James Edward West to Jane Addams, July 5, 1910



July 5, 1910

Miss Jane Addams,
President, Hull House,
Chicago, Illinois.

My dear Miss Addams:-

I do not know whether you had a chance to see the use made of your letter and my efforts to increase the attendance at the National Conference. I enclose you a page from the Delineator herewith for your information. For the August number I have prepared a page as per proof herewith.

Both Mr. Dreiser and myself are particularly interested in the problem of the widow and her children and we are alike impressed with the soundness of your position in this matter. Mr. Dreiser has requested me to obtain from you if possible an article for publication at an early date in our magazine under the title of "The Widow and her Children", to contain about four thousand words and to set forth the conditions as they actually exist today with some statistics if possible. The article might show the attitude of the general public, its indifference from lack of acknowledge and incidentally discuss the economic and social loss to the States. Mr. Dreiser has authorized me to say that he will pay any price which you think reasonable. I see no reason why I should not let you have his letter to me on the subject. If I can furnish you with any further information as an outline I would be happy to do so.

You will recall that sometime ago you tentatively promised at some time to help me in my efforts by contributing an article and I sincerely hope for many reasons that you can see your way clear to do this at this time. Both Mr. Dreiser and myself appreciate how extremely busy you are and for that reason are willing to pay a suitable compensation. [page 2]

We have been making tremendous headway in our campaign, trying to keep in mind at all times that what our readers need is education and from time to time we have evidence of results which are very encouraging. In addition to the thousands of children we have directly helped into homes and the great stimulus we have given to home placing work in all of the States, we believe we have helped to mold public sentiment in some communities so as to bring about more sane laws with reference to children.

In our vast correspondence there is nothing that has appealed to us so strongly as this problem of the widow and her children. The idea of the State in the name of charity taking children from mothers of good character suffering from temporary misfortune and fairly well able to work, and confining them in an institution or even boarding them in someone else's home seems most unnecessary and in many instances real cruel. If the people of the various States could realize more clearly just what has been done in Massachusetts and other progressive communities in handling this problem it would do great good. We know of no one who can impress the public on the subject as strongly as yourself and I sincerely hope my dear Miss Addams that you can see your way clear to favorably respond at this time. I am so anxious about the matter that I would be very grateful if you could send me a telegram collect upon the receipt of this letter giving your answer. The time for the delivery of the article and the price can be settled later. Please let me hear from you by wire.

Very sincerely,

James E. West [signed]