Rosika Schwimmer to Jane Addams, November 17, 1922


17th of November 1922.

My dear Miss Addams,

First I wish you once more a good journey and all the success possible for your coming conference.

Now that you are out in the sea, gone for several months, I can ask you a question, which I wanted to for a long time, but did not ask, because I was afraid you might consider it a disguised wish to push things in my own interest. That misunderstanding is now out of [illegible] and so I feel free to find an answer to something that puzzles me very much.

I had been in Chicago for many months and neither the Chicago Branch nor the National Association of the W.I.L. -- though both not all too rich in public speakers -- made no use whatsoever of my services. I could not help but to realize that I am a back card and not wanted nor needed anywhere anymore.

It is not easy with a passion for social work to resign to idleness in the early fortieth, but I set my teeth and trained myself for it, though I must admit not yet with full success. Another hardship is to accept [unearned] help after having been for twenty years one of the best paid public workers of Europe.

In that situation it seemed to me a turning point when last spring Miss Holbrook and Miss Phelps asked me in your and the Chicago Branches name whether I would speak at a public meeting in the Little Theater, and whether I [preferred] the meeting in May or in September October. I told them I am very glad for the chance and that I would prefer a May meeting. The Chicago Branch had had no public meeting all the last year under its own name, and speaking in May might open the way for me to [other] speaking engagements, were my considerations for that. We agreed on a fee of 200 dol. ([Maud] Royden and other speakers ask for higher fees) and I was soon to hear about the preparations for the May meeting. Which I never did.

I first thought that Miss H. and Miss Ph. had misunderstood you and the Chicago branch and dropped the thought of the meeting. But when the three foreign speakers were visiting Forrestville school and we were talking in the auto about my [being] boycotted you volunteered the remark, that you are going to have a big public meeting for me in October which might serve as a sendoff on the road to other speaking engagements. I told you [then] that I was glad of the opportunity and waited for it, -- as you know, in vain.

My question to you, Miss Addams now is: what has happened since then that made you and the Chicago Branch withdraw from that engagement, and why did you not honor me with a frank information of the reasons and necessity of dropping the plan?

The Chicago people, who made tentative inquiries about lectures I had spoken of my coming meeting, and of course to them I must look now a fraud. But that bothers me little. I am so accustomed to be considered a fraud, that a little more or less of that does not matter much.

But I am used to look into myself for the reason of my failure and though I have raked my brain I could not find the slightest line to the reason that caused the change.

I would consider it a great [favor], if you would tell me quite [page 2] openly, what had happened.

I hope you will take this, as it is meant: a question to help me stop puzzling in my vain self [search]. It is neither a reproach, nor as I said a hint to push myself in front.

I trust you will do me the [favor] and then will forget all about the matter.

With repeated good wishes for the success of the Conference, I am as ever

yours very sincerely

↑P.S. Of course, my speaking for 15 minutes at your Arm [during?] emergency meeting has nothing to do with the public meeting that was to be arranged for me in May or October.↓