Mail Searches

In order to locate new Jane Addams documents, we consult with archives and private collections around the world. Our first contact is usually by mail, either e-mail or paper.

Identifying Likely Collections

We have already started identifying archival collections in Basecamp that need to be identified.

Other ways to find collections are:

Check Against Our Holdings

A full list of the collections that have Addams materials or we suspect to have them can be found in the digital edition's Collection Tree. The easiest way to see whether we have already found a collection is to search there.

You can also search the Basecamp for the Archival search. This will locate collections that we already searched, but which had no Addams materials.

It is important not to send multiple requests about the same collection, so make sure to check before you make contact.

Once You Have Found a Possibility

  1. Enter the collection on Basecamp, adding any details that you find. Record if you have contacted the archive, and attach or cut and paste your approach in Basecamp as a comment.

Initial Contact

Use the draft letter in Addams>Search, Permissions, and Copyright> ArchivesSearch-req.doc

You will need to edit it for each archive that you contact, changing the details of the collections to be searched and adding any information you can to help the archivist locate Addams materials.

Searching a Collection

If there is a finding aid, go over the whole thing carefully, looking for the best boxes and folders to search.

  • It is helpful to know something about Addams' relations with the subject of the archival collection. Look at our microfilm to figure out when correspondence between the two began, or when an organization worked with Addams or Hull-House.
  • In collections organized by date (ex. Correspondence, Jan.-June 1901) you may need to search a lot of folders for Addams or Hull-House in order to be sure of finding everything.
  • In collections organized by name, it can be easier to locate the specific documents we need (ex. Correspondence, A-Addams, 1901-1905 or Addams, Jane, 1901-1915)
  • Don't forget to check folders on organizations — Hull-House, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and others. Often the letterhead is used to determine whether a letter by Addams written on WILPF stationary goes with "A" or with "W."
  • If material is organized by Subject, be expansive and look in any that make sense. Social work, Education, Peace, Settlements, etc.

What are You Looking for?

Primarily we are looking for correspondence and writings.

  • Any letter written to Jane Addams.
  • Any letter written by Jane Addams.
  • Any letter written on behalf of Jane Addams (a secretary, someone who starts, "I am sending you this as Miss Addams is out of town…", etc.)
  • Any article, speech, statement, etc. written by Jane Addams.
  • Minutes of meetings that Jane Addams attended.

But we should also gather materials that can be used to help our research:

  • Documents (unpublished) that discuss Jane Addams in some detail.
  • Articles about Jane Addams that we cannot get easy access to elsewhere. Clippings from newspapers that we can get online should not be copied; if needed you can check with the Project to determine whether you should copy a lot of material or just note that it is there and describe it.
  • Posters, flyers, advertisements, itineraries of her travels will help us with chronological questions.

Sample letter

Dear Archivists,

I am writing with regard to the Jane Addams Papers Project. The Project was
founded in 1975 and published a microfilm edition in 1985. In 2015 I took
over as editor and have been working to publish a digital edition, drawn
from the microfilm and with new sources added, and to complete the last
three volumes of the Selected Papers of Jane Addams.

Mary White Ovington
As we are adding documents, we came across references to Mary White
Ovington letters enclosed in other letters and we do not have these on the
microfilm. I found your finding aid, and it appears that this collection
was not consulted for the microfilm. We would like to get copies or digital
scans of any letters to or from Addams to include in our digital edition.

I also need to secure copyright permission for Mary White Ovington, and if
you have any information on her literary heirs, I would appreciate it.

Mary Heaton Vorse
The microfilm does include documents from this collection. I would like to
request permission to include them in the digital edition. We publish the
images taken from the microfilm, metadata, and transcriptions, and provide
citations to holding repository.

Looking at your finding aids I noticed another collection with Addams

- Agnes Burns Wieck Collection
- WILPF Meta Riseman Collection

If there are any others that you are aware of, I would be most grateful to
hear about them. You can find more information about our work at and the digital edition can be found at

Please feel free to aks if you have any questions or need clarification.
Thank you very much for any help you can provide.


Following Up

Once the archives responds, copy all correspondence, or take notes on phone calls in Basecamp.

If materials are found,

  1. Enter the collection in the Jane Addams Digital Edition with an asterisk at the end of the title. This tells us that we have not yet gotten these documents.

Prepare any payment forms for Cathy to sign.

Once the documents have come in to the office, check off the Basecamp task and process them into the collection.

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