Title: The Women of Tomorrow
Author: William Hard
Release date: July 19, 2010 [eBook #33200]
Credits: Produced by Katherine Ward, Google Print Project and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
(This file was produced from images generously made
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THE BAKER & TAYLOR COMPANY
Copyright, 1910, by
THE RIDGWAY COMPANY
Copyright, 1911, by
THE BAKER & TAYLOR COMPANY
THE TROW PRESS, NEW YORK
|II||Learning for Earning||41|
|III||Learning for Spending||89|
|V||Mothers of the World||179|
I inscribe this book to Mrs. Peter Christian Lutkin. She said I might, a long time since. I was a boy then. Now I come to keep her to her promise and I lay this, my first book, on her knees, knowing that it is full of the sounds of controversy but hoping that her gentleness, somehow, may harmonize all harshnesses to the love I meant.
|John Simmons, Founder of Simmons College||Frontispiece|
|Simmons College, Boston||42|
|Edna D. Day, the First Woman to Become a Doctor of Philosophy in the Field of Home Economics||76|
|Mary Schenck Woolman, Founder of Manhattan Trade School||76|
|Rockford College, Rockford, Illinois||82|
|Children in the Francis Parker School, Chicago||84|
|Household Arts Building, Columbia University||97|
|Household Arts Building, California Polytechnic School||97|
|Mary D. Chambers, Rockford College||104|
|Mr. L. D. Harvey, Homemakers’ School||104|
|Practical Experience in Serving Breakfasts, Dinners and Suppers, Cleveland Schools||120|
|Girls in Cleveland Learn to Make Pottery as Well as Design||120|
|Class in Food Adulterations, University of Wisconsin||122|
|Model House in Washington-Allston School||122|
|One-Week Courses in Home Economics, University of Wisconsin||128|
|Evening Cookery Classes in the St. Louis High Schools||130|
|Interests of Chicago Women’s Club: Domestic Science Classes; Instruction for the Blind; Orchestral Concerts; Suffrage Campaigns||186|
|Interests of Chicago Women’s Club: Park Attendants; Mothers’ Clubs; Hospital Kindergartens; Vacation Schools||190|
|Interests of Chicago Women’s Club: Improvement of City Square; Neighborhood Organizations; Industrial and Agricultural Education for Girls||197|
The chapters of this book were originally articles in Everybody’s Magazine. I have not embellished them with footnotes nor given them any other part of the panoply of critical apparatus. It could be done. I have preferred to leave them in the dress I first gave them,—a fighting dress. They owe much of their structure, it is true, to facts and ideas out of the dust of libraries. But they owe much more to facts and ideas exhumed out of the much more neglected dust of daily circumstance. Either dust, by itself, is lifeless. When the two cohere they establish the current of existence. At their meeting-place this book has tried to stand. And so, while it hopes to have added to knowledge, it will have failed unless it has merged into conduct.
The reader will forgive the abruptness of the shift of attention from the subject of one chapter to the subject of the next. Each chapter, because of having been a separate magazine article, is still an isolated unit. Its isolation, viii however, is only that of form. In thought there is a sequence both logical and temporal.
Devoting themselves to five critical phases in the mental development of the modern woman, the five chapters of this book accompany her through five successive stages in her personal life. The postponement of marriage, the preliminary period of self-support, the new training for motherhood, the problem of leisure, the opportunity for civic service,—these subjects, treated in turn, follow one another in the order of their appearance in a normal life-history. They are further unified by the proof (I hope it is proof) throughout adduced that even the most diverse of the phenomena observed, the female parasite equally with the female suffragist, the domestic-science-and-art enthusiast equally with the economic-independence enthusiast, are all of them products of the one same big industrial unfoldment which is exposing all women, willing or unwilling, to the winds of the social process, which is giving to all women, whether home-keepers or wanderers, in place of the old home-world, the new world-home.
Chicago, Dec., 1911.
The woman of to-morrow will not differ from the woman of yesterday in femininity or physique or capacity, in her charm for men, or her love of children, but in the response of her eternally feminine nature to a changed environment. The environment is bound to alter the superficial characteristics of woman as every change has done. Man, in his turn, will be a beneficiary of this new womanliness as he has been the ready victim of the old-womanishness.
The reader will find in this book a dramatic picture of the gap between girlhood and motherhood which causes both girls and men to go wrong, and which can only be filled adequately by work—work even more suitably performed after marriage than before. Postponed childbearing, if not postponed marriage, is justified by the superiority of the younger children or the children of older parents. A declining birth rate may be redeemed by a declining death rate and the superior progeny of mature marriage.
The life of great-grandmamma fills us with x wonder and pity. Her labors were legion, and, while no longer necessary in the house, their equivalent must be found or girls become parasites. Notwithstanding her incredible labors great-grandmamma died young, having sacrificed herself on the altar of masculine egotism and prerogative. Her life was a short but not a merry one, but our virtuous forefather’s life was a long and sensual one.
To-day woman is beginning to be educated for the new era and man must go with her. She is learning homemaking with new implements and new opportunities. She need no longer be a drudge and she must not continue to be a doll. Since the days of John Ruskin, even the academic economists have had to put spending before saving in the logical exposition of their science,—consumption and thrift can only be adjusted by those who work and live. Hence, the new mother, alert to the larger needs of her household, is more competent than great-grandmamma and must even supplant “the tired business man” in municipal housekeeping, until he can learn to be her equal and himself deserve the suffrage.
Mr. Hard has produced a brilliant volume, as might have been expected. Mr. Hard could write a book in the dark; but it may not have been known that he could illumine with such scholarly sagacity the shadows cast on the woman question by man’s huge egotism and woman’s carefully coddled superstition. Originally magazine articles, Mr. Hard’s chapters are a unit in being sound economics and sociology on the woman question, but they will probably not secure him a doctor’s degree from his alma mater for they are also humorous, intelligible and inspiring.
Mary felt she would wait for John even if, instead of going away on a career, he were going away on a comet.
She waited for him from the time she was twenty-two to the time she was twenty-six, and would have waited longer if she hadn’t got angry and insisted on marrying him.
Into why she waited, and why she wouldn’t wait any longer, chance put most of the simple plot of the commonplace modern drama, “Love Deferred.” It is so commonplace that it is doubtful if any other drama can so stretch the nerves or can so draw from them a thin, high note of fine pain.
We will pretend that John was a doctor. No, that’s too professional. He was a civil engineer. That’s professional enough and more commercial. It combines Technique and Business, 4 which are the two big elements in the life of Modern Man.
When they got engaged, Mary was through college, but John had one more year to go in engineering school.
How the preparation for life does lengthen itself out!
When Judge Story was professor at Harvard in the thirties of the last century, he put the law into his pupils’ heads in eighteen months. The present professors require three years.
In 1870 the Harvard Medical School made you attend classes for four months in each of three years. It now makes you do it for nine months in each of four years.
As for engineering, the University of Wisconsin gave John a chill by informing him in its catalogue that “it is coming to be generally recognized that a four-year technical course following the high-school course is not an adequate preparation for those who are to fill important positions; and the University would urge all those who can afford the time to extend their studies over a period of five or six years.”
John compromised on five. This gave him a 5 few Business courses in the College of Commerce in addition to his regular Technique courses in the College of Engineering. He was now a Bachelor of Science.
He thereupon became an apprentice in the shops of one of the two biggest electrical firms in the United States. He inspected the assembling of machines before they were shipped, and he overheard wisdom from foremen and superintendents. His salary was fifteen cents an hour. Since he worked about ten hours a day, his total income was about forty dollars a month. At the end of the year he was raised to fifty. This was the normal raise for a Bachelor of Science.
The graduates of Yale and Harvard in the bright colonial days of those institutions married almost immediately on graduation. John didn’t. He didn’t get married so early nor become a widower so often. He didn’t carry so many children to the christening font nor so many to the cemetery.
Look at the dark as well as the bright side of colonial days.
Pick out any of the early Harvard classes. Honestly and truly at random, run your finger 6 down the column and pick any class. The class of 1671!
It had eleven graduates. One of them remained a bachelor. Don’t be too severe on him. He died at twenty-four. Of the remaining ten, four were married twice and two were married three times. For ten husbands, therefore, there were eighteen wives.
Mr. G. Stanley Hall, President of Clark University, very competently remarks: “The problem of superfluous women did not exist in those days. They were all needed to bring up another woman’s children.”
The ten husbands of the Harvard class of 1671, with their eighteen wives, had seventy-one children. They did replenish the earth. They also filled the churchyards.
Twenty-one of those seventy-one children died in childhood.
This left fifty to grow up. It was an average of five surviving children for each of the ten fathers. But it was an average of only 2.7 for each of the eighteen mothers.
In commending the colonial family one must make an offset for the unfair frequency with 7 which it had more than one wife-and-mother to help out its fertility record. And in commending the era of young wives and numerous children one must make an offset for the hideous frequency with which it killed them.
Turn from Harvard to Yale. Look at the men who graduated from 1701 to 1745.
The girls they took in marriage were most of them under twenty-one and were many of them down in their ’teens, sometimes as far down as fourteen.
May we observe that they were not taken in marriage out of a conscious sense of duty to the Commonwealth and to Population? They were taken because they were needed. The colonial gentleman had to have his soap kettles and candle molds and looms and smokehouses and salting tubs and spinning wheels and other industrial machines operated for him by somebody, if he was going to get his food and clothes and other necessaries cheap. He lost money if he wasn’t domestic. He was domestic.
Our young engineering friend, John, when he looked forward to his future domestic establishment, saw no industrial machines in it at all 8 except a needle and a saucepan. Consequently he had very little real use for a wife. What he wanted was money enough to “give” Mary a home.
Marriages are more uncertain now. And fewer of them are marriages of mere convenience. It is both a worse and a better state of things. On the one hand, John didn’t marry Mary so soon. On the other hand, he was prevented from wanting anything in his marriage except just Mary.
The enormous utility of the colonial wife, issuing in enormous toil (complicated by unlimited childbearing), had this kind of result:
Among the wives of the 418 Yale husbands of the period from 1701 to 1745, there were:
Thirty-three who died before they were twenty-five years old;
Fifty-five who died before they were thirty-five years old;
Fifty-nine who died before they were forty-five years old.
Those 418 Yale husbands lost 147 wives before full middle age.
It ceases, therefore, to be surprising, though it 9 remains unabatedly sickening, that the stories of the careers of colonial college men, of the best-bred men of the times, are filled with such details as:
“——First wife died at twenty-four, leaving six children.”
“——Eight children born within twelve years, two of them feeble-minded.”
“——First wife died at nineteen, leaving three children.”
“——Fourteen children. First wife died at twenty-eight, having borne eight children in ten years.”
From that age of universal early marrying and of promiscuous early dying we have come in two centuries to an age of delayed (and even omitted) marrying and of a settled determination to keep on living.
The women’s colleges are so new and they attracted in their early days so un-average a sort of girl that their records are not conclusive. Nevertheless, here are some guiding facts from Smith College, of Northampton, Massachusetts:
(We are taking college facts not because this chapter is confined in any respect to college people, 10 but merely because the matrimonial histories in the records of the colleges are the most complete we know of.)
In 1888, Smith College, in its first ten classes, had graduated 370 women.
In 1903, fifteen years later, among those 370 women there were 212 who were still single.
This record does not satisfy Mr. G. Stanley Hall, who figured it out. The remaining facts, however, might be considered more cheering:
The 158 Smith women who had married had borne 315 children. This was two for each of them. And most of them were still in their childbearing period. Compare this with the colonial records. But don’t take the number of children per colonial father. Be fair. Take it per mother.
We have the matrimonial histories of colonial Yale and Harvard men grouped and averaged according to the decade in which they were graduated. We will regard the graduates of each decade as together constituting one case.
In no case does the average number of children per wife go higher than 3.89. In one case it goes as low as 2.98.
Perhaps the modern wife’s habit of going on living and thereby protracting her period of childbearing will in time cause her fertility record to compare not unfavorably with that of the colonial wife, who made an early start but a quick finish.
In the year 1903, among all the 370 Smith graduates in those first ten classes, only twenty-four had died. And among all the 315 children, only twenty-six had died. On the whole, between being the wife of a Yale or Harvard colonial graduate and being a member of one of the first ten Smith classes, a modern girl might conclude that the chances of being a dead one matrimonially in the latter case would be more than offset by the chances of being a dead one actually in the former.
This deplorable flippancy would overlook the serious fact that permanent or even prolonged celibacy on the part of large numbers of young men and young women is a great social evil. The consequences of that evil we shall observe later on.
In speaking about celibacy we refer wholly to secular and not at all to religious celibacy.
In the meantime we return to John and Mary.
While John was doing his last year in engineering school, Mary did a year of technical study in the New York School of Philanthropy, or in the St. Louis School of Social Economy, or in the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, or in the Boston School for Social Workers.
They won’t even let you start in “doing good” nowadays without some training for it. This is wise, considering how much harm doing good can do.
But how the preparation for life does lengthen itself out!
Mary took a civil-service examination and got a job with the State Bureau of Labor. She finished her first year with the Bureau at the same time that John finished his first year with the electrical firm. She had earned $600. He had earned $480.
There were several hundred other apprentices in the shops along with John. When he thought of the next year’s work at fifty a month and when he looked at the horde of competing Bachelors 13 of Science in which he was pocketed, he whitened a bit.
“I must get out of the ruck,” he said to himself. “I must get a specialty. I must do some more preparing.”
He began to perceive how long it takes the modern man to grow up, intellectually and financially. He began to perceive what a tedious road he must travel before he could arrive at maturity—and Mary!
But he had pluck. “I’ll really prepare,” he said, “and then I’ll really make good.”
A Western university offered a scholarship of $500 a year, the holder of which would be free to devote himself to a certain specified technical subject. John tried for the scholarship and got it, and spent a year chasing electrical currents from the time when they left the wheels of street cars to the time when they eventually sneaked back home again into the power house, after having sported clandestinely along gas mains and water pipes, biting holes into them as they went.
It was a good subject, commercially. At the end of the year he was engaged as engineer by a 14 street-car company which was being sued by a gas company for allowing its current to eat the gas company’s property. He was to have a salary of $1,000 a year. He was going strong.
One thousand dollars! Millions of married couples live on less than that. But John didn’t even think of asking Mary to share it with him.
Mary, when married, was to be supported in approximate accordance with the standards of the people John knew. Every John thinks that about it, without really thinking about it at all. It’s just in him.
It bothered Mary. How much money would John want to spend on her before he would take her? It made her feel like a box of candy in a store window.
Still, a social standard is a fact. Just as much so as if it could be laid off with a tape. And there is sense in it.
“After all,” thought Mary, “if we had only $1,000 a year we couldn’t live where any of our friends do, and John would be cut off from being on daily intimate terms with people who could help him; and if we had children—Well, there 15 you are! We surely couldn’t give our children what our children ought to have. That settles it.”
The influence of social standards is greatly increased and complicated in a world in which women earn their living before marriage and have a chance to make social standards of their own in place of the ones they were born to.
We here insert a few notes on cases which are not compositely imagined—like Mary and John—but are individually (though typically) existent in real life in one of the large American cities:
R—— J——. Makes $6,500 a year. Only man she was ever “real sweet on” was a teamster. When she was selling in the perfumes at five a week he used to take her to the picnics of the Social Dozen Pleasure Club. They would practice the Denver Lurch on Professor De Vere’s dancing platform. At midnight he would give her a joy-ride home in his employer’s delivery wagon. He still drives that wagon. She is in charge of suits and costumes and has several assistant buyers under her. She has bought a cottage for her father, who is an ingrain 16 weaver in a carpet factory. She wears a stick-pin recently presented to her by her teamster. “I like him all right,” is her notion about it, “but I ought to have took him ten years ago. Now he can’t support me.”
S—— V——. Makes twelve dollars a week as a manicurist. Thinks a man ought to have at least thirty dollars a week before marrying.
T—— V——. Sister of S—— V——, who doesn’t think much of her. She works in a paper-box factory at five dollars a week and is engaged to a glove cutter who makes eleven.
T—— A——. Saleswoman. Thinks women ought to be paid as much as men. “Then they wouldn’t be so ready to marry anybody.” Works in the cloak department. Is a star. Makes about eighteen dollars a week. Says that most of the men she knows who could support her would certainly get in a terrible row at home if they married a cloak-department girl. Families are stuck up. “But I don’t care; let it run a while. Tell you something. I was born in the steerage. I’ve been right where the money isn’t. I’m not taking any chances on getting there again. Let Georgina do it.”
R—— B——. Sub-bookkeeper. Seven dollars a week. Engaged to clerk who earns thirteen. Says: “Of course I’m not earning much, but I’m living with my folks and when we’re married I’ll have to give up a lot of things. Kinda wish I hadn’t got used even to the seven.”
This last case, of the bookkeeper engaged to the clerk, is the modern situation at its happiest normal. The modern marriage, except among the rich, is a contraction of resources. It is just the reverse, in that respect, of the colonial marriage.
The colonial bride, marrying into Industry, brought her full economic value to her husband.
The modern bride, marrying out of Industry, leaves most of her economic value behind. And the greater that value was, the sharper is the shock of the contraction of resources.
Of course, the case of the department-store buyer and the teamster is irrelevantly extreme. But aren’t there thousands and thousands of cases which, while less advanced, are pointed in the same direction? The more a woman earns, the 18 fewer become the men who can support her. How can the clerk support the cloak saleswoman who has had eighteen dollars a week of her own? How can the barber support the manicurist who has had twelve?
The cloak saleswoman may talk flippantly about it, but, at heart, isn’t she seriously right? She has pulled herself up to a certain level. Except in response to a grande passion she will not again drop below it. She will bring up her children at a point as close to her present level as she can. That is instinct.
Meanwhile, she isn’t married. But what can you do about it? She went to work, like almost every other working woman, because she had to. And you can’t pass a law prohibiting her from earning more than five dollars a week.
“It’s all economic,” thought Mary. “Nothing else.” She had much reason for thinking so.
Did you ever see Meitzen’s diagram showing the relation between the price of rye and the number of marriages in Prussia during a period of twenty-five years?
Cheap rye, easy living conditions—number of marriages rises. Dear rye, hard living conditions—number 19 of marriages drops. The fluctuations are strictly proportional. In the twenty-sixth year, given the price of rye, you could predict very closely the number of marriages.
It’s like suicides. It’s the easiest thing in the world to predict the number of men and women who will next year “decide” to take their own lives.
The marriage rate responds not only to the economic conditions of a whole country but to the economic conditions of its various parts.
You live in Vermont. Very well. Between the ages of twenty-five and thirty in Vermont, there will be 279 out of every 1,000 of you who will still be single.
But you live in the State of New York. Very well. Between the ages of twenty-five and thirty there will be 430 of you out of every 1,000 who will still be single.
In Vermont, 279. In New York, 430. A difference of 151 in every 1,000.
For those 151 persons, is it human volition? Is it a perverse aversion to the other sex?
Even at that, on the face of it, those who try to argue New Yorkers into marrying young are 20 clearly taking the difficult route to their purpose. It would be more adroit simply to urge them to live in Vermont.
But isn’t the real reason this—that New York, with its large cities, is farther removed than Vermont, with no large cities, from the primitive industrial conditions of colonial times?
The North Atlantic states, as a whole, are industrially more advanced than the South Central states. Compare them in this marriage matter:
Among all the wives in the South Central states, there are 543 out of every 1,000 who are under thirty-five years of age.
Among all the wives in the North Atlantic states those who are under thirty-five years of age are, in each 1,000, only 428.
In the South Central states, 543. In the North Atlantic states, 428. A difference of 115!
Getting married early is imputed unto us for actual personal righteousness by innumerable clergymen, essayists, and editorial writers. Are there so many more righteous women along the Gulf of Mexico than along the Atlantic Coast? One hundred and fifteen more out of every 21 thousand? We cannot quite credit so great a discrepancy in relative human virtue.
You can’t escape, in any numbers, from the law which reigns in your vicinity.
