Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081 U.S.A.

 

 

 

J A N E A D D A M S COLLECTION

Papers, 1838-date
(bulk 1880-1935)
 

 

Provenance

The Jane Addams papers of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection (SCPC) comprise one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Addams material in the world.

Jane Addams gave two boxes of material to the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College in October 1930, at the recommendation of Lucy Biddle Lewis, a member of Swarthmore College's board of managers. As Lewis related in 1935 to Ellen Starr Brinton, the first curator of the SCPC: "I was visiting Miss Addams at Hull-House and one day found her industriously burning papers in her fireplace and casually asked her about them. 'I have been many places and seen many people and lots of letters have come to me. Some are important internationally. I do not know what to do with them and rather than leave them to go into the hands of disinterested persons I am burning them,' said Miss Addams. I was horrified and quickly thought of the Historical Library at Swarthmore which my family had helped build, so thought I could offer space there. I told Miss Addams we would care for them and that she should send to Swarthmore whatever she wanted to have preserved."

There is no record of when such a visit might have taken place. But Swarthmore was also brought to Addams' attention by personnel of WILPF. Mary Louise Marriott wrote to Addams on July 17, 1929: "As no doubt Miss Detzer has told you, we are moving the National Office on August 1st to #8 Jackson Place NW. At this time the Swarthmore College Library is going to take over our old files and keep them as our space is so very limited and Miss Detzer would like to know if you wish your files, which you have sent here, packed with the ones to be sent on to Swarthmore, or if they are of such a nature that you would prefer not to do so." Addams replied in 1929: "I would be glad to have any material sent to Swarthmore and hope to add [more? mine?] to it after my return." She wrote to Lucy Biddle Lewis on October 22, 1930: "I sent two boxes of books [and papers?] to Swarthmore yesterday, but I am not sure that they will be of much use.... I am going to add a box of pamphlets that seemed to me worth saving from the mass of stuff that comes along." On December 12, 1931, she wrote to Hannah Clothier Hull: "I am ... sending a lot of peace material [to the library at Swarthmore College] as my final attempt to add to the library."

The first effort at sorting the papers was done in the spring of 1935, under the aegis of Jane Addams. This was interrupted by Addams' death, after which a committee, made up of Lucy Biddle Lewis, Hannah Clothier Hull, Emily Cooper Johnson, and Marie O. Aydelotte, decided the disposition of the collection (the committee was in existence until the summer of 1939). Ellen Starr Brinton reported in November 1935: "When I first went to the Swarthmore Library, my chief object was to find the Addams material.... Miss Addams' papers were all packed in small cardboard boxes. Letters, clippings, printed material and manuscripts [were] all combined together without regard to topic, source or date. At present the complete Addams Collection is as follows: 6 metal file drawers filled with papers and letters arranged ... in chronological order; 1 metal cabinet filled with W.I.L. Congress reports and publications; and 22 small 'book files' packed full of newspaper clippings and some printed material mostly on peace." Addams' original gift, as well as the papers of WILPF, soon became the foundation and inspiration for the present Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

Once the original accessions had been processed, at least in part, Brinton became concerned about the disposition of the rest of the Addams papers. Addams' nephew, James Weber Linn, had begun a biography of her in 1934 (published in late 1935). Before her death, Addams sent him material that she thought would help in this endeavor. She wrote to him on March 08, 1935: "I am sending you some more of those family letters, which I think should be read and destroyed. This is true of some of the others which I am going to send in a file case tomorrow. The case was quite full when it was sent out, and I have destroyed half or two-thirds of them as they seemed much too intimate to be used.... Probably they will best all be destroyed, but they may reveal a certain daily activity which you may wish to know about." When Addams died two months later, she willed him all of her personal papers, and made him responsible for their disposition.

Brinton asked Linn to send this material to Swarthmore, stating over and over that Addams had made such a preference known to her. However, Linn died in 1937 and willed the Addams papers to his wife, Mary Howland Linn, and his two daughters, Jane Rogers and Elizabeth Allen. Linn's heirs decided to give the papers to the Library of Congress, on the recommendation of Grace Abbott and Dr. Sophonisba Breckenridge of the University of Chicago. Breckenridge seriously disagreed with Brinton's claim that Addams wished all of her papers to reside at Swarthmore. She wrote to Hannah Clothier Hull (who had written to her on Brinton's behalf) on April 26, 1940: "We have every reason to think from the talks we had with Miss Addams that she gave to Swarthmore all that she thought should go to Swarthmore.... [A]fter all, the Congressional Library is the place to which scholars go for material in many fields and Miss Addams' work and life touched many aspects of the community organization other than the international or the peace aspect.... Swarthmore is, after all, a college and the scholars who make use of the Congressional Library come from wide ranges of interest and ... academic and scientific achievement. I should perhaps add that while Mr. Linn spoke to us often of his aunt's papers, I never got the impression that he had any thought of depositing the remaining papers at Swarthmore."

Breckenridge was not the only one who thought Brinton should stop lobbying for more Addams' material. Rosika Schwimmer, who had been for many years a colleague of Addams in WILPF, had written to Hannah Clothier Hull on March 13, 1936: "Enclosed I am sending you some material about the plans for a World Center for Women's Archives, which under Mrs. Mary R. Beard's leadership has progressed very far toward its realization. You will see that the high aim of this World Center would be frustrated if we did not make every effort for unity, for centralization of available material.... Miss Addams visited me ... and we discussed the matter of a World Center for Women's Archives, which she considered very desirable.... [E]arly in 1935 ... Miss Addams told me that she had placed part of her material at Swarthmore College, but that she saw the cultural, feminist and pacifist importance of a united center. She said she would hold the material still in her possession for placement in an archive center if that would materialize. She thought in that case of discussing the assembling of all her material if the Swarthmore authorities would also realize the increased educational and historical value of her material if made a part of a collection covering the whole field of women's endeavor, success and failure."

