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THE SOCIAL CENTER 



The 
National Municipal League Series 

Edited by 
CLINTON ROGERS WOODRUFF 

Secretary of the National Municipal League 



City Government by Commission 

Edited by Clinton Rogers Woodruff 
12mo, Cloth, $1.50 net. Postpaid $1.66 

The Regulation of Municipal Utilities 

Edited by Clyde Lyndon King 
12mo, Cloth, $1.50 net. Postpaid $1.66 

The Initative, Referendum, and Recall 

Edited by William Bennett Munro 
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The Social Center 

Edited by Edward J. Ward 
l2mo, Cloth, $1.50 net. Postage $1.66 

OTHER VOLUMES IN PREPARATION 



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 
New York London 

173 



NATIONAL MUNICIPAL LEAGUE SERIES 



THE SOCIAL CENTER 



EDITED BY 

EDWARD J. WARD 

ADVISER IN CIVIC AND SOCIAL CENTER DEVELOPMENT, UNIVERSITY 
EXTENSION DIVISION, THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN 




NEW YORK AND LONDON 
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 



LC23i 
.W3 



Copyright, 1913, by 
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 



Printed in the United States of America 



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PREFACE 

"It is necessary that simple means should be found 
by which, by an interchange of points of view, we may 
get together, for the whole process of modern life, the 
whole process of modern politics, is a process by which 
we must exclude misunderstandings, * * * bring 
all men into common counsel and so discover what is 
the common interest. That is the problem of modern 
life which is so specialized that it is almost devitalized, 
so disconnected that the tides of life will not flow. 

'There is no sovereignty of the people if the several 
sections of the people are at loggerheads with one an- 
other. Sovereignty comes with cooperation. * * * 

"You say and all men say that great political changes 
are impending in this country. Why do you say so? 
Because everywhere you find men * * * deter- 
mined to solve the problems by acting together, no mat- 
ter what older bonds they may break, no matter what 
former prepossessions they may throw off, determined 
to get together." 

These sentences are taken from the address of Gover- 
nor Wilson upon citizenship organization and the use 
of the schoolhouse as the neighborhood center of this 

V 



VI 



PREFACE 



all-inclusive association, given at the opening of the 
First National Conference on Social Center Develop- 
ment, one year before his election to the Presidency of 
the United States. 

Among a group of men who gathered after the 
meeting, one said: "With the powerful cooperation of 
Woodrow Wilson as President, it is not impossible that 
the basic program of the social center — the self-organi- 
zation of the voting body into a deliberative body to 
supplant party divisions — may be effected in one admin- 
istration." 

During the campaign which resulted in the election 
of President Wilson he repeatedly referred to the social 
center opportunity, speaking of it as of fundamental and 
inspiring importance. Moreover, this idea was lifted 
during the campaign far above being merely a party 
project by the fact that Colonel Roosevelt strongly 
urged the logical procedure of shifting the polling places 
into the schoolhouses and then making them the delib- 
erative as well as voting headquarters of district political 
organization, "the senate chambers of the people," and 
President Taft, following the example of Justice Hughes, 
of the United States Supreme Court, who, when gover- 
nor of New York, said of the social center movement: 
"I am more interested in what you are doing and what 
it stands for than anything else in the world," author- 
ized the hearty approval of this plan by the chairman 
of the national Republican committee. 

The unanimous endorsement of the social center idea 



PREFACE vii 

by these party leaders and by such bodies as the National 
Education Association has been accompanied by the 
beginning of social center development in so many 
communities throughout the country that the rapid 
equipment of the whole citizenship with this means of 
its intelligent self-expression seems assured. 

To aid in the recognition of the social center oppor- 
tunity is the purpose of this volume. 

E. J. W. 

University of Wisconsin, 
November, 1912. 



INTRODUCTION 

This volume is the outcome of years of thought and 
personal activity on the part of Edward J. Ward. While 
some of the chapters are the contributions of other pens 
than his, I am sure all will be willing to admit that the 
inspiration for these contributions was Mr. Ward's. 

As director of recreational facilities at Rochester, Mr. 
Ward was able to develop the social center idea in a 
number of Rochester schools as he so vividly portrays. 
With this as a background he has carried forward a 
propaganda which has reached every part of the country 
and has resulted in the three great national parties in- 
dorsing the idea during the recent presidential campaign. 

This volume is the outcome of the consideration given 
to the whole subject at the Buffalo meeting of the Na- 
tional Municipal League and includes not only the ripe 
product of Mr. Ward's thought, but the advice and sug- 
gestions of his colleagues who have also thought long 
and worked steadily for the advancement of the idea. 
Within the past two years Wisconsin has required the 
school boards to make free and adequate provision for 
the use of school houses as neighborhood headquarters 
for political discussion. As this introduction is being 
written early in the year, the prospects are that a very 

ix 



X INTRODUCTION 

considerable number of other states will follow the 
precedent thus established and within the year it is more 
than likely that Mr. Ward's fight will be practically won 
with only the details to be worked out. Briefly stated, 
Mr. Ward believes with all his heart and urges, with all 
his abundant force and vitality, that the school house, 
being community property, should be utilized for com- 
munity purposes. It should be the polling place, and 
before that the place for the discussion of political ideas. 
It should be the social center of the community for adults 
and children alike. In fact, it should be the animating 
civic factor in the community. 

The editor of the National Municipal League series has 
unusual pleasure in sending forth this volume as a source 
of information and inspiration to the growing list of 
workers for democratic municipal government in this 
country. It has a fitting place in the series, providing as 
it does for the formulation of that sound public sentiment 
without which there can be no true and permanent success 
in the matter of self-government. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 



PAGE 



I. — Discovery — Not Creation i 

II. — Deliberation — then Decision .... 19 

III.— The Voters' League 43 

IV.— Political Organization— Not Partition . . 69 

V. — Like Home 96 

VI. — Practical Politics . . . . . .123 

VII.— What We Have— What We Want . . .152 

VIII. — Beginnings in Rochester and Elsewhere . 175 

IX. — The Public Lecture Center . . . .207 

X.— The Branch Public Library . . . .212 

XL— The Public Art Gallery 221 

XII.— The Music Center 228 

XIIL— The Festival Center 234 

XIV. — The Motion Picture Theater . . . .241 

XV. — The Recreation Center 252 

XVI. — The Vocation Center and Employment Bureau 271 

XVIL— The Public Health Office . . . .283 

XVIIL— The Social Center in the Rural Community . 302 

XIX.— The Social Center and the University . • 31S 

XX. — The Magnified School 324 

Appendix 339 

Bibliography 344 

Index 353 



THE SOCIAL CENTER 



CHAPTER I 



DISCOVERY — NOT CREATION 



i The social center of any community is the common 
gathering place, the head-and-heart quarters, of the so- 
ciety whose members are the people of that community. 

The proposal to have in every neighborhood in Amer- 
ica an institution wherein people may and will gather of 
right, across all different lines of opinion, creed and 
income, upon a common ground of interest and duty, just 
as neighboring citizens, is jiet a new project. On the 
contrary, such an institution not only is now established, 
but it is the fundamentally and supremely essential insti- 
tution of our government. Democracy would be im- 
possible without such a converging point in each com- 
munity. Whatever changes we may make in the machin- 
ery of public business administration, the common neigh- 
borhood gathering place, the social center, must remain — 
the permanent institution of America. 

Our established unit of neighborhood is the voting 
precinct. The established neighborhood social center is 
the polling place. The United States is divided into 
neighborhoods, districts small enough so that all of the 
electors in each district may come to a common center. 

I 



2 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

The large Society of America, whose representative head- 
quarters or capitol is at Washington, is divided into Httle 
neighborhood societies, whose headquarters or capitols — 
not representative but immediate — are the polHng places. 
The active membership of the Association of America 
is divided into neighborhood association memberships, 
which are enrolled upon the voting registers at the 
polling places. 

Recently there have sounded urgent calls for "citizen- 
ship-organization." These have been spoken by men 
who see the imperative necessity of vitalizing the common 
bond of civic obligation and so strengthening the cord 
upon which all the beads of a democratic civilization are 
strung.^ For instance, William Burnett Wright of Buf- 
falo, who as a city councilman and as a member of the 
state legislature of New York, has studied at first hand 
the problem of protecting the welfare of a disintegrated 
public against the encroachments of united private 
interests, says : "The private interests are organized ; 
therefore they get things. > Only when the citizenship is 
organized will the public interest be conserved." In an 
article entitled "The Organization of the Electorate," * 
William Watts Folwell says : "If democracy is to sur- 
vive and provide good government it must become or- 
ganic, constitutionally organic. Electors must be visibly 
and physically associated, and possess an apparatus by 
which they can cooperate effectively." Both these men, 
and others who are conscious of a fundamental lack in 
the machinery of democracy, make this proposal of citi- 
zenship-organization as though it were an entirely new 
project, as though there were now no established inte- 
grating and articulating center of such organization. In- 

* Review of Reviews, April, 19 12. 



DISCOVERY— NOT CREATION 3 

deed, Professor Folwell says: "Now our American 
electors have no legitimate organization, form no so- 
ciety." 

It may be that the authors of these proposals live in 
neighborhoods whose voting places are located in livery 
stables or barber shops, so that, on account of the en- 
vironment of the established civic headquarters, they fail 
to recognize in it the uniting social center which makes 
of the citizenship within the area of its use the actually 
connected membership of a real corporate body. 

Whether the fact that the polling places in Mr. 
Wright's and Professor Folwell's neighborhoods may be 
located in a livery stable, a barber shop, or a temporary 
shack set up in the street, has anything to do with their 
ignoring the presence of this articulating center of citi- 
zenship-organization, it is unquestionably true that the 
failure on the part of the average citizen to appreciate 
the civic bond as a living union, an active membership in 
a vital, wealthy, powerful and tremendously responsible 
fraternal organization, is in part due to the fact that 
the neighborhood headquarters of this organization is 
usually not permanently housed in a fittingly dignified 
and worthy building. 

Ask the average man to name the headquarters of 
government in this country, this state, this town ; he will 
probably name the capitol at Washington, then the state 
house, then the city or town hall. It is as though the politi- 
cal authority still came down from above, through a sov- 
ereign at the national capitol ordained and commissioned 
from up in the air, down to the state capitols, and on 
down to and through the town halls to the people. The 
idea that our machinery for getting our public or asso- 
ciation business done is something above us to which it 
is our duty to bow, is expressed in our use of the word 



4 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

government in speaking of our great cooperation. The 
word suggests the authority of a superior will imposed 
upon a subject whose duty it is simply to obey, to submit, 
to be governed. The connotation that the relation of 
the individual to the nation is one of filial subordination, 
as though there were at the head of the American house- 
hold a political father to be obeyed, is implied in our 
speaking of national devotion as patriotism (from pater, 
father). The same suggestion of a political being above 
us, not paternal this time, but royal, is in the word loy- 
alty, which, as we use it in speaking of our feeling 
toward the nation, suggests not an outreaching, unlimited 
fellowship identification, but an upward looking devo- 
tion as to a king. While we no longer speak of our 
public officials as rulers, yet something of this idea re- 
mains in our calling the executive officers of our state 
associations governors. And in the cities the old subor- 
dinate attitude is plainly expressed when we refer to the 
members of our committees on municipal business as 
city fathers, implying that we who engage them in our 
service are city children. And we still call judges, mag- 
istrates (from magister, master), and their umpirings, 
decrees. Consistent with this idea of the government as 
something above us is our speaking of the rules of pro- 
cedure, upon which, either directly or through our 
agents, we agree, as laws "handed down." And con- 
sistent with this idea is our common attitude toward 
taxes as being "imposed" like tribute instead of being 
our cooperative investment, "chipped in" to purchase at 
wholesale benefits which each of us can use without 
having the bother or expense of owning individually. 
In a word, we think of the flag as though it were a 
symbol of something above us, instead of the symbol 
of the vital connecting something between us. 



DISCOVERY— NOT CREATION 5 

Now, this attitude toward the government as though 
it were something over the citizenship is, of course, the 
persistence of the habit of thought developed in mon- 
archical and feudal days, when to be a member of a 
nation was to be the subject of a king, the liegeman of 
a lord. Obviously, this upward look, whether of rev- 
erence or of fear, toward the government as above, is 
quite contrary to the democratic idea. But so long as 
these ties held unweakened, so long as we kept unques- 
tioningly, this respectful, childish deference toward the 
source of authority in the political parenthood of the 
government, this common reverence was the means of 
our unity as a people. 

But slowly the filial sense of subordination under the 
government as a power above is giving way. The up- 
ward running ties of reverence by which we here held 
together in a common attitude of awe, as children under 
a parent, are being cut through, worn out, denied by 
our growing sense of democracy ; and with their cutting 
our old unity is going. Politically orphaned, we are be- 
coming conscious that, like children when the parental 
protection and authority is gone, we must assume to be 
grown up now, for the responsibilities of ordering the 
household are ours. Consciously, or unconsciously, we 
are losing the unity of obedience ; how shall we find the 
unity of agreement? We are losing the unity of a 
family; how shall we find the unity of a fellowship? 
We are losing the unity of subordination ; how shall we 
find the unity of coordination ? We are losing the bind- 
ing obligation of reverence for law ; how shall we find 
the binding obligation of accord? We are losing the 
unity of followers ; how shall we find the unity of fel- 
lows? We are losing the unity of common dependence; 
how shall we find the community of interdependence? 
3 



6 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

How? The way is plain, for in another form this Is 
exactly the same problem which confronted our an- 
cestors when the old filial unity among the colonies in 
their common subordination to Great Britain was re- 
moved, and they found the way of establishing the 
ground of fraternal unity among the orphaned com- 
monwealths. 

Before 1776, the separate colonies in this country had 
no serious difficulties in getting on peacefully together : 
they were kept from squabbling among themselves by 
the fact that, as with children in a household, when the 
parent is at hand, they had the recognized authority of 
Great Britain over them to settle disputes and keep 
them in order. Theirs was the unity of immaturity, of 
dependence, of obedience, of subordination. The colo- 
nies were children, and like children they grew up, came 
to a time when they questioned the parental authority 
and, arriving at adulthood, denied it, and cut those com- 
mon upward running ties of reverence and obedience in 
which they had found their former unity. 

Then came "the critical period" of American History. 
The old unity of dependence, obedience, subordination 
to authority gone ; how did they, those individual colo- 
nies, adjust themselves to the responsibilities of their 
adulthood? How did the old loyalism become the new 
fraternity? How did they learn the obligation of agree- 
ment in place of the old reverence for the king's decree? 

The problem of adjustment between sovereign indi- 
viduals and the problem of adjustment between sov- 
ereign groups of people may seem different, but they 
are not different, for every individual person is, in the 
diversity of his moods, a commonwealth, every com- 
monwealth is a person. The problem which our ances- 
tors had in finding a new basis of right relationship 



DISCOVERY— NOT CREATION 7 

among the commonwealths, which had ceased to be colo- 
nies, was exactly the great problem of democracy which 
confronts us — the problem of finding a basis of right 
relationship among citizens who have ceased to regard 
themselves as subjects. Their solution must be ours. 

How did they bring it about, that instead of con- 
tinuing the weakness of disintegration, the slavery of 
suspicion, the imbecility of competition among the colo- 
nies, there was developed the strength, the freedom, 
the dignity of ordered cooperation? How did they 
bring it about that intercolonial disputes came to be 
settled by orderly discussion together instead of dis- 
orderly separation and appeal to force? How did they 
bring it about, that the very points in which the colonies 
differed — such matters as the coinage — became matters 
to get together over instead of matters to separate over, 
to unite upon instead of to fight about, links instead of 
wedges ? 

It was not by the mere appeal to the sentiment of 
sympathy, of mutual respect, or brotherhood among the 
colonies. That sentiment came among those common- 
wealths as it comes among individuals, not as a cause 
of their coordination, but as a result of their coordina- 
tion. It is significant and suggestive that the League 
of Friendship proved insufificient. 

>/The solution of the problem was found in the creation 
of machinery for the orderly presentation and free dis- 
cussion of the questions over which, without this ma- 
chinery, the commonwealths had begun to resort to the 
more primitive appeals to force. It was the establish- 
ment in the midst of the colonies of an institution not 
belonging to any one or group of them, but belonging to 
all of them, a common ground of understanding. It 
was the setting up of machinery by which, when their 



8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

opinions differed, they might, in resolving these differ- 
ences, use their heads instead of losing them. 

The colonies differed in political opinion, in religious 
beliefs, in economic interests, in manners of living, and 
in tastes. But the frictions, deceptions, hostilities, which 
vexed them in their relations to one another, began to 
disappear just as soon as the machinery which invited 
intelligent discussion and cooperation among them was 
constructed. The results of misunderstanding between 
them began, as a matter of course, to vanish, as soon 
as there was established a common ground on which 
they might find a basis of understanding. To be sure, 
this society of the commonwealths which they estab- 
lished, this coordinated union of the states which they 
affected was later strained by the attempted revolt of a 
part of its members, who, holding to the beautiful, but 
impractical anarchist philosophy of the right of the 
minority not only to be heard, but to control, attempted 
to secede from the association when the majority of its 
members decided against their desire. But, with the ex- 
ception of this one point of disagreement between the 
states, all the problems of their relations with one an- 
other were in the way of peaceful adjustment when a 
common ground of meeting and orderly cooperation, 
an intercolonial social center, as headquarters for this 
society of the commonwealths, was instituted, 
t Now the problem of bringing the order, efficiency, 
economy of effort, and strength of a united citizenship 
out of the present inter-individual chaos must find its 
solution by the same method in which the order and 
strength of the United States was brought out of the 
chaos of disunion, antagonism, and weakness of the dis- 
membered colonies. Being associated as neighbors, 
they — the colonies — formed an orderly neighborhood 



DISCOVERY— NOT CREATION 9 

association with a common headquarters, an association 
which included all of them in an equality of membership. 
Being interdependent, they recognized their interdepen- 
dence, and through coordination brought it about that 
points of contact became points of connection instead of 
points of collision. 

The keenest thinking of this past fifty years has been 
devoted to devising machinery by which things should 
work together for good, by which mechanical forces 
should be combined for the service of man. We have 
learned that not only the apparently useless but even de- 
structive forces may be so directed as to produce good, 
provided the machinery is properly constructed. The 
water pressure which might mean the devastation of the 
valley, converted into directed power, by the construc- 
tion of right machinery, means its life. It is strange, 
indeed, that we have been so slow to recognize that the 
solution of our problem of right adjustment among in- 
dividual citizens lies practically in the construction of 
machinery by which folks may work together, think 
together, act together for good, when in the establish- 
ment of this coordinating machinery was found the solu- 
tion of the first problem of our existence as a nation. 
The colonies did not just try to like each other; they 
established a social center, wherein it would be possible 
to get together on common ground, to disagree agreeably 
under rules which guaranteed each an opportunity to be 
heard. They constructed a headquarters of coordination 
and found it to, be a means of cooperation. And inci- 
dentally when they did, they found, of course, that most 
of the unpleasant things that they had thought about 
each other were not so. 

The states in their establishment of a common ground 
of all-inclusive organization for orderly discussion of 



lO THE SOCIAL CENTER 

matters of difference and for cooperation furnish the 
model upon which international organization is begin- 
ning to be established in the institution of the world's 
social center at The Hague. The states in their develop- 
ment of a common institution as headquarters of an all- 
inclusive organization for orderly comparison of differ- 
ent opinions and for peaceful compromising of differ- 
ences of interest and for uniting of effort upon rules and 
policies in which agreement is secured, furnish the 
model for the inter-individual organization of the neigh- 
borhood — the development of the social center in every 
community in America. The principle is exactly the 
same and the method is the same, whether the different 
opinions and interests are those of individuals, of states, 
or of nations. The peaceful adjustment of differences, 
and the possibility of cooperation depend upon the estab- 
lishment of a common ground of orderly discussion. 
Machinery is necessary for coordination, and coopera- 
tion is not expectable without coordination. 

This identity in principle of the problem of adjust- 
ment of different interests and of its solution through 
the establishment of a common central machinery, 
whether among individuals in the little community or 
among nations in the neighborhood of the world, was 
immediately grasped by the Baroness Bertha Von Sutt- 
ner on her recent visit to America, in which she said : "I 
was thrilled when I learned of this movement to make 
the schoolhouses neighborhood civic and social centers. 
In principle this is exactly the.same movement as the 
one to which I am giving my life. To secure better under- 
standing between the citizens of a neighborhood, through 
the use of a neutral place, and so fine a place as the 
American public schoolhouse, is the local expression of 
the great idea of international federation through the 



DISCOVERY— NOT CREATION ii 

increasing use and centering of power in a common 
place where discussion of differences shall replace preju- 
dice and appeals to force." 

Now, the problem of inter-individual organization as 
a means to the orderly progress of our democratic so- 
ciety is simple, for the neighborhood social center is, as 
has been said, already established in the voting place, 
which is now the focal point of active membership, of 
interest and duty of all of the citizens within each neigh- 
borhood, the means by which the members of each com- 
munity are now vitally coordinate, the means also by 
•which the members of each neighborhood group are 
connected directly and effectively with the memberships 
of all other neighborhoods in city, county, state, and 
nation. 

«^he problem is, therefore, not to establish the unify- 
ing means of our citizenship organization, but first to 
recognize it, and then, appreciating its significance, to 
magnify it, and about it, as a living nucleus, to develop 
such an institution as will furnish the ground of orderly, 
peaceful comparison of our opinions and compromising 
of our differences of interest, such an institution as will 
invite our cooperations, such an institution as will make 
the common interest interesting. 

Obviously, the first practical step is the housing of 
the voting instrument, machine, or ballot box in each 
neighborhood in a dignified and permanent building, 
which shall be worthy to stand as the headquarters of 
democratic cooperation, the place of final authority in 
America. 

A very considerable part of our slowness in adjusting 
our thought to the idea that the source of political 
authority in this country is not up in the air somewhere 
above the capitol at Washington, and an even greater 



12 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

reason for our slowness to realize that the final place 
of authority is in our civic co5peration as neighbors, is 
in the fact that we have kept the old monarchical man- 
ner of building our public buildings — ranging down in 
magnificence and dignity of architecture from the central 
capitol, monumentally constructed as though closest to 
the source of authority, through the state houses and 
the city halls, and finally dwindling to nothing perma- 
nent or dignified here among the citizens. 

The instrument of voting, the ballot box, of course, is 
the supreme tool of government, for the securing of 
which mankind has struggled and fought, sacrificed and 
climbed through the ages, and in the intelligent use of 
which the chief hope of the orderly progress of the race 
centers. It is the place where is expressed the con-sent, 
the together feeling, the uniting will, the sympathy, and 
the purpose of America. If any institution in the world 
should be housed with architectural dignity, it is the 
neighborhood voting center. 

Indeed, it has been proposed that worthy "precinct" 
buildings be erected. And when one thinks that there 
are buildings erected to serve as headquarters of every 
sort of trivial, fragmentary, sectional organization ; and 
when one remembers that there are public buildings now 
provided for the gathering of the members of all sub- 
ordinate public bodies, aldermen, state legislators, con- 
gressmen to vote upon the community matters within 
their respective spheres, the proposal of erecting in each 
district a worthy building as voting headquarters of the 
fundamental organization of American citizenship would 
be justified, if there were not a more fitting and worthy 
building now constructed and capable of being used to 
house the citizenship gathering to vote. 

Besides the voting precinct, there is another unit of 



DISCOVERY— NOT CREATION 13 

neighborhood in this country — the public school district. 
At the approximate center of each of these unit neigh- 
borhoods is a public building so located as to be within 
convenient reach of the children, and therefore of all 
the people of the neighborhood. This building in its 
present use as an educational place for children is not 
necessarily a social center, for not all of the children 
in every neighborhood gather in the public schoolhouse. 
Lines of religious, financial, and other difference are 
recognized in the children's segregation for formal 
training; a part of the children in some neighborhoods 
go to private institutions of various kinds. But the 
building itself is a common one, and, whether any citi- 
zen sends his children to this neighborhood house or not, 
he shares equally with all of the other citizens in the 
community of its ownership. 

^ Now, the reason why the schoolhouse, rather than a 
specially constructed building, should be used as the 
place of civic cooperation in voting, is not merely be- 
cause of the economy of the plan, which has been dem- 
onstrated in large cities as well as rural communities, 
nor because of the convenience in using an easily acces- 
sible building whose location is known, but because, even 
though a building to house the civic headquarters were 
constructed with all the triumphant architectural dig- 
nity which this institution of the voting place suggests, 
it could never gather about itself the significance of com- 
mon obligation for the future which is embodied in the 
schoolhouse. 

Every question upon which Americans vote is finally 
a question of the selection of such servants, and such 
decision of issues as will mean a better environment for 
the children of Americans next year, next century. The 
voter goes to the ballot box to control and improve the 



14 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

future. His interest at the ballot box, if it is true and 
normal, is in the child. Whether the man has children 
of his own or not, when he goes to the voting place it 
is not only to cooperate in the fellowship of control as 
a partner in charge of America for to-day, but it is also, 
and far more significantly, as a parent deciding what 
America shall be to-morrow for those who are children 
to-day. This civic parentalism, finding expression at the 
voting place and giving to the ballot box its highest and 
deepest significance, cannot be expressed in any other 
building. It is expressed in the essential nature of the 
characteristic building of America, the public school- 
house. 

Every one of these neighborhood public buildings, as 
it stands to-day, is capable of being used as a polling 
place, a gathering place for the neighbors' participation 
in the control of America, a convenient and worthy 
headquarters for the established district organization of 
the electorate. 

The detail, as to the part of any particular schoolhouse 
which may be used as the permanent voting headquarters 
of the neighborhood, depends, of course, upon the plan 
and equipment of the building. If, as is very rapidly 
coming to be the case, there is a first-floor neighborhood 
or community room, a combination gymnasium and as- 
sembly hall, with an entrance directly from the street, 
this, or a smaller room in connection with this, is the 
suitable place. Where such a ground-floor assembly hall 
or community room does not yet exist, any ground-floor 
room, or even the corridor, may be used. In Grand 
Rapids, Michigan, where the school buildings have been 
used for voting for a number of years, the kindergar- 
ten room is the part of the building used. In school- 
houses where there is no room on the ground floor in 



DISCOVERY— NOT CREATION 15 

which there are not seats, the plan is followed of placing 
the desks on "skids," thin strips of hard wood, three or 
four seats and desks together, and moving them back 
while the room is in use for voting. In Los Angeles, 
in some cases the wide corridors or halls are used in those 
buildings which have no community room. In the one- 
room rural schoolhouse, there is easily found room ; for, 
as a rule, voters come only one or two or three at a time, 
so that there is but small space required. As to the dis- 
turbance to the children in the regular school work, this 
has been found easily obviated, even where class-rooms 
are used. But all of the difficulty in improvising the 
voting place is temporary, for the tendency to regard 
no school building as complete which has not a com- 
munity hall in connection with it is so strong that not 
only are new schoolhouses being built with such rooms 
included in the plans, but in several places in the country 
ground-floor combination assembly halls and gymna- 
siums are being added to existing schoolhouses. 

