Saturday, July 6, 2024

I didn’t ask what was the right thing to do

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: I didn’t ask what was the right thing to do. Teach an illiterate girl, and her father, and her mother, the miracle of reading. And they taught the rest of the family, even the deaf grandmother. How could that be anything but a good?

In 1894, Ellen Gates Starr helped found the Chicago Public School Art Society to provide art to the public sclhools. Urban children with no exposure to nature, Starr argued, especially needed the solace of good artwork and its spur to the imagination. Starr hoped that exposure to beauty and heroism through art would stir the atnbitions and emotions of young chidren. ( ART) [Credit/source: Hull-House (IL) (Images of America), Peggy Glowacki]

 

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Fail. Fail again. Fail Better. Fail differently.

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: Fail. Fail again. Fail Better. Fail differently. Let everyone see you are failing. Failing to get rid of the sweatshops and how wrong they are. How Godless.

Sweatshop. circa 1900. [Source/permission: Kheel Center, Cornell University]

 

Thursday, June 27, 2024

In spite of our pride, our greed, our stupidity

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: And Yet, and yet. We must continue. In spite of our pride, our greed, our stupidity. We must go on.

Iroquois Theatre Fire Interior view of burnt seats and debris. Chicago, IL. [Source: ICHi-36007. Chicago History Museum. Reproduction of postcard, publisher unknown. Date: November 23, 1903]


Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Do something that begins something!

Always better to get started. Do something that begins something. Look at what we did with our little Factory Inspection Reports!! We got people’s attention! Made some people mad. Sometimes that is all you can do!

Sewing Hall at D. B, Fisk & Co., Wholesale Millinery at 225 N. Wabash Ave. built in 1912. Description: Sewing Hall at D. B, Fisk & Co., Wholesale Millinery at 225 N. Wabash Ave. built in 1912, Chicago, IL. Source: ICHi-14489. Reproduction of film negative, photographer unknown. Date: ca. 1910.


Saturday, June 22, 2024

Gentle Jane Addams had a strength of 10!

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: People will surprise you. In a good way. We were few at Hull House. Mostly women. But some like minded men. We just set out to do it. And we did it. Gentle Jane Addams had a strength of 10!

For residents including Jane Addams right the constant intrusion of visitors must have been disconcerting. Frances Hackett recalls one incident in which "one of the visitors caught a glimpse through the windowof Jane Addams sitting at a table…without waiting for an invitation or asking permission she opened the door to the dining room ... 'Oh girls,' she cried 'come here quickly. Here's one of them eating'." (JAMC 557)
[Credit/source: 
Hull-House (IL) (Images of America), Peggy Glowacki]


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

I never was afraid for myself

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: I never was afraid for myself. For my safety. Though sometimes people shouted at me, or shouted me down. They made way for me, as I walked past.

Troops camped by Court House, Railroad Strike of 1894, Chicago, IL. Source: ICHi-22888. Reproduction of photographic print, photographer unknown. Date: 1894.


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Of course we remember those who came before us

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: Of course we remember those who came before us, a year, a decade, a century ago. They built the stage where we stand and live out our lives.

Image of a funeral procession for victims of the Eastland disaster in Chicago, Illinois. The Eastland was a steamship that capsized in the Chicago River, leaving over 800 people dead.  [Credit: DN-0064960, Chicago Daily News collection, Chicago History Museum] 1915

 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

There is no love, if it can’t be shared

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: There is no love, if it can’t be shared. A smile, a touch, a look. In time, in space, love: what it is to be alive.

Large group of guests dressed as wait staff assembled on a Chicago Beach hotel porch during a Waiters strike. Image of guests dressed as wait staff assembled on a Chicago Beach hotel porch during a Waiters strike in Chicago Illinois. Some are holding trays with bread or bottles and glasses. Source: DN-0000637 Chicago Daily News negatives collection Chicago History Museum. Date: 1903 June 6.

 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Always in Chicago, our mood is the weather

Our mood. Always in Chicago, our mood is the weather. Broody, bright, the sun winking at us through the clouds.

Image of a boy with his mittened hands at his mouth, sitting in a wagon made from a crate, on a sidewalk in Chicago, Illinois. A baby carriage is visible behind him. Text on the image reads Cold Weather Scene. [Credit: DN-0065405, Chicago Daily News collection, Chicago History Museum] 1915



Friday, June 7, 2024

Don’t think tomorrow!

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: Don’t think tomorrow. Don’t even think this afternoonToday is all we have. Today, no yesterday, to tomorrow. Today. Can I do one useful thing today?

