Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 25, Number 4, Winter 2003. ISSN 0196-7134
The popular image of Jane Addams is "The Angel of Hull House," a -1 matronly woman selflessly devoting herself to helping the nation's immigrants. The Selected Papers of Jane Addams: Volume 7, Preparing to Lead, 7860-7887, edited by Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Barbara Bair, and Maree de Angury, illuminates a more complex, and more interesting, woman behind the angelic image. The book, the first of several planned volumes, covers the early years of Addams's life, from her childhood through her graduation from the Rockford Female Seminary. Letters, diary entries, speeches, school essays, poetry, and debates illustrate Addams's intellectual and emotional development, pointing to the woman she will become. At the same time, we also learn of her humor, hobbies, and spirit. (Who would have guessed that the saintly Jane Addams had a talent for taxidermy?) While focusing on Addams, moreover, the extensive annotation also illuminates crucial aspects of the second half of the nineteenth century, including the aftermath of the Civil War, westward migration, and debates about religion and women's role in society. Emerging from this volume, the reader has a strong sense of the young Jane Addams and the world in which she lived.