Live on the Gold Coast of Africa. When you’re thirteen, if you’re a girl, they’ll boil a yam and mash it and mix it with palm oil and scatter it on the banks of the stream and wash you in the stream and streak your body with white clay in fine lines and lead you down the street under an umbrella and announce your readiness to be a bride. Which you will be in a day or two.
Live in Russia, and if you’re a girl you’ll get married before you’re twenty in more than fifty cases out of a hundred. It’s the most primitive of civilized countries. It’s halfway between Africa and, say, Rhode Island.
These marriages before twenty tend to fall off rapidly in a rapidly developing industrial region like Rhode Island.
In 1860 the married persons in Rhode Island who had married before they were twenty were twenty-one in every hundred.
In 1900 they were only nine in every hundred.
A drop from twenty-one to nine in forty years!
And if you can’t escape, in any numbers, from the law which reigns in your vicinity, neither can you escape, in any numbers, from the law which reigns in your social set.
Here’s Bailey’s book on “Social Conditions”:
Live in England and be a girl and belong to the class of people that miners come from: Your age at marriage will be, on the average, twenty-two. But belong to the class of people that professional men come from: Your age at marriage will be, on the average, twenty-six.
This difference exists also in the United States. It is in the direct line of social and economic development.
The professional man is a farther developed type of man than the miner. It takes him longer to get through his educational infancy—longer to arrive at his mental and financial maturity. The professional man’s wife is a farther developed type than the miner’s wife. Her economic utility as a cook and as a laundress in her husband’s house tends to approach zero.
Where these two lines of development, male and female, come to a meeting point; where the 23 man’s infancy is longest and the woman’s value as housewife is least;—there is, necessarily, altogether apart from personal preferences, the greatest postponement of marriage.
The United States, except possibly in certain sections, has not come to the end of its growth toward postponed marriage.
It is true that in Massachusetts, within the past forty-five years, the average age of women at marriage has risen from 20.7 to 24.6. That is a very “modern” and “developed” marriage age. But many of the older countries surpass it. In Belgium, for instance, which is a most intensely industrialized country, the average age of women at marriage is 28.19.
It is hard, indeed, to look at the advancing marriage age and to compare its varying rate of progress in different continents, different countries, different localities, and different social circles without admitting that, whatever whirling, nebulous mists of personal preferences it may create and carry with it, its nucleus is purely economic.
Early marriage was made by economic advantages. It was destroyed by economic changes. 24 It will not be restored except by economic adjustments.
“Nevertheless,” said Mary, “I want John.”
John had finished being engineer for the electric railway company.
Out of his two years’ experience he had saved a few hundred dollars. No, he hadn’t. That isn’t probable. The way he made his start into the next phase of his career was not by having any ready money. Having ready money is far from being characteristic of the young man of to-day.
John opened his office as a consulting electrical engineer not on his own resources but as an agent for an electrical supply company. Being agent for that company assured him enough money to pay the office rent and stenographer. For the rest, for his meals and his bed, he depended on his clients. Whom he didn’t have. But he started out to get them.
He opened his office in the city in which Mary was.
And then a strange but normal thing occurred. They spent enough money on theaters and boat rides and candy in the next three 25 months to have paid the rent on a flat. It is true John’s net income was too small and uncertain to have justified the founding of a family. But it was also true that they spent every cent they had. The celibate life is an extravagant life. One of the innumerable sources of modern extravagance is found just there.
Mary reflected on it. She didn’t like it. And she began to see other things she didn’t like in this protraction of the period of singleness.
Her work for the Bureau of Labor had taken her into many places, among all sorts of women. She began to observe the irregular living which is inevitably associated with a system of late marriages.
Mr. Lester F. Ward has learnedly and elaborately informed us that if we go back to the origin of life on this planet we shall find that the female was the only sex then existent, being original life itself, reproducing itself by division of itself, and that the male was created as an afterthought of nature’s for the purpose of introducing greater variation into the development of living things. The male, to begin with, 26 had only one function. That was to be a male. He was purely a sex-thing.
Whether this biological theory stands or falls, it is certain that it squares with the present character of the sexes. The sex which originated as a sex-thing remains the more actively sexed.
There was once a very good sociologist called Robert Louis Stevenson who made many researches into the psychology of the human race. While on his “Inland Voyage” he observed in this matter that “it is no use for a man to take to the woods; we know him; Anthony tried the same thing long ago and had a pitiful time of it by all accounts. But there is this about some women, that they suffice to themselves and can walk in a high and cold zone without the countenance of any trousered being.”
The celibate life is more possible for most of them by nature. If it were not for that fact, the postponement of marriage would by this time have demolished the ethical code.
Even as things stand, Mary was quite willing to admit, when she saw it, that there are two kinds of women greatly increasing in modern 27 days. Both have always existed, but now they are increasing very rapidly and in parallel lines of corresponding development.
In one column is the enormous army of young women who remain unmarried till twenty-five, till thirty, till thirty-five. Even at that last age, and beyond it, in a well-developed city like, say, Providence, R.I., in the age period from thirty-five to forty-five, twenty out of every hundred women are still single.
In the other column is the enormous army of young women who, outside of the marriage relation altogether, lead a professional sex life, venal, furtive, ignoble, and debasing; an army which has existed since the beginning of time but which every postponement of the age of marriage causes to increase in relative numbers and to gain new strength for poisoning the blood of life.
Love, denied at the front door, flies in by the cellar window. Angel or bat, it is always with us. Our only choice is between its guises.
Mary looked at the army of women celibates in offices and in stores and in their apartments and in their boarding houses, women celibates 28 five and ten and fifteen and twenty years into the period when nature has by irrepealable edict ordained love. It was surely unnatural, for the mass of them. They were not vowed nuns. They were not devoted to any great cause. They were just ordinary, normal young women, thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of them.
Then, on the other side, Mary looked at the great army of women in the midnight restaurants, in the streets, in their segregated quarters—women who, however they may be sentimentalized about and however irresponsible they may be for their own condition, are, as a matter of fact, ignorant, stupid, silly, and dirty. Yet on them was squandered the emotional life of millions of young men.
On the one side—intelligent, capable, effective young women, leading lives of emotional sterility. On the other side—inferior women blasted and withered by their specialization in the emotional life of youth!
The connection between postponement of marriage and irregularity of living will be admitted by everybody who is willing to face facts and 29 who is optimist enough to believe that if, instead of letting facts sleep, we rouse them and fight them we can make a better race.
The great Russian scientist, Metchnikoff, successor to Pasteur in the Pasteur Institute, mentions the postponement of marriage as one of the biological disharmonies of life. It is a disharmony that “among highly civilized peoples marriage and regular unions are impossible at the right time.”
And Mr. A. S. Johnson, writing in the authoritative report of the committee of fifteen on the social evil, notes the parallel increase of “young unmarried men” and of a city’s “volume of vice.”
He goes on to make, without comment, a statement of the economic facts of the case.
“As a rule,” he says, “the income which a young man earns, while sufficient to secure a fair degree of comfort for himself, does not suffice for founding a family.”
He cannot found a family at the right time. He goes unmarried through the romantic period of his development, when the senses are at their keenest and when the other sex, in its most vividly 30 idealized perfection, is most poignantly desired.
Then, later on, he may begin to get a larger income. Then marriage may become more feasible. But then romance is waning. Then, as Mr. Johnson says, “his standard of personal comfort rises.” Romance has been succeeded by calculation. “Accordingly he postpones marriage to a date in the indefinite future or abandons expectation of it altogether.”
Celibacy through the age of romance! It’s emotionally wrong. Sexlessness for a score of years after sex has awakened! It’s biologically wrong. It’s a defiance of nature. And nature responds, as she does to every defiance, with a scourge of physical and social ills.
“But what of all that?” thought Mary. “Those things are just observations. What I am going to act on is that I want John.”
At which point she stopped being a typical modern young woman.
She became a woman of the future.
“Look here,” she said to John, “I’m working. You’re working. We’re single. Very well. We’ll change it. I’m working. You’re 31 working. We’re married. Have we lost anything? And we’ve gained each other.”
They were married and Mary kept on working.
Two years later she stopped working.
In those two years she had helped John to start a home. She couldn’t operate soap kettles and candle molds and looms and smokehouses and salting tubs and spinning wheels for him. But she brought him an equivalent of it in money. She earned from $900 to $1,000 a year.
Being married, they were more thrifty. They saved a large part of her earnings. John was still spending a large part of his on extending his business, on traveling, on entertaining prospective clients, on making acquaintances. Sometimes she had to contribute some of her own money to his expense accounts. That was the fortune of war. She helped him pursue success.
“I wouldn’t give up the memory of those two years,” Mary used to say, as she sat and stitched for her children, “for anything. I shared at least a part of my husband’s youth.”
By sharing it, she won a certain happiness otherwise unattainable. They had come to know 32 each other and to help form each other’s character and to share each other’s difficulties in the years when only there is real joy in the struggle of life. They had not postponed their love till, with a settled income, John could support her in comfort and they could look back like Browning’s middle-aged estranged lovers to say:
“We have not sighed deep, laughed free,
Starved, feasted, despaired—been happy.”
“It used to take two to start a home in colonial days,” Mary would say. “I am really an old-fashioned woman. I helped to make this home. We had twelve hundred dollars in the bank when I stopped working, and John was pretty well established.
“I don’t regret it,” she went on, still speaking as a woman of the future, “even for the children. Of course I do wish we had started earlier. But I would have wanted to wait a while for the children in any case. People risk too much when they start a family before they become sufficiently used to marriage and to each other to know that they can keep on loving 33 each other and to know that they have in them through their mutual, continued happiness the power to make a happy home, a noble home, for children to live in.”
As for the number of children she will have—we reserve that subject for future discussion. We call attention here only to this:
That the facts which were cited from the Smith College records are harmonious with many other facts and records tending to show that the fertility of the modern wife has been considerably underrated, just as the fertility of the colonial wife has been considerably exaggerated.
That Mary got to her childbearing period sooner than she would have if she hadn’t insisted on marrying John before he was ready to support her. Those two years would have been childless years in any case. But they would probably, if it hadn’t been for Mary’s money, have been lengthened into four or five.
Of course, later marriages in themselves tend to reduce the number of children. As to quality, however, the evidence is not clear. There 34 is even some reason to think that a moderate postponement is conducive to an improvement in quality.
Did you ever read Havelock Ellis’s book called “A Study of British Genius”?
He made a list of the most distinguished of eminent British persons and studied everything about them, from their religious opinions to the color of their hair.
In the matter of the age of their parents, he finds that the average age of the father at the birth of the person of genius was thirty-seven years, while the average of the mother was thirty-one. His conclusion is: “On the whole it would appear, so far as the evidence goes, that the fathers of our eminent persons have been predominantly middle-aged and to a marked extent elderly at the time of the distinguished son’s birth; while the mothers have been predominantly at the period of greatest vigor and maturity and to a somewhat unusual extent elderly. There has been a notable deficiency of young fathers and, still more notably, of young mothers.”
And did you ever see the study which Mr. R. 35 S. Holway made for the Department of Education of Leland Stanford University on “The Age of Parents: Its Effects upon Children”? His conclusions are:
“In most physical qualities the children of mature parents tend to come out best.
“In mental ability the children of young parents show best at an early age but rapidly lose their precocity.
“The elder children who show best tend to be the children of mature and old parents.
“The children of elderly mothers show a tendency to superiority throughout.”
Mary did not know about all this, but she had a very strong opinion to the effect that, in so far as the quality of her children could be affected by their home training, she was glad she had spent at least a few years earning her living.
“Every woman,” said Mary, “ought to have some little time for developing into an individual. Home won’t do it altogether. Not nowadays. The colonial home did, being part of the working world. But what is the modern home? It is a nest, an eddy, a shelf, a nook. 36 It’s something apart from the world. If a woman is going to prepare her son for a knowledge of the real world, if she’s going to be able to give him a training which has in it an understanding and an appreciation of the real world, if she’s going to be able to educate him into real living, she must nowadays and increasingly in the future have some experience of her own on her own account in the real world before she becomes a mother. There’s no getting away from that. A reasonable postponement of motherhood till the future mother becomes a competent individual will hereafter be urged, not opposed.”
“The trouble about that,” said John, “is that it makes you too independent of me. Your proposition is to start in and earn your living till you’re pretty good at it. That is, you wouldn’t marry me till you were sure you could chuck me. How about that?”
Well, it has that side. But it has its other side, too.
Isn’t there, after all, something rather pleasant for John in knowing, knowing, that Mary isn’t cleaving unto him simply because she can’t 37 shift for herself? Something exquisitely gratifying in being certain, certain, that it isn’t just necessity that keeps her a home woman?
“If I were a man living in wedlock,” said Mary, “I should want the door of the cage always wide open, with my mate fluttering straight by it every minute to still nestle by me. And I should want her wings to be strong, and I should want her to know that if she went through the door she could fly.”
“For keeping her,” Mary went on, “I should want to trust to my own wings and not to bars.”
“However,” said Mary, looking farther into the future, “the process isn’t complete. Freedom is not yet completely acquired. Children! We want them! We must have them! Yet how often they tie us to unions which have come to be unholy, vile, full of all uncleanness. Women will never be completely free till, besides being able to earn their bread when they are not bearing children, they are relieved of dependence on the individual character of another human person while they are. Mr. H. G. Wells is clearly right about it. When women bear 38 children they perform a service to the state. Children are important to the state. They are its future life. To leave them to the eccentricities of the economic fate of the father is ridiculous. The woman who is bringing up children should receive from the state the equivalent of her service in a regular income. Then, and then only, in the union of man and woman, will love and money reach their right relationship—love a necessity, money a welcome romance!”
“It’s remote, very remote,” concluded Mary. “And we can’t dream it out in detail. But when it comes it won’t come out of personal sentiment. It will come because of being demanded by the economic welfare of the community. It will come because it is the best way to get serviceable children for the state. It will come because, after all, it is the final answer to the postponement of marriage.”
“Every Jack has his Jill.” It is a tender twilight thought, and it more or less settles Jill.
When the census man was at work in 1900, however, he went about and counted 2,260,000 American women who were more than twenty-five years old and who were still unmarried.
It is getting worse (or better) with every passing decade, and out of it is emerging a new ideal of education for women, an ideal which seems certain to penetrate the whole educational system of the United States, all the way from the elementary schools to the universities.
The census man groups us into age-periods. The period from twenty-five to twenty-nine is the most important matrimonially, because it is the one in which most of us get pretty well fixed into our life work. Out of every 1,000 women in that period, in the year 1890, the census man 42 found 254 who were still unmarried. In 1900, only ten years later, he found 275.
There is not so much processional as recessional about marriage at present. In navigating the stormy waters of life in the realistic pages of the census reports, it is not till we reach the comparatively serene, landlocked years from forty-five to fifty-four that we find ourselves in an age period in which the number of single women has been reduced to less than ten per cent of the total.
The rebound from this fact hits education hard. As marriage recedes, and as the period of gainful work before marriage lengthens, the need of real preparation for that gainful work becomes steadily more urgent, and the United States moves steadily onward into an era of trained women as well as of trained men.
In Boston, at that big new college called Simmons—the first of its kind in the United States—a regular four-year college of which the aim is to send out every graduate technically trained to earn her living in some certain specific occupation—in Simmons there were enrolled last year, besides five hundred undergraduate women, 43 at least eighty other women who had already earned their bachelor’s degrees at other colleges, such as Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, Smith, Vassar, Radcliffe, Leland Stanford, and the University of Montana.
These eighty other women, after eight years in grammar school, four years in high school, and four years in college, were taking one year more in technical school in order to be—what? Not doctors or lawyers or architects. Not anything in the old “learned” professions. Their scholastic purpose was more modest than that. Yet, modest as it was, it was keeping them on the learner’s bench longer than a “learned” profession would have kept most of their grandfathers. These eighty women were taking graduate courses in order to be “social workers” in settlements or for charity societies, in order to be library assistants, in order to be stenographers and secretaries.
The Bachelor of Arts from Vassar who is going to be a stenographer, and who is taking her year of graduate study at Simmons, will go to work at the end of the year and then, six months later, if she has made good, will get 44 from Simmons the degree of Bachelor of Science. At that point in her life she will have two degrees and seventeen years of schooling behind her. A big background. But we are beginning to do some training for almost everything.
Did you ever see a school of salesmanship for department-store women employees? You can see one at the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union in Boston. Under the guidance of Mrs. Lucinda W. Prince, the big department stores of Boston have come to think enough of this school to send girls to it every morning and to pay them full wages while they take a three months’ course.
If you will attend any of the classes, in arithmetic, in textiles, in hygiene, in color and design, in demonstration sales, in business forms, you will get not only a new view of the art of selling goods over the counter but a new vision of a big principle in education.
In the class on color, for instance, you will at first be puzzled by the vivid interest taken by the pupils in the theory of color. You have never before observed in any classroom so intimate a 45 concern about rainbows, prisms, spectra, and the scientific sources of æsthetic effects. Your mind runs back to your college days and returns almost alarmed to this unacademic display of genuine, spontaneous, unanimous enthusiasm. At last the reason for it works into your mind. These girls are engaged in the practice of color every afternoon, over hats, ribbons, waists, gloves, costumes. When you begin once to study a subject which reaches practice in your life, you cannot stop with practice. A law of your mind carries you on to the theory, the philosophy, of it.
Just there you see the reason why trade training, broadly contrived, broadens not only technique but soul, trains not only to earn but to live. “Refined selling” some of the girls call the salesmanship which they learn in Mrs. Prince’s class. They have perceived, to some extent, the relation between the arts and sciences on the one hand and their daily work on the other.
To a much greater extent has this relation been perceived by the young woman who has taken the full four-year course in, say, “Secretarial 46 Studies” in Simmons and who, throughout her English, her German, her French, her sociology, and her history, as well as throughout her typewriting, her shorthand, and her commercial law, has necessarily kept in view, irradiating every subject, the beacon-light of her future working career.
“Ah! There, precisely, is the danger. Every Jack should have his Jill; but if every Jill has her job, why, there again the wedding day goes receding some more into the future. Let them stop all this foolishness and get married, as their grandparents did!”
Poor Jack! Poor Jill! We lecture them, all the time, for postponing their marriage. We ought not to stop there. We ought to go on to lecture them for doing the thing which makes them postpone their marriage. We ought to lecture them for postponing their maturity. We ought to lecture them for prolonging their mental and financial infancy.
The big, impersonal, unlectureable industrial reasons for the modern prolongation of infancy were glanced at in chapter one of this book. In the present chapter we shall glance at them 47 again, more closely. Just now, however, for a moment, we must revert to the Census, and we must take one final look at the amount of marriage-postponement now existing in this country.
It was in the United States as a whole that the census man found 275 out of every 1,000 women in the twenty-five-to-twenty-nine age-period unmarried. But the United States consists of developed and of undeveloped regions. The cities are the high points of development. Look at the cities:
In Chicago, out of every 1,000 women in the age-period from twenty-five to twenty-nine, there were 314 who were unmarried. In Denver there were 331. In Manhattan and the Bronx there were 356. In Minneapolis there were 369. In Philadelphia there were 387.
Southern New England, however, is the most industrially developed part of the United States, the part in which social conditions like those of the older countries of the world are most nearly reached.
In Fall River, out of every 1,000 women in the twenty-five-to-twenty-nine age-period, the 48 unmarried were 391. In New Haven they were 393. In Boston they were 452.
If, in educating girls, we educate them only for the probability of ultimate marriage and not also for the probability of protracted singleness, we are doing them a demonstrably grievous wrong.
But how is their singleness occupied?
We all know now that to a greater and greater degree it is getting occupied with work, money-earning work.
The unmarried women in the twenty-five-to-twenty-nine age-period constitute more than one-fourth of the total number of women in that age-period in the United States. In the large cities they constitute usually more than one-third of the total number of women in that period. Wouldn’t it have been remarkable if their families had been able to support them all at home? Wouldn’t it have been remarkable if the human race had been able to carry so large a part of itself on its back?