Brinton never lost her belief that Swarthmore College was the best repository for Addams' papers. She and Frank Aydelotte, President of Swarthmore College, tried for ten years to convince the Library of Congress to transfer its materials to the SCPC. Dr. St. George Sioussat, from the Library of Congress, wrote to Aydelotte on January 23, 1940: "I am glad that your letter mentions only the peace material and that of the WILPF.... Do you not think that it would have been better ... that the whole collection, peace and all, should have been, from the beginning, given to the Library of Congress, to take its place along with the papers of other representative women whose collections we have and have exhibited?" Aydelotte responded on January 29, 1940: "Certainly it would not be my policy to advocate keeping manuscripts here which would be more useful in another place, but ... I believe the peace collection planned by Miss Addams for Swarthmore based upon her manuscripts and supported by the Society of Friends is really more useful here than it would be anywhere else. It is the embodiment of a historic Friends testimony, and it is the nucleus of a collection of material connected with the history of organized efforts for peace which could not be entirely duplicated even by the immense resources of the Library of Congress."

Brinton explained to Elizabeth Allen on April 19, 1940: "In regard to Miss Addams' papers - the discussion between President Aydelotte and Dr. Sioussat has been in regard to all her papers. We cannot see how to make a division between her interest in peace and her interest in other subjects, as her whole life was devoted to various causes, all of them connected with friendship and good will toward all people, and this is the basis of the Peace Movement." Allen agreed with this, but it wasn't until 1949, when Addams' great-nephew Eri Hulbert became involved, that the transfer of papers began to look like a reality. He urged his relatives to agree to the arrangement: "Swarthmore, to which Aunt Jane gave some of her papers, has a well established, endowed Swarthmore College Peace Collection as a memorial to Aunt Jane. They have the physical and staff facilities to do a proper job of cataloging, preserving, displaying, etc. The desirability - the necessity - of having the papers in one place from the point of view of research seems to me obvious. The Library of Congress, on the other hand, merely has them stacked in packets and folders."

Hulbert was successful in getting family approval, and at the direction of Librarian of Congress Luther Evans, the Addams papers became the property of the SCPC on January 24, 1950. Brinton picked up the largest portion of papers (101 boxes and 11 volumes) on that date, as well as another portion (41 boxes) on February 06, 1950. Of note were Addams letters to Mary Rozet Smith, printed articles by Addams, manuscripts, diaries, engagement calendars, and photographs.

A less satisfactory development was related to the papers which came from Addams' great-niece, Alice DeLoach. She had become, by 1951, the heir to Jane Addams material not yet in any repository, as well as to extended family material. In April 1951, she loaned to the SCPC two boxes of papers that had been stored in the attic of the Addams' homestead in Cedarville, Illinois. She wrote in May 1951 that she wished this material to stay separate from the rest of the Addams Collection, but Brinton replied that the Addams letters had by then already been integrated, and that she was planning to take 8-10 feet of the remaining material, all related to the Haldeman family, to the Stephenson County Historical Society in Illinois. However, two boxes of extended family correspondence were marked as being on loan only. DeLoach gave permission for the loaned papers to be filmed and asked that this microfilm be henceforth referred to as "The Ellen Starr Brinton Collection of the Jane Addams Family Papers" [see mf reel 1:24-25]. The papers were returned to DeLoach, at her request, in December 1962.

In July 1963, DeLoach requested that she be given a complete set of microfilm of Addams correspondence, in exchange for the 39 letters loaned earlier for microfilming. She was given 19 reels of Addams correspondence, 4 reels with the index to the correspondence, 1 reel of Brinton-DeLoach correspondence, and 1 reel of the 39 letters. In September 1966, DeLoach offered to sell these reels to the SCPC for $153.00, and to loan 40 Addams letters for the purpose of photocopying them to add to the Jane Addams Collection (at $2.00 per letter). This offer was declined. In October 1966, DeLoach wrote that she had given the 40 letters to her daughter as a gift on her 21st birthday (she also gave other items to family members over the years). DeLoach also loaned, donated or sold Addams and Haldeman materials to various repositories around the country, as did her step-mother, Sue Haldeman-Julius.

DeLoach loaned to the SCPC the books in the Union Library, which John Huy Addams and two friends had begun in 1846, but then asked for their return (they eventually became the possession of the Rockford College Library, Illinois).

Outside of these accessions, other material was found to add to the SCPC's Addams Collection (see the accession list in SCPC office file). One of the most significant came from Hull-House in April 1939, being correspondence and other material related to Addams and the Woman's Peace Party. In 1940, a large accession came from WILPF headquarters in Geneva, with many letters from Addams. Brinton visited the Addams' homestead in Cedarville, Illinois in 1949, and secured some family papers, books, and four feet of newspaper clippings, that were being stored in the various buildings on the site. SCPC Curator Mary Carey was invited to Hull-House in 1959 to remove material stored in a closet there (see Series 13a). In 1979, another important gift of 143 Addams' letters and 64 photographs was made by Mary Hulbert, a great-niece of Jane Addams. At some point, Hull-House gave 75 letters that Addams had written to the Lovett family during the years that they had been associated with the settlement. Through the years, other items have been given to the SCPC or bought.

More information about the provenance of the SCPC's Jane Addams Collection may be found in The Jane Addams Papers: A Comprehensive Guide, edited by Mary Lynn Bryan; she also explains the provenance of the papers of Jane Addams that found their way into many repositories around the country.

 

 


 
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For more information contact Wendy Chmielewski, Curator, at wchmiel1@swarthmore.edu or call 610-328-8557.

 


 



This page written by Anne Yoder, Archivist. Last updated January 2005.