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scription being all that the average citizen need sion towards the crop of home heathen, planted supply. And so year by year the number and carefully cultivated by ourselves, and preswelled till the fair islands of the East River senting as the result a harvest of faithless and one by one were given up to wretched lives, often hopeless souls, toiling because they must, and crime and shameful want became the only and seeking where they could such gleams of passports to such breathing-places as yet re- pleasure and satisfaction as could by any means, mained to the city. Year by year the worker questionable or otherwise, be made a part of fared worse and the criminal better, till society their starved and dreary lives. Wealth has come seemed to have entered into a conspiracy to to be more often curse than blessing, but always render labor hopeless of any return save barest among its owners may be found a few who count existence. The factories, large and small, kept it their own only so far as it can be made to pace with the institutions. Men knew the faces mean good for the many as well as the few. of their employees, and not always even this; To these few it had become plain that the but where they lived, or how, formed no part pauper and the criminal were not the only
of the contract. Here and there some “Home” members of the community demanding attensprung up, gray and cheerless, hedged about tion. Imperceptibly had come up among us with sharp restrictions, and ignoring most of a class whose existence was denied, whose the real needs of the dwellers within its walls. needs were ignored, and who found no standBut the mass of working-women, reënforced ing-ground save in the Purgatory which made perpetually by the stream of country girls whose up the only life the worker seemed likely to faces turned always towards that Mecca in know. Evil fortune might thrust her still lower which for them all good was enshrined, had into the Inferno we devote to our poor, but to neither homes nor teaching that could give the Heaven of opportunity and freedom to grow them better outlook for the future, nor any there was no access. It appeared impossible good thing save what their own dull eyes and for those who lived at ease to take in the new weak hands saw and held as good.
conditions or to accept the fact that more than Men were too busy making money to spend one class must be dealt with. We had so assidthought on any conditions that might under- uously repeated the old formula, “ All men are lie the process; but women had begun to born free and equal,” that there had been no think, and to realize that the energy given time to observe the class distinctions defining chiefly to the heathen needed immediate diver- themselves more and more sharply every year.
in the brain of some persistent dreamer; and facing this lack and this obtuseness of perception, Arnold Toynbee, who spent his high young life in a vain struggle
with conditions that he could not alter, wrote:
I suppose what impresses us most in London is the dreariness of life. I do think that the question of recreation is a question for the great landlords in London to consider.
Will not one of these great men ransom his UN
soul by building a great building where people may come out of the dreary streets and rest, and listen, if they like, to music such as Milton listened to ? Why should they not get, as we do, a sense of the Infinite ? — for a great building is really the Infinite made visible. Why should they not get a sense of the Infinite from great buildings ? Why should not they also share in our pleasures? If these great men would do this thing, it would be worth their while in many ways. I'do think that that is a thing which the rich at any rate might think of.
What was true of London was true a hundred-fold of New York hardly ten years ago. One woman, whose name stands high on the
roll of those whose mission is something more “We have no class divisions; there is equal than alleviation, said deliberately in a meeting chance for all,” piped the politician; and the of those who had projected special missions, wife of the politician sounded the same note, “midnight” and otherwise, to a class of women supplemented by the mass of women who take popularly considered unreachable: their opinions at second-hand, and wonder vaguely why things are so uncomfortable, I certainly will include myself — who, if forced to
I think, friends, that there are women even here and what had better be done about it. Such live their starved and dreary lives six months, would wonder, however, did not begin till evils had accept anything that seemed to offer larger outlook. grown to such dimensions that further ignor- Until we provide some means of interesting and ing was impossible. It was not alone the poor guiding them, give them a few at least of the things and the wretched who were pouring into the that make life worth living, we stand as their imcity, but an equal stress of half-trained, ambi- pulse towards ruin, and are responsible for every one tious, eager girls, who looked to factory or shop, but for the thousands we are driving in the same
of these wandering souls. It is not alone for them, or the trades opened up to women, as the road direction, that I speak. Something must be done. to fortune, and who, as the dream faded and let us consider what. they came face to face with increasing toil and pitifully small reward, turned, many of them, to It was from such thought that the most tanthe life which means temporary ease, and some gible and fruitful work for women was born, and flavor at least of what the century counts as that the year 1871 saw the first formal report chief good. Here and there a voice sounded of the Young Ladies' Christian Association, a note of warning. Here and there a worker known in the beginning as the “ Young Ladies' affirmed that for any such result society was Branch of the Ladies' Christian Union,” the directly responsible; yet neither church nor old-fashioned title carrying with it the flavor any method current in society seemed able to of Mrs. Ferrer’s “Young Ladies' Guide,” and control the situation or to make life more tol- being actually a barrier between its holders and erable for the mass of women, who, for want the work they most honestly desired to do. But of a better term, must be called middle-class. conservative women looked upon the name as No Palace of Pleasure existed anywhere save in itself a guarantee against unpleasant criti
cism, and the thirty-one members who formed 185,000 young men for whom clubs and gymthe little corporation were too busy and too nasiums and libraries had grown up were offset much in earnest to spend any time upon a by 200,000 young women for whom there was question of such apparently slight importance. nothing save this one oasis, and to most of whom Some common meeting-place was the first es- it was still unknown. Five hundred places of sential, and this was found in the room rented business where women were employed were visfor that purpose, furnished, and put in charge ited in 1872 and the purpose of the Association of a superintendent who filled all the offices made known, and as fast as means admitted of all the embryo departments.
