legal sanction (even sometimes of a bad husband), is merely “a solemn pretense”?

The question seems to me to touch the social evil and the housing problem (as shown in Chapter IV of Miss Addams’ “A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil”), the menace of child labor, of the sweat shops, and neglected childhood and starved motherhood on many sides. Why is a free chance to live and grow, for a child, any worse than free education? A child does not ask where things come from, at first. He only knows that he is cold, or hungry, or neglected. In the nature of the case he is dependent on someone.

253Dr. Devine asks one question, which I should like to try to answer. He asks: “Who are the sudden heroes of a brand-new program of state subsidies to mothers, that they have grown so scornful of poor relief administration, of religious alms, of a thousand forms of organized benevolence, of the charity which, in all ages, organized and unorganized, has comforted the afflicted, fed the hungry, succored the widow and the fatherless?”

They are, if I am permitted to answer what I believe, the old-fashioned givers, the passing of whom Dr. Devine goes on to deplore. They are the people, too, whom Dr. Devine and The Survey are waking up, who are not satisfied to go all through life having their ideas predigested for them; more than all, they are social workers, who have come to distrust some of the methods of social work. Starting out with a blind faith in philanthropic methods, I have found, time and again, not that the work was so much hampered as some have found it, by “investigation, the keeping of records, discriminating aid, etc.,” but that the work was not exact, and not careful and that its faults were not mitigated by that human sympathy which would atone for human faults.

This is not always true, but it has become proverbial, and we see why. If we could have always with us the great people of the earth, like Miss Addams, Miss Lathrop, Judge Mack, and others, there would be no such proverbs as those the poor now murmur among themselves.

State aid, to my mind, is an advance, as showing the policy of the nation, to conserve its children and its homes, and in recognizing the mother as a factor in that campaign, for the welfare of all.[41]

Mrs. Park is a member of the Massachusetts commission on widows’ pensions which proposed legislation on the subject, not all the members agreeing on public aid, however. The existence of this commission was largely due to Mrs. Park but Miss Helen Winslow helped by lecturing on the subject before more than sixty women’s clubs in Massachusetts.

All women, however, are by no means committed to the 254policy of public aid for dependent mothers. Grace P. Pollard, for instance, president of the Liberal Union of Minnesota Women, objects in these terms:

With indications that the “public” is being swayed by appeals to protect motherhood through pensions, the presentation of “Motherhood and Pensions” by Miss Richmond is a relief. Aside from the economic waste of human energy which a “pension” system may induce, it is likely to lessen individual initiative, to reduce its possible recipients to the condition of petitioners for favors, and hence to weaken the social structure.

It is unfortunate that our city, state and national treasuries bear so impersonal a relation to the members of society. Intelligent citizens know that the poor and ignorant pay an indirect tax out of all proportion to their resources, that this condition is fostered by those who have in hand larger resources, and that poverty and ignorance are necessary factors in the explanation of human energy. The poor and the ignorant are paying the price of that which is to be returned to them as pensions.

If the time, money and energy now being used to establish pensions could be directed into the establishment of fair conditions of industry, of sanitary conditions of living, of greater opportunities to acquire knowledge, of equal privileges and duties for men and women, might not the nation’s integrity be better safeguarded?[42]

Where mothers’ pension laws are enacted, women are called to aid in their administration. Massachusetts has a “Mothers’ Act,” the enforcement of which is under the Special Committee of the State Board of Charity, with Ada Eliot Sheffield as Chairman. Overseers of the poor administer the law under the direction of this Special Committee, and Emma W. Lee has charge of a corps of women who will work with the overseers. Caroline B. Alexander is a member of the New Jersey State Board of Children’s 255Guardians which administers the State Mothers’ Pension Law.[43]

In all the states where home assistance has been secured for dependent mothers, women have agitated and lobbied for the measure. In states which do not yet have such legislation, women’s clubs and organizations have this legislation as one of their demands. The Association of Neighborhood Workers and many leaders in the women’s clubs of New York are among those who have labored for home assistance in that state.

Other Legislation

Recognizing the importance of enlightened coöperation in the matter of law making, a Committee on Social Legislation was recently formed in Chicago to act as a clearing house for bills intended to improve social conditions. The constituent organizations include the following: Anti-Cruelty Society, Associated Charities of Danville, Associated Charities of Rock Island, Associated Jewish Charities, Bureau of Associated Civics and Charities of Freeport, Bureau of Personal Service, Central Association of Charities, Evanston, Central Howard Association, Chicago Federation of Churches of Christ, Chicago Medical Society, Chicago Playground Association, Chicago Tuberculosis Institute, Chicago Woman’s Aid, Chicago Woman’s Club, Citizens’ League, City Club of Chicago, Committee on Institutional Visitation, Conference of Jewish Women’s Organizations, Consumers’ League, Elizabeth McCormick Memorial Fund, Federation of Settlements, Illinois Association for Labor Legislation, Illinois Children’s Home and Aid 256Society, Immigrants’ Protective League, Infant Welfare Society.[44]

Jersey social workers have formed a similar bureau, similarly constituted. “At the meeting there was some sentiment in favor of lobbying, but those who initiated the plan had no intention that it should act as a lobbying agency. It was pointed out that members of the bureau might differ as to the wisdom of legislation. Participation in the bureau will not commit a member to any definite stand on various measures. But, it is expected that through the clearing house and information service of the bureau, those favoring a given measure will be enabled to conduct their legislative campaign with greater efficiency.”[45]

Schools for Workers

The development of organized charity and social service with their investigations and legislative and institutional activities has produced the need for workers trained for research and the preparation of data—trained in sociology, economics, and industry; in health, education and hygiene.

In response to this need have risen schools for the education of social workers. The New York School of Philanthropy is one of the largest of these professional schools. A partial list includes the School of Social Economy of Washington University, St. Louis; the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy; the Boston School for Social Workers; and the Philadelphia Training School for Social Workers.

In all of these schools, women help to instruct as well as 257study. Julia Lathrop is vice-president of the Chicago School and Sophronisba Breckinridge is dean to assist the president in the educational administration.

Social Service and Politics

As private philanthropy advances to social service and then to public action, women all over the country are asking, “Shall the control which we have hitherto been exercising be turned over to the men voters alone?” They are, in increasing numbers, answering this question in the negative.

Club women and women teachers and doctors last summer (1914) declared emphatically that social activities must continue to be the joint work of men and women and that political equality is a prime essential in the evolution of social service.

Sophronisba Breckinridge succinctly explains this point of view in an article in The Survey designed to answer Dr. Simon Patten’s strictures on suffrage and social service:

In his editorial comment of January 4, Professor Patten not only addresses certain questions to the social workers of the country, but draws vivid contrasts between “dozens of little coercions” and “doses of freedom.” It is not my purpose to undertake to answer his questions. The program of the social workers has been so definitely outlined by action taken at Cleveland in June at the time of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, and is so definitely formulated in the platform of the Progressive Party, to which Miss Addams gave her adherence, that further reply seems superfluous.

I should be glad, however, to ask Professor Patten in return to consider more carefully the nature of certain “small coercions” against which the women of the country and the social workers as well are now protesting. Professor Patten contrasts the value of a “suffragette agitation” with the value of a “clearer vision.” He cannot, however, be ignorant 258of the fact that the efforts of women to become politically free have revealed as no other agency has been able to do, the nature and extent of the coercion exercised over the voters of the community by the organized forces of vice and alcohol. The women think that, in their efforts to secure political freedom so that they may be able to serve the community, they should have Professor Patten’s acquiescence in increased control exercised over these common foes of the race. In Professor Patten’s judgment the “only effective check to the natural expansion of clear ideas and social emotions is offered by the members of the degenerate, defective or dependent classes.” Commercialized alcohol and vice may be included in these groups; but will the classifications likewise include the competitor who remains in the market by adulterating the food supply of the people, the unintelligent producers of unclean and unsafe milk, the employer of children in the southern cotton mills, those who fatten on the labor of underpaid girls in our department stores and factories? I fancy these “enemies of the people” would be greatly surprised to find themselves so classified. Nor is the strength of their position or the disastrous consequences of their freedom lessened by so characterizing them. “Little coercions” upon them mean “large doses of freedom” to the child, the women workers, the men helpless before conditions of physical hazard in our industrial establishments.

Political action without philanthropy is of course like the human skeleton equipped perhaps with muscle but lacking the nervous and circulatory systems. Philanthropy on the other hand without political capacity is like an invertebrate structure, inert and incapable of efficient self-direction. It seems entirely in accord with her general experience of helplessness when relying on philanthropy alone and with her observation of the social aimlessness of the older political parties that Miss Addams should demand that the strength and stability of one be added to the life and persistence of the other.



“Women are vastly more interested than we are in the administration of the criminal law, in the preservation of law and order, and in the suppression and punishment of crime,” declared the Hon. Joseph Choate a few years ago in New York to a large group of women organized to help in the non-partisan ticket which had Mr. Jerome at its head for district attorney. Mr. Choate added that Mr. Jerome would owe his election more to the women than the men. His prediction proved true; but whether the women who worked so hard for Mr. Jerome were fully satisfied with his administration is another story.

There are abundant reasons why women take so much interest in the whole problem of criminal law and correction. A great many crimes are definite offenses against women and children; their comparative defenselessness makes them suffer more than men from brutality, neglect, and vices; and there are certain technical legal requirements of the law that constitute, in the matter of punishment, sex discriminations which arouse rebellion on their part.

Perhaps other reasons predominate, however. The interest in public correction is but a simple and inevitable extension of the function of private correction which has been generally allotted to women in the home and in the school. Even over husbands they have been urged by church and moralists of all kinds to exercise reformatory influences and their acknowledged sphere of “protection” and “prevention of delinquency” is evident in the popular explanation 260of every great man by the fact that “he had a good mother.”

Again, middle-class women have more leisure than men under modern conditions of industry, and an army of women choose to spend their leisure mothering the poor and the friendless or in the prevention of poverty and dependence. Furthermore women spend more of the world’s wealth than men spend, and hundreds of well-to-do women are becoming, with their advancing education and travel and observation, satiated with material possessions, and are spending their wealth for social possessions—public health, public ornamentation, public recreation, protection of girls and boys, infant welfare, and the like. Even the “sheltered” woman has grown to realize that all children as well as her own need homes, protection, education, sympathy and justice; that even self-preservation and self-respect for herself, her husband and her children are endangered by proximity to vice, crime, neglect, disease, and immorality.

Moreover, there is no class line in crime or vice and the need of their correction. No group or class of women has escaped the ravages of these evils, and thus a feeling of solidarity is evolved in the fight against the social evil and various forms of delinquency, which is not as yet developed in the fight against poverty, the sting of which is a class experience.

If, as Abraham Flexner says, “it is the unskilled daughters of unskilled men” that become the prey of traffickers in human souls and bodies, someone pays the money, and as a rule it is not the poor who have that money. The well-to-do pay, not only with silver and gold, but with pain and suffering, and with syphilitic and degenerate offspring.

The revelations made by men to mankind and by some women to all women show how large a part sex plays in crime and vice of all kinds; and women know well that sex cannot be understood by men alone or protected by men alone. At least it is certain that one sex has failed as the arbiter of the destinies of the other, and better results already 261are in evidence from the combined occupancy of the field of public corrections by men and women.

The full import of women’s advance into the field of criminal law and administration is not yet widely appreciated, even by women themselves, so gradual and unobtrusive has it been, for the most part. Women began quietly as minor assistants to the courts of law, it being thought that the mysteries of that great science were too deep for the feminine mind. As the law schools and the secrets of the guild were opened to women, they began to bring into the administration of the law here and there the spirit of social service. As they acquired the technical equipment, which was soon discovered to be not half as formidable as the gentlemen of the powdered wig and lordly mien long represented, women began to assume even judicial functions.


Protective and probationary work naturally fell to women’s share very early in the growth of their interest in law enforcement. Even to the most obtuse masculine mind, it became apparent that women were fitted to look after women and children held temporarily under the tutelage of the courts.[46] Even this, however, was a great gain for women. Probation officers were called into daily consultation with judges, members of the district attorney’s office, the chief of police and his subordinates, and the opinions, reports and investigations of women officers were soon shown to be of the highest value to the judges, attorneys and police. Hundreds of women thus won by sheer efficiency the respect of those in charge of law enforcement.

262Regular probation officers are called upon to influence children, wives and husbands by members of their families who feel that a formal trial and sentence can thus eventually be avoided. All such officers seem eager to respond to human appeals and their spirit is an indication of the sincerity of their work. It is not only probation officers who thus save the courts both time and money and promote individual and social welfare. While official probation work is a part of the judicial function, a great deal of unofficial probation work is done which, through its preventive nature, relieves the court of labor. Teachers and social workers of various types are doing similar work to that of probation officers in their attempt to prevent crime and delinquency.

There are numerous probation associations and committees in the United States. Sometimes these are composed of men alone and again of men and women.

Probation and parole officers have helpful allies in the “Big Brothers” and “Big Sisters” now coöperating in many cities to prevent further lapses from grace on the part of young delinquents or offenders. The work that the Big Sisters in New York regard of prime importance was the Little Sisters’ Country Home where girls were sent to build up mentally, physically and morally before they were placed in private homes or in employment or again in their families. Such a home was established by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt at Little Neck, Long Island, Mrs. Vanderbilt being the president of the New York Big Sisters, but unfortunately it soon burned.

The Council of Jewish Women also does a great deal of protective work in its various sections. Each section is urged by the national council “to put itself in connection with the police and magistrates’ courts as well as the county or city attorney’s office and all officers of the department of justice and to make it known that wherever a Jewish girl appears or is arraigned, the section stands ready to do whatever may be necessary to help the accused or her family or the prisoner if she be a prisoner.” Preventive 263correctional work is done by this association along recreational and educational lines.

The New York Society for the Improvement of Urban Conditions among Negroes is seeking to train colored men and women for probationary work among their own race. In the past year 464 cases of adult and juvenile delinquency were handled. “The Committee takes special pains to secure thorough follow-up work. Each case is treated as one of special importance in which the worker handling the same considers herself personally responsible.” A class of girls which the magistrates’ court assigned to the Association for care and which other associations have turned over to it is being instructed in gardening by a teacher furnished by the Board of Education. The Society also tries to reinstate discharged employees when mere misunderstandings have led to dismissal and in other deserving cases. It believes in labor organization as an aid to this security.

So many other forms of social effort are working toward the same goal as probation that it is impossible to estimate the number engaged in preventing individuals from becoming public offenders and public charges. Probation officers do use, and are urged to use further, all existing organizations which are established to supply fundamental needs like shelter, food, clothing, employment, medical help, recreation, education and the rest. Indeed probation officers are dependent upon the organized efforts to supply those needs—so dependent that probation work can proceed only in proportion to the effectiveness of those organizations.

Here then we have a condition of a great public service, one of the greatest, being still dependent on private charity and effort. Many elements, like competition, intermittency of help, and incompetency owing to the volunteer nature of the organization, prevent the widest usefulness of these allied agencies upon which success in probationary work so largely depends. For that reason there are probationary as well as other social workers who begin to emphasize the ideal of public concentration of social effort in the city administration 264with the aim of eliminating waste and securing certainty of support and steadiness of trained effort. All the forces of the community need to be centrally organized, it is argued, to meet the requirements of the probationary system and such central organization must be governmental since the probation function is a governmental one.