The Law As Storyteller

[Source/credit: Photo by Rubenstein. Archives, Kheel Center, Cornell University]

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

What is the weather?

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: The weather. The weather is the first thing we experience, when we wake up in the morning. The weather, it envelopes us when we go outside. Of course people everywhere, for all time ,have always watched and wondered about the weather. Our glorious sun… 

Fireboat, the Swenie, docked on the Chicago River. [Credit/source: DN-0000485, Chicago Daily News collection, Chicago History Museum]. 1903


Saturday, June 1, 2024

Bubbly Creek Branch

Whipped cream on hot chocolate after a day spent walking through the mud in streets of the slums where there were no sewers. Could construction of sewers ever be bad?

Big sewer entering Bubbly Creek Branch near Chicago stockyards. ICHi-15014. Chicago History Museum. Reproduction of photograph; photographer unknown. From Chicago Commons collections. Date: 1905.


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

When some bully with a stick says...

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago. When some bully with a stick says: "You can’t go here. You can’t do this," That is the reason to do it! To beat down the door. If we need a law, or an officer to come in. We’ll get that uniform.
"If you don't come in Sunday, don't come in Monday." Back cover image for Florence Kelley Factory Inspector in 1890s Chicago and the children


Saturday, May 25, 2024

We knew cold winters in Chicago then

We knew cold winters in Chicago then. No 60 degrees in February. When I needed a coat, I borrowed one. When I went to court, or to the legislature, I borrowed a proper silk dress, which rustled when we marched, and when we entered into a silent room, a room where people were waiting for us. And a hat. I borrowed a hat to help keep the warmth inside, and to help me hold my head high.

Image of men walking on the partially frozen ice of Lake Michigan, with a steamship or tugboat in the background, in Chicago, Illinois. DN-0001833, Chicago Daily News negative collections, Chicago History Museum



Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Find Allies!

Florence Kelley Live from 1890s Chicago: Find allies. When things look bleak, everywhere dreadful, there is someone who will help you.


Post-mastoiditis surgical patients (young children) at Cook County Contagion Hospital; Chicago, IL (G1986:484). Source: ICHi-26997. Chicago History Museum. Reproduction of photograph, photographer unknown. Date: 1912

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Unchained

After the Law was passed we got one 12-year old girl, Rebecca, unchained from a sewing machine. We washed her face and her hair; and took her to learn how to read at the Jewish Training School. It was enough for one day.

Sewing class in 1892 at the Jewish Manual Training School in Chicago. Courtesy of the American Jewish Historical Society


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Don't give up

Don’t give up. You can’t give up. There has to be hope. That what you do. The little you can do will make even a little bit of a difference.


Large group of children standing under showers over the street. Image of a large group of children standing under showers over the street in Chicago, Illinois. Source: DN-0076144, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society. Date: 1923

Monday, March 11, 2024

A lifelong ‘radical’ indeed! Reform required bare-knuckles politics!

Today the Chicago Tribune published an article about me, Florence Kelley, a lifelong ‘radical’ who fought for worker and women’s rights, which includes mention that in a 1923 FBI report I'd been labeled “a radical all the sixty-four years of [my] life; and that 30 years later Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote that I had “the largest single share in shaping the social history of the United States during the first 30 years of this century.” 

Florence Kelley, circa 1925. (Underwood & Underwood)


Tuesday, March 5, 2024

An audience of one

Remember there is only an audience of one. You must first and last answer to yourself, as to what you want to do, to be. How to live. We have nothing else but our lives, at the beginning and the end of the day.

Florence Kelley was one of eight children, six girls and two boys, one set of twins. Five of the children died, including both twins, some as infants, some when they were older. She was the only girl to survive to adulthood, one of her sisters, Anna, living until the age of six before dying when Florence Kelley was 12. [Source: Florence Kelley as a child. From Sklar, Katherine 'Notes of Sixty Years: The Autobiography of Florence Kelley,' p. 22]


Monday, March 4, 2024

Jane Addams and I were pacifists

Yes, Jane Addams and I were pacifists. We didn’t  think the killings, the battles, solved anything. But we went into the new factories where some were getting rich manufacturing boots and uniforms, and we did our best to improve conditions for the urgent workers there.

Randolph Street Market, west of Desplaines Street on the Near West Side of Chicago. [Source: LOC-American-Memory-Collections with ID 13V0740]

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Our City, a beacon of crazy hope.

People still pouring into Chicago from all over the world, believing they can find something to do here, find food and shelter for their families here. They have always come here, to our City, a beacon of crazy hope.

