Biographical Text

This field is used for identifications only.


For people, we enter descriptions in the Biographical Text field. This provides some biographical information about the person so that readers unfamiliar with Progressive figures have some sense of their context in history and in Addams' life. We want to keep these short but factual. Try not to do too much interpretation of the person's role in history. ("He was the 16th president of the United States," not "He was the greatest president the United States ever had.")

Think of it this way; no one should be able to claim that there is opinion in your description.

Most biographies should have one main paragraph, one short personal information paragraph, and (if needed) one paragraph on the person's relationship with Addams.

Paragraph One: Basic biography

  • Start with a summary sentence.
  • What was the person's circumstances of birth: their name (if different)? exceptional background (very wealthy or very poor); mention the country if they were not born in the United States.
  • Education if relevant (more so for women and academics).
  • Provide a general summary of their life, generally chronological.
    • What is this person best known for?
    • What organizations/companies did they work for, what were their roles (member, president, founder, etc.)
  • Are there any major accomplishments or failures that should be highlighted?

Paragraph Two (short!)

  • Did the person marry? Provide the names and dates of marriages, divorces, if possible.
  • Did they have children? (try to name every child — if this is not possible, name all children found and/or provide the number of children they had.)
  • When did they die? Circumstances if remarkable.

Paragraph Three (or more) (only for major correspondents or people mentioned at least 15 times)

* When did they meet Addams?
* Were they Hull-House residents? If so, when?
* What did they work on with Addams?
* What was the nature of the relationship? Did they get along or oppose each other?
* If you need to say a lot and don't want to make a giant paragraph, you can break these up a bit, but try to keep them lean.

Some examples:

Minor figure:

Eldbridge Gerry Hall was a Chicago businessman who owned Keith Brothers, a prosperous retail clothing store in Chicago. He left the business in 1884 and helped establish the Metropolitan National Bank which he led until 1902 when it merged with the First National Bank of Chicago. He also served as President of the Chicago Title and Trust Company from 1902-1905. Keith was active in Chicago affairs, serving with the Board of Education, World Columbian Exposition, the University of Illinois, and the Commercial Banker's Club.

He married Harriet S Hull in 1865 and had six children: Carl Keith, Harold Keith, Stanley Keith, Elbridge Keith, Susie Keith and Bessie Keith Cloney.

Another—in this case, not married:

Jessie Florence Binford was a a social worker. She was a graduate of Rockford College and Smith College who visited Hull-House in the summers before becoming a full-time resident in 1902. While at Hull-House, Binford became the president of the Legal Aid Society and secretary of the Hull-House branch of the Juvenile Protection Association. She dedicated much of her life to working to better conditions for children, women and the poor, working to investigate prostitution, organized crime, and political corruption. Binford was well-known in Chicago for her outspoken support for the fight against drugs. When the city took over the Hull-House campus and evicted the remaining residents, Binford was the last to leave, in 1963.


Mary Louise Marot was a settlement worker. Marot graduated from the University of Chicago in 1894 and worked with the University Settlement while there. After graduation, Marot taught at Miss Porter's School for Girls in Farmington, CT. She opened her own school for girls in Dayton, Ohio with Malvina Howe which operated from 1905-1913. They then moved to Thompson, CT to open the Howe-Marot Junior College and Preparatory School in Thompson, CT. She likely died in 1942.


Mary R. Goulder was a philanthropist involved with a number of Cleveland social and charitable organizations, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames, and the Mayflower Society. She served on the board of Alta House, a Cleveland settlement.

She married attorney Harvey D. Goulder in 1879; they had no children.

If we have very little on a person, mostly from vital records, you can't come up with that much:

The oldest daughter of Elizabeth and Ferdinand Pankonin, Berta contracted tuberculosis and for a time was housed in the Chicago Home for Incurables. She returned to live with her mother, but died of appendicitis shortly after.

If you can't find anything:

No further information about this person has been found.

Really famous people who are tangential to the Addams papers don't need a lot of information:

Alfred Tennyson (First Baron Tennyson) was one of the most popular British poets and Poet Laureate from 1850-1892, during Queen Victoria's reign. He is best known for works like the "Charge of the Light Brigade," and "The Idylls of the King."

Plato was a Classical Greek philosopher whose teachings had a lasting impact on Western religious, philosophical, and scientific development. He was Socrates' student, whose trial and execution he recorded in Apology, and Aristotles' teacher. His most famous writings are Republic and Law. Plato's .

A major correspondent, Roosevelt gets three paragraphs, one general about him and one about his relationship with Addams.