We now admit the world’s need of the labor-power of women. If women aren’t laboring at 49 home (at cooking, laundering, nursing, mothering, something), they will be (or ought to be) laboring elsewhere.
In the smaller cities and country districts of America home-life is still (by comparison) quite ample in the opportunities it offers the unmarried daughter for participation in hard labor. Nevertheless the Census finds that the percentage of women “breadwinners” in the “smaller cities and country districts” is as follows:
|From 16 to 20 years of age||27 women out of every 100|
|From 21 to 24 years of age||26 women out of every 100|
|From 25 to 34 years of age||17 women out of every 100|
“Smaller cities,” to the Census, means cities having fewer than 50,000 inhabitants. In the larger cities, in the cities which have more than 50,000 inhabitants, in the urban environment in which home-life tends most to contract to an all-modern-conveniences size, in the urban environment in which the domestic usefulness of unmarried daughters tends most to contract to the dimensions of “sympathy” and “companionship,” 50 the Census finds that the percentage of women breadwinners is as follows:
|From 16 to 20 years of age||52 women out of every 100|
|From 21 to 24 years of age||45 women out of every 100|
|From 25 to 34 years of age||27 women out of every 100|
If, in educating girls, we do not educate them for the possibility of money-earning work, we are exposing them to the possibility of having to do that work without being schooled to it; we are exposing them to the possibility of having to take the first job they see, of having to do almost anything for almost nothing; we are doing them a wrong so demonstrable and so grievous that it cannot continue.
The schools which give a direct preparation for industrial life are growing fast.
In the Manhattan Trade School for Girls, in New York City, many hundreds of young girls are, in each year, enrolled. These girls have completed the first five public-school grades. They are learning now to be workers in paste and glue for such occupations as sample-mounting 51 and candle-shade-making, to be workers with brush and pencil for such occupations as photograph-retouching and costume-sketching, to be milliners, to be dressmakers, to be operators of electric-power sewing-machines.
“Nothing to it,” says an irritated manufacturer. “Nothing to it at all. I can’t get any good help any more. Back to the old days! Those early New Englanders who made the business of this country what it is, they didn’t have all this technical business. They didn’t study in trade schools.”
My dear sir, those early New Englanders not only studied in trade schools, but worked and played and slept in trade schools. They spent their whole lives in trade schools, from the moment when they began to crawl on the floor among their mothers’ looms and spinning-wheels. There were few homes in early New England that didn’t offer large numbers of technical courses in which the father and the mother were always teaching by doing and the sons and the daughters were always learning by imitating.
The facts about this are so simple and so familiar 52 that we don’t stop to think of their meaning.
When in the spring the wood ashes from the winter fires were poured into the lye barrel, and water was poured in with them, and the lye began to trickle out from the bottom of the barrel, and the winter’s savings of grease were brought out, and the grease and the lye were boiled together in the big kettle, and mother had finished making the family’s supply of soap for another year, the children had taken not only a little lesson in industriousness, by helping to make the soap, but a little lesson in industry, too, by observing the technique and organization of the soap business from start to finish. A boy from that family, even if he never learned to read or write the word “soap,” might some day have some ideas about soap.
The curriculum of an old New England home, so far as presided over by the wife, may be incompletely suggested as follows:
(N. B. The reader will note the inappropriateness of congratulating the daughters of that home on their not wanting a job. They had it. And the reader will also note that the education 53 of the early New England girl, rich or poor, began with the education of her hand.)
1. A course in Gardening.
“In March and in April, from morning to night,
In sowing and setting good housewives delight.”
2. A course in Medicinal Herbs. Borage, fennel, wild tansy, wormwood, etc. Methods of distillation. Aqua composita, barberry conserve, electuaries, salves, and ointments. A most important course for every housewife.
“A speedy and a sovereign remedy,
The bitter wormwood, sage and marigold.”
—Fletcher: The Faithful Shepherdess.
3. A course in Pickling.
In this course pretty nearly everything will be pickled, down to nasturtium buds and radish pods.
1. A course in Salting Meat in the “powdering” tub.
2. A course in Smoking Hams and Bacons.
3. A course in Pickling Pig’s Feet and Ears.
4. A course in Headcheese and Sausages.
1. A course in Beer. The making of wort out of barley. The making of barm out of hops. The fermenting of the two together in barrels.
(This course is not so much given now in New England, but it is an immemorial heritage of the female sex. Gervayse Markham, in his standard book, “Instructions to a Good Housewife,” says about beer: “It is the work and care of woman, for it is a housework. The man ought only to bring in the grain.”)
2. A course in Light Drinks, such as Elderberry Wine.
1. A course in Making Butter.
2. A course in Making Cheese; curdling, breaking curds in basket, shaping in cheese-press, turning and rubbing cheese on cheese-ladder.
1. A course in Soap-Making.
2. A course in Making Brooms out of Guinea-wheat Straw.
3. A course in Starch-Making.
4. A course in Cleaning.
(This last course is very simple. Having manufactured the things to wash and sweep with, the mere washing and sweeping won’t take long.)
1. A course in Preserving. In this course everything will be preserved unless it already has been pickled.
1. A course in Mush and forty kinds of Bread—Rhineinjun (sometimes called Rye and Indian), bun, bannock, jannock, rusk, etc., etc.
1. A course in Dips. The melting of tallow or bayberries. The twisting of wicks. The attaching of wicks to rods. The dipping of 56 them into the melted mass in the kettle. Patience in keeping on dipping them.
(Pupils taking this course are required to report each morning at five o’clock.)
2. A course in Wax Candles. The use of molds.
These departments might give a girl a pretty fair education of the hand and a pretty fair acquaintance with the technique and organization of the working world; but we haven’t yet mentioned the biggest and hardest department of all.
Before mentioning it, let us take a look at the picture reproduced in this chapter from a book published in the year 1493. This book was a French translation of Boccaccio’s collection of stories called “Noble Women.” The picture shows a woolen mill being operated in the grounds of a palace by a queen and her ladies-in-waiting. It summons back the days when even the daughters of kings and nobles could not help acquiring a knowledge of the working world, because they were in it.
One of the ladies-in-waiting is straightening out the tangled strands of wool with carding combs. The other has taken the combed and 57 straightened strands and is spinning them into yarn. The queen, being the owner of the plant, has the best job. She is weaving the yarn into cloth on a loom.
The daughters of the Emperor Charlemagne, who, besides being an emperor, was a very rich man, learned how to card and spin and weave. Noble women had to direct all that kind of work on their estates. They lived in the very midst of industry, of business.
So it was with those early New England women. And therefore, whether well-to-do or indigent, they passed on to their sons as well as to their daughters a steady daily lesson in the world’s work. The most intelligent mother in the United States to-day, let her be kindergartner and psychologist and child-study specialist as much as she pleases, cannot give her children that broad early view of the organization of life. The only place where her children can get it now is the school.
On the first of January of the year 1910 Ella Flagg Young, superintendent of schools in Chicago, took algebra out of the eighth grade of the elementary schools, and, in its place, inserted a course on Chicago. Large parts of what was once the home are now spread out through the community. The new course will teach the life of the community, its activities and opportunities, 59 civic, æsthetic, industrial. Such a course is nothing but home training for the enlarged home.
But we must go back for a moment to that biggest and hardest department of all in the old homes of New England.
“Deceit, weeping, spinning, God hath give
To women kindly that they may live,”
said Chaucer in a teasing mood.
But spinning was a very small part of the Department of Textiles. We forbear to dilate on the courses of instruction which that department offered. We confine ourselves to observing that:
First. In the Subdepartment of Flax, after heckling the flax with combs of increasing degrees of fineness till the fibers lay pretty straight, after spinning it into yarn on her spinning wheel, after reeling the yarn off into skeins, after “bucking” the skeins in hot lye through many changes of water, and after using shuttle and loom to weave the stuff into cloth, the home woman of those days had to accomplish 60 some twenty subsequent processes of bucking, rinsing, possing, drying, and bleaching before the cloth was ready for use.
Second. In the Subdepartment of Wool, in addition to being carders, spinners, and weavers, women were dyers, handling all the color resources of the times, boiling pokeberries in alum to get a crimson, using sassafras for a yellow or an orange, and producing a black by boiling the fabric with field sorrel and then boiling it again with logwood and copperas.
We pass over, as trivial, the making of flax and wool stuffs into articles of actual use. We say nothing about the transformation of cloth into clothes, table-covers, napkins; nothing about the weaving of yarn on little lap looms into narrow fabrics used for hair laces, glove ties, belts, garters, and hatbands; nothing about the incessant knitting of yarn into mittens and stockings. Those details were for idle moments.
Sweet domestic days, when girls stayed at home and helped their mothers and let father support the family!
It seems as if even Rip Van Winkle, in his most shiftless mood, ought to have been able to 61 support a large number of daughters under such conditions.
Does it astonish you that they matured young? There, all about them, from babyhood, were the basic processes by which the world was sheltered, clothed, and fed. Those processes were numerous but simple. Boys and girls observed them, absorbed them, through eyes, through finger-tips, during all those early years when eyes and finger-tips are the nourishing points of the intellect. Does it astonish you that they were soon ready for the duties of adult life?
John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, was married at seventeen. His parents were not only willing, but aiding and abetting. They considered him a man.
Mercy Otis, the wife of the patriot, James Warren, and Abigail Smith, the wife of the future president, John Adams, both married before twenty. A study of their lives will show that at that age they were not only thought to be grown up but were so.
To-day, in Boston, a woman of twenty is considered so immature that many of the hospitals will not admit her even to her preliminary training 62 for the trade of nurse till she has added at least three years more to her mental development.
Who has thus prolonged infancy? Who has thus postponed maturity?
Science has done part of it.
By the invention of power-driven machines and by the distribution of the compact industries of the home out and into the scattered, innumerable business enterprises of the community, Science has given us, in place of a simple and near world, a complicated and distant one. It takes us longer to learn it.
Simultaneously, by research and also by the use of the printing-press, the locomotive, and the telegraph wire (which speed up the production as well as the dissemination of knowledge), Science has brought forth, in every field of human interest and of human value, a mass of facts and of principles so enormous and so important that the labors of our predecessors on this planet overwhelm us, and we grow to our full physical development long before we have caught up with the previous mental experience of the race. This is true first with regard to 63 what is commonly called General Culture and next with regard to what is commonly called Specialization. Growth into General Culture takes longer and longer. And then so does the specialized mastery of a specialized technique. The high-school teacher must not only go to college but must do graduate work. The young doctor, after he finishes college and medical school, is found as an interne in hospitals, as an assistant to specialists, as a traveler through European lecture rooms. The young engineer, the young architect, the young specialist of every sort, finds his period of preparation steadily extending before him.
A complicated and distant world instead of a simple and near one, a large mass of human experience to assimilate instead of a small one, a long technique to master instead of a short one,—for all this part of the extension of immaturity we may thank Science. For the remaining part of it we may thank System.
The world is getting organized. Except in some of the professions (and often even in them) we most of us start in on our life work at some small subdivided job in a large organization of 64 people. The work of the organization is so systematized as to concentrate responsibility—and remuneration—toward the top. In time, from job to job, up an ascent which grows longer as the organization grows bigger, we achieve responsibility. Till we do, we discharge minor duties for minimum pay.
Thus the mental immaturity resulting from Science is supplemented by the financial immaturity resulting from System.
Both kinds of immaturity last longest among the boys and girls who come from that large section of society which is neither rich nor poor.
This is not to say that rich and poor escape unaffected. Shall we ever again, from the most favored of homes, see a William Pitt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, by merit, at 23? And, in the mass of the people, shall we ever again see that quickness of development toward adulthood which gave us the old common-law rule validating the marriage of a male at 14 and of a female at 12? The retardation of adulthood is observable in all social groups. But it comes to its climax in what is commonly called the “middle” group. For it is in that group that 65 the passion for education is strongest, or, at any rate, most effective. It is from the families of average farmers, of average business men and of average professional men that we get our big supply of pupils for the most prolonged technical training of our schools and universities.
In this matter, as in many other matters, the historian of the nineteenth century may possibly find that while public attention was being given principally to the misery of the poor and to the luxury of the rich it was in the “middle” part of society that the really revolutionary changes in family life were happening.
It is with the financial reason for prolonged immaturity just as it is with the mental. The rich boy may be supported into marriage by his family. The son of the laborer soon reaches the wage-earning level of his environment. But the son of the average man of moderate means, after his years of scholastic preparation, must spend yet other years in a slow climb out of the ranks into a position of commercial or professional promise of “success” before he acquires what is regarded in his environment as a marrying income.
They say that college girls marry late. It’s true enough. But it’s not well put.
The girls in the social group from which most college girls are drawn marry late.
Late marriage was not started by college. It would be safer to say that college was started by late marriage.
Out of the prolongation of infancy, out of the postponement of marriage, came the conquest by women of the intellectual freedom of the world.
We can learn something about the nature of education by following the history of that conquest.
When the old New England homestead furnished adequate employment to all its daughters, and when those daughters passed directly from girlhood to wifehood and were still most adequately employed, there was really little reason why they should attend the schools in which their brothers were being taught the knowledges of the outside world. The girls did not belong to the outside world. Nor did the outside world have anything to teach them about their work in the household.
In such circumstances it is hardly surprising that in 1684 the New Haven Grammar School should have ordered that “all girls be excluded as improper and inconsistent with such a grammar school as the law enjoins.”
In proportion, however, as the work of the household was shifted out into the outside world, and in proportion as women began to follow that work out into the outside world, the knowledges of the outside world became appropriate and necessary for them. Hence, a hundred years later, in 1790, it was as much a changing industrial condition as a changing psychological one which caused the school authorities of Gloucester, Mass., to resolve that “two hours (in each school-day) be devoted to the instruction of females, as they are a tender and interesting branch of the community.”
But grammar-school education, even high-school education, was not long enough for the women in the families in which the prolongation of infancy, and the consequent postponement of marriage, was greatest. While their future husbands were going through the long process of education in school and college and 68 university and then through the long process of commercial and professional apprenticeship, these girls were passing through the grammar-school age, through the high-school age, and then on into what in those days looked like old-maidhood. Their social environment did not lead them into factory work. Yet their families were not rich. How were they to be occupied?
The father of Frederick the Great used to go about his realm with a stick, and when he saw a woman in the street he would shake the stick at her and say: “Go back into the house. An honest woman keeps indoors.”
Probably quite sensible. When she went indoors, she went into a job. The “middle class” daughter of to-day, if her mother is living and housekeeping, goes indoors into a vacuum.
Out of that vacuum came the explosion which created the first woman’s college.
There was plenty of sentiment in the explosion. That was the splendid, blinding part of it. That was the part of it which even to-day dazzles us with the nobility of such women as Emma Willard and Mary Lyon. They made Troy Female Seminary in the twenties and 69 Mount Holyoke in the thirties in the image of the aspirations, as well as in the image of the needs, of the women of the times.
But the needs were there, the need to be something, the need to do something, self-respecting, self-supporting. The existence of those needs was clearly revealed in the fact that from the early women’s colleges and from the early coeducational universities there at once issued a large supply of teachers.
This flow of teachers goes back to the very fountain-head of the higher education of women in this country. Emma Willard, even before she founded Troy Female Seminary, back in the days when she was running her school in Middlebury, Conn., was training young women to teach, and was acquiring her claim (which she herself subsequently urged) to being regarded as the organizer of the first normal school in the United States.
From that time to this most college women have taught school before getting married. The higher education of women has been, in economic effect, a trade school for training women for the trade of teacher.
But isn’t it the purpose of the colleges to avoid training their pupils for specific occupations? Isn’t it their purpose to give their pupils discipline and culture, pure and broad, unaffected by commercial intention? Isn’t that what colleges are, and ought to be, for?
On the shore of this vast and violent controversy we discreetly pause. We shall not enter it. We cannot refrain, however, from extending our finger at three reefs of solid fact which unsubmergably jut out above the surface of the raging waters.
First. The colleges instruct their pupils in the subjects which those pupils subsequently teach.
Second. The pupils specialize in the subjects which they are going to teach.
Third. The colleges, besides providing the future teachers with subjects, almost always offer to provide them with instruction in the principles of education, and frequently offer to provide them with instruction in the very technique of class-room work.
Our verdict, therefore, which we hope will be satisfactory to counsel on both sides, is that 71 the college is by no means a trade school, but that if the woman who is going to earn her living will choose the one trade of teaching, she can almost always get a pretty fair trade training by going to college.
Passing beyond even the suspicion of controversy, we may observe, uncontradicted, that the amount of trade training which a teacher is expected to take is increasing year by year. In teaching, as in other trades, the period and scope of preliminary preparation continue to expand.
In the last calendar of Bryn Mawr College, the Department of Education, in announcing its courses, makes the following common-sense remarks:
“It is the purpose of this department to offer to students intending to become teachers an opportunity to obtain a technical preparation for their profession. Hitherto practical training has been thought necessary for teachers of primary schools only, but similar training is very desirable for teachers in high schools and colleges also. Indeed, it is already becoming increasingly difficult for college graduates without practical and theoretical pedagogical 72 knowledge to secure good positions. In addition to the lectures open to undergraduates, courses will be organized for graduate students only, conducted with special reference to preparation for the headship and superintendence of schools.”
There could hardly be a clearer recognition of the vocational duty of a college. There is meaning in that phrase “to secure good positions.” Bryn Mawr is willing to train girls not only to be cultivated but to secure good positions, as teachers.
But the teaching trade is getting choked. There is too much supply. Girls are going to college in hordes. Graduating from college, looking for work, there is usually just one kind of work toward which they are mentally alert. Their college experience has seldom roused their minds toward any other kind of work. They start to teach. They drug the market. And so the teaching trade, the great occupation of unmarried educated women, ceases to be able to provide those women, as a class, with an adequate field of employment.
It is a turning point in the economic history 73 of educated women. It is a turning point in the history of women’s education.
At the 1909 annual convention of the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ, in Cincinnati, Miss Susan Kingsbury (acting for a committee of which Mrs. Richards, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Miss Breckenridge, of the University of Chicago, were members) read a real essay on “The Economic Efficiency of College Women.”
This essay was not written till detailed reports on income and expenditure from 377 self-supporting college women had been got together.
Out of these 377 there were 317 who were teachers. All of them had gone all the way through college. More than half of them had followed up their regular college course with from one to eight years of graduate study. The capital invested in their education was, in the average case, from $2,500 to $3,500. Often, however, it amounted to $7,000 because of advanced work and travel. After all this preparation, the average income achieved may be sufficiently disclosed in the one fact that, among those graduates who had been at work for from 74 six to eight years, more than seventy per cent. were still earning less than $1,100.
After drawing a complete statistical picture of the case, Miss Kingsbury concluded with certain questions and recommendations, here condensed, which show the new economic needs of educated women knocking at the door of the higher education.
“Should not the oversupply of teachers be reduced by directing many of our graduates into other pursuits than teaching? This will place upon the college, just where the responsibility is due, the obligation of discovering what those opportunities are and what preparation should be given.
“This organization should endeavor to arouse in our colleges a sense of responsibility for knowing the facts with regard to their graduates, both social and economic, and should also endeavor to influence our colleges through appointment secretaries, to direct women, according to fitness, into other lines than teaching.
“Should not courses be added to the college curriculum to give women the fundamental 75 principles in other professions, or lines of industry or commerce, than teaching?
“May not required courses be added to the college curriculum to inculcate business power and sense in all women?”
This philosophy seems to aim at making the modern school as informative about the occupations of modern women as the primitive colonial home used to be about the occupations of the women of early New England.
You see, we have always had vocational education. The early New England girl was gradually inducted into her life-tasks by her mother. The modern girl will be gradually inducted into her life-tasks by her teachers.
You can observe the development toward this conclusion going on at any educational level you please.
Let’s look for a moment at the industrial level. Here’s a girl, in the north end of Boston, who is going to have to go to work young. She knows it. Her family knows it. Well, even for this girl, whose schooling will be brief, there are already three different periods of gradual induction into industry.