Thus probation work leads into social service in the widest sense. Every disclosure of the shortcomings of the system of imprisonment shows this. And it is natural that women who are so keenly concerned in every branch of social service should give attention to the larger aspects of probation: the reformation of the individual wrongdoer and the protection of society. That many women probationary officers are not content with a narrow view of their functions will be discovered by anyone who takes the pains to read the discussions at the Fifth Annual New York Conference of Probation Officers, held in Syracuse, in 1912, at which, for the first time, there was a special meeting for women to consider the special problems of women.

At the Fourth Annual Conference of the State Association of Magistrates in Syracuse, in 1912, Dr. Katharine B. Davis, now commissioner of corrections of New York City, presented a plan, which she had been urging, for a state commission into whose care all women delinquents should be given as soon as convicted and for a more rational use of existing State institutions for women and the establishment of other institutions needed to carry out the work of the commission. Miss Julia O’Connor, a probation officer in the New York Children’s Court, emphasized the need of dealing with defective children and Miss Gertrude Grasse, Secretary of the Juvenile Protective Association, brought out the fact that an inspection of school children for feeble-mindedness would prevent defectives getting into the courts at all.

Women attended the sessions of this conference of magistrates and were present at the dinner which formed one of the features of the occasion. At that dinner the president 265said: “Ladies and gentlemen: For the first time in the history of our Association, the chairman has to use the word ‘ladies’ in addressing the gathering, which shows that we have joined the ranks of the progressives.” The Association of Magistrates firmly believes in the value of salaried women probation officers in juvenile courts and for women offenders and makes recommendations constantly to the courts with reference to their appointment.

Police Matrons

More difficult than the opening of probation work to women has been the no less obvious task of installing a sufficient number of police matrons. An examination of the records shows that these important officers have been established through the efforts of women in all large western cities and also extensively through the East. The Women’s Prison Association of New York is seeking to secure police matrons in all the stations instead of having women dragged about to different stations to find them. This association was instrumental in getting patrol wagons, moreover, so that women might not be taken through the streets by policemen.

Boston has a street matron, Mrs. Thomas Tyler, an officer employed by the Florence Crittenton Mission, who goes about at night wherever girls are found in streets, parks, theaters, and cafés and gives help to them where it is needed. The shelter of the Mission is a valuable aid to her in her work. Mrs. Tyler is a private policewoman supplementing, not supplanting, other agencies that work with girls.

The employment of women physicians in courts for women is a necessity strongly urged by women’s probation and other associations. In some courts they are already serving in that capacity.



From these various official positions occupied by women it was only a step to secure the appointment of women on the regular police force to aid in the protection of the young. This step was first taken in Los Angeles, California, when Mrs. Alice Stebbins Wells was placed upon the police staff.

The present administration of Syracuse (1914) has appointed a woman as police officer as a result of a movement begun over a year ago by women and approved by the Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Wells, the police officer of Los Angeles, aroused the club women of Syracuse to the advantages of such an official and later, when a moral survey of Syracuse was made under the chairmanship of Miss Arria Huntington, the advice of Mrs. Wells was more fully appreciated. The work of the policewoman will involve the training, tact and ability of a social worker and the women of Syracuse regard her as a constructive element in the city government. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Women’s Political Union and the churches assisted in the movement to secure the policewoman. “The number of cities and towns which have placed women on the police force with full or partial power is increasing so rapidly that it is no longer possible to keep count. Chicago, of course, is the recent shining example. Within the past year San Francisco has changed its charter so as to admit women to the force without meeting the physical requirements which apply to men. Three women have already been appointed. Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota; Topeka, Kansas; Ottawa, Illinois; and Kansas City are other places which have recently intrusted police power to women.”[47]

In Chicago, Mayor Harrison sent Mrs. Gertrude Howe Britton, superintendent of the Juvenile Protective Association and a member of the school board, to visit all the police stations of the city to instruct the regular force of 267policemen how best to protect and promote the welfare of the children on their beats. When one realizes the great number of arrests of children, one will appreciate that a considerable portion of the policeman’s time is concerned in the oversight of children.

Under the caption, “Policewomen’s Efficiency in Danger,” The Survey described the situation which prevailed in Chicago in the spring of 1914:

Some of the most influential clubs and civic organizations of Chicago have protested vigorously against the action of Chief of Police Gleason in regard to the city’s twenty policewomen. Under Second Deputy Superintendent Funckhouser, the civilian police official, they have proved effective in regulating public dance halls. Under Deputy Superintendent Schuettler, to whose command they have been transferred, they are assigned to regular police duty scattered among various station houses and can no longer be used for inspection of dance halls or other pieces of work requiring concerted action.

In making over 1,500 inspections of dance halls, in which they found many violations of law for which arrests might have been made, the women officers, being more intent upon prevention than punishment, determined to make no arrests at first, but to warn the managers and to win the girls who patronize the dances. This policy has proved successful in securing obedience to law and observance of propriety.

Such results in the dance halls made the second deputy’s administration a shining mark for assaults from the underworld just as his strict censorship of motion pictures has attracted opposition from those who make and promote films suggestive of evil. Such enemies of public safety and common decency are believed to have found aid and comfort at the hands of certain police officials and of those higher up.

It is feared that the fine esprit de corps of the new women police will suffer by being forced to conform to the varying standards of the stations to which they have been assigned.

The ostensible reason for taking them away from Major Funckhouser is that his use of their service transcends his function as the civilian deputy and belongs to the active 268force. But his squad of male officers is left under his command apparently without fear of inconsistency, perhaps, because, under the surface, it is not inconsistent with the purpose dictating the transfer of the women.

The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners announce that the policewoman recently appointed by them is to be “the city’s mother to the motherless.”

The work of Miss Roche in Denver, as described by George Creel, in a recent number of The Metropolitan, illustrates the inestimable value of the addition of women to the police force of cities.

Juvenile Courts

Following the example set by Judge Lindsey in Denver, women have been active in creating the public opinion which has brought about the creation of juvenile courts in so many cities of the South, as well as of the North. In Atlanta, the women acted immediately upon the suggestion of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, in session there. It is generally conceded in Pennsylvania that the five bills passed in that state providing for juvenile courts owe their passage to the agitation and pressure brought to bear by the Pennsylvania Federation of Women’s Clubs and its enthusiastic president. In at least eight states it is claimed that the juvenile court system owes its inception largely to the work of women. Coupled with their interest in the court has often gone their desire to accompany the court work with model reform schools for boys and for girls. In Alabama and other states these were secured by the insistence of women.

In Iowa the Congress of Mothers took the lead for the Juvenile Court Law, and this congress has pushed steadily in other states for the same legislation. The Ohio law, passed in 1904, was due in a large measure to the fact that the juvenile court was a paramount issue of club work in that state at that time.

269Club women feel that they deserve credit also for the St. Louis and Kansas City Courts. In Michigan, when the law was declared unconstitutional, women pledged their effort to the securing of a new bill.

The Civic Club of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, together with the Civic Committee of the women’s clubs, secured the organization of the juvenile court of that county. They then sent women and men speakers into neighboring counties and thus extended the movement. The first juvenile court was organized and supported entirely by the Club for several years, until it was legally incorporated and became independent. The Club also established an industrial and training school for boys, to solve the question of the care of boys that came before the court.

Detention homes preceded as well as accompanied efforts for juvenile courts. The Civic Club of Allegheny County secured the proper enforcement of the Juvenile Court Law in its provision as to rooms of detention for children under sixteen who are in custody and awaiting hearing or placement. The same club hopes soon to secure a model children’s court building along the lines adopted in a few other cities.

By the year 1906 detention homes and a juvenile court law had been actively taken up by women’s clubs in California and other western states. Since then many places have been catching up, and these two issues form part of the propaganda of club women everywhere.

The Municipal League of Utica, composed of men and women, secured recently an appropriation for a detention home and juvenile court. The Women’s Civic League, of Meadsville, Pennsylvania, also established a detention home for juvenile delinquents.

The Woman’s Club, of Orange, New Jersey, through Miss Durgin, made an investigation at the House of Detention, which was not only the means of remedying several individual wrongs, but also of supplying the women and the public generally with knowledge on which to urge the 270modification of the prevailing system of dealing with detained boys and girls and also the establishment of a parental school. Legal steps have been taken for the parental school, and the present chairman of the Civic Committee of this club has been named by the Board of Freeholders as one of the Board of Guardians for the school.

The Chicago Juvenile Court has had a more or less stormy career. Its whole history is indicative of the spirit and constructive ability of women. For many years—before 1906—the Chicago Woman’s Club had been maintaining a school in the Cook County jail. Determined to have the children separated, they had a bill drawn up, which became a law in 1899, and forms the basis of many of the present juvenile court laws.

Jane Addams, in the Ladies’ Home Journal, in 1913, described the Chicago movement very graphically:

Years ago the residents of Hull House were much distressed over the boys and girls who were brought into the police stations for petty offenses and gradually one of the residents gave all of her time to these unfortunate children. The police justices in the two nearest stations regularly telephoned her in regard to the first offense case, and whenever practicable paroled the children in her care. When the Juvenile Court was established in Chicago she was engaged as the first probation officer with twenty-one other persons.

For six years this voluntary association called the “Juvenile Court Committee” paid the probation officers with a well-known educator as chief, and supported the detention home through which passed each year twenty-six hundred children who would otherwise have been in the police stations.

In connection with this home the Children’s Hospital Society supported a medical clinic through which it was discovered that 90 per cent. of the sad little procession were in need of medical attention. Gradually all of these things have been taken over by the county, and now the probation officers, teachers, nurses and doctors have become public officials while the Juvenile Court with the detention home and quarters for medical and psychopathic clinics and for a 271school under the Chicago Board of Education is housed in the building erected for its special use out of the public taxes.

All went well through various administrations, but recently a president of the Board of County Commissioners, realizing that this developed apparatus of the Juvenile Court would be most valuable in building up party patronage, began a series of attacks upon the administration of the Court which, it is evident, will eventually destroy its usefulness.

The positions of probation officers, formerly occupied by those who had passed a careful civil service examination, were filled by sixty-day appointees, one of whom had been a sewer contractor, another a saloon-keeper. The chief probation officer, after a long and wearisome trial, was dismissed, having been found guilty of not doing those things which under the law he had no authority to do; the physician in charge resigned because a so-called trained nurse on a sixty-day appointment defied his authority, showing her ignorance of nursing by wrapping up the infected leg of a boy in a piece of old newspaper. The Funds to Parents Act, by which the judge is allowed to give ten dollars a month for the care of a child in his own home instead of in an institution, offered, of course, a splendid opportunity for building up a political following among the poorest people, and only through the action of the wise judge, in coöperation with various philanthropic societies, was this beneficent law saved from disaster.

When an aroused public sentiment finally demanded an investigation of the Juvenile Court and the report of the Committee proved favorable to the Court, the president of the County Board refused to have it published and philanthropy, again appearing upon the scene, paid for its publication from private funds.

It was not to be wondered at that a great many public-spirited women of Chicago, through their clubs and other organizations, gave of their time and best efforts last autumn to promote the election of a wiser man as president of the County Board. They would have been stupid indeed to sit quietly while their faithful work of years was being demolished. Of course they were obliged to enter partisan politics because there is no other way, owing to the American 272system of party nominations, to secure the election of any official, good or bad....

The larger plans for meeting these general needs can only be carried out with the consent of all the people and the wisdom of such plans must be submitted to them during a political campaign.

Certainly woman’s rôle of non-partisanship needs to be examined afresh when a multitude of men and women have come to challenge the sincerity and moral value of that combination of reverence and disregard which does not permit a woman to fulfill the traditional obligations to the community simply because to do this she must participate in political life.

If women would bear their share in those great social problems which no nation has yet solved, but which every nation must reduce to political action if it would hold its place in advancing civilization, they are fairly forced to choose between standing for an impossible ideal, quite outside the political field, or upholding moral standards within political life itself.

The entrance of women into the political combat in Chicago helped to defeat the régime which was undermining the Juvenile Court. A temporary setback was threatened by the decision of the state court that probation officers were not included in the officers under the civil service law, but until their position under that law could be strengthened the situation was met by an advisory committee, appointed by Judge Pinckney, in whose hands lay the appointment of probation officers, to examine and pass upon all applicants. Louise De Koven Bowen, president of the Juvenile Protective Association and of the Chicago Woman’s Club, and Leonora Meder, president of the Federation of Catholic Women’s Charities, were on this advisory council.

In summing up the efforts of women for, and their attitude toward, the Juvenile Court, Julia Lathrop, chief of the Children’s Bureau, says: “Important as are the immediate services of a Juvenile Court to the children who are daily brought before it for protection and guidance, painstaking as are the Court’s methods of ascertaining the facts which account for a child’s trouble, his family history, his own physical and mental state, hopeful as are the results of probation, 273yet the great primary service of the Court is that it lifts up the truth and compels us to see that wastage of human life whose sign is the child in the Court. Heretofore the kindly but hurried people never saw as a whole what it cannot now avoid seeing—the sad procession of little children and older brothers and sisters who for various reasons cannot keep step with the great company of normal, orderly, protected children.”

Women Judges

In view of all their interest in juvenile courts, their labors to procure their establishment, and their protective care for the children passing through the courts, it was only natural that women should take the next step and mount the bench to deal, particularly, with cases involving children and girls. Fourteen years ago, Judge Lindsey, in Denver, called a woman to his assistance, in cases pending before him, and the experiment was eminently successful.

The St. Louis Juvenile Court has two women assistant judges to hear all cases of girls. The change took effect January 12, 1914, and was established by Judge Thomas C. Hennings, who appointed to these positions two women probation officers, Mrs. E. C. Runge and Catherine R. Dunn. No legislation was necessary to make the appointments. The girls are heard by these women privately and then their findings are submitted to him and entered as orders of the court. Only in cases of disagreement between the two women will the judge be called upon to hear the case.

St. Louis was the third city to take this step. Chicago and Denver had already appointed women assistant judges, but the “move” in St. Louis came quite independently as the direct result of a baffling case which Judge Hennings had to meet. Four girls were brought before him, from whom he was unable to get truthful statements even after searching inquiry. He put two women probation officers at work on the problem, and they got the facts truthfully from the girls at once. When Mrs. Runge asked one of the girls, “Why didn’t you tell this to the judge?” she said, “Why, I couldn’t tell such things to any man.” When Judge Hennings heard 274this, he was moved at once to the decision not to hear any more girls’ cases himself.

Mrs. Runge has been a probation officer in the Juvenile Court six years and Miss Dunn four. Both of them had previously had long experience in social work. It is hoped in St. Louis that these appointments will lead to the appointment of a woman assistant judge to give her whole time to it. At present these women are still probation officers.[48]

In 1913, a court for delinquent girls up to the age of twenty-one was created for Chicago, and Miss Mary Bartelme was appointed judge. As public guardian of Cook County, Miss Bartelme had had excellent experience with young people and children in preparation for her work on the bench. “Miss Bartelme,” said Judge Pinckney recently, “is admirably fitted for her position. She is an acute and well-trained lawyer, with a distinctly judicial temperament. Her mind is quick and comprehensive. She has poise, cool judgment, and a fine, discriminating sense of justice.”

Judge Bartelme does not believe that the court can solve the question of delinquency among children. She holds positive opinions on causes, and would seek preventive measures, like all progressive men and women today. The causes of delinquency, in girls, according to her ideas, are: “Growing luxury of the age, man’s loss of chivalry toward girls who work, immodest fashions in dress set by women of wealth, bad home environment, inadequate wages, dance halls with bar attachments, saloons with family entrances, immoral moving-picture shows, improper police supervision of skating rinks, ice cream parlors, amusement parks, and other places of amusement, activity of ‘white slave’ agents of commercialized vice, laws which permit girls to go to work at an immature age.”