The more important detail as to the personnel of the 
election clerk will be considered in the next chapter in 
the discussion of the work of the civic secretary. It is 
here sufficient merely to say that the shifting of the ma- 
chinery of voting from the haphazard location which it 
now occupies into the established neighborhood public 
building, implies the changing of the office of the voting 
teller or clerk from its present miscellaneous and tempo- 
rary character to that of one of the established functions 
of the competent and responsible public servant. 

In the movement for making the schoolhouse the vot- 
ing headquarters, the municipal economy, efficiency, 
scientific management argument is the one first spoken 
as a rule. And this argument is so obvious that it 
scarcely needs stating. Here are the buildings, con- 



16 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

veniently located, lighted, heated, belonging to the pub- 
lic, and ready to be used. The cost of building, trans- 
porting, setting up, heating, lighting, taking down, and 
retransporting and storing voting booths, or, where 
these are not used, the cost of rental in private buildings 
is an item of expense considerable enough to justify the 
claim of stupid extravagance if not petty betrayal on the 
part of any administration. It has been estimated that 
something more than seven thousand dollars is saved 
each year through the use of the schoolhouses as polling 
places in a city of four hundred thousand population. 
Of course the amount saved each year tends constantly 
to increase with the inevitable increasing frequency of 
special, primary, and regular elections. Certain it is 
that in the average city the amount saved through the 
use of the schoolhouses for voting is enough to pay a 
considerable share of the cost of supervision for the 
beginning of the systematic development of their full 
use as complete social centers. 

Of course, in those parts of the country which have 
moved on from government by a sex, the desire to have 
a clean, decent place, for voting, has much to do with 
the use of the schoolhouses for this purpose. For in- 
stance, the first election in which women participated 
was the first election in which the schoolhouses were 
used for voting in Los Angeles. Of course, it is pleas- 
ant for one who is asked whether he would like to have 
his wife or mother go to a livery stable to vote, to be 
able to reply that he would see no objection to his wife 
or his mother going to a schoolhouse to vote. But just 
why women should care more than men should care to 
have clean surroundings at the polling place is not ap- 
parent. 

But neither the people who object to seeing public 



DISCOVERY— NOT CREATION 17 

money wasted, nor the people who have a taste for de- 
cent cleanliness, and who, for these reasons only, favor 
the use of the schoolhouses for voting, are exerting as 
strong an influence in this direction as the school men 
and women. When, for instance, in the city of Mil- 
waukee, the question whether the schoolhouses should 
be used as polling places was referred to the school prin- 
cipals, the vote in favor of the project was unanimous. 
The reason is obvious. The great central object of the 
training of youth is the development of good citizenship ; 
the great difficulty is in the visualizing of the business of 
democracy ; the operation of voting is the practical first- 
hand civic expression, which, if the scholars can see it, 
makes for them a point of. contact from which they may 
go on to the understanding of the civic process as a 
reality, and to have the voting done in the schoolhouse 
is convenient, because it does away with the necessity of 
taking the children away from the building to witness 
it. Moreover, the schoolhouse has an added meaning, 
dignity, and significance to the pupil through its being 
used for voting. 

But even the educational value to the school in its 
prime service of using the building as the voting center 
in each neighborhood does not mark its fundamental im- 
portance. This lies in the fact that when the voting 
precinct lines are made identical with the school district 
boundaries, then the two units of neighborhood in this 
country become identical, and the basic organization of 
the electorate in each neighborhood finds itself equipped 
with a social center which is not only a point, but is also 
a building capable of being used for gathering to decide 
upon appointments to the common service and upon 
issues. 

When the schoolhouse in each district is made the 



l8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

permanent voting headquarters, the capitol of the citi- 
zenship organized for decision, the principle is estab- 
Hshed in such a way as to be easily understood that the 
wider uses of the schoolhouse as a community building 
are limited neither by age lines nor by sectarian or other 
differences. There may be several schools which dif- 
ferent groups of children in any neighborhood attend, 
but there is only one voting place in any neighborhood. 
At the ballot box there is "neither Jew nor Greek, Bar- 
barian, Scythian, bond nor free, but all are one" in the 
uniting adventure of making America make good. 

When the ballot box is placed in the schoolhouse, this 
building becomes, for all its possible wider uses, the 
real social center ; and the way is clear and the means 
are at hand for supplying the fundamental and supreme 
lack in the machinery of democracy. 



CHAPTER II 

DELIBERATION — ^THEN DECISION 

It would be worth while to locate the polling place in 
the school building; even though that son of perdition 
who is the father of partition were to be allowed to con- 
tinue ruHng our preparation for the use of the common 
ballot box; even though that party spirit which Wash- 
ington called the "worst enemy" of a democracy were to 
continue to dominate the time before elections ; even 
though the supreme jury of the citizenship were to keep 
on making its preparation to render final verdict on pub- 
lic questions by separating into noisy factions instead of 
by calmly sitting together with fair hearing and free 
discussion in judgment ; even though the furnishing of 
information upon which the public may wisely decide 
the questions of its welfare were to continue to be given 
over entirely to private, self-interested, and irresponsible 
individuals and groups ; even though it were to be kept 
true that "the 'will of the people' is an emotional reac- 
tion actuated and controlled by the 'committee on 
rumor' " ; * even though membership in the district body 
of citizens, the direct means of coordinate fellowship in 
the supreme body of the government, were to continue 
to be treated as though it were less important than mem- 
bership in any private society; even though, in a word, 

* Frederick A. Cleveland, of the President's Commission on 
Economy and Efficiency. 

19 



20 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the neighborhood organization of the electorate were to 
use its unifying headquarters merely for voting. But 
the importance of thus permanently and worthily estab- 
lishing the primary instrument of democracy in this 
building is far greater in what it prepares for than in 
what it accomplishes. 

When the voting place is located in the schoolhouse, 
then the district organization of the electorate, the neigh- 
borhood body politic, has a headquarters which invites 
use, not only for the occasional gathering of its mem- 
bers to decide on public questions, but for the frequent 
gathering of its members for such organized delibera- 
tion, such getting at the facts, such all-sided hearing 
and discussion, as intelligent voting presupposes. In 
the business of politics, the selecting of community serv- 
ants, the agreement on restraints, the devising and guid- 
ing of cooperations, the together-business which we call 
government, the citizenship of neighborhood, city, 
state, nation, the committee of the whole, gets much 
of its deciding on details done, by subcommittees just as 
do other and lesser organizations. 

In order to have worked out, for instance, some of 
the details of orderly living together in a city, the citi- 
zens select certain of their number as aldermen or com- 
missioners, and give to them, as a temporary subcom- 
mittee, the tasks of deciding upon such questions as ap- 
pointments, rules, investments, and the administration 
of. some of the cooperative enterprises the citizens have 
united in. Now a man's prime function as an alderman 
is simply to vote on public questions. It is exactly the 
same as a man's or a woman's prime function as a citi- 
zen, except that the alderman's responsibility in his vot- 
ing is secondary and delegated, while the citizen's re- 
sponsibility is primary and absolute. The relationship 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 21 

with other aldermen, into which a man enters when he 
becomes an alderman, is the same as that which exists 
among citizens in any voting precinct. It is fellowship 
in responsibility for participation in voting. 

If the members of this subcommittee met their dele- 
gated responsibility in the same manner in which the 
citizens meet their primary opportunity, then there 
would be no orderly assembling of the aldermen to talk 
over the questions on which they are to vote. But, on 
a certain day, each of them would come to the subcom- 
mittee voting place, the city hall, his idea of the matters 
on which he is to render decision hazy, his opinion based 
on such chance information or misinformation as he 
might have, his judgment unclarified, untested, unaug- 
mented by any organized deliberation ; and there in a 
booth apart register this biased, uninformed, snap judg- 
ment, and then go away, to come back to the voting 
place when another set of questions regarding the public 
welfare is to be decided. 

That is not what the aldermen do. They are selected 
citizens. Presumably they are better qualified than other 
voters to decide offhand on municipal affairs. Their 
responsibility as a subcommittee is merely secondary. 
Their field of possible activity is narrowly limited in 
comparison with the wide range of opportunity of the 
committee of the whole citizenship. Nevertheless, be- 
fore the aldermen begin to vote on public questions, 
first of all they assemble in the building in which they 
are to vote, and there form a deliberative assembly, or- 
ganize a common council, coordinate a forum wherein 
there may be opportunity for the orderly presentation 
and free discussion of the questions upon which they 
are to vote. 

So with the subcommittee appointed to work out 
3 



^2 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

details of life together within the wider area of the 
state. Though the men selected as legislators are pre- 
sumably even better equipped to decide without investi- 
gation and counsel, how to avoid the mistakes and de- 
velop the resources of our living together, they would 
not think of voting on the matters within their sphere 
of responsibility without first securing for themselves 
the opportunity for organized deliberation. 

And even where the subcommittee upon the details of 
our orderly association is made up of men selected from 
the whole nation, presumably because of their rare 
grasp of public matters and their exceptional capacity 
for ready decision upon what to do and how to do it, 
these congressmen first get together in the building 
where they are to vote and establish means of orderly 
discussion of the questions which they are to decide in 
their voting. 

In all these cases, and in the case of other subordinate 
public bodies, school board, park board, industrial com- 
mission, interstate commerce commission, indeed, in the 
case of e/ery subordinate public body, the principle is 
recognized that if an individual is to vote intelligently 
upon a public question, that is, a question which con- 
cerns not only himself, but others with himself, he must 
have opportunity to compare his opinion with that of 
men who dififer from him ; that is, with men who see 
facts that he does not see, or who see solutions which 
are not apparent to him, for only so can his knowledge be 
comprehensive enough to furnish an intelligent basis 
for judgment upon a public question. 

Now, it is obvious that, if the voters who are selected 
as aldermen, legislators, congressmen, or members of 
other subordinate public bodies, presumably on account 
of their readiness in deciding public questions, need op- 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 23 

portunity for organized deliberation that their decision 
may be intelHgent, then the unselected citizens would 
need such opportunity more, even if the questions on 
which they are to vote were also secondary in char- 
acter. 

It is apparent that, if the members of these sub- 
committees, whose responsibility is delegated, need a 
chance to talk things over in an orderly manner before 
rendering their decision, then the members of the body 
whose duty it is to appoint and commission these agents 
and review their work, need more such machinery for 
ordered counsel. 

And it is plain that, if the members of each of these 
many subcommittees need opportunity for participation 
in orderly discussion, that they may decide intelligently 
upon matters within the respective single spheres of their 
particular jurisdictions, then the need of the members 
of the committee of the whole citizenship for such or- 
ganized deliberative opportunity is many times as great, 
for they must first and finally decide upon the problems 
vdthin, not one, but all of these spheres. 
kV Of course, just as there are among the citizens in the 
'average voting precinct, men and women of different 
religious affiliations, dififerent racial, financial, cultural 
and taste associations, so there are, among the members 
of boards of aldermen, state legislatures and other sub- 
ordinate public bodies ; but these dififerences have noth- 
ing whatever to do with the bond of membership or 
the responsibility for sharing in the deliberations of 
members of these bodies, any more than they have in 
the sharing of their voting. 

And, just as there are among the citizens of every 
neighborhood, some impatient idealists and some cau- 
tious conservatives, some men who hold one sort of 



24 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

view on political matters, and some who hold another, 
so among the members of every board of aldermen, 
every state legislature, and every other subordinate 
public body, there are men who differ radically in their 
opinion on public or political matters. But, instead of 
this variety of viewpoint being a reason for division and 
separation, this difference of interpretation of common 
problems is the best possible reason for organization into 
single discussion bodies, which include in their member- 
ship those who differ, that the questions to be voted on 
may be considered from every side. 

The proposal, which goes to the heart of our whole 
American problem, that the citizenship, which is now 
coordinated for decision upon public questions, shall 
organize for such orderly deliberation upon public ques- 
tions as intelligent decision presupposes, is merely the 
proposal that the membership of the supreme and fun- 
damental public body do what every subordinate public 
body now does. 

The procedure is perfectly simple. It is exactly the 
same as tiie procedure whereby the members of every 
minor body secure the benefits of organized deliberative 
opportunity. Just as the aldermen assemble in the 
building where they are to vote, and there form a par- 
liamentary, that is, a discussion organization which in- 
cludes all of the aldermen as members, and just as they 
draft by-laws and rules of procedure and select officers, 
that their deliberations may be regular, so the citizens 
within any precinct assemble in their voting headquar- 
ters, the schoolhouse, and there form a deliberative or- 
ganization which includes all of the citizens in the dis- 
trict as members, and by the adoption of a constitution 
and the selection of officers assure orderly procedure. 

Of course, in the average neighborhood, not all the 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 25 

citizens will participate in the formation of this citizens' 
common council, just as not all citizens participate in 
voting, just as, indeed, not all of the aldermen or con- 
gressmen attend all of the deliberative sessions of their 
assemblies, but whether he attends or not, every neigh- 
boring voter is an active member. And, of course, there 
are no dues, any more than there are dues for the alder- 
men to pay for the privilege and duty of gathering in 
aldermanic counsel. The members of every neighbor- 
hood association of citizens paid their dues when they 
paid their taxes, whether directly or through the agency 
of a landlord. 

The right of the citizens in any district to the use of 
their neighborhood building for orderly and free dis- 
cussion of public questions, just as they now use it (or 
some other place provided at public expense) for de- 
cision on public questions, is not likely to be questioned 
when the character of this organization is understood. 
In most cases, where that body which is charged with 
conducting the form of public service which occupies 
these buildings during a part of the time, the school 
board, has opposed their use for adult meetings, the 
school board has been entirely right in its position and 
faithful to its trust of looking after the public interest, 
for the applications which have come to the school board 
were to have these public buildings made available for 
use under the auspices of private organizations of vari- 
ous sorts. The members of a school board would not 
have a keen perception of their duty to the community 
if they did not oppose the use of a community building 
by any other than a community body. But where the 
organization that is formed includes as its membership 
the whole citizenship of the neighborhood, that is, where 
the present neighborhood organization for voting consti- 



26 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

tutes itself an organization for deliberation, there only a 
school committee which has not yet gained any concep- 
tion of democracy will honestly oppose the use of the 
schoolhouse as headquarters for such association. 

Among the many communities in Wisconsin in which, 
during the season of 1910-1911, application was made to 
school boards for the use of the public school building as 
a meeting place for the citizens organized into an all- 
inclusive neighborhood association, only two boards re- 
fused the request. The reason in one case was that one 
of the questions which the citizens desired to take up 
was the proposed adoption of the commission form of 
government for their city. It happened that a member 
of the board of education was the brother of an alder- 
man. He did not wish to facilitate discussion of a 
plan which might relieve his brother of that opportunity 
for service. In the other case the opposition came in- 
directly through the school board from one of the private 
interests in the town whose life depended on the citizens 
not having wholesome assembly places. Upon learning 
the character of the opposition in these two cases, the 
1910-1911 session of the state legislature stated in law the 
right of the citizens to the use of the schoolhouse in any 
district as headquarters for the neighborhood organiza- 
tion of the electorate ; and it was declared that where the 
citizenship of any community is organized for the use 
of this building as a community meeting place for the 
open presentation and free discussion of public ques- 
tions, there the committee in charge of this public prop- 
erty shall make provision for the free, gratuitous and 
convenient use of the building for this purpose. 

It is significant of the normal attitude of school men 
toward this use of the schoolhouse as the neighborhood 
political headquarters, both for voting and for the all- 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 27 

sided free discussion of public questions, that the man 
who introduced the bill which declared the right of the 
citizens to this use of their property was an old school 
man, that the committee to which the bill was referred 
in each house and whose endorsement caused its pas- 
sage without opposition, was largely made up of school 
board members, and that the state governor whose sig- 
nature made the bill a law was a former school prin- 
cipal. 

As to the detail of equipment of any school building 
for this deliberative assembling of the neighboring citi- 
zens, the complete answer is, as in the use of the build- 
ing for voting, in the plan of having a "community 
room", a combination of assembly hall and gymnasium 
on the ground floor, reachable directly from -the street 
or road, and fitted with comfortable, adult size seats. 
But, where such a community room or neighborhood 
hall is not yet constructed as a part of the school plant, 
the kindergarten room, where there is one, is suitable 
for this use. If there is no room on the ground floor, 
which is without desks, the plan mentioned in the pre- 
ceding chapter, of placing the little desks in any first- 
floor room on "skids", thin strips of hard wood, so 
that they can be moved easily, and putting chairs in 
their places, makes possible a satisfactory place of meet- 
ing. Obviously, as most of the meetings of the neigh- 
borhood citizens' association or civic club will be held in 
the evening, where the teacher's request for the installa- 
tion of lighting has not already been granted, this need 
must be met. 

But, of course, the mere opening of the building, even 
though the equipment be perfect and the lighting, heat- 
ing and janitor service be all -arranged for, is not suffi- 
cient to assure, or, indeed, to make possible in the average 



28 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

community the effective use of the schoolhouse as the 
center of the neighborhood dehberative organization of 
the citizenship. 

In the case of the aldermen, it is not merely the 
opening of the city hall for their use which is provided. 
There is also furnished, as a matter of course, and at 
public expense, the service of a clerk or secretary. One 
can scarcely imagine the aldermen, or the members of 
the state legislature, or national congressmen, providing 
their own secretarial or clerical service. They and 
every other subordinate public body have provided for 
them the service of a man or a staff of men who look 
after dockets, reports, and other secretarial details of 
their meeting. 

If one would not expect that these men, who are set 
apart, selected as those especially interested in public 
business, would take care of arranging for the bother- 
some details of their meeting, it certainly would not be 
expectable that the neighborhood body of the citizens, 
each of whom has his private business to attend to, and 
none of whom is selected as a man particularly interested 
in public matters, should provide their own secretarial 
service. To be sure, it is a fact that, so remarkable is 
our developing sense of community spirit and neighbor- 
hood interest, that there are many places where the 
schoolhouses are now used as citizenship assembly cham- 
bers, where the secretarial service of preparing pro- 
grams, securing speakers whom the organization wants 
to hear, and looking after the preliminary and reporting 
publicity, is done by volunteers, or by the school princi- 
pal without extra remuneration. But this is distinctly 
public service, and should be rendered in every com- 
munity by a public servant equipped and paid as a neigh- 
borhood civic secretary. 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 29 

This is not entirely a new profession, but is rather 
the extension of the neighborhood secretarial service, 
which is now rendered at public expense. In the work 
of the neighborhood or precinct election clerk, secre- 
tarial service for the neighborhood organization of the 
electorate is now publicly furnished for the voting of 
the citizens. When to the neighborhood civic function 
of gathering to vote is added the neighborhood civic 
function of assembling to deliberate, then the service of 
the neighborhood clerk is simply changed from being 
temporary and occasional to being continuous. It is 
exactly as though the aldermen had been gathering only 
to vote on the municipal business for which they are re- 
sponsible, having for their voting a publicly hired clerk, 
and it now being decided that, for their intelligent vot- 
ing, they should first assemble for orderly deliberation, 
their secretary were now to be employed continuously 
for their deliberation, instead of only occasionally for 
their decisions. 

But, in the fact that the secretarial service of the 
neighborhood organization of the electorate is made 
continuous, this position is obviously very greatly mag- 
nified in importance, and the demand is created for 
qualities broader, if not higher, than those required in 
the election clerk, the temporary neighborhood civic sec- 
retary, now employed. This amounts practically to the 
establishment of a new profession. Where shall the 
person be found to serve the neighborhood organization 
of the electorate as secretary, not only for the occasional 
voting of this body, but for the frequent meetings of its 
members for the presentation and discussion of public 
questions ? 

There will be exceptions, of course ; but the ideal and 
normal answer to this question is : not in the engagement 



30 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of a new neighborhood public servant, but in the addi- 
tion of this requirement to the service rendered by the 
most important neighborhood servant now engaged. 
That is, the service of a neighborhood civic secretary 
should be required of the school principal, and this 
community servant or official should, of course, be paid 
proportionately more for assuming the responsibilities 
of this office in addition to those which he or she now 
carries. 

The reasons for adding the work of secretary to the 
neighborhood organization of the electorate to the pres- 
ent work of the school principal, instead of engaging 
another person for this position, are apparent. There 
is no more important and pressing question in the whole 
educational problem than that of securing as school prin- 
cipal, for the sake of the children's efficient education, 
the highest type of man or woman who can be found. 
And, obviously, the importance of having highly quali- 
fied men and women for this position is of interest, not 
only to those who send their children to the public 
school, but to the whole community, whose future com- 
mon welfare is bound up in the training which these 
children receive. 

The question of securing a better type of school prin- 
cipal is in part a question of increasing the salary at- 
tached to this profession. Require that the school prin- 
cipal shall be at the service of the neighborhood organi- 
zation of the electorate, as clerk of elections and as sec- 
retary of the organization's deliberative assemblies ; re- 
quire that the school principal shall do the detail work 
of securing such speakers on public topics as the organi- 
zation desires to hear, of looking after the notification 
to members of what has occurred and what is planned 
in the business of the organization, and the increased 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 31 

remuneration for this increased service will tend very 
strongly to assure the engagement in this position of 
a higher and more efficient type of public servant. 

But, practically important as is the matter of in- 
creasing the salary and so elevating the standard of 
this profession, it is the least important way in which 
the addition of the work of neighborhood civic secretary 
to that of school principal will tend to improve this 
most important branch of the public service. The fact 
is that in many a public school the principalship is now 
occupied by a person who has capacities for large and 
efficient service, but who is at present loaded down with 
a lot of petty detail school work which should be done 
by an assistant. The requirement upon the time of the 
school principal in serving as secretary of the neigh- 
borhood organization of the electorate necessitates re- 
lieving him of much of this detail work, and would so 
set free, in channels of expression requiring higher ca- 
pacities, energy which is now spent in doing work which 
should be done by subordinates. 

The inclusion of civic secretarial service as a part of 
the work of the school principal would tend strongly to 
draw into this service men who are now attracted to 
other professions, and who have the qualities needed in 
this position. For instance, at the head of many a pub- 
lic school there is a young man who intends to occupy 
this position only until he can read enough law to be 
admitted to the bar, when he plans to go into that form 
of service, which offers opportunity for dealing directly 
with adults instead of only with children. There are 
several instances of such men who have recently changed 
their plan and decided to remain in their present posi- 
tions, because they now see the possibility of rendering 
as civic secretaries just the sort of service to society 



32 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

which the lawyer is supposed to render in helping to 
harmonize the discords and set the dislocations in the 
relations of men together. They see that the position 
of civic secretary means, among other things, the posi- 
tion of what might be called school district attorney, 
or neighborhood corporation counsel. Or again, there 
are young men now in this position who intend to go 
into journalism. The work of the civic secretary added 
to that of school principal means the opportunity for the 
expression of all the capacities that they have for pub- 
licity service, not in the round-about working for the 
public through service to a private owner or corpora- 
tion, but directly. Or, as is frequently the case, the 
young man may intend to leave his position as school 
principal to go into business. When he sees the possi- 
bility of serving the citizens of the community in their 
capacity as stockholders and directors in the most im- 
portant of all enterprises, the conduct of the common- 
wealth, which may include the establishment of a 
neighborhood cooperative creamery or laundry or store 
(social center organization is developing in this way in 
several instances) then all the capacities of the potential 
business manager are called for in this position. 

There are now a number of successful lawyers, jour- 
nalists, and business men who were once principals, and 
who would never have left the public service if that posi- 
tion had meant civic secretaryship, with all that this 
office implies. It is obvious that when the school prin- 
cipal is at the same time the secretary of the adult or- 
ganization of the citizenship, he is necessarily a better 
school principal. When he is also a specialized brother, 
reaching out horizontally in direct service to the present 
citizens, he is a better specialized foster parent engaged 
in training up the future citizens. 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 33 

For the present, the requirement of service as a civic 
secretary as a part of the work of the school principal 
M^ill tend to result in having men employed in this pro- 
fession. As we move on, however, from government 
by a sex, toward democracy, this will not necessarily be 
the case. 

Obviously, in this office of civic secretary the school 
principal is not in authority over the citizenship, any 
more than the clerk of the board of aldermen is over 
them in authority. The citizens do not delegate their 
authority over themselves, but only over their children,' 
when they engage, either directly or through their board 
committee, the school principal. 

The use of the schoolhouse as a headquarters of civic 
deliberation implies the gathering there of a civic refer- 
ence library. Where the subcommittees of the citizen- 
ship meet for deliberation, there is established a collec- 
tion of printed informational matter upon the questions 
which they are to consider. For instance, the national 
subcommittee have the use of the Congressional library 
and librarian service to aid them ; the state subcommit- 
tees have legislative reference libraries and the service 
of librarians, and in practically every city there is a 
municipal reference library and librarian at the service 
of aldermen or commissioners. These agents of the 
voters have access to the newspapers and other private 
sources of information, but it is recognized that, in 
order that their deliberations be based on correct infor- 
mation, it is necessary that there should be available for 
their use accurate data, conveniently arranged, upon 
the questions which they are to decide. So the use of 
the schoolhouse as a citizens' deliberative headquarters 
implies the establishment of a civic reference library 
there. 



34 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

As the schoolhouse becomes a completely developed 
social center, it will include, of course, the installation 
of a neighborhood branch library of a general character, 
and there will be, as is now the case in at least some of 
the schoolhouses in Grand Rapids, St. Louis, Rochester, 
Minneapolis, and other places, a neighborhood librarian 
continuously employed. Where this is the case, the col- 
lected material upon public questions naturally becomes 
a part of this general library equipment, and its han- 
dling a part of the work of the regular librarian. Where 
the use of the schoolhouse as a neighborhood library 
has not yet developed to the point of engaging the full- 
time service of a librarian, the work of collecting and 
arranging data on public questions, so that it will be 
conveniently available for the citizens, is a part of the 
duty of the school principal in his office as civic secre- 
tary. 

