James Adam Barr to Jane Addams, May 7, 1914





May 7, 1914.

Miss Jane Addams, Vice President,
American Assn for Labor Legislation,
Chicago, Illinois.

My dear Miss Addams:

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition to be held in San Francisco next year will have as one of its chief features a series of notable assemblages, many of National and International scope. These Congresses and conventions will consider topics and problems that are uppermost in the public mind, and will be discussed by the ablest thinkers and leaders in the various branches of human endeavor throughout the world.

Among the other subjects to be considered are several assemblages to discuss the relations of service to prosperity and various topics will be [incidentally] considered relating to economics and efficiency. Owing to recent alarming manifestations in this and other states with respect to unemployed gathering in armies, it is one of the chief problems that confront civilization at this time.

We have been very anxious to secure from the proper authority a call for a congress to consider unemployment and we still hope that if an International Congress cannot be held here, at least -- we can have a National Congress or conference to consider this important problem. 

Knowing that you are one of the Vice Presidents of the American Association for Labor Legislation and are doubtless interested in the conditions that have properly contributed to the masses of unemployed people, we hope to interest you in the suggestion to have a Congress to consider unemployment called in San Francisco at the time of the Exposition, when many of the leading economists of the world will be gathered here and willing to take part in the consideration of this important topic.

You will recognize, Miss [Addams], however, that even though we differ in regard to the cause which produce the armies of unemployed, whether it is lack of efficiency, lack of early training, modern methods of collective employment or the unchecked rush to urban life, it still is a problem that is with us and manifests itself in such a way as to appeal to the wisest and best of our leaders to find [page 2] the proper solution. If there is a remedy, which study and advance civilization can suggest, that remedy should be settled upon by the proper deliberations of a competent body or sessions of several competent bodies. Because they are making extensive enquiries amongst the capitals of Europe regarding this question, is no reason why we should neglect such enquiries on the Western verge of the American continent and studies and discussions of the subject might, we think, be wisely conducted at various points and each contribute to its proper solution.

Therefore, we ask that you co-operate with us in arranging for a congress of the unemployed in San Francisco during 1915 in connection with the Exposition and I think this could be most easily secured by persuading Mr. John B. Andrews of New York City, that it would be helpful to hold a Congress here during the Exposition.

Thanking you in advance for your courtesy, I am,

Sincerely yours,

Jms. A. Barr. [signed]