As an auxiliary to the Municipal Court of Chicago, a psychopathic laboratory is to be established very soon, on the theory that offenders may have diseased brains and need mental treatment rather than punishment. Miss Mary R. 275Campbell, of Milwaukee, who did research work at Johns Hopkins and Harvard, will be associate director. The laboratory will be used for all offenders who seem to need study.

In some of the domestic relations courts now in the larger cities, women are serving as assistant judges.

Prison Investigations

On the one hand, interested in all that pertains to court procedure and the judicial function and the prevention of delinquency and crime, women are, on the other hand, interested in the internal conditions of correctional institutions of all kinds, and are suggesting remedies and new experiments all the time.

Many states have their women’s prison associations. Indeed, since the days of Elizabeth Frye, nearly a century ago in England, women have been closely associated with prison work. The American name that stands out in fitting companionship with the name of Elizabeth Frye is that of Isabel Barrows whose death two years ago laid to rest one of the foremost prison reformers of the world.

In Chicago, boys in the county jail have been studied by the Juvenile Protective Association, and a report based on the study is issued by Mrs. Louise Bowen, who suggests a court for the juvenile adult—the boy between seventeen and twenty-one years of age, who is too old for the Juvenile Court—as an effort toward the rehabilitation of boys in the later stages of adolescence.

In New York, the Women’s Prison Association was organized in 1844 as the Female Department of the Men’s Prison Association. Members soon discovered that it existed to raise funds for others to spend. In 1853 they formed a separate society, the Women’s Prison Association, and founded the Isaac T. Hopper Home. They have brought about many reforms, such as laws concerning police matrons, patrol wagons, probation systems, appropriations for 276Bedford Reformatory, and the State Farm for women misdemeanants.

The nature of their legislative efforts is indicated by this extract from their report of 1914:

It was decided last fall, at a special meeting of the Women’s Prison Association, to try to get five bills through the Legislature. They failed in toto, but one clause which was incorporated in the Goldberg Bill abolishing fines for women misdemeanants was a suggestion made by this Association.

The bills were:

An Act to provide for the appointment of police matrons for duty in places of amusement.

An Act to change the present method of temporary care of prisoners, insane, injured, or dangerously ill.

An Act to provide a Board of Managers and a Woman Superintendent for the State Farm for Women.

An Act to provide a separate Court for women.

An Act to provide a resident physician for Blackwell’s Island.

The Women’s Prison Association, the Salvation Army, and charity societies often coöperate, and are discussing at present a national association for the promotion of prisoners’ aid.

Such associations are always deeply interested in the advanced experimental methods aimed to improve, through scientific study and observation, the systems of dealing with delinquents in private and public institutions. They are equally interested in extending present facilities for the care of these wards of the state.

For example, boys’ home and training schools have been inaugurated in many places by women. The Women’s Municipal League of New York, in connection with the Cornell Medical College, established a research and experimental station to develop the best methods of reaching and helping deficient and delinquent boys—Hillside Farm School. The technique of a hospital including clinical study has been introduced 277into penal institutions, notably women’s, in the last few years. At the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women at South Framingham this work is being well developed under the superintendency of Mrs. Hodder. Dr. Katharine Davis established a laboratory at Bedford Reformatory, when she was head of it, for the social and psychological study of the inmates.

The visitation of jails has been part of the duty assumed by state federations of clubs as well as other women’s organizations, such as the Women’s Municipal League of New York. The reform and proper management of state charitable and penal institutions is taken up by the club women in state after state. Kentucky clubs are active just at present in seeking to secure women on the governing boards of public institutions and proper training for juvenile offenders.

Office Holding

Many states do have women on their institutional boards, and women are superintendents, in some cases, of penal institutions for women, and generally of reform institutions for women. The application of civil service reform to these institutions is urged enthusiastically and earnestly by women members of the civil service reform leagues as well as indorsed by clubs and other women’s organizations.

A public tribute to woman’s ability in correctional work was made in New York in 1914 by the appointment of Dr. Katharine B. Davis to the post of city commissioner of corrections. Dr. Davis is a national figure, owing to her work at the Bedford Reformatory. In answer to critics of her appointment, it is agreed that her present work “is not a man’s job nor a woman’s job; it is a job for one who knows how.” Dr. Davis, it was decided, knew how. Soon after she entered upon her public duties, Dr. Davis said: “Everybody knows New York’s prison institutions to be little better than medieval. I hope to bring them up to 278something nearer to the modern standard.... The thing for which I hope most earnestly is light upon the mental and physical causes leading to the production of the individual human type which commits crime. Such knowledge would lead us to prevention.”

Dr. Davis, by virtue of her office, is ex-officio member of the New York City Board of Inebriety, created and established to maintain a hospital and industrial colony for inebriates—the first municipal institution for these unfortunates.

It is not merely in public and official capacity that women are helping in the improvement of the conditions of correction. They are to be found among the leading students and original investigators who concern themselves with prison methods.


One of the most courageous and useful pieces of prison investigation was that undertaken in 1914 in Auburn prison, New York, by Elizabeth Watson and Madeleine Doty, a member of the State Commission for Prison Reform, who voluntarily incarcerated themselves in the prison under disguise to study at first hand the conditions under which women were confined there. Both of these women were experienced investigators, the former having worked with child labor committees for years and the latter, a lawyer, having worked with the juvenile court. They found bad physical conditions which they were unable to endure themselves for more than a few days: bad food, commingling of sick and well, and other physical evils. They also condemned the lack of classification of youthful and hardened offenders, the inadequacy of the educational system and the failure to teach such occupations as would enable the prisoners to be self-supporting on their release. They deplored the fact that the prisoners were not allowed to form a single tie—social or economic—that could help them in attempts 279to live a normal life later. As a direct result of the report of Miss Watson and Miss Doty, John B. Riley, State Superintendent of Prisons, ordered a number of changes to be made in institutional procedure at that prison: the extension of the letter-writing privilege; more conversation among prisoners; less confinement; more water; more reading matter. These reforms were to apply only to that institution. The superintendent will ask the legislature, however, for a new prison for women.

Another important investigation—that of the convict labor system—was supported by the Consumers’ League and carried out by Julian Leavitt, who showed the effect of this system on the outside labor market as well as on the prison workers themselves. Men were found to be working at women’s trades and thus undercutting women workers in the regular field at the same time that they were learning nothing which would serve them on their release.

That other women in addition to those in the Consumers’ League have been aroused to this grave evil is shown in the agitation against it by Kate Barnard, Commissioner of Charities and Corrections of Oklahoma. Martha Falconer is working to destroy this system in Maryland’s institutions for delinquent children.

Legal Aid

The difficulties that the alien meets in American courts have been investigated by Frances A. Kellor, managing director of the North American Civic League for Immigrants, and described in a late number of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. It is shown that his fate in smaller communities depends on the character of the justice of the peace, and that character is not of the highest order often, owing to the low requirements for the office and the fee system that prevails. In the higher courts it is frequently difficult for the immigrant to receive 280justice because of his ignorance and inadequate legal defense.

It was to remedy such conditions as those cited by Miss Kellor, for one thing, that legal aid societies have been formed here and there. The Legal Aid Society of Chicago is a consolidation of the Bureau of Justice and the Protective Agency for Women and Children. It is an auxiliary of the Chicago Woman’s Club. Its objects are: “To assist in securing legal protection against injustice for those who are unable to protect themselves; to take cognizance of the workings of existing laws and methods of procedure and to suggest improvements; and to propose new and better laws and to make efforts toward securing their enactment.” Women appear among the officers, directors and counselors as well as among the financial backers of this society. In 1913, legal aid was given to more than 15,000 poor people in addition to 2,400 old clients. The superintendent, Mrs. Wm. Boyes, has to interview about 125 people a day. She says: “The Society last year investigated 2,700 complaints growing out of domestic relations. This class of case requires more work than formerly, as the courts require fuller and fuller investigations. We have a representative from our Society in the Court of Domestic Relations all the time. She has handled during the year 473 cases in that court. The other cases have been advised in the office, and although they are the most heart-breaking kind, involving the drunkenness or failure to provide on the part of a husband, or the insanity of a mother, or custody of a child, we are fortunate in having on our staff three or four women who are most successful in the adjustment of these tragedies.”

A plan of the Women’s Committee to give greater publicity to the work of the Legal Aid Society has been carried on with success in women’s clubs of Chicago. The superintendent, Mrs. Boyes, does much of the speaking that this work involves. A young woman lawyer has been placed in the Boys’ Court to advise those who need defense and are unable to pay attorney’s fees.

281The workers for the Society include many women, as the work is of a social character with which they are familiar and in which their interest lies. These workers are akin to probation officers, as the courts are continually calling upon them to investigate cases. In two cases these workers are assigned to courts and give their full time there. Cases are also referred to this Society from other agencies—police, newspapers, charities, settlements.

The Legal Aid Society has promoted loan shark legislation, among other reforms. It helps the Wage Loan Society and kindred agencies. Its great effort now is directed to enlisting the interest of the regular legal profession in an attempt to make that profession accept social service in connection with its work, just as hospitals and the medical profession accept social service in health work. Lawyers should make the Legal Aid their own work, it is claimed.

A National Alliance of Legal Aid Societies was started in 1912, and this will doubtless have considerable influence on labor and protective legislation.

Of wider scope than the legal aid societies are many other associations concerned in work that is more or less correctional in character. Of these only a few can be mentioned here.


The Juvenile Protective Association, of Chicago, to which reference has been made, is a very forceful group of women and men working together for the prevention of juvenile delinquency through legislative and social means. The objects revealed in its charter are:

1. To organize auxiliary leagues within the boundaries of Cook County.

2. To suppress and prevent conditions and to prosecute persons contributing to the dependency and delinquency of children.

2823. To coöperate with the Juvenile Court, compulsory education department, state factory inspector, and all other child-helping agencies.

4. To promote study of child problems and to work to create public sentiment for the establishment of wholesome, uplifting agencies such as parks, playgrounds, gymnasiums, free baths, vacation schools, communal school settlements, etc.

This Association’s vigorous legislative demands and its education of public opinion are shown by the following proposals: A more adequate bastardy law making it a crime and extraditable, applying to the deserted wife as well as to the unmarried woman; a law to make even the first offense in pandering punishable by a term in the penitentiary and seduction a felony; an amendment of the marriage law providing for a period of ten days or two weeks between the issuing of the marriage license and the ceremony in order to give guardians time to act, the girl to appear to testify in person to her own age; an amendment to the adult delinquency law so that a wife can testify against her own husband in case he is charged with violation of such a law. “As the law stands at present the man can force his child to do all kinds of disreputable things—even immoral things—and yet the testimony of the mother, anxious to save her child, is not admitted. This law should further be amended so that it will clearly cover all persons even if they are not parents, if they in any way contribute to the delinquency of the child. Unfortunately the law is not very clear on that point, and some of the judges refuse to hold others than parents.”

The Association has made careful studies of theaters, department stores, and wage conditions in their relations to vice, crime, illegitimacy, and has definite proposals for remedying evil elements therein. Among these proposals are those for the regulation of messenger and delivery service for boys; better regulation of employment agencies, of loan sharks, of poolrooms; dance halls; separate travelers’ aid 283for immigrants; liquor regulation; and inebriate hospitals and farms.

The Woman’s Department of the National Civic Federation took up prison reform for survey and constructive work during the year 1914 as a uniform activity for all sections. In New York, conferences on this subject were held last March by the Metropolitan section at which a comprehensive legislative program of prison reform and an educational campaign to promote it were promulgated. The delegates and visitors were handed circulars of the Prison Association of New York stating why Sing Sing prison must be abolished and a farm industrial prison established in its place. A woman’s farm in place of Auburn prison was also advocated.


Other women’s associations are giving attention to the problem of delinquency and its prevention, as these notes from The American Club Woman indicate: “The City Federation of Clubs of Dallas, Texas, so changed the street conditions for boys that instead of two-fifths of all juvenile arrests less than two per cent. now come from the cotton mill district. Playgrounds largely accomplished this result. A Public Schools Athletic League now controlled by the Board of Education has helped also.

“The Atlanta Woman’s Club has been urging the daily papers to refrain from publishing details of revolting crimes.

“By educating mothers through social centers, the Civic Club of Philadelphia believes that many juvenile crimes will be averted, because the mothers will take proper precautions to safeguard their children. Mrs. J. L. Pickering, chief probation officer of the city, concurs in this view.

“Mrs. M. Gordon McCouch, a well-known clubwoman, says that properly supervised playgrounds reduce crime in the neighborhood about one-half, and that the taxpayers 284should be interested in them, if only from an economical standpoint.

“A militant campaign against the illegal sale of liquor has been started by the clubwomen of San José, Cal. When the police department refused its coöperation, a committee of women gathered their own evidence. Already they have done much to improve conditions.

“Prosecutions against violators of the State anti-cigarette law will be initiated by the Women’s Clubs of Madison, Wis. Cigarette dealers have been warned of the impending campaign for the enforcement of the law, also that women detectives have already collected evidence of violations.

“Juvenile courts, uniform child labor laws, anti-tuberculosis appropriation, women on school boards, restriction of liquor traffic, also of cigarettes—these are some of the measures which the West Virginia clubwomen expect from their legislature this year.”


“Reforming the convict by means of education as practiced at the Moundsville penitentiary meets with the unqualified approval and support of the West Virginia Federation of Women’s Clubs. At the annual meeting in Huntington, recently, a resolution was adopted recommending to the next session of the legislature that steps be taken to enlarge the rooms and increase the educational facilities at the prison school so that all prisoners who wish may avail themselves of the instruction provided. The present facilities at the school limit the enrollment to 125 men. Another important resolution passed was that petitioning the legislature to establish a reformatory for women who are beyond the age limit for admission to the industrial schools and who are now committed to the county jails for misdemeanors.

285“A reformatory for women is greatly needed in Maine, according to Miss Mabel Davies of the Prison Reform Association. The Woman’s Council of Portland indorses the plan and asks all women’s organizations in the state to join in an effort to secure the legislation necessary to maintain such an institution.

“A woman member on the new state board of control for penal and charitable institutions is strongly urged by the New Hampshire Federation of Women’s Clubs.

“Minnesota women’s clubs are working for a woman’s reformatory and one of their leaders who has had long experience in prison work insists that reform can only be a success ‘when society makes good its teaching to unfortunates that it pays to be good.’”

The Guarding of a City

With the advent of the policewoman, the prevention of harm to women and children comes as a new note in the protection of a city, and brings this municipal service into harmony with other services where prevention is the dominating purpose. Gradually policemen are being converted into social workers with the idea of controlling those forces that lead to delinquency in all its forms. Policemen too are sometimes sanitary or housing or poverty inspectors as well as custodians of the criminal and vicious.

As yet the police department is distinctly removed from feminine control. Policewomen as a rule do not supplant male police, but are an additional force established for a specific purpose. In Cleveland, Mildred Chadsey is head of the sanitary police. In Hunnewell, Kansas, Mrs. Marshal was appointed by Mrs. Wilson, the mayor, as local police officer. New York has a woman as deputy sergeant, and Dr. Katharine Davis, the commissioner of corrections, thinks a woman might make an excellent police commissioner there; but this radical step has not been taken.

286By their activities, however, women sometimes affect the number and distribution of the police force: when they agitate for better patrolling of parks and playgrounds or other poorly protected districts and when they influence the number of saloon licenses issued.