First, when she has completed the lowest grades of her regular public school, she may go for a while to the North Bennet Street Industrial School. Here she will give just about half her time to manual work such as machine- and hand-sewing. She will also study arithmetic, literature and composition, geography and history; but (or, rather, and) her interest in these subjects will be stimulated as powerfully as possible by their practical applications, as well as by their general relations, to the manual work she is doing and to the working world she is so soon to enter.
We are coming to admit the fact now that “pure” language and “pure” mathematics unapplied to actual problems are, for the mass of boys and girls, not only uninteresting but astonishingly unproductive of mental results. One of the first discoveries made by Mrs. Mary Schenck Woolman in her management of the Manhattan Trade School for Girls was that the public-school pupils who came to her after several years in the grades were “unable to utilize their public-school academic work in practical trade affairs.” Their progress, if it could be called so, 77 had been toward reception, not toward action. In the North Bennet Industrial School our Boston girl will make progress toward action.
Next, from the North Bennet, she may go to the Boston Trade School for Girls. This school was given its first form under private management by Miss Florence Marshall. It has now been absorbed into the public-school system. What was a private fad has become a public function.
In the Trade School the pupil whom we are following may decide to be a milliner. But she will not yet confine her attention to millinery. She will take courses in personal hygiene, business forms, spelling, business English, industrial conditions, textiles, color-design. She’s not yet in the purely “technical” part of her education. She’s still, to some extent, in the general vocational part of it. But she is entering deeper and deeper into technique. While in the Trade School she will give much of her time for four months to plain sewing, then for four months to making summer hats and finally for four months to making winter hats.
She has now completed two of the industrial 78 educational periods we mentioned. She may go on to a third. She may proceed to spend a year in the millinery trade-shop of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union. Here she will get into technique completely. The conditions will be virtually those of a factory. She will be trained to precision and to speed. Her product will be sold. She will receive wages. Yet she is still in school. She is still regarded not as an employee to be discharged offhand for incompetency but as a pupil to be instructed and assisted on into competency.
When that girl goes to a real commercial millinery shop she will be as thoroughly ready for it as the New England girl was ready for a loom when her mother let her at last run it by herself.
We have looked now at the industrial educational level. And, happening to be in the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union, we can look at two other educational levels without going out of the building.
On the commercial level we can remind ourselves of the rapid spread of modern commercial education by visiting the classroom of Mrs. Prince’s school of department-store salesmanship. 79 It is such a successful school now that the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union offers, in conjunction with Simmons College, to teach people to teach salesmanship in other similar schools which are being started elsewhere.
Leaving this commercial level, we can go to the academic level by visiting the Appointment Bureau. We may call it the academic level because the Appointment Bureau exists chiefly for the benefit of girls who have been to college. Its purpose, however, is non-academic in the extreme.
The Appointment Bureau is an employment agency, and one of the most extraordinary employment agencies ever organized. Its object is not merely to introduce existing clients to existing jobs (which is the proper normal function of employment agencies), but to make forays into the wild region of “occupations other than teaching,” and there to find jobs, and then to find girls to fit those jobs. In other words, it is a kind of “Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson’s Bay” for the purpose of exploring, surveying, developing, and settling the region 80 of “occupations other than teaching” on behalf of college women.
It is managed by Miss Laura Drake Gill, president of the National Association of Collegiate Alumnæ and former dean of Barnard College. She is assisted by an advisory council of representatives of near-by colleges—Radcliffe, Wellesley, Simmons, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Brown.
In harmony with this work the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union has just issued a handbook of three hundred pages, entitled “Vocations for the Trained Woman.” It is an immense map of the occupational world for educated women, in which every bay and headland, every lake and hill, is drawn to scale, from poultry farming to department-store buying, from lunch-room management to organized child-saving.
We here see the educational system, at its college academic level, moving not simply toward preparing girls for money-earning work but also toward actually putting them into that work and, in order to put them into it, finding it.
This last innovation, this advising of graduates with regard to the occupational world and this guiding of them into the occupations for which they are best fitted, will bring education closer to the ultimate needs of those who are being educated than any other innovation of recent years. It will establish the final permanent contact between two isolations,—the isolation of aimless learning and the isolation of ignorant doing. It is still, however, a project, a prospect. The other two innovations which we have mentioned press closer to immediacy. Immediate, certainly, is the demand of “middle class” women for larger occupational opportunities. And almost immediate is the success of the demand that the school system shall fit them to the use of those opportunities.
In a small Illinois city there is a woman’s college, founded as a preparatory school in the forties and soon advanced to be a seminary, which, with Anna P. Sill for its first head, Jane Addams for its best-known graduate, and Julia Gulliver for its present president, has come to be a college of standing and of leading. Only Troy Female Seminary and Mount Holyoke 82 Seminary preceded it, in date of foundation, among the important women’s institutions.
Rockford College is ranked to-day, by the reports of the United States Commissioner of Education, in rank one—among the sixteen best women’s colleges in the United States. It hasn’t risen to that rank by any quick, money-spurred spurt. It brings with it out of its far past all the traditions of that early struggle for the higher education which, by friction, kindled among women so flaming an enthusiasm for pure knowledge. It remains “collegiate” in the old sense, quiet, cloistral, inhabiting old-fashioned brick buildings in an old-fashioned large yard, looking still like the Illinois of war times more than like the Illinois of the twentieth century, retaining all the home ideals of those times—a large interest in feminine accomplishments, a strict regard for manners, a belief in the value of charm.
But here, in this quiet, non-metropolitan college, so really “academic,” so really—in the oldest-fashioned ways—“cultural,” here is a two-year course in Secretarial Studies.
It is the first time (within our knowledge) 83 that such a thing has happened in any of the old first-rank women’s colleges.
The course in Secretarial Studies at Rockford gives the pupil English, accounts, commerce, commercial law, and economic history in her first year, and political science, English, and economics in her second year. Shorthand and typewriting are required in both years, and a few hours a week are reserved in each year for elective courses to be chosen by the pupil among offerings in French, German, Spanish, and history.
There is here a double concession: first, to the increased need of “middle class” women for “occupations other than teaching”; second, to the increased recognition of those other occupations as being worthy of “cultural” training.
This turn in education has been made on an economic pivot. The commercial and industrial occupations of the world are coming to demand scholastic preparation. And the women who have had scholastic preparation, even the most complete and long-continued scholastic preparation, are coming to demand admission into the commercial and industrial occupations 84 of the world. The era of the purely scholastic occupation and no other for the scholastically trained woman has come to an end.
We have observed the contraction of the home as a field of adequate employment for daughters. We have observed the postponement of marriage in its effect on the occupational opportunities of those daughters. Deprived of adequate employment at home, we have seen them seek it elsewhere. Marriage and housekeeping and child-rearing, as an occupation, we have seen deferred to a later and later period in life. Let us now assume that every woman who has a husband is removed from money-earning work. It is an assumption very contrary to fact. But let us make it. And then let us look at this compact picture of the extent to which being married is an occupation for American women:
In the United States, in the year 1900, among women twenty years of age and over, the married women numbered 13,400,000. The unmarried women and the widows together numbered 6,900,000. For every two women married there was one woman either single or widowed.
What futility, as well as indignity, there is in the idea that the query of support for women gets its full answer in a husband!
Surely we may now say: If education does not (1) give women a comprehension of the organization of the money-earning world, and (2) train them to one of the techniques which lead to self-support in that world, it is not education.
Just at this point, though, we encounter a curious conflict in women’s education. Just as we see their urgent need of a money-earning technique, we simultaneously hear, coming from a corner of the battlefield and swelling till it fills the air with a nation-wide battle cry, the sentiment: “The Home is also a technique. All women must be trained to it.”
At Rockford College, illustrating this conflict, there exists, besides the course in Secretarial Studies, an equivalent course in Home Economics.
In an illustration in this chapter we show the tiny children of the Francis Parker School in Chicago taking their first lesson in the technique of the home. In another picture we show the 86 post-graduate laboratory in the technique of the home at the University of Illinois. And the space between the kindergarten and the degree of Doctor of Philosophy threatens to get filled up almost everywhere with courses in cooking, sewing, chemistry of diet, composition of textiles, art of marketing, and other phases of home management.
The money-earning world, a technique! The home, a technique! The boy learns only one. Must the girl learn two, be twice a specialist?
The First International Congress on Domestic Science and Arts was held in 1908 at Fribourg in Switzerland. It was no improvised, amateur-uplift, private-theatricals affair.
The head of the organizing committee was M. Python, president of Fribourg’s State Council. Seventy-two papers on technical topics were printed and circulated beforehand. The participating members numbered seven hundred. The discussions developed the characteristic points of three rival varieties of household-arts instruction—the German, the Swiss, and the Belgian. Visits were made to the normal schools of Fribourg, Berne, and Zurich, in each of which there is an elaborate system for the training of household-arts teachers. In the end, in order that facts and ideas about the education of girls for their duties as housekeepers might be more rapidly circulated, it was voted 90 to establish, at some place in Switzerland, a Permanent International Information Committee.
Thus, in an age in which the productive tasks of the home have almost all been surrendered to the factory; in an age in which even cooking and sewing, last puny provinces of a once ample empire, are forever slaking concessions of territory to those barbarian invaders,—the manufacturers of ready-to-eat foods and ready-to-wear clothes; in an age in which home industry lies fainting and gasping, while Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Gilman begs the spectators to say “thumbs down” and let her put it out of its agony altogether—in such an age there comes, at Fribourg, in this First International Congress on Domestic Science and Arts, the most serious, the most notable, recognition ever given in any age to the home’s economic value.
A real paradox? Well, at any rate, it gives wings to the fluttering thought that theories of industrial evolution, one’s own as well as Mrs. Gilman’s, are a bit like automobiles—not always all that they are cranked up to be.
Certainly the revival of the home seems to 91 attract larger crowds to the mourners’ bench every year.
At the University of Missouri the first crop of graduates in home economics was gathered in the spring of 1910. They were seven. Of the 120 units of work required for graduation they had earned at least 38 in such subjects as “Textiles and Clothing,” “Food Chemistry,” “General Foods,” “Advanced Foods,” “Home Sanitation,” “House Furnishing and Decoration,” and “Home Administration.” Most of them, besides taking a degree in Home Economics, took likewise a degree in Education. We may therefore assume that schools as well as homes will listen to their new message.
Their preceptress, Miss Edna D. Day, who subsequently left Missouri to organize a department of home economics in the University of Kansas, is a novel type of New Woman in that she has earned the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in “Woman’s Sphere.” She took graduate work in the department of home administration in the University of Chicago and achieved her doctorate with an investigation into “The Effect of Cooking on the Digestibility of 92 Starch.” What she found out was subsequently printed as a bulletin by the United States Department of Agriculture.
In the midst of the festivities at the wake held over the home, it perplexes the mourners to learn that some of those domestic science bulletins of the United States Department of Agriculture excite a demand for a million copies.
It is a wake like Mike McCarthy’s.
Mike was lookin’ iligant
As he rested there in state.
When the fun was at its height
McCarthy sat up straight.
This ballad (one of the most temperately worded of literary successes) goes on to say that “the effect was great.” So it has been in the parallel case here considered—great enough to be felt all the way around the world.
It is being felt in the Island Empire of the East. Miss Ume Tsuda’s Institute at Tokyo (which stands so high that its graduates are allowed to teach in secondary schools without further 93 government examination) has installed courses in English domestic science as well as in the domestic science of Japan.
It is being felt in the Island Empire of the West. King’s College, of the University of London, has organized a three-year course leading to the degree of Mistress of Home Science, and has also established a “Post-Graduates’ Course in Home Science,” in which out of fourteen students (in the first year of its existence) four were graduates of the courses of academic study of Oxford or Cambridge.
It is being felt in the United States at every educational level.
We expect domestic science and art now in the schools of agriculture and we regard it as natural that the legislature of Montana should appropriate $50,000 to the Montana State Agricultural College for a women’s dormitory.
We expect domestic science and art in the elementary schools and we are not astonished to find that in Boston, in every grade above the third, for every girl, there is sewing, or cooking, or both, for 120 minutes every week.
We begin to expect domestic science and art in the high schools. In Illinois there are 71 high schools in which instruction is offered in one or more of the three great divisions of the Study of Daily Life—Food, Clothing, the Home. In such of these high schools as are within the limits of the city of Chicago there is a four-year Household-Arts course so contrived that the girls who enroll themselves in it, while not neglecting literature, art, and the pure sciences like physics, will spend at least eight hours every week on “Domestic Science” or on “Textiles.”
We are impelled now to admit that the work done in domestic science and art by the high schools should be recognized by the colleges and universities. The University of California requires its freshmen to come to it with 45 “units” of standardized high-school work, of various sorts, accomplished. We learn, but we are not startled when we learn, that the University of California will henceforth allow the entering freshman to offer nine of her 45 “units” in sewing, dressmaking, millinery, decorating, furnishing (all accompanied with free-hand 95 drawing); and in cooking, hygiene, dietetics, laundering, nursing (all accompanied with chemistry).
Even in the colleges and universities themselves, especially if they are of recent foundation, we accept, if we do not expect, a domestic-science-and-art department of utilitarian value and of academic worth. At Chicago University it is called the Department of Household Administration; sixty women undergraduates are specializing in it. At the University of Illinois it is called the Department of Household Science; one-third of all the women in the university are taking courses in it; one-fifth of them are “majoring” in it; number four of volume two of the university bulletins is by Miss Sprague on “A Precise Method of Roasting Beef”; in the research laboratory Miss Goldthwaite, Doctor Goldthwaite, is making chemical experiments with pectin, sugar, fruit-juice, tartaric acid, to the point of determining that the mixture should be withdrawn from heat at a temperature of 103 degrees Centigrade and at a specific gravity of 1.28 in order that it shall invariably “jell”; in the graduate school the 96 women who attend the household-arts seminar are being directed toward original inquiries into “Co-operative Housekeeping,” “Dietetic Cults,” “Hygiene of Clothing,” “Pure Food Laws.”
Seeing how far the newer universities go, we return to rest our eyes, without their rolling in the frenzy which would attack Alexander Hamilton if he were with us, on Hamilton’s alma mater, Columbia University, venerable but adventurous, giving courses in “Housewifery,” in “Shirtwaists,” and in “Domestic Laundering.”
It is not till we come to the really-truly, more than masculinely, academic and cultural eastern women’s colleges such as Vassar, Wellesley, Smith, and Bryn Mawr that we experience a genuine journalistic shock on hearing a domestic-science-and-art piece of news. Those colleges will be the last to succumb. But the day of their fall approaches. The alumnæ association of Wellesley voted, in 1910, to petition the trustees to establish home-economics courses; and, in the same year, the president of Wellesley put into her commencement address the words: “I hope the time may soon come when we can have a department of domestic science which shall give a sound basis for the problems of the household.”
The resuscitated Home has become one of the livest of pedagogical personages. It has added a great and growing field to the estate of Education. To supply that field with teachers of high qualifications we find highly extended training courses in such institutions as Drexel in Philadelphia, Pratt in Brooklyn, Simmons in Boston and Teachers College in New York. In fact, the conclusion of the epoch of pioneer domestic-science-and-art agitation might perhaps be said to have been announced to the country when Teachers College, in 1909, erected a new building at a cost of $500,000 and dedicated it, in its entirety, to Household Arts.
What does it all mean?
“Fellow citizens,” said the colored orator, reported by Dr. Paul Monroe of Columbia, “what am education? Education am the palladium of our liberties and the grand pandemonium of civilization.”
But it does mean something, this Home Economics 98 disturbance. And something very different from what it seems to.
Mr. Edward T. Devine, of the New York Charity Organization Society, has distinguished himself in the field of economic thought as well as in the field of active social reform. Among his works is a minute but momentous treatise on “The Economic Function of Women.” It is really a plea for the proposition that to-day the art of consuming wealth is just as important a study as the art of producing it.
“If acquisition,” says Mr. Devine, “has been the idea which in the past history of economics has been unduly emphasized, expenditure is the idea which the future history of the science will place beside it.”
We have used our brains while getting hold of money. We are going to use our brains while getting rid of it. We have studied banking, engineering, shop practice, cost systems, salesmanship. We are going to study food values, the hygiene of clothing, the sanitary construction and operation of living quarters, the mental reaction of amusements, the distribution of income, 99 the art of making choices, according to our means, from among the millions of things, harmful and helpful, ugly and beautiful, offered to us by the producing world.
Mr. Devine ventures to hope that “we may look for a radical improvement in general economic conditions from a wiser use of the wealth which we have chosen to produce.”
This enlarged view of the economic importance of consumption brings with it a correspondingly enlarged view of the economic importance of the Home. “If the factory,” says Mr. Devine, “has been the center of the economics which has had to do with Production, the home will displace the factory as the center of interest in a system which gives due prominence to Enjoyment and Use.”
“There will result,” continues Mr. Devine, “an increased respect on the part of economists for the industrial function which woman performs,” for “there is no economic function higher than that of determining how wealth shall be used,” so that “even if man remain the chief producer of wealth and woman remain the chief factor in determining how wealth shall be 100 used, the economic position of woman will not be considered by those who judge with discrimination to be inferior to that of man.”
Mr. Devine then lays out for the economist a task in the discharge of which the innocent bystander will sincerely wish him a pleasant trip and a safe return.
“It is the present duty of the economist,” says Mr. Devine, “to accompany the wealth expender to the very threshold of the home, that he may point out, with untiring vigilance, its emptiness, caused not so much by lack of income as by lack of knowledge of how to spend wisely.”
Mr. Devine’s proposition therefore would seem finally to sanction some such conclusion as this:
Physical science and social science (and common sense) are making such important contributions to the subject of the rearing of children and to the subject of the maintenance of wholesome and beautiful living conditions and to the subject of the use of leisure that, while the home woman has lost almost all of the productive industries which she once controlled, she has simultaneously 101 gained a whole new field of labor. Consumption has ceased to be merely passive and has become active. It has ceased to be mere Absorption and has become Choice. And the active choosing of the products of the world (both spiritual and material) in connection with her children, her house, and her spare time has developed for the home woman into a task so broad, into an art so difficult, as to require serious study.
We have quoted at length from Mr. Devine’s discourse because it is recognized as the classic statement of the case and because it has had the warm personal commendation of such women as the late Mrs. Ellen H. Richards, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose skill as scientist and vision as philosopher made her the most authoritative personality in the American Home Economics Association. (That association, by the way, has some fifteen hundred due-paying members.)
The scales fall from our eyes now and we see at least one thing which we had not seen before. We had supposed that sewing and cooking were the vitals of the home economics movement. 102 Not at all! The home woman might cease altogether to sew and to cook (just as she has ceased altogether to spin, weave, brew, etc.) without depriving the home economics movement of any considerable part of its driving power. Sewing and cooking are productive processes. They add economic value to certain commodities; namely, cloth and food. But it is not production, it is consumption, which the home economics movement is at heart devoted to.
This is plainly set forth by some of its most zealous workers. Thus Edna D. Day, at the Lake Placid Conference on home economics in 1908, was more or less sorry that “domestic science has come to be so largely sewing and cooking in our schools”; was quite willing to look at the white of the eye of the fact that “more and more we are buying ready-made clothes and ready-cooked foods”; and marked out the policy of her “Survey Course in Home Economics” at the University of Missouri in the statement that “sewing and cooking are decreasingly home problems, while the problems of wise buying, of adjusting standards of living to income, and of developing right feelings in 103 regard to family responsibilities are increasingly difficult.”
To choose and use the world’s resources intelligently on behalf of family and community—in this Mr. Devine saw a new field of action, in this Mrs. Richards saw a new field of education.
Women will train themselves for their duties as consumers or else continue to lie under the sentence of condemnation pronounced upon them by Florence Nightingale. “Three-fourths of the mischief in women’s lives,” said she, “arises from their excepting themselves from the rule of training considered necessary for men.”
But what, in this case, is the training proposed?