Theodore Roosevelt, the scion of a wealthy New York family, attended Harvard University, and entered into Republican Party politics in New York City in 1881, when he was elected to the State Assembly at age 23. From 1895-97 he served as New York City Police Commissioner, then worked in the Navy Department, and with the outbreak of Spanish-American war he formed the Rough Riders, a volunteer regiment with which he became famous for valor in battle. He was elected governor of New York in 1898, elected Vice President to William McKinley in 1901, and assumed the Presidency when McKinley was assassinated. Re-elected in 1904, Roosevelt pushed for a “Square Deal,” a Progressive platform of equality of opportunity, trust-busting, conservation, regulation of business, and ensuring unadulterated food products and patent medicines. His foreign policy focused on American imperialism and the construction of the Panama Canal. Roosevelt supported fellow Republican William Henry Taft, who won the 1908 presidential election, but the two disagreed over progressive policies. In 1912, failing to block Taft’s re-nomination, Roosevelt formed the Progressive Party which split Republican votes and enabled Woodrow Wilson to secure the presidency. He later reconciled with the Republican Party and was an active proponent of the United States entry into World War I. Weakened by diseases contracted while exploring in the Amazon, Roosevelt died at age 58 in 1919.

Roosevelt likely met Jane Addams in 1901, when he was vice-president elect and visited Hull House in February. He visited Hull House several times, meeting with Addams, and attending social and theatrical events there. Addams supported Roosevelt’s third-party challenge in 1912, though she did not believe he would succeed. Addams seconded Roosevelt’s nomination at the 1912 Progressive Party Convention, a singular honor for a woman. To support Roosevelt and progressivism, Addams undertook a lecture tour and wrote a series of articles in support of the Progressive Party. Despite Roosevelt’s loss, she was pleased with the publicity the pro-suffrage Progressive plank secured. Addams and Roosevelt later disagreed over World War I, and by 1915 he disparaged peace activists as “a shrieking sisterhood,” led by “poor bleeding Jane.”

So does Mary Rozet Smith:

Mary Rozet Smith was born in Chicago, the daughter of Charles Mather Smith and Sarah Rozet Smith. Hers was an affluent family and though she did not have a college education, she had traveled extensively and graduated from the Kirkland School. Smith was introduced to Hull-House through Jennie Dow, a friend who taught there, in its first year of operation. Without a sense of real purpose in her life, Smith became involved with Hull-House and served one of the most generous benefactors of the institution. Smith also pledged her time and effort to Hull-House, though she never lived there. She worked with the Music School and social clubs, and was especially active with the nursery school and children's groups.

Smith is perhaps best-known for her romantic relationship with Jane Addams which formed shortly thereafter. Despite the destruction of many of Smith's letters to Addams, the relationship between the two women was loving and close, and lasted until Smith's death. Smith's importance to Hull-House and to Addams was immeasurable, she served to ensure that Addams was able to pursue her career by insuring that Hull-House operated smoothly, covering costs as they came up and serving as Addams' secretary in many matters. Addams and Smith undertook many trips together, but it is when they were apart that their surviving letters tell of their loneliness and desire to once again be together. Mary Rozet Smith died of pneumonia in 1934.

For the Addams specific questions, use:

  • Jane Addams biographies in the office and library.
  • Women Building Chicago biographical directory (in office)
  • Jane Addams Microfilm Guide to locate the dates of correspondence between Addams and the person, and to read the letters.
  • Search Google Books for the two names together.


The description is where we provide some historical information about the organization so that readers unfamiliar with it have some sense of its context in history and in Addams' life. We want to keep these short but factual. Try not to do too much interpretation of the organization's role in history. Think of it this way; no one should be able to claim that there is opinion in your description.

Try to answer these questions and you will be well on your way:

  • When was the organization founded?
  • Who were the founders or primary leaders?
  • What was the organization's stated mission?
  • What was its relationship to similar organizations (ex. a more militant suffrage group, a trade union that sought to rival an older one).
  • What is it best known for?
  • Was it effective?
  • Is there any event that changed its aims, where it took on new direction, broadened or narrowed its focus? Explain (briefly)

If this is a major organization, we will also summarize its relationship between with Jane Addams.

* Was she a member or officer? When?
* When did she join?
* Did she leave the group, if so, why?
* What specifically did she work on with the organization?
* Did she have any particular allies or enemies in the organization?


Alta House was established in Cleveland, first as a day nursery for women in the Italian immigrant neighborhood. Early leaders Louise Rawson and Joseph Carabelli secured support from John D. Rockefeller to build a settlement building which opened in 1898 to provide educational opportunities and programs for the elderly.