Now, the practical question is : How shall school 
principals gain the technical information necessary for 
efficient service as neighborhood civic secretaries? The 
problem of having properly equipped men for this serv- 
ice in the future lies partly in the training to be given 
in normal schools, colleges, and universities. But how 
about the present school principals? 

If the people of a town located beside the falls of a 
river whose power had hitherto gone to waste were to 
decide to take advantage as a community of the oppor- 
tunity at hand in order to supply for all, and so for each, 
the benefits in light and power of that community pos- 
session, the first thing that they would do would be to 
engage an engineer, a man technically informed upon 
the method of constructing the necessary machinery to 
develop that resource. Social center development is the 
construction of the necessary machinery whereby hith- 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 35 

erto wasted civic and social forces may be coordinated 
to develop for all, and so for each, benefits in light and 
power. The first thing that is necessary in any city or 
rural county, is the engagement of a man who may 
be called a social engineer, who is technically qualified to 
advise as to the methods found successful in community 
organization elsewhere, and to cooperate efficiently with 
school principals in the service of the various neighbor- 
hoods. 

At the head of every system of schools, and every 
rural county system of schools, there is a superintendent. 
The reason why this already engaged public servant 
should not, as a rule, be expected or required to assume 
direct responsibility for the orderly and systematic de- 
velopment of the wider use of public school plants as 
social centers is not because he is either unwilling or 
incompetent for this service. It is simply because, in 
the case of the city superintendent, at any rate, his hands 
are already full. To be sure, in a number of cities, as 
well as rural counties, the superintendents have person- 
ally given time and energy to the beginning of social 
center development. But, it is out of the question to 
expect this of the superintendent in the average city. 
The social center is not only a structure. It is alive. 
Once organized, it grows rapidly, and its service in any 
city demands the full time of a first-calibre man. 

It is necessary to have for every city, and, unless there 
is an exceptional person employed in the position of 
county superintendent, in every rural county, a man 
engaged specifically to assume responsibility for the 
wider use of the school property, from the beginning. 
In most cities, this public servant is engaged as an asso- 
ciate or assistant to the superintendent of schools. In 
some places, Grand Rapids, for instance, he is engaged 



36 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

jointly by the school board and the park commission. 
The reason for this is that he is charged with the re- 
sponsibility of serving the citizens in their full use of 
the school buildings in the evenings, and also in their 
organized use of the parks and other out-of-door public 
property during the day time. In several cities, the per- 
son responsible for service as general civic secretary is 
engaged under the title of superintendent of recreation, 
and has behind him a recreation commission. But, the 
majority of cities in which beginnings have been made 
in this field, have placed the work of organizing the de- 
partment in the hands of a man engaged as associate to 
the superintendent of schools, and this is perhaps the 
normal method. 

The first service of this man is as general civic secre- 
tary, and in the development of the full use of the 
schoolhouses in the logical way by first locating the 
voting places in these buildings and then aiding in the 
establishment of their use as neighborhood headquarters 
of orderly deliberation, it may be expected that the 
general civic secretary will personally devote his time 
to the preliminary work of presenting the idea and 
helping in the organization in the various neighborhoods. 

As soon as comprehensive deliberative assemblies have 
been formed in all of the districts in a city or rural 
county, it will be found desirable to federate these dis- 
trict organizations for the cooperation and unified action 
which such federation will make possible. When this 
is done, then the general civic secretary becomes the 
secretary of this league of civic olubs or federation of 
neighborhood associations. 

Now such a city or county-wide federation of bodies 
each of which includes in its membership all the citizens 
of a district, coordinates, obviously, the whole citizen- 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 37 

ship of the town or rural county. Normally, the mayor 
of a city should be ex-officio the presiding officer of 
this deliberative organization of the whole citizenship. 
The mayor is now the head of the citizenship, organized 
as it is simply for voting. When the citizenship is or- 
ganized, not only for voting, but also for deliberation, 
its members are the same citizens, and their city officials 
should be ex-officio the officials of their now vitalized 
association. 

J. W. Howes of Prescott, Wisconsin, was perhaps the 
first mayor of a city to realize the full possibilities of 
identifying the mayorship with the active presidency of 
an all-inclusive deliberative organization of the citizens. 

In his work as secretary of the league of civic clubs, 
the general civic secretary not only serves on the oc- 
casion of league meetings, when either the delegates 
from the various clubs assemble to talk over matters 
of common interest or when these neighborhood organi- 
zations come together in general central auditorium 
gatherings, but he is also in a position to be constantly 
at the service of the various neighborhood civic secre- 
taries in suggesting topics and methods. 

It is important that the man who serves as neighbor- 
hood civic secretary be competent, just as it is important 
that the janitor who looks after the arrangements for 
the physical comfort of the assembling citizens be com- 
petent for his work ; and in order that the beginning 
be wisely made, it is most desirable that the general 
civic secretary employed be a man of organizing ca- 
pacity and social understanding; but, just as a board of 
aldermen, or a state legislature may be depended upon 
to see that its secretarial service is efficient, so after the 
deliberative organization of the citizenship has become 
active, it may be depended upon to see that its secretary 
4 



38 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

in district or city is qualified for the work for which 
he is employed. 

The comprehensive neighborhood organization of the 
citizenship for deliberation in Rochester, came to be 
called the civic club. Soon after the beginning in that 
city, Rev. A. W. Gross said : "I come from New Eng- 
land where the town meeting develops the truest democ- 
racy the world has ever known. I am interested in the 
civic clubs because I think their tendency is toward the 
real home rule of the town meeting. The civic club 
is designed to make us realize the thing that we are 
most in danger of forgetting, that we are the govern- 
ment." 

This identity of the spirit of this organization with 
that of this characteristic American expression of the 
early days was later noted in the characterization of it 
by Senator Robert M. LaFollette: "A movement which 
promises benefits not unlike those of the pure democ- 
racy of the old New England town meeting." 

There are essential differences in method and details 
between the social center and the town meeting. The 
latter was fitted only for the use of large villages, 
whereas the use of the schoolhouse offers opportunity for 
democratic expression in the largest cities and the open 
country as well as the small town. Moreover, the 
town meeting practice contemplated regular appointed 
gathering only once or twice a year, which is altogether 
too infrequent for effective understanding and control 
since the problems of the public welfare have become 
as complex as they now are ; whereas the social center 
idea contemplates weekly assembling of citizens. More- 
over, the town meeting was an institution for delibera- 
tion alone, while the social center plan of fully using the 
schoolhouse means the development there of a center of 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 



39 



recreation, artistic, dramatic and musical expression, a 
local health office, employment bureau, and so on, as well 
as a center of democratic expression. But while these 
differences mark the practical adaptation of the institu- 
tion to the present need, the fundamental spirit of the 
social center is exactly that of the town meeting. 

It was with this fact in mind that Dr. Charles Fleis- 
cher of Boston said when visiting Rochester: "After 
visiting them, I say deliberately : That person or institu- 
tion that is against social centers is against America." 

And it was this fact which William Allen White ex- 
pressed in his interpretation of the movement at the 
First National Conference on Social Center Development : 

A century and a half ago there was a stir on the Atlantic 
seaboard of this continent. Discontent and unrest were 
abroad. Men and women were talking too much to suit 
those who worshipped the God of things as they are. The 
agitator, and doubtless the demagogue, too, were unsettling 
business and disturbing conditions with a number of un- 
pleasant theories, political, social and economic. The mob 
was roused, or what was called the mob. The rabble ap- 
peared, or what was called the rabble. Men began to meet 
and pass resolutions. New leaders rose, those ordinary two- 
legged men of no social or financial consequence, with good 
lungs and a gift of gab. And lo, they were orators. For 
that is all that an orator is, the man who voices the common 
thought of the common people. They put into reality the 
aspiration of their neighbors, and behold these common men 
were statesmen. They fought and died for the common 
good and they were the national heroes. 

The town hall. What a rude temple it was, yet it was 
God's, in working one of his mysteries. The town hall 
held the ark of a great covenant. Meeting and milling, 
these men worked out their social and political salvation. 
It was the town hall and the spirit of freedom bred in the 



40 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

town hall that gave us liberty, not Yorktown nor any battle. 
It was their political institutions, the spirit of the people, 
that won the battles, the battles did not win the independ- 
ence. The battles for independence were mere eddies in 
the sweeping current of moving events. For independence 
in America was won before a shot was fired. Independence 
was in the hearts of the American people and cannons could 
not shoot it out, any more than cannons could shoot it in. 
It is the babble of fools to say that God is on the side with 
the best guns. Guns may kill men and guns may win 
battles, but in the end guns are spiked by ideas and God is 
on the side of the righteous cause. It was the town hall 
that defeated Cornwallis, and it will be the gathering of 
neighbors in the spirit of the town meeting that will defeat 
those who are standing in the way of democracy to-day. 
The men from the town hall were mightier than King 
George's army and wiser than his councilors. They builded 
better than they knew, for they laid the foundation stones 
of their edifice of freedom in the common righteous vision 
of the common man. It is a mistake to think that these 
revolutionary heroes of ours were extraordinary men. They 
were just the sort of folks we find here to-day, and they 
are living in the prairies and hills and vales of America now. 
To-day we are turning a corner of the most wonderful 
way the world ever has passed. In material progress hu- 
manity has never come so far in one hundred years, nor in 
spiritual development, as the world has come in this nine- 
teenth century. Events have literally whirled past the pro- 
cession of the years. Steam and electricity, those twin genii 
of progress, have transformed the world, have made over 
men's minds, have witched the world into something rich 
and strange. During the century past a new social and 
political continent has risen. The middle classes have taken 
the world's scepter from the kings. Theirs is the divine 
right of kings. And these merchant princes, these captains 
of industry, these high cast Brahmins of low cast politics 
are bringing into old habits of thought the same arrogance 



DELIBERATION— THEN DECISION 41 

of class, the same domineering insolence in their use of 
power, the same social, political and economic Bourbonism 
that was the downfall of the kings. The town hall shattered 
caste based upon birth. The town hall gave men whatever 
of liberty might come from equality of political and social 
opportunity. 

And now we are turning the corner into an avenue 
of human progress where we are to struggle for more 
liberty, for such liberty as will come to men who have equal- 
ity of economic and intellectual opportunity. Observe how 
the familiar roadside features that adorned the lane of prog- 
ress that was new a century and a half ago are turning up 
in this new avenue we are just entering. Amid prosperity 
we have discontent; the agitator and perhaps the demagogue, 
too, are appearing. The people are talking too much to suit 
those who worship the God of things as they are. Men are 
following leaders who have no standing with the powers 
that be. The people are turning deaf ears to old arguments 
that once moved them. Men are meeting and milling and 
plotting mutiny against the established order. 

But the town hall is gone. Men meet in the newspaper, 
but it is crowded with business. They meet on the tele- 
phone, but that costs money. They meet by telegraph, but 
their meetings are brief. They meet on trains, in the air 
and upon the street, but always they are in a hurry. There 
is need of a town hall. Democracy has a heart. Aspiration 
is deep and vital in our souls. But democracy needs a head. 
It must have wisdom. And what the tozun hall was to New 
England the schoolhouse must be to-day. We are in con- 
fusion. Our discontent is not organized. Our visions are 
not strongly and surely defined. This confusion and uncer- 
tainty are typical of all great movements in history. For 
prophets feel, they do not see. It is the people who see. 
It is they who construct. The wisdom of the common 
mind is the strength of every political abiding place. And 
in this new temple we are building there must be an ark of 
the covenaiit. There must be some place to which we may 



42 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

turn as a nation for meditation and communion, some com- 
mon ground where we may stand and, finding our common 
mind, speak it in the common voice. For there is a wisdom 
deeper than that written in any books. The common mind 
has the wisdom of all books. The common mind is kinder 
than any heart, however tender, for therein is the charity 
of all hearts. The common mind holds a courage firmer 
than any man's courage, for therein is the courage of com- 
rades, the deepest courage men know. And when this com- 
mon mind of our people has found itself, has clarified its 
vision, has come into its sure voice, then it will build its 
vision into life. 



CHAPTER III 



THE VOTERS LEAGUE 



The use of the schoolhouse in every neighborhood as 
the headquarters of the all-inclusive district organiza- 
tion of the electorate, for such orderly deliberation as 
voting, if it is to be intelligent, furnishes the con- 
venient and practical means whereby the whole together- 
business of politics may be simplified and rational- 
ized. 

For the neighborhood, town, county, state, nation, — 
this means making conscious, alive, effective, the single 
Voters' League, which is now united in the common 
membership of responsibility focused in the ballot-box 
in each district. 

When the chosen agents of the citizenship have dem- 
onstrated by their administration of the business put 
into their hands, that snap-judgment, touch-and-go, vote- 
'em-straight selections are likely to be poor, or that only 
the exceptional employee can prove faithful when the 
company that employs him goes out of existence as a 
company immediately after his appointment, or that 
only a miraculously endowed seer can tell what the 
people want when they never get together so that their 
agents can talk things over with them, then in the 
average community a group of volunteers forms what 
they call the voters' league. 

These men use up some energy in forming an organi- 

43 



44 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

zation and persuading people to join and some more in 
raising funds to secure a headquarters and a secretary 
who will give his time to the work. If they have any 
left, it is devoted to the attempt to make the public's 
servants do something that they are neglecting or stop 
something that they are doing. 

In their efforts to make the people's servants con- 
form to their standard, they are under the bad handi- 
cap of being regarded as interferers, which they are. 
They are not the people. They are not the duly author- 
ized representatives of the people. To the public officials, 
they are likely to appear as an organization of rivals, 
who would dislodge the present incumbents of office in 
order to get themselves or their friends into office. 

In its efforts to reform the administration, such a 
volunteer private group, calling itself the voters' league 
may assume the extremely disagreeable function of pros- 
ecutor and hound some of the officials into jail. But 
the final object of the league's work is to get the facts 
to the people who have the votes. In this attempt, the 
league is handicapped by the fact that there is no con- 
venient means available for reaching the people. 

The league may, and in a number of communities such 
an organization does, publish bulletins or leaflets for 
distribution, which are usually read only by the mem- 
bers of the league. 

In its "campaign of education" of the voters the great 
fact which every such organization seeks to emphasize is 
that the selection of public servants by empty party em- 
blems or designations is absurd, that the public official is 
a hired man to be chosen on his fitness for the work 
he is to do, and that the party method of division as a 
means to this selection is unintelligent. 

Frequently there are in the same town two or more 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 45 

volunteer organizations having reform in administration 
of the public business as their aim. One may call itself 
a voters' league, one a taxpayers' association, one a 
citizens' association. There is nothing to prevent there 
being a dozen such bodies formed, competing, each 
with its particular complaint and proposal. Sometimes 
there are two or more of these private organizations 
which divide the various officials among them, each 
taking a group. For instance, in one city, there is a 
band of men who call themselves the municipal voters' 
league. These men have charge of the city officers. 
There is also a legislative voters' league to look after 
state officers. There is no reason why the other officers 
should be slighted. It would be perfectly logical to 
have also a county voters' league, a gubernatorial voters' 
league, a congressional voters' league and a presidential 
voters' league. If this were done and each organiza- 
tion had a separate headquarters with separate branch 
meeting places and separate dues to pay, and if it were 
a man's duty to join private organizations to fulfill his 
service as a citizen, then a man would have to be a 
member of all of these organizations, for he has equal 
responsibility in all these fields, and no one man who is 
not triplets equipped with motor cycles and money could 
be a completely good citizen. He would not have time. 

These private organizations which call themselves 
voters' leagues are, as a rule, made up of splendid men, 
men of ideals, unselfish men surcharged with the zeal 
of promoting the common good. To be sure, they are 
almost invariably men of a certain puritan type, stern, 
uncompromising, rather lacking in a sense of humor, not 
widely representative of the whole community. 

Sometimes they are men who look no deeper than 
the symptoms and never seek to get down to the root 



46 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of the disease, the cause of the maladministration of 
public business. A. Leo Weil, president of the Pittsburg 
voters' league and one of the most devoted of these 
volunteer mentors of the public service, is not one of 
the superficial sort. He goes to the root of the trouble. 
In summing up his long experience in trailing the citi- 
zens of that city who happened to be chosen by their 
neighbors as members of subcommittees on municipal 
business, he says : "The indictment of grafters is the 
indictment of the community." Then he points to the 
trouble in the lack of united and continued participation 
of the whole citizenship in the common enterprise : "With 
the increase of official business there has come to the indi- 
vidual a decrease in the opportunity to participate, either 
by the expression of his will or of his opinion, notwith- 
standing the greater necessity for such expression." 
That this same fault lies at the basis of maladministra- 
tion in the wider reaches of state and national affairs 
is pointed out by Dr. Frederick A. Cleveland of the 
Federal Commission on Economy and Efficiency. He 
takes account of the official incompetence which is ex- 
pectable when the selections are made as they now are; 
then he says : "The government has suffered more from 
citizen neglect than it has from official incompetence." 
It may be that the student of public administration 
in America has not gone far enough in his investiga- 
tion to arrive at the point of view of Lincoln Steffens 
which causes him to say: 'T have successively pinned 
my faith to three hopes of salvation for the city. First, 
hope in salvation through one good man, a man exerting 
such an influence for righteousness as would galvanize 
the whole municipality into righteous life. But I saw 
that good men die and that their ideals do not live 
after them. Then I thought that salvation would come 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 47 

through all the good people banding together and fighting 
shoulder to shoulder. But I found that it wouldn't work. 
The hypocrisy that permeates the ranks of those whom 
it is conventional to call the good people always works 
disaster to such movements. Lastly I have come to hope 
in all the people getting together. I am convinced that 
it is the only way. The so-called good people and the 
so-called bad people must get upon common ground for 
the common good. Deacons and saloon keepers, min- 
isters and brewers must get together, get acquainted and 
talk things over." 

Whether the man who decently rebels against public 
inefficiency or betrayal has thought farther than the 
something-must-be-done stage or not, several very sim- 
ple facts should be apparent. 

When the whole citizenship of a town or city which 
is now organized into neighborhood associations for 
voting, organizes also for deliberation, then and then only 
is the league of the voters formed. A few voters may 
get together and form a voters' league, but the voters' 
league must include the voters, not a few, but all of 
them. 

When this all-inclusive organization is established, with 
the schoolhouses as meeting places for talking over 
public business, then the cost of hiring headquarters is 
eliminated, for this league already owns city and district 
headquarters. 

Where the citizens are reasonably equipped for delib- 
eration, with the service of a general secretary of the 
city-wide federation of neighborhood bodies, and the 
service of a civic secretary in each district, there is 
no question of hiring secretaries, for they are on the 
job. 

There is no labor of securing members, for each 



48 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

voter in each district is a member of his community 
organization and so a member of the city association. 

There is no danger of conflict between various or- 
ganizations, for this body is at once a voters' league, a 
tax payers' association and a citizens' association, and its 
membership is equally interested in and equally respon- 
sible for efficiency in local, state and national business. 

The cost of publicity in reaching the citizens is taken 
care of, for they are gathering at easily accessible and 
convenient meeting places, and each of these has its civic 
reference library with its charts and bulletins where 
facts may be displayed. 

When this voters' league speaks to the public officials 
either in encouragement or reproof or in request for 
explanations, it is not the voice of an interferer, but 
of the employer. 

When the citizen participates in the activities of this 
league, he is not laying himself open to the charge of 
being a presumptuous busybody, but is simply having 
his equal share in the common enterprise. 

And finally, when election time comes round, this 
voters' league is not contradicting, but is putting into 
practice the teachings of all private and volunteer voters' 
leagues, that the selection of public servants should 
be made through discussion of the merits of men with- 
out preliminary party division. 

The use of the term voters' league in describing the 
organization of the citizenship for deliberation, with 
the schoolhouses as meeting centers, suggests that such 
an organization would have a slant or bias toward po- 
litical "reform." Obviously, when one considers that 
this body includes all the citizens, the defendents of 
things as they are as well as the proposers of change, and 
that they belong on an equal footing, and have equal 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 49 

opportunity to present their views, it will be seen that 
this organization is free from any sectional slant or bias. 

As to the first of the two prime aims which so-called 
voters' leagues or volunteer political reform organiza- 
tions have, the influencing of public officials now in office 
so that they will render honest, efficient and faithful 
service : 

Without considering here the improvement of the 
type of men selected for official positions which the 
comprehensive organization of the citizenship will tend 
to assure, and taking the men who are now in office 
of every kind, local, state, national, it may safely be 
said that dishonest officials would come to act hon- 
estly, weak officials would be strengthened, and every 
official would better and more faithfully represent the 
people whom he is supposed to serve, if the citizenship 
were so organized, so mobilized as to give to the weak 
or potentially dishonest public official the beneficent 
watchfulness of an alert, focused public observation, 
and to every official a chance to talk over with citizens 
together the public business in which they have engaged 
him. 

The difference between the method and spirit in deal- 
ing with public officials, of the voters' league which is 
composed of the whole citizenship and that of the private 
volunteer group of reformers, who call themselves a 
voters' league, is fundamental and absolute. The private 
group gets into action only after evil conditions have 
developed. The public body is at hand from the start. 
The private organization by its very being assumes 
the crookedness of the officials. The public organiza- 
tion makes no such assumption. The private body 
comes to make the officials be good. The perfectly 
natural reaction from such treatment is to rouse all the 



50 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

potential cussedness of the officials, whether in the spirit 
of humor, or as the natural inclination to give men 
who come with such an object something to do. Treat 
a man like a crook and if he is not one, he will probably 
adjust himself to accommodate, by becoming one. The 
common, comprehensive organization of the whole elec- 
torate does not seek to make the officials be good ; it 
furnishes conditions under which a man in office may 
reasonably be expected to be faithful to the public in- 
terest. 

Judge Ben B. Lindsey, who has had as long and as 
heroic experience as any man in the world in trying to 
make public officials be honest, efficient and faithful 
through the militant methods of private reform organi- 
zation, states in a sentence the difference between the 
effectiveness of that method and the result of all-in- 
clusive civic organization. He says : "We have been 
fighting the beast. You are making the dirty animal 
impossible." 

Of all the heartening results that have come from 
the uniting of citizens on the common ground of the 
common interest, as members together of neighborhood 
deliberative bodies of the electorate, none has been 
more invariably demonstrated than the appreciative wel- 
come of this organization by public officials, and the 
value to the citizenship through the tendency of this 
organization to bring out the best that there is in these 
chosen public servants. The attitude of the public officials 
toward this establishment of citizenship counsels may be 
shown, and the effect upon public officials of this reali- 
zation of a conscious, all-inclusive voters' league, may 
be suggested by quoting the words of public servants 
of various ranks, in communities where such organi- 
zation has begun to be established. 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 51 

At the second meeting- of the first neighborhood body 
of the electorate using the schoolhouse as headquarters 
for dehberation in Rochester, New York, the speaker was 
Alderman Frank Ward. The question which this neigh- 
borhood voters' league or civic club, as it called itself, 
had decided to take up was the advantage of the com- 
mission plan of city government. The spirit of the 
organization was shown in the method followed. In 
order to get at the facts, it was decided to call first upon 
a man who could tell the advantages of the existing 
ward representation. The alderman was invited to 
speak on the duties of an alderman. After he had 
spoken for forty-five minutes there was an hour's or- 
derly, but free and frank discussion of the question 
from the floor. At its close he was given time to sum 
up and answer questions. The assembly then voted him 
thanks. The response of the alderman was in these 
words : "You have given me a vote of thanks. I 
want to give you a vote of thanks, and mine is also 
unanimous. If every member of the common council 
and every other public servant had frequently such op- 
portunities as this to come before the people whom he 
is supposed to represent, and discuss with them the things 
in which he is supposed to represent them it would mean 
that we would have a better representation of the people's 
interest and a more intelligent government." 

Any one familiar with the situation in Rochester knows 
that Alderman Ward, who has been for several years 
the chairman of the finance committee of the council, 
is not of the "reformer" type, but an extremely con- 
servative Republican. He is one of the men who are 
supposed to owe allegiance to a "boss" of Monroe 
County, and this proof that the "machine" official would 
be delighted to transfer his allegiance to the citizen- 



52 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ship when the citizenship was organized so that there 
was something tangible to transfer allegiance to, throws 
light upon the reason why there developed intense 
hatred of this organization on the part of the man 
who had volunteered to assume charge of the public 
officers and their actions in Rochester. "If you want 
to find out who's boss around here, start something." 
The citizens started something when they began the 
organization of a real voters' league. The contest as 
to who is really boss of Rochester is still going on. It 
is recounted in some detail in another chapter because 
of its illustrations of what may be expected in any com- 
munity where the control of public affairs has been held 
by some private individual or group, when the citizens 
who pay the bills organize to look after their property. 
But, here it is merely pointed out, that the official who 
had bowed to the yoke of the "king" welcomed wirh 
earnestness and the joy of emancipation, the support of 
the citizens' rule. 

Where there is a "boss" of one party, there is likely 
to be a "boss" of the other, until the "machine" becomes 
bipartisan. So it may be well to quote the words of a 
Democratic alderman of that city. Alderman William 
Buckley, after learning of the benefit derived from the 
voters' league in other neighborhoods, aided in the pre- 
liminary assembling of the citizens of his own district, 
and at the organization meeting, said : 'The acquaint- 
ance benefits, and the possibilities of community im- 
provement, for the sake of the private individual, which 
will come through this organization, have already been 
spoken of. I want to speak for the official. A public 
official is supposed to represent the people. A good of- 
ficial wants to represent the people; but, how in the 
world can he represent the people, unless he knows what 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 53 

the people want, and how is he going to know what the 
people want unless they get together and give him a 
chance to talk things over with them?" 

At the Cincinnati Conference of the National Munici- 
pal League, the experience of Rochester in the use of 
the school buildings as neighborhood civic club houses 
was described. One of the men who attended that con- 
ference was Joseph C. Schubert, mayor of Madison, Wis- 
consin. He said that this plan of establishing a single 
actual voters' league which should include the whole 
citizenship, organized by neighborhoods, seemed to him, 
as soon as he heard of it, the logical, simple means 
whereby a mayor might be prevented from making mis- 
takes and might serve in the steady, sure progress of 
the community. 

Two years later, after the beginning made in Madi- 
son had shown the universal feasibility of the plan. 
Mayor Schubert said at the closing dinner of the First 
National Conference on Social Center Development : 

Democratic government is government that is controlled 
by the people, and all the real rights of the people are cer- 
tain if the administration obeys their wish. The one thing 
for the administration to determine is what is their wish, 
and the mayor is sometimes confused. When one stops to 
think of the different kinds of people and the different habits 
and tastes and the different wishes, without a simplifying 
focus of public opinion and desire, it is plain that there must 
be confusion. 

