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  How Women Financed Hull-House
   

 

Jane Addams began Hull-House with money from her own inheritance. From the start, however, she accepted that one of her roles was to fundraise. Seven months before they opened the doors of the Hull mansion to their neighbors, Ellen Starr wrote her sister Mary that they were not obliged to ask for money to begin their undertaking, but once "the thing is . . . under way" they would approach individuals. Starr was excited to report that Dr. Gunsaulus, a prominent Protestant minister, knew "one very wealthy girl, heiress to millions" that they could contact. (Starr to Mary Houghton Starr Blaisdell, February 23, 1889.) Volunteerism was another way in which privileged women indirectly financed Hull-House. The college educated women and men who arrived at Hull-House eager to participate as residents were required to volunteer their services and to pay for room and board. The assumption was that residents either had independent wealth or held professional jobs separate from their endeavors at the settlement.

There were also many volunteers at Hull-House. The volunteers and residents were overwhelmingly women. Characteristic of female philanthropists who supported Hull-House was that they combined a hands-on volunteer participation in the settlement with generous personal financial contributions. This was the hallmark of Louise deKoven Bowen and Mary Rozet Smith. On the other hand, businesswoman Helen Culver developed her own philanthropy style, more akin to a businessman's approach. While there were male philanthropists who gave money to Hull-House, the key women donors--Bowen, Smith and Culver--provided the preponderance of funding. Two men who gave extensively to Hull-House--Charles Mather Smith and Joseph T. Bowen--were the father and husband respectively of Mary Rozet Smith and Louise deKoven Bowen. In addition, Louise Bowen and Addams engaged in fundraising campaigns for Hull-House. They used their social and political connections including the sizeable women's reform infrastructure to secure funding through private donations. Bowen and Addams preferred private funding and were reluctant to accept contributions from foundations or charities or from government sources.
  Jane Addams to Mary Rozet Smith, July 4, 1892, Rockford, IL, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1, in JAMC (reel 2-1318-1320), Special Collections, The University Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago. Reprinted with permission by Swarthmore College. Jane writes that she hopes Mary "did not hurry about sending the check."
 
  Jane Addams to Mary Rozet Smith, Chicago, Illinois, [1894?], Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1, in JAMC (reel 2-1482-1485), Special Collections, The University Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago. Reprinted with permission by Swarthmore College. Addams describes her fears that their friendship will be hurt by the financial transactions between them, yet she is grateful for Smith's monetary gifts to Hull-House. Addams also admits that she needs to confide in the residents about financial matters.
 
  Jane Addams to Smith, Mary Rozet, 1895, Chicago, Illinois, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1, in JAMC {ree1 2-1617-1620), Special Collections, The University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago. Reprinted with permission by Swarthmore College. Addams thanks Mary Rozet Smith for her "generous check," saying "what a difference it will make in the running order of things for all the next months."
 
  Mary Rozet Smith to Jane Addams, February 1896, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1, in JAMC (reel 3-0035-0038). Special Collections, The University Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago. Reprinted with permission by Swarthmore College. Mary Rozet Smith writes a playful letter to Jane Addams that demonstrates the intimacy between the two and also indicates how intertwined Mary's personal philanthropy and friendship is by 1896.
 
  Harrison Allen Dobbs, "Minutes of Annual Meeting of [Hull House Association] Trustees," (March 20, 1936, pp. 1-4) Hull-House Association Records, folder 3, Special Collections, The University Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago. Despite the fact that a total of $39,065 had been raised by 1936, the Hull-House Board of Trustees decides to discontinue the Jane Addams Memorial Fund "for the present."
 
  Louise DeKoven Bowen, "[Speech] Given February 27th, 1939 on Mrs. Bowen's Eightieth Birthday, At the Palmer House, Chicago, Illinois," Hull-House Association Records, Folder 298, Special Collections, The University Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago: 1-8.
 
  Rima Lunin Schultz, "Mary Rozet Smith," in Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2001): 817-19. [secondary source]
 
  Sharon Z. Alter, "Louise deKoven Bowen," in Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2001): 101-6. [secondary source]