The Wausau Club was a private social association founded in 1901. It was housed in a mansion built by Rufas P. Manson. During the Prohibition era, tunnels were built underground from the Wausau Club to the Wausau Pilot building (now Shepherd and Schaller building) which allowed for the smuggling of alcohol to the club. Due to a decline in membership, the club closed in December of 2004.

When you are building the organization record, you can also create item relations for the people, if they are already in the edition. So, if you enter Alta House, look quickly for Louise Rawson and Joseph Carabelli, and add them as "Members of" Alta House.


The description is where we provide some historical information about the event so that readers unfamiliar with it have some sense of its context in history and in Addams' life. We want to keep these short but factual. Try not to do too much interpretation of the event, but provide a narrative of activities and results. Think of it this way; no one should be able to claim that there is opinion in your description

Try to follow this format:

  • A short sentence or two that summarizes the entire event.
  • A brief description of its impact, importance at the time.
  • A focus on how Addams fits in to the event.
    • If there are sides, what side is she on.

These guidelines will expand as we do more.
Example of minor event:

The First Universal Races Congress of 1911 took place over four days from July 26-29 at the University of London. The conference was attended by such civil rights advocates as W.E.B. Du Bois, Felix Adler, and, co-founder of the NAACP, Mary White Ovington. In total, over 50 countries and 20 governments sent representatives, resulting in 2,100 attendees and 58 papers. The goal of the meeting was "To discuss, in the light of science and modern conscience, the general relations subsisting between the peoples of the West and those of the East, between the so-called 'white' and the so-called 'colored' peoples".

Example major events:

The presidential election of 1912 was a four-way contest between incumbent Republican William Howard Taft, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, former Republican president and Progressive candidate Theodore Roosevelt, and Socialist Eugene V. Debs. Wilson won the election handily (42% of vote), Roosevelt came in second (27%), Taft third (23%), and Debs last (6%).

The 1912 election was dominated by a widespread demand for progressive reform to combat the rising power of corporations, the consolidation of wealth, and unfettered capitalism. The new industrial economy, the urbanization of the workforce, and the threat that these changes held to democratic institutions made the 1912 election particularly fraught. The Democratic and Republican conventions were highly contested and when Theodore Roosevelt failed to wrest the Republican nomination from President Taft, he angrily split from the Republican Party, forming the Progressive Party.

Addams tried to get the Republican Convention to adopt a suffrage plank, but failed. When Roosevelt and his new party determined to support suffrage, he hurriedly invited Addams to join the Illinois delegation at the Progressive Convention in August. Addams decided to endorse and support Roosevelt and the Progressives because of their stand on suffrage, drawing criticism from some, such as Ida Husted Harper, who believed that as a vice-president of NAWSA, Addams should remain non-partisan. Addams’ endorsement also caused some resentment among Republicans, who blamed Roosevelt’s third-party for stealing support away from Taft. Addams asserted that though NAWSA was non-partisan, individuals were free to support whatever candidate they chose, and the Progressive Party was the only one to include support for woman suffrage on its platform. Addams was selected to serve on the Illinois and Cook County Progressive Committee, the Progressive National Committee, and the Party’s Executive Committee. She also undertook a mid-western tour speaking for suffrage and the Progressive platform and bringing her message before large mixed-gender audiences unfamiliar with the topics of social welfare and suffrage work.


The "Averbuch Incident" occured on March 2, 1908. On this day, a Jewish boy, Lazarus Averbuch, was shot by Chicago police officer George Shippy. Averbuch, Shippy claimed, had asked for him at his home as an anarchist intent to kill the officer. Averbuch was spurred, Shippy claimed, by the recent banning of famous Jewish anarchist Emma Goldman from speaking in Chicago.

Shippy was injured in their fight, stabbed under his right arm, but claimed that Averbuch had also shot Shippy's son Harry as well as James Foley, Shippy's driver. The account of the fight was largely taken as truth, even by Jewish corners of the Chicago community. Some activists, such as Emma Goldman and Jane Addams, believed Shippy's story had too many inconsistencies. Addams organized a privately funded investigation of her own through Julius Rosenwald and led by Chicago attorney Harold Ickes, and surfaced inconsistencies and absurdities in Shippy's story.

Addams and the Jewish press tried to prove that Averbuch was simply an immigrant looking for a letter of recommendation from the town's police, as he would have done in Russia. Though Addams and the press never changed the public's opinion on Averbuch, there are many who are still interested in the incident.

Add Item Relations to people who participated in the event. For example, in the Averbuch Incident, include George Shippy, Lazarus Averbuch, etc. as "Participated In"

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