The city official often resorts to the newspapers. What 
he says and what they think of what he says sometimes 
appear in the same article, so that the impression given out 
does injustice, not only to the official, but, what is more im- 
portant, it does injustice to the cause for which the official 
is working. It was this sort of experience, which, I suppose, 
every official has, that led me to see in the idea of the com- 
5 



54 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

prehensive organization of the citizenship something of vital 
importance to the official as well as to the people themselves. 

If a public servant sees an important improvement that 
should be made, the first thing that he wants to do is to 
talk it over with the people. Now, you can talk to an au- 
dience, perhaps one composed of a fraternal society, a re- 
ligious denomination or a partisan group, but without the 
opportunity which the use of the schoolhouse as a social 
center offers you cannot talk to people of different affilia- 
tions, gathered together, and this is the sort of audience 
that the official wants and needs to talk to. 

Men in different lines of business gather in conventions. 
But we are only now beginning to have the convention of 
citizens to discuss the business of citizenship, which is more 
important than any of the special lines for which men gather. 
And this convening of the citizens to get acquainted and to 
exchange ideas furnishes an indispensable opportunity, sup- 
port and inspiration to the people's servants. 

Mayor Schubert is a Democrat. At the same table 
with him sat Emil Seidel, the Socialist mayor of Mil- 
waukee, and J. W. Howes, the Republican mayor of 
Prescott. The fact that partisan divisions and labels 
mean nothing in this voters' league, wherein men gather 
as citizens to consider facts and ideas, and have no in- 
terest in faction emblems, was illustrated by the presence 
of these men side by side at this gathering in a school- 
house (the closing banquet of this convention was held 
in the Madison highschool building), and the fact that 
the organization of the citizenship is of equal benefit to 
the mayor, whatever partisan appellation he may wear, 
is illustrated in the similarity of the expression of these 
other men with that of Mayor Schubert. 

Mayor Seidel's appreciation of the significance of 
fundamental citizenship-organization expressed itself in 
these words : 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 55 

We have been saying that the government of the city is 
in the hands of the citizens, and yet up to this time the only 
actual government which the citizens have expressed has 
been through their voting once or twice a year. This should 
not be the case in a real democracy. There should be an 
opportunity for the citizens to get together frequently to 
discuss the problems of the city. This is necessary in order 
that we may keep up with changed conditions and in order 
to develop civic intelligence. It is necessary also in order 
to develop that broad acquaintance between men of different 
parties, creeds and classes which will lead to a better com- 
mon understanding, and a more friendly feeling throughout 
the city. 

As a public servant I welcome the opportunity that this 
sort of gathering gives for a free and open discussion of 
the topics of common interest. Such discussion helps the 
servants of the people to learn what they desire, and fur- 
nishes a chance for them to talk over the matters in which 
they seek to represent the people. 

Mayor Seidel vv^as then presiding over the largest city 
in the state. Mr. Howes is mayor of one of the smaller 
towns. He presented the change that had come over 
Prescott through the organization of the whole citizen- 
ship into one people's club. 

There is nothing that so disgusts me as to see hitched 
to a load a team of horses which, when they start, fail to 
start together. One pulls ahead. The other sits back. Then 
the other starts ahead and the first sits back. I have seen 
six horses hitched to a load that all did the same thing, 
that is, they all did different things. And the worst of it 
was that they were all good horses getting discouraged. 
They represent the condition in the average town, the con- 
dition as it used to be in Prescott. A lot of little private 
groups, all made up of good people with good intentions, 
pulling backward and forward with no team work, using 



56 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

up a lot of energy getting discouraged. The finest sight in 
the world is to see six team-trained horses hitched to a load. 
See them square themselves, get ready, and quietly step into 
position. They settle down, settle down, settle down, and 
then altogether they get into the harness, and the load comes. 
It's great to be mayor in a town where through one organi- 
zation the people have learned to pull together. 

Quite obviously it is not possible for the more dis- 
tant state and national officials to serve as officers of 
the local gatherings of citizens, the voters' league, or 
to visit and participate in such counsels frequently, but 
the privilege is the more appreciated and needed when 
it is possible. Justice of the Supreme Court Charles E. 
Hughes, when governor of New York State, said at 
such a citizens' gathering in a schoolhouse in Rochester: 
"We, at Albany, at times get a false perspective. It is 
in meetings like these that we have the opportunity 
to get a true one." 

Summing up the need of the public servant of every 
rank for this organization of the real voters' league, 
Senator Atlee Pomerene of Ohio said: 

This country will never be as good as it can be, or as 
good as it ought to be, until every man and woman shall 
take an active interest and an active part in the public 
matters of this country. Do the aldermen of our cities need 
the citizens' common counsels ? Yes. Do the mayors ? Yes. 
Do the governors of our great commonwealths? Yes. Do 
the representatives in Congress and the United States sena- 
tors need the citizens' common counsels? Yes, more than 
all the rest. 

In these quotations is indicated the difference of the 
welcome given by public officials to the organization 
and activities of the voters' league which is established 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 57 

through the all-inclusive coordination of the citizenship 
for deliberation, from the irritated antagonism which 
is aroused by the formation and "interference" of the 
usual volunteer band of reformers which goes under 
the name of "the voters' league." 

The reason for this is deeper than the mere con- 
venience of opportunity which the citizenship-organiza- 
tion offers to the public official, to talk public business 
over with the people who pay the bills. The reason lies 
in the fact that this sort of organization humanizes the 
public attitude toward the man who happens to be in 
the public service. 

A corollary of the conception of the government as 
something above the citizenship has been of course the 
idea that the men who have been selected as agents or 
subcommittee members to administer the details of the 
together-business of government were above the citizens. 
If the city hall is up there somewhere, and the state 
house up higher, and the national capitol up higher yet, 
at the top of a pyramid, whose base is the citizenship, 
then of course, the men who meet at the city hall are 
raised, and the men who go to the state house are ele- 
vated, and the men at the national capitol are exalted, 
far above the men and women who live down on the 
earth. 

This, of course, is the remnant of the old habit of 
thought which men learned when the authority of gov- 
ernment was supposed to come down through an up- 
turned funnel over the palace of the king, running down 
through pipe lines to the castles of the barons, and from 
them distributed down to the mayors of the towns, and 
so sprayed upon the people from above. 

This idea of the official as over the people, this divine 
right of kings idea, while it called for reverence on 



S8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the part of the people below tended to bring forth some- 
thing else. The fact that the ruler was to be obeyed 
without question, tended to suggest that if the decrees 
of the ruler were not to be questioned, the reason might 
be that the wisdom and rightness of those decrees would 
not stand questioning. That is to say, if the official re- 
fused to explain the reason for his actions, the reason 
might be that he could not. Hence the assumption 
that "the king can do no wrong" led quite inevitably 
to the suspicion that the king can do no right. This 
suspicion on the part of subjects, or those who regarded 
themselves as subjects, was hastened, of course, by 
the abuse of power of "those in authority," but, even 
if the "divine right of kings" to rule were not abused, 
it would be natural for this suspicion to develop, as 
the people grew up from the child attitude of docile 
unthinking obedience to the open-eyed adulthood of con- 
scious citizenship. It was as inevitable as the develop- 
ment which comes about in every family. At first the 
children look up to the parent with reverence for the 
parent's opinion. A thing is so, to the child, whether it 
is so or not if the father or mother says it is so. But 
as the children grow, if the parents continue to be 
arbitrary and do not begin to explain as soon as the 
children can understand explanation and to appeal to 
the reasoning power of the children as soon as that 
power is evident, then there surely comes a time when, 
instead of the parent's word being accepted as final and 
right, the suspicion and then the assumption that the 
parent is probably wrong grow with the maturing of the 
children. 

The fact is that the official in this country in so far 
as he assumes, or is assumed to be over the people 
suffers from the suspicion of those who are assumed 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 59 

to be under him, far more than he benefits by their 
blind reverence, if indeed he could benefit by blind rev- 
erence. Here and there one finds a political atavism 
expressed, as in the words of Irving Bacheller in his 
defense of the president;* not because the president is 
right, but because he is president. 

Of him please say no evil thing, 
For, sir, my president's my king. 
Archangels only, near to God 
May lay upon his soul the rod. 

But for one man who has this feeling toward the 
public official there are a thousand who have the atti- 
tude of assuming or suspecting that the person in office 
is probably a crook. 

The words of the man f who by the possession of 
money might enjoy exaltation if exaltation were en- 
joyable, are true of the average man in public office, 
who by the old idea might assume political elevation. 

I do not wish to be above people; I wish to be with people. 
The tiresome, hateful climb upward on their heads and 

shoulders 
Hurts their heads and shoulders, but it hurts my feet still 

more. 
The thin, empty air; thinner and emptier and less satisfying 

the higher I get. 
The platform of upturned faces on which I stand. 
The elbowing and scrambling around me and over me, 
I am sick to death of it. 
My feet yearn for the feel of the sod. 
I do not wish to be above people. 
I wish to be with people. 

* Harper's Weekly, May 25, 1912. 

f Ernest Crosby in Broad Cast. 



6o THE SOCIAL CENTER 

The typical volunteer militant group of reformers 
who organize into what they call the voters' league as- 
sumes that the public official is something less than a 
man, just as the persons of the type represented by 
Mr. Bacheller assume that he is something more. 

The voters' league made up of the citizens gathering 
as neighbors to talk over the common problems of living 
together regards him as a neighbor, a fellow citizen, 
who has the equal right with other citizens to be con- 
sidered innocent until proven guilty, who has the equal 
need of other human beings for companionship and good 
will, 

Tom Tynan, the warden of the Colorado State Peni- 
tentiary is perhaps the most successful administrator 
of a prison, in the world. His attitude is expressed in 
these words. "No matter what a man has done, when 
he comes here, he is just a man." This is the attitude 
of the all-inclusive voters' league toward the public 
official. No matter what position or office a man may 
hold, when he comes to one of these citizens' common 
council gatherings, he is just a man. 

Both reverence and suspicion are removed and the 
public servant is recognized for what he really is in 
a democracy, the agent of cooperation between the 
citizens. There will no doubt be occasionally a public 
servant who will fail to appreciate the joy of this fellow- 
ship support. Indeed the exception who proves the rule 
has appeared in Rochester, where a municipal judge 
answered an invitation from a neighborhood citizens' 
organization, to come and explain why he pardoned 
the milkmen whom Dr. Goler, the health officer, had 
arrested for distributing disease infected milk, by ex- 
claiming: "Me explain? Why, I'm a judge!" Thus 
far the umpire has, however, proved sui generis in 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 6l 

this sort of attitude, even among public servants in 
communities where the "boss-ship" or appointing power 
has been assumed by a volunteer as in the case of 
Rochester. 

In 1884, Governor Wilson in his doctoral thesis said: 
"The constitution is not honored by blind worship." 
The democratic intelligence expressed in these words, 
was endorsed at the recent inauguration of President 
Hibben at Princeton University, by the Chief Justice of 
the United States Supreme Court. If the constitution 
of the United States could speak it would probably say 
"Amen" and quote the words of Washington spoken 
in its youth, "The basis of our political systems is the 
right of the people to make and to alter their constitu- 
tions of government." At any rate the men in whose 
persons public agreement is embodied, as public agree- 
ment was embodied in the constitution when it was 
adopted, everywhere say by their welcome of the oppor- 
tunity to meet with the citizens organized for delibera- 
tion, "The public servant is not honored by blind wor- 
ship — or blind suspicion." 

The effect upon the public servant of the activity of 
the volunteer organization of reformers calling itself the 
voters' league is, if it succeeds, like the reaction from 
the introduction of drugs, foreign substances, to fight 
disease in the individual. The effect upon the public 
service of the comprehensive organization of the whole 
citizenship to cooperate with the agents of its coopera- 
tion is like obedience to the law of health which makes 
the use of drugs unnecessary. 

The other great object of organizing volunteer voters' 
leagues is to bring about changes in the machinery or 
method by which the people get the common business 
done, or in promoting the adoption of certain public 



62 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

rules or the undertaking of certain public cooperative 
enterprises. 

In this effort to bring about what its members re- 
gard as improvement, the private body which calls itself 
the voters' league always puts the cart before the horse. 
It begins with the conclusion that certain things should 
be done. It then goes out to persuade the public ser- 
vants or the voters that its conclusion is correct. It 
puts the cart first and then tries to lead or drive the 
horse up behind it to push it along. The voters' league 
coordinated through the all-inclusive organization of the 
electorate begins by establishing an absolutely free and 
unbiased forum in which facts and proposed improve- 
ments may be presented from every point of view, and 
when, by means of fair hearing and free discussion, a 
conclusion is arrived at, that is the end of the prepara- 
tion, and the conclusion is expressed at the ballot box. 

Such organization gives full and convenient oppor- 
tunity to the man who has a real improvement to offer, 
a very much better opportunity than he could possibly 
have without this organization. He does not have to 
waste his energy in trying to get an audience, in try- 
ing to make himself heard above hubbub and confusion. 
But it does something much more important than that, 
it tends to make sure that any proposal of improvement 
is sound, before it is tried. It gives the man who might 
be able to point out weak spots in a plan the chance to 
state his objections when it is broached. It furnishes 
a chance for such modifying and humanizing, such 
rounding and perfecting, such trying and winnowing of 
any proposal as can come to it only by being put to the 
test of the common-sense of, not a selected group, but 
all sorts of minds. 

Occasionally there is a reformer who works over his 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 63 

plan of improvement for twenty years, so that when it 
goes to the public it is matured, tested, perfect, and 
there are no patchings up to be made afterward. Dean 
Henry did this with his reform and it has not been im- 
proved upon. But his reform was not in public admin- 
istration; it was in feeding cattle. This sort of reform 
is susceptible of private experimentation. Political re- 
forms are not susceptible of private experimentation. 
It is doubtful whether any governmental improvement 
ever sprang full matured and perfect from the head of 
any one man or group of men. Very frequently the 
proposal of one group of reformers is half-baked, like 
Ephraim, "a cake not turned," a pancake, burned on one 
side and dough on the other. The result of the prelim- 
inary all-sided discussion of a proposal is that there 
emerges from such discussion a plan which may be dif- 
ferent from, and better than the original, a genuine, 
sound improvement upon which both the reformers and 
the opponents of their project can agree. 

By way of illustration, take the proposal of political 
change which is perhaps the most common platform of 
reformers in all parts of the country — the proposal to 
abolish the institution which has hitherto served, more 
than any other, as the headquarters of citizenship, the 
source of power in city, state and nation — the saloon. 

Among the members of one of the neighborhood 
civic clubs, as the all-inclusive district organizations of 
the electorate are called in Rochester, New York, there 
were several ardent advocates of prohibition. One of 
these men proposed that arguments for the adoption of 
this "improvement" should be presented by Mr. Clinton 
Howard, an experienced advocate of prohibition, and 
moved that he be invited to speak before the club. The 
motion was amended by the attachment of the resolution 



64 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

to invite Mr. Joseph Reuter, a manufacturer of that city, 
to speak in defense of the saloon at the same meeting, the 
topic to be "The Social Value of the Saloon." The mo- 
tion as amended carried. Both men accepted the club's 
invitation. 

At the meeting, Mr. Howard pointed out the evils 
of the saloon. Mr. Reuter granted the evils, but said 
that the saloon serves an essential function as a demo- 
cratic gathering place, w^here men of average means 
may find the fellowship of level association and the 
necessary education of untrammeled discussion. The au- 
dience was made up of a few men who were decidedly 
opposed to the saloon, a few who were ardent defenders 
of the saloon, and a large majority who had no strong 
feelings either way, who had not given the subject 
much thought. In the discussion which followed the 
addresses, there was, of course, some of the mere thrust 
and parry of debate, but soon there began to evolve, in 
accordance with the natural tendency of discussion in 
which men participate who have not taken sides on a 
mooted question, and who therefore come to the dis- 
cussion with minds free from sentiment or prejudice, 
the idea that neither of the contestants had the com- 
plete answer. 

The idea began to take form as a consensus of 
opinion, that the solution was to be found neither in 
attacking nor in maintaining the saloon, but in the de- 
velopment of an institution which should provide op- 
portunity for the man-to-man liberty of comradely asso- 
ciation, and the education of free discussion which the 
saloon now ofifers (at least, while a man has money), 
but which would be free from the degrading elements 
of that institution. In other words, the conclusion of 
the argument was that the solution lay in developing 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE 65 

the use of the social center as a place not only of dis- 
cussion, but also of fellowship with such interesting and 
attractive recreational equipment as would supply whole- 
somely the needs which the saloon destructively pro- 
vides. At the end of the meeting not only had the 
resource of interest and acquaintance potential in the 
discussion of every political question been developed, 
but practically the whole number of men who attended 
the meeting, including the two main speakers, found 
as the outcome of the discussion a constructive program 
upon which they could agree. 

But even where through its successful operation in 
other places there may be good reason to believe that 
a proposed reform is sound, so that the likelihood of 
its being changed and improved by all-sided discussion 
is small, the method of seeking the change through its 
consideration on its merits by a general league of 
citizens, has every advantage over the usual method of 
propagation, i. e., the organization of a private body of 
those who advocate the reform. 

Take the project of securing the change in any city 
from the old system of ward representation to the 
method of government by commission. Suppose that 
one man in a town has reason to believe that this 
change would be desirable for his community. If the 
citizens are using the schoolhouses for weekly gather- 
ing for deliberation upon public questions, he will be 
able at no expense, to present his argument before his 
own neighbors. Supposing that the discussion eventu- 
ates in the recommendation from this neighborhood or- 
ganization to the general federation of neighborhood 
bodies, through its central committee, that this subject be 
taken up by all of the organizations, that is by the whole 
voters' league of the city. The central librarian, and 



ee THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the neighborhood secretaries in their work as civic 
Hbrarians at once secure and arrange accessibly the 
latest data upon commission government. For a few 
weeks the thought of the whole city is focused upon 
this question. It may be that the citizens vote to invite 
men from various cities in which the plan has been tried 
to come and tell the experience of those cities. This 
will be at public expense, of course, just as when the 
aldermen invite expert counsel from other cities. 

By the end of the month the citizens may be ready 
to vote on the question. Of course, they may take 
longer for deliberation, if they choose, just as the mem- 
bers of all subcommittees may fix the time of the vote. 
But within a short time this question is settled and 
the corporation, the company, the membership of the 
city is free to consider other public problems. 

That this sort of expeditious and economical handling 
of such a proposal is entirely feasible is illustrated by 
the fact that in the city of Appleton, Wisconsin, even 
though there were not at the time publicly hired neigh- 
borhood secretaries, and their work as well as that of 
the general civic secretary had to be done by volunteers, 
the proposal to change to the commission form was 
taken up, threshed out and voted on at practically no 
expense through the consideration of this question by 
the league of the whole citizenship in their neighbor- 
hood counsels in the schoolhouses. 

Compare this business expedition and facility with 
the method of propagating the commission form of 
city government in New York State, where there is a 
separate volunteer league of those who believe in this 
reform, using up an immense amount of time, energy and 
money in its competition with other reform bodies for 
the membership and interest of the citizens. To be 



THE VOTERS' LEAGUE dy 

sure, the question is complicated there by the fact that 
the legislature refuses to permit the citizens of the 
various cities to decide on the method of conducting their 
own business. But this very fact that this project of 
commission plan adoption is not simple, but is tied up 
with other changes which must be considered, is itself 
the best of reasons for forming a common organization 
which is free to turn its attention to any public ques- 
tion and includes in its membership not only those who 
are committed to one particular reform but all the voters. 

While the single voters' league which is formed 
when the schoolhouses are used as deliberative head- 
quarters of the whole electorate organized by neighbor- 
hoods, includes all of the members of whatever political 
reform organization there may be in the city and has 
as its function the consideration, each in its turn, of all 
of the projects of the various organizations as well as 
other projects, it should of course be recognized that 
the comprehensive organization thus established is not 
a federation of existing organizations. It is a federation 
of citizens, of voters, and the old private membership 
lines are obliterated in the fundamental and supreme 
membership of the one voters' league. 

Obviously, this establishment of the real voters' league 
to do the work which private volunteer groups have 
been trying to do does not mean the loss to the com- 
munity of the splendid service, the unselfish leadership, 
the high zeal for righteousness in public business ad- 
ministration, which the men who have been active in 
private reform leagues have shown. On the contrary 
it means the conservation of their zeal and energy 
which without this basic organization has been so largely 
burned up in the mere maintenance of private organiza- 
tions, in the competitions between them, in the fighting 



68 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of other special private interferers with the public busi- 
ness, and in getting discouraged. 

One of the great words of all voters' leagues is 
efficiency in government. The organization of the citi- 
zenship into one voters' league is the beginning of 
efficiency in government. 



CHAPTER IV 

POLITICAL ORGANIZATION NOT PARTITION 

When Alexander Hamilton banged his fist on the 
table, and said : "The people ! The people ! Sir — is a 
Great Beast !" he was unfair to the beast. The people 
in the sense in which Lincoln used the term, as referring 
to the electorate, is an organized body, but it is not of 
as high a type as a beast, for a beast, even though vaguely, 
has a consciousness of its unity, its selfhood. The people, 
the organized body of the citizenship has a unity, a 
selfhood, but it is no more conscious of it than are the 
coordinated cells of a cabbage leaf of their unity. The 
people is not a great beast. The people is a great vege- 
table. 

When the members of the electorate add to their com- 
mon function of participating in the decision upon public 
questions, the function of consciously organizing to de- 
liberate upon public questions, then the people become a 
reasoning, a self-knowing being. 

The use of the schoolhouse as headquarters for the 
neighborhood organization of the electorate for assem- 
bled deliberation on public questions, as well as for com- 
mon gathering to decide public questions, is the true 
political organization, not only in intention, but in make- 
up and spirit. 

The term "political"' is one of the synonyms for the 
word "public." Any volunteer group of individuals may 

6 69 



70 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

form an organization to influence the decisions of the 
citizenship or the actions of pubHc servants. Such an 
organization is poHtical in its intention, but it is neces- 
sarily private, non pubHc ; that is, non pohtical, in its 
makeup. This is true whether it be a group of men 
organized into a "ring" to "deliver the vote," or a great 
volunteer association for interference with the public 
business such as Tammany Hall ; whether it be a pri- 
vate band of public business reformers or deformers, in 
any city or state; or whether it be a national party or- 
ganization. 

It is very strange that the term "political" which 
essentially connotes the zvhole citizenship should be con- 
fused with the term "partisan" which connotes that 
which can never be the whole, because it always refers 
to a part, when we have kept the original and true sense 
of the term political organization or body in using this 
expression with the two words transposed, the body- 
politic. The political organization, or the political body 
of neighborhood, city, state, nation, is simply the body- 
politic straightened around, eyes to the front. 

Obviously there may be any number of parts ; there 
can be only one whole. There may be any number of 
private groups or organizations, which have as their 
aim the influencing of public action, the influencing of 
the citizenship in its expression, or the influencing of 
the servants of the citizenship in their work. These 
may have a political aim, but their character is essentially 
non-political. There can be only one political organiza- 
tion. This is the one body of the citizenship which 
is now coordinated into neighborhood associations for 
voting, each federated with the others into city, state and 
then national unity — the one body-politic, the one po- 
litical organization to which every voter belongs. 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 71 

This organization now exists. Its nexus is the com- 
mon bond of responsibihty centering in the ballot-box 
in each community. This common membership in 
responsibility is the ligament, the connecting tie of the 
one political body. And when the citizens assume the 
function of really getting together, not separately, one 
after another, sheep fashion, tandem formation, but as 
a team, it does not mean the formation of a new political 
organization, but simply the realization of the function 
of deliberation which the obligation of decision implies 
and requires for its intelligent administration. 

We have so long used the term "political organiza- 
tion" as synonymous with the conspiracy of a "plunder- 
bund," or as "partisan" organization, that it is hard to 
grasp the idea of the common association of men of 
every point of view, who get together, by neighborhoods, 
in the district public buildings, not to get this or that 
privilege established, or to get a certain candidacy or 
theory advanced, but to learn the facts about any public 
matter, to find the answer to each problem as it arises, 
to think out what is needed, and to select the best men 
to do what the majority agree should be done, as a 
political organization. But this is and can be for the 
neighborhood, and the federation of such bodies can 
be for the nation, the only possible political organization, 
both in intention and makeup. 

The fact is that we, the citizenship, have left the 
most important business of our common political life 
to private groups. We have gathered in this political 
organization to express our wills. We have failed to 
concert our intelligence in the directing of our wills. 
We have gathered to pull the trigger. We have left it 
to private organizations to load and aim and sight the 
gun. We have gathered to put into our national system 



J2 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the medicine. We have left it to any one who chooses 
to concoct the dose and label the bottle. We have gath- 
ered to sign checks upon our accounts, and promissory 
notes. We have left it to irresponsible and self-seek- 
ing individuals and groups to make out the checks and 
write the notes. 

To be sure, at each election, we have had the choice 
of pulling the triggers of several guns; but they were 
all privately loaded and aimed. We have had the chance 
to select among two or three differently labeled bottles ; 
but each was privately concocted. We have had the 
privilege of choosing among several sets of checks and 
notes ; but each was written by a private group. 

When we came to shoot, to swallow, to sign, we have 
found that each group of aimers, pharmacists, check 
writers, was saying that all the other guns were wrongly 
aimed, all the other mixtures were bad medicine, all the 
other checks and notes were crooked. Which was right 
we learned after election, and if we had been misled by 
one private group so that we felt it, we turned to give 
another private organization a chance at us next time. 

We have gathered to go ahead. We have not gotten 
together to be sure we were right about the direction. 
We have gathered to act ; we have not gotten together 
to make up our mind how to act. We have gathered 
to tell the answers to problems ; we have not gotten to- 
gether to work out the problems. 

And this private preparation of the alternatives for 
public choice, this pulling and shouldering and self- 
seeking, this effort to dominate, to rule, to get votes, 
with all its trickery and intrigue, with all its buncombe 
and hypocrisy, we have called — "politics." We turn to 
the dictionary, Webster's for instance, and there, first, 
is the definition : "Politics is the science of government." 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 73 

It is not necessary to say that every private organiza- 
tion of men, such as a party, which aims to influence the 
pubhc's action is crooked and anti-social in its intent. 
The vast majority of men in every party are noble in 
their purpose, because the vast majority of men are fine 
in spirit. But not only is the party, in its makeup, essen- 
tially and necessarily non-political, that is non-public, 
but in its essential spirit the party organization is a 
non-political body in the sense in which Webster defined 
the term, as the "science of government." There is es- 
sentially nothing scientific in the character of the political 
party. 

