"WE MUST GO MAN HUNTING"
A Mine of Undiscovered Wealth in the Immigrant, Declares Miss Addams, Most Noted of Settlement House Workers.
"A MINE of gold, an undiscovered Eldorado of intellect, lies unworked in this great United States. An unused Aladdin's lamp remains on the cobwebbed shelves of the nation, and strangely, no one seems to have discovered the wonders to be evoked by the magic rub.
"A new art, a new literature, a broader, deeper spiritual outlook are latent in this country, and yet we go to Europe for our art, our literature, our music, and our philosophy. Why? Because we neglect our foreign population.
These words were spoken in a singularly soft yet vibrantly earnest voice -- the voice of a woman dressed in gray, with a face softened by the beauty of tenderness and hair becoming silvered by time. From the face glowed eyes magnetic and prophetic. Miss Jane Addams, of Hull House, Chicago, never spoke more intensely.
May Be the Founders of a Famous Family.
An arraignment of America for neglecting its alien population and its ruthless exploitation of them in the crudest fields of labor; an affirmation of the wonders of intellect and spiritual possibilities of the men put to digging ditches and working in stockyards, which, by culture, might brighten the national horizon -- this was her subject.
"We must go man-hunting," she said. "Inspired with a spirit of adventure, we must get among the foreigners, learn their customs, ideas, and ways. We must give to them -- and they will give to us."
WHY NOT STUDY FOREIGNERS?
"Americans go to Europe to study art, to study language, to study music," Miss Addams declared. "Why not do it here? Why not get among the foreigners, mix with them personally, get in contact with them socially?
"Yet Americans hold them at a distance; they look down upon them from their lofty position; they make them feel the sense of aloofness. How many, indeed, of our intelligent, educated Americans go into the foreign quarters of our big cities? How much do you know of them? They are as distant and little known to most persons as the Hebrides.
"We should get in touch with them, on a large scale. [Today] we are turning most of our immigrants, without discrimination, into laborers; instead of utilizing their genuine qualities in digging out their intellectual gold, in discovering the genius and developing the latent talent -- whether it be for music, painting, or any other -- we are turning these foreigners into diggers of ditches, street sweepers, stockyard [employees], and putting them to manual labor of a low grade.
"Americans are only just waking up to the value and importance of the men and women who make up the foreign population of our cities."
What is to be done with the foreigners? ask the sociologists. Send them to farming, answer some; put them in the mines, say others. Already, it is charged, they have caused a reduction in wages; already the wheels are becoming clogged. Armies toil [today] in the fields, in the mines, in the streets, constructing railroads, digging tunnels. And still armies remain unemployed.
And of the children -- what shall be done with them? Educate them? Cultivate their talents? Encourage them in art? Put them at music? Expect of them contributions to the great work and thought of the intellectual world?
A startling solution. Yet, sane, logical, the ultimate and most satisfactory solution, believes Miss Addams.
"America is without a native art, a native music, a native spiritual outlook," she declares. "It is precisely these which the foreign colonies, hemmed in and isolated in our midst, could give to us, if we would but assimilate them, make them of ourselves. We must go man-hunting.
"This country is content with a foreign music, with an imported dramatic art, a sculpture and an architecture that were the creations of antiquity. Here is a great nation; here are great possibilities. Here we should rear a distinct, new, original, wonder music, drama, art, architecture of our own. We must go man-hunting.
From Such as these Miss Addams Expects Much.
"We must go among the foreign colonies and make of every man a genuine American citizen. We must go among them and instill patriotism in the hearts of the children."
How is this to be done? What method should be adopted? Miss Addams suggests:
And the method must be individual effort.
"Such an assimilation of the foreigners would give a great depth and quality to our life. This reciprocal relation would help them; it would open to us a vast storehouse of unused material."
From contact with the foreigners during many years of settlement work Miss Addams has had opportunity to observe their capabilities. Much native ability is not used, but buried in the grosser tasks which are taken up through necessity.
"American art is fostered from the outside. With the Italian it is a natural expression. An Italian workman will carve the woodwork about his door, something that would not occur to an American. His impulse is artistic. Surely it would be well if Americans absorbed this spirit.
"Among the Slavs and Russians there is a native talent for music. Among the Russians there is an impulse toward literature, and in New York many Russians have made notable contributions to the drama. The Jews possess great intellect, an ability for abstract discussions, an interest in the problems of life; their talent for taking up the theoretical side of life would not be bad for practical Americans.
