Sample Documents: Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman, 28 December 1886
Jane Addams to Sarah Alice Addams Haldeman
The years that Jane Addams spent in Baltimore, from December 1885 until the end of January 1887, opened her eyes to the difference that philanthropy could play in the life of a great city. Although she lived in the fashionable Mount Vernon Place neighborhood and took advantage of its social and cultural amenities, Addams also spent time doing charitable work. This excerpt from her Christmas letter to her sister Alice Haldeman, documents Addams’s growing awareness of poverty and the importance of contributing time—and money—to institutions such as the Johns Hopkins Shelter for Aged and Infirm Colored Persons.1
413 North Chas St Baltimore, [Md.] Dec 28" 1886
My dearest Alice
The box with its dainty contents was greatly enjoyed and appreciated. It came Thursday evening, I had been out helping Mrs Brooks 2 with her Christmas tree and was full of the Christmas spirit when we opened it. You were very kind, my dear, to give us what you made yourself. Mrs Brooks had invited us there for Christmas eve, but the weather was atrocious and as Mr Dorr & Mr Lemen 3 came to spend the evening, we got up as much Christmas eve as we could with nuts & candy and staid at home.
We received some friendly calls Christmas morning and our dinner was increased by presents of plum pudding and mince pie. We had asked Miss Kate and Mary Mayer 4 to take tea with us and go to the German opera, the Thalia Company which is here now. We had a merry evening. In the afternoon I had been up with the old colored women with some little presents, and into a little colored orphan asylum I have grown quite interested in. They take little colored girls and keep them until they are fifteen, training them to be good servants, the children themselves expecting to be that and having an ambition for a good place. I heartily approve of the scheme.5. . . Ma & Geo send much love to you both. Always Your
ALS (Indiana University, Lilly Library, Mrs. S. A. Haldeman Mss.; JAPM, 2:391; JAP, 2:475-76).
1. Jane Addams was one of the major donors to the Shelter for Aged and Infirm Colored Persons in Baltimore, contributing $20 in 1887. Incorporated on 12 Feb. 1881 and opened in 1883 to “well recommended” applicants who could deposit $100, the institution was supported by approximately 125 white patrons who donated nearly $800 each year.
2. Amelia Schultz Brooks (d. 1901) was the wife of William Keith Brooks (1848-1908), professor of zoology at Johns Hopkins University and George Haldeman’s teacher.
3. Lucius Bradley Dorr and William Samuel Lemen were cousins. Both were graduate students at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
4. Kate and Mary Mayer were the daughters of Cornelia Poor and Brantz Mayer, the founder of the Maryland Historical Society. The Mayer family, with whom Jane Addams’s stepbrother George Haldeman was lodging, befriended the Addams women and helped introduce them in Baltimore society.
5. The Johns Hopkins Colored Orphan Asylum, founded in 1873, was located at 519 West Biddle Street. Begun as a shelter for African-American children during the Civil War, and sponsored by the Society of Friends, it became an orphan asylum under the control of the trustees of Johns Hopkins Hospital.