Foreword to The Child in the City, May 1912

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The Child Welfare Exhibit
A Foreword in Explanation

"I see the shining faces of little children from whose backs heavy burdens have been lifted."

A CHILD WELFARE EXHIBIT was held in New York last winter -- the result of three years' work on the past of hundreds of New York citizens most interested in children. Nearly two hundred and fifty thousand people attended the Exhibit and learned of the conditions affecting city children as displayed by photographs, statements and living demonstrations.

The Exhibit presented not merely an interesting spectacle, but furnished information of the kind that leads to action. The New York committee asserted that a fair chance for all children is a reasonable ideal but one not yet attained, for "preventable diseases," it declared, "are too rife, housing too deadening, play too dangerous under the abnormal conditions of city life. When boys and girls go wrong, if they are not treated kindly and set right, they are often permanently injured by the very course of the law itself."

When a generous Chicago citizen Mrs. Cyrus H. McCormick Jr., offered to bring here the New York Child Welfare Exhibit a large committee at once arranged to supplement it with local material. Not since the World's Fair, perhaps, have so many Chicago men and women worked enthusiastically together for the accomplishment of a common aim as have the two thousand volunteers who are responsible for this Child Welfare Exhibit. They have come together in the stirring conviction that "the city that cares most for its children will be the greatest city." 

The cost of the New York Exhibit was nearly $100,000; it has been brought to Chicago, enlarged and presented at an additional cost of $50,000. The Chicago Exhibit is double the size of the original New York Exhibit, as the floor space of the Coliseum is double the size of the Seventh Regiment Armory of New York.

This great expense will be justified and the Exhibit itself, with its living demonstrations and fifteen hundred explainers, will be valuable only if Chicago's citizens thereby learn of the real condition of Chicago's children to the end that they may understand them and cherish them.

There are moments when the life of Chicago seems as if geared into a machine, using its youth merely as raw material for producing wealth. It is believed that a faithful study of this Exhibit will constrain us hereafter to consider the children as the precious stuff from which superior human beings and better social conditions are made; that we will look upon Chicago's boys and girls as those 

-- "to build republics with,
Their homesteads and their towns.
God give us more
And ever more of such to build our own!"

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