Report on Exhibits on Housing of the Working Class, Louisiana Purchase Exposition Commission, February 8, 1906


Group 136, Miss Jane Addams, Hull House, Chicago, Ill., Juror.

Under the group heading "Housing of the working classes" the five classes into which it was divided represented: Building and sanitary regulations, erection of improved dwellings by employers, erection of improved dwellings by private efforts, erection of improved dwellings by public authorities, general efforts for betterment of housing conditions.

Miss Addams says in her report as group juror of the above:

From the nature of the exhibits in this department it is difficult to divide the work of women from that of men, for, although the erection of dwellings by public authorities, as in London, was naturally done through men who were members of the London County Council, and while the model dwellings erected by large employers, such as those built by Mr. Cadbury, at Port Sunlight, England, or by the Krupp Company, in Germany, were naturally carried through altogether by men, the earliest efforts for amelioration in housing conditions, and in many cases the initiatory measures for improved dwellings, have been undertaken by women.

The activities of Octavia Hill, in London, preceded by many years the governmental action, and there is no doubt that the creditable showing she was able to make on the financial as well as on the social and educational side had much to do with making the movement for better housing popular in London. The efforts of Fraulein Krupp in connection with the model housing at Essen are also well known, although, of course, this was not indicated in the Krupp exhibit.

Of the five grand prix which were given for general achievements disconnected with exhibits, only one was awarded to a woman, that to Miss Octavia Hill, although a silver medal was also awarded to Frau Rossbach, of Leipzig, Germany. Two gold medals were given to American enterprises in model housing which were carried on almost exclusively by women -- one to the Boston Cooperative Society, which was founded and largely directed by Mrs. Alice Lincoln, and one to the Octavia Hill Association, of Philadelphia.

On the whole, the special work of women in connection with housing showed most satisfactory results in "rent collecting," which has become a dignified profession for many English ladies who conscientiously use it as a means of moral and educational uplift to those [page 2] most in need of sustained and continuous help. Improvements in housing conditions are so closely connected with the rate of mortality among little children, with the chances for decency and right living among young girls, with the higher standards and opportunities for housewives, that it has naturally attracted the help of women from the beginning of the crowded tenement conditions which unhappily prevail in every modern city.