Richard Theodore Ely to Jane Addams, August 3, 1906


August 3, 1906.

Miss Jane Addams,
Hull House,
335 South Halsted Street,
Chicago, Illinois.

My dear Miss Addams:--

I have written to W. D. P. Bliss of the American Institute for Social Service, 287 Fourth Avenue, New York City, in regard to the collection of papers left by Mr. McNeill, asking that they should be given to the University of Wisconsin. In reply I have received a letter of which I enclose a copy. You will observe that according to the will of Mr. McNeill the papers were to go to the university which could make the best use of them. If you feel that this is the University of Wisconsin, will you not immediately write to Mr. Bliss and tell him so?

Of course it is impossible to claim that my position is one of impartiality. There are, however, several reasons why it seems to me that an impartial person knowing the circumstances would feel that the papers should go to Wisconsin, as I believe that Mr. McNeill would, were he alive.

First of all may be mentioned the great interest that we have already shown in the subject of the labor [page 2] movement; and apart from myself, the quality of the men who are doing work with us. We have Professor Commons and Dr. T. S. Adams. Dr. Adams with Miss Sumner wrote the book "Labor Problems" which has met with so much favor. Miss Sumner is also working with us and working very efficiently. We have also with us a young man, viz., Mr. John B. Andrews, who is extremely interested in this movement and is making sacrifices to help us in it. We have furthermore a very large number of students and capable ones. I enclose a list of Wisconsin graduate students who have recently received appointments. Just notice in addition to the large number, that they are located in every part of the United States, showing how influences radiate from the Department of Political Economy in this institution. While I would not mention it publically, to you I would say that they could not exhibit any list like this at the Johns Hopkins, or even anything approximately like it.

While I cannot speak about my qualifications to do the work that I have undertaken, it may not be altogether improper to refer to the long period of time during which I have been interested in the labor movement, and also to the fact that I spoke out my opinion very freely at a time when it cost more to take a stand than it does now.

Possibly I should say something about the relations [page 3] of our work to the Crerar Library, to which I disposed of my collection some time ago. At the time that I disposed of my collection to the Crerar, I did not think that we would have funds to go on with our work as we have done; and as at that time it did not appear probable that we could add to the collection properly at Madison and keep it up, it seemed to me best to let it go to the Crerar, and to commit the Crerar to the purchase of further books along with this line. The fund that was put in my hands subsequently entirely changed the situation. We have been collection at Madison very vigorously, and at the present time in the general interest Madison would be a better place for the collection than the Crerar, as we have a large number of workers here, and I think our collection is already better than the Crerar. Our collection is also being improved far more rapidly than the Crerar is. We still have the use of all the books with which I parted to the Crerar, as one of the conditions was that they should be sent to us at any time that we might desire to use them.

I would add that we could make the desired appropriations of which Mr. Bliss speaks in his letter.

Trusting that you can help us, I remain,

Faithfully yours,

(2 Enclosures)