"Take, for instance, the Italians in California. There they have small farms and gardens; these are pretty, artistic, filled with flowers; the farmers raise silkworms; their lives are beautiful. In their schools they produce the Greek dramas, such as the 'Ajax' of [Sophocles].
"We are attempting in American cities a strange experiment. We accept it as a matter of course that it has been humanitarian to domesticate animals, and we have taken every means to improve the life of animal and plant.
"But travel in the great congested foreign colonies in our cities, and you will see there the remarkable experiment of bringing up human beings without the care and attention we pay to animals and plants.
"With this same care we could get from the immigrant in time a native drama, a native song, a native music, and we could improve our social and industrial order incalculably."
These theories of Miss Addams may appear to be those of the enthusiast, the dreamer. But the shops of Hull House are pointed out as an evidence of their practical application. The story of how Miss Addams started the shop work and crafts is interesting.
An Italian workman, who, in his native country, had been a wood carver, lived in the congeted foreign district, close to Halsted street, Chicago. His house was unattractive; to give it some semblance of beauty he applied himself during his leisure hours to carving the front door of the dwelling.
The landlord heard of this and became inflamed at what he declared was a wanton defacement of good lumber. He ordered the man to pay for the door or vacate the house, and stormed at what was a really artistic and beautiful effort. His prosaic mind saw in it only vandalism.
Miss Addams, who heard of the incident, saw differently. She visited the landlord and succeeded in pacifying him. "Why," she said to a helper at Hull House, "should Americans go abroad and admire to quaint native crafts of those lands, and when at home fail to appreciate, nay, overlook or ridicule them?"
Miss Jane Addams, the Noted Social Worker.
And then the thought occurred to her: "Why should not these craftsmen, who work so prettily in their own lands, continue to work here instead of going to the factories or mills or sweeping streets? Surely our life is unromantic and prosaic enough, and the glamour of foreign romance and artistic fancy might well transfigure an age and country so commercialized and destitute of art."
Miss Addams, the noted Social Worker.
Among the people with whom she came in contact Miss Addams discovered a Syrian woman who was adept with the spinning wheel of her native land; an Irish woman who could make of the raw flax beautiful woven linen; a number of potters who could turn the potter's wheel and evolve peculiarly beautiful pots, and metal workers and designers whose work was characterized by the originality and warm fancy of their native lands.
These people were hired -- and the crafts of Hull House were begun.
Instead of going to the factories, the foreign children should learn the arts of their parents. Already Miss Addams found that they had become tainted with the cold, practical American spirit, and were losing their native love of the simple and beautiful. But she persevered, and [today] the shops of Hull House are an institution.
A Case in Point -- Malva Klatov as She Arrived and as She Appeared a Year Later.
There is a weavers' room, with all kinds of looms, hand shuttles, and modern jacquards, spindles from Italy, and looms from Japan. And there the young learn the arts of weaving from many lands.
There are shops where quaint pottery is made, where metal working is taught, where young folk design and make artistic books and learn to carve wood. Notable work has been done in metal by the Russians; they make charming filigree work in copper, brass, and silver.
While lectures are given every Saturday evening with demonstrations of hand labors in textiles, every fortnight the members of the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society meet and help the pupils at their work. Children employed as office and errand boys go there during their spare hours and hew and carve in wood or work in metals.
Within a few years they are expert workmen. Instead of driving wagons or running looms or sweeping streets, they utilize their native talent, trained at Hull House, by creating beautiful work for America.
This is Miss Addams' work. She wants the people of America to take it up on a large scale. Will America run this magic lamp, she asks? Will the people go man-hunting?
A unique movement has been started by the Young Men's Christian Association in Philadelphia, with the purpose of familiarizing aliens with the laws and conditions of the United States, finding them employment when necessary, and teaching them their responsibilities as non-citizens and the responsibility of this government toward them.
This is a "Newcomers' Club" to which all aliens are invited. Pamphlets in various languages are sent to the points of embarkation in Europe which tell immigrants facts about the land to which they are sailing and the proper procedure to become American citizens. Representatives of the club meet the ships at the pier as they arrive.
Every two weeks there is a social evening, when refreshments are served. Twice a month lectures are given such as explain to the newcomer the system of government of the country, powers of the officials, and the system of education.
The National Society of the Sons of the Revolution recently issued 1,000,000 pamphlets for distribution among arriving immigrants. These are printed in English, German, French, Yiddish, and Hungarian, and instruct the foreigner about the government, means of naturalization, and other facts of importance.