Women and policemen are each a problem to the other of the deepest concern. The uncorroborated testimony of a plain-clothes policeman against the girl or woman whom he arrests on the street is often accepted in the court whereas corroborative testimony is required in the case of a man arrested for sexual irregularity. Voteless women strikers have been grossly mistreated by the police in industrial centers and the graft exposures have revealed the all too frequent alliance of the police with the vice interests to the injury of the city’s womanhood.

Women’s entering wedge into the police department, the policewoman, we venture to predict, will not be withdrawn, but rather will attacks be made until, through a constructive program, all human life is better safeguarded in the communities of this country, and the idea of social service permeates the police departments, as it does other municipal departments.



Safety from fire is as necessary as safety from any other danger. When fire protection is considered, no one would for a moment minimize the noble daring and self-sacrifice of American firemen. They too have suffered a needless loss of life and limb as a result of fire hazards which have been allowed to continue unchecked, but at last fire prevention is a dominant note in all progressive communities today and among all progressive civic workers. In the education of the public in this matter, and even in the practical constructive work in fire prevention, women have already extended their hands to help and bent their minds upon the problem.

The American Club Woman has been insistent upon the need of placing emphasis upon causes of fires and the necessity of their avoidance. In late numbers, it said:

An effort should be made to educate men and women and little children as to the ordinary methods of fire prevention. In New York City a course of education through the medium of the public schools has noticeably decreased the fire losses.

Young women who expect to go into factory and store employment should be taught to study the construction of buildings used for such purposes and they should refuse to risk their lives in fire traps or places where proper precautions are not observed.

Scores of young girls lost their lives in a factory fire at Binghamton, N. Y., recently. It was the old story of a building which was inevitably a fire trap. They claim they 288had fire drills in this place, but the girls were burned to death just the same.

Employers are often willing to expose their employees to fire risks to save a few dollars in rent. Ignorant girls do not know the danger and would be afraid to protest if they did for fear of losing employment.

This is one of the reforms which can be brought about by women’s clubs. They can insist that factories are placed in fireproof buildings. They, and they alone, can create the public sentiment which will prevent the awful sacrifice of life which now goes on because nobody takes the trouble to secure real fire prevention.

“Will You Be a Fire Warden and Saver of Life” is the heading of a fire prevention placard which the Texas Federation of Club Women is sending throughout the State. The card indicates measures for fire prevention in the home which every housewife can readily observe.

Texas club women are lowering insurance rates by their active fire prevention work and what is far more important—saving many lives.

The women’s clubs are being asked in New York to start a campaign of education to keep things clean, after the accumulations of rubbish have been carted away. The Women’s National Fire Prevention Association is distributing leaflets, printed in several languages, urging housewives to dispose of waste paper and other inflammable refuse daily. Strict cleanliness is one of the best of fire preventives.

In Baltimore, the fire chief testified publicly to the fact that the clean-up crusade carried on by the women had been his greatest aid in fire prevention work. It is an obvious fact that proper disposal of rubbish eliminates fuel for the flames.

One of the most vigorous anti-fire campaigns ever carried on by women was that waged by the working women of Newark, New Jersey, just after a terrible factory holocaust in that city of numberless factories. The women’s 289trade unions of Newark actually brought about changed conditions in the factories through their splendid organization and fighting spirit. In New York, soon after the Newark experience, about 150 girls were burned in the Triangle Factory fire and women again led the agitation against the evils that exist in shops and factories all over New York. The Women’s Trade Union League, many of whose members were burned at this time, started the campaign. A Fire Complaint Committee was formed and through it circulars were distributed broadcast among the workers requesting them to observe conditions where they worked and report certain definite evils to it. Every mail for weeks brought a vast pile of complaints, intelligent and eager, which were turned over by the Committee to those in authority, an effort being made to follow-up results.

A Citizens’ Committee was formed at the instigation of the women of the Trade Union League which maintained enthusiasm through a typical nine days of horror, and then largely subsided, although some influence is undoubtedly seen in the present work of the Fire Prevention Bureau recently organized in New York. More definite results as far as factories are concerned seem to have been obtained by the Cloak and Suit Makers’ Unions through their Board of Sanitary Control. Many of the women who were so aroused by the Triangle fire feel that better results would now be seen if they had waged all the public agitation through the workers themselves whose own interest it is to maintain fire safeguards in their places of toil.

Among the evils which lead to fire carnage, it was discovered at that time, were locked doors, doors that swing in, clippings of inflammable material and threads allowed to accumulate beside the workers, aisles too narrow for passage, barred windows, rickety fire escapes, or no fire escapes at all, narrow wooden stairs, ignorance of exits or an insufficient number, lack of fire extinguishers, proximity of shirtwaist factories and the like to chemical works or such factories as excelsior hair works, absence of fire drills 290and employers’ indifference to requirements for safety for the workers.

The present Fire Commissioner, Mr. Robert Adamson, is thoroughly intent upon remedying this evil condition of affairs. The following statement of his position indicates the spirit with which he entered upon the duties attached to his office:

Robert Adamson, New York’s Fire Commissioner, has appointed three women on the force. Last week he wrote to John E. O’Brien, counsel for the women on the civil service list, eligible for appointment:

“It is my intention to appoint women as inspectors in the Bureau of Fire Prevention, so far as the character of the work of that bureau will permit. I understand that Commissioner Johnson felt that the work of the bureau in its entirety could be performed by men, and that he, therefore, declined to make any appointments from the women’s eligible list; whereupon the women on this list applied to the court for an order directing the consolidation of the women’s eligible list with the men’s eligible list, which application was denied by both the Supreme Court and Appellate Division.

“You now inform me that it is the intention of the women on this list to meet in a short time and determine whether they will appeal the matter to a higher court. I have always felt that the Bureau of Fire Prevention is peculiarly one in which women could, with great advantage to the welfare of the city, be employed.

“Certain classes of the work in this bureau could, in my opinion, be performed by women even better than by men. For example, the services of women should be particularly available in the inspection of factories where women are employed; in moving-picture places; perhaps in dance halls, and in other places where this department has jurisdiction in prescribing regulations to insure safety in case of fire. Generally speaking, I have found that in any work involving the welfare and safety of the public, women are most zealous and energetic, and I have also found in my experience in the city’s service that in positions which women are called upon to fill 291they display a very high grade of ability for the salaries paid.

“I think the prejudice against the employment of women in these and other positions, which they can fill as well as men can fill them, is dying out. As soon as my other duties will permit me, I intend to make a careful investigation of the work of the Fire Prevention Bureau and of the existing vacancies there.

“If I find that the result of that investigation verifies my present view of the matter, I shall appoint women to those vacancies. I believe that the appointment of women in this bureau to do such work as I have indicated will greatly improve the efficiency and usefulness of this most important branch of the fire department, the work of which I find has only fairly been inaugurated.”

Mr. Adamson thereupon appointed three women. All are well-known settlement and social workers.

The Manufacturers’ Association of New York has at last felt the need of action for the protection of employees to the extent at least of engaging a fire expert to go through the establishments under its control and do something toward fire prevention. Mrs. Christopher has been engaged by this association and she has established excellent fire drills in many factories and in loft buildings, especially, and in other ways is insisting upon improvements and better protection for the workers.

Since sanitary and hygiene inspection are so closely allied to fire protection, a single inspector when trained can care for all three needs if necessary. Women who make the former inspections well can readily add the third.

In smaller towns, where lack of fire-fighting apparatus is the chief trouble, we often find women working to make good the deficiency. A little club of women in Vallejo, California, for instance, owned and managed a fire engine until the town authorities grew ashamed and decided that the city should have a fire department.[49]

Women have helped in the work of the American Museum 292of Safety of New York, the motto of which is “Now Let Us Conserve Human Life.” Mrs. W. H. Tolman, wife of the Director of the Museum, inaugurated the safety campaign among the school children in New York City. This campaign was conducted under the Museum’s auspices in coöperation with the Board of Education. Mrs. Tolman trained the lecturers in this work, and herself personally lectured to many thousands of school children on the importance of thoughtfulness and caution in protecting their own lives and those of their playmates upon the congested streets of our city. In connection with this school campaign, Safety Stories and Safety Buttons were distributed by the Museum, with a view to strengthening the instruction given in the safety talks of the lecturers.

After instruction by lecture was introduced in the schools of New Jersey, accidents were reduced 44 per cent. within a period of six months as compared with a previous period before such instruction was given.

The traffic problem is one of the most troublesome of all in a great city. Fortunately, upon it, too, women are bringing a salutary influence to bear. Frances Perkins of the Safety Committee of New York is generally admitted to be a moving spirit in the safety agitation that is beginning to produce certain visible results in that city.

Industrial safety is one of the most important aspects of safety in general, but, aside from the fire and sanitary protection of workers, and even there, it is largely a state matter rather than a municipal one, and has to do with laws relative to mechanical devices, age limits, and other requirements. Industrial safety is, therefore, a larger topic than can be justifiably introduced here. It is an element not ignored, however, by women who think of public safety, for luckily in practical life and in social work there are no page limitations.



The humanitarian and wise planning of beautiful cities and towns is the climax of municipal endeavor, because it represents the coördination of all civic movements looking toward the health, comfort, recreation, education and happiness of urban people.

City planning like all other interests has grown in purpose and scope. From desire for ornamental lampposts has grown a desire for effective light, and not too expensive either. Well-lighted streets become recognized as foes to crime, and out of interest in the lamppost comes an interest in the causes of crime; proper housing, wholesome amusement, and employment may thus be intimately connected with an artistic street lamp.

City planners have not all begun with a lamppost. Some of them began with billboards and thought of billboards exclusively for a long time; then they moved on to municipal art, education, censorship of movies, recreation, housing and labor. Some began with parks and advanced to health and transportation.

There is no one thing in city planning that stands out conspicuously today as the crowning achievement of its purpose. City planning is thus not a finished ideal, but one capable of, and exhibiting, indefinite expansion. In fact, city planning is in its infancy in this country, but its promoters are enthusiasts with a developing sense of values and they are meeting an increasing response among the people for whose interest they are working.

294Every movement for civic art has been an attempt to make the contrast “less disgraceful between the fields where the beasts live and the streets where men live,” in the words of William Morris.

The movement for municipal beauty has been the strongest phase of city planning up to the present time and the element that has appealed to women’s civic leagues in their early days very strongly. It is a most legitimate object of civic endeavor and it is comparatively easy of accomplishment where it touches no vital economic interests. “The City Beautiful” only a short time ago was a city with a few wide boulevards, a civic center, handsome parkways with “Keep Off the Grass” signs in abundance, statues in public squares, public fountains, and public buildings with mural decorations. Alleys and indecent river-front tenements, filthy and narrow side streets, were ignored in the more ostentatious display of mere ornamentation and no provision was made for playgrounds and well-located schools and social centers.

City Planning

The new spirit is rapidly permeating conferences on city planning, however, with an insistence on the elimination of plague spots and unsightly congestion as well as on the creation of boulevards and civic centers. This new spirit is being instilled by women as well as by men. Jane Addams’ “The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets” has helped arouse the feeling that the children are the first to be considered in city plans. Women who have worked for shade trees so extensively have not been unmindful of the fact that mothers have to push baby carriages up and down through the hot sun, oftentimes to the detriment of both mother and child, and they have taught us that mothers should be considered in city plans. In regulating movies women have learned that men are ready to go with their families to a five-cent show in preference to the saloon 295alone, that the movie has made real inroads upon the saloon, and so they have taught that men should be included in city plans. Thus city planning is becoming of decided human interest and is no longer merely a cultural or artistic recreation.

City planning moreover has an economic value even when it is confined to beauty. Mr. J. Horace McFarland elucidated this point at the annual meeting of the American Federation of Arts in Washington. He said: “The ripened civic art of Europe is nowhere better shown than in its water-fronts and the water approaches. Consider, for instance, Stockholm, with the Royal Museum, the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Palace, and the greatest hotels and theaters, all grouped along that arm of Lake Mälar which gives access to the Baltic. Europeans develop their water-fronts in this way because they have learned the money and social values of such things. We spoil all such advantages and ‘when we look at the approaches to such cities as Hoboken, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Camden, and realize that the residents of these prosperous communities take the money made in making ugly their water-fronts with which to travel abroad to see beautiful water-fronts, we are confronted with a most incongruous and uncommercial point of view.’ One hundred and seventy millions of dollars of American money is spent in Paris every year, mainly because Paris is beautiful. Ex-Mayor McClellan has well said that healthy, wealthy and wise cities excite pride, ‘but it is the city beautiful which retains the love of her people.’... Our best efforts have on the whole been put into our cemeteries. We are shy on parks, but strong on cemeteries, in careless, illogical America.”

That women in some cases have concentrated their local activities on cemeteries is undeniable. Story after story comes in with pride of the care of a town burial ground, its beautification, its glorification. In one instance, a woman’s organization bought a plot for the town cemetery, improved it with their bazaar money and then presented it 296to the town. This too has been a legitimate interest on the part of women as it has just been a case again of caring for loved ones. It is an easy transition, fortunately, from caring for loved ones who have gone on ahead to caring for those who remain, and that the step is taken is illustrated by the testimony of club after club, league after league, that when they had beautified the cemetery, they began to beautify the school grounds, and then the library, and strange to say, last of all the homes of the people.

From small and circumscribed beginnings women have advanced to larger ideals—just as men have. In the city planning movement, of which we hear so much today and which is so ably forwarded by the National Conference on City Planning, women are to be found working side by side with the men. They are giving serious attention to specific elements of the city plan, like parks, playgrounds, housing, billboards, street cleaning, waste disposal, social centers, and so on; and they are helping to coördinate all of these elements in a more comprehensive way by serving on commissions and committees, by making surveys, by preparing lectures, articles, and books, and by aiding in the organization of public exhibitions, designed to show in graphic form the needs of cities and possible definite methods of improvement.

Women have hailed with pleasure the new slogan “Know Your City,” which means that when it is properly known constructive work for improvement will inevitably set in. A good way to know one’s city is to have a survey made of it. As we have seen in the chapter on housing reform, women have often organized and made local surveys. In many cities, like Pittsburgh, Scranton, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Cleveland, women helped in working out special features of the surveys.

Participation of Women

In the national magazines and associations which deal with civic improvement the work of women in this field is 297frankly recognized. The American City, a live magazine of municipal advance, published in New York, has on its advisory board Mrs. Philip N. Moore, of St. Louis, president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, who has stimulated civic work in many cities, and Mrs. Thomas M. Scruggs, who is the moving spirit in welfare work for children in that city.

That men greatly outnumber women on this board is not surprising, but numbers do not necessarily determine the relative amount of service, for Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Scruggs have a country-wide influence and practical experiences which make them valuable members of the Board. Furthermore many of the men on the Board like Benjamin Marsh, Irving Fisher, John Nolen, and J. Horace McFarland have testified to the splendid coöperation and stimulating work of women in the cities everywhere.

The American City recently devoted one issue, and it was a large one, to the civic work of women representing phases of modern city planning. Testimonials and detailed descriptions of the work of women poured in from all over the country.

