National History Day: Debate and Diplomacy

With the generous support of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the Jane Addams Papers Project and the Teacher Education program at Ramapo College of New Jersey, the Jane Addams Papers Project has developed this guide for teachers and students participating in National History Day.

As a general theme, debate and diplomacy offers a way to analyze both domestic and international topics dealing with human relations. Political topics lend themselves well to this topic, but are not the only ones that you can work on. Jane Addams was known for her diplomatic skills in her work with the suffrage movement, city politics, social reform, and the peace movement. A leader in Progressive politics, Addams was a popular speaker who used debate to build public support for progressive reforms. Another form of debate can be found by looking at letters Addams received from people who disagreed with her ideas or suggested different solutions for problems. Good examples of Addams’ diplomacy and debates over the best course of action are found in documents on the woman suffrage movement and the peace movement.

Jane Addams used her diplomatic skills as an advocate for peace even before the outbreak of World War I, but it was in the early years of the war that she entered the debate over the United States’ role in the conflict. Addams allied with other women, both in the United States and abroad to call for a start of peace negotiations. She led the International Congress of Women held at The Hague in 1915, negotiated with world leaders, and sought a more rational, diplomacy-based means of settling national disputes. Her work helped influence the League of Nations and she was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for it in 1931.

In the Jane Addams Digital Edition you will find letters, speeches, articles, and other documents that illuminate this year's themes. We have highlighted a few research topics to get you started, but you can find other topics, subjects, and events that will also fit the theme.

Happy researching!


Renee DeLora, Christina Dwyer, Michael Romano