The answer to that question will cause some more scales to fall from our eyes. Just as we have seen that home economics does not consist essentially of sewing and cooking, we shall see that consumption is not at all a specialized technique in the sense in which electrical engineering, department-store buying, railroading, cotton manufacturing, medicine, and the other occupations of the outside world are specialized 104 techniques. Home economics will not narrow women’s education but in the end will enlarge it. For consumption, instead of being a specialty, is a generality so broad as almost to glitter.
At Menomonie, Wis., Mr. L. D. Harvey, lately president of the National Education Association, has established a Homemakers’ School. It does not turn out teachers. Its course of instruction is solely for the prospective housewife.
If we look at the number of things the prospective housewife is to be we shall soon perceive that she cannot be any one of them in any specialized technical way and that what she is getting is not so much a training for a trade as a training for life at large.
The first grand division of study is The House.
We here observe that the housewife is going to be something of a sanitary engineer, since she studies chemistry, physics, and bacteriology in their “application to such subjects as the heating, lighting, ventilation, and plumbing of 105 a house.” It is thought that knowledge of this sort “will go a long way toward improving the health conditions of the country.”
We also observe that the housewife is going to be something of an interior decorator, since she studies “design, color, house planning and furnishing.”
She also acquires some skill as purchasing agent, bookkeeper, and employer of labor when she takes the course on household management and studies “the proper apportioning of income among the different lines of home expenditures, the systematizing and keeping of household accounts, and the question of domestic service.”
The second grand division is Food Study and Preparation.
Here the housewife becomes, to some extent, a dietitian, studying “the chemical processes in the preparation and digestion of foods,” and considering the question “how she shall secure for the family the foods best suited to the various activities of each individual.”
Here, likewise, she makes a start toward being a pure-food expert, through a study of “physical and chemical changes induced in food products 106 by the growth of molds, yeasts, and bacteria,” and a start toward being a health officer, through a study of “bacteria in their relation to disease, sources of infection, personal and household disinfection.”
Nor does she omit to acquire some of the technique of the physical director through a course in physiology bearing on “digestion, storage of energy, rest, sleep, exercise, and regularity of habits.”
Of course, in her work in cookery, she pays some attention to special cookery for invalids.
The third grand division, that of Clothing and Household Fabrics, produces a dressmaker, a milliner, and an embroiderer, as well as a person trained to see to it that “the expenditure for clothing shall be correct in proportion to the expenditure for other purposes.”
The fourth grand division, the Care of Children, is of course limitless. The rearing of the human young is, as we all know and as Mr. Eliot of Harvard has insisted, the most intellectual occupation in the world. Here the homemaker applies all the knowledge she has gained from her study of the hygiene of foods and of 107 the hygiene of clothes, and also makes some progress toward becoming a trained nurse and a kindergartner by means of researches into “infant diseases and emergencies,” “the stages of the mental development of the child,” “the child’s imagination with regard to truth-telling and deceit,” “the history of children’s books,” and “the art of story-telling.”
Passing over the fifth grand division, Home Nursing and Emergencies (in which the pupil learns simply “the use of household remedies,” “the care of the sick room,” etc.), we come to the wide expanse of the sixth grand division, Home and Social Economics.
The work in this division begins with a study of the primitive evolution of the home and comes on down to the present time, when “the passing of many of the former lines of woman’s work into the factory has brought to many women leisure time which should be spent in social service.”
Note that last fact carefully. Home economics is no attempt to drive women back into home seclusion. On the contrary, it is an attempt to bring the home and its occupants into the scientific 108 and sociological developments of the outside world.
For this reason, in traversing the division of home and social economics, the pupil encounters “an effort to determine problems in civic life which seem to be a part of the duties of women.”
Seventhly and lastly, there is a division dedicated to Literature, in which “a systematic course in reading is carried on through the two years.” Indispensable! No degree of proficiency at inserting calories in correct numbers into Little Sally’s stomach could atone for lack of skill in leading Little Sally herself through the “Child’s Garden of Verses” with trowel in hand to dig up the gayest plants and reset them in the memory.
So we come back to our old statement and vary it in phrase but not in effect by saying that home-economics courses, totaled, do not give a technique so much as an outlook.
The homemaker may happen to be a specialist in some one direction, but it is clear that she cannot simultaneously know as much about food values as the real dietitian, as much about 109 the physical care of her child as the real trained nurse, as much about the wholesomeness of her living arrangements as the real sanitarian, as much about music as the Thomas Orchestra, as much about social service as Mr. Devine, and as much about poems as Mr. Stevenson. Her peculiar equipment, if she is a good homemaker, is a round of experience and a bent of mind which make it possible for her to coöperate intelligently with the dietitian, the trained nurse, the sanitarian, the Thomas Orchestra, Mr. Devine, Mr. Stevenson, and the various other representatives of the various other specialized techniques of the outside world.
It follows that her school discipline cannot be too comprehensive. No other occupation demands such breadth of sense and sensibility. One could make a perfectly good cotton manufacturer on the basis of a very narrow training. One cannot make a good consumer without a really liberal education.
For this reason it becomes necessary to resist certain narrownesses in certain phases of home economics.
One of these narrownesses is the assumption 110 that because a thing happens to be close to us it is therefore important. We have heard lecturers insist that because a house contains drain pipes a woman should learn all about drain pipes. But why? In most communities drain pipes are installed and repaired and in every way controlled by gentlemen who are drainpipe specialists. The woman who lives in the house has no more need of a professional knowledge of the structural mysteries of drain pipes than a reporter has of a professional knowledge of the structural mysteries of his typewriting machine. The reporter is supplemented at that point by the office mechanic and, so far as his efficiency as a reporter is concerned, a technical inquiry into his faithful keyboard’s internal arrangements would be in most cases an amiable waste of time.
Another possible narrowness is the attempt to manufacture “cultural backgrounds” for various important but quite safe-and-sane household tasks.
For instance, in the books and in the courses of instruction (of college grade) on “the house” we have sometimes observed elaborate 111 accounts of the evolution of the human home, beginning with the huts of the primitive Simians. And in pursuing the very essential subject of “clothes and fabrics” we have not infrequently found ourselves in the midst of spacious preliminary dissertations on the structure of the loom, beginning with that which was used by the Anthropenguins.
Now we would not for the world speak disparagingly of looms or huts. We have ourselves examined some of them in the Hull House Museum in Chicago and in the woods of Canada, and have found them instructive. We suggest only that college life is short, that the college curriculum is crowded, and that (except possibly for those students who are especially interested in anthropology or in industrial evolution) it would surely be a misfortune to learn of the Simian hut and to miss Rossetti’s “House of Life,” or to get the impression that as a “cultural background” for shirtwaists the Anthropenguinian loom can really compete with Carlyle’s “Sartor Resartus.”
If this occasional tendency toward exaggerating the importance of drain pipes, window 112 curtains, and door mats were to grow strong, and if girls, as a class, should be required to spend any large proportion of their time on the specialized history and sociology of feminine implements and tasks while the boys were still in the current of the affairs of the race, we should indeed want President Thomas of Bryn Mawr to repeat on a thousand lecture platforms her indignant assertion of the fact that “nothing more disastrous for women, or for men, can be conceived of than specialized education of women as a sex.”
These parenthetical observations, however, amount simply to the expression of our personal opinion that home economics, like every new idea, carries with it large quantities of dross which will have to be refined out in the smelter of trial. The real metal in it is its attempt to establish the principle that intelligent consumption is an important and difficult task. For that reason it will not only desire but demand the utmost equality of educational opportunity. And women, like men, will continue to get their “cultural backgrounds” in the great achievements of the whole race, where they 113 can hold converse with Lincoln and Darwin and the makers of the Cologne Cathedral and George Meredith and Pasteur and Karl Marx and Whistler and Joan of Arc and St. John.
The woman voiced a great truth who said that the soul which can irradiate the numberless pettinesses of home management (and it is folly to deny that there are numberless pettinesses in it) is the soul “nourished elsewhere.” Think that over. It tells the story. Whether the “elsewhere” is the deep recesses of her own religious nature or the wide stretches of the great arts and sciences, it is always an “elsewhere.”
Let that be granted, as it must be granted. Let us say that there shall be no abridgment of the offerings of so-called academic education. What does a course of study like that of Mr. Harvey’s Homemakers’ School attempt to add to academic education?
Principally three things.
First: Certain manual arts.
Second: Certain domestic applications of the physical and sociological sciences.
Third: Money sense in expenditure (in the course on household management).
Let us review these things in reverse order.
The last of the three is showing itself in many places. At the University of Illinois, for instance, Professor Kinley, recently delegate from the United States to the Pan-American Congress, has given courses in home administration for women which he has regarded as of equal importance with his courses in business administration for men.
At the University of Chicago, in the department of household administration, course 44 is on “the administration of the house” and includes “the proper apportionment of income.”
The business man says: “My sales cost, or my manufacturing cost, or my office force cost, is such and such a per cent. of my total cost. When it goes above that, I want to know why; and I find out; and, if there isn’t a mighty good reason for its going up, I make it go down again to where it was.” Shall we come to the day when in spending the money which has been earned in business we shall say: “Such 115 and such a per cent. to food; and such and such a per cent. to clothes; and such and such a per cent. to shelter; and such and such a per cent. to health and recreation; and such and such a per cent. to good works; and such and such other per cents. to such and such other purposes”? Shall we come to the day when we shall consume wealth with as much forethought and with as much balance of judgment between conflicting claims as we now exhibit in acquiring wealth?
They are trying to develop this “costs system for home expenditures” in many of the schools and departments of home economics to-day. They believe that most people, because of not looking ahead and because of not making definite plans based on previous experience, come to the contemplation of their bills on the first of each month with every reason to confess that they have bought those things which they ought not to have bought and have left unbought those things which they ought to have bought.
But it is not only a matter of reaching a systematic instead of a helter-skelter enjoyment of 116 the offerings of the world. It is also a matter of reaching, by study of money values, a mental habit of economy. And it comes at a time when that habit is needed.
We are just beginning to realize in the United States that we cannot spend all our annual earnings on living expenses and still have a surplus for fresh capital for new industrial enterprises. We are on the point of perceiving that we are cramping and stunting the future industrial expansion of the country by our personal extravagance. We shall soon really believe Mr. James J. Hill when he says that “every dollar unprofitably spent is a crime against posterity.”
When international industrial competition reaches its climax, that nation will have an advantage whose people feel most keenly that the wise expenditure of income is a patriotic as well as a personal duty.
But is this a matter for women alone? Do not men also consume? Are there no vats in Milwaukee, no stills in Kentucky, no factories wrapping paper rings around bunches of dead leaves at Tampa? Are there no men’s tailors, 117 gents’ furnishing shops, luncheons, clubs, banquets, athletics, celebrations? And as for home expenditures themselves, is the man simply to bring the plunder to the door, get patted on the head, and trot off in search of more plunder? We must doubt if economy will be reached by such a route. We find ourselves agreeing rather with the home economics lecturer who said: “There never yet was a family income really wisely expended without coöperation in all matters between husband and wife.”
The Massachusetts legislature has passed a law looking toward the teaching of thrift in the public schools. Boys and girls need it equally. And we venture to surmise that in so far as the new art and science of consumption is concerned with wise spending, the bulk of its teachings ultimately will be enjoyed by both sexes. It will not be, to any great extent, a specialized education for women.
So much for the “money sense in expenditure” which a full home economics course adds to “academic” education. The more we admit its value, the more convinced we must be that 118 it ought to include every kind of expenditure and both kinds of human being.
A precisely similar conviction arises with regard to those “domestic applications of the physical and sociological sciences” which a full home economics course adds to an “academic” education.
Those “domestic” applications are most of them broadly “human” applications. They bear on daily living, exercise, fresh air, personal cleanliness, diet, sleep, the avoidance of contagion, methods of fighting off disease, general physical efficiency. They largely amount to what Mrs. Ellen H. Richards used to call Right Living. She wanted four R’s instead of three: Reading, Riting, Rithmetic, Right Living.
Now is Right Living to be only for girls?
Mr. Eliot of Harvard does not think so. In a recent “Survey of the Needs of Education,” he said:
“Public instruction in preventive medicine must be provided for all children and the hygienic method of living must be taught in all schools.... To make this new knowledge and 119 skill a universal subject of instruction in our schools, colleges, and universities is by no means impossible—indeed, it would not even be difficult, for it is a subject full of natural history as well as social interest.... American schools of every sort ought to provide systematic instruction on public and private hygiene, diet, sex hygiene, and the prevention of disease and premature death, not only because these subjects profoundly affect human affections and public happiness, but because they are of high economic importance.”
It may very well be that what Mr. Eliot had in mind will not only come to pass but will even exceed his expectations. It may very well be that the educational policy of the future was correctly search-lighted by Miss Henrietta I. Goodrich (who used to direct the Boston School of Housekeeping before it was merged into Simmons College) when she said:
“We need to have courage to break the present courses in household arts and domestic science into their component parts and begin again on the much broader basis of a study of living conditions. Our plea would be this: that 120 instruction in the facts of daily living be incorporated in the state’s educational system from the primary grades through the graduate departments of the universities, with a rank equal to that of any subject that is taught, as required work for both boys and girls.”
We revert now finally to the “manual arts” which a full course in home economics adds to an “academic” education. In this matter, just as in the matter of money sense in expenditure and in the matter of right living, we observe that the ultimate issue of the movement is not so much a specialized education for women as a practical efficiency in the common things of life for men and women both.
A reasonable proficiency in manual arts will some day be the heritage of all educated people. Mr. Eliot, in his “Survey of the Needs of Education,” speaks appreciatingly of his father’s having caused him to learn carpentry and wood-turning. He goes on to say:
“This I hold to be the great need of education in the United States—the devoting of a much larger proportion of the total school time to the training of the eye, ear, and hand.”
It follows, then, that cooking and sewing for girls in the elementary schools must be made just as rigorous a discipline for eye and hand as wood-working is for boys. It even follows that boys and girls will often get their manual training together.
It will not be a case of “household drudgery” for the girls while the boys are studying civics.
Somewhere in this chapter the reader will find a picture of the “living room” of the “model” house of the Washington-Allston Elementary School in Boston. The boys and girls of graduating grade in that school give four hours a week to matters connected with the welfare of that house. They have furnished it throughout with their own handiwork, the girls making pillow-cases, wall-coverings, window-curtains, etc., and the boys making chairs, tables, cupboards, etc. Succeeding classes will furnish it again. The reason why Mr. Crawford, the master of the school, chose to have a house for a manual training laboratory was simply that a house offers ampler opportunities than any other kind of place for instruction in the 122 practical efficiencies of daily living for both sexes.
The system will be complete when the girls get a bigger training in design by making more of the chairs, and when the boys get a bigger training in diet by doing more of the cooking.
We have now glanced at each of the three principal contributions made to modern education by the new study of the home. We have come to understand that much of each contribution will be for the male as well as for the female inhabitants of the home. If girls are to be led toward wisdom in the use of money, so are boys. If girls are to be habituated to the principles of Right Living, so again are boys. If girls have a need of manual training, with certain materials and implements, so boys, with perhaps other materials and implements, have a need of manual training, too.
It may be that in each case, except the last, there will be an ampler body of instruction for feminine than for masculine use. But the excess will be small enough to be absorbed without interference with general education of the 123 largest and most liberal sort. If this were not true by natural fact, it would have to be made true artificially. The body of home economics instruction could not be suffered to defeat its own ultimate mental purpose. The study of specialized techniques could not be permitted to narrow the spacious educational experience needed for that broadest of all generalities, the homemaker’s intelligent Consumption, Enjoyment, Use of all the world’s physical and spiritual commodities.
Surely we can now say with unanimous consent that Home Economics has revealed itself to be not a species of sex education but a species of vocational education. We miss its inmost intent, and we divert it from its mission, if we start with saying “Let us teach girls.” We have to start with saying “Let us teach Foods, Textiles, Hygiene.” We then ask “Who need to know about Foods, Textiles, Hygiene?” In answer, our largest group of scholars will come from among the prospective managers of households. But we are not teaching feminine accomplishments. We are teaching human life-tasks.
Widening with this vocational principle, Miss Goodrich’s vision of the inclusion of both sexes in the courses of study now labeled “domestic-science-and-art” finds widening fulfilment. Side by side with young women in the Foods laboratory we shall see young men who are going to be chefs, dietitians, pure-food inspectors. In the Textiles laboratory we shall see young women who are going to sew at home, young women who are going to sew in factories, young men who are going to manufacture cloth. Hygiene will attract the sanitarian, the nurse, the hotel manager, trousered or petticoated.
We come thus face to face with the final development of the home economics movement. It issues into a double system. After providing, to the young, that general introduction to life at large which we have already detailed, it goes on, in its second phase, to provide immediate information of a more specialized character to scholars more mature at the time when that information is immediately needed. A large part of the home economics movement of the future will be the establishment of a system of continuous instruction for wives, mothers, 125 housekeepers, already entered upon their task of home-making and child-rearing.
The need of this development appears as soon as we take the sequence of events in a girl’s life and place it beside the sequence of events in a boy’s. If a boy is going to be a cotton-machinery engineer, a municipal sanitary expert, a food specialist, we do not give him his real technical finish till he is entering his trade. We may have given him, we ought to have given him, a vocational foundation of pertinent knowledge. But we do not give him the minutiæ of trade technique till he is at the point of practicing his trade or has already begun to practice it. This principle, applicable to the preparation for all trades whatsoever, sets limits to the amount of detailed preparation for home-making which can profitably be introduced, for most girls, into the curricula of schools and colleges.
In former chapters of this book we have seen that for most girls there is a gap, a large gap, between school and marriage, between girlhood and motherhood. We have seen, too, that this gap tends to be filled with money-earning work which demands a certain preparation of its own. 126 That point aside, however, the very existence of the gap in question, no matter how it may be filled, means that if we give a minute and elaborate preparation of home-making to girlhood we may wait five years, ten years, fifteen years, twenty years, before we see wifehood and motherhood put that preparation to use.
Anybody who proposed to give a boy a minute and elaborate preparation for civil engineering a possible twenty years before he became a civil engineer and in contempt of the possible contingency of his not becoming a civil engineer at all, would hardly deserve to be called practical. Yet, in the name of practical education, we are sometimes asked to tolerate a correspondingly complete preparation for wifehood and motherhood at an age when both of those estates are mere prospects, distant and indefinite. We cannot believe that so extreme a demand will ever be acceded to by educators who have fully considered the modern postponement of marriage. Home economics, in schools and colleges, except for girls who are going to become teachers of it or who in other ways are going to make it their immediate money-earning work, must stop 127 with its broad applications to daily human living. So will it be useful, in different degrees, to both sexes and clash neither with general academic preparation nor with the preparation for self-support.
There will remain, unlearned, a great deal that modern science and modern sociology have to offer to the wife and mother. Let that great deal, in its more technical teachings, be learned when it can be carried forward into action.
The machinery of home economics instruction for adults is even now being erected, is even now being operated.
The Chicago School of Domestic Arts and Science, after much teaching of young girls, has established a “Housekeepers’ Association.” The members of that association are adult practicing housekeepers. The same school will soon establish a course in the study of the Care of Children. The pupils enrolled in that course will be mothers.
The fact is that science and sociology are so constantly amending and enlarging their teachings that a knowledge of what they taught twenty years ago is inadequate and a knowledge 128 of the minutiæ of what they taught twenty years ago is futile. The housekeeper of the future will have to keep on studying while housekeeping.
Several hundred housekeepers come each winter to the University of Wisconsin to attend the “Women’s Course in Home Economics.” They hear Professor Hastings talk about the “Production and Care of Milk.” They hear Dr. Evans talk about the “Prevention of Infant Mortality.” They hear Professor Marlatt talk about “Diets in Disease.” In each case they hear something very different from what they would have heard in their girlhood. For this reason alone, even if the gap between girlhood and motherhood did not exist, the machinery of home economics instruction for adults would have become necessary.