The nexus which holds men together in a party, at 
the best (and often it is less and lower) is not inquiry, 
the desire to get at the facts, but belief. The prohibition 
party, for instance, is an organization of those who 
believe in prohibition. The socialist party is an organi- 
zation of those who believe in socialism and subscribe to 
a creed. The dominant parties are made up of those 
who believe (in a confused, lackadaisical, custom-ruled, 
brain-drying way, to be sure, as must necessarily be the 
case when the issues on which the parties divided are 
dead and the parties are still toting the corpses around 
as their proud emblems of division) in "Republicanism" 
and "Democracy" respectively. What these words mean, 
one can tell at any particular time by reading the party 
"platform." This is for use, as has frequently been 
noted, as a car platform is used, merely to get in on 
But while it exists this platform is the party's creed. 

There is no objection to the organization of believers 
to comfort each other in their faith or to propagate 
their belief; but for the settlement of our common 
problems of living together, for working out the ques- 
tions of what to do and how to do it in our associated 



74 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

life, for getting the together-business done that we want 
done, this reason deadening, sentimentaHty developing 
exercise of the believing function as the means of prepar- 
ation for finding intelligent answers, is certainly as far 
from the scientific method and attitude as blindness is 
from sight. The attitude of science is always and every- 
where, the see-both-sides, look-at-the-problem-from- 
every-point-of-view attitude. 

The common organization of the citizenship, using 
the schoolhouses as neighborhood headquarters for de- 
liberation upon public questions is essentially political, 
essentially scientific in its character and spirit. This 
organization has no nexus of common belief as its basis. 
Its nexus is the common spirit of inquiry, the common 
desire to get at the truth. If one or more individuals 
in such a body have similar political views or beliefs, 
there are present individuals who have other points of 
view, other beliefs. If the discussion eventuates in agree- 
ment, or in the majority arriving at the same idea, or 
belief, all right. If not, the discussion will continue until 
they do. A consensus of opinion, a common belief may 
come as the conclusion. It is never the starting point or 
basis of this organization." This body stands on no 
"platform." It stands upon the ground, the common 
ground. 

A simple and, perhaps, trite illustration may make the 
difference between this scientific, that is, political-organi- 
zation get-together method, and the party division 
method plain. Suppose that we are a community of 
one hundred and seventy citizens. The question to be 
decided is regarding the color of a shield, green on one 
side and brown on the other, which has appeared in 
our midst. We will decide this question by the party 
method. 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 75 

"What color is the shield?" 

"Green," whisper to each other the men who stand 
on the green side. 

"Brown," they who see the other side are saying. 

The essential idea of party organization is to "stand 
pat," to stay where you are, to "keep the faith," and 
we are going to decide this question by the party method. 
Those who see the shield as green therefore organize 
a party whose platform is the belief in the greenness 
of the shield. They listen to speakers from their 
number; good speakers they are, for they prove the 
greenness of the shield to people who already believe 
that it is green. Association develops enthusiasm. Party 
spirit is appealed to and responds. A sense of superiority 
develops. That anybody can fail to see that the shield 
is green proves that he must be stupid or worse. Green 
becomes a principle to which the members of the party 
pledge themselves. They contribute to green campaign 
expenses ; they march in green torchlight processions. 

Meanwhile the same thing is happening among the 
men who see the brown side. "What's that you say? 
Those people declare the shield is green ? Don't go near 
them. They are fools or liars — enemies of the common 
weal. Wait till election ! We'll show who's right." 
And the brown party organization holds brown mass 
meetings, and vociferously, excitedly and at great ex- 
pense, persuade themselves of what they already believe. 

At last the vote is taken, and the question decided. 
It happens that ninety-two of us were standing where 
the shield looked green and only eighty-four were on 
the brown side. 

Hurray ! Rooster on the front page ! — to one who 
has seen two roosters kill each other, not because they 
had anything to gain by fighting, or because there was 



76 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

any ground of enmity between them, but simply because 
it pleased a leering brute to set them at it, there is some- 
thing peculiarly appropriate about that rooster on the 
front page. Great victory over the enemy! The shield 
is declared green. 

If, instead of using the party-division method in de- 
ciding this common problem, that is, if we had gotten 
together so as to look at the matter from different points 
of view, we would all have found that the question re- 
garding the color of the shield, being two sided, was 
more interesting than we had supposed. We would all 
have learned something. We would not have wasted, 
absolutely wasted, a lot of energy. Some of us would 
not have developed the poisonous idea that others of us 
were dishonest or imbecile and the decision would have 
been intelligent. Moreover, we would not suffer and 
cause our children to suffer from the dreadful hang- 
over of division continued after this issue had been 
settled. 

It may be granted that the practical questions re- 
garding rules to be adopted, investments to be made, 
selection of servants, cooperations to be entered into in 
our life together, are not so impersonal, as this of the 
color of the shield, that they are finally economic and 
come close home as questions regarding bread for our 
families and the environment of life or death for our 
children. But they are questions, always questions, as 
to what to do and how to do it, little immediate sections 
of the big continuous problem of civilized adjustment. 
Questions call always for learning the facts, for looking 
at every side, for light, for investigation, for quiet in 
which to get other people's points of view, and never for 
denunciation, in their solution. 

The American attitude which says "Come let us rea- 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 'j'j 

son together," expressed in the old Yankee, "I want 
to know," and modernized into, "You'll have to show 
me," is the true political attitude. This is the normal 
attitude in which accjuainted citizens will face the to- 
gether-problems of government when the one political 
organization of the whole citizenship is seen for what it 
is, the common bond of uniting membership in respon- 
sibility which implies the common union of citizens for 
discussion. As citizens organize by neighborhoods, using 
the schoolhouses both for voting and for such delibera- 
tion together as intelligent voting presupposes, the old 
artificial, house-divided-against-itself antagonisms, weak- 
nesses and conceits will seem as weird and strange as 
the harboring of the caste divisions which curse India. 

This is the intelligent way of doing away with parties 
and so adequately "answering to the universal law of 
necessary organization," to quote a phrase which Sena- 
tor Elihu Root used in his address before the Chicago 
Republican Convention. This is the simple and practical 
way of making forever impossible a repetition of that 
national disgrace of 1912 which came through our leav- 
ing to private groups our public business of calmly con- 
sidering together the qualifications of candidates for 
our employment. 

With the ballot-box in each community, binding the 
one organization of the electorate together as aldermen 
are bound together by their responsibility for voting, and 
with the schoolhouse inviting use as a headquarters of 
the citizenship as the city hall invites the use by the 
aldermen for their all-inclusive organization for deliber- 
ation, the means are at hand, and surely the time is 
ripe for emancipation from the enslaving, separating 
false loyalties to parties, and for realizing ourselves as 
one political whole. Surely the together-business of our 



78 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

associated life has long enough been the sport of irre- 
sponsible private groups. 

And, yet, men talk of a realignment of parties, the 
old division between Republican and Democrat having 
become entirely meaningless. Suppose new parties are 
formed on the issues of to-day. These particular issues 
which grow out of our present situation will be passed 
in a few years. Meanwhile, these issues cannot be in- 
telligently decided except by conference. Suppose there 
be such a line-up as progressive versus conservative. 
Obviously, this will bring confusion in a little while, 
when the older men in years and spirit, who would now 
form the conservative party shall have died, and the 
younger men shall have become old and conservative. 

But how about such a radical difference as that be- 
tween socialists and the defendants of capitalism ? Is not 
this an irrepressible conflict? Let us see. 

Walter Rauschenbusch, than whom there is no clearer 
eyed student of social conditions in America, says : "No 
preventives against the formation of social classes 
written in a paper constitution can long save us from 
the iron wedge which capitalism drives through society. 
The existence of two distinct classes is inherent in the 
nature of capitalistic organization of industry, and essen- 
tial to its very existence." 

Grant the truth of Dr. Rauschenbusch's statement, and 
supplement it by that of the late Senator Hanna or 
that of President Taft, that the next issue is the present 
system versus socialism. 

What about it? 

The point is not whether there is a vital and real 
difference here, but simply — How shall this difference 
be adjusted? The one question is — LIow shall this prob- 
lem b? solved? There are two possible methods and 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 79 

only two. One is by the use of bombs; the other is by 
the use of brains. One is by dynamite; the other is 
by debate. 

It is exactly the same question that lay before the 
colonies in the other critical period of American history. 
Should they use their differences as occasion for using 
their heads or losing their heads. Should they build 
the timber of their clash of interest into a barricade or 
into a bridge. Should they harbor the wedge, or forge 
it into a link? Should they separate and hate and fear 
and fight over the difference or should they get to- 
gether and talk over the difference? Should they use 
those problems as the means of flinging them apart in 
the weakness of mutual hostility, which might be the 
means of bringing them together and developing their 
power and intelligence? 

The great problem of our century is whether we 
have sense enough to use this difference of ours as a 
means of developing our intelligence, instead of using it 
as the occasion of developing our animosity, and so 
setting us and our children back a hundred, or a thou- 
sand years. It is not a test of the strength of a paper 
constitution. It is a test of our common sense. 

On the same page * on which Dr. Rauschenbusch 
writes the statement quoted above, he says : "The very 
fact that we can feel our social wrongs so keenly and 
discuss them calmly and without fear of social hatred, is 
one of the highest tributes paid our age." 

The question is simply whether we have grown up 
enough to deserve the tribute, whether we are men 
enough to use the human political method of discussion 
together on a common ground, or whether we are still 

* "Christianity and the Social Crisis," p. 220. 



•8o THE SOCIAL CENTER 

capable only of the brutal party method of division and 
separating contest. 

There is proof absolutely conclusive, that the answer 
lies in simply establishing the means, the apparatus, the 
machinery, the place, whereby and wherein orderly dis- 
cussion may be carried on, organized debate held, argu- 
ments from various sides spoken and listened to. The 
way is to-day, as it was in the other critical period, 
simply in the establishment of a common ground of 
orderly presentation and discussion. Then, it was for 
the settlement of differences between commonwealths ; 
to-day, it is for the settlement of differences between 
individuals. Then, the answer lay in union of the states 
to administer the common enterprise. To-day, the an- 
swer lies in the association of men, not "head-on" either 
in sentimental brotherhood attraction, nor in brute con- 
test, but shoulder to shoulder to engage in the common 
enterprise of together facing specific public questions 
as they arise and of studying out the answers. 

Kipling may or may not have been right when he said : 

But there is neither East nor West, 

Border, nor breed, nor birth, 

When two strong men stand face to face. 

But certain it is that, there is neither party conceit, 
nor animosity, when neighbors stand shoulder to shoulder 
to work out the problems of the community welfare, 
the problems of America's making good. 

Take one instance from Los Angeles, 

It was just after the McNamara confession. The 
whole city was tense and throbbing with the pain of 
its fresh cleavage. Denunciation, hostility, the blood- 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 8i 

lust that is bred of fear were in the air. One group 
of men were shouting on street corners or in the news- 
papers that their neighbors, who belonged to the "Good 
Government Party," were parasites, hypocrites, blood- 
suckers. The members of the other faction were scream- 
ing that their neighbors, who happened to belong to 
the Socialist Party, were aiming to make every home in 
Los Angeles a brothel. 

In the midst of this bedlam the neighboring citizens 
who lived in the district about the Polytechnic High 
School, gathered in that building and formed a delibera- 
tive association. There were socialists among them, and 
anti-socialists; but there, they were neighbors gathered 
to get at the facts. By this body, the two leading candi- 
dates were invited to come and tell why each thought that 
he should be employed as mayor. Mr. Alexander, who 
is himself neither a fire eater nor spell-binder, sent a 
man to advocate his appointment who would be able to 
do the Bosco act and "eat 'em alive," his neighbors who 
happened to approve of Mr. Harriman being the snakes. 
Mr. Harriman came in person. In the audience were a 
few violent partisans of each sort, but as is always the 
case in such an assemblage, the majority were people 
who wanted to learn, and who were seeking not blood 
but information. Each of the candidates was a guest, 
and these neighboring citizens were hosts. The element 
of "politeness" which is from the same root as politics, 
and is the mark of the true political spirit, was there, 
of course. If either candidate talked anything but sense, 
if either resorted to foolish denunciation, the other was 
on hand to point out the weakness of his position, and 
the audience was there to see it. The meeting was in- 
teresting and enjoyable as well as educational. 

The discussion centered on practical specific questions 



82 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of what to do and how to do it in promoting the city's 
welfare, such matters as the harbor proposition, the 
water supply proposal, the project of furnishing whole- 
some recreation opportunities. There was a perfectly 
natural absence of animosity and bitterness, because 
people were using their energy in trying to understand 
problems, and energy cannot be used for thinking and 
for hating at the same time. The discovery was made, 
the very important discovery, by everybody present, in- 
cluding the members of each group, that everybody, in- 
cluding the members of the other group, was a human 
being and a neighbor, and all the "thief," and "traitor" 
and "enemy" talk and attitude which had been induced 
by the darkness of separation disappeared like the wild 
fear and blind fighting of the night when the light 
breaks through. 

One of the men who attended that meeting said: 
"This common-ground of neighborly discussion seemed 
like an island in the midst of an angry sea, like a lucid 
interval in the midst of delirium. It seemed like magic." 

But there was nothing magical about it. It was ex- 
actly the same experience which the warring and hostile 
commonwealths had, when, in the midst of their bitter 
hostility, the opportunity for orderly discussion of the 
matters over which they had been divided was created, 
and the Goddess of Discord was dethroned merely by 
establishing a standing ground for common-sense. 

The situation in Los Angeles was one in which the 
disease of partition had become acute. The fracture, 
the cleavage between the separated sections of the 
body of the citizenship had become inflamed. The mal- 
ady had proceeded to a painful stage. Yet, just as soon 
as the common forum for orderly discussion was co- 
ordinated, and men and women gathered as neighboring 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 83 

members of the one political organization of the citizen- 
ship, health and sanity returned. 

Suppose, however, that instead of waiting until the 
community had reached that condition, the people had 
organized for neighborly deliberation, not in this one 
district alone, but in each district of the city of Los 
Angeles, and suppose that they had been gathering not 
as members of parties but as members of the whole 
common organization whose responsibility it is to solve 
the problems, to select the servants, to agree upon the 
rules and to devise the cooperations of civic association. 
Suppose that, with the service of a civic secretary in 
each neighborhood, and the coordinating service of a 
general secretary of the federation of neighborhood as- 
sociations, the members of that good town had been 
assembling to develop the resources of democracy and 
neighborship, the resources in acquaintance and breadth 
of understanding; the questions as to what to do and 
how to do it would have come along in an orderly suc- 
cession, and the selection of servants and presiding offi- 
cers, each on his merits, would have furnished no occa- 
sion for public madness. 

There may be a certain childish pleasure in dressing 
up, putting on oilcloth capes and funny hats and march- 
ing down the street behind a band with ill-smelling 
torches on the end of sticks, in hand. The pleasure 
coming to each one probably is the fact that a lot of 
other people are doing the same foolish thing at the same 
time. And there is, no doubt, a certain weird pleasure in 
playing at being scared by bogies, and in rough-house 
actions, just as there is in getting drunk and beating 
one's wife. But, men and women, with the problem of a 
community's welfare on their hands, with all that this 
involves, for the present and the future, should not take 



84 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

time for these immature and brute indulgences before 
election, when they have the serious business of deciding 
public questions before them. Business before pleasure. 
If the citizens of the town or the nation must go on a 
debauch, they should wait until after election. 

Is there reason for the separate existence of the Re- 
publican party or the Democratic party? Only if the 
people of this country desire to continue to suffer from 
the rule of the enemies of the common good in the con- 
tinued demonstration of the principle that Napoleon 
spoke : "Divide and Dominate." 

As Washington said of the "common and continued 
mischiefs of the spirit of party" : "It serves always to 
distract the public councils and enfeeble the public ad- 
ministration. It agitates the community with ill-founded 
jealousies and false alarms ; kindles the animosity of one 
part against another; foments occasionally riot and in- 
surrection." Then, Washington pointed across the sea 
to the hostile force, as though the enemy of the democ- 
racy were to come from abroad, and he said of this 
party division : "It opens the doors to foreign influence 
and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the 
government itself through the channels of party pas- 
sions." Washington was wrong as to the source of 
danger. The great corporation interests had not yet 
appeared. But, the rule of selfish, exploiting influence 
and corruption amounts to the same thing, whether it 
comes from outside or from within, and this enemy of 
our welfare finds "a facilitated access to the government 
itself" through exactly the same channels as would the 
common danger from without. 

Is there reason for the formation and continued sepa- 
rate existence of the socialist party ? Not if the members 
of it desire the progress of socialism. Go back to Los 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 85 

Angeles. At that same election, in which the socialist 
party was defeated, a most important practical question 
was decided as the socialist would have it decided. The 
city voted to inaugurate the publication of a municipal 
newspaper. If this socialistic proposal had come from a 
party socialist, if it had been known and advanced as a 
socialist party measure, and had been wedged in with 
a lot of other planks in a socialist party platform, it 
would have been defeated. Being presented as a distinct 
proposition, to be decided on its merits, it was indorsed. 
The same truth that people do not want to vote on 
"isms," either capitalism or socialism, but may be counted 
on to act with intelligence, even with the boiler-shop 
racket and hubbub going on which now precedes elec- 
tions, when practical specific propositions are presented, 
is illustrated in the election at Milwaukee, in which, 
while the socialist party was defeated, a most important 
measure which any intelligent socialist would advocate, 
carried, namely, the proposal that the people invest 
eighty-eight thousand dollars to develop the civic, social, 
and recreational resources inherent in the orderly wider 
use of existing public property. If this socialistic pro- 
posal had gone before the people as a socialist party 
measure, it would have been defeated with the party. 

The same practical fact, that excellent propositions, 
when tangled up with partisan promotion, are so blurred 
and discolored thereby as to be killed when, if they were 
considered simply on their merits, they would be wel- 
comed, is illustrated by the fate of the children's bureau 
in Milwaukee. Started under the socialists, it was throt- 
tled by the succeeding partisans, not because it was not 
a most desirable institution, but because it had been es- 
tablished by party socialists. It is inconceivable that, 
if this bureau had been established as a result of the de- 
7 



86 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

cision of the citizens of Milwaukee, arrived at through 
their orderly discussion of the common welfare as mem- 
bers of the all-inclusive association of that city, any serv- 
ants that they might choose to administer their common 
business would presume to destroy this intelligent means 
of their community self-service. In the state legislature 
of Wisconsin, as well as in the city of Milwaukee, it 
has been demonstrated over and over again that good 
measures have failed of success, simply because they 
came as socialist party propositions. The writer has 
heard, regarding a dozen proposals : "That is certainly 
a good measure. No doubt about it. And I would be 
for it, if it were not that it has the backing of the so- 
cialist party." Indeed, in practice the socialist admin- 
istration in Milwaukee recognized that party backing is 
harmful, in such enterprises as the institution of a "sane 
celebration" of the Fourth of July for the city, and in 
the beginning of the substitution of wholesome, well- 
supervised municipal dances, in place of the Saturday 
night dissipations which had been "run" for commercial 
gain in that city. 

In entering upon both these public enterprises, as in 
others, the people who advocated them tried by all 
means to have them considered and taken up as meas- 
ures to be judged on their merits, and without their 
harmful and distracting consideration as party measures. 
It is perfectly obvious that if Mr. Roosevelt had advo- 
cated the withdrawal of the public lands, or the national 
irrigation projects, or the building of the Panama Canal, 
as socialist party projects, each of these socialistic pro- 
posals would have been defeated. If men or women are 
sincere in desiring to hasten the substitution of orderly 
cooperation for disorderly and wasteful competition, they 
will not "queer" specific proposals of cooperation by 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 87 

putting them forth as prejudice-awakening party meas- 
ures. One of the men who is doing as much as any 
man in America to bring order out of the present social 
chaos said : "I would fight like a tiger against being 
labeled a party socialist, not because I do not agree with 
socialist principles, but because I am so tremendously 
impatient to get things done. The worst obstacle to the 
advance of practical democratic cooperation is party." 

Is there reason for the formation and separate exist- 
ence of a capitalist party? Not if the advocates of con- 
servatism desire cautious, all-considering procedure, and 
the prevention of hasty and impulsive action. As Bage- 
hot says : * "If you want to stop instant and immediate 
action, always make it a condition that the action shall 
not begin till a considerable number of persons have 
talked it over and agreed upon it. If those people be of 
different temperaments, different ideas, and different 
educations, you have an infallible security that nothing, 
or almost nothing, will be done with excessive rapidity. 
Each kind of persons will have their spokesman ; each 
spokesman will have his characteristic objection, and 
each his counter proposition." Mr. Bagehot then gives 
a list of the sorts of men who oppose the establishment 
of a fundamental polity of common all-sided discussion 
in place of party division. The intelligent conservative 
is not in the list. He points out the fact that the chief 
objection to this method of taking up matters and dis- 
cussing them simply on their merits, would come from 
the man who desires the rule of the military dictator, who 
would have men not think, but obey. Then he says : "All 
these invectives are perpetual and many-sided ; they come 
from philosophers, each of whom wants some new 

* Physics and Politics, p. 193. 



88 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

scheme tried; from philanthropists, who want some evil 
abated; from revolutionists, who want some old institu- 
tion destroyed ; from new aerists, who want their new 
aera started forthwith. And they all are distinct admis- 
sions that a polity of discussion is the greatest hin- 
drance to the inherited mistake of human nature, to the 
desire to ,act promptly, which in a simple (i. e. a mili- 
tary) age is so excellent, but which in a later and com- 
plex time leads to so much evil." Let a proposition come 
before the people with the endorsement and backing of 
a capitalist party and it would be handicapped, 
"queered," prejudged, that is, it would be denied reason- 
able consideration in just the same way as if it came as 
a socialist party measure. 

The perfectly simple, rational solution of the whole 
problem, is in the common organization of the citizenship 
as a whole to deliberate upon public questions, unham- 
pered by party bias or distractions. The intelligent pro- 
cedure is simply to use the one existing political organi- 
zation of the whole citizenship for getting together to 
discuss the problems of what to do and how to do it that 
the welfare of all, and so of each, may be conserved and 
advanced. The answer lies in the coordination of the 
common institution, wherein proposed rules of our lifq 
together may be considered and agreed upon, wherein 
the qualifications of applicants for engagement in the 
public service may be learned, wherein the desirability 
of proposed cooperations may be discussed. 

This means the elimination of the danger from the 
"men of the deed," whether violent L W. W. or violent 
"Merchants and Manufacturers." It means the elimi- 
nation of the whole brutal force to settle disputes which 
make the names Homestead, Cripple Creek, Seattle, Law- 
rence, and San Diego connote senseless barbarity. 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 89 

In each of these cases, as in every case of human dis- 
agreement, the object has been, on the part of one set 
of people, to get ideas into the heads of another set of 
people. The normal and natural channel for the en- 
trance of ideas is through the ears, and the eyes. When, 
for any reason, these usual entrances are not accessible, 
then, and then only do those who have ideas that they 
feel must be gotten into the heads of other folks, attempt 
to get them in through the skull. Sometimes the eyes 
and ears are closed. Sometimes the room inside is jam 
full about the entrances. It is like the occasion at Caper- 
naum when the house was crowded. The four men who 
felt that they must make an entrance, that it was a case 
of life and death, climbed up and made an opening in 
the roof, and let their burden down through the hole. 
They would not have done it if they could have gotten 
in in the usual way. The organization of the citizen- 
ship to use the schoolhouses as deliberation centers is 
the simple method by which the use of ears and eyes 
may be arranged for in an orderly manner for the trans- 
mission of ideas regarding public matters, and by which 
tongues may be used instead of teeth to indicate what 
has happened to the various ideas when they have gotten 
inside. 

This means the elimination of the threat of the "man 
on horseback." The leadership impulse, like the let's- 
change-things-and-have-'em-different impulse, the spirit 
of tyranny, as well as the spirit of revolution, is simply 
a manifestation of a perfectly normal element in human 
society. It is like gasoline in its potentiality for de- 
struction or for beneficial service, depending upon the 
machinery in which its power is directed and controlled. 
If the gasoline is simply touched off "promiscuous," not 
only is damage done, but energy is lost. If the same 



9Q THE SOCIAL CENTER 

gasoline is put into a tank and conducted in an orderly 
manner to the carburetor, where the proper mixture 
with air is made, and then is moved to express itself by 
just the right sort of friction, and finds opportunity for 
its expression in ordered explosions against the pistons 
in the cylinder, then, gasoline nature has not changed; 
but, instead of smashing things and wasting its energy, 
it drives the automobile up the hill. Now, if Colonel 
Roosevelt and Mr. Debs, General Otis and Miss Gold- 
man, Mr. Baer and Mr. Haywood, Congressman Berger 
and Judge Hanford all lived in the same district and 
belonged to the same neighborhood citizens' association 
and met in the same schoolhouse for deliberation upon 
public questions, it is possible that even though the presi- 
dent of the club were a worthy chairman, and even 
though there would be opportunity for the explosive 
gasoline to mix with a reasonable amount of common- 
folks air, it might be that the mixture would be a little 
"rich," but, at the worst, it would mean only sooting 
the spark-plug, a smoky exhaust, and harmless explo- 
sions in the muffler. 

Without this coordination of a machine for orderly 
use of the driving forces in society, we are always in 
the anomalous and contradictory position of bemoaning 
the lack of public interest on the part of our fellow citi- 
zens, and then, when any manifestation of a large endow- 
ment of public interest is given, getting scared, and try- 
ing to turn the hose on it and put it out. 

Common citizenship organization to make selections 
of public servants and to handle intelligently the pre- 
liminary business which has been done by irresponsible 
and self-appointed individuals and parties, does away at 
a stroke with the whole pauperizing or corrupting use 
of private money in pre-election campaigns. When the 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 91 

schoolhouses in the districts are used as headquarters 
for the neighborhood branches of the single poHtical 
organization for deliberation, and the city or town audi- 
torium is used for meetings held under the auspices of 
the city or town association, organized as a voters' 
league, then the private rental of halls and the adver- 
tising expense are cut out. There is no place whatever 
for the corrupt-practice-inducing use of private money, 
except for car-fare of the various candidates who are in- 
vited by their prospective employing body to speak be- 
fore it. The candidate w^ho is embarrassed by posses- 
sion of much property has not the slightest advantage 
over the candidate who, like Lincoln, is relieved of that 
impediment. At present, when volunteer party bodies, 
or self-seeking individuals pay these properly public ex- 
penses of hall-hire, et cetera, for the presentation of 
views upon public questions, they either do it because 
they expect to get it back with interest, or they do it 
as a charity. The one means public robbery, the other 
public pauperism. 

