Democracy and Social Ethics / the Long Road of Woman's Memory / Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy / the Jane Addams Reader / the Selected Papers of Jane Addams, Volume I: Preparing to Lead, 1960-81

By Brown, Victoria Bissell | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Democracy and Social Ethics / the Long Road of Woman's Memory / Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy / the Jane Addams Reader / the Selected Papers of Jane Addams, Volume I: Preparing to Lead, 1960-81


Brown, Victoria Bissell, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


Democracy and Social Ethics. By Jane Addams. Introduction by Charlene Haddock Seigfried (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002. Pp. Xxxviii, 127. Index. Cloth, $24.95, paper, $12.95); The Long Road of Woman's Memory. By Jane Addams. Introduction by Charlene Haddock Seigfried (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002. Pp. Xxxiv, 84. Index. Cloth, $21.95, paper, $10.95); Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy. By Jean Bethke Elshtain (New York: Basic Books, 2002. Pp. Xxii, 328. Ill, notes, index. Cloth, $28.00); The Jane Addams Reader. Edited by Jean Bethke Elshtain (New York: Basic Books, 2002. Pp. Xl, 488. Bib., index. Paper, $20.00); The Selected Papers of Jane Addams, Volume I: Preparing to Lead, 1860-81. Edited by Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Barbara Bair, and Maree de Angury (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003. Pp. Lu, 650. III., notes, bib., index. Cloth, $65.00).

If we need proof that there is a renaissance of interest in Jane Addams, Illinois's favorite daughter, here is a new crop of publications to provide it. Those of us who spend our scholarly lives on Addams have felt the effect of this renaissance already, as we have moved from our isolated offices to lively conferences devoted entirely to papers and discussions on the founder of Chicago's Hull-House in 1889 and the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Addams would applaud the active collaboration that is occurring in the community of scholars who study her life, her work, and her ideology. At our most generous - and the example of Addams stands over us, admonishing us to be generous - we delight in our varying perspectives on Addams, understanding that we bring different expertise to the table, different ideological perspectives, different scholarly priorities. Addams reminds us with the very words and deeds we study, that there is plenty of room at the table for an array of approaches and that every enterprise is enhanced by broad and heterogeneous participation.

Embrace of Addams's enthusiasm for dialogue has never meant, and certainly does not mean today, that harmony is the keynote of Addams scholarship. America's premier pacifist has never been allowed to rest peacefully on her laurels. Those who study her engage in as many debates and disagreements as any group of scholars, and that is not a violation of Addams's ethic of peace. Her pacifism never sought to repress conflict; it sought to construct civilized ways of channeling conflict into productive social ends. Addams scholars must demand that their process be as open to rigorous debate as hers was and as intent as she on using disagreement to build sturdier solutions to our shared problems of evidence and interpretation.

The works on Addams under review here invite consideration of two current topics of interest among Addams scholars: the philosophical discipline informing her public work and words, and the relationship between her lived experience, her artistic use of memory, and her evolution as a political actor. Charlene Seigfried directly addresses both issues in her introductory essays to re-publications of two Jane Addams books, Democracy and Social Ethics (1902) and The Long Road of Women's Memory (1916). Questions of ideology, memory, and biography are also discernible in Jean Bethke Elshtain's book-length rumination on Addams, Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy, and in Elshtain's selection of Addams's writings in The Jane Addams Reader. Readers seeking to develop their own views on these and other questions about Addams now have available to them, thanks to the University of Illinois Press, the original texts that Seigfried has introduced as well as a new edition of Peace and Bread in Time of War (1922), introduced by Katherine Joslin, and the first volume of The Selected Papers of Jane Addams: Preparing to Lead, 1860-1881 edited by Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Barbara Bair, and Maree de Angury.

Appearing at the start of the twenty-first century, this small library marks the end of one period in Jane Addams scholarship and the beginning of another. …

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