Address to the Girls' Club of Oak Park and River Forest High School, December 12, 1921 (excerpts)




Zoe-May Sutherland

Wednesday afternoon, December 17. Girls' Club of High School had the opportunity of hearing one of the greatest women in the world from the standpoint of service, Miss Jane Addams, head of Hull House.

In 1889 she inaugurated the establishment known as Hull House, an adaptation of the social settlement plan to Chicago conditions. Besides her numerous activities, Miss Addams has lectured on the improvement of the conditions of the poor in large cities and on the social and political reforms.

Among the books she has written are: "The Spirit of Youth in the City," and "Twenty Years at Hull House."

In introducing Miss Addams, Edith Heal, president of the club, said, "There are four reasons why Girls' Club is very anxious to hear Miss Addams. First, she is interested in people; second, she says what she knows; third, she gives constructive argument, and lastly, she is just the one to give us suggestions and help us with our Christmas drive."

Miss Addams said that Chicago contains many foreign colonies: in fact, in no other city are there as many distinct foreign groups. When the foreigner first comes to America he associates with his own people because he has the same customs, language and ideas. But gradually he branches out and he has a desire to know life. It is then that we can help him.

The Greek that comes here has a pride in knowing that he came from the country that once had the highest type of civilization. He resents the fact that we do not recognize him.

Miss Addams told about a Greek man who had a fruit stand in the city. While attending a technical drawing school in Athens, he had drawn and taken photos of Greece. Thinking that his customers would be greatly interested in them he kept them at his stand; but when he would try to show them to any one they were always in a terrible hurry to catch a train, or keep an appointment.

"We should learn to know each other. An occasion like Christmas gives us our chance. For not only one country but nearly every country joins in the Christmas spirit. It is then that we have an excuse for doing things for others and coming in contact with them."

She went on to say: "It is natural at Christmas time for you to do things for children. But the mothers appreciate it so much if they are taken into your confidence and it enlightens their hearts if they know that some one else is interested in them and their children."

There are many ways to get into kindly relations with people who seem like strangers and really aren't.

One way they accomplish this at Hull House is through their Christmas concert. All these different groups come together and sing the songs of different countries.

The differences of race, customs, language and religion, are not so essential. Take for example, the Disarmament Conference. There many nations are met on a common ground to decide a question of common interest. We all have the same base of human nature and good will. It must be expressed but it will not come out alone. It is there that we have our task.

In closing Miss [Addams] said: "This year go beyond your family, your relatives, your neighbors and your immediate friends in giving and in bringing the Christmas spirit. If you do this you'll be doing something for yourself, your country and probably for the whole world."