The use of the schoolhouses as the neighborhood 
headquarters of the all-inclusive organization of the citi- 
zenship, the one political organization, not only for vot- 
ing, but for the preliminary business of selecting and 
considering the qualifications of various men for service, 
and the desirability of various courses of procedure in 
adopting rules and devising cooperations, means the pres- 
ervation of the political convention advantages, without 
the evils that rose out of its partisan and exclusive pri- 
vate character, and means securing the advantages of 
the direct primary method without the obvious evils 
w-hich arise from its partisan character. 

In those parts of the country w^here the convention 
system has been abandoned, many of the older men 



92 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

claim that the grade of public servants or representa- 
tives is lower than in the old days of the party conven- 
tion. Whether this is so or not, there is obvious reason 
why it should be so. The present "button-hole" method 
by which the individual gets himself before the people, 
certainly tends to select only those men for office who 
seek office. There is no means whereby the people of 
a community may become acquainted with the capacities 
of their fellow citizen for deciding public questions. The 
old party convention system is well discarded, but this 
virtue of convening to discuss public questions, whereby 
the resources in leadership of the men who do not push 
themselves forward may be learned, cannot be spared. 
The experiment with the party primary method has 
demonstrated that the average man is not a partisan. 
Usually far less than half the voters participate in party 
primaries. It has proved a means of confusion, even on 
the part of those who have participated. The results in 
the recent party primaries in Massachusetts and Mary- 
land were stupidly illogical. The use of the party pri- 
mary method has not reduced the amount of money used 
in primary campaigns, but with this method the corrup- 
tion funds have been enormously increased. The party 
primaries have been the occasion of disgraceful vituper- 
ation and clap-trap. And everywhere the practice is 
common of partisans of one stripe going into the pri- 
maries of the other party and voting for the worst and 
weakest candidate for public office, deliberately endan- 
gering the common welfare, that their party may have a 
better chance of winning. 

The evils of the party convention system and the evils 
of the party direct primary system are simply the evils 
of party division. The solution lies in the establish- 
ment of a permanent convention system, which, in- 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 



93 



eluding the whole citizenship, has as its function not 
only, as now, the final decision, but also the preliminary 
or primary deliberation and selection of men and 
measures. 

This use of the schoolhouses as the centers of the all- 
inclusive conscious organization of the citizenship means 
the coordination of the single political machine, which 
is necessary if democracy is to "democ." 

The antipathy to "machine" politics has been due to 
the fact that on account of the lack of the single machine 
of democracy, private groups have formed to control 
sources of information, or the actions of the public's 
servants. The hero has been the man who has "broken 
up the machine," usually by constructing another, simi- 
lar in the fact that it also was private. But a machine 
is necessary. The machine was profitable to the men 
who controlled it. The political machine created by the 
organization of the citizenship for the use of the school- 
house as the common political headquarters means the 
coordination not only of a machine whereby all men 
may work together for good, but it means the assem- 
bling of a machine by which all men may so control their 
servants or agents that they shall work for the together- 
good. 

Suppose that the citizens of this and other communi- 
ties are organized, not split up into rival fragments, but 
organized into a common association, with the mem- 
bership easily mobilized and frequently gathering in 
the common neighborhood centers. If a man wants an 
office, how shall he get it? Shall he go to the machine? 
He must. Suppose a man in office objects to carrying 
out the will of his employers. He is invited to come and 
talk over the matter with his employers. He will not 
refuse ; but suppose he does. The company whose serv- 



94 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ant he is decides in conference that they made a mistake 
in his selection. There is no bother about it. 

The social center is the simple political machine, and 
it is as powerful as it is simple. The declaration with 
which we started out says that a government derives 
its just power "from the consent of the governed." The 
power of our government in so far as it is "just" comes 
from the consent of the citizens. Pick up a newspaper 
and see a cartoon representing the "citizen." How 
familiar he is, an absurd little, thin-necked nincompoop, 
with worried side-burns and increasing bald spot, won- 
dering how he'll get his tribute paid, his tribute for be- 
ing allowed to live, and fearful of what is going to be 
done to him next. Is he the source of power of this 
government? "The consent of the governed!" "Con- 
sent" means together-feeling. That is the source of 
power, and the only source of power. To-day the only 
driving force of the government comes from the ballot 
boxes whereto once in so often the citizens of the neigh- 
borhood go, each by himself, one at a time, alone. 

A man visited an insane asylum. He came into a 
ward where forty insane people were sitting about the 
room. He found only one man in charge. Seeing the 
lowering expressions on the faces of some of them, he 
exclaimed in a startled whisper to the keeper: "Great 
heavens, man ! I should think you would be scared to 
death to be in this room with all these maniacs. Suppose 
they should get the idea of taking you apart like a 
watch to see why you tick. What would you do?" 

The keeper smiled. "There is not the slightest dan- 
ger," he answered. "If one of them started anything, 
all the rest would stop what they are doing and look at 
him. It would never be more than one at a time. They 



POLITICAL ORGANIZATION 95 

have no power. You see they are crazy. They can't act 
together." 

The American citizens are not crazy. They can act 
together. The intelHgence that we as a people have 
shown in uniting to build these common buildings in 
every neighborhood will show itself in our uniting to 
use them, and these assembling places for orderly deliber- 
ation as well as for decision will prove the efficient source 
of power adequate, for they will be the places of the 
"consent," the together- feeling of the governing. 



CHAPTER V 



LIKE HOME 



"This is going to make the neighborhood feel like 
home — in spite of telephones, newspapers, trolley cars 
and all the modern improvements." 

He was a banker who spoke, and the occasion was the 
opening of a school building as a citizenship headquar- 
ters, a neighborhood civic club house, in a middle 
western city. 

"When I was a young man," he went on, "back in 
Licking County, Ohio, folks used to meet like this in the 
old drab, weatherboard schoolhouse. We called it the 
'Literary' ; in some places they called it the 'Lyceum/ 
and in some it was just 'schoolhouse meetin's.' The old 
double seats weren't any too comfortable ; the light from 
the kerosene lamps, with their tin reflectors, wasn't any 
too good; but there was a human spirit in those gather- 
ings, a man-to-man frankness and democracy that made 
America mean something. There was the spirit of neigh- 
borhood there — not only in the sociables, the spelldowns, 
and singing school, but in the meetings where folks just 
listened to speakers and talked. Getting together about 
things we had in common, whether it was what kind of 
a bridge we should have across the creek, or the tariff, 
we felt a first-hand responsibility for being citizens. 

"I came away to the city. I got into the scramble. 
I've been at it as hard as anybody, and I've succeeded 

96 



LIKE HOME 97 

fairly well. But all the time there has been something 
missing. I know a lot of fine people, but I don't know 
my neighbors. I obey the laws and vote at election time, 
but somehow I don't get that feci of being a citizen. 
The fact is, I've lived here twenty years, and it has never 
felt like home. But to-night, when we're getting to- 
gether, not as a party nor a sect, nor as a particular 
social set, but just as folks, as citizens, as neighbors, in 
this building which embodies the greatest of our common 
interests, that old feeling comes back ; and, as we go on 
with this — I tell you — even the city is going to feel like 
home." 

Unlike any other significant movement of modern 
times, the gathering in, from every corner, of neighbors, 
to construct the institution of the common life, the head- 
quarters of democracy; the movement to make of the 
schoolhouse the standing ground of our cooperation, 
appeals most strongly to the older, more conservative 
American. There is reason for this, because, two gen- 
erations ago in the average community in the middle 
west and elsewhere, the schoolhouse was used, spon- 
taneously, to be sure, without planning or forethought, 
but used, not only as a center for the education of chil- 
dren during the day, but also in the evening as the place 
of adult gathering, the center of neighborhood. 

Why this did not continue was simply because people 
failed to grasp the community idea. The common 
schoolhouse began to be turned over to separate organi- 
zations, partisan, sectarian, exclusive, instead of being 
kept always and only for the use of the one common 
organization of the whole community. For a time, how- 
ever, before there came these divisions which could have 
been prevented only by the community employment of 
a servant, a neighborhood secretary of the common or- 



98 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ganization of the citizenship, or the recognition of this 
service as one of the regular functions of the school 
principal, this character of the schoolhouse as a real 
social center lasted. And it lasted long enough to im- 
press the memory of America. 

Histories have to be rewritten continually as our 
viewpoint shifts from that which regards military ex- 
ploits as important, to that which emphasizes constitu- 
tional changes, then that which looks for industrial de- 
velopment, and finally to that which gives full recog- 
nition to the social life of the past. When an American 
history shall be written from this intimate point of view, 
it will be recognized that nothing in our national life 
has done so much to foster the spirit of democracy, of 
spontaneous community thought and sense of solidarity 
as this free association of citizens upon the common 
ground of civic interest, of acquaintance, of neighbor- 
ship in the schoolhouse in the early days. 

The writer visited Salt Lake City and went to the Tem- 
ple Grounds. He was fortunate enough to find one of 
the pioneers to guide him about the place. The old man 
took him through the several buildings, and explained 
the significance of each object of interest. Last, of 
course, he led him through the Tabernacle, pointing out 
its unobstructed view, and acoustic perfection. When, 
finally, they stood at the gate, the old guide said, "Are 
there any questions you would like to ask?" 

"There is one," answered the visitor, "one that I 
would like to have you answer, not as a Mormon to a 
gentile, but just as a man to a man." 

"What is it?" said the elder. 

"I'd like to have you tell me whether you folks are as 
happy as you used to be." 

The old man looked at his questioner. 



LIKE HOME 



99 



"Are you referring to plural marriage ?" he asked. 

"No," said the questioner. 

For a moment the old man looked away thoughtfully. 
Then he said : "It is strange. In the early days we 
were poor. We had to get along not only without lux- 
uries, but often without what we now call necessities. 
And yet — we were happier in those days. It is queer, 
for we thought if we could have lands, and buildings, 
if we could have property and wealth, then we should 
be happier. And now we have them, and we are not 
as happy as we used to be. It's strange." 

"What is the reason?" asked the other. 

"I'll tell you the reason," said the elder. "There is 
just one reason. -I't is because, in the old days, we felt 
together, and now we don't. The very things that we 
strove for have come in to separate us in our fellow- 
ship. Then we felt together, and the hardship and pov- 
erty didn't cut in, for we were one. And now we aren't, 
and our possessions don't make up at all for what we've 
lost." 

Now, this old man was speaking not only for those 
of us who wear a denominational name. What he said 
was true of all of us Americans. We have lost the old 
sense of unity, of neighborship, which we knew in the 
simple early days. Our inventions and our acquisitions 
as a people have not added to our happiness because we 
no longer feel together. What is the remedy? To go 
back to the simple conditions of the early days? 

No. We could not, if we would, and we do not want 
to. The great joyous task is to reach our hands across, 
and find unity in the midst of our rich diversity. For 
fifty years, we have yielded to the centrifugal force of 
extreme individualism which has flung us apart to our 
specializations. Now we are coming back, for the great 



lOO THE SOCIAL CENTER 

force in society to-day is not centrifugal, but centri- 
petal. We have had our time of social analysis. Now, 
strong, irresistible comes the impulse of social synthesis. 
We have gone apart to seek our separate v^^ealths, and 
now, to make our separated seekings and findings worth 
while, we are coming back like hunters to the camp to 
talk over our various adventures, and to throw down 
at the common camp fire the prizes of our achieve- 
ment. 

"The very forces that have been drawing us apart into 
groups and classes have been making us sick of our arti- 
ficial separations," says former United States Commis- 
sioner E. E. Brown, in speaking of the social center 
movement. "There is really arising a hunger for neigh- 
borliness, and it is most keenly felt in the very environ- 
ment where the old-fashioned neighborliness is most im- 
possible. When we go to Europe and meet in the Tros- 
sachs or Unter den Linden the man from over the way, 
we greet him as a friend, though we hardly recognized 
him at home. When we return to our own street and 
resume our ordinary ways, the chances are ten to one 
that we shall drop back into indifference. The lines of 
association do not nowadays run straight from our door 
to our nearest neighbor's door. Our shortest way to him 
is round by some common meeting place where we join 
with him in a common cause. Then it is that we find 
how much we need him and need to know him." 

When this impulse comes to the older ones among us 
it is not a vague, new call to an unknown gathering 
place, but a clear summoning to come hack along famil- 
iar paths that meet at a place we know. It is the spirit 
of the older American that sounds in Edna Murray 
Ketcham's "Song of Neighborhood" : 



LIKE HOME 101 

Come close and let us wake the joy 

Our fathers used to know, 
When to the Httle old schoolhouse 

Together they would go; 
Then neighbor's heart to neighbor warmed 

In thought for common good; 
We'll strike that fine old chord again — 

A song of neighborhood. 

The fathers clove the wilderness 

And made a clearing here, 
Then at its heart, this friendly roof. 

They joined their hands to rear; 
And here they met and talked and planned 

A larger common weal. 
Their future we are living now. 

We, here, their purpose feel. ':; 

Out in the world we all have learned 

Hardness of toil and care; 
It's tried our souls and shorn our youth 

Of dreams and visions fair. 
In worry for self we may have lost 

The larger hope and claim; 
Come, 'neath this common roof, and here 

We'll find its power again. 

The little old red school has gone; 

Its spirit must not go. 
For what it to our fathers meant 

Our present time must know. 
Heavy the work that waits our hands; 

Our single strength but small, 
United here for common tasks. 

Each finds the might of all. 



102 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

There is something strange, however, about this mem- 
ory of how tve used to get together in the community 
place. Men remember it who never actually knew the 
spontaneous common centering of the old days. 
Younger men remember it who have always lived in 
the city. Eugene Wood says: "Sing of 'the little red 
schoolhouse on the hill and in ^z'^rybody's heart a chord 
trembles in unison. As we hear its witching strains we 
are all lodge brethren — we are all lodge brethren, and 
the air is 'Auld Lang Syne,' and we are clasping hands 
across, knitted into one living solidarity." 

The reason why this drawing to the center of neigh- 
borhood seems to be a common memory, is because it 
answers to the demand for unity which reaches back far- 
ther than its expression in the schoolhouse meetings of 
the early days. One evening in a social center a man 
who was born and grew up in the city, and never knew 
the schoolhouse gatherings in his own youth, said : 
"Won't it be homelike when other cities take up this 
idea. One will always know that there is a friendly, in- 
teresting place, not far away, where he can spend an 
evening, a place where class lines, religious and political 
differences don't count, where people are just folks 
meeting on common ground, in the common interest." 

Homelike ! Why like home? 

When the beginning was made in the city of Roches- 
ter, New York, in using the schoolhouses as the delibera- 
tive headquarters of the electorate, only men were in- 
cluded in this civic club organization. 

It was clearly recognized that if the institution of the 
social center is to be American, it must be democratic in 
its foundation. It was seen that, if the provision of club 
opportunities for young people, of lectures and entertain- 
ments, and the facilities for culture and recreation, which 



LIKE HOME 103 

go to make up a complete neighborhood social center, 
were to be superimposed upon the community from with- 
out or above by order of any well-intentioned but pater- 
nalistic agency, then there could be no real life in this 
institution. It was seen that its basis must be the all- 
inclusive organization of citizens in political expression. 

The reason why, in the first neighborhood organized, 
men and women did not get together in the primary 
civic club was not because women are not as socially, 
that is, politically, minded as men — they are more politi- 
cally minded than are men; but simply because if men 
and women gathered at the start, then it would have 
been difficult to have this organization clearly recog- 
nized as fundamentally and essentially governmental in 
its character. For, in New York State, government is 
still regarded as the business of a sex. Moreover, there 
would have been danger of having this body confused 
with a parent teachers' association. To be sure, the two 
organizations are absolutely unlike, the parent teachers' 
association being a gathering of those only whose center 
of interest is in the use of the schoolhouse as an educa- 
tion place for children, and so excluding those who send 
their children to other schools ; whereas, the neighbor- 
hood civic club, having its focal center of interest at 
the ballot box, includes the whole citizenship. It being 
essential that the movement be understood in its initia- 
tion as political, only men were eligible for the founda- 
tion organization. To be sure, opportunity was offered 
for the women of the various communities to use the 
schoolhouses as meeting places, but their organization 
was separate. 

This, at the beginning — but, by the end of the first 
year, when the idea had been fully established that this 
assembling of the members of the committee of the 



104 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

whole citizenship for deliberation on public matters is in 
character exactly like (only "more so") the use of the 
city hall by the subcommittee of aldermen for their de- 
liberation, and men had found that this use of the neigh- 
borhood building is vital, virile, actual political expres- 
sion; then began the normal gathering, not of men only, 
but of adult human beings in one body uniting as citizens 
in a real democracy to talk over together the zvhat and 
the how of realizing the common good. Then was estab- 
lished the basis, the true and necessary basis of the insti- 
tution which furnishes the living nucleus of a demo- 
cratic society adequate for the new demands of our 
time. 

The race began to be human, that is, civilization be- 
gan, when men and women united and remained to- 
gether for the education of the child. It was not the 
breeding of the offspring that furnished the basis of the 
human family. Brutes breed. It was the long infancy 
of the human child, whose helplessness and whose mar- 
vellous educability required the man and the woman to 
stay together for its sake. It was the common equal 
association of men and women upon the common ground 
and under the common roof consecrated by the unfold- 
ment and the training of childhood, which taught the 
first lessons in mutual consideration, and care for an- 
other; it was the uniting effort, and the planning to- 
gether for this primary group whose center was the 
place of the child's education that taught the first lessons 
in cooperation, with which all human progress began. 
It was when men and women united in this little dual 
society whose citadel was the sacred ground of the 
divinest common interest, that the home spirit was born. 
Out of that primitive family group in widening circles 
the clan and the tribe came to be, and from that family 



LIKE HOME 105 

rootage grew the old patriarchal forms of government. 
And the family remains — shall ever remain, the unit 
group. 

In the past century a tremendous change has come. 
Before, the greater part of all our life was spent within 
the circle of the household. There were carried on the 
industries and the arts. There, food was prepared, and 
covering. There, too, were found the occupations of 
leisure, our culture, and our play. And because, through 
our association together upon the common ground of 
the child's education there, we had learned to think and 
feel and enjoy in terms of the welfare of this little group 
within whose circle our lives were spent, the activities 
which we carried on, the industries and the arts, the 
culture and the play, were humanized. 

Now, all this is changed. Out from the little house- 
hold circle have gone the preparation of food, the card- 
ing of wool, the spinning, weaving, and fashioning of 
cloth, the making and using of tools, out into the larger 
circle of the neighborhood, into the street and the shop, 
the factory and store. These activities are now carried 
on, not in the spirit of mutual consideration, not with 
the motive of unselfishness, not with the consciousness 
of joy in service, but in an atmosphere whose law is 
that of the brute — pretense, suspicion, fear, deception, 
exploitation, dog-eat-dog, caveat emptor. 

Why? 

It is not that, in our dealings with each other in this 
wider circle where now our work and play is chiefly 
done, we lack the precepts of a human way, the guid- 
ance of the preached ideal. It is simply that we have 
not yet learned to adjust our group sense to the wider 
circle in which our lives are now spent. It is simply 
that we have not yet learned to desire, each for all, and 



10^ THE SOCIAL CENTER 

all for each, in terms of the larger group. We have a 
little family-size, "me and my wife, my son John and 
his wife, us four and no more," range of group feeling 
to cover a circle of living which has widened far be- 
yond the household area. It is like trying to cover a 
square mile with a napkin. 

How shall we learn to feel our membership in the 
larger community group in which our work is now done, 
in which our lives are now lived, as we have learned to 
feel our membership in the little household group ? How 
shall we come really to identify our interest with the 
common interest of this larger group? How shall we 
come to sink, not as sacrifice, but as fulfilment of our- 
selves, our individual ambitions in the larger good of 
the community? How shall the home-spirit be ex- 
panded, widened to humanize our relationship to other 
members of this wider company? 

All of our legal development tends to fix restraints 
upon us in our dealings with each other, to enforce 
honest exchange, to protect "rights" and to prevent in- 
fringements. This iron framework of compulsory order 
seems to be necessary. But, a society which engages 
men to patrol its ways, to keep its members in order 
with clubs, has not begun to find itself. All our educa- 
tion tends to widen our intellectual comprehension of 
our membership in this larger group, and so to develop 
our capacity to think in terms of the wider circle of our 
association. At the best this intellectual nexus, coming 
as it does, largely by way of the printed page, is medi- 
ate. No person ever lived who could express himself 
by writing, or who, by being described or reported, 
could be fully made known to another. When, for in- 
stance, we read the writings or the reported speeches of 
Lincoln, or the stories about him, does not our reading, 



LIKE HOME 107 

instead of satisfying, increase the wish that we might 
have known him, that is, met him frequently face to 
fac^, and heard him speak? 

^'There can be no life in a community so long as its 
parts are segregated and separated," said Governor Wil- 
son, at the First National Conference on Social Center 
Development. "It is just as if you separated the organs 
of the human body and then expected them to produce 
life. * * * I know that a great emphasis is put upon 
the mind in our day, and as a university man, I should 
perhaps not challenge the supremacy of the intellect, but 
I have never been convinced that mind was really mon- 
arch in our day, or in any day that I have yet heard of. 
What really controls our action is feeling." How shall 
we learn not only to prevent our harming each other, 
and not only to think clearly in terms of our member- 
ship in this widened association, but to feel, to suffer 
and enjoy, in terms of the larger circle of the com- 
munity, as we have learned to feel in terms of the unit 
family ? 

The ready, practical, convenient answer lies in our 
using as a point of focused contact the common place 
which, in the midst of the community, has the same char- 
acter as had that first center of interest which united 
us in the little group, where, in the unit family, the 
feeling of home first came to be. 

This is the marvellous social significance of the public 
schoolhouse in each community. It is as though the 
members of all the little unit families had said : "The 
home, the little unit home, was made by the association 
of adults at the place of the education of the child. The 
capacity for mutuality was latent in the man and the 
woman until they associated at this place, in this atmos- 
phere. In the larger community, the capacity for gen- 



lo8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

uine fellow-feeling is latent in each member. We will 
unite to establish in the center of this larger group that 
inter-est (that which is between) which gave each 
home its unity, and gathering there we members of the 
larger group shall find our unity, the home-bond, but 
circling wider." We have, in establishing the public 
school, joined hands as Pietro and Violante did to 

hold high, keep clean 
Their child's soul, one soul white enough for three, 
And lift it to whatsoever star should stoop, 
What possible sphere of purer life than theirs 
Should come in aid of whiteness. 

America, in the public school, has taken the child and 
set him in the midst as Jesus took the child and set him 
in the midst. The invigorating atmosphere of the 
child's unfoldment is the breath of life. The light of 
the child's presence in the thought of men and women 
enables them to see. The place of the children's educa- 
tion, at the center of the neighborhood, has in its free- 
dom from dogma, its democratic foundation, its limitless 
aspiration, its vital character, not only the most power- 
ful dynamic possibility for molding the future, but in 
its use by men and women to-day as a center of equal 
association, it has in it the certainty of developing that 
which cannot come by authority or study or precept, 
the power to feel, to suffer and enjoy, in terms of the 
membership of the neighborhood as now we feel, and 
suffer and enjoy, in terms of membership of the little 
household. 

We talk of city sentiment, city spirit, the feeling of 
the city's membership. It is impossibly sudden expan- 
sion. We cannot make the leap. The distance is too 
far, the enlargement of vivid interest is too great, from 



LIKE HOME 109 

tKe little homogeneous household group to the vast heter- 
ogeneous circle of the city. We are in the situation of 
the Scandinavian on the dock, whose brother on the 
boat cried, "Yump, Ole, you can make it in two yumps." 
We can make it tzvo jumps. We cannot "stretch our 
auspices" so far all at once. 

To be sure, we may develop a pseudo city-spirit, a 
hectic town-promotion impatience whose motive is com- 
mercial. We may form a civic improvement associa- 
tion (forgetting that "civic" and "political" mean the 
same thing, civis being the Latin form of the Greek 
polls), and we may adopt a "city beautiful" slogan. We 
may seek to beautify the ugly, blotched, worry furrowed 
face of the community by the methods of the beauty 
doctor, the resort to cosmetics, rouge, paints, powders, 
skin- foods and patches, forgetting that social beauty 
can come only with social health. In our hearts we 
know that this commercial promotion and this special- 
izing in the superficial are counterfeit. We can never 
know the genuine spirit of mutual consideration, of high 
joy in inter-service, out to the wide reach of the city, 
until we have found a half-way stepping stone, in an 
institution of the neighborhood, wherein men and 
women, associating in the clear atmosphere in which 
the home spirit was born, have their eyes opened and 
their hearts freed. 

When through such acquaintance in cooperation we 
have become human, have carried the home spirit, to 
the wideness of the neighborhood, then through the fed- 
erated interchange and union in the enterprise of poli- 
tics, with other neighborhoods, we shall gradually push 
back the horizon of our real interest and fellow under- 
standing to include the city. So, and not otherwise, 
shall the individual's capacity for identification of in- 



no THE SOCIAL CENTER 

terest which now reaches to the Hmits of the household 
gain in power till it can include the membership of the 
city. So we set out on our way to the consciousness of 
membership in the Association of America, which shall 
make of it a home-land. 

■ The experience of the man who has found the com- 
munity sense through coming to know other men and 
women in the association of the social center is like that 
which an island might have if it were conscious. It 
stands by itself out there in the sea. It looks across 
at other islands or groups of islands. They seem en- 
tirely separate. And they are — at the surface. But 
suppose that island looks down beneath the surface. 
The deeper it goes, the less the separation from the 
other islands becomes, until it sees that down at the 
roots of its being, it and the other islands are all one 
earth. All the lands there are, are islands. Some are 
larger, and we call them continents, and some are 
smaller; but all are islands, and, no matter how high 
they reach, or how varied their surface differences, the 
greater part of each is down beneath the surface. The 
greater part of each is that which each has in common 
with all the others. The greater part of each island is 
the one earth. So, as a man becomes acquainted with 
people, who, superficially, seem different, separate; as he 
comes to cooperate upon such a common ground as that 
which the schoolhouse use offers, he comes to know that 
the greatest of our interests are not the individual, nor 
even the little group interests, but that the big, important, 
fundamental interests are those we have in common. He 
comes to know that down beneath the surface the greater 
part of each of us is humanity. 

