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The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at UIC wishes each and every one of you a happy and peaceful holiday season. As a special gift to you in the new year, follow this link to a complimentary Canning Manual available in a spectrum of colors!

We greatly appreciate all of your support in our efforts to preserve history and continue the legacy of Miss Addams. Her commitment to advocating a more just society and creating the conditions for peace to flourish is our commitment during the holiday season and beyond.

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Anna, a graduate student in Art History and one of our Museum Educators, reports back on the education staff’s visit to the Art Institute of Chicago:

Two Panels Entitled “Cray”, 1885. Designed by William Morris.

 

Last Monday, December 14th, members of our museum education staff
spent an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago visiting the
exhibit “Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago.”
We have been studying the Arts and Crafts Movement and its connection
to Hull-House reformers and programs for the past few months as a
group, so it was wonderful to visit the exhibit and see the objects
created by the ideas we have been discussing. For those of you not
familiar with the topic, the Arts and Crafts Movement began in
Victorian England by John Ruskin and William Morris in response to
industrialization. Ruskin and Morris glorified the handmade over the
machine-made, and felt that making objects by hand instilled dignity
and pride in the worker. Moreover, the movement stressed that
beautifully crafted objects, and beauty in general, provided a moral
uplift that could extend across social classes. These ideas made their
way to America, and people such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Ellen Gates
Starr, Jane Addams, and many others brought the philosophy into
Hull-House through lectures, art programs, and progressive reform. As
a group, we museum educators have been making connections between the
artistic, political, and philosophical underpinnings of the movement
and the work carried on at Hull-House.

As the exhibit at AIC traces the movement from England to America, we
were able to recognize some of the shifts in ideas and design in
relation to Hull-House, the space that provided a Chicago home for the
British movement. Hull-House was one of the places where the movement
was reformed (no pun intended!) to suit American needs and ideals, as
the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society was formed at Hull-House in 1897.
One of our favorite moments in the exhibit was when we stumbled upon
two books handmade by Ellen Gates Starr. It was wonderful to see her
beautiful, handcrafted objects and think about the work that went on
during the bookbindery classes she taught at Hull-House. We were also
proud to see Hull-House mentioned all over the exhibition walls, and
to more fully understand our local connection to the international
movement. Our visit to the museum was a great experience and we
educators will most certainly be mentioning more Arts and Crafts
connections in our tours!

After the holidays, we will be looking more closely at the Hull-House
Labor Museum and its relationship with the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Want to catch up on what we’ve been studying? Here is a brief
bibliography of some great resources on the topic:

Addams, Jane. First Report of the Labor Museum at Hull House, Chicago,
1901-1902. (Chicago, 1902): 1-16.

Boris, Eileen. Art and Labor: Ruskin, Morris and the Craftman Ideal in
America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986.

Jackson, Shannon. “Performance at Hull-House: Museum, Microfiche, and
Historiography.” In Exceptional Spaces: Essays in Performance and History, Della Pollock, ed. Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Stankiewicz, Mary Ann. “Art at Hull House, 1889-1901: Jane Addams and
Ellen Gates Starr.” Woman’s Art Journal, Vol. 10,
       No. 1 (Spring-Summer, 1989): 35-39.

 

Sam Kass (former Hull-House Museum chef), Kathleen Merrigan and others explain the new USDA program to promote and study season extension throughout the country. As part of the program, the Natural Resource Conservation Service will provide funding to build high tunnels on farms in 38 states, including Illinois.

USDA TO LAUNCH HIGH TUNNEL PILOT STUDY TO INCREASE AVAILABILITY OF LOCALLY GROWN FOODS

What do you think of the new plan?

Our poets, Joe and Sean, at the Teachers for Social Justice Curriculum Fair

Last month was the annual Teachers for Social Justice Curriculum Fair, and it’s a really fun event.  Educators come from around the city to share their innovative curriculum, attend workshops, and eat some delicious Mexican food.

I love this event because all of our education allies attend.  This year Joe and Sean, two of our museum educators, worked at the museum table to tell visitors about what the museum offers to visitors and classrooms.

When I asked Joe and Sean to write a blog post about the day, they decided to write a haiku.  What creative educators.  Thanks guys!