It is for adults that the United States Government issues such bulletins as “Modern Conveniences for the Farm Home.” It is for adults that Cornell University sends out its Farmers’ Wives’ Bulletins in editions of twenty thousand. It is for adults that Columbia University prints pamphlets like “The Feeding of 129 Children in a Family with an Income of $800 a Year.”
For adults, again, are such institutions as the American School of Home Economics, in Chicago, which, in the few years of its life, has enrolled more than 10,000 pupils in its correspondence courses.
For adults, finally, are the Homemakers’ Conferences held in conjunction with Farmers’ Institutes as well as the extension-course lectures given to local groups in city and in country by teachers sent out from state universities and agricultural colleges.
All this machinery, which here we do not attempt to describe but only to indicate, will some day find its scattered units associated and harmonized through the work of a Federal Bureau of Domestic Science and Art. Bills for the establishment of such a bureau have already been introduced into Congress. It will not be a cooking and sewing school for children. It will be a technical continuation school for adults. The National Congress of Mothers discerned one of its functions when it said: “The time has come when every nation through a 130 special department should provide data concerning infants which may be used by mothers everywhere.”
At the end of chapter two of this book we asked whether or not, in the field of education, the training for the home and the training for self-support would impose a double burden on the girl pupil. If our interpretation of the spirit of the home economics movement has been correct we may now say that the training for the home is so largely a training for life in general and is so distributed through different life-periods that it will not be felt to be burdensome at all. We may even go on to suggest that self-support and housekeeping, world and home, and the trainings for them, will merge for the girl into a progressive unified experience.
First. That part of home economics which can profitably be taught to the mass of pupils in elementary and high school and in the colleges, with its manual arts, its Right Living and its money-sense, will be helpful, much of it, to boys as well as to girls and will actually, since it develops the whole personality of the pupil, be part of the training for self-support itself.
Second. The years spent in self-support, in learning the world, will be part of the training for the home, because hereafter, as the Mary of our first chapter remarked, the mother who does not know the world cannot wisely rear boys up into it.
Third. After the period of self-support, when marriage comes, what further technical instruction the housekeeper and mother may need will be furnished to her by a system of adult education limitless in its possible growth.
It got talked around among Marie’s friends that she didn’t want children.
This was considered very surprising, in view of all that her father and husband had done for her.
Here is what they had done for her:
They had removed from her life all need, and finally all desire, to make efforts and to accomplish results through struggle in defiance of difficulty and at the cost of pain.
Work and pain were the two things Marie was on no account to be exposed to. With this small but important reservation:
She might work at avoiding pain.
When the cook had a headache she took Getting Breakfast for it. When Marie had a headache she worked not at breakfast but at the headache.
It was a social ceremony of large proportions, 136 with almost everybody among those present, from the doctor down through Mother and Auntie to Little Sister. The decorations, which were very elaborate, comprised, besides the usual tasteful arrangement of thermometers, eau-de-Karlsbad, smelling-salts bottles, cracked ice, and chocolate creams, a perfect shower of tourmaline roses, the odor of which, alone among all the vegetable odors in the world, had been found after long experimentation to be soothing to Marie on such occasions. It was not thought that Marie could vanquish a headache except after a plucky fight of at least one day’s duration.
Actresses go on and do their turns day after day and night after night with hardly a miss. Marie’s troubles were no more numerous than theirs. But they were much larger. Troubles are like gases. They expand to fill any void into which they are introduced. Marie’s spread themselves through a vacuum as large as her life.
The making of that vacuum and the inserting of Marie into it cost her father and her husband prodigious toil and was a great pleasure to 137 them. Marie belonged to the Leisure Class. Socially, she was therefore distinctly superior to her father and her husband.
President Thomas of Bryn Mawr had Marie in mind when she said:
“By the leisured class we mean in America the class whose men work harder than any other men in the excitement of professional and commercial 138 rivalry, but whose women constitute the only leisured class we have and the most leisured class in the world.”
Marie’s father wasn’t so very rich, either. He was engaged in a business so vividly competitive that Marie’s brother was hurried through college as fast as possible and brought into the game at twenty-two with every nerve stretched taut.
Nothing like that was expected of Marie. She was brought up to think that leisure was woman’s natural estate. Work, for any girl, she regarded as an accident due to the unexpected and usually reprehensible collapse of the males of the poor girl’s family.
This view of the matter gave Marie, unconsciously to herself, what morality she had. Hard drinking, “illegitimate” gambling, and excessive dissipations of all sorts are observed commonly to have a prejudicial effect on male efficiency and on family prosperity. Against all “vices,” therefore (although she didn’t catch the “therefore”), Marie was a Moral Force of a million angel-power.
Aside from “vices,” however, all kinds of 139 conduct looked much alike to her. Ethics is the rules of the game, the decencies of the struggle for existence. Marie had no part in the struggle. She violated its decencies without being at all aware of it.
All the way, for instance, from stealing a place in the line in front of a box-office window ahead of ten persons who were there before her, up the tiny scale of petty aggressions within her narrow reach to the cool climax of spending three months every summer in a pine-wood mountain resort (thus depriving her city-bound husband of the personal companionship which was the one best thing she had to give him in return for what he gave her), she was as competent a little grafter as the town afforded.
But she was a perfectly logical one. Her family had trained her to deadhead her way through life and she did it. Finally she went beyond their expectations. They hadn’t quite anticipated all of the sweetly undeviating inertia of her mind.
Nevertheless she was a nice girl. In fact, she was The Nice Girl. She was sweet-tempered, sweet-mannered, and sweet-spoken—a 140 perfect dear. She never did a “bad” thing in her life. And she never ceased from her career of moral forcing. She wrote to her husband from her mountain fastness, warning him against high-balls in hot weather. She went twice a month during the winter to act as librarian for an evening at a settlement in a district which was inhabited by perfectly respectable working people but which, while she passed out the books, she sympathetically alluded to as a “slum.”
It is hardly fair, however, to lay the whole explanation of Marie on her father, her husband, and herself.
A few years ago, in the churchyard of St. Philip’s Church at Birmingham, they set up a tombstone which had fallen down, and they reinscribed it in honor of the long-neglected memory of the man who had been resting beneath it for a century and a half. His name was Wyatt. John Wyatt. He had a good deal to do with making Marie what she was.
What toil, what tossing nights, what sweating days, what agonized wrenching of the imagination toward a still unreached idea, have 141 gone into the making of leisure—for other people!
Wyatt strained toward, and touched, the idea which was the real start of modern leisure.
In the year 1733, coming from the cathedral town of Lichfield, where the Middle Ages still lingered, he set up, in a small building near Sutton Coldfields, a certain machine. That machine inaugurated, and forever symbolizes, the long and glorious series of mechanical triumphs which has made a large degree of leisure possible, not for a few thousand women, as was previously the case, but for millions and millions of them.
It was only about two feet square. But it accomplished a thing never before accomplished. It spun the first thread ever spun in the history of the world without the intervention of human fingers.
On that night woman lost her oldest and most significant title and function. The Spinster ceased to be.
The mistress and her maid, spinning together in the Hall, their fingers drawing the roving from the distaff and stretching it out as the 142 spindle twisted it, were finally on the point of separating forever.
We all see what Wyatt’s machine did to the maids. We all understand that when he started his mill at Birmingham and hired his working force of ten girls, he prophesied the factory “slum.”
We do not yet realize what he did to the mistresses, how he utterly changed their character and how he marvelously increased their number.
But look! His machine, with the countless machines which followed it, in the spinning industry and in all other industries, made it possible to organize masses of individuals into industrial regiments which required captains and majors and colonels and generals. It created the need of leadership, of multitudinous leadership. And with leadership came the rewards of leadership. And the wives and daughters of the leaders (a race of men previously, by comparison, nonexistent) arose in thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions to live in leisure and semi-leisure on the fruits of the new system.
While the maids went to the “slums,” the mistresses went to the suburbs.
What did Wyatt get out of it? Imprisonment for debt and the buzz of antiquarians above his rotted corpse.
Wyatt and his equally humble successors in genius, Hargreaves and Crompton, artisans! Where in history shall we find men the world took more from, gave less to?
To Hargreaves, inventing the spinning-jenny, a mob and a flight from Lancashire, a wrecked machine and a sacked house! To Crompton, inventing the spinning-mule (which, in simulating, surpassed the delicate pulling motion of the spinster’s arm)—to Crompton, poverty so complete that the mule, patient bearer of innumerable fortunes to investors, was surrendered to them unpatented, while its maker retired to his “Hall-in-the-Wood” and his workman wages!
Little did Wyatt and Hargreaves and Crompton eat of the bread of idleness they built the oven for.
But Arkwright! There was the man who foreshadowed, in his own career, the new aristocracy 144 about to be evoked by the new machinery. He made spinning devices of his own. He used everybody else’s devices. He patented them all. He lied in the patents. He sued infringers of them. He overlooked his defeats in the courts. He bit and gouged and endured and invented and organized till, from being a barber and dealing in hair-dyes and bargaining for the curls of pretty girls at country fairs, he ended up Sir Richard Arkwright and—last perfect touch in a fighting career—was building a church when he died.
And his son was England’s richest commoner.
It was the dawn of the day of common richness.
The new aristocracy was as hospitably large as the old aristocracy had been sternly small. Before Wyatt, leisure had been the thinnest of exhalations along the very top of society. Since Wyatt, it has got diffused in greater and greater density through at least the upper third of it. And for all that magical extension of free time, wrested from the ceaseless toil with which God cursed Adam, we stand indebted (and so recently!) 145 to the machinery set going by that spontaneous explosion of artisan genius in England only a hundred and fifty years ago, kept going (and faster and faster) by the labor of men, women, and children behind factory windows, the world over, to-day.
Marie’s view of the situation, however, is the usual one. We are billions of miles from really realizing that leisure is produced by somebody’s work, that just “Being a Good Woman” or “Being a Decent Fellow” is so far from being an adequate return for the toil of other people that it is just exactly no return at all. We are billions of miles from admitting that the virtuous parasite is just as much a parasite as the vicious parasite:—that the former differs from the latter in the use of the money but not at all in the matter of getting it in return for nothing.
Getting something for nothing is the fundamental immorality of the world. But we don’t believe it. There will be a revolution before we get it into our heads that trying to trade a sweet disposition or an intelligent appreciation of opera or a proficiency at amateur tennis for three meals a day is a fraud.
Marie didn’t mean to commit a fraud. She just dropped a sentimental, non-negotiable plugged nickel into the slot-machine of life and drew out a motor-car and a country place, and was innocently pleased. Such a wonderful slot-machine! She never saw the laboring multitudes behind it, past and present multitudes, dead fingers, living fingers, big men’s fingers, little children’s fingers, pulling the strings, delivering the prizes, laying aside the plugged nickel in the treasury of a remote revenge.
Perhaps the reason why she didn’t catch on to the fact that, instead of being the world’s creditor, she was really inhabiting an almshouse was that she was so busy.
You see, she not only did things all the time but she had to find and invent them to do. Her life, even before she was married, was much more difficult than her brother’s, who simply got up in the morning and took the same old 7.42 to the same old office.
When he wanted clothes he went to the nearest decent tailor.
No such cinch for Marie. Her tailor lived in Sutherton, on the directly opposite side of the city from the suburb in which Marie lived. Just to get to that tailor’s cost Marie an hour and a half of effort. She had got up early, but by the time the tailor had stuck the world’s visible supply of pins into the lines of her new coat, most of the forenoon had been arduously occupied.
Of course many forenoons had to be thus occupied. Never forget it! The modish adaptation of woven fabrics to the female contour becomes increasingly complex and minute and 148 exacting and time-occupying in precise proportion as the amount of time increases for which occupation must be devised.
Besides, it gives employment to the tailors.
This is the really meritorious function of the leisure class. It gives employment. And every extension of its tastes and needs gives more employment. Marie and her friends greatly increased the number and prosperity of tailors and milliners and candy-dippers and perfume-manufacturers and manicurists and hairdressers and plumed-bird hunters and florists and cab-drivers and Irish lace-makers and Chinese silkworm tenders and violet-and-orris sachet-powder makers and matinée heroes and French nuns who embroider underwear and fur-traders and pearl-divers and other deserving persons, not forgetting the multitudes of Turks who must make nougat or perish.
In fact, Marie and her friends, in the course of a year, gave as much employment as a fair-sized earthquake. That is, in the course of a year, they destroyed, without return, a large amount of wealth and set many people to work replacing it. If we had a large enough leisure 149 class we should have no need of fires and railroad wrecks and the other valuable events which increase our prosperity by consuming it.
Marie belonged to the real Consumers’ League. And she consumed prettily and virtuously. It wasn’t bad air that suffocated her soul. It was no air.
She thought she was breathing, however, and breathing fast. Why, it was half past eleven before she got back downtown from her tailor, and she bought a wedding present till one, and she was just famished and ran to a tea room, but she had hardly touched a mouthful when she remembered there was a girl from out of town who had come in to spend a month doing nothing and had to be helped, but though she rushed to the ’phone she couldn’t get her friend before it was time to catch her suburban train home; in order to do which she jumped into the station ’bus, only to remember she had forgotten to buy a ribbon for her Siamese costume for the Benefit Ball; but it was too late now and she spent her time, going out on the train, trying to think of some way of getting along without it, and her head began to ache; but luckily she 150 met some of the girls on her way from the station to her high-school sorority alumnæ reunion and they began to tell her how to do it; but she had to hurry away because she had promised to go to the house of one of the girls and do stencil patterns, which started to be beautiful, but before she could get any of them really done she recollected that Chunk Brown had sent over a bunch of new songs and was coming to call to-night and she had to scoot home and practice “June time is moon time and tune time and spoon time,” as well as “The grass is blue o’er little Sue,” till there was just one hour left before dinner and she was perfectly crazy over the new “do” which one of the girls had showed her and she rushed upstairs and went at that “do” and by dinner time she had got it almost right, so that her father told her always to do her hair like that and brother wished he had it down at the factory to replace a broken dynamo brush, while as for Chunk, he was nicer than ever till he learned he had to take her to a rehearsal of the Siamese Group for the Benefit Ball: so that, what with having to coax him to go and what with changing into her costume, 151 she got to the rehearsal so tired she couldn’t stand up to go through the figures till she caught sight of the celebrated æsthete, the Swami Ram Chandra Gunga Din, who was there to hand out the right slants about oriental effects and who had persuaded Marie there was great consolation to be found in realizing that 152 life is a spiral and that therefore you can’t make progress straight up but must go round and round through rhythmic alternations of joy and sorrow, which caused Chunk to relapse again from his attentiveness but which pleased Marie greatly because she was always unhappy in between two periods of happiness and therefore felt she was getting along the spiral and into Culture pretty well, till it was eleven o’clock and she waked Chunk up out of a chair in the hall and made him take her home; and he said the Swami was a very clever man and she said American men had no culture and didn’t understand women, and Chunk didn’t even say good night to her, and she went to sleep crying, and remembering she hadn’t after all learned from the girls how to get along without that ribbon in her costume and she must get up early and buy it, which made her utter one final little plaintive sniffle of vexation.
It was a nice child’s life, full of small things which looked big, uncorrected in its view of love, culture, charity, or anything else by any carrying of the burdens, enduring of the shocks, or thrilling to the triumphs, of a really adult 153 life. Her brother, when he went to work, was her junior. In five years he was much her senior. (You may verify this by observation among your own acquaintances.) Marie was not a minute older now than when she left school. Talking to her at twenty-six was exactly the same experience as talking to her at twenty-one. That was what the world, from John Wyatt to her father, had done for her.
From such a life there are necessarily revulsions. The empty leisure of the Nice Girl is quite successfully total waste. But it becomes intolerable to that waster who, though not desiring 154 genuine occupation, desires genuine sensation.
Hence smart sets.
Every social group in which there is much leisure has its own smart set. There may be a million dollars a year to spend. There may be only a few thousands. But there is always a smart set.
How suddenly its smartness may follow its leisure, how accurately its plunge into luxury may duplicate the suddenness of modern luxury itself, you may observe with your own eyes almost anywhere.
You see a little crowd of women come into the Mandarin Tea Room of the St. DuBarry in Novellapolis in the fresh West. When they remove their automobile veils you see that they were once, and very recently, the nicest sort of members of the sewing circle and the W. C. T. U. of Lone Tree Crossing.
When the waiter comes along with their cocktails and they begin to sip them out of their tea cups, you wake up with a jerk to realize that it’s half past three in the afternoon and the evening has begun.
How rapid it all is!
There’s Margaret Simpson. A few years ago you might have seen her pumping the water for Jim’s breakfast, cleaning the lamps, and picking bugs off the potato vines.
Jim came to town. He struck it poor. Then he struck it rich. He owns a bunch of moving-picture places. He manufactures a patented bottle-stopper. He’s a pavement contractor. His wife has just as much leisure as any duchess.
The duchess has her individual estate and resources, which make it possible for her to lead an almost complete social life within her own walls. But never mind! Margaret has the Downtown District, coöperatively owned, coöperatively maintained, magnificently equipped with bright boudoirs in the rest rooms of the department stores, with wonderful conservatories where one may enter and gaze and pay no more attention to the florist than to one’s own gardener, with sumptuous drawing-rooms, like the Purple Parlor of the St. DuBarry, with body-servants in the beauty shops, with coachmen on the taxicabs, with seclusion in the Ladies’ 156 Department of the Novellapolis Athletic Club—an infinitely resourceful estate, which Margaret knows as intimately as the duchess knows hers.
This morning she hunted down a new reduction plant on the eighteenth floor of the Beauty Block and weighed in at 185 on the white enamel scales. After an hour of Thermo-Vibro-Magneto-Magenta-Edison-Company light therapy, she weighed out at 182-6.
At luncheon she ate only purée of tomatoes, creamed chicken and sweetbreads, Boston bread and butter, orange punch and Lady Baltimore cake, severely cutting out the potatoes.
After luncheon she spent an hour in a tiny room which had mirrors all around it and a maid (as trim and French-accented as any maid any duchess could have) and a couple of fitters and a head fitter. It ended up with: “Do you mean to tell me that after all the reducing and dieting I’ve been doing I can’t wear under a twenty-seven? It’s ridiculous. I tell you what. Measure me for a made-to-order. These stock sizes all run large. If it’s made to order I can wear a twenty-six as easy as anybody.”
Then she met up with her friends at the St. DuBarry.
You watch the waiter bring another round of drinks and you perceive that the evening is well under way and that the peak of the twenty-four hours is being disputatiously approached.
It appears that Perinique’s is a swell place to dine, but that the cheese is bad. The cheese is good right here at the St. DuBarry, but they don’t know how to toast the biscuits. At the Grünewurst the waiters are poor. At Max’s the soup is always cold. The mural decorations at the Prince Eitel are so gloomy they give you a chill.
Despair settles down on the scene. There seems to be no likelihood that there will be any dinner at all anywhere. In the absence, however, of that kind of good cheer, another kind is spread on the table when the inquiry is flung down whether or not the way in which Jim looked at Dora last night has been generally observed.
You conclude that poor, dear, innocent Dora ought not to have been looked at in that way. 158 You were hasty. Nobody is innocent in the Mandarin Tea Room of the St. DuBarry, when not there. Dora, you soon learn, deserves to be looked at in any and all ways. It’s not for her that we’re worried. It’s for Jim.
At the name of Jim, Margaret begins to look uncomfortable and helpless. She sinks lower and lower into her chair; and says nothing; and keeps on saying nothing; and seems likely to drown in silence; but her friends start in to rescue her. You can’t help seeing some of the life-lines as they are thrown out.
“If I were you, Margaret, and my husband behaved to me as Jim is behaving to you, I’d——”
“When you married Jim, Margaret, you were the prettiest——”
“No wonder Dora’s husband divorced her.”
“It’s a wonder she wouldn’t confine herself to making trouble for her own husbands without——”
“The trouble with you, Margaret, is that you’re too good to Jim, letting him run around with Dora and not doing anything yourself. If you had any sense you’d make him so jealous 159 he’d walk on his hands and hold a loaf of sugar on his nose for you.”