So have we made the start toward that identification 
of ourselves with mankind which alone can enable us 



LIKE HOME III 

to appropriate our heritage as human beings. "God 
gave all men all earth to love," says Kipling, and then 
he strikes the false note of all his glorification of pro- 
vincialism in his acceptance of human narrowness as 
though it were inescapable, "But since man's heart is 

small, " But man's heart is not small. He has only 

been using a little part of it. 

Obviously, this development in the midst of the com- 
munity of the place where the home spirit may find a 
radiant point for nucleating our common life, does not 
mean to rob the unit home. It means to protect the 
unit home. To-day we are human within the family 
group and not human outside. We can no more remain 
half cooperative and half competitive than we could 
remain half slave and half free. Either the home spirit 
shall take the neighborhood, the city, the state, the 
nation, the world; or the unit home itself will be com- 
mercialized. 

So far from injuring the little unit household is this 
development of a homelike institution at the center of 
the neighborhood that its effect is exactly the contrary, 
for it gives to the members of the household a center of 
common interest wherein their equal unity is strength- 
ened if it exists, and established where it does not exist. 
There is many a family in which there is on the part of 
the man a petty assumption of authority and self-asser- 
tion, and on the part of the woman a slavish spirit of 
subordination, of self-effacement, and in their associa- 
tion never a glint of the joy of equal companionship. 
What it means for such a household to have the father 
and mother come to know each other on the equal com- 
mon ground of a neighborhood center of democracy, 
was told by a small boy in Rochester. "Gee !" he said. 
"Things is differ'nt at our house. Ma an' everybody 



112 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

used to shut up an' listen when Pa talked politics. Now 
you'd think him and Ma was both runnin' the city." 

Men by themselves cannot develop the human atti- 
tude of the home spirit in dealing with public affairs. 
They cannot do it in the community. Usually a man 
taking care of the house, when his wife is away, soils 
the dishes and fails to wash them, uses the beds and 
fails to make them, leaves milk in the ice-box till it 
sours, distributes his clothes in wild disorder about the 
place, never dreams of sweeping, and in a short time 
has the house looking — as if a man were taking care of 
it alone. Even though he be precise and orderly, even 
though things are put in place, and everything kept 
neat, or he have servants to do these things, even then 
the place is not a home. The system may be there, but 
the spirit is not. And if there are children to be cared 
for, the situation becomes tragic. The cities look as if 
they had been administered by men alone. 
V/Men, gathering by themselves to plan out the wel- 
fare of the neighborhood, the welfare of the town and 
state and nation, can never develop in their planning or 
in their plans the neighborhood spirit which is the next- 
size expression of the home-spirit. To be sure, there 
are neighborly activities for which men may well get 
together alone, but they are recreational. The primary 
and serious business of discussing the together problems 
of politics cannot be sane and normal, without the par- 
ticipation of the women of the community. For poli- 
tics, the administration of the cooperation that we call 
"government," belongs to-day far more to the province 
of women than to that of men. Indeed, if we are to 
discriminate, we find that government is coming to be 
entirely the ordering and administration of women's 
special sphere. 



LIKE HOME 



"3 



What is women's sphere as distinguished from that 
of men? 

To-day in trades and professions, industries and arts, 
men and women are working- side by side. Only by 
turning back to the simple conditions of primitive liv- 
ing, among the American aborigines, for instance, may 
the two spheres of activity be distinguished. The 
woman is engaged in grinding corn, preparing food, 
plaiting baskets, molding pottery, carding wool, weaving 
blankets, drawing and fetching water, caring for and 
educating the children, ordering the care of the camp 
or village, transporting the burdens when the camp is 
moved — in short, in all the industries and arts of the 
primitive Indian. The man is engaged in — war. He 
does the killing of other animals, and he spends his 
leisure in gambling, but his characteristic activity is 
war. 

With the process of discovery and invention there 
have come great changes in the methods of carrying 
on the work of woman's sphere. Instead of the little 
stone mortar and pestle with which she ground corn, 
we have the great roller mills. Instead of the earthen 
jar in which she carried water we have the munici- 
pal water systems. Instead of the simple method by 
which she, with or without the aid of a horse, trans- 
ported the burdens, we have the railroad systems, 
and her business of ordering, caring for, keeping clean 
and attractive the camp or village has grown 
tremendously with the increase of the modern city and 
state. 

Changes have come also in man's proper sphere. In- 
stead of the simple tools of destruction, such as 
tomahawk and bow, he has developed very elaborate 
machinery for tearing people to pieces and destroying 



114 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

property, and he has elaborated the methods of gam- 
bhng. 

In the early days, politics, the business of government, 
consisted chiefly in devising means and methods of do- 
ing harm, in councils of war. Then it was man's busi- 
ness. But, as we have progressed in intelligence, this 
aim of government has become obsolete until the only 
way that we can continue to set apart a great number 
of men from useful service and spend vast sums of 
money in constructing artificial volcanoes, is by pre- 
tending that this is to prevent war. In other words, 
government has become almost entirely counselling for 
human welfare instead of hurt. 

This is women's business, and while men should par- 
ticipate, they are awkward at it, and they cannot be 
expected to do it well alone. Men, with their age-old 
habit of selfishness, hostility, suspicion, craft, developed 
through thousands of years of glorifying blood lust, 
carry on the industries and the arts with the old war 
motive and manner, and by themselves make even of 
the together business of promoting order and coopera- 
tion, the business of government, a fighting proposition 
and a game. 

In caring for the community, the city, the state, it is 
unquestionably important that women should partici- 
pate on equal footing with men in the final decisions 
at the ballot box, but it is infinitely more important that 
women should participate with men on equal footing 
in the deliberation upon the questions of common wel- 
fare, which precede the vote. 

Where women are franchised, they of course will be 
equal voting members in the neighborhood organization 
of the citizenship, but where they are not yet franchised, 
they should still be regarded as members for discussion. 



LIKE HOME 115 

What this opportunity for gathering- with other men 
and women in the weekly deHberation at the neighbor- 
hood social center, means to the individual woman, is 
expressed in the words of one who spoke from her own 
experience : 

The social center comes to the rescue of the middle-aged 
woman in the bitterest hour of her life. The average woman 
who brings up a family of children on the average wage 
must do all her own housework, her sewing and mending. 
The constant demands of little children on her time and 
energy leave her little opportunity to read or to think of 
anything besides the work in hand. She is probably happy 
in this, and looks forward to the time when her children 
grow up. Then they go to high school, or they go out into 
the world. 

Mingling with people of different training and greater 
advantages, they no longer think mother's decision on any 
matter final. She is suddenly aware some day that she is 
not her daughter's equal ; that she is no longer a fountain 
of wisdom as she was to her little children, that she is ig- 
norant and hopelessly behind the times. She struggles 
against this conviction, but facts are stubborn things, and 
at last she faces the truth. 

What shall she do? What can she do? 

She goes to the social center. There she finds people 
with the same desire for self-improvement, the same want 
of training, and she also finds people of superior ability 
and experience who are ready to help her while they are 
helping themselves. She hears address'es on the great ques- 
tions of the day. She hears matters of municipal interest 
explained and discussed, and she is delighted to find that 
she can understand them. She gains courage. After a little 
she takes part in a debate, and before the season is over she 
is able to take part in the discussion and to express intelli- 
gent opinions. The woman has found herself. Her children 
look at her with new interest and begin to take pride in her. 



Ii6 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

Instead of the complaining, dissatisfied, nervous woman 
she was fast becoming, the social center has given to her 
family and her community a bright, well-informed, useful 
American citizen. 

This is what a woman says that she receives from the 
opportunity of participation in the neighborhood com- 
mon council. What she gives is far more. 

When Tom Tynan, who later became the remarkably 
successful Warden of the Colorado State Penitentiary, 
asked Judge Lindsey whether he supposed that the prin- 
ciple on which he acts with boys would work with adult 
criminals, Judge Lindsey replied : "Why, of course. 
Men are just boys in long trousers." 

"Why isn't somebody trying that principle with men ?" 
asked Tynan. 

"Why aren't you ?" responded Judge Lindsey. 

"I ?" exclaimed Tynan. "Why, I don't know anything 
about criminology." He was a business man at the time. 

"If you did," answered Judge Lindsey, "you wouldn't 
be fit for the job." 

What Judge Lindsey meant was that the orthodox 
and established method of dealing with criminals is all 
wrong, and that the efficient man for this work would 
be the one who, coming to it mind-free, would apply 
the principles of common sense, and that so a man's 
value would be spoiled by learning the old ways. 

In the fact that women, as a rule, have not the habit 
of thinking in terms of orthodox "political" method, is 
the great value of the contribution which they can make 
to intelligent and efifective political administration. Or- 
thodox methods in the treatment of criminals perpetuate 
the expression of the obsolete attitude of fear-impelled 
and angry retaliation developed when the criminal was 
regarded as an enemy to be punished. The efficient 



LIKE HOME 117 

man for dealing with criminals is the one who comes to 
the work, free from the habit of action which reflected 
that false conception. Orthodox methods in the admin- 
istration of public business perpetuate an idea of gov- 
ernment which is obsolete, not merely on account of a 
development of humane thinking, but on account of the 
complete change of character of the government. The 
orthodox political method was developed when the pub- 
lic welfare was to be conserved by preventing the en- 
croachments of a sovereign above the people in author- 
ity. The whole check and balance, block and hinder, 
clog and hamper, political system that we have, was 
constructed as though to fit a monarchical form of gov- 
ernment, as though the president were a sovereign from 
whose tyrannies the people are to be protected, and not 
at all as though he were what he actually is, the agent 
and hired servant of the people, the chairman or presi- 
dent of the association of American citizens. The bi- 
cameral system established in the national government 
and copied in the state and local governments is simply 
the perpetuation of the form which was logical when 
there was one class of lords and another of commons, 
whose delegates were set to protect the separate inter- 
ests of these two classes. This system is manifestly 
absurd when so far as political prerogatives are con- 
cerned there is only one class. It is simply the appoint- 
ment of two duplicating, responsibility shifting and mu- 
tually hampering subcommittees, charged with the same 
commission by the committee of the whole citizenship in 
city or state or nation. The party division method also 
is simply the holdover from the condition in which so- 
ciety was stratified into classes, differing in political 
power. 

We are slowly working toward an adjustment of the 



Ii8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

forms of government to the idea that the men whose 
salaries we pay are our hired men, that they are simply 
committees or agents whose work it is to serve the asso- 
ciated citizenship which employs them. We have al- 
ready established this idea in many municipalities, where 
the people have adopted government through or by com- 
mission, that is, through a committee, to work out the 
details of the common business of the people's associa- 
tion of the city. The proposal has been made in at least 
one state that one of the two houses of the state legis- 
lature be abolished. To be sure, the proposal there is 
that the English system of responsible party government 
be substituted, but this is a step toward administration 
of the details of the business of the state association of 
citizens through a single subcommittee of the committee 
of the whole electorate. And a bill has been introduced 
into the national legislature to abolish the United States 
Senate and so to apply the same principle of govern- 
ment by commission, that is, administration of the de- 
tails of the people's business through a subcommittee of 
the committee of the whole citizenship. 

It is of tremendous importance that the public ma- 
chinery for getting things done in the common inter- 
est should be simplified and made direct, because the 
present complicated and tangled system not only makes 
easy, but invites, interference by groups of people who 
have special interests to serve, that is, who would secure 
privilege or protect themselves in levying private trib- 
ute of various kinds upon the citizens. Not only are 
men and volunteer organizations spending inefficiently 
enormous amounts of energy in seeking otherwise than 
by the regular political channel to influence the agents 
of the citizens in their actions, as when letters are 
poured in to "your senator" or "your representative" 



LIKE HOME 119 

to offset ''special interest" lobbies, et cetera, but there 
has appeared a large and apparently growing group of 
people who frankly say that the political machinery is 
a useless outfit by means of which to get anything done, 
and, turning aside from the ballot box, they resort to 
"direct action." One, of course, can have no sympathy 
with the appeal to force in adjustment, whether among 
individuals or among such groups as nations ; but the 
fact that direct action is contrasted with political action 
is a distinct indictment of our whole present system ; 
for direct action is simply another term for efficiency, 
and, if the political method is not the most direct method 
possible, barring, of course, the fool's method of force, 
then it is not good political method. 

Changes in form of government machinery, as in 
the physical organism, come in response to the demand 
of new functioning. Necessity is the mother of inven- 
tion. When the flood struck Galveston, the people sud- 
denly became conscious that the business of getting 
things done in the common interest was important, and 
they quickly substituted a committee of the citizenship 
who should serve as an efficient tool for their service, in 
place of the old ornamental structure which they had 
supported over them. In other words, they suddenly 
saw that the common business is too important to have 
its doing made the occasion for men's running around 
in circles and playing shuttle-cock. 

In the process of smoothly, speedily, and intelligently 
readjusting our machinery of administration to the 
democratic idea, and making it, for the town, the state, 
and the nation, the efficient agency of our collective self- 
service, there is the greatest possible advantage in the 
participation of women with men in the discussion of 
what to do and how to do it; for women, by their train- 



120 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ing, come to the problem of administering these affairs 
with the common sense attitude to which men are only 
slowly approaching. Women, with their training in the 
administration of the affairs of the little household, come 
to the problem of handling the affairs of the city as 
the problem of administering a larger household, and to 
the problem of the state and the nation with the same 
attitude. Being more sensitive than men are, the im- 
portance of getting things done in the common interest 
of the larger household of the city, the state, the nation, 
makes them intelligently impatient of waste effort, un- 
reasonable delay, and of political processes which, by 
the democratic standard of our time, have no reason for 
being perpetuated. 

It is just because women have this simple and direct 
attitude, which is at once the common-sense and the 
scientific attitude, that it is so unfortunate that all over 
the country women are now meeting by themselves, 
seeking to prepare themselves to have an intelligent part 
in public business administration by studying "civics," 
trying to master the forked, tortuous, check-and-balance 
technique of inefficiency, as though the present ways of 
getting things done in the common interest were rea- 
sonable ways. 

The greatest contribution that women can make in 
political affairs, they can make by coming just as they 
are, bringing to the discussion of what to do and how 
to do it in seeking city, state, and national welfare their 
native sense of administrative directness. Every day 
spent in the study of the old politics or civics in meet- 
ings by themselves is lessening the value of the con- 
tribution which they can make. 

If, for instance, Tom Tynan had come to the direc- 
tion of that state penitentiary after a long training in 



LIKE HOME 121 

study of orthodox methods of dealing- with criminals, 
he would have seen nothing strange in the fact that 
men's heads were clipped and kept shorn in prison. 
It was because he was mind-free that he asked the 
prison barber, whom he saw at work : 

"What are you cutting his hair so close for, when 
winter is coming on; does he want it done that way?" 

"Why, that's the way we always have done," an- 
swered the barber. 

"But what's the sense of it?" asked Tynan. 

"Sense? Why, I don't know," said the barber. 

"Well," said Tynan, "it looks fooHsh to me. If you 
could make people good by cutting their hair, we ought 
to have barbershops in place of churches. If you can 
find any good reason for doing it, come in and tell me. 
If you can't — quit it." 

If Miss Anna Murphy had come to her position as 
superintendent of street-cleaning in the stock-yard dis- 
trict of Chicago with the orthodox habit of thought 
about such a political position, she would have used 
the public funds appropriated for this work in building 
a little personal machine by giving easy jobs in exchange 
for votes. As it was, she came without any "political" 
ideas, and used the funds put into her hands to clean up 
and beautify the neighborhood, just as though it were 
a matter of taking care of a larger household. 

This does not mean, of course, that expert knowledge 
is not needed in the administration of public business. 
It is needed, and it will be far more likely to be secured 
when political problems are recognized as simply always 
and only how to advance the common group welfare. 

The cooperation of women with men in such common 
counselling upon political matters as the schoolhouse 
invites is of the greatest importance, just because their 



122 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

•minds are undistorted by their having learned to think 
of public service as a matter of party division, of 
thwarting and intrigue, of craft and red tape. Their 
participation will, if they do not first learn to think of 
political matters otherwise than as larger household prob- 
lems, shift the center of interest in politics to its normal 
place, the welfare of the child, which furnishes the one 
racially and practically true standard of judgment in 
human affairs, the one sane point of view in politics. 

Miss Zona Gale pictures the thought of the typical 
woman as it has been shown in real life in many such a 
citizens' council, in the words of Calliope Marsh at a 
social center gathering of Friendship Village: 

I see them, mothers to the whole world. And they wasn't 
coming with poultices and bread and broth in their hands 
to patch up. No, sir. Their eyes was lit with a look that 
was a new look and that give new life. And I looked across 
at that row of tired men, not so very much dressed up, and 
I thought: 

"You're the men of this world and we're the women. And 
there ain't no more thrilling fact in this universe, save one, 
save one, — and that is that we're all human beings, and 
that your job and ours is to make the world ready for the 
folks that are to come. Yet, over there by Black Hollow 
one of our children is dying from something that was your 
job and ours to do, and we didn't take hold and do it." 

This centering of interest at the point of true perspec- 
tive in all civilization ; and the use of the common build- 
ing which is the one expression of the heart of democ- 
racy, as the headquarters of all political cooperation, 
means to make the neighborhood feel like home. There 
is nothing that can stand against the freedom and great 
achievement of a people whose neighborhoods feel like 
home — whose neighborhood feels like home. 



CHAPTER VI 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 



When the political organization of any neighborhood 
becomes animate, that is, when the neighbors gather in 
the schoolhouse and effect the deliberative codrdination 
which includes all those who are bound together by the 
obligation for voting, then the business before them is, 
of course, politics — practical politics. 

This term, as it has been misapplied, has usually been 
preceded by the verb "play." 

Appropriately. 

A child plays school teaching, that is, it pretends to 
carry on the activities of the person whose proper busi- 
ness it is to teach school. For the school teacher, his 
profession may be enjoyable, but it is not a plaything. 
Men "play" politics, that is, they pretend to be the citi- 
zenship whose proper business it is to control and direct 
public matters. For the citizenship politics is not ducks 
and drakes. The devising of cooperations, the consid- 
eration of and agreement upon rules, the finding and 
commissioning of capable servants is fascinating, and has 
the zest of a great adventurous enterprise, but being 
the citizens' proper business, it is not for them a 
game. And when any individual or private corporation 
is found "playing" politics, it is prima facie evidence 
that he or they are pretending. 

Practical politics. 

123 



124 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

Where and how begin? A thousand and one mat- 
ters national, state, municipal, press forward for con- 
sideration. It may be that, at the time of the organiza- 
tion of the body, a "campaign" is "on" and the compar- 
ative merits of various applicants for public employment 
demand consideration ; or it may be that, indeed it will 
be that, special questions concerning national, state, and 
municipal welfare cry for attention. They come, crowd- 
ing, great complex problems, the cost of living, trust 
control, taxation, specific propositions, the parcels' post, 
the fortification or neutralization of the Panama Canal, 
rate regulation, public ownership of this or that utility ; 
and the question before the newly organized council of 
the citizens, as it becomes conscious in any degree of 
its responsibility, as a section of the first and final legis- 
lature, a branch of the real supreme court, is : Where 
and how begin? 

The answer is : Begin at the beginning ; take up 
first the public matter that is right at hand. Every 
neighborhood organization of the electorate in city or 
country has, as soon as it is formed, business of duty 
and great opportunity immediately before it which 
should be given right of way, which should be regarded 
as unfinished business, and which should be taken up 
at once. 

To be sure, the individual in any neighborhood who 
first grasps the possibilities and recognizes the need of 
community organization, may take advantage of the 
fact that the public interest is roused to a particular 
question, and make the arranging of one or more meet- 
ings to consider that question the means of getting the 
people together. For instance, in one Wisconsin town, 
the people were stirred and awakened to the fact that 
the town was being made a "hang-out for hobos." The 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 125 

editor of the town paper proposed that the local dele- 
gate to the state legislature come before the citizens 
assembled in the schoolhouse at the initial organization 
meeting and speak upon "What the state is doing or 
planning to obviate the tramp nuisance." This consid- 
eration of a live issue in this way served as a demonstra- 
tion of the value of such an organization in connecting 
the community up with the state subcommittee in its 
work, and because it brought the people out, served to 
give the organization a running start. 

In Ohio, Henry W. Elson, the historian, a member of 
the constitutional convention, says that the delegates 
found the greatest benefit in addressing citizenship 
gatherings in their home districts and participating there 
in the discussion with the voters upon the various con- 
stitutional propositions, week by week, when the dele- 
gates visited their homes during convention recesses. 
Here were questions for the consideration of which citi- 
zens were conscious of the need of assembling. Their 
live interest made these gatherings practical and gen- 
eral, and furnished the opportunity of vigorous large 
organization at the start. In the same way, the fact 
that a campaign is afoot, and that the citizens are "on 
their toes" over the selection of public servants, national, 
state, local, may well be taken advantage of by arrang- 
ing at the first or second meeting of the neighborhood 
organization to have the claims of the various candidates 
for election presented, either in person or by deputies. 
In this way the participation of many of the citizens 
in the initial organization meetings may be secured. 

But the "big business," the practical politics, which 
every neighborhood organization should center interest 
upon just as soon as it has well started, is the considera- 
tion of the neighborhood's own needs, and the first mat- 



126 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ter upon which the citizens should take action is the sup- 
plying of these immediate needs. By this method, the 
people in any community not only secure benefits of 
the greatest importance which can be secured for their 
neighborhood in no other way without paternalism, but 
by this method the actual consciousness of what govern- 
ment means in a democracy develops through joining in 
first-hand co5perative creation. 

Taken in their logical order, the first matter of prac- 
tical politics which every adult neighborhood body should 
focus its interest upon is the provision of the means 
whereby the young men and young women, the older 
boys and girls of the neighborhood may have such op- 
portunity for training in civic capacity as will fit them 
for the duties which they are soon to assume, and such 
wholesome recreation opportunities as they must have 
if they are to develop physically deep-chested, strong- 
limbed, clear-eyed, and are to be educated socially in 
the spirit of democracy. In other words, the first prac- 
tical opportunity and duty of each adult citizens' body 
is to secure provision by which the young men and 
young women of the neighborhood may have oppor- 
tunity to use the schoolhouse as a club house for or- 
ganizations modeled upon their own. 

The adult organization includes both men and women 
in one body. The young people should have two sepa- 
rate organizations, one of young men, the other of 
young women, using the schoolhouse on different even- 
ings of the week for their meetings. With the adult 
organization, the publicly employed servant is a secre- 
tary, who is under the authority of the citizens' body. 
With the young people's clubs the persons employed are 
over them in authority. With the adults, the primary 
interest and responsibility is in the consideration of pub- 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 127 

lie questions; with young people it is most desirable 
that along with the club opportunities, there should be 
facilities for physical activities, both indoor and out, 
and for wholesome recreation. This implies the neces- 
sity not only of having the neighborhood civic secretary, 
usually the principal of the school, engage directors for 
boys' and girls' club meetings and activities, but also im- 
plies the securing of gymnasium equipment, indoor and 
out, and the engagement of directors of physical train- 
ing. It may be, and it usually is, desirable to divide 
the boys into two organizations, and the girls likewise, 
but this division should be made not into two sets or 
cliques of the same age, but should be made between 
those who are from seventeen years of age to twenty, 
and those who are under seventeen, but out of school. 
The membership should include every boy, or every girl 
of the neighborhood who is out of school in the club 
which is proper to his or her age just as the adult club 
includes as a member every citizen in the district. 

In the city of Rochester, where the older boys' club 
in each social center was called the "Coming Civic 
Club," and the younger was called the "Future Civic 
Club" (the girls chose more individual and less uni- 
form terminology for their organizations), the plan was 
followed at the start of setting the lowest age limit at 
fourteen, and admitting boys and girls above that age, 
on their respective evenings, without regard to their day 
school enrollment. This plan was soon abandoned for sev- 
eral reasons, chief among which was the fact that, as a 
rule, there was not room enough for both sets of boys, and 
it was felt that fairness demanded that if a boy had the 
benefit of using the neighborhood house during the day, 
then the fellow who could not have that "privilege" 
should have the right of way in the evening. (Notice 



128 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the word "privilege." It was used by one of the boys 
who had been compelled to leave school to earn money 
for the support of his family, and the effect of this atti- 
tude was shown in the strange idea which the principal 
noticed that the pupils of the day school were getting. 
He said : "When the children see grownups and older 
fellows come here, not because they have to, but because 
they want to, it seems to suggest the extraordinary idea 
that it is a 'privilege' to come to this building.") 

The reason why the adult civic body, the actual de- 
liberative political organization, should be effected first 
is not only because, in this way alone, can the develop- 
ment of the complete social center be democratic, that is, 
come in response to the expressed will of the citizens 
of the community, but because only in this way can the 
young people have before them the example of civic 
expression which gives to their gathering the meaning 
and purpose which makes it genuine citizenship train- 
ing. Where the man is there is the boy's heart, also. 
When the adults of the community are using the neigh- 
borhood building for actual political expression in com- 
mon council then the idea of citizenship is visualized 
and the young men and young women have the model 
before them which makes of their club activities civic 
apprenticeship. 

Within the past few years, the vast importance of 
making provision for the associational needs of young 
people that the gang spirit, which is the natural exhibi- 
tion of the civic instinct, the first outreaching of group 
feeling, may find expression in wholesome forms, and 
for the recreational needs of young people that they may 
learn in practice that most important lesson, that it is 
possible to have the best sort of fun without doing 
harm, has been recognized. This recognition has caused 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 



129 



much effort to be expended to meet this common need 
through special and private agencies. 

Perhaps the first considerable institution developed to 
provide for the young men and young women between 
school age and maturity was of the Y. M. C. A. type. 
The Young Men's Christian Association started as a 
purely evangelical movement in which people of differ- 
ent Protestant churches united for the conversion of 
young men. There were added to this religiously sec- 
tarian institution, cultural and recreational features partly 
because it was seen that, if young men were to practice 
the clean, wholesome living which their Christian pro- 
fession implied, they must have opportunity for clean, 
wholesome club association and recreation, partly because 
the provision of gymnasium, bowling alley, reading room 
and club opportunities would serve to draw young men 
into the environment where they might be reached by 
Protestant church influences and partly because men and 
women were coming to see that, aside from all special 
"religious" considerations, young men imperatively need 
the opportunity for clean, wholesome club association 
and recreation. 

