Richard Theodore Ely to Jane Addams, December 23, 1907


Madison, Wisconsin, December 23, 1907.

My dear Miss Addams:

It has been proposed to transfer the seat of our Association to this part of the country and to make Chicago and Madison the center of its activities. Probably the seat would be Madison as it could be informally connected with public offices here like the Legislative Reference Library and the Labor Bureau. Dr. Charles McCarthy is at the head of the former and Professor Max O. Lorenz is Deputy Labor Commissioner. It is so in line with their work that they could, I think, with propriety, give it office room and use to some extent their office force in its work. There would seem to be no such facilities in Chicago.

To transfer the seat of this Association to our part of the country would be a stimulus to all our other activities if its work were properly developed. I wonder if you know that the first international treaty in the interests of labor in the world's [page 2] history -- that between France and Italy in 1905 -- came into existence through the International Association of which our Association is the American Section. It is just in this way that, according to your own ideas, world peace must come.

The East has always assumed as a mere matter of course that the seat of all such national societies must be in the East, and that the majority of members of the Executive Committee must be found in the East; so that those in our part of the world who wish to participate in their Councils must go East. As a result, there is something of a congestion of such activities in the East and almost none in the West. (I speak of course of societies operating on a national scale.) While this may have been necessary formerly, I do not think it is any longer.

The Eastern men say that the majority of those interested in societies of this sort live in the East and that the great bulk of the contributors to their finances are found in the East. We are, in a way, in a vicious circle. We do not have the real, substantial interest in the West that the Eastern people do, and one reason for this is that such societies are so generally located there; and, on the other hand, we cannot have the societies here because the interest is in the East.

Can we not change all this? May we not count on your active [cooperation]? I know how busy you are, but this Association is of so much importance that perhaps you will feel that you could well place it high among your activities as it will help the other things that you are interested in if properly developed. It will be [page 3] necessary to find members in our part of the world and also financial support; for, if we make the move, we must not allow the work to be carried on in a weak and indifferent way. The East would look upon the move as a sort of experiment.

As the annual meeting takes place so soon, may I not hear from you at an early date?

I enclose a sketch of the American Association, although you are so familiar with this work.

Faithfully yours,


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