Lucy Biddle Lewis to Jane Addams, December 23, 1919


Dear Miss Addams.

Are not the appeals that come in too distressing for words? I am quite bewildered to know what we can do. There are so many avenues opening before us that it is impossible to take up all and those that are feasible seem the right thing to be at. The Siberian prisoners have been before our A.F.S.C. and it seemed at one time as if a way were opening to us to render them some service in a round about way, but there was so much red tape so far nothing has come of it. The Red Cross had blankets, the German Prisoners of War organization had money and there was no way to bring them together so the blankets could go to the prisoners, we promised our name could be used to as a medium, but still red tape came in. Interested people are on that and some thing may come of it yet. The proposition of the $200 is a puzzler, are we sure it is genuine and how could it be done? There are 150,000 prisoners in Siberia and it would be hopeless to raise $200 for each, and yet it is terrific to see their suffering our workers reported to us. If something is not done few will live over the severe winter, and the unsettled condition in the country makes the situation impossible of solution. With so much suffering in other parts of the world it is hard to enter into the Christmas spirit. I can hardly wish people Merry Xmas as we used to do so light heartedly. I wish you could have attended the Meeting of the A.F.S.C. yesterday, it was so fine and we seemed to reach some spiritual condition with a sense of the responsibility placed upon our Society and how far we fell below what the world thought of us. Perhaps part of it came from the report of our Serbian commission of their experiences and the group that were left to continue the work they laid out, caring for 100 orphans and running a farm in connection ↑with↓ that. Then there was reported a request from the Ukrainian people to manage their relief funds of I think $1.800.000 or some such sum, which they cannot touch without the approval of the Red Cross and that organization will not do anything in so unsettled a region, but put it up to us. It needs to be done at once and we could not refuse, so our Russian [page 2] Committee was directed to take it up at once, which means finding suitable personnel to head up the distribution and probably find some Mennonites to help. That is my sub-com. so it means a lot more work at once for some of us. Some of the English Friends are over trying to work out a plan for better coordination of our work on the other side and perhaps on this side too as we are planning to start in Mexico in a small way to see if there is not something we can do in friendship to help inspire confidence and perhaps exert an influence. It is absolutely appalling. I have done little in regard to our W.I.L. Fight the Famine so far but hope after the Holidays when our letter goes out and we get started with a real membership we are sure of something may be accomplished, yet I know every day counts and means lives lost of saved.

I have been so busy I have not acknowledged any of the things you have sent me, but I hope in January I will be more at leisure to do things, I would like to have a chance to talk over how and what we could do.

I am rather late to wish you a pleasant Xmas but I can from my heart wish a prosperous year of good health for you with my great affection.

Very sincerely your friend,

Lucy Biddle Lewis [signed]

Lansdowne, Pa.