facilities for work were enlarged and improved. The desire (read the first report) to extend By 1875 the report announced the "Young Christian kindness to the multitudes of young women Women's Christian Association of the City of who come from quiet country homes to this city in New York,” and thenceforth the woman who search of employment or educational advantages helped and the woman to be helped stood side
led to the formation of plans by which employment by side, with no self-erected barrier of name and safe boarding-places in private families might be between, and in mutual effort learned more of secured for them; also church privileges with social the underlying facts of human nature than had and intellectual pleasures.
often found place in the scheme of any organizaHere, for the first time, was to be found “an tion. It seemed the smallest, most trifling, of accessible free circulating library for women," matters to a few of those who discussed the and the providers announced with gentle pride change; to others, a momentous departure the fact that it numbered “five hundred bound from tradition, certain to bring disaster. But volumes.” An employment bureau, with a paid the point once gained demonstrated at once secretary, was also opened; but superintendent the wisdom of those who had urged it as vital. and secretary and the thirty-one members to A year or two longer in the always narrowing gether had no power to deal adequately with quarters, and then the final move to 7 East 15th the flood of applicants pouring in upon them. street, where the work went on with unflagging Swift and sudden as the tide of Solway Firth enthusiasm, demanding imperatively at last these pent-up lives massed and rushed towards something more than any one house could this new haven. The room became a house, offer. Friends and funds were equally ready. the “ five hundred bound volumes” doubled, The ground occupied by the old house, 75 by various training classes proved themselves in- 103 feet, offered ample room for more generous dispensable, and all within the first six months. accommodations, and these were planned after
By 1872 statistics had been taken, and the long deliberation as to what were the chief
needs to be met, more space for social purposes being one of the most imperative. Necessarily silence had been the rule in the stained to produce the effect of antique oak. old library, which, for want of space, had served Wide double doors open on the west side to also as reading-room, and the girls begged the social parlor, thirty feet square, with carved for any room, no matter how small, where mantel and cheerful open fire; on the east, to they might talk freely. Plans were studied the employment rooms and their various offices; with anxious deliberation, but it was not till while back of both is the chapel, running comDecember 1, 1886, that the corner-stone was pletely across the building and some 70 by 40 laid, the Association resigning itself to many feet. On the second story is the library, running months' restriction in a smaller house.
across the entire front, two small rooms at each Delays lengthened the period of waiting, side being partitioned off—that on the east as but January 18, 1887, saw the dedicatory cere- reading and reference room; on the west, for monies, and the simple, but beautiful building, magazines and periodicals. Something over five stories in height, was thrown open for pub- 10,000 volumes are now on the shelves, space lic inspection. Brick, with red freestone arches having been allowed for 50,000; and any and trimmings, was the material employed, woman may use the library as she would the terra-cotta ornamentation being freely used, the Astor, only working-women, using the term result being one of the most attractive façades in its largest sense, being allowed to take volamong the many examples of good work which umes from the building. New York now offers in this direction. A ves- The third, fourth, and fifth stories are detibule with tiled floor gives access to a broad voted to the class-rooms, including type-writhall, finished, like the entire interior, in ash, ing, stenography, machine and hand sewing,
dress cutting and fitting, book-keeping and prayer-meetings, monthly evening meetings, arithmetic, and technical design; in short, all the and various special services. A relief combranches in which women engaged in over thirty mittee cares for the sick and needy among the trades may desire to fit themselves for more effi- members, and sends tired women to the councient work. In all these, save dress cutting and try, ten thousand having had this opportunity fitting, instruction is free to members, whose last year, at an actual cost of less than a dollar small yearly fee gives opportunities in every di- per head. The yearly expenses are slightly over rection. On the fifth floor are two art rooms $10,000, and it is safe to say that no system with artists' skylights, one of them occupying of education as applied in our public schools the entire back of the building, which is slightly gives in any degree so valuable return for the narrower than the front. Altogether the Edu- same expenditure. With more money better cational Department occupies more space than work could be done, but the sum handled is any other, and is doing invaluable work, not made to yield the utmost that a dollar can aconly for the numbers who seek the city as their complish. Had our legislators any training working-ground, but for the other numbers in real political economy, every ward in the
who graduate from our public schools, help- city would have a similar building, suppleless as babies for the real work of life: to such mented by kindergartens and industrial schools the Association gives the first hint of real edu- for those not yet compelled to earn, and thus cation, four hundred having graduated from abolish forever the necessity for the enormous its classes in 1886, all of whom found positions. appropriations now demanded by asylums and These are not included in the 12,000 who reformatories and the myriad engines of phifound work by means of the Employment Bu- lanthropy. Here, in the Association, is demonreau, which in 1886 registered 1985 applica- strated again the fact that when brain and hand tions, the successful proportion making 66 per work together, in conditions that mean rest as cent. An Industrial Room gives seamstresses well as stimulus, there is neither room nor time an opportunity of exhibiting their work, fancy for vicious thought or vicious action. and otherwise, and orders are taken for every day's work, long and exhausting as it often is, variety. Monthly entertainments, concerts, has no power to quench the enthusiasm with recitations, etc., give needed diversion; and a which these girls labor at their self-elected small gymnasium with a skilled teacher is the task, coming to it in all weather and leaving it satisfactory climax of the work undertaken. reluctantly. Watching their enthusiasm as well
This is the temporal side. The religious in- as patience, and the steady development of uncludes as varied help. The great Bible class suspected powers, one can only long for a time has 750 regular members, transient ones run- when an earlier beginning may be made posning it up in 1886 to 1263. There are weekly sible, and cry shame upon the system which