Richard Theodore Ely to Jane Addams, December 4, 1903


December 4, 1903.

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

My dear Miss Addams,

When I saw you last I spoke to you about my desire to secure a considerable sum of money to defray the cost of an investigation of the labor movement in this country.  I mentioned the name of Miss Helen Culver as a possible contributor.  You seemed to feel that there was some hope in [that] direction.  Since I saw you I have made some progress.  I have just returned from New York City where I met Mr. V. Everit Macy, who said that he would be glad to contribute ten thousand dollars ($10,000) out of the thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) which would be needed to carry out my plans.  I have some reason to think that I know where the final ten thousand dollars ($10,000) can be secured if I can get the second ten thousand.  I shall be glad to have your advice before going any further.  Do you feel that the significance of the work can be brought out in such a way as to appeal to Miss Culver?  Would you advise me to write directly to her myself and ask for an appointment? I want, if possible to bring this matter to a conclusion this month. Can you tell me whether Miss Culver is at Lake Forest or in Chicago now, and if in Chicago where?  Do you know any other person who might be interested?  Of course I would not desire to divert any interest or funds from Hull House. [page 2]

I think that you understand the proposition, and the significance of what I have in mind.  I am sure that Mr. Hooker does because he described admirably the idea of such a work in an editorial which he wrote a few years ago. The title which I have in mind is "The History of Industrial Democracy in America,"--a title, by the way, which I hit upon long before the appearance of the Webbs' book, but, at any rate this would be sufficiently distinctive.  I have something broader in mind than the book mentioned ↑[by illegible]↓.  My idea is an investigation from Colonial times up to the present of efforts, particularly organized efforts, to uplift the masses.  The investigation would include as a prominent feature labor organizations, but it would also take in the early communistic settlements.  I would wish to give particular attention to the years preceding the Civil War, when a great wave of ↑enthusiasm↓ sentiment for the uplifting of the masses swept over the country, influencing profoundly such men as Horace Greeley, Dana, ↑Geo. William Curtis, Ripley↓ etc.  Above everything else I would want to make the work as accurate as possible and this implies a great deal of labor.  My idea is to associate with myself two other persons as the principal workers.  It would also be necessary to have some subordinate workers.  This would involve expense and there would also be some expense involved in travel.  The importance of doing this work at once is due in part to the fact that there are here and there still living some of the actors in important events of the past but they are rapidly passing away.  The importance of having the work fall into the right hands is also sufficiently obvious.

The work would be an important one both scientifically and practically.  It seems to me that its scientific significance alone would be sufficient to justify it. Practically it would enable us to [page 3] see where we stand in our efforts to secure industrial democracy.  Such an exposition should enable us to avoid ↑some mistakes involving↓ a great deal of suffering in the future, and, at the same time, the work, if properly carried out, should reveal some of the lines for constructive work.

I have seen Mr. Brett, the President of the Macmillan Company, and I think that he will be willing to cooperate to the extent of publishing the work at his own risk and expense.  In some previous investigations, notably that of Booth in London, the expense of publication has been large.  I think, ↑[illegible] the rest↓ by the way, that a general work of this kind should preceed special investigations like those of Mr. Booth.  It shows the significance and perpares the way for them.  The need for such ↑a general [work preceeding]↓ special investigations is shown by the fact that as yet less than one hundred sets of Booth's work have been sold in this country.  Mr. Brett tells me that he does not know of any work which is more needed at the present time.

May I not hear from you at once, and know what you think of this work?  If it seems worthwhile, I should like to go to Chicago next week and see Miss Culver.

Sincerely yours,