Richard Watrous, of the American Civic Association, which is primarily concerned with the improvement of towns and cities, is not unmindful of the municipal services of women. He says:

To the enthusiasm, the untiring efforts and the practical suggestions of women, as individuals and in clubs, must be credited much of the splendid headway attained by the general improvement propaganda. They have been leaders in organized effort and have enlisted the sympathy and actual coöperation of men and associations of men in their laudable undertakings. Hundreds of cities that have distinguished themselves for notable achievements can point to some society or several societies of women that have been the first inspiration to do things. Hundreds of these women’s clubs are affiliated members of the American Civic Association, so that its influence is made powerful by having back of it the 298moral support of hundreds of thousands of men and women. Commercial organizations are beginning now, as never before, to recognize that it is just as much within their province to assist and to originate improvement work as it is to promote the industrial growth and power of the communities they represent. Thus it is that the most active of these organizations in all parts of the United States are identifying themselves with the American Civic Association and appointing committees on such special improvements as parks, streets, illumination, nuisances—the billboard and smoke—and lending material assistance to those committees in carrying out various plans for the physical development and upbuilding of their cities. These business organizations are realizing that in their effort to induce the investment of capital and labor with them, they must be in a position to offer superior advantages, such as are afforded by ample park areas, broad clean streets, intelligently planted and carefully kept trees, pure water and sanitary housing conditions.

With all such admirable enterprises the American Civic Association is most intimately connected. It strives to arouse communities, large and small, to the necessity of such work and assists them in it, whether it be merely an awakening to the desirability of maintaining clean back yards, or undertaking a comprehensive development along plans laid down by landscape architects, involving large bond issues and the rebuilding of cities according to the latest and most approved methods of city planning.[50]

The president of the same Association, Mr. J. Horace McFarland, when introduced, on one occasion, as “the man who made over Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,” said that it was not he, nor any man or set of men, who should have the credit for that. “It was the women of Harrisburg who dinned and dinned into our ears until at last we men got ashamed of our laziness and selfishness as citizens; and then the women and the men of Harrisburg made Harrisburg over into the beautiful and favored city that it is.” The vice-president-at-large, the Hon. Franklin MacVeagh, then said it was the women of Chicago who had started every 299one of the fifty-seven civic improvement centers in that city, and that after they were started, the men joined in and helped. This he believed to be the history of civic improvement everywhere.

The civic leagues that have sprung up everywhere in towns and even in villages in the past decade are often composed entirely of women, sometimes of both sexes, but rarely exclusively of men. The leagues are in a great many cases, perhaps the majority of cases, affiliated with the American Civic Association. To its conferences they send representatives who bring back fresh ideas and increased fervor as a result of the mingling of varied views and the leadership of experienced workers. To those conferences they often carry, on the other hand, stimulating stories of the rewards of persistence and a steadfast vision.

The National Municipal League, under whose auspices this volume is published, like The American City and the American Civic Association, recognizes the work of women in municipal improvement. Women’s associations are affiliated with it; women attend its annual conferences and read papers and take part in the discussions; its official organ, the National Municipal Review, contains many articles by women on civic improvement and on women’s work in cities; and Miss Hasse, of the New York Public Library, is one of its able associate editors.

Some light is shed on the attitude of women voters toward civic improvement by an account of their action in a recent election in Chicago, as related by Llewellyn Jones in the Chicago Evening Post of April 30, 1914.

While many of Chicago’s first women voters left the booths with the idea that they had done all that was necessary until the next election came around, the more far-seeing among them are popularizing the idea that women’s participation must be a perpetual and not a merely periodical performance.

The particular plot of the local political field which many of these women mean to cultivate is the administration of the city’s parks. The parks of Chicago are preëminently the 300concern of the homemakers of the city, as they take up, widen and socialize the best activities of the home—the activities of the child and social intercourse.

Dancing, music and such festivals as those recently celebrated in the parks in honor of Arbor Day; the meeting of the young and old for pleasure and the exchange of ideas—these things the park managements have fostered, broadened and put on a democratic basis which sweeps away racial and other barriers that do more than walls and doors to isolate the families that dwell in the crowded parts of the city.

Women who would otherwise lack opportunity to hear and discuss civic matters find an opportunity to do so in non-partisan organizations that avail themselves of fieldhouse facilities for getting together; people who would otherwise not hear good music hear it in the open-air of the parks in summer or in the assembly halls in winter; while those same halls afford opportunity for lectures to the dwellers in their neighborhoods or for debates, dances or other activities by those residents.

All that is in addition to the provision made for the enjoyment and physical welfare of the children through swimming, supervised games and physical culture.

The women who have been interested in these activities find, however, that political action will be necessary before the parks can be used to the greatest advantage. As things are now, there are thirteen different park governments in Chicago, and the bill passed at the last session of the legislature to consolidate them was vetoed. Attorney General Lucey advised the governor that it was unconstitutional because the park districts were really separate municipalities and could not be eliminated without consent given through the ballot of their inhabitants.

That the park governments should be unified is admitted on all hands. Now there are districts in Chicago which are not in any park district and so escape taxation while enjoying the privileges of the parks, while the crowded districts, not being able to pay for park facilities, do not get any to speak of, although there is a crying need for them.

For instance, the South Park area is three times that of either the North or West Sides, but there are three times as 301many children on the North and West Sides as there are on the South Side. Meanwhile the South Park commission has a surplus in the bank which has frequently been over a million dollars, while the other park commissions often find it impossible to carry on the projects which would mean so much to their constituents.

With consolidation, too, would come a reform which it is not now possible to obtain—the standardization of the services which the parks render the public. At the present time, for instance, the South Park system employs only three social-play leaders—who perform a very valuable social function in bringing the various users of the parks together in games and conferences—although it has eleven recreation centers, while on the West Side the social-play leader is considered as necessary an adjunct to the park staff as are the gymnasium directors.

Women have a further interest in the parks, however, than in their consolidation, for they see in their administration the need as well as the opportunity for woman’s service.

At present the park commissioners are men, although the constituency they serve is largely one of women and children. Were the women represented on every park board—which is an impossibility until there is at least some measure of consolidation—the needs of the women and children using the parks would be more closely studied, the value of the parks in ways now overlooked would be emphasized, and the playgrounds would return to the public a larger dividend than heretofore on the public’s expenditure.

As it is hardly practicable to get the voters’ consent in every park district before merging them—as Attorney General Lucey says must be done—the advocates of consolidation are pinning their hopes to the proposal for a constitutional convention. This convention would result in a wholesale unification of Chicago’s present chaotic welter of nineteen separate governments, and the various park boards, thirteen out of the nineteen of those unrelated governing and taxing bodies, would undoubtedly be welded without any legal trouble arising.

And then the women of the city will have their chance to put efficiency into the Chicago parks.


Municipal Art

To descend to particulars and localities, we may first record that women are becoming concerned about the transit approaches to cities and about the hideous stations which are all too frequently to be found in our towns, villages, and cities. The first approach to a city or village is of supreme importance in the feeling that residents, if they ever leave their home town and return, or visitors have about the place. The railway station therefore assumes a rôle that is by no means insignificant. A most capable railroad station improver is Mrs. Annette McCrae, of the American Civic Association, who has worked for the Chicago and Northwestern. A story illustrating her point of view is told by Mr. McFarland in The American City:

“I remember that ... Mrs. McCrea ... discussed with the president of one of the eastern railroads the crude, glaring and unreasonably ugly manner in which his stations were painted. He listened with reasonable impatience, because Mrs. McCrea is a lady, and finally burst out with, ‘After all, Mrs. McCrea, it is a question of taste, isn’t it?’ To this, quick as a flash, Mrs. McCrea replied: ‘Yes, Mr. President; it is a question of taste—of good taste or of bad taste!’ After this the discussion languished, for there was no defense left to the apologist for mixing orange and brown before the eyes of the defenseless millions who had to use his steel highway.” Mrs. McCrae’s work is the result of a recognized demand on the part of the people, and of women as an aggressive element among the people, for attractive and inviting front and back doors to their urban dwellings.

Every section of the country has felt the urge of the request for attractive stations. In some sections, railroad companies have been induced to assume the responsibility for the improvement and in new sections railroads are glad to build attractive stations and beautify the grounds to 303draw residents. In other sections, railroads have been the greatest foe to station improvement and have absolutely prevented beautification of buildings and the grounds through their ownership of the surrounding area. Sometimes benevolently minded individuals and organizations have themselves financed or have aided in the building and beautification of the railway approach. Again where the villagers were rich colonists or the size of the center required rebuilding frequently, as in New York, a suitable station has resulted through the adaptation of the company to the environment.

Billboards were among the first items on the programs of the women’s clubs of the country as an evil to be attacked. A campaign for cleaner billboards in St. Paul, Minnesota, is thus described by Mrs. Backus:

It is impossible to be a teacher without realizing the tremendous influence upon the young of the books they read, the pictures they see and the plays they hear.

Miss Caroline Fairchild, a public school teacher of St. Paul, knowing this psychological truth, was very much impressed with the influence of poverty of thought and flabby morals exerted by the penny parlors, cheap “shows,” and by the billboards with their fierce men throttling shrinking girls or stabbing to the heart a hated rival.

She decided to attack first the evil which could be seen by every citizen riding in our street cars or walking along our streets—the billboard—and that her protest might carry more weight she secured the coöperation of the Thursday Club and the public press.

The first step was a call upon one of the leading theaters, whose manager suggested a visit to the local billboard manager; this courteous gentleman referred the committee to the eastern theatrical managers. New York being almost too far away for a personal visit, it was decided that the campaign must be made general, so the following letter was drawn up to be sent to all managers of theatrical productions:

Gentlemen: The club women of St. Paul have objected for a long time to many of the bill posters, advertising plays 304in this city. We feel that they have a demoralizing influence on the youth, and we would urge that posters presenting undesirable scenes, women clad in tights, or any pictures that will leave a bad impression on the minds of the young, be eliminated. St. Paul is not the only city which objects to this class of advertising, and we hope that the movement will become nation-wide.”

This step of the Civic Department of the Thursday Club had been indorsed by the Fourth District of the Federation, and members of other clubs had pledged their coöperation.

To the joy of the committee, it was met more than halfway by the Poster Printers’ Association of America and by one or two journals devoted to the interests of poster printers and theatrical managers.

In March, 1911, the chairman of the Poster Printers’ Association issued a statement to poster printers, lithographers and theatrical managers, in which they were urged to use their influence against posters that might be deemed objectionable because of the titles used or the scenes illustrated.

The next step was the sending of lists of the leading producing managers—the men who control nearly all of the first class and popular priced theaters in the country—to every state president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in the United States, with a request that each state body take up the campaign for better plays and higher class advertising and make it a national movement.

Inquiries began to come in from other states in regard to a plan of work, showing the awakening of public interest. Local theatrical managers offered assistance, one manager asking that a committee be sent each week on the opening night to censor the play to run that week, promising to act upon suggestions made by the women—and he kept his word.

On November 10, 1911, we find the following notice in one of our daily papers:

“The civic committee of the Thursday Club is much pleased at the very evident results of its recent campaign for cleaner billboards. ‘I have noticed nothing objectionable in any of the posters advertising theatrical productions in St. Paul this season,’ says Miss Fairchild, ‘and the radical change in even the posters put up by the burlesque companies shows 305that the work of the club women of the country in appealing to producing managers and poster printers has had good results and been well worth while.’ Women have been on the lookout in many parts of the city and no protest has been disregarded; in one case the objectionable bill was found to be an old one which had ‘slipped in,’ but it quickly slipped off.”[51]

The Commercial Club and the Woman’s Civic League of Pensacola, Florida, have worked together to restrict the billboard industry.

The Civic Club of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, “spent much effort and thought upon the regulation and taxation of billboards in Pittsburgh. Two bills and a tentative ordinance were drawn up and submitted to the proper authorities; the committee on statistics handed in a complete report covering the city and a number of telling photographs were taken.” The Civic Club is an organization in which men and women work in the closest and most responsible coöperation.

The American Civic Association has for years been carrying on a campaign of education against billboards through lectures, bulletins, and press work. Its influence has undoubtedly stimulated local activities both of men and women but anti-billboard work knows no sex. The national association stands ready to help in local anti-billboard contests and it is showing now how definite results may be obtained in cities and states.

Tree Planting

While seeking to clear our city streets of unsightly and even demoralizing billboards, women have given equal attention to the constructive work of beautifying streets by the encouragement of tree planting. Of woman’s service in this field, one competent to speak, Mr. J. J. Levinson, Forester of Brooklyn and Queens Parks, New York City, has written as follows:

306Never before have people cared so much about other people as they do today. Social thought and sympathy are growing more intense every day, both among men and women. The woman of today is different from the woman of yesterday, not so much in her ideals or sympathies as in the expression of these ideals. Women have always been naturally idealistic and always will be, but the difference between their present and past idealism lies in the fact that today it is more far-reaching, extending to the interests of their neighbors and the community at large.

There is a new field opening for women as factors in civic improvement. Women have always set the moral and esthetic standard in the community in which they lived, and when they once get into this new field of making our cities more beautiful—a field which is really closest to their natural bent, they ought to accomplish wonders. Their confined life of former years gave them no chance to demonstrate their fitness for this sort of work. But today new interest in outdoor life together with new social relations is bringing out the wonderful esthetic and moral qualities that have been so long diverted from the problems of the city beautiful, and are now demonstrating a woman’s superior fitness to do much in this new field. The instances where women have helped to improve their cities with trees are numerous.

In Brooklyn it was women who organized a national city tree association and who started the first tree clubs among school children in this country. The association is located at the Children’s Museum in Brooklyn. In my own work, I find that it is always the women who fight for the preservation of their trees when some public service corporation tries to injure them. It was a woman and an energetic one at that who started our Children’s Farms in Brooklyn.

Last winter, I was invited by the ladies of Rome, N. Y., to come to that city and tell them what to do for their trees. Those ladies formed a civic organization, and collected sufficient funds to care for their trees all the year. In less than a year they have demonstrated the value of their work, and are now influencing the city authorities to appropriate sufficient funds for the preservation and planting of their city trees. In Morristown, N. J., the same thing occurred. It was a 307Massachusetts woman who founded the first improvement society in the United States. About ten years ago women formed a civic improvement association in South Park, Chicago, and within a few years not only changed the esthetic and sanitary appearance of their own section, but extended their influence to the whole city. At Lincoln, Nebraska, the women started their civic work on the school grounds, where they planted trees, and tried by this means to inculcate in the children a love for the beautiful. How much better are such practical lessons in civics than much of our routine teaching! Only the other day, I was in communication with the mothers’ club of a public school in Flatbush which started a campaign to plant trees around their school and in the neighborhood. In California women saved the famous Calaveras grove of big trees, a matter that has become a question of national interest, and has received the commendation of Congress and the leading men of the country.

I will not cite the hundreds of other cases where women have been the prime factors in beautifying our cities with shade trees and well-kept parks, but I will say that here is a broad and interesting field awaiting the modern woman, a field that tends to make our surroundings worth living in and our citizens better and healthier; a field that requires every virtue a woman possesses—her good taste, her moral instincts, her love of the beautiful, her patience and perseverance. Because of these, her natural gifts, she is bound to excel man in this field of endeavor, for, after all, man’s sphere of influence, in a general way, is his work and this work too often tends to become a matter of such routine that there is absolutely no inspiration in it. Men too often cannot see the moral issues at stake in living on treeless streets or in sections devoid of parks. Here we are spending so many millions of dollars on our schools, and out of the 166 public schools in Brooklyn, 86 have not even one tree in front of them, and only 10 are completely surrounded by trees. I do not believe that women would tolerate this if they could help it. There is no doubt that women are the natural leaders for the realization of the city beautiful—beautiful not with a lot of expensive cut stone, formidable fences or marble columns, but beautiful with natural parks, with avenues lined with 308fine trees and with front yards covered with verdure and blossoms, and beautiful with children, healthy mentally and physically.

