Anna Garlin Spencer to Jane Addams, February 23, 1920

7 High St. White Plains New York
Feb. 23, 1920

Dear Miss Addams,

Your kind and appreciated letter of the 11th came promptly. I rejoice that you concur in the idea of making our Annual Meeting convenient to the women who come East for other purposes and that you feel that Chicago is the right place. I do not expect any "social prestige" for our work. We can all get some recognition when we talk for "relief", but seldom when we talk for organizing the women of the United States to support the women of other countries in an effort to lay foundations for the ending of war. I think we could have a good meeting in Chicago on the 14th and 15th of June, Monday and Tuesday that would be, just before the opening of the Gen. Fed. Biennial at Des Moines, the 16th. I feel that your judgment in this matter will help to a decision as nothing else would do, but as you will soon learn if not already receiving information, a [Questionnaire] is being sent out to get the view of all concerned on this important question.

I sympathize with your thought that "the best we can do now" is to have meetings to help raise funds for relief of the famine. But the word I get from Miss Balch makes me feel that unless we do try, even while it is so very hard and so thankless a task, to get members for the [W.I.L.] the women across the water will be very much discouraged. Miss Balch writes "I think it is perhaps hard for you in America to [realize] the importance that American activity has just at this juncture in Europe." "The reversal" (from the Wilson position) "frankly puzzles" Europeans "What we do next is crucial and precious out of proportion to its real extent. Among the members of our League, with [page 2] its [American] President, Secretary, and large American money contribution, there is a belief that the League means something in American life quite different, [quantitatively], from the sober reality. With 39 branches in Gt. Britain and 41 in Germany and I think 4,000 members in a local Danish "peace chain" our American membership must be below any relatively equal degree of development. Consequently I am ↑extremely↓ eager for the development of an earnest and widespread movement in the United States." Doubtless Miss Balch has written this all and more to you but I feel not only from what she has said but from letters I have received from English friends that we must try to get actual members here little by little.

I have been able to give Mrs Hull $150. for the work and also $50. to Mrs Lewis for her Fight the Famine Com. work. I have been speaking as I have had opportunity and expect soon to get all the N.Y. members of former days together to see what may be the outcome. I expected to go to Buffalo for a meeting for W.I.L. this week but have been prevented. That will come later when the weather is more settled. My husband, whose chronic invalidism rarely gives any special anxiety, has had an attack lately which makes it seem unsafe to plan for nights away from home while the danger of being snow-bound in some distant place is so imminent.

I intend to take two trips instead of one long one, ↑the first↓ the latter part of March and ↑the second↓ in April ending at New Orleans. I shall go there even if I can have no meeting for I can see people and do something I am sure. I know how difficult it all is, but I could not be the Chairman of the Section for the U.S.A. without [focusing] attention upon the actual [page 3] membership needs. It will only be a slight foundation for future work of some one who can build upon it, but there is a real encouragement, so Mrs Karsten thinks, in the responses so far. When I found that my [impression] of the membership to try to influence to a renewal was so far from the actual facts (that is that there were so few bona fide members, "paid up," and constant, of the W.P.P.) I saw more clearly why you seemed to think we should be content with a mere Committee. But I am more than ever convinced that there must be a strong and [self-sacrificing] attempt to get members, if we are to keep faith with the European women. I mean members of a really broad and inclusive Section. I do not [believe] that we shall find it best in this country to make this movement a permanent one, but we must try to "make good" during the two years of Miss Balch's devotion.

I have received a cordial permission to have our Sec. for the U.S.A., and the W.I.L. itself, advertised with some display and gratuitously in the Advocate of Peace for three months. Mrs Karsten and I worked over the ad. carefully and it will I think not only help to make the work known but to get members. I felt that if my name and influence meant anything anywhere it would be in the circle that reads the Advocate and also in Unity from which I have asked a similar favor. The Christian Work printed a column and three quarters about us and I have secured [shorter] notices in six different papers from which some returns have come.

I shall not be able to get as many members, by a long distance, as I felt I might be got when I understood that there had been 20,000 members at one time of the W.P.P. The members that could have [page 4] been regained from such a body would I believe have been a big nucleus. But the actual facts ↑as I found them from investigation↓ made me see how preposterous was my hope at first. The people we shall get are mainly new ones I think, but I am still sure that there are many women who would join if they knew about it so I have still hope for the Advocate Ad. and other similar means.

We are certainly in "a different psychological state in regard to war than are the European countries" as you say. It is question [whether] we should try, as I am doing in my small way, to rouse a new consciousness, or wait until later. If it were not for Miss Balch and our special responsibility towards the W.I.L. in other countries, I should [illegible] ↑feel↓ that to leave all definite effort toward membership until later, and concentrate along lines of least resistance for our women, would be wiser. But the situation appeals to me for a bit of out and out organization work even if it is of very small result.

I feel myself that the one thing I most wish to do ↑and would if I had no other duty↓ is to give my service to the fullest extent in fighting the "Civil Liberties" fight. I am so glad that you presided over the great meeting in Chicago and that such a meeting could be and was held. I am hoping to get a meeting of similar kind here in which our Sec. of W.I.L. may have a place with the bigger organizations of men and women. That is the greatest present need in our country, to stand for our Constitutional rights and against war hysteria in its last and worst expression. And that leads me to thank you for the admirable and wise paper you contributed to the Sociological meeting. I was so glad to have it as printed in the Survey. If you have pamphlet reprints I should like to send some to some [page 5] people of importance in the teaching world. It was so fine and so true it should be spread broadcast to induce thought and stay feverish action.

As for the meeting in Christiana I am very much hampered in all I want to do by my husband's condition. I should go to the Council meeting if I could do so not only to represent the interests of the W.I.L. in the U.S. but because of my great desire to help a bit in the reorganization of women's societies in a more synthetic [form] now that most women have the ballot and can work through the State for the things they favor. I shall send a letter of suggestive inquiry to Lady Aberdeen, at least, so as to make sure that the idea of making the ↑International↓ Council of Women also a League of International organizations, such as that for Labor, the W.I.L., the International Educational bodies, etc, is in her mind as a possibility before the Christiana meeting. I hope you could talk with Mrs Catt about her plans for a pooling of womens organized effort. I feel it of the greatest importance that we should combine and cooperate in a far more effective manner now that we are really in the body politic as never before.

It warmed the cockles of my heart to read in the papers that "Miss Addams received an ovation" when she spoke at the Suffrage Convention at Chicago. I was sorry not to be there but was on duty else where, giving the Centenary address for Miss Anthony at Rochester, her home town, on the 15th, and at the Rochester U. in the [evening] of the 16th.

↑Always faithfully and simply yours,↓

Anna Garlin Spencer [signed]