“Say, Fannie, why don’t you tell your friend Ned to cut in here and pay a little attention to Marge?”
“Oh, Ned’s no good.”
“Well, then, I’ll tell my husband to——”
“Don’t you do it! I started my husband once on a thing like that and he went at it so strong—Choose a bachelor.”
“That’s right. Ned’s not married. Let him do it.”
“Somebody ought to.”
“Say, Fannie, call Ned on the ’phone.”
“All right. I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Say, Marge, we’ll eat at the Royal Gorge and I’ll put you and Ned side by side.”
“And I’ll sit next to your husband and tell him how strong Ned is with the ladies. He’ll take a good look all right.”
“Now buck up, Marge, and encourage Ned a little. Don’t be a fool.”
“I tell you, Marge, you’ll do a lot more with Jim by cutting up a little bit than by all this dieting you’re trying to do.”
“Say, Marge, it’s a good thing you’ve got on your white broadcloth and your willow plumes.”
“You can get ’em at Delatour’s now for twenty-five dollars.”
“Hello, Fannie, did you get Ned?”
“I got him all right, but what do you think? He’s got another date for to-night, so he can’t come.”
“Well, well, here’s Dora now, as usual. I suppose she’ll try to butt in.”
But she doesn’t. She just hesitates beside the table long enough to say: “Got to sweep right along, girlies. Going to buzz out to the Inland Inn for dinner with Ned. Yep. What’s the matter? You know Ned. Our old friend Ned. The same. He’s waiting for me now. G’bye.”
Talk of nerve! You have to hand it to that Dora girl!
Exit Dora. Enter Jim and five or six other men, mostly husbands to the women already present.
Jim begins by asking if anybody has seen Dora. The ensemble tells him not only that but 161 everything else about Dora. Harry orders a round of drinks. So does Charlie. Somebody praises the drawn-butter sauce at the Suddington. This is met with the merits of the pineapple parfait at the La Fontaine. Jim orders a round of drinks. Jim is willing to eat his hat if Dora’s divorce wasn’t her husband’s fault. Must have been. Never saw the husband. But Dora’s character! Jim drinks off one of the cocktails standing in front of his right-hand neighbor Frank, and returns to Dora’s character. No straighter little girl ever came to this town. On hearing this from her husband, Margaret gets up and leaves the Tea Room and goes to the Purple Parlor and cries. Fannie takes her opportunity and begins to tell Jim how attentive Ned has been lately to Margaret. This is so helpful that Jim drinks off another of Frank’s cocktails and runs to the Purple Parlor to find Margaret. She’s still crying. He thinks she’s crying because Ned is away with Dora. He rebukes her. In King Arthur’s vein. Is he not her husband? Woman, tell him that. But dignity soon tapers off with him into the “Now I warn you to cut it out” of the tyrannical manikin 162 with a cinder in the eye of his self-conceit. Their friends hear them quarreling and follow them into the Purple Parlor. There’s a terrible row in the Purple Parlor. The Purple Parlor is full of persons explaining. Fannie explains. Charlie explains. Each person explains, individually, to each other person, individually. Each couple reaches a satisfactory explanation. But, somehow, when they start to explain that explanation to the next couple, it vanishes. Everybody runs about trying to find it. The waiter runs about trying to find the gen’l’man to pay for the undrunk drinks back in the Tea Room. Frank, being the only member of the party who hasn’t been drinking, can’t help seeing what the waiter means. He pays the bill. Then he exerts himself like a sheep-dog and runs the whole crowd down the corridor and out into a couple of taxicabs. The air reminds them of unsatisfied appetites. Conjugal problems are things of the past. As the taxicabs jump out from the curb to the street-center everybody’s head is out of window and everybody’s voice is saying “The Suddington,” “The Grünewurst,” “Max’s,” “The Royal Gorge,” “Perinique’s.”
The revulsion from empty leisure in the direction of full-every-night leisure is balanced to some extent by a revulsion toward activity of a useful sort. This latter revulsion has two phases: Economic Independence, which has been spoken of in former chapters; Social Service and Citizenship, which will be spoken of in the next chapter.
Which one of these two revulsions will be the stronger? If it is the one toward useful activity, we shall see a dam erected against the current which, in carrying women out of the struggle for existence, carries them out of the world’s mental life. If it is the one toward frivolity, we shall see simply an acceleration of that current and a quicker and larger departure from all those habits of toil and of service which produce power and character.
With marriage, of course, Marie had a certain opportunity to get back into life. She had before her at least fifteen years of real work. And it would have been work of the realest sort. Effort—to and beyond all other effort! The carrying of new life in fear, the delivery 164 of it in torture, the nourishing of it in relinquishment of all the world’s worldliness, the watching over it in sleeplessness, the healing of its sickness in heart-sickness, the bringing of it, with its body strong, its mind matured, up into the world of adults, up into the struggle for existence! What a work!
But what a preparation for it had Marie!
She flinched from it. The inertia of her mind carried her to the ultimate logic of her life. Along about the time of her marriage she began to cease to be the typical normal girl of her type.
She became a woman of the future—of her type.
From the facts of modern leisure the positive character reacts toward novel activity. It may be a reaction toward Civic Service. Or toward Self-Support. Or toward an enormous never-before-witnessed expenditure of intelligent care on the physical and mental education of children. The positive character, fighting modern facts, creates new ideals. The character which is neither positive nor negative runs along as a neutral mixture of the old ideals and of the modern 165 facts, of child-rearing made amateurish by idling and of idling made irritable by child-rearing. The negative character—like Marie’s—just yields to the modern facts and is swept along by them into final irresponsibility and inutility.
But Marie wasn’t negative enough—she wasn’t emotional enough in her negativeness—to plunge into dissipation. It wasn’t in her nature to do any plunging of any kind. Good, safe, motionless sponging was her instinct. And she will die in the odor of tubbed and scrubbed respectability. And if you knew her you would like her very much. She is charming.
When she and Chunk were married, they went to live in an apartment appropriate to a rising young man, and Marie’s job was on all occasions to look as appropriate as the apartment.
No shallow cynicism, this! Just plain, bald truth without any wig on it. The only thing that you could put your finger on that Marie really did was so to wear clothes and so to give parties as to be the barometer of her husband’s prosperity. And in every city you can see lots 166 of such barometers giving themselves an artificially high reading in order to create that “atmosphere” of success which is a recognized commercial asset.
Chunk was hugely pleased with Marie. She looked good at the dinner table in the café of their apartment building. She knew how to order the right dishes when they entertained and dined down town. She made it possible for him to return deftly and engagingly the social attentions of older people. She completed the “front” of his life, and he not only supported her but, as Miss Salmon, of Vassar, flippantly and seriously says, he “sported” her as he might a diamond shirt stud.
No struggle in Marie’s life so far! No having to swim in the cold water of daily enforced duty or else sink. No being accustomed to the disagreeable feel of that water.
She had missed work. That was nothing. She had missed being hardened to work. That was everything.
The first demand ever made on her for really disagreeable effort came when Chunk, in order to get a new factory going, had to move for a 167 while to Junction City. When Marie bitterly and furiously objected, Chunk was severely astonished. Why, he had to go! It was necessary. But there had been no necessity in Marie’s experience. They became quarrelsome about it. Then stubborn. Marie talked about her mother and her friends and how she loved them (which was true) and stayed.
For two years she inhabited Chunk’s flat in the city and lived on Chunk’s monthly check.
She and Chunk were married. Chunk was to support her. He was the man nearest to her. Her father had once supported her. Her job then had been Being Nice. Her father had supported her for that, even after she had grown up. Well, she still was nice. And she still was, and deserved to be, supported. Perfectly logical.
For two years, neither really daughter now nor really wife, not being obliged any longer even to make suggestions to her mother about what to have for dinner, not being obliged any longer even to think out the parties for Chunk’s business friends, she did nothing but become more and more firmly fixed in her inertia, in her incapacity for hardship, in her horror of pain.
When Chunk came back from Junction City and was really convinced that she didn’t want children he was not merely astonished. He thought the world had capsized.
In a way he was right. The world is turning round and over and back to that one previous historical era when the aversion to childbearing was widespread.
Once, just once, before our time, there was a modern world. Once, just once, though not on the scale we know it, there was, before us, a diffusion of leisure.
The causes were similar.
The Romans conquered the world by military force, just as we have conquered it by mechanical invention. They lived on the plunder of despoiled peoples, just as we live on the products of exploited continents. They had slaves in multitudes, just as we have machines in masses. Because of the slaves, there were hundreds of thousands of their women, in the times of the Empire, who had only denatured housekeeping to do, just as to-day there are millions of our women who, because of machines, have only that kind of housekeeping to do. Along with leisure 169 and semi-leisure, they acquired its consequences, just as we have acquired them. And the sermons of Augustus Cæsar, first hero of their completed modernity, against childlessness are perfect precedents for those of Theodore Roosevelt, first hero of ours.
Augustus, however, addressed himself mainly to the men, who entered into marriage late, or did not enter into it at all, for reasons identical with ours—the increased competitiveness of the modern life and the decreased usefulness of the modern wife. It was the satirists who addressed themselves particularly to the women. And their tirades against idleness, frivolity, luxury, dissipation, divorce, and aversion to childbearing leave nothing to be desired, in comparison with modern efforts, for effectiveness in rhetoric—or for ineffectiveness in result.
Now it could not have been the woman who desires economic independence through self-support who was responsible for the ultimate aversion to child-bearing in the Roman world—for she did not exist. It could not have been the woman who desires full citizenship—for she did not exist. What economic power and 170 what political power the Roman Empire woman desired and achieved was parasitic—the economic power which comes from the inheritance of estates, the political power which comes from the exercise of sexual charm.
The one essential difference between the women of that ancient modern world and the women of this contemporary modern world is in the emergence, along with really democratic ideals, of the agitation for equal economic and political opportunity.
The other kind of New Woman, the woman brought up throughout her girlhood in a home in which there is no adequate employment for her; trained to no tasks, or, at any rate, to tasks (like dusting the dining-room and counting the laundry) so petty, so ridiculously irrelevant that her great-grandmother did them in the intervals of her real work, going then into marriage with none of the discipline of habitual encounter with inescapable toil; taken by her husband not to share his struggle but his prosperity—that sort of New Woman they had, just as we have her, in smaller number, it is true, but in identical character.
They tell us it was “luxury” that ruined the Romans. But was luxury the start? Wasn’t it only the means to the finish?
Eating a grouse destroys, in itself, no more moral fiber than eating a ham sandwich. Bismarck, whether he slept on eider down or on straw, arose Bismarck.
The person who has a job and who does it is very considerably immunized against the consequences of luxury. First, because he is giving a return for it. Second, because he hasn’t much time for it.
On the other hand, we see the hobo who won’t work ruining himself on the luxury of stable floors and of free-lunch counters, just as thoroughly as any nobleman who won’t work can ever ruin himself on the luxury of castles and of game preserves.
It is clearly the habitual enjoyment of either grouse or ham sandwiches, of either eider down or straw, without service rendered and without fatigue endured, that ultimately desiccates the moral character and drains it of all capacity for effort.
Marie was enervated not by her luxury but by 172 her failure to pay for her luxury. She wouldn’t have had to pay much. Her luxury was petty. But she paid nothing. And her failure to pay was just as big as if her luxury had been bigger. Getting three thousand a year in return for nothing leaves you morally just as bankrupt as if you had got three million.
Marie came to her abdication of life’s greatest effort not by wearing too many clothes or by eating too many foods but by becoming accustomed to getting clothes and foods and all other things without the smallest effort.
She had given her early, plastic, formative years to acquiring the habit of effortless enjoyment, and when the time for making an effort came, the effort just wasn’t in her.
Her complete withdrawal from the struggle for existence had at last, in her negative, non-resistive mind, atrophied all the instincts of that struggle, including finally the instinct for reproduction.
The instinct for reproduction is intricately involved in the struggle for existence. The individual struggles for perpetuation, for perpetuation in person, for perpetuation in posterity. 173 Work, the perpetuation of one’s own life in strain and pain; work, the clinging to existence in spite of its blows; work, the inuring of the individual to the penalties of existence, is linked psychologically to the power and desire for continued racial life. The individual, the class, which struggles no more will in the end reproduce itself no more. In not having had to conquer life, it has lost its will to live.
The detailed daily reasons for this social law stand clear in Marie’s life. It is a strong law. Its triumph in Marie could have been thwarted only by the presence in her of a certain other social law. Authority!
The woman who is coerced by Authority, the woman who is operated by ideals introduced into her from without, will bear children even when she does not feel the active wish to bear them. She will bear them just because the authoritative expectation is that she shall bear them.
But Marie was free!
She was free from the requirement of an heir for the family estate. The modern form of property, requiring no male warrior for its defense 174 in the next generation, had done that for her.
She was free from the dictates of historic Christianity about conjugal duty and unrestricted reproduction. Modern Protestantism had done that for her.
She was free from the old uncomplaining compliance with a husband’s will. Modern individualism had done that for her.
She was free! Uncoerced by family authority, uncoerced by ecclesiastical authority, uncoerced by marital authority, she was almost limitlessly free!
There being no external force compelling her to bear children, she had to follow internal instinct.
That instinct, if it had existed in her, would have been a sufficient guide. It would have been a commanding guide. It would have been the best possible guide. Rising in her from the original eternal life-power it would have driven her to child-bearing more surely than she could have been driven to it by any external agency whatsoever.
But the instinct toward child-bearing could 175 not now be revived in Marie. With the cessation from struggle and from effort and from fatigue and from discipline and from the sorrow of pain that brings the joy of accomplishment, with that cessation the instinct toward child-bearing had reached cessation, too. With the petrifaction of its soil it had withered away.
Nobody had ever tried to bring Marie back to the soil of struggle. Nobody,—not her father, not her mother, not her husband, not one of her friends, not one of her teachers had ever taught her to return to life by returning to labor.
The greatest wrong possible to a woman had been wrought upon her.
She had been sedulously trained out of the life of the race into race-death.
Yet when it got talked around among her friends that she didn’t want children, people blamed her and said it was very surprising, in view of all that had been done for her.
Leaning over a tiled parapet, we looked down at the streak of street so far below. Motor-cars, crawling—crawling, glossy-backed beetles. “Drop a pin and impale that green one.” One couldn’t, from up there, give motor-car and motor-car owner the reverence rightly theirs. A thousand miles of horizontal withdrawal into majestic forest recesses may leave one’s regard for worldly greatness unabated. A perpendicular vantage of a hundred and fifty feet destroys it utterly.
“But look at that!” she said.
In the east, dull red on the quick blue of Lake Michigan, an ore-boat. Low and long. A marvelously persistent and protracted boat. Might have been christened The Eel. Or The Projectile. No masts. And, except at her stern, under her deferred smokestack, no portholes. Forward from that stack her body stretched five 180 hundred feet to her bow without excrescences and without apertures. Stripped and shut-eyed for the fight, grimmer than a battle ship, not a waste line nor a false motion in her, she went by, loaded with seven thousand tons of hematite, down to the blast furnaces of South Chicago.
“But,” she said, “look at this.”
She turned me from the lake. We crossed the roof’s tarred gravel and looked north, west, and south abroad at the city.
Puffs of energy had raised high buildings over there; over there an eccentric subsidence had left behind it a slum. Queer, curling currents of trade and of lust, here, there, and everywhere, were carrying little clutching eddies of disease and of vice across the thoroughfares of the wholesome and of the innocent. Sweet unused earth lay yonder in a great curve of green; within two miles of it stood clotted houses in which children were dying for air; brown levels of cottage and tenement, black bubbles of mill and factory, floating side by side, meeting, mingling, life and light merged into filth and fume—uncalculated; uncontrolled; fortuitous swirls and splutters on senseless molten metal; 181 a reproduction in human lives of the phantom flurry which on simmering ladles in the steel mills they call the Devil’s Flower Garden.
“Not so clever as the ore-boat, is it?” she said. “That was making wealth, conquering. Well done. This is using wealth, living. Done ill. A city. Better than many. Worse than many. But none of my business. I’m emancipated.”
She waved her hand and blotted out the city from before me. In its place I saw now only an uninhabited wilderness plain. In a moment, however, in the side of a distant ridge, there appeared a tiny opening. A woman sat near it, plaiting a grass mat. A mile away a man stood, mending a bow.
It was the scene Mr. Kipling once reported:
“The man didn’t begin to be tame till he met the woman. She picked out a nice dry cave, instead of a heap of wet leaves, to lie down in; and she strewed clean sand on the floor; and she lit a nice fire of wood at the back of the cave; and she hung a dried wild-horse skin, tail down, across the opening of the cave; and she said: ‘Wipe your feet, dear, when you come in, and now we’ll keep house.’”
As we looked, we saw the man fit an arrow to his bow, take aim, and bring down a deer. He carried it to the cave. The woman rose to meet him, the mat in her hand. He pushed her away savagely, took the mat from her, and threw the deer on the ground. She picked herself up and began to skin the deer with a knife which she slipped from her belt. He lay down on the mat and went to sleep.
I heard my companion say: “I did all the housekeeping of that camp. It was woman’s work. But now——”
She waved her hand and restored the city to my gaze.
“Now, of this camp you are the real housekeeper. The arranging of it, the cleaning of it, the decorating of it, on the big scale, as a total, all masculine, all yours! How you have expanded your duties, you who were once just hunter and fighter, principally fighter! How your sphere is swollen! You do not realize it. You are familiar enough with the commonplace fact that most primitive industry in its origin owed little to you except (a big ‘except’) the protection of your sword against enemies. You 183 are familiar with the fact that the plaiting of mats and the tanning of hides and every other industrial feature of housekeeping has passed from my control to yours in precise proportion as it has ceased to be individual and has become collective. You dominate everything collective. You understand that. What you don’t understand is this:
“It is not only the industrial features of housekeeping which tend to become collective. It is also its administrative features. I will give you just one illustration. I cannot now keep my premises clean, beautiful, livable, except through the collective control of smoke, garbage, billboards, noise. And that control is yours.
“Even the tenderer phases of housekeeping, those which are more subtle than mere administration, move steadily toward becoming yours. I will give you an illustration of that. The very children, now no longer always at their mothers’ knees, but spread abroad through school and park and playground and street and factory, are now much in your hands, for school 184 and park and playground and street and factory are essentially controlled by you. You are increasingly housekeeper, and even mother. You not only control Working. You also control Living. But who are you, you that now control Living? You are——”
She tapped my shoulder and laughed.
“You are the Tired Business Man. Yes, whether manufacturer, financier, scholar, or poet, you are the Tired Business Man. You always were. You still are. You are a fighter still, by nature. You conquer steel and steam—and make a boat that will carry a mountain of ore. You conquer mounds of stock certificates and masses of men—and organize armies for the production of wealth. You conquer knowledge—and write your treatise. You conquer the sources of emotion—and write your poem. Then you’re through. You lie down on your mat and go to sleep. To be housekeeper, to be homemaker, to take from each part of life its offerings of value and patiently to weld them into a coherent, livable whole—that is not your faculty. You are a specialist. Produce, produce, produce—a certain thing, a one certain thing, any 185 one certain thing, from corkscrews to madonnas—you can do it. But to make a city a home, to elicit from discordant elements a harmonious total of warm, charming, noble, livable life—you’ll never do it, by yourself.”
“Well,” she said, “why don’t you ask me to help you a bit? Even aside from any special qualities of my sex, don’t you know that the greatest reserve fund of energy in any American city to-day is the leisure and semi-leisure of certain classes of its women?”
“But they can give their leisure to ‘good works’ now if they want to,” I answered.
“Yes,” she said, “but if they do that, they’ll want to go farther. Look!”
And this is what she showed me—what she told me:
Over there on Michigan Avenue, occupying the whole front part of the ninth floor of the Fine Arts Building, are the quarters of the Chicago Woman’s Club. Twenty-seven years ago, in the Brighton public school, northwest of the Yards, that club started a kindergarten, providing 186 the money, the materials, the teacher, the energy—everything but the room.