The whole subject of city trees and its vast opportunities for helping mankind has been greatly overlooked. Our schools and many other forms of civic improvement have received our attention because we have realized their importance to our health and development, but our trees, both in the parks and on the streets, have been slighted in spite of the fact that as a civic problem they are as important to our health and development and are as influential in the making of our future citizens as any other institution or form of civic improvement today.[52]

Women have had to resort to law courts occasionally in their struggle for shade trees. In San José, California, they won in the courts against a corporation or mercenary property owner who wanted to override their love of beauty.

Varied Activities

While coöperating with state and national associations for civic improvement and aiding in specific reforms, such as the removal of billboard nuisances and the planting of trees, women in many localities have taken a large view of municipal advance and stirred their towns to important action. What a few women accomplished in a small community, New London, Iowa, is thus interestingly related by Mrs. Mary M. Pierson, president of the local Women’s Improvement Association:

It would not be correct to speak of the civic work “of the women of New London,” for many of them have not approved of women’s taking part in such matters. Ours is a town of about 1,400, and only 24 women belong to our organization.

One spring morning I was called to the telephone by Mayor 309T. E. Rhoades, who asked, “Will you act with two other ladies in town on the Internal Improvement Committee of the City Council?” I replied, “Yes, if the Mayor and City Council wish it.” “All right,” said he. “I will appoint you, Mrs. C. E. Magers and Miss Anna von Colen (assistant editor on our home paper) as members of the City Council Improvement Committee.” Thus was the ball set rolling.

We saw at once a great deal that was necessary to be done for the health and comfort of our little city. After counseling together, always consulting our Mayor, we called a meeting of the women of the town at the City Hall, and organized a women’s improvement association. The subject of finance came up at once, and it was decided to make the membership fee twenty-five cents. Quite a number did not see what we needed money for, and declined to join us. However, about 48 paid in their quarters and began work.

During our first efforts some very laughable things happened, but with the coöperation of the Mayor we made progress. By his order a clean-up day was appointed, and on that day a tremendous amount of boxes, tin cans and trash rolled out of the town.

We then turned our attention to our little city park. We bought a $10 lawn mower and set the City Marshal and his assistants to mowing the grass, and finally brought the park into respectable and attractive condition. The Council made us a donation of $15.

Oh, how we worked! Finally, others, seeing that there was no stopping us, began to beautify their yards, and before long the town was a flower garden.

Then came the need for more money. Our band had gone to pieces, but wished to reorganize. There was a fine bandstand in the park, and we ordered it repainted. Then we gave an ice cream social, the proceeds of which served to get the band together again. We now have one of the best bands in the state, and the weekly band concert, from April to November, draws crowds of appreciative listeners.

As winter came on we saw the necessity of having money with which to purchase seats for the park; and as we live in the corn belt of Iowa, we decided to give a “Corn Carnival.” This was the biggest undertaking of the kind ever carried 310through in our part of the state, and was attended by Governor Cummins, who seemed well pleased with our efforts. A substantial sum was realized, and we ordered a car load of iron seats. When these were placed on the short-cut green grass in the park, facing the bandstand, and were filled with people listening to the sweet music of our band, we felt that we had indeed accomplished something the first year.

Our company of workers has dwindled, but our influence is felt and respected, and when there is a question of bonding the town for schools, electric light, sewerage or water works, we not only go to the polls ourselves, but we see that the other women of the city go and that they have a right view of the matter under consideration.

Our electric plant burned down, and for a while there were so many objections to bonding again the already heavily burdened town that the loss of the plant seemed likely. The Mayor came and talked with me, and I called a meeting of the Association, which resulted in our starting out electioneering. Election day came, and New London got her lights. The City Council was strong in praise of the work done by the women.

The question of water works and sewerage is now before us. It was voted on recently, when 143 women cast their ballots. The water works question was carried, but the sewerage undertaking was lost by 23 votes, probably because there are but few modern homes in New London. The question will be voted on again in April, and the result will probably be different.

Last summer we were instrumental in organizing our first Chautauqua assembly. We pledged the sale of 300 tickets, and advanced $25. We sold over $700 worth of tickets, gave the people a fine week of instruction and social pleasure, advanced $25 for another Chautauqua next July, and cleared $200, which will buy more seats this spring.

We have had a great many things to discourage us, have been held up to ridicule, and have thought many times, “Does it pay?” But when a year ago our town was visited by an epidemic of typhoid fever and there were 60 nurses here where a professional nurse had never been; when so many homes were darkened by death, all because of the filthy condition 311of one drain that ran into an alley and poisoned a near-by well that supplied the water for our popular restaurant; then our physicians and men of better judgment (and women, too) realized the need of getting the help of the Improvement Association in cleansing and purifying our town. We are now considered an asset, and I believe we have come into our own.[53]

Among the varied activities of women for civic improvement may be listed the following, paraphrased from The American Club Woman which is exceedingly rich in such data:

The Woman’s Club of Corte Madera, California, installed street lights costing $500 and maintained them until the town realized their value and took over the management and maintenance.

The Woman’s Board of Trade of Santa Fé, New Mexico, founded the town library, and created an attractive plaza with seats, among other things.

The Women’s League for Good Government of Philadelphia in its educational campaign has given a series of illustrated lectures urging public support of such municipal improvements as have already been obtained in that city and suggesting others that are needed.

About $11,000 has been raised for an art gallery by the Woman’s Club of Des Moines, Iowa. The balance of the necessary $25,000 for the building will probably be secured by an extension of the present system of selling bonds.

Every new town in the state of Idaho is being laid out with a civic center around a city park or square, and every club is working for a city park, and planting trees, shrubs and flowers in public places. Nearly every club specializes in city sanitation and pure food.

Mrs. E. R. Michaux of the North Carolina Federation of Clubs has urged all the clubs in that state to work for municipal art commissions in the various towns and make their approval necessary before any public buildings, statues, 312etc., can be erected or streets laid off. Elsewhere women have secured such commissions and in many cities they are now serving on them.

The Municipal Order League of Chicago, a women’s society, has for its object the education of the people to the point of insisting upon health, cleanliness and beauty for the city of Chicago.

Many of the clubs of the various states have forestry committees whose object is to work both for the conservation of forest lands in the state and to secure local foresters and tree planting commissions. They have been responsible in numerous cities for the installation of a municipal forester and have been his main support in his proposals for shade trees and shrubs and their proper care. Arboriculture for decorative purposes has always been an interest of theirs in their own home plots and now they have extended it to the decoration of their municipal homes. They have also been largely instrumental in securing the general observance of Arbor Day by schools and outside agencies.

The State Federation of Club Women of California worked faithfully for forestry and Big Tree bills, cleaned up vacant yards, removed unsightly poles from streets, secured the care and beautification of the ocean front, secured the retention of street flower markets, the purchase and preservation of Telegraph Hill and of the Calaveras Big Tree Grove, the parking of the grounds and street about the Mission Dolores, and planted vines and trees on the barren slopes belonging to the Federal Government at Yerba Buena Island. In San Francisco they worked against the overhead trolley system which is so derogatory to the appearance of a city.

Throughout the South the work of civic improvement is being taken hold of by women with energy and idealism and practical sense. Parks and gardens that dot the states everywhere now testify to the labor and enthusiasm of women as well as of men.

The Civic Club of Nowata, Oklahoma, secured a twenty-acre 313park which now has 1,000 trees growing on it; in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the park in the center of the city was laid out by a landscape artist employed by women who also offered cash prizes for the best lawns and alleys in the city.

The Palmetto Club of Daytona, Florida, raised $75,000 for a public park.

The Quincy, Illinois, Boulevard and Park Association saw fit to elect Mrs. Edward J. Parker president upon the death of her husband, under whose skillful and enthusiastic guidance, Quincy obtained results that are quite famous in that part of the country. Mr. Parker had worked for a parking system in the face not only of indifference but of hostility on the part of the public and of the city government. Since that attitude has not yet been overcome, but is merely in the process of changing, the election of the wife as president is an indication of the belief in the wisdom and ability of her leadership.

The club women of Minnesota have recommended town planning commissions for the beautifying of the villages and cities of the state.

A moving-picture film, “The City Beautiful,” has been prepared and circulated as educational propaganda by the civics committee of one enterprising woman’s organization which appreciates the value of public opinion.

In Idaho Falls, Idaho, the members of the Village Improvement Society are called “City Mothers.” “Fifteen years ago,” we are told, “this place was a treeless, grassless desert village. Today it is a city and an oasis. The hundreds of trees that line the streets were planted by the women of the Society. The lawns and flowers have been fostered by them through the giving of annual prizes. They have bought the land and are developing a town park. They have established and operated the town hospital and have founded a library and secured a tax levy for its support. They have supplied the alleys with garbage boxes and caused the passage of an anti-spitting ordinance. They have bought the site of a nest of vile resorts and caused the 314removal of tenants. They have also improved the cemetery.”

The Woman’s Town Improvement Association of Westport, Connecticut, laid 2,000 feet of sidewalk and generally beautified the town.

The Good Roads Committee of a woman’s organization in New Canaan, Connecticut, cut down the undergrowth, leveled hills and set up danger markers. What they did for the water supply has been told in the chapter on Health.

The Woman’s Book Club of Osceola, Arkansas, filled mud holes in three streets and planted trees along the sides.

The Woman’s Improvement Club of Roseville, California, planted 400 trees, set out 1,000 calla lilies and roses and magnolia trees to beautify the approach to the station, made a park in the triangle formed by the intersection of three streets and planted it with date palms.

The Woman’s Civic League and the Woman’s Club of Colorado Springs asked the city for an appropriation of $2,500 for a comprehensive city plan and at their further instigation Charles Mulford Robinson was engaged to devise a plan for the improvement of the city. They then arranged a conference between Mr. Robinson and citizens. When his plan was submitted it met the approval of the women, but the City Fathers did not manifest the same concern and the women of the Club have been constantly urging upon them the wisdom of adherence to the plan. The women also followed the city budget with this end in view. After conferring with city planning commissions in other cities, the Civic Club drew up the plan for a permanent commission for Colorado Springs and secured it from the Council. Members have been appointed from nominations made by the Chamber of Commerce, the Federated Trades Council, the Woman’s Club and the Civic League.

While in many places the work of women for civic improvement has won marked public favor, the spirit of fair play is not always in evidence as we learn from letters like this from Mrs. Harmon, vice-president of the Civic League 315of Yankton, South Dakota: “At first our existence was looked upon with much disfavor by the city officials, being regarded as a standing criticism of their administration. Our speedy demise was predicted. Now, after a year of existence and a campaign of education, the Civic League is referred to as an arbiter of difficulties and a court of complaint. We have largely succeeded in shutting up chickens. Alleys may no longer be used as dumping grounds. We have become the sponsors for the development of a new park to be donated to the city. We have interested the Commissioners in employing a landscape architect to make a permanent city plan. Further, we are in the field to stay.”

The women of the Lock Haven Civic Club have the distinction of having raised the money for a city plan for the smallest city in the state of Pennsylvania in order that it may be prepared for its possible growth and development. The Board of Trade is energetic in this little town and the women find coöperation with it pleasant and sincere. The Outdoor Department of this league of women laid out and planted the Court House Park and assisted the city government in planting a city parkway. It has also induced property owners to supplant fences with private hedges and otherwise beautify home surroundings.

From an adobe pueblo, Los Angeles has grown in some thirty years to a commercial metropolis. Of city planning in this rapid development there has been none. Now, however, a Municipal Art Commission composed of five persons, two women and three men, has undertaken to bring some order out of chaos in Los Angeles and doubtless in the reorganization of the city the women who have worked so earnestly there for housing and district nursing and public health will exert some influence over the plans.

The Wichita, Kansas, Improvement Association began as a woman’s organization but soon felt that it had made a great mistake in limiting its membership to women. “Obviously,” it says, “the concerns of any town-development organization are the concerns of everybody in that town and 316the membership should consist of the members of that community.” A reorganization was therefore effected and men were brought into the Association. In writing about this change the Association says: “The keynote of the new society thus became the keynote of all society: ‘The responsibility of adults for conditions which shall conduce to the health, morality, happiness and general good citizenship of the young people.’ For, if the adult society is working for this, then its own health, morality and happiness are finding promotion.”

Boston has a city planning board on which Emily Greene Balch is serving. Its duty is to “make careful studies of the resources, possibilities, and needs of Boston, particularly with respect to conditions which may be injurious to the public health, and to make plans for the development of the municipality, with special reference to the proper housing of its people.” The secretary of the board is Miss Elizabeth M. Hurlihy. The Women’s Municipal League is rendering valuable assistance to this board.

Controlling Suburbs

Where civic pride and organization promote intelligent efforts in a city to control real estate speculation, unregulated building and congestion, it often happens that the area just outside the city accepts all the evils cast forth by the city. A factory or plant, pushed to the outskirts where a suburb is quickly developed by land speculators to meet the new housing situation, may easily, and does often, become the center of a community totally without plan and where the evils of congestion appear in their most exaggerated form. In some cases, civic leagues of men and women are forming to prevent suburbs coming under such influences, as the city, to which they are neighbor, agitates for the removal of its factories to the outskirts.

Attention has been directed to this serious matter, and 317some suburban planning started in time, by Mrs. Rollin Norris and others in the suburbs of Philadelphia, organized in the Main Line Housing Association.

The work of this association doubtless had its effect on the legislation in Pennsylvania which provides metropolitan planning districts for the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Scranton, in order that they may control developments at their borders for a radius of twenty-five miles. Other states—six of them—have made a similar attempt to prevent unwise expansion at the rims of cities, but Massachusetts now leads with city planning by its recent law providing for city planning commissions throughout the state for towns and villages. It is interesting in this connection to observe how well women have worked in Massachusetts on the problems of housing and allied questions which are vital elements in this planning.

At present these schemes and ideals for suburban planning are in the stage of agitation only and have not been concretely applied on any extensive scale. A private achievement of notable worth has been obtained in Roland Park, Baltimore, but it is a high-class residential neighborhood. The Roland Park Civic League, an incorporated association of the citizens of this district, maintains a controlling interest in the Roland Park Roads and Maintenance Corporation and elects nine of the twelve directors. They prohibit certain nuisances, the erection of any building for other than residence purposes and the submission and approval of all construction plans. Women are members of the Civic League and share equally with the men in the government of this residential district which is comprehensive enough to include: tax collection and expenditure, labor employed in the sewerage system, the repairing and cleaning of roads, care of hedges and sidewalks, removal of ashes and rubbish and other services. It is a marvelously beautiful place. “Woman suffrage is in action in Roland Park.”

Forest Hills Gardens, the New York suburb built by the 318Russell Sage Foundation, financed by Mrs. Russell Sage, is also a beautiful middle-class residential district, with the same restrictions that safeguard Roland Park.

Value of Civic Improvement

From this cursory and necessarily imperfect review of women’s work in civic improvement, it is evident that whoever labors for the city or town or village beautiful in the United States may find intelligent and hearty support on the part of women’s associations, even though they are, in many places, merely organized for literary or “cultural” purposes. Thousands of men may loaf around clubs without ever showing the slightest concern about the great battle for decent living conditions that is now going on in our cities; but it is a rare woman’s club that long remains indifferent to such momentous matters. Nor, as we have seen, is this movement for civic betterment confined to the greater cities. In thousands of out-of-the-way places which hardly appear on the map, unknown women with large visions are bent on improving their minds for no mere selfish advancement, but for the purpose of equipping themselves to serve their little communities. They form local associations. These local associations are federated into state and national associations. The best thought and experience of one community soon become the common possession of all. Thus we see in the making, before our very eyes, a conscious national womanhood. Here is a power that will soon disturb others than the village politicians.



