Philosophy Faculty Publications


Review: 'The Selected Papers of Jane Addams: Volume I, Preparing to Lead, 1860–81' (2003) and 'Volume II, Venturing into Usefulness 1881–1888'

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Publication Source

Peace and Change


Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Barbara Bair, and Maree De Angury perform an invaluable service as they issue volumes of The Selected Papers of Jane Addams. In Volumes I and II, scholars and other interested readers will find the first 28 years of Jane Addams’s life, work, and thought meticulously documented and placed in historical context. Volume I, Preparing to Lead, 1860–81, covers the years from Addams’s birth until her graduation from Rockford Female Seminary. Volume II, Venturing into Usefulness, 1881–1888, takes us through Addams’s second tour of Europe, ending just a year and a few months before she and Ellen Gates Starr opened the doors of Hull-House.

The volumes are the latest issuance of the Jane Addams Project, which previously gave us the Jane Addams Papers on 82 reels of microfilm (1985–86), and the Jane Addams Papers: A Comprehensive Guide (1996).

These volumes contain a selection of the materials from the microfilm, including correspondence to and from Addams, diary entries, and some essays and speeches. Each document is extensively annotated; persons, places, and events mentioned in the document are identified and explained in detail. Often, the editors direct readers to other related material in the microfilm or to passages in Addams’s published writings that show the mature fruit of earlier reflections. Long biographical essays preface each section of the two volumes; extensive bibliographies and indices are found in the back. The many pages of acknowledgments demonstrate how deeply the editors have tapped into a vast scholarly community in preparing these volumes.

The editors intend the volumes to be useful to a range of people, from serious scholars to the general public, and for a range of purposes, from curiosity to specialized research. They have succeeded admirably at this task. The biographical essays are engaging and accessible; the documents themselves are full of interest. Those who wish to delve into the endnotes’ thickets of detail will be richly rewarded with concrete information and with leads for further research.

Inclusive pages





Permission documentation is on file.

Citation information for the books reviewed:

Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Barbara Bair, and Maree De Angury, eds. The Selected Papers of Jane Addams: Volume I, Preparing to Lead, 1860–81 (2003), and Volume II, Venturing into Usefulness 1881–1888. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009.


John Wiley & Sons