It was a “good work,” one might think, quite within “woman’s sphere.” But it wasn’t entered into lightly and unadvisedly. In one of the club’s old pamphlets you’ll find it set down that Goethe had said that activity without insight is an evil. Accordingly, the club had spent its youth, from 1876 to 1883, reading, considering, discussing. But certain topics were excluded. Particularly woman’s suffrage.
But kindergartens! Something for children! Could anything be more womanly? So on the fifth of December, 1883, the long-apprehended question arose: “Shall Our Club Do Practical Work?” There was much hesitation. But the vote was affirmative.
Seems strange to-day, doesn’t it, that there should have been any hesitation at all?
There beneath us, on the Lake Front, in the Art Institute, on Sunday afternoons, there are excellent orchestral concerts to which you will be admitted on payment of ten cents. A work of this club.
Out over the city, if your eyes could compass 187 it, you would see a blind man going from place to place, North Side, West Side, South Side, seeking out other blind people, entering their homes, teaching them how to read the books published in Braille and Moon raised characters, teaching them how to weave, teaching them how to use the typewriter, teaching them even how to make stenographic notes on a little keyboarded machine which impresses raised characters on a tape to be read off afterwards with the finger tips, giving his fellow-dwellers in darkness an occupation to be their solace, and even an occupation to be their support. A work of this club.
And the interval between these two kinds of work could be filled up with hundreds of entries. You have grown accustomed to all this. The Chicago Woman’s Club, the scores of other woman’s clubs in this city, the thousands in this country—you expect them to be active. But you do not perceive the consequences.
When the Chicago Woman’s Club started its work in the Brighton School, there wasn’t any such work in Chicago maintained by public funds. The town’s pioneer kindergarten had 188 been founded in 1867, by a woman. There had then grown up an association called the Chicago Froebel Association, which established and operated kindergartens in public school buildings out of its own resources. The Board of Education provided space, but nothing more. The Froebel Association was composed entirely of women, and many of its members were also members of the Chicago Woman’s Club. The steam in the cylinders of the kindergarten movement in Chicago was the enthusiasm of women.
Well, in 1892, the Board of Education took the kindergartens over. The kindergarten system became thoroughly public, civic, collective. The control of it had lain with women. The control of it now passed to men. Oh, there’s no complaint. It’s what the women wanted. They asked the men to do it. But I say—No, I’ll postpone saying it till I’ve told you another story or two.
In the late nineties the Chicago Woman’s Club took the leading rôle in the formation of what was known as the Vacation Schools Committee. More than sixty woman’s organizations finally sent delegates to it. Its object was to 189 give city-street children, in summer time, some sort of experience resembling, if not reproducing, the activity and the knowledge of nature which comes with summer life in the country.
The vacation school, with its play and its nature study, turned out to be both useful and popular. For a decade or more the Vacation Schools Committee, composed entirely of women, raised large sums of money and extended its efforts from school to school till there came to be an established and recognized vacation schools system. The women whose energy carried it forward year after year were, in fact, school directors. Now the vacation schools system has been adopted by the Board of Education. Those women are school directors no longer. Nor have they any voice in the selecting of school directors.
Almost immediately the women changed the name of the Vacation Schools Committee to Permanent School Extension Committee. Its objects now are to extend the use of school buildings and to extend the educational system itself. Its work may be seen in many parts of town.
Ten miles to the south, near the mouth of the 190 Calumet River, where that ore-boat was turning in, the “Johnson Cubs” and the “South Side Stars” and other organizations of boys, principally from the Thorp School, have been getting manual training and football and cross-country hikes and gymnastic skill under the direction of a salaried representative of the Permanent School Extension Committee, who has been trying to make their hours out of school count for something in their development.
Southwest of us, far over, back of the Yards, at the Hamline School, for five years the Committee has maintained a “social worker” who, through clubs and classes and entertainments and festivals in the evenings as well as in the afternoons, for adults as well as for children, has been trying to write over the doors of the school the words which appear frequently enough elsewhere: “Family Entrance.”
Trifling? Dreamy? Just the sort of thing woman’s club women would do? Well, it seems to be about to lapse. But why? Because the Board of Education, at last half-convinced, has appropriated $10,000 for social-center work of its own in the school buildings.
The rest of the present work of the Permanent School Extension Committee will lapse, too—in time.
Last spring, in the Hamline School, for six weeks eighteen children who needed the treatment did their work in a room in which the windows were kept open. The Permanent School Extension Committee provided special chairs, blankets, milk and eggs for morning and afternoon, a hot meal for lunch.
During the summer, in three school yards—the Lake View on the North Side, the Penn on the West, the Libby on the South—there were vacation schools for six weeks in the open air, with special teaching and special feeding. The Permanent School Extension Committee provided the meals and the cooks.
The gain made in physical and mental condition by the children so treated was such that the time is sure to come when the principle of extra air and extra food for below-par pupils, like the principle of kindergartens, the principle of vacation schools, and the principle of school social centers, will be absorbed into the general policy of the public school system.
And now I will say the things I hesitated to say a few moments ago.
First. Is it likely that women who have helped to add element after element of value to the public school system would fail to acquire an interest in the public school system itself? Is it likely that women who have had a voice in certain important matters would relinquish all personal concern about them immediately upon their absorption into the city government? In other words, is it strange that the topic of woman’s suffrage is now tolerated on the floor of the Chicago Woman’s Club?
Second. Might not one unwarily imagine that among the women who for so many years have given so much thought and action to school affairs there would be found many whose experience and whose leisure would be draughted (with a press gang, if necessary) into the public service?
Is it not strange that among the twenty-one members of the Chicago Board of Education only one is a woman? And doesn’t this become still stranger when it is recollected that most members of the Board of Education (to say 195 nothing of their not having merited their appointment by any notable benefits conferred on the school system) are so overwhelmed by private business as to find their attendance on board committee meetings a hardship?
This last feature of the situation is the one that more and more fills me with amazement. Here is a woman whose acquaintance with educational developments of all sorts is of long duration, whose achievements in coöperation with the schools have been admittedly successful, whose time, now that her children are grown up, is much at her free disposal—here she is, working away on the edges and fringes of the school system, while some Tired Business Man is giving the interstices of his commercial preoccupation to the settlement of comprehensive questions of educational policy.
But never mind. Things may change. The present superintendent of schools is a woman. That’s something. And, anyway, the women I am speaking of, though increasingly conscious of the degree of their exclusion from the collective civic life of the town, do not spend so much time in repining about it as they spend in seeking 196 new opportunities for such civic service as is possible to them.
Sometimes it is hard to say whether they are within the bounds of private life or not.
If you will go up the Chicago River, up past that bend, into the North Branch, up beyond that gas plant where vagrant oils streak the surface of the muddy water, vilely, vividly, with the drifting hues of a lost and tangled rainbow, up by factory and lumber yard, up into the reaches of the open fields, till the straight lines of wharves give way to tree-marked windings, graceful bendings gracefully followed by bending willows, you will come presently to a school which tries to restore to city children something of the peace and strength of the country.
It is the Illinois Industrial School for Girls. A few years ago it was in collapse—filthily housed, educationally demoralized, heavily indebted. A few women, principally from the Chicago Woman’s Club, became interested in it. They bought a farm for it. They put up buildings for it. Not a big prison dormitory. Little brick cottages. Matron in each one. Chance for a kind of home life. Chance, also, for instruction in housekeeping. Big vegetable patches for instruction in gardening. Friendly cows to help along with instruction in dairying. Everything for outdoor life, working life, life that engages and disciplines.
All the twenty-four directors of this school (with two exceptions) are women. Most of them are members of the Chicago Woman’s Club. One of the cottages is named after the club. But the school is, in a way, a county institution. That is, the county makes a certain contribution to it, under a state law, for the support of each girl committed to it as a dependent by the Juvenile Court. The directors, therefore, are trustees each year for a large amount of public money.
Question: Are they in public life?
Answer: If the school is ever really owned by the public, they will be discharged from public life with extraordinary immediacy. The way to deprive any enterprise of the possibility of effective support from the female half of the community is to give it to the community.
No, I’ll admit that isn’t quite true. The women do keep on trying to help.
How I wish I could make you see the whole of this city, its streets, its vacant places, the inside of its buildings, all, all at once, with all the things happening which have been set going by this Chicago Woman’s Club and by the organizations with which it associates itself!
You’d see (and in each case you’d know that what you were seeing was due either entirely or very largely to the labors of the club, its committees, its departments, or its close allies)——
You’d see night matrons in the police stations giving women arrests a degree of protection they did not at one time have.
You’d see in the Art Institute a line of pupils who from year to year have passed through its study rooms because of a certain scholarship yearly offered.
You’d see in the City Hall a new official called the city forester, helping to save the trees the town now has, issuing bulletins of professional advice, giving his aid to the Arbor Day enthusiasm which last year put some 400,000 seedlings 199 into the parkways and private yards of Chicago.
You’d see, over the whole extent of the city, local improvement associations, which on street cleaning and other local needs, not adequately met by the city government, spend a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year.
You’d see, in the jail, a school for young men prisoners, now taken over and supported by the county, but still watched by the club. You’d also see certain recent interests of the club: a woman’s dining room, an examining physician to segregate contagious diseases, a fumigating plant.
You’d see the paintings on the walls of the assembly hall of the McKinley High School—the first mural paintings in any school in Chicago.
You’d see children, after school, in the park playhouses, listening to “story ladies,” who tell them fairy tales, historical tales, tales of adventure and achievement.
You’d see, in one of the small parks of the West Side, a woman “social worker,” who gets the mothers and fathers of the neighborhood 200 into the way of using the park and the park building, even for Christmas Eve family parties. And then you’d see “social workers” appointed by the park board itself and paid with public money.
You’d see, in many places, audiences listening to free lectures on Social Hygiene.
You’d see important excerpts from the city code bearing on personal conduct being taken into the newspaper offices to be printed under the heading—“Ordinances You Ought to Know.”
You’d see paintings and engravings being hung in the public schools by the Public School Art Society, till in a case such as that of the Drake School the collection in a single school building amounts in value to several thousand dollars.
You’d see wagonloads of coats and hats and dresses and trousers being carried from the School Children’s Aid Society to public schools in all parts of the city, to be secretly conveyed to boys and girls who otherwise could not come through wintry weather to their lessons.
You’d see flower gardens springing up in 201 many school yards, after a little encouragement and advice from the Women’s Outdoor Art League.
You’d see a girl behind the walls of the Northwestern University Building, over there on Dearborn Street, telling her story of deception, or of outrage, or of error, to the superintendent of the Legal Aid Society. It used to be the Women’s Protective Association till it was merged with the Bureau of Justice a few years since. It was initiated by the Chicago Woman’s Club a generation ago. It has ministered to thousands of young women cursed with that curse both of God and of man which gives them, however wronged, almost all the burden and almost all the shame of the event. It is due mainly to the work done here that in Illinois to-day a girl cannot legally consent to her own undoing till she is at least sixteen years old and that even till she is eighteen her injurer, immune from nature’s revenge, is not immune from the law’s.
These things you’d see, and innumerable others. All that I have mentioned have been suggested to me by lines of communication 202 which stretch out over the town from the one club I have particularly noted. If I tried to unravel all those lines to all their endings, I should keep you here beyond your patience. If I tried to extend my survey to other similar clubs, younger, smaller, but equally zealous, in this community, I should keep you here even beyond mine.
They began, those women of the Chicago Woman’s Club, with remembering that Goethe said that activity without insight is an evil. Last spring they remembered something else that Goethe said. Their president, retiring from office, comprehended the history of the club and of thousands of other woman’s clubs thus:
“Goethe, who started with the theory that the highest life was to be gained by self-culture, in later years concluded that service was the way to happiness. So we have risen by stepping stones to higher things; through study, through interest in humanity, the supreme motive of this club has come to be service to humanity.”
And yet I haven’t mentioned the greatest service ever rendered to the town by its women.
One day a woman went on a visit, one of many, to the jail. There were a lot of boys playing about a man in a dressing-gown and rocking-chair. She inquired about him. “Him?” said the children, “He’s a fellow just murdered his wife. He’s our boss.”
Visits like that, scenes like that, were the beginning of the Juvenile Court in Chicago. As the idea began to traverse the local sky, it gathered about it a most useful and honorable aura of masculine interest. But the nucleus of it was feminine. And it is to women that the United States really owes its first Juvenile Court law.
The incident might end there and be notable enough. But it goes farther.
At the very first session of the Chicago Juvenile Court there appeared two women. One of them offered to be a probation officer. The other, with a consciousness of many friends behind her, offered to accumulate a fund on which a staff of probation officers might be maintained.
From those offers grew the Juvenile Court Committee. Its work during the next eight years was an integral part of the administration of the 204 Juvenile Court. There’s little wisdom (in a city as large as Chicago) in paroling a wayward boy unless there’s a probation officer to follow him, to watch him, to encourage him, to keep him from relapsing into the hands of the judge. Some 3,500 children pass through the court every year. The judge cannot be father to many of them. The probation officers are the judge’s eyes and hands, giving him knowledge and control of his family. Without the probation officers the new system would have been an amiable reform, but not an effective agency for juvenile regeneration.
The Juvenile Court Committee developed a staff of probation officers, which finally had twenty-two members. The Juvenile Court Committee also undertook the maintenance and management of the detention home in which boys were sheltered and instructed while awaiting the final disposition of their cases. The Juvenile Court Committee also gave time and money to many other features of the development of the court, all the way from paying the salaries of a chief clerk and a chief stenographer to suggesting the advisability and securing the 205 adoption of necessary amendments to the Juvenile Court law.
From the year 1898 to the year 1907 the Juvenile Court Committee raised and spent $100,000. But it did its best work in depriving itself of its occupation. It secured the passage of a law which established the probation officer system as part of the Juvenile Court system, to be maintained forever by the county authorities. And it succeeded, after long negotiations, in persuading the county and the city governments to coöperate in the erection of a Children’s Building, which houses both the court and the detention home.
The original purpose of the Juvenile Court Committee was now fulfilled. The Committee perished. But it immediately rose from its ashes as the Juvenile Protective Association. Instead of supporting probation officers to look after children who are already in the care of the court, it now spends some $25,000 a year on protective officers, who have it for their ultimate object to prevent children from getting into the care of the court. Can anything be done to dam the stream of dependent and delinquent children 206 which flows through the children’s building so steadily? What are the subterranean sources of that stream? Can they be staunched?
The managers of the Juvenile Protective Association, in going back of the court to study the home lives, the industrial occupations, and the amusements which form the characters, for better or for worse, of the city’s children, are approaching the field in which the causes of social corruption will stand much more clearly revealed than at present to our intelligence and conscience. It is fundamental work.
But what of the women who are directing that work? What of the women who are directing the other enterprises I have mentioned? Would they make good citizens?
They are militant citizens now, with the rank of noncombatants.
We crossed the roof’s tarred gravel once more, and once more leaned over the tiled parapet and looked abroad at the city.
“I told you,” she said, “that women cannot give their leisure to useful activity without verging toward citizenship. That is the rule. There 207 are exceptions, caused by individual temperament. But that is the rule. Make one group of the women who use their leisure to good purpose. Make another of the women who use their leisure to no purpose. You’ll find a growing desire for citizenship in the former. You’ll find little such desire in the latter. The conflict that is going on among women who have any leisure at all is between the spirit which drives them toward a union with the life of the world and the spirit which drives them toward complete detachment and irresponsibility.
“So let’s say no more about the suffrage agitation. It’s simply a sequel to women’s interest in the world’s housekeeping. The broader question is, ‘Will that interest grow?’
“One would think it could hardly help growing. The hosts of women who are earning their living—they are immersed in the world even as men. But the women who are at home, with little children about them! They’re abstracted from the world, aren’t they? Yes, physically, just as much as ever. But mentally they come closer and closer to the world all the time.
“Have you read the Home Economics books? The day is coming, you know, when every girl will have the training those books suggest. It will make her a home woman, you say. Yes, it will help do that. But it will help even more to make her something else, too.
“Do you know that the Home Economics literature has more in it about civic service than any other one general kind of educational literature you can lay your hands on?
“Does that seem odd to you? I’ll tell you the reason for it.
“Home Economics is the study of Right Living, the study of the importance, the utility, and the possible beauty of the common things of daily existence. Now one cannot study sanitation, fresh air, pure food, adequate housing, the care of children, the protection of the family from disease, the maintenance of a proper environment and regimen for health and efficiency, without instantly perceiving the closeness of the relationship between the life of the individual and the life of the community.
“The so-called bread-and-butter studies, now being inserted into women’s education, have the 209 merit, superficially paradoxical, of raising the mind to the duties of citizenship. The simplest mother, immured in her home with her small children, will in the days to come realize, as she does not now at all realize, what the freshness of the milk supply, what the purity of the city water, what the efficiency of the health department, mean to those children. She will know—and when she knows she will care.
“Let me give you one illustration of the extent to which certain teachers of Home Economics recognize the future civic responsibilities of their pupils.
“In a little town far up in the Northwest there’s a famous Homemakers’ School. It is far from the social pressure of packed populations. Nevertheless, along with all the housekeeping details which crowd its two-year course, you’ll find a series of lectures on ‘Home and Social Economics’ based on a theory which I’ll try to give in almost the very words used by the school itself in its public announcements of policy. It’s this:
“‘The growing wealth of different communities, the application of modern inventions to 210 home industries, the passing of many of the former lines of women’s work into the factory have brought to many women leisure time which should be spent in social service. Civic cleanliness, the humane treatment of children, the city beautiful, education, civic morality, the protection of children from immoral influences, child labor, the organizations to protect neglected children and to reform delinquent children—all are legitimately within the province of motherhood, and the attempt to improve conditions is a part of the duty of the modern woman.’
“Is that radical? Surely not. Surely it’s conservative. There’s not a suggestion in it of any change in woman’s interests. There’s only an awakening to the fact that her interests are now diffused throughout the community, that what could once be comprehended in a wilderness cave is now spread abroad through all the lands of all the world.
“I said I taught housekeeping in that cave. I wonder if I could teach better housekeeping to the whole world.
“I know I could if I would. But——
“I’m thinking now of the millions of women who, after all their home duties are done, still have some time they could give me for a more livable world life. Will they? I can’t say. But I will say this:
“Either their public spirit will grow or their private character will decline. One of the two. Because they carry, along with that leisure of theirs, not only its blessings but also its curse. They must sanctify it or perish by it.
“Leisure! Culture! Emancipation! All nothing unless there is something more. Culture without action is an ingrowing disease which first debilitates and then dissolves the will to live. Emancipation without duty is a mirage of pleasure which raises thirst but never quenches it. The Romans emancipated their women, in the days of their degeneration, but with no result except a completer collapse of family life and of personal virtue.
“But perhaps there will be a new issue of events this time. It looks as if there might be.
“That weary ancient world, recoiling from its luxuries, its dissipations, its surfeits, turned to pessimistic mysticism, to the theory that the flesh 212 and the things of the flesh are vile, to monastic withdrawal into the desert and the mountains, to the life of inward searchings.
“This modern world is turning to optimistic materialism, to the theory that the flesh and the things of the flesh can be made noble, to anti-tuberculosis societies and juvenile courts, to the life of outward workings.
“That world found peace in renunciation. This world seeks peace in service.
“It is going to be an era of the importance, the utility, and the possible beauty of the common things of daily existence. It is going to be an era of Right Living.
“Will not woman have a particular part in it? May she not even have a dominant part in it?
“I have watched her every hour from the beginning—from the very first beginning of any life that had any warmth of love in it. I have seen her make the hearth the symbol of the stability of the individual life. Now, when the duties of the home, the stones of which that hearth was made, are scattered far and wide, shall I not see her reassemble them on a grander 213 scale to make a total of stability for all life whatsoever? Shall I not?”
“But who?” I said, “who are you?”
“I,” she said, “I am the spirit that made woman love her child, and that shall yet make her love her kind.”