The kind of work the government undertakes and the way in which it does its work depend, in the ordinary course of events, almost entirely upon public opinion; that is, upon what the people think about political matters. This obvious truth will be readily admitted, and the inevitable deduction is that women, in the wide range of their interests and activities, are valuable factors in government.

By means of lectures, study clubs, and leagues for political and civic education, women now seek to educate themselves in public affairs, and learn to coöperate with men in the extension of civic enlightenment. City Clubs exist for women, like those for men, as forums of free discussion of public questions, in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston, while the Twentieth Century Club of Boston is an organization of men and women.

Women also seek to arouse public opinion by explaining problems of government to the people. By printing and circulating ordinances, discussing charters, asking citizens what they need, and helping to show them how their needs may be met, the development of fundamental democracy is being aided by women, slowly, perhaps, but none the less positively.

Bulletins and other publications on civic matters, issued by women as individuals and associated in clubs, are as creditable as any in the field. Their studies of city budgets and budget-making are beginning to prove that even the hard technique of government now interests them as it does 320men. That their attitude toward some of the technique is still the woman’s attitude, however, may perhaps be shown at times; for example, when Martha Bensley Bruère and others suggest that one prime function of public utilities should be to serve the home in order that science may supplant excessive drudgery there.

Chambers of Commerce and similar bodies of men have been prominent as volunteer associations initiating or supporting public activities. In this connection a curious fact lies in the selection of a woman as secretary of the Chamber of Commerce in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her first task was to straighten out the funds so that there might be a basis for work of any kind. Women serve in auxiliary groups to Chambers of Commerce and the main group often relies for the success of an enterprise upon the hard work of its auxiliary members. In Santa Fé the women have their own Board of Trade.

It is not alone in the advancement of “general enlightenment” on civic matters that women are interested. Often, through their clubs and associations, they join actively in municipal campaigns for specific reforms. Indeed, it may be said that in every recent effort to “clean-up a city’s politics” in the United States, the enlistment of the women, as individuals and in organizations, has been a voluntary or requested factor. Sometimes we find forceful women, single-handed and alone, leading a fight for the betterment of municipal politics. Such a contest was waged by Virginia Brooks, in the town of Hammond, Indiana, and it may well be told here in her own words, taken from the National Municipal Review:

According to your request I will tell you a few of my activities in West Hammond. You have probably read of my long fight, extending over a year and a half, to rid West Hammond of a graft ring that has been assessing the Poles out of house and home for rotten improvements, which represented about 25 cents on the dollar. I might run over the incidents briefly. I was a musician by profession and knew 321little of business or property, when I was confronted with $20,000 worth of assessments on a little piece of property left to my mother by my father upon his death.

That November, 1910, three days after the receipt of the assessments, I put my furniture in storage and with my mother came to Hammond, feeling I must do something, but not knowing where to begin. No sooner had I stepped into the town, than I was aware that the streets were made of inferior material and poor workmanship; in fact one street was under construction, and so raw was the poor work that the Poles were threatening the lives of the workmen. This resulted in my interviewing all the inspectors and workmen on the different improvements and collecting evidence which I turned over to the state’s attorney, who would not give me any assistance.

I have stopped election after election, where the grafters tried to turn West Hammond into a city. I have stopped rotten paving and been kicked by policemen controlled by the clique and thrown into jail and persecuted by the friends of the grafters. I have had judgments against me by judges that were hired by them and almost every indignity waged against me to the naming of the worst dive here, the “Virginia” Buffet. In spite of the grafters, I have succeeded in electing to office this spring an entire active anti-graft ticket and at the coming meeting of the board will close down all of the notorious dives in West Hammond. I have saved for the Poles nearly $21,000 on reductions of over-charged assessments. I have succeeded in ousting an old clique who for years had been grafting on the school board, and being elected myself to the office of president. This means that I will introduce into the neglected school, manual training, domestic science, free night school, free kindergarten, and a playground.

I have established a settlement house in Hammond, Ind., right across the state line, where the boys and girls have night classes, and where mothers who work can take their babies for care. There are some 32,000 Poles in this region and the future looks to great achievement.

The logical outcome of the deep and intelligent interest in public affairs shown by women, the suffragists say, is 322the possession of the instrument which crystallizes public opinion into effective governmental action—the ballot. In as many as twelve states, nearly one-fourth of the United States, the women now have the suffrage. That they exercise their rights with as much discrimination and thoughtfulness as men, to say the least, is the testimony of more than one competent observer. Writing in The Survey, on March 21, 1914, Graham Taylor said of women in elections:

Illinois and Chicago give the country the most significant test of women’s voting....

As registration is required only in larger places, the figures for the state cannot be given at this writing, but in Chicago 217,614 women registered at their first opportunity. Added to the 455,283 men on the polling lists, these new voters increased the electorate to 672,897 voters, the largest number registered in any city in the United States.

At the primaries the women’s votes came within 1 per cent. of equaling the men’s. At the election the women polled, at the lowest count of the police returns, before the official revision, 158,686 or 73 per cent. of their registered voters, while the men’s votes numbered 328,987 or 72 per cent. of their registrations This is conceded by all concerned to be a very favorable showing for the women at their first registration and election. It ought to dispel the conjecture that few women want to vote or will not vote, if given the right, whether they seek it or not.

Next as to the test of the way they will vote. In the increased number and classification of candidates for the city council and in the decision required upon no less than twelve measures of great public importance by the “little ballot” measuring no less than 40 by 12 inches of solidly printed matter, this election exacted of all Chicago voters as great discrimination as they had ever been required to make. It therefore severely tested the interest and intelligence of all new voters, especially women who had hitherto had so much less occasion than men to consider closely such subjects. How did they stand the test?

The aldermanic candidates numbered 154, each ward having from two to seven names to choose from, and designated 323as Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, Prohibitionists, Socialists, Independents and Non-partisans....

The votes of the women which were awaited with equal eagerness by partisan leaders and by the rank and file of those who had hitherto constituted the non-partisan balance of power, tended decidedly toward non-partisanship. The newspapers agreed with the Municipal Voters’ League in crediting the women with electing no less than seven of the better candidates and with wielding their power either to defeat or lessen the majority of many more undesirable candidates.

While eight women were candidates for the city council no one of them expected to be elected, but each entered the lists to make an educational campaign. Two of these campaigns were especially noteworthy. Marion K. Drake led the forlorn hope in running against the notorious alderman, “Bathhouse John” Coughlin who for over twenty years has disgraced the first ward and city of Chicago by exploiting the floating vote of the lodging houses. Her spirited campaign against his character and the conditions for which he stands was well supported by many of the most influential men and women of the city, and resulted in doubling the vote cast against him as compared with that of two years ago. With 7,355 men voting in that ward, and only a few more than 3,000 women, this is a good showing although nearly 600 more women voted for the discredited man than for the worthy woman candidate, which is not surprising in view of the dependence of the underworld upon its patrons.

In the great cosmopolitan tenement house family ward, surrounding the Northwestern University Settlement, its head resident, Harriet E. Vittum, made a most effective educational campaign. Her slogans were “For the babies,” “For the school children,” “For the working boys and girls,” “For men and women,” under each of which she grouped the better home conditions and municipal policies for which she asked votes. A house to house canvass among the foreign people, rousing mass meetings with many men speaking for her in the foreign languages and a children’s parade of many hundreds of little boys and girls were some of the features of the campaign. That any woman in such a “man’s world” 324as this ward has been could have secured 1,421 votes, the number next highest to that of the reëlected alderman speaks highly for her candidacy.

In deciding the important public measures, including heavy bonded issues, the women showed as intelligent discrimination as the men. In proportion as these propositions were actually most dangerous or doubtful, they were overwhelmingly defeated—notably a discredited subway scheme, a suspicious county hospital bond issue, and some city bond issues for purposes for which other funds are available.

Many women served as clerks and judges of election throughout the city, with two noteworthy results—that their services were highly commended by the election commissioners and that every woman official reported the most considerate and decorous speech and conduct upon the part of the men during registration and election days. The leading election commissioner issued the following statement on the morning after election: “Chicago women are again to be congratulated as an influence for good in politics. Their presence was like oil on the turbulent waters in every precinct of every ward in which there were bitter clashes. In no precinct did the presence and activity of women in the political contest make them mannish. There was less drunkenness around the polling places than there has been in years, because the practical politicians knew that drunken workers around a polling place would drive away the vote of the women for their candidates. Today’s election really demonstrated that elections and government have been brought closer to the home. The women have shown that. Above all, the women in all walks of life and in all parties proved they are interested in and appreciate their duty.”

Mary E. McDowell who led the fight for a better candidate who almost won out in the stockyards district had this to say: “After nineteen years I thought I knew my ward. But I never really began to know it till I came to experience this great new neighborliness which has come to all of us women through the political work of the election.”

Jane Addams, who was judge of election in her own precinct surrounding Hull House, said: “I was amazed at the way the women of my own ward had informed themselves. 325Of the 159 women registered in the precinct, 139 voted. The women in every ward of the city showed that they had an intelligent understanding of the issues. I think it was a great thing to have women in Chicago brave enough to run in this aldermanic election and to be willing to face the probable defeat. There was something very exhilarating, something very young and courageous in the willingness of a woman to tackle the fight against Alderman Coughlin. It has undoubtedly been a red-letter day for women, this first day of voting.”

Women’s votes down state get full credit from both the politicians and the newspapers, not to say the liquor dealers, for having put out of business 946 saloons in 114 incorporated cities and villages. In 29 more the vote to remain dry rolled up a majority of 8,888, aggregating a total dry vote in these districts of 35,462. While the liquor forces carried 60 cities and villages and thus kept them “wet,” they failed to win a single township which was dry prior to the election. In some places, as at Springfield, women’s votes helped swell the majority for the saloons. But in a total vote estimated at 200,000 cast on the saloon issue outside Chicago, where the issue was not raised, the Chicago Tribune figures that 100,000 were cast by women and that 65 per cent. of these were against the saloon.

Clearly in anticipation of women’s voting in Chicago, an ordinance was passed by the Chicago City Council abolishing the “family entrance” and “ladies’ entrance” signs from saloons. This action was not opposed by the liquor interests represented by the vigilant and aggressive United Societies. To the representative women who promoted this action, one of the most notorious of Chicago’s aldermen, who for many years has led the forces for evil in the city council, once a majority and now a hopeless minority, declared: “You are doing a noble work, ladies; you should now clean-up the dance halls.”

The handwriting seems to be on the walls, the enemies of the good themselves being judges.

Lest Graham Taylor may be considered a partial witness, we submit the two following extracts from the New York 326Times on the Chicago women voters, for no one accuses that paper of being a feminist advocate:

Chicago’s first election since women could vote there will doubtless receive much study and doubtless excite much comment. Doubtless, also, the comment will vary as widely as do opinions regarding the propriety and the expediency of woman suffrage.

Some people, of course, will lay much stress on the fact that, of the 217,000 women who registered, only 100,000 were sufficiently interested in the election, in spite of all the talk there has been about it, to go to the polls. The fact, however, that slightly less than 50 per cent. of the women voters failed to do their duty—or to exercise their privilege, if one chooses to look at it that way—must be interpreted in the light of the other fact, that only slightly more than 50 per cent. of the registered men took the trouble to vote. This, in ordinary circumstances, would be taken as showing that popular concern about the result of the election was not keen; but the circumstances were not ordinary, and the suffragists will find it difficult to explain, and still more difficult to excuse, the conduct of their stay-at-homes.

That all the woman candidates were defeated, and with the biggest majorities by their least reputable rivals, is another mystery for which many and various solutions will probably be offered.

But what does stand clearly out of these mists of uncertainty is that Chicago has struck a heavy, perhaps fatal, blow at the belief so confidently expressed by every suffragist that the woman voters in any community would stand together and exert, whether successfully or not, all their influence in behalf of the causes that especially interested them as a sex. There is no evidence or even hint of such solidarity in these returns. The woman vote was a divided one, and evidently divided along just the lines, good and bad, with which men have made us familiar.

The stories of women who did and said foolish things at the polls could all be paralleled by like stories of men, and are without significance. The important revelation is that the women will not vote as women—a revelation reassuring 327or disquieting according to whether one wants them to do that or not.

Is it possible that Gov. Glynn can have kept a straight face while he was saying, writing, or dictating the statement that the vote cast on the Constitutional Convention question on Tuesday “plainly shows that the people desire a revision of the Constitution”? Who are the “people”? Can one-fifth of the legal voters of the State of New York be called the people? At the Presidential election in 1912 there were cast in round numbers 1,600,000 votes. On the constitutional issue on Tuesday there were cast in round numbers 300,000. There was nothing lacking either in the importance of the issue or in the opportunity for the voter to express his will. Certainly, few things are more important than the organic law of the State, and the polls were open during the statutory hours. Yet more than four-fifths of the voters did not take interest enough in the matter to go to the polls.

The women suffragists are welcome to all the advantage they may gain, and any taunts and gibes they may direct against the male voters because of Tuesday’s election will be freely forgiven. Women would have striven in vain to do anything sillier, and had the administration of public affairs been in the control of babes in pinafores the ordering of this election on Tuesday would have been discreditable to their intelligence.

Where limited suffrage prevails as in Des Moines, Iowa, telegrams like this in the Chicago Post of March 30, 1914, are illuminating. It is entitled “Women Prove a Factor in Municipal Vote”:

Voters were out early in the municipal election here today and by noon it was freely predicted in official circles that the largest total of ballots since the commission form of government became effective will have been cast when the polls close.

The activity of women in connection with the proposition of municipal ownership of the waterworks system was a distinct feature of the voting. Under the law, women are permitted the ballot on bond questions. In several of the 328residence precincts women were in line when the polls opened at seven o’clock.

In our survey of women’s varied municipal activities, we have had occasion to mention many instances of their holding official positions of one kind or another, and no one can be found who would deny the special aptitudes of women for certain municipal posts. Doubtless there are some offices for which women are specially fitted, just as there are some offices for which men are specially fitted. But office-holding in general is still under dispute. Nevertheless, there are plenty of advocates who claim that the wider participation of women in government, through the occupancy of technical positions, is for the public good.

Ten years ago in the San Francisco Bulletin there appeared the following editorial on “Why Women Should Be in Municipal Offices”:

The days of chivalry are no more, and though that means that young women no longer occupy their days at something called a lattice, embroidering sashes to tie about the middles of queer young men in boiler plate, it is probable that even they do not regret the loss, though He is now nothing more than a member in good standing of the Retail Clerks’ Union.

Men have been willing, for a wonderfully long time, that women should work—provided it was for small pay and did not imply any reputation or a possible swelling up beyond the nice, faithful limits of their sphere. And this not because men are mean—but because they are slow. They have even permitted certain emoluments and rewards of merit to accrue to certain professions—like those of nursing sick or spoiled children of larger and smaller growth, and school ma’aming—for which they had neither much taste nor aptitude.

It has also been cheerfully and generously conceded that in the matter of minor housekeeping affairs women could be trusted to get along, and the abominable lack of spirit shown by the weak provisions of the civil service, that do not seem to take natural laws into consideration, has proven that these fair creatures can so far forget themselves in their heavenand-man-appointed 329task of ministering angel as to actually take and pass common and vulgar examinations, and to follow up their effrontery by accepting and holding certain places of public trust and drawing their pay regularly therefor. What wonder then that when the very old story of the inch and the ell is being enacted men of tender municipal conscience tremble and turn pale.