View from Auditorium Tower. Description: View from Auditorium Tower, Chicago, IL. [Source: ICHi-52235. Chicago History Museum. Reproduction of photographic print. Photographer - J. W. Taylor. Date: 1890]


Saturday, March 2, 2024

We still have to live, make choices. Decide what we can do, will do, must do.

We still have to live, make choices. Decide what we can do, will do, must do. If I see a girl tied to a sewing machine, I am not going to stand for it. Especially if someone is telling me I can’t do anything about it, I certainly will.

Sweatshop. circa 1900. [Source/permission: Kheel Center, Cornell University]


Thursday, February 29, 2024

Play the long game...

Play the long game. When knocked down, get up to fight another day. Maybe the same fight, maybe a different, better fight.

Women and children picking up spilled coal off the ground near a row of horse-drawn carts in a lot in Chicago, Illinois. [Source: DN-0000505, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum. Date: ca. 1903]


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Ferris Wheel

The Ferris Wheel, from the World's Columbian Exposition still here, changed cars, changed locations. People still want to ride on high and see Chicago stretched out at their feet. Yes, you can. Come to Chicago and ride the Ferris Wheel, look at the sprawl, the dirt, the lights from 200 feet up. Then, go out, find your spot,  and make a difference somewhere there.

Original Ferris Wheel at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. Although the original Ferris Wheel was demolished, a new wheel lives on in Chicago at Navy Pier in Chicago, with structural similarities and inspiration from Ferris's original wheel. [Source: Wikipedia, Chicago Tribune]


Monday, February 26, 2024

If lucky, perhaps a few choices. And someone to help.

All we have is our lives to live. Even the most powerful, the Governors, the Generals, the most beautiful, those walled up in their castles—they only have their one life to live. 

If lucky, perhaps a few choices. And someone to help.

Governor John Peter Altgeld (1847–1902). Historically, Altgeld is remembered chiefly for pardoning the three surviving men convicted in the 1886 Haymarket bombing [Source: Wikipedia, Public Domain]


Sunday, February 25, 2024

There was always laughter at Hull House

Still, there was always laughter at Hull House. There was music,  theatre,  the food was always fresh, good, simple, prepared by people who loved us. We ate together at a big long table after our work. With the new government men from Labor, we sent to Washington all the information, where people came from, how much they earned, about our neighborhood: One of the Slums of the Great Cities in the United States in the 1890s.

Corner view of Hull House building showing Hull House directory, cafeteria signs, men working and standing about. [Source: ICHi-01542. Chicago History Museum]


Thursday, February 22, 2024

We have one another!

Smart people find each other; good people, people who want to do things, recognize each other, even when they meet as strangers. Even if the converse is also true, we still have one another.

Children at Milton Avenue, a shoeless boy holding the hand of a bigger girl and standing on the sidewalk of Cleveland Avenue (formerly Milton Avenue) in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois. This street was one of four, including West Chicago, Cambridge Avenue, and West Oak Street that were the boundaries of one of Chicago's most overpopulated areas. [Source: DN-0063682, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum]


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Get your hands (and boots) dirty!

If there is nothing new under the sun, that is no call to cynicism. The opposite. 

Get your hands (and boots) dirty! Get working! 

I did.

Two women carrying wooden planks in a lot outside a railroad depot in Chicago, Illinois. [Source: DN-0000501, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum. Date: ca. 1903]


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

We couldn’t even vote, but we were fierce!

In 1890s Chicago, we women workers marched onto the floor of the Illinois Legislature, loudly demanded: ‘Pass the Factory Inspection Law!’ 

And they did. 

We couldn’t even vote, but we were fierce!

League of Women Voters members parade in Chicago in August 1920
League of Women Voters members parade in Chicago in August 1920.LWV members parade in Chicago in August 1920 Left to right, Mrs. J.N. McGraw, Mrs. G.N. Payson, Mrs. Charles S. Eaton, Mrs. E.F. Bemins, Mrs. A.N. Schweizer, Ida Strawn Randall, Helen Hamilton (trumpeter), Billie Frees. [Credit: Wikipedia, Public domain]
 


Monday, February 19, 2024

Find someone who wrote about it

For us, alive together now,  there is nothing that hasn’t happened before: greed, cannibalism, towering temples, serious buildings, a wide road full of dreams, love, selflessness, foolishness, corrupt government, slaughter on the battlefield. 

Pick your century, the place, and find someone who wrote about it.

Thornton Niven Wilder (1897—1975, Hamden , United States ) was an American playwright, writer, novelist and screenwriter, winner of three Pulitzer Prizes.