Statement on Theater Censorship, May 2, 1907 (excerpt)



Decide at City Club Conference to Support Police in Abating Theater Evils.


Will Ask Investigation of Amusements Where Children Are Admitted.

Settlement workers and other sociologists will assist the police squad of dramatic critics under Lieut. Alexander McDonald, which has established a censorship over 5 cent theaters, penny arcades, and other cheap amusement resorts where juveniles are taught depravity.

It was decided to appoint a committee of ten or more men or women interested in reform work to supplement efforts of the police at a conference of the City Club yesterday afternoon.

S. C. Kingsley, president of the Relief and Aid Society, will name this committee within a day or two. Lieut. McDonald, who attended the meeting, thought it would be a good thing.

The conference took no action regarding an ordinance forbidding children under 14 years old to attend the theaters. Judge Julian W. Mack of the Juvenile court, who presided, thought that 12 years might be made the limit, and Miss Jane Addams of Hull House wasn't in favor of the ordinance at all. So the measure will be left to the judgment of the committee.

Decline in Wild Films.

From the film companies that supply the material for the moving pictures the information came in the afternoon that the crusade inaugurated by THE TRIBUNE and seconded by the police had resulted in a great falling off in the local demand for sensational pictures of the objectionable class.

The objects of the conference, as outlined in the beginning, were as follows:

A committee to cooperate with Chief Shippy's censoring bureau.

To recommend the passage of an ordinance prohibiting the attendance of young children at 5 cent theaters unaccompanied by parents or guardians.

To recommend that the administration make an expert investigation of the whole problem of issuing licenses to places of amusement where children are admitted, including a system of regulation, record, and report.

Social Workers Are Present.

Among those present were Mrs. Gertrude Howe Britton of Hull House; Graham Taylor of the Chicago Commons; Lester W. Bodine, superintendent of compulsory education; Miss Minnie Law of the Bureau of Public Service; T. D. Hurley, president of the Visitation and Aid Society; Mrs. R. B. Ennis, probationary officer of Evanston; T. C. MacMillan, president of the Children's Helping Society; George Hooker, secretary of the City Club; Allen T. Burns; the Rev. Herman [Page]; and fifteen or twenty others.

Somebody introduced the ordinance prohibiting children from attending theaters, and it at once provoked a debate.

"I am not in favor of it," said Miss Addams. "We already have too many ordinances that are not enforced. What is needed is regulation of the theaters. They are useful in providing a place of amusement for those who cannot go to the regular theaters and can be made instructive. Police regulation, supplemented by the efforts of a citizen's committee, will overcome any evil influences."