National History Day: Conflict and Compromise

With the generous support of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the Jane Addams Papers and 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.

Conflict & compromise is a central theme in interpreting historical events. Conflicts between ideologies, nations, and people are not always negative; while some can lead to war, others lead to greater understanding. Historians examine the multiple perspectives revealed in conflicts and provide a nuanced understanding of how people work through their conflicts. Compromises between groups and individuals can help avoid or settle conflicts. Sometimes compromise leads to permanent change, but other times it is only temporary.

In her work for social reform during the Progressive Era, Jane Addams knew about conflict and compromise. Reformers by nature protest conditions that they see as unjust, coming into conflict with governments, industries, and even public opinion. Addams used speeches, articles, and conferences to publicize issues and work with like-minded reformers to secure change. They had to work with legislatures, governments, and other organizations to reach compromises that turned into legislation. Some of the more important issues Addams focused on were the abolition of child labor and woman suffrage. Addams and other women activists in the U.S. and abroad mobilized to stop World War I and to create a negotiated peace. In so doing they faced accusations of unpatriotic behavior and found their ideas pushed aside.

Sometimes conflict and compromise can play out in the relationships between two people. Jane Addams and Theodore Roosevelt had an interesting relationship. Bothe were Progressive reformers with large public followings, but their ideas on many issues differed. Jane Addams' work for Roosevelt's 1913 presidential campaign, and their later opposition over World War I offer a way to interpret the theme in a more personal manner.

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!

If you are a teacher and would like to provide feedback on this guide, please fill out this form so we can continue to improve the Jane Addams Digital Edition.

If you are a student and would like to provide feedback on this guide, please fill out this form. Thank you!


Renee DeLora, Michael Romano, Christina Dwyer