Women Who Took Risks

Yesterday I visited the Hull House museum with my husband. I am gathering insight into Chicago during the 1890s. 

It is impressive to learn about the work that a group of young women undertook to assist the immigrant population during a period of tremendous influx. They had a vision for a settlement house.

The city was growing faster than it could accommodate the immigrants of many languages and cultures. The tenements around Hull House were overcrowded and unsanitary.

Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, Julia Lathrop and others were willing to settle in an unsavory neighborhood. Did they consider the risk to themselves? Or were they filled with a passion to help make a better world?

After a couple hours at the museum we went to the Chicago History Museum. This museum has a wonderful research library. I found pamphlets about the Chicago Bible Society which was founded around 1850. 

The pamphlets detailed the work of the Bible Society, making Bibles available in many languages. The number of Bible Society Workers was also listed.

Young women were trained to make home visits and teach the Bible. I read a couple of accounts where women facing difficult circumstances were encouraged by the visit and looked forward to weekly visits.

It is inspiring to read the stories of women who had a positive impact in a city with many problems. 

In the third chapter of Titus, Paul encourages believers to be devoted to good works. He is careful to say that the good works don’t save us. We are saved by grace through Jesus.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior . . . The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3: 3-6,8

Sometimes good works involves risk.

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: RISK Also shared with Inspire Me Monday.

Street Names and a Chicago Library

Today I took the Metra train to downtown Chicago. I had plans to do some research at the Harold Washington Library. The library is about a mile walk from the the train station.

Because it was warm and sunny the streets were crowded with pedestrians: people in business clothes carrying attache cases, teenagers in shorts and t-shirts, couples holding hands and elderly folk with walkers.

I watched the street names as I walked. Many of them have a historical reference—La Salle, Madison, Monroe, Adams, and Jackson.

At the library I spent time looking through newspaper microfilm, until I was literally dizzy! I was searching for more information about the Chicago Midwifery Institute that existed for about nine years (1889 to 1898). 

Chicago was a center of growth and competing medical philosophies at the end of the 19th century. Dr. Paoli, at one time the president of the Chicago Medical Society, was behind the certification requirements for midwives in Illinois. He was also on the board of directors for the Linnean Hospital that hosted the Chicago Midwifery Institute. 

A Finnish midwife attended this school and received a diploma. In 1905 she was at the center of a legal battle in Massachusetts that dragged on for four years. After practicing midwifery for eight years she was accused of practicing medicine without a license. Her court case had an impact on the gradual diminishment of midwifery in the United States.

After a lunch break I visited the 9th floor that had an exhibit in honor of Harold Washington, the former mayor of Chicago that put plans for this library in motion. Sadly, he passed away before he could begin his second term. He didn’t see the completed library that was named after him.

Quote on the wall of the library

I’m joining the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: NAME. Visit Kate’s site to read more takes on this prompt.