Anna Garlin Spencer to Jane Addams, April 5, 1920

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

7 High St White Plains N.Y April 5, 1920

My dear Miss Addams

I write to say that it will be impossible I fear for me to go to New Orleans. The family concerns are not favorable for so long an absence from home as that implies.

My housekeeper returns to her family in Penna. the first of May, and the new lady I had counted upon to get inducted properly in season for me to go away without anxiety, has been obliged to change her plans on account of sickness in her family and impossibility of getting a “practical nurse” for that emergency; so I must give up the trip to New Orleans.

The meeting [however] will go on as if I were there.

I have written to Mr Kent, the minister of the Church where we shall have the meeting, to provide two of his best young ladies or three perhaps to act as ushers, to distribute literature and to take memberships.

I have written to Miss Grace Abbott asking her to take charge of the meeting as I am sure she will be willing to do. I will send all details as soon as they are settled. Mrs Lewis will be there to speak for the Save the Children Fund and I feel sure Mrs [Kelley] will be glad to speak [although] she is on the Pacific Coast and it is difficult to get word from her. And Miss Abbott and you can have more time and all will go well.

I have failed to hear from Miss Rankin. It always seems to be difficult to get [responses] to letters sent to her.

I am however writing to Miss Zona Gale in hope that she will be at the Conference and speak at our meeting.

I have prepared the special appeal to Social Workers which will have membership blanks attached and do hope my absence will not prove an added burden to you.

As to that matter about which we wrote confidentially, namely, some added compensation for Mrs Karsten that all fixed right and without further trouble to you. I ventured to take the matter to Mrs Leach, and she has kindly given ↑promised↓ a check for $150. so as to add for each of the six months of Mrs Karsten’s fine service $25. making her compensation for each month $100 instead of $75. No one but you and Mrs Leach and I need know of this arrangement. (over) [page 2] I have yet to receive the check and persuade Mrs K. to take it but am sure I can make her see that it is right to do so.

I have something in mind for the benefit of our Section which if it can realize itself will make plain sailing for the next years work.

I will write you very soon as to that matter but will only say that it concerns Mrs Thomas and her very probable return to active work.

If we could have her for Field Secretary, and have ↑beside↓ a good office Secretary and have the Headquarters in Washington D.C. where it was unanimously voted last November as a preferred Headquarters, then the office of Chairman would not be so exacting and it would not be necessary to have the Chairman live in the same city as the Headquarters, and there would be ↑therefore↓ a choice wider and more flexible for that office.

I am writing of course in the strictest confidence as I have to wait permission from Mrs Thomas to speak openly to any one. But I want her to get back to life, which is only possible if she can have congenial and appreciated work with the people where she belongs.

I am very keen for this plan if it can be got through. I can always help in placing people where they should be and I might help to raise the salary, perhaps, which she would need.

There are two or three good workers in Washington D.C. who could give half time or whole time to the office work. Mrs Thomas would do admirable work as Field Secretary with her headquarters in Washington.

Then the Chairman could be chosen just because she was wise, well-known and beloved, wherever she resided. [page 3]

My first choice of all American women I am frank to say would be Miss Breckinridge, if with a much lessened burden resting on the Chairman she could find time and strength to undertake that office.

My second choice, and a near second, would be Grace Abbott. These two women, being in Chicago, would make consultation with either easy for you as International President.

There will doubtless be a strong movement for Mrs Lloyd. I should regret her election [although] having a very high regard for her courage, her devotion and her ability. She would however, if Chairman, make it difficult to get a widely representative membership. And it might make it more difficult for you to have a Chicago person as Chairman who would be as active in certain lines as she would be. ↑(I must add that I know there are some Phila. Members who want her for Ch.)↓

If a New York Chairman is chosen I do not think of any one but Mrs Cothren who could act at all as a harmonizer and I do not know whether or not she would stand for election. And she is not as well known as one should be for that office perhaps.

From Phila we should have a choice of Mrs Lewis, Mrs Hull and perhaps Miss Winsor, [although] neither stands out as a national asset.

I esteem Mrs Frederick Holt as a very reliable, wise and able woman, who would make an admirable Chairman if the two offices of Field and Office Sec. could be filled well.

Provided Miss Rankin were not in political life (as I think she must be in Presidential Convention year) she could make a good Chairman, of course, if she had no organization business responsibilities to bear, ↑(she is not business like enough for that)↓

I think that if the two paid officers named could be secured, Miss Zona Gale would make an admirable Chairman, and she is well known nationally and much liked.

In cudgeling my brains for Chairman possibilities I have seen no one for that office who would give herself absolutely to the field and organization work. Hence my ardent hope that these two essentials may be provided by salaried persons, in order to enable some one to be Chairman upon whom only a lesser burden could fall, but who would be able to give distinction, wisdom and deep interest to the Section. [page 4]

True to my life-habit of entire frankness in dealing with a “superior officer” and also with comrades in equal position of responsibility, I am writing you in advance of the same full statement, when I can use Mrs Thomas’s name (if such should prove possible) as a candidate for Field Secretary and hence giving a wider choice for Chairman, to be sent with some modifications to all the general officers and the Vice Chairman and to such other leaders of the Section work as should be thinking in advance of the duties to be undertaken at Chicago.

↑All seems promising now if we can get the right leadership.

Yours affectionately↓

Anna Garlin Spencer [signed]

[written in left margin] ↑I am writing Miss Wald about delegates to summer meeting. Miss Balch is very anxious about this matter.↓