Men expect “graft” in their city halls; they do not look for the enforcement of ordinances in disfavor with the “gang”; they expect to have the streets swept when the winds come; they bear witness that a man is a good fellow when he remembers his friends and relatives by place and power; they are accustomed to suffer with much noise and pay their taxes in silence; above all they constantly make good their calling as the sex that recognizes logic with the naked eye. For when a notorious politician follows his luck with a notorious political régime in the institutions of his state they actually hold him and his appointer responsible, and strangely enough seldom say anything about his sex.

Let but another individual—a woman individual—make the mistakes inherent in human nature—in an appointive position—and the most logical and the kindest man one knows will refer the whole thing finally and forever to—her sex.

If, however, it were possible that logic was not the inborn and native possession of every man and might have to be learned, a little tale from an English schoolroom can be warmly recommended, for out of the mouth of babes and little girls cometh occasional wisdom.

The little girl was given the following proposition as a “test of her reasoning powers”:

French people are excitable, so are Italians; so all foreigners are excitable. Is this true?

And this little illogically sexed miss replied: “It does not follow that every member of a family is mad because two are.”

There is perhaps nothing a man does with such good will and in which good will counts for so little as his struggle to be fair to womankind. He often succeeds admirably when they are not his own. Freedom of opportunity, the development of the individual common fair play, all, all find shipwreck 330against convention and instinct when it is the wife or the daughter.

Women have not been either kind or considerate in the matter. Quite an appreciable number have wholly ceased to cry aloud about their rights or wrongs and have quietly prepared themselves for holding higher positions of trust. In rashly independent cities like Chicago, or sexless ones like Boston, they are holding them freely. They are calmly, almost judicially, inspecting factories and collecting statistics of child labor. They are inspecting tenements, garbage, streets and schools. They are sitting unmoved and silent upon boards of all sorts, almost as if they were useful and comfortable there. They are getting parks placed and playgrounds graded and drinking cups sterilized and foods purified and milk renovated and babies fed—officially. The fact of this wider employment of women in the higher municipal duties marks a certain state of growth and an emergence from crudity.

When a municipality has arrived at the stage when it really wants the best return for its money it always has employed some of the pottering sex. It does not get sentimental and expect or want any perfection. It has entirely discarded the “ministering angel—thou” attitude. It assumes that under a true democracy a part of the people who pay its taxes may have a not unreasonable wish to take an active part in its administration, and when it can get such people—fairly faithful, often amply efficient and willing—it takes them where they stand.

For five years the city of Los Angeles has had a municipal nurse. It is only justice to her to say that she neither knew nor intended it. But when three women who knew the ardent need of such a person appeared before the supervisors and asked for one they forgot to be logical and used their common-sense.

There are trained women in San Francisco who are ready today to conduct school inspection after the manner in which it has been done in New York and with like wonderful results could they be sure—not of money reward—but of simple recognition and authority. For herein is the ultimate triumph of man. He has loved to have womankind work for so long 331that at last she has learned her abiding task, the famous “work that is never done”—to work for love.

The hour must come when women will occupy in proportion all these higher municipal posts. They will be found ready as soon as the men are found who are ready to give them their opportunity. It is not contended that they will be better or wiser, but that they will take a more intelligent and lasting interest and that there will always be certain things where children are concerned which they will know more and care more about than men.

The chief good will come finally in the chance for freedom and for growth under a democracy where a few mistakes are counted of less moment than lack of fair play.

The prediction that women would be found in all manner of offices has come true. The following is an incomplete list of offices which women have held or are now holding:[54]

City Treasurer.
County Treasurer.
City Comptroller.
City Recorder.
City Clerk.
County Clerk.
Judges Juvenile Court.
Of the Peace.
Deputy Probate.
Police Magistrate.
City Attorney.
Deputy Clerk of the U. S. District Courts.
Health officer.
Medical City chemist.
City bacteriologist.
City physician and quarantine officer.
Head of hospital.
School inspector and physician.
Police Matron.
Civil Service Commissioner.
City Factory Inspector.
City Market Inspector.
Street Inspector.
Superintendent of Public Buildings.
Members of special commissions Library.
Civic Improvement.
Municipal Housekeeping.
Members of school boards.
School Superintendent (495 in 1912 were women).
City Commissioner.
Members of election boards and clerks of election.
Fire Inspector.
Commissioner of Corrections.
Examining Inspector for Bureau of Municipal Investigation and Inspection.
Advisory Council to Mayors.
Confidential Secretary to the Mayor.

Even in the field of technical finance, which is supposed to be somewhat outside of woman’s interest (although in view of her household budgetary experience, we know not why) we find women doing efficient and telling work. To select a single example, we may take Mrs. Mathilde Coffin Ford, of New York City, whose labors are thus described in a recent issue of The American City by Frank Parker Stockbridge:

In the government of New York, the greatest city of the western world, women play a much more important part than is known to the public—a more important part than they have 333in the government of any other city in this country. Their part in and influence upon the government of New York is constantly increasing, and the results are good.

A woman is superintendent of schools in Chicago, but she hasn’t a word to say about spending the taxpayers’ money upon the schools. She has to take what is voted to her. A man is superintendent of schools in New York City, but here it is a woman who tells him how much money he can have to run his schools with. And she isn’t stingy, either, because she lets him have something over forty million dollars each and every year to compete with the motion pictures.

The woman who exercises such an amazing financial power is Mrs. Mathilde Coffin Ford, examining inspector for the Bureau of Municipal Investigation and Statistics. Forty millions a year for one woman to spend—and she receives a salary of $3,500 a year! Judge Gary, head of the Steel Trust, gets $100,000 a year for spending less, and certainly accomplishing less.

Of course, strictly and legally speaking, Mrs. Ford doesn’t have the whole say-so of those forty millions a year; but in reality that is just what she does. Not one dollar is spent by the Board of Estimate upon the school system unless Mrs. Ford has looked into the proposed expenditure, studied the possible educational result, reported favorably upon it, and drafted (for the Comptroller to sign) a resolution authorizing it. Thus, you see, Mrs. Ford knows what every woman knows, how to keep the purse strings firmly and to let the man think he is really doing the spending. Mrs. Ford is the housewife of the city’s educational system, a kind of magnified housewife, simply doing on a huge scale and with marvelously sharpened feminine powers what any janitor’s wife in any schoolhouse under Mrs. Ford’s control does for her household.

Take an instance. Mrs. Ford is now drafting the corporate stock budget for the educational system. The Superintendent of Schools has asked for forty-six new buildings in the five boroughs and named the sites that he wants. His requests have been referred to Mrs. Ford. All the requests of parents and neighborhood improvement clubs on the same subject have been referred to Mrs. Ford. In three months Mrs. 334Ford has found time to slip out of her office and go shopping on the matter of new schools. She has gone to every one of the proposed sites. She has studied the educational need of the given neighborhoods. Her judgment outweighing the Superintendent’s, she has, with her woman’s small hands, lifted some of the proposed buildings bodily out of the proposed sites and placed them elsewhere, where schools seemed to her to be more needed. In each case she framed up a report embodying her reasons, which the Comptroller solemnly signed without more ado, and which the Board of Estimate will act upon without much ado. Thus Mrs. Ford did about twelve million dollars’ worth of shopping.

In the fall Mrs. Ford spends a great deal more money. That is the time for drafting the tax budget, or maintenance budget. Something over thirty millions of dollars are spent annually in maintaining the schools at their given efficiency. Last fall the Department of Education asked for thirty-three millions, submitting a detailed report of how they intended to spend the money. Mrs. Ford had to go over every item. When she got through she had pared down the estimate to thirty millions, and that was after she had allowed for a more liberal expenditure in some items where she thought the policy of the department niggardly.

These two instances do not begin to show Mrs. Ford’s complete range of authority. She fixes compensation for all employees of the Department of Education, save those of the teachers. She keeps track of all the funds and accounts of the Department, recommends changes from time to time in the financial arrangements for spending the money voted. She follows the course of the legislation at Albany which affects the school system in the city. In short, she more than any other person is the public school system of New York City.

Back of all this power are years of experience in school work. Mrs. Ford has headed nearly every sort of school in the country, and was for years nominally Assistant Superintendent and really Superintendent of Schools of Detroit. She has delivered over four thousand lectures to teachers’ associations, telling them then, as now she tells New York, how to run a school system. Mrs. Ford knows how. It was no 335fluke that gave a woman such a strategic position in the city’s administration.

Whether or not they are concerned in holding offices themselves, women have taken an interest in the character of the officers charged with every kind of public function. Civil service reform is one of the earliest changes espoused by women. Their first paths beyond the home threshold led them into fields of relief, correction, and labor where their home training in thrift was rudely shocked at the extravagance and irresponsibility which they met among officials in public institutions and in city positions.

In 1896 women appeared before the annual meetings of the National Civil Service Reform League to make addresses. In that year Mrs. Charles Russell Lowell spoke on the “Relation of Women to the Movement for Reform in the Civil Service,” and her speech helped to stimulate the belief in men that the help of women was of importance, and to inspire women to a sense of their own usefulness in this direction. Soon after that women like Mrs. Oakley of the Federation of Clubs appeared at the sessions to report work of clubwomen and carry back to them from the National Civil Service Reform League some inspiration for further effort. It was not long before women as well as men began to urge greater interest in civil service reform at conferences of charities and corrections and similar assemblies. Women’s auxiliaries to civil service reform associations are now quite common. There are also committees on civil service reform connected with the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ, patriotic societies, and kindred associations. The Women’s Municipal League of New York and the Women’s Auxiliary of the National Civil Service Reform League have a joint committee for the promotion of education along this line and for the continual study of the problem.

A definite impetus to join in the movement for civil service reform was given to club women in 1900 at their 336Biennial Convention in Milwaukee when the following plea for their activity in this direction was made:

How cowardly and shallow a cry is this one we raise from time to time—“Keep out of politics our school systems, our public institutions for the dependent and unfortunate citizens of our cities and states.” What does this mean? It means, keep these great moral responsibilities out of the hands of those elected to assume such responsibility.

Is this the attitude of a people free to choose those who are to serve them?

Even if you should deliberately plan to withdraw from politics the great interests of which we have spoken, responsibility for which is the training of the individual and the race; if you could wish to condemn our political life to dry rot, you cannot do it. The tendency is to put those things more and more under the jurisdiction of governments.

Let us change our cry. Let us say, “Purify and strengthen our political life that it may be the worthy custodian of our deepest interests.”

It was such a natural, inevitable step for the women who had taken such an interest in industrial and sanitary problems to see that the enforcement of the laws relating thereto must be in the hands of competent men and women. A Committee on Civil Service was added as one of the standing committees of the general federation and it was not long until each state, as well as some of the city federations, had its civil service committee.

While individual clubs have continued to report that this movement proceeded slowly owing to the insistence of many women that civil service work meant politics, an ever-increasing number of women, whether they believe in women entering politics themselves or not, have felt that they must agitate for proper responsibility on the part of those chosen as guardians of every interest the women have developed.

While insisting upon proper civil appointments, women 337have not been indifferent to the need for trained men and women for public service. The Women’s Auxiliary of the Civil Service Reform Association and the New York Bureau of Municipal Research have taken up the problem of a closer relation of the public educational system and public service with a view to the development of the training for public service in municipal schools and colleges.

Naturally such movements do not ignore the opportunities for women in the public service and the necessity of providing adequate training for them. Indeed the work of women in bureaus of municipal research in New York and elsewhere is an evidence of the desire on the part of women for training in public service and demonstrates woman’s ability to adapt herself to the requirements of that training. The New York Bureau has had nineteen women in the two and a half years of its existence and its last report (1914) tells of their assignments and the positions they now fill. As city positions are generally accorded first to men, their present offices are no final estimate of comparative efficiency. The “Budget and the Citizen” by Mary Sayles and “Helping School Children” by Elsa Denison are two of the noteworthy contributions of the New York Bureau. Finally, it is to a woman, Mrs. E. H. Harriman, that the Training School for Public Service connected with the Bureau owes its origin.

With woman’s interest awakened to every need of modern municipal life and her mind trained to do high and efficient public service, may we not look forward with firmer confidence to the day when Mayor Baker’s dream shall be fulfilled:

“The patriot’s dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.”


1. This movement, however, is by no means recent. One of the most exciting school campaigns in a great city was waged by the Civic Club of Philadelphia, a reform organization of women, nearly twenty years ago, in 1895. The story of that campaign is told in a pamphlet edited by Mrs. Talcott Williams and printed as a publication of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

2. New York Times.

3. Bulletin of Public Education Association.

4. The American Club Woman.

5. Annual Report of the Women’s Municipal League.

6. This question is still pending.

7. New York Evening Post.

8. The American City.

9. U. S. Dept. of Labor, Children’s Bureau—Infant Mortality Series.

10. The Survey.

11. The American Club Woman.

12. The American Club Woman.

13. Lenora Austin Hamlin in The St. Paul Courant.

14. The Survey.

15. The American Club Woman.

16. After hearing her once, a large group of working women in New York City eagerly offered to pay $1.00 apiece for a course of lectures.

17. The American City.

18. The Survey.

19. The American City.

20. The American City.

21. The American City.

22. The American Club Woman.

23. The Survey.

24. The American Club Woman.

25. From a paper read at the Recreation Congress in Richmond, Va., May, 1913, and printed in The American City.

26. The American Club Woman.

27. The American City.

28. The Survey.

29. The Survey.

30. The American Club Woman.

31. National Municipal Review.

32. National Municipal Review.

33. See Housing Conditions in Chicago, VI. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. XVIII, p. 241.

34. Annual report of the Consumers’ League.

35. The Survey.

36. From circular sent out by Committee on Women as Overseers of the Poor.

37. Report of the Consumers’ League.

38. The Survey.

39. The Survey.

40. “Pensions for Mothers” by Edward T. Devine, The Survey, July 5, 1913, p. 457.

41. The Survey.

42. The Survey.

43. An interesting development in this protection of child life is the desire being expressed by groups of women that children born out of wedlock shall be protected as well as the children of married mothers. The International Council of Women, in its convention last June, stated the position of such women clearly when it said: “There is no such thing as an illegitimate child.”

44. The Board of Directors consists of: Chairman, James H. Tufts, Illinois Association for Labor Legislation; Vice-Chairman, Mrs. Arthur Aldis, Visiting Nurses’ Association; Secretary, E. T. Lies, United Charities of Chicago; Treasurer, Charles L. Hutchinson, Corn Exchange Bank, Chicago; Executive Officer, James Mullenbach; Jane Addams, Gertrude Howe Britton, Rudolph Matz, Sherman C. Kingsley, Minnie F. Low, James Minnick and W. R. Stirling.

45. The Survey.

46. Parole and probation are so similar in purpose that no distinction will be made here between the two functions. Women figure as parole officers in women’s and children’s institutions just as they figure as probation officers in the courts. The Los Angeles district of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs has established a Psychopathic Parole Society for the “prevention of insanity and to secure homes for unfortunate women confined in Patton, many of whom were fit to be discharged and others rightly and justly able to be paroled if right homes could be found.”

47. The American City.

48. The Survey.

49. The American Club Woman.

50. The American City.

51. The American City.

52. The American City.

53. The American City.

54. For further important statistics see The National Municipal Review.


  1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
  2. Retained anachronistic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.