Anna Garlin Spencer to Jane Addams, November 28, 1919


7 High St White Plains N.Y.

Nov. 28, 1919

Dear Miss Addams

I am not sure whether I wrote you after seeing Mrs. Hull and Mrs Lewis in a second conference at Phila. I was much pressed while there and may have written what I now do not recall. At any rate I will tell the present conditions and hope to get your word of advice or much better receive it directly if you can come to the Board Meeting the 4th of December in New York.

Mrs Hull and Mrs Lewis had, I found, changed their minds about the headquarters ad were willing to welcome a Phila. office. They had in mind someone who might be secured who would they said be ideal if she could be had. They agreed to come to the Board meeting with exact possibilities of an office, a person suitable for Ex. Sec. if such could be secured, and a required budget for office expenses, as a possibility, if Phila. were chosen for headquarters.

I arranged while in Phila. for an early meeting with Mrs Karsten and she spent the day at my house Tuesday Nov. 25. She told me, what I had not understood before, that she did not intend to return to Hull House before April 1st and was holding herself free for a possible alignment with the labor movement. She also said that she would gladly give half-time, or less if that sufficed, to the Ex. Sec. work of the Section for U.S. of W.I.L.P.F. if the headquarters were in N.Y., not otherwise. Also that in her opinion there was not and might not be need for more than half-time work for such a body judging from her experience. She also said that she had held the work of the national body entirely distinct from that of the local in Chicago and thought she might do so here [although] it might be harder to accomplish.

This gives us alternate plans for the Dec. 4th meeting; one Phila., necessitating whole time work, a years engagement, and definite plans for my spending a part of each month there and working the rest of [page 2] the business from my home: -- the other New York, with office engagement for the year, but with ↑Ex. Sec.↓ budget for two to four months with Mrs. Karsten for the testing time and I able to spend time each week and do all work from office.

There are advantages in each plan. I should like your judgement on it. My own feeling is so strong that this is a trial of whether there can be merely a national com. with a national membership for its support as a backing of the International office, or whether there can be in addition a national body for national work for international ends, -- that the aid of Mrs. Karsten for two to four months seems to me so desirable that my own opposition to a New York office does not longer weigh against that unique advantage. Yet I still see some obvious advantages in the Friendly background which the Phila. headquarters would so publicly give.

I am finding out about possibilities of office in New York where the background would be protective of the International League from local misunderstanding, if that is possible. The fringe of women's interest in peace has not been touched in New York City or Brooklyn from the conservative side. I do not know that it can be after what has been in the papers associated with the local "Women's International League" but of course effort should be made in that direction if it is desired to have a broadly based women's movement for international work in the U.S. If, on the other hand, only the most radical element, radical feminine and radical peace, be desired in order the better to fit in with the radical International leaders, then the friendly backing, even if too exclusive for popular appeal, would be an aid to balance and sanity. I have an open mind and ↑am↓ willing to be helpful under either set of conditions. I should in any case have to personally organize the office at Phila., since a new person would be [page 3] unable to do so. The activities of the office must revolve around my effort to test main question; national Com. only ↑for international support,↓ or National organization also for national work.

My suggestions for program of national work, if the latter should be seriously attempted is the following: --

I. Circularize with special letter all the national members and the members of branches so far as they can be got at for support of a national reorganization for

A. Help in Fight the Famine Crusade

B. ↑To↓ Try to permeate the new Americanization movement with a truly international spirit. (Local conditions to determine method)

C. ↑To↓ Aid the movement for compulsory physical training, free medical examinations, public hospital care, minus compulsory military drill. (Local conditions to determine local methods)

D. ↑To↓ Study all Bills and propositions looking toward compulsory service to State and Nation on the part of youth in which vocational training is offered with military training, and make strong effort against that military training being made compulsory as a part of such vocational training and public service.

E. ↑To↓ Secure and keep for reference list of international movements in education, labor, science, health etc. in which women are prominent as a help toward broadening national interest in things already accomplished toward the organization of the world. This, in addition of course, to making the national office the special aid, through organic affiliation, of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom with its Headquarters at Geneva.

II. Circularize with different kinds of appropriate appeal, the Women's Clubs; the Councils of Jewish Women and other religious bodies of women; the members of constituent bodies of the National Council of Women with special appeal based on the unanimous endorsement of Resolutions in line with our work at the last Biennial Session; the members of Peace Societies (now so many moribund) to try if the women members can be added to our membership; each group with its own special appeal: --

The circularization should reach the number as a total of first appeals of 10,000 to be a fair test.

As a matter of course there should accompany the national appeal an International appeal from you. The slips of membership of $1.00 to national, and of $5.00 for International, should be separate and to be returned separately if desired, and the cards of membership to be returned should be of different color for easy filing, and the accounts kept so that we could know at any moment how many were international members alone, how many national members alone, and how many members of both organizations.

Another very important part of work native to our cause is the protest against invasion of personal liberty and freedom of speech. I am not sure that this should form an immediate part of our appeal since other agencies are now working for this which we may individually aid. [page 4]

Should it be decided Dec. 4th to undertake such an active campaign for a national organization to do national work of sort indicated and should responses at first be sufficiently favorable I am prepared to speak two of three times a week in this interest and later I hope to make a trip of somewhat wide extent [although] I should try at first nearer home. The preparation of lists of names to which appeals should be sent is the first and a rather heavy duty.

All this I have in mind may be quite premature. It may be that the war has so overwhelmed all of us that only the most radical here and in other countries can or will rally to the cause, and that hence all general work must wait for a more convenient season. If so, we must try only for the work for famine relief which is held respectable by all, and for that of course no such campaign as I have indicated is needed. If that is the decision of the com. of 25 I shall of course be glad to speak at meetings for that purpose and help what I can; but as there are so many others for that work I should not need to give up so much private work and could merely let my name stand for what influence it might have but leave the more active work for our friends, the Friends, to whom so much of relief is already committed and who are so respected in that work. In that case the office at Phila. would be I think an added strengthening of the more sharply specialized work of relief.

I am not at all sure that it is wise to try to really reorganize the national body and increase its power for national work at this time. I am only sure that there are so few to try to find out that I am willing to undertake the adventure if all concerned think it should be undertaken.

Dear Miss Adams, I wish you were coming to N.Y. for the date of our meeting the 4th of Dec. We shall meet at Miss Wald's at her kind invitation. At 10 A.M. If you cannot be there write or wire your advice and we shall value it above all things.

We shall try to get details of letter heads, slips for membership and return cards and office and Ex. Sec. settled in a way that will serve either Com. only or National work as well and shall anticipate getting in line for early beginning by Dec. 8th.

↑What 'twere well to do 'twere well to do quickly"

Yours sincerely↓

Anna Garlin Spencer. [signed]