Address to the Woman's City Club of Chicago, January 29, 1917

REEL 47_1436.jpg
REEL 47_1437.jpg
REEL 47_1438.jpg

Miss Addams said:

I feel very much as if the welcome were turned around, and I thank you very kindly. I imagine this little address of welcome which I have been asked to make is to welcome the new departure in the Club, meaning that its rooms will be kept open every evening and a closer connection will be made between the various groups of women in the community.

In the early days of sociology, a thing which is not so old -- or rather, is so old that I can remember its beginnings, we used to say that the men were more democratic than the women because they had the advantage of political life; that however much they might tend to go into business and social groups during a great part of the year, they were rudely jarred at election time, in the spring, in the fall and sometimes in the winter, and were made to remember that no set of men could do anything in a State without the help of all other sets and groups of men; and so were jarred out of a tendency to group, and were made to realize that the State belonged to all and that they could not accomplish anything unless all pulled together. Now, I imagine something of that sort is happening to the voting women of Chicago, and that the Woman's City Club is in a sense an expression of that experience; that while there are [page 2] many things which working women need, we may say better fire protection in factories (I am sure Miss Nestor will agree to this) and better ventilation in basements of the department stores and so forth and so on, there are not enough of them, although there are so many working women in an industrial city like this, unless they have an interest and [cooperation] with a great many other types of men and women; but they cannot get that interest and [cooperation] unless there is an understanding of their needs with the sense of obligation and fellowship, which can only come after it is cultivated during all the months between elections. And that is what the Woman's City Club will do when there is opportunity to know the people who are urging special needs and to know these needs with the sense of personality which comes when you know the people who are to be affected by given changes in laws or ordinances of the city. One could take, of course, the same thing with professional women, what a hard time they have had; in many ways more difficult than that of business women or working women -- who felt that they were needed in the factories and offices, -- difficulty of having nurses put on the public pay roll. Many of you remember, both in regard to the Board of Health and School nurses. The difficulties of women attorneys and judges -- we have only, I was going to say, half a judge now, but she is worth so much more than that that I don't like to call her half a judge, in spite of the many years women have practiced at the bar. All those things will right themselves only if there [page 3] is understanding and energy put back of them and more and more I am convinced that we don't get the right sort of energy and understanding unless there is genuine intercourse between the various groups in the community who represent the needs which are in the field. And so I welcome -- I do not know exactly whom I welcome, but I welcome the new departure in the Woman's City Club which has made it more possible than it ever has been before for the various groups and sorts of women to understand each other's needs through personal acquaintance and through lectures, which we hope will not be too dry, and through a presentation of the things which the city needs; and perhaps it is the best flowering out of our new power as voters that we are doing this so early in the game. When men voted they were for a long time more or less frankly, I suppose, self-seeking, often for themselves, then for the various groups they represented. And the vote came to the women very soon after there had been this tremendous awakening all over the country, almost all over the world, and so we have a great advantage in taking hold of it at this moment of enthusiasm, for better cities and better living conditions, and if we pull together, as we seem inclined to do at this moment in the Woman's City Club in a very remarkable way, there is no telling what we may not accomplish for the City of Chicago.

Item Relations


Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>