Hartwig Henry Herbst to Jane Addams, January 20, 1912


Huron Valley Building and Savings Association

ANN ARBOR, MICH., January 20th, 1912

Miss Jane Addams,
Chicago, Ills.

My dear Miss. Addams --

I have read your series of articles in McClure's with extreme pleasure. You are handling the question in a vigorous and, at the same time, as delicate a manner as such a subject can be handled. May I presume to present a phase of this question which I have not noticed in your articles and I do not remember of its having been treated by any other writer on the line I wish to mention.

So far as I can learn, there is but slight difference in the sexual passions of boys and girls from 16 years up. It would appall the ordinary reader were he informed of the [percent] of boys and girls between 15 and 22 years of age -- school mates, companions and ordinary acquaintances who indulge in unlawful, sexual intercourse. This, without in many cases, any more coercion from the male than the female. They enter into such relations thoughtlessly, spurred on by passion, at times favorable to the act. How many such girls, having once fallen, enter a life of shame and go to replenish houses of ill fame, I am not prepared to say.

On October 18th, 1911, Miss. Agnes Inglis of this city, a former "Settlement Worker," and now working among girls of the Y.W.C.A. delivered an address before the Ladies Union of this city, which was published in the Daily Times News of Ann Arbor, Oct. 19th. 1911. Among other things she stated that a large [percent] of the students of the University are afflicted with private disease contracted among the girls in Ypsilanti and that the condition in Ypsilanti (location of the Normal College) is worse than in Ann Arbor. She obtained her information mainly from physicians. I have no doubt that the condition in other cities among the students is the same as here, as this place has always been considered as a rather model university town, than otherwise.

It is, of course, natural and, perhaps, excusable, for a girl who has fallen to give a plausible excuse for her misstep. Sometime the boy is the aggressor, frequently the girl is most to blame, often it is a mutual matter. The home and school phase of the social evil -- the stepping stone of this ladder of vice -- is far greater than many of us realize. Of course, this does not, in the least, mitigate the enormity of the terrible evil of the "Slave Traffic". The public is always apathetic in these matters and it requires constant work and effort to arouse it from its stupor. The work must be done step by step, vigorously as you are doing it. I merely wish to call your attention to a phase of this question which you are undoubtedly familiar with.

Should your comments touch upon the point stated above, I would ask you not to mention the particular schools I have cited, as I consider that nearly all schools are upon the same plane in this regard and it may do injustice to place one, rather than another, in a prominent light before the community.

Hoping I have not trespassed upon your time nor committed any impropriety in dropping you this line, I am,

Very Sincerely Yours,

H. H. Herbst [signed]