How to Order Volume 2, Venturing into Usefulness, 1881—88

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How to Order


Order Venturing into Usefulness, 1881-88, Volume 2 of the Selected Papers of Jane Addams, by e-mail




Venturing into Usefulness, 1881-88


Now available from the University of Illinois Press!

Edited by Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Barbara Bair, and Maree de Angury

Venturing into Usefulness, the second volume of the Selected Papers of Jane Addams, is a coming-of-age story. It documents the experience of Jane Addams between her graduation from Rockford Female Seminary in June 1881, and 1888, when she and Ellen Gates Starr are on the verge of founding the Hull-House settlement in Chicago.


Through correspondence, photographs, and other primary documents, this volume traces the evolution of Addams from a high-minded but inexperienced graduate of a Midwestern women’s seminary into a seasoned traveler and a mature young woman with definite ideas about social and economic justice.


Like upper middle-class Victorian women of her generation, Addams faces the challenge of creating a meaningful life amidst demands of the “family claim.”  Uninterested in marriage, especially to her stepbrother George Haldeman, Addams enrolls in medical school in Philadelphia.  But health problems prompt her to change course and continue her education through travel and reading.  With scrupulous attention to detail, this documentary history traces the “Great Tours” Addams took in Europe as well as the new world of charitable work she discovers while living in Baltimore, Maryland. 


Volume 2 of the Selected Papers of Jane Addams provides a multi-layered narrative of her emerging personal and professional life and its reliance on dynamic female friendships. Themes inaugurated in the previous volume are expanded here, including the dilemmas of family relations and gender roles; the history of education; religious belief and practice; changes in opportunities for women; and new ideas about philanthropy, social welfare, and reform.


Addams’s personal correspondence, augmented by local histories, guidebooks, and art and architectural sources, illuminates her transformation into a cosmopolitan, urbane American with a growing awareness of the problems of poverty, women’s rights, and world peace. Venturing into Usefulness also documents the beginnings of the social settlement movement in England and brings to light new evidence about the formative influences of London’s Toynbee Hall on Addams and Starr.  


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Published by University of Illinois Press, 2009.  Hardcover $75.00. 840 pages. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches. 60 photographs, 5 line drawings. Cloth, ISBN 978-0-252-03349-0. Women's Studies / Biography & Personal Papers / American History


The University of Illinois Press also publishes paperback reprints of Jane Addams classic titles, as well as the important Women in American History Series,