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You may not know it, but today is Jane Addams Day, an Illinois commemorative holiday and the only one named for a woman.  On Jane Addams Day, we celebrate Jane Addams for being America’s first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jane Addams Day is celebrated thanks to two years of petitioning by Dongola Junior High School students and their teacher, Cindy Vines. The students traveled to Springfield to rally for the proposed holiday, eventually gaining the support of state representatives and then Lieutenant Governor, Pat Quinn.

The following poem, written by Kevin Coval, was commissioned on the inaugural Jane Addams Day in 2006.  You can listen to Kevin reading this poem here.

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It’s time for another addition of “Meet the Staff.”  Today, meet Michael, or Mike as he is often known.  Mike was a welcome addition to the museum staff earlier this fall  and increased our number of male employees by 100%.

Michael at his desk- though often he is roams the museum to fix and preserve the buildings

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A Trip to Cedarville

Display at the Cedarville Historical Society

One of the most exciting components to the new exhibition is the restoration and opening up of Jane Addams’s bedroom on the second floor of the house. As we’ve thought about how to present a fuller story of Jane Addams, we knew there would have to be a pilgrimage to her hometown. So, on Tuesday, November 17, Amy, Teresa and I (Naomi) headed out to Cedarville, IL. Cedarville, population 750, is about 120 miles northwest of Chicago. There’s very little to see en route, mostly miles and miles of flat farmland. We got slightly diverted (due to my less than perfect navigating) and drove through Freeport, which is small town, but was quite a hub in the mid-nineteenth century. People traveled frequently between Freeport and Chicago 150 years ago, and the second debate between Lincoln and Douglas took place there in 1858. My favorite fact about Freeport is that its high school football team is named The Pretzels!?! I’ve done a little research since our trip, and it turns out Freeport is known as “The Pretzel City.”

After driving up a picturesque country road, we pulled up to the Cedarville Area Historical Society at about 12:45 and were greeted at the door by Jim Bade. He is the director of the Society and was eager to invite us in for some coffee and brownies. As we entered the building, the first thing we noticed was a plaque dedicating the site to Jane Addams. We felt right at home!

Over brownies baked by Jim’s wife and some coffee, Jim told us all about the activities of Cedarville and the role the Historical Society plays in the lives of the citizens there. One interesting tidbit he told us was that their Memorial Day Parade, a big event for the town, is the shortest one in the country… something like 1 minute and 30 seconds long. At least he has a good sense of humor about small-town life.

He told us that they are continuously raising money to continue restoration of the old school house the Society inhabits and rely heavily on volunteers and donations in order to operate. They have a free, outdoor film series in the summer and Jane Addams Day festivities every year, among other programs. The museum exhibition occupies only one room of the building, but the plan is to expand into the room next to it which is currently used as a meeting space and move the meeting space upstairs to a beautiful space waiting to be restored.

Jane Addams and her family are only one component of the museum exhibition, though definitely the most extensive. We discovered some beautiful and charming artifacts related to Jane, like a small chemistry set, some items she knitted, a series of letters she wrote as a young girl (many bearing illustrations with captions and always with a backwards “J” in her signature- click on the photos to see a larger image).

 

Jane Addams's Chemistry Set

The letters were the most striking artifacts to the three of us. We’d never seen them and were excited to gain some insight into Jane as a child. She was certainly precocious! No surprise.

Letter written by a young Jane Addams

The other exhibits revolved around other citizens of Cedarville, some of whom were connected to the Addams family and some who were significant in different ways. Many Cedarville citizens that they’ve represented there fought in the Civil War. Jim showed us all of the publications they create there and the recordings of their public programs. We also got a look at their small research center, which had some really interesting, but as of yet, unstudied rare books. Jim is a one-man-show and desperate for a researcher and an archivist/librarian. We told him we’d keep our ears open for him.

On our way out of town, we drove by the old Addams Homestead, which is beautiful, but now privately owned, so we could only take a look from the outside. It was an impressive sight, though, and made us realize how much more impressive it must’ve been when John Addams built it in 1854 (just two years before the future Hull-House was built). Just up the road was the cemetery in which Jane and her family were buried. We stopped by and paid our respects and took in the scenery.

Paying respects at Addams's grave

All in all, a productive and useful trip. We will definitely incorporate in our new exhibit some of the interesting ideas and bits of information we picked up while we were there.