In the fact that the Y. M. C. A. is a joint enterprise 
of most of the Protestant churches, it is inter-denom- 
inational, but in the fact that its propagation, and full 
membership in it are limited to Protestants, it is sectarian. 
That is to say, it does not include Catholics, Jews and 
those unaffiliated with religious sects, on equal terms. 
The logical and natural result of the establishment of 
the Y. M, C. A. by the Protestants of any community 
is the establishment of a C. M. B. A. by the Catholics, 
and a J. Y. M. A. by the Jews, and also the estabHsh- 
ment of institutions for young women which correspond 
to these provisions for young men. This result is not 



130 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

always accomplished, because these other sects are not 
everywhere numerous or wealthy enough to develop such 
institutions for their young men, and in comparatively 
few communities is there enough energy left, after pro- 
vision has been made in this way by private effort for 
young men, to develop similar facilities for young 
women. But girls and Catholic and Hebrew boys are 
either provided for by their own religious organizations, 
or they are not provided for at all, so far as full mem- 
bership in this sort of association is concerned. 

On one side the Y. M. C. A., the J. Y. M. A., the 
C. M. B. A. and the corresponding young women's in- 
stitutions, are carrying on the activities that belong in 
the field of the church. That is, they are all sectarianly 
religious. On the other side each of them is privately 
operating in the field of common enterprise. On the 
one side each of them is duplicating the work of the 
churches ; on the other side they are duplicating the work 
of each other. There is a difference between the modes 
of worship carried on in these separate institutions, but 
there is no slightest difference between the parliamentary 
usage followed in the club activities in one and that fol- 
lowed in another. There are differences between the 
sacred books used in these several organizations, but 
there is no difference between the basket-ball rule books 
which they use in their several gymnasiums. 

The fact that this method of provision has, even with 
the most strenuous efforts, proved wholly inadequate is 
not the greatest reason why thoughtful men and women 
are seeking to promote such provision as will not in- 
volve duplication where there is no reason for dupli- 
cation. It is plain that only a very small percentage of 
the young men and women in the cities, and practically 
none of the young men and women in the country are 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 13I 

provided by this means with the opportunities for whole- 
some club association and recreation which all young 
men and women need. The greatest reason, however, for 
recognizing that the common associational and recre- 
ational needs of youth should be provided through a 
single public agency, while the various churches assume 
the work of religious service to the young people of 
their several sects is because the method of supplying 
these common needs through duplicating institutions hav- 
ing sectarian connections on their religious side, tends to 
carry the wedge of division into the field where there 
is no reason for division, but every reason for com- 
munity action. It tends to make gymnasium activities 
and other forms of recreation a ground of sectarian 
partition when it is normally a common ground in which 
division and duplication have no justification. What is 
worse, it tends to make the training in club activities, 
the training for citizenship, which is right only as it is 
broad in sympathy and understanding, and entirely free 
from sectarian bias, itself sectarian, so that the young 
men and young women come to the duties of citizenship 
not with the all-inclusive social and civic habit of thought 
developed through association with young people of 
different religious and home training, but with a view 
point limited and narrowed, by which henceforth they 
tend to look at questions of the common welfare with 
a sectarian slant entirely out of harmony with the demo- 
cratic idea of "separation of church and state." 

It is no question of competition between the Y. M. C. 
A., the C. M. B. A., and other semi-religious institutions 
on the one hand and the citizenship as a whole on the 
other, for it is coming to be generally recognized that 
this provision for citizenship training and recreation for 
young men and young women is a part of the com- 



132 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

munity's function of education and, just as the teach- 
ing of reading and writing which was once furnished 
to the few by semi-reHgious institutions came to be 
taken over by the state and made common to all, so 
.these other forms of education. In this movement the 
men and women who are engaged in the work of the 
Y. M. C. A., and other institutions of this type are 
among the most earnest advocates of the community's 
self-service in provision for young people through social 
center development. The leaders in the various churches 
recognize that these institutions are duplicating the work 
of the churches on the one hand, and are inadequately, 
expensively and divisively competing in a field in which 
there is no reason for the waste of competition, on 
the other. 

The attitude of the typical minister is expressed in 
the words of a leading clergyman in a middle-western 
city, recently spoken : "Some time ago, when I began to 
recognize the need of a recreation place, especially for 
young people, I thought of building a parish house in 
connection with my church. I then thought it would be 
more economical to unite forces with others in the 
building of a Y. M. C. A. To-day I see that the money 
that a Y. M. C. A. would cost, would go many times 
farther and would benefit all the young people instead 
of only a few, if it were contributed through the regular 
channels of public cooperation and spent in securing 
equipment and supervision for the use of the school- 
"houses and grounds during the time they are now idle, 
for club activities and physical training. This is just 
as educational as the study of books, it is the common 
business of the community." The fact that the attitude 
here expressed is not limited to the men of any denom- 
ination or sect is illustrated in the case of Stanley, Wis- 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 133 

consin. Here the use of the high school building as 
a "people's club house" came about as a result of the 
united leadership of the Lutheran pastor, the Roman 
Catholic priest and the Presbyterian minister. 

Another special method of answering the problem of 
wholesome training and recreation for boys and girls is 
the recent Boy Scout movement with its auxiliary ex- 
pression in the Girls' Guard or Camp Fire Girls' organi- 
zation. This movement when promoted by sectarian in- 
stitutions is open to the same objection as the Y. M. 
C. A. as carrying the division which belongs to the 
field of church activity into common fields of expression 
which have no reason for being sectarianly divided. 

Even when some of the non-military elements of the 
Boy Scout idea are incorporated in the work of the 
regular public schools, as undoubtedly they should be, 
this method of seeking to answer the need of young 
men and young women for such wholesome associational 
and recreational opportunities as will furnish training 
for citizenship, absolutely breaks down at the most im- 
portant point. The Boy Scout idea and practise fail to 
hold the interest of the youth at sixteen or seventeen 
when the dress-up, play-soldier, big-Injun period is 
past. 

The same objection holds with the World Scout move- 
ment inaugurated by Sir Henry Vane. He evidently was 
not informed by Lord Roberts, General Baden-Powell, 
Lord Beresford and the other members of the "military 
cabal" who are the chief promoters of the Boy Scout 
movement that this movement is not a "kindergarten 
for militarism." He seemed to regard it so as a result 
of his investigation at its home in England, and devised 
the World Scout idea whose spirit should be that of 
helpfulness instead of hurt, of world-brotherhood instead 
10 



134 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of war. It may be asked : If a boy or a man love not 
his neighborhood which he has seen, how can he love 
the world which he has not seen? It may be suggested 
that the natural line of development of the group sense 
is not to attempt to leap from the unit family sense 
to the world feeling and then come back to neighbor- 
hood sympathy, but to progress from family to neigh- 
borhood, to city, to state, to nation, to world compre- 
hension. Granting the superiority of the spirit and 
underlying idea of the World Scout movement over 
that of the Boy Scout movement, they are alike in the 
fact that they belong to the grade school period of the 
boy and do not answer at all the need for civic train- 
ing between the grade school age and maturity. 

If not a Y. M. C. A., how about building a separate 
recreation center? Twenty years ago a group of 
people in Chicago applied to the school board in that 
city to have one of the schoolhouses opened for use 
in the evening by the young men as a club house. 
There being no organization of the voters in the neigh- 
borhood with power to enforce the request and with 
authority to order this use of public money, the school- 
board after considering the relative rights of the mice 
and the young men to the use of these buildings in the 
evening declared in favor of the mice, and refused the 
request. Thereupon the energy of these volunteer "sol- 
diers of the common good" was turned to the securing 
of special buildings and grounds which could be used 
for the gathering and recreation of the community, 
especially the young people. So began the movement for 
building separate buildings and securing separate 
grounds as recreation centers. 

Thus far in Chicago nearly twenty million dollars 
has been spent in getting this duplicate neighborhood 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 135 

building and ground equipment, and the result is that 
there are seventeen of these establishments serving sev- 
enteen neighborhoods. This same amount of money, if 
it had been put into adding to the equipment and sup- 
plying the supervision needed for the full use of the 
school plants would mean that instead of seventeen 
neighborhoods being especially favored, every neighbor- 
hood in the city would be supplied with a wholesome 
recreation center, and the school system of Chicago, 
instead of being (until recently) one of the worst in the 
country, would be a model for the world. 

The failure of the citizens first to organize a voters' 
league or neighborhood civic association which with its 
meetings in the schoolhouse would furnish the model 
upon which the young people's recreational activities 
would shape themselves with a core of civic training, and 
which would have a right to give directions to the 
school board, which failure led to the duplicating of 
neighborhood plants, has not only cost Chicago tre- 
mendously, but it has injured the whole country. For, 
in many cities, the Chicago field house idea has been 
copied, with the naturally resulting loss to the school 
system itself, and the great loss to the communities, of 
efficiency and unity in their neighborhood equipment. 
And not only have cities sufifered, but small towns also. 
For instance, in Merrill, Wisconsin, a few years ago, 
A. Stange, a wealthy lumberman who had come to the 
town as a poor boy, desiring to repay the community 
for some of the benefits he had derived from it, decided 
to make provision for the recreational needs of the 
young people. The Chicago field house duplication sug- 
gested the way, and he built a handsome building equip- 
ped with gymnasium and club rooms. He thought that 
if he furnished the building the citizens would maintain 



136 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

its supervision. For two years the building stood va- 
cant. Then it was torn down. 

If, instead of following the Chicago plan he had given 
the money which the building would cost to the school 
board to be used in adding recreational equipment and 
the necessary supervision which would make the school- 
house completely useful, ill-feelings and antagonism 
would not have developed and, within a very short time, 
the community would have found the great benefit of 
this recreational equipment, would have appreciated its 
necessity and would have assumed the expense of its 
maintenance. This Chicago method of building sepa- 
rate neighborhood buildings for that form of educa- 
tion which goes under the name recreation has hurt 
the rural communities ; for it has suggested that the 
provision of recreational opportunities is a very ex- 
pensive community undertaking which requires the se- 
curing of new property, and so the attempt to influence 
a body of public servants otherwise than by organized 
citizenship expression, and the stupidity (or worse) of a 
school-board, brought it about that the great splendid 
recreational impulse has been for a time diverted from 
its normal American channel of expression through the 
increase of the use of the school plant in every com- 
munity. 

To-day, the great leaders of the movement for rescuing 
the recreational life of us all, and especially the young, 
from the degradation incident to its commercial ex- 
ploitation, recognize that the schoolhouse and ground is 
the natural recreation center. For instance, Clark W. 
Hetherington, the philosopher of recreation, the author 
of "The Normal Course in Play," says : 

To make the play of all the young people of the nation 
efficient three things are essential: First, there must be a 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 137 

permanent agency whose business it shall be to organize 
the play life of all for efficiency. Second there must be 
leadership by a permanently employed staff. Third, there 
must be centers that give play opportunities in a wholesome 
environment. 

The only permanent agency that is potentially fitted to 
reach all the young people of the nation is the public school. 
The little district schoolhouse, now grown in some of our 
cities to a great steel and brick palace, with its staff of 
teachers and its local and state administrative machinery, 
is the nation-wide institution. It is a permanent agency, a 
powerful one, and the backbone of our destinies as a nation. 
The public school is everywhere, the public school teacher 
is everywhere, and the schoolhouse and school yard are the 
natural community center. 

Experience has shown that the playground does not, as 
a rule, draw children from a district of more than a quarter 
mile in radius, nor the older young people from more than 
half a mile. In Chicago, with its famous small park and 
field house system, one can ride for miles in almost any 
direction and see thousands of children playing in the 
streets or in dirty vacant lots, without either equipment or 
supervision. Yet, Chicago has spent enormous sums for the 
construction of this equipment and is spending $300,000 a 
year for maintenance, and all for one section of the city. 

It seems clear, therefore, that society cannot afford to 
duplicate the school system to make Nature's means of edu- 
cation efficient, while the school plant and the school admin- 
istrative machinery stand idle. 

What Professor Hetherington is to the philosophy 
of play. Dr. Luther H. Gulick has been to the promo- 
tion of public recreation. He was the organizer and 
first president of the Playground and Recreation Asso- 
ciation of America. Speaking of recreational activities 
as a part of the community's "social life," he says : 
"The school plant is the natural focal point of the com- 



138 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

munity's social life since it centers the universal in- 
terest — and cuts through social, religious and even 
racial lines." 

Not only have men outside of Chicago come to see 
the wisdom of making the schoolhouse and ground the 
single common center of adult civic expression and of 
recreation for the whole community, but Edward B. 
DeGroot, the man who from the beginning has had 
charge of the activities carried on in the South Park 
buildings and grounds agrees absolutely with the po- 
sition that this plan of duplication of neighborhood 
equipment is extravagant, inefficient and wrong in prin- 
ciple and practice, and the schoolhouses in Chicago are 
now being opened for wider use. 

It may be well to consider here whether the public 
school, as it is now developed, as merely an education 
place for children, does not meet the needs of American 
life, whether in the course of time, the use of the school- 
house simply for the children will not solve our problems. 

A few years ago, before the Connecticut State 
Teachers' Association, President Eliot said that com- 
pared with what was hoped would result from the es- 
tablishment of the common school, this most important 
of all our institutions is a failure, and he gave a cata- 
logue of some ten of the common evils of our time which 
the public school fails to right. These evils may be 
grouped under three heads : misgovernment in place of 
public efficiency, dissipation and idling in place of con- 
structive use of leisure in recreation, cleavage and class 
feeling in place of social order and public spirit. 

This is a very serious charge, for the distinctive suc- 
cess or failure of America lies in our efficiency or bun- 
gling of collective self-service through political ma- 
chinery, our waste or good use of leisure, our capacity 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 139 

to weld a harmonious whole out of the varied elements 
of our population and so to produce a race of socially 
conscious men and women, the maxim of whose choices 
shall be the common good. 

The fault is not in the character of the service for 
which the neighborhood building and ground is now 
used. The fault is simply in the fact that at present 
it is used to coordinate the social life of only a third of 
the population of the community, and that the evils of 
which Dr. Eliot speaks are those which come through 
the failure of the citizenship to use this building as 
the common political headquarters, and their failure to 
bring about its equipment and use as the common recre- 
ation center of the community for the young men and 
women between school age and maturity. 

The public school as simply an education center for 
the child does not and cannot produce good citizenship, 
for in its nature it is and must be a monarchy, a place 
of training in obedience. We may veil and soften the 
authority into the most careful fostering guidance, as 
Froebel did and as Madame Montessori does, but the 
authority must reside in the person over the scholars, 
and the law of the school must be obedience. Good 
citizenship is more than obedience. Good citizenship in 
a democracy is the consciousness and the practice not 
only of responsibility for obeying the government, but 
for participation in being the government. 

Does the public school system as it is now used tend 
powerfully toward the development of temptation-re- 
sisting power, toward the supplanting of vice and dis- 
sipation and the capacity to freely devote surplus energy 
to beautiful expression? The use of the schoolhouse 
as simply the formal education center for the child 
does not and cannot meet this need, because in its na- 



I40 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ture it is restrictive. The child in the school is not free 
to do wrong. Attendance is compulsory. There is prac- 
tically no training in spontaneous expression. 

And, finally, does or can the use of this neighborhood 
building, simply as an education place for children, de- 
velop that social consciousness, that breadth of sympathy, 
that sense of human solidarity and power for collective 
action, upon which all those who do not accept the 
doctrine of the class struggle base their hope of human 
progress ? 

The public school is a socially supported institution 
but, in its use as simply an education place for children, 
it is individualistic in the tendency of its training. The 
main lines of conscious obligation and responsibility do 
not run horizontally from child to child, but perpendicu- 
larly from the teacher to each child. This is necessarily 
the case. As long as children are under a teacher, and 
as long as they are children they must be under a 
teacher, the chief feelings of the child are directed up- 
ward, whether they are love or fear or dislike, toward 
the teacher, rather than outward as social feeling. More- 
over the whole spirit of child study is the consideration 
of each child as an individual and the main tendency 
of its training is to develop the child's powers and 
capacities, his self-reliance, and independence. And this 
is as it should be, for the period of independence is a 
necessary stage of the child's development. Only by 
this training at this period can the later consciousness 
of interdependence be strong and free. Its service in 
social training the schoolhouse can render only as it is 
made a fraternal meeting place of adults. 

The public school has not failed so far as it is used. 
It has done and is doing its service to the community 
through the children. The citizens have failed to use 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 141 

this neighborhood building as poHtical headquarters and 
have failed to provide for its use as a civic training 
place for young men and young women in addition to 
its use as a formal education place for children. 

With the one-third use to which it is now put, the 
influence of this institution is to breed that spirit of 
obedience which makes it easy for political and economic 
bosses to rule, and that spirit of reverence for things 
as they used to be when the teacher was young, which 
puts a drag on the progress of society and stifles spon- 
taneity; and that spirit of self-centered individualism 
which has chopped us up into a thousand and one little 
groups mutually exclusive, separated, suspicious of each 
other, with no development of community feeling, social 
consciousness or democratic sense. 

The fact is that to-day the public school building is 
to the community what the house would be to the fam- 
ily, if it were used only as a nursery for the children. 
This use alone would not make a home. The neighbor- 
hood institution one-third used is parental and individ- 
ualistic in its influence, just as the household would be 
if it were used only as a place for children. For the 
family group the house is a home when it is, first of all, 
a place of democracy, of equal union, of free expression 
and group sense between adults ; then a place of parental 
guidance of young children, restrained, and individualis- 
tic, then for those between these two, a place of training 
during the transition from childhood to maturity. 

When the neighborhood building is used first as a com- 
mon democratic association place for adults, and by 
them made the center wherein young people (out of 
school) may find opportunities of training for citizen- 
ship in the practice of self-government and for whole- 
some recreation, this institution in the center of the 



142 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

neighborhood becomes in its influence for the neighbor- 
hood group what the home is for the family group, each, 
of course, with its special functions, the one based upon 
the primary sex relation, the other based upon the com- 
mon interests of neighbors, but each including all of the 
people, old, middle-aged and young, within its circle. 

This then is the first matter of practical politics for 
a neighborhood organization of the adult citizenship to 
take up, the opening of the building, and the securing 
of the directing service which will make it a club house 
for the young men and for the young women of the 
community, and the securing of a combination gym- 
nasium and assembly hall which will equip it for their 
recreation. Here is use of the building for at least 
three evenings in the week, one for adults, one for 
young men, and one for young women. 

This is not enough, for there is one essential ele- 
ment left out, namely, the provision for general gather- 
ing, when, with the natural chaperonage of their fathers 
and mothers and the other older people of the com- 
munity, the young men and young women may have 
opportunity for getting together for enjoyment of 
wholesome social activities. 

There is no problem of greater importance than that 
of supplying youth a chance to become acquainted and 
to associate in a wholesome environment ; for the char- 
acter of the future home, the problem of divorce, the 
problem of prostitution are all tied up in the question 
as to the sort of opportunity which young men and 
young women have for decent clean recreation together. 

Of the first thousand girls committed to Bedford 
Reformatory, the majority said they took their first 
downward step through commercial dance hall associ- 
ations. In his study of the causes of prostitution, Dr, 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 143 

J. P. Warbasse says of the causes that operate upon the 
males : "The absence of good feminine society in the 
circles of youth is a factor. Social contact with high 
minded women satisfies the craving for feminine society 
and deters young men from seeking the society of the 
opposite type of women. A boy who has friendships 
among good women is apt to be ashamed to go to the 
lewd." 

To say that this problem is to be answered by making 
the unit home attractive is to ignore the great fact 
that between fifteen and twenty-one the natural instinct 
of both boys and girls is to go out from the home, 
seeking each other's company. Where shall they find 
and become acquainted with each other? This is no 
problem of a particular part of the country. It is not 
only a city problem. It is fundamental and common 
everywhere. The citizens in any neighborhood, coop- 
erating with those of other neighborhoods, will later 
grapple with and find the answer to the problems of in- 
ternational relationship, but when they aid in develop- 
ing the right ground upon which the nations may get 
together, they will have done nothing more important, 
nothing greater than when they have brought it about 
that the young men and young women of their own 
community may get together in wholesome social inter- 
course. 

In Chicago, not long since, the social starvation of 
the young women there was set forth in the proposal 
that there be formed "lonely girls' clubs." It is on 
account of the splendid courage of young women that 
society does not sufter more, from the failure to pro- 
vide in every neighborhood a place of wholesome social 
gathering. Where this normal wholesome desire for 
social enjoyments is not expressed in unwholesome 



144 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ways, society suffers both from the results of mismating 
due to the fact that young men and young women have 
no opportunity for wide acquaintanceship before be- 
trothal and by the loss of that natural springtime joy 
in life which comes into any community when young 
men and women find wholesome association. 

Not in the city only are young men and young 
women lonely. Here is a letter from a country girl that 
was read at the Southwestern Social Center Conference 
last February. It says something which ought to be of 
interest to those who are taking up the cry "back to 
the farm," for it tells the secret of the lure of the 
city to both country girls and boys who do not realize 
that congestion of population is not social life : 

May I just tell you how my neighbor girls and I live? 
Our day begins at four o'clock a.m. Supper is never served 
before eight o'clock; the work is done by nine; then we 
have time to read, if we are not too tired. More than once 
I have known girls to sleep on the floor because they were 
too tired to prepare for bed. Aside from the housework, I 
have been called upon many times to help with the outdoor 
work. This is not uncommon, and we count it no hardship 
to work in the fields, even though the sun is hot. We usually 
like the change, but the work is so heavy that we should 
not do it. 

But the work is not the worst; there is nothing to think 
about, nothing to which to go. Suppose we go to town. 
When our business is transacted we must stand around the 
stores or on the streets, sometimes to have the town folks 
make fun of our funny clothes, until the men get ready to 
go home. 

Among the girls with whom I went to school were five 
who belonged to one family; they are splendid girls, as good 
as any I have ever known. These girls have been obliged 
to stop going to school when twelve years of age, and settle 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 



145 



down to a life of drudgery. They haven't life. In the fam- 
ily of their next-door neighbor three daughters died from 
consumption. One girl walked three or four miles through 
deep snow to attend a party. 

How can we expect girls to stay in the country when 
there is absolutely nothing to do but work or get married? 
One of my schoolmates was married at sixteen and divorced 
before she was eighteen years old; another married at four- 
teen. My father asked a neighbor boy what papers they 
read at his home. He said: "We don't read any; we have 
no time during the day, and we can't waste the coal-oil at 
night." 

The question of social gatherings is really a question of 
social and intellectual life and death to us who are country 
girls. 

What is the sort of activity which young men and 
women crave in their association? Musical expression 
together, dramatic expression together, but more than 
either, dancing, which combines both musical and dra- 
matic expression and which is, more than any other, 
the natural and normal recreation for the association of 
young men and young women. 

When one observes that the repression of the de- 
sire to dance on the part of young people, especially 
in the country and in small towns, leads to the expression 
of the normal and wholesome impulse in silly clandestine 
and often sexually harmful kissing games, one is tempted 
to denounce the stupid, distorted puritanism of the men 
and women who make it necessary for young people 
to go to unwholesome places in order to dance. There 
is reason, however, for objection to dancing among 
young people as usually practiced. Dancing is a social 
confection. It is like pie, or cake or ice-cream. If the 
whole meal is made up of pastry, it is weakening and 
harmful. But as a dessert at the end of a substantial 



146 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

meal, it is not unwholesome. If young people gather 
for an evening and do nothing but dance, it is dissipa- 
tion. Suppose, however, that the program of the evening 
begins with a half hour's good orchestral and choral 
music, and then for forty minutes there is given a 
thought inspiring lecture ; and suppose that the gather- 
ing is made up not only of the young people, but of 
their fathers and mothers and the older people of the 
community. Then, if the program closes with an hour's 
dancing, instead of being harmful, dancing becomes as 
fine as that in a home; for, indeed the broadened spirit 
of home, the fine clean human spirit of neighborhood is 
there. 

A suggestion of what this opening of the schoolhouse 
for the young men and boys of the neighborhood means 
is given in the words of a merchant whose place of 
business is near the first schoolhouse to be fully equipped 
and opened as a social center in Rochester. He stopped 
the neighborhood civic secretary on the street one day 
to say: 

"The social center has accomplished what I had re- 
garded as impossible. I have been here nine years and 
during that time there has always been a gang of toughs 
around these corners which has been a continual nui- 
sance. This winter that gang has disappeared." 

"They aren't a gang any more," answered the neigh- 
borhood secretary. 

The value of this club association for young fellows 
in the same building that is used as a citizens' com- 
mon council headquarters, in calling out the splendid 
best that is in them and tending to train for civic self- 
respect, is suggested in an incident that occurred about a 
month after one of the schoolhouses was opened for the 
use of the young men and older boys of the neighbor- 



PRACTICAL POLITICS I47 

hood. A plaster statue that stood in one of the halls 
was maliciously injured. When the club heard of it, 
they appointed a house committee to watch out for 
further vandalism. The culprit was not discovered. 
But the club assessed itself eleven dollars and raised 
the money to replace the statue. There was no other 
injury to the property in any social center. One Sunday 
afternoon (after the first year the centers in Rochester 
were opened on Sunday on the recommendation of the 
ministers' association of that city) occurred this incident : 

The general civic secretary dropped in about the 
middle of the afternoon. When he entered, not seeing 
the boys about, he asked the guide at the door where 
they were. 

"They're holding a meeting in the art room," he an- 
swered. 

"Who is with them ?" asked the secretary. 

"Nobody," was the response. 

"Don't you know that they shouldn't be in that room 
without a club director present?" 

"I have been listening from the hall and they seem 
to be orderly." 

The secretary went to the art room, and, opening the 
door, found some forty young fellows, ranging about 
seventeen or eighteen years of age, sitting in order, the 
president in his chair, the secretary beside him, keeping 
the minutes of the meeting, and one of the youths on his 
feet presenting the claims of the Democratic candidate 
for the presidency. The guest sat down to listen to 
the debate. After the speaker had used his allotted 
time the floor was given to a rival claimant, and so an 
orderly triangular debate v/as carried through. When 
it was over, it was learned that a dispute had been 
started in the hall over the relative merits of the sev- 



148 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

eral candidates. A year before, if these fellows had been 
interested at all in such a question, a dispute would have 
led to loud contradictions, possibly blows. In the midst 
of the discussion in the hall it was suggested that in 
order to give everybody a fair show they should hold a 
formal debate. None of these fellows was a school boy, 
and some of them were of the "naturally agin' the gov- 
ernment" type. 

The most significant effect of the organization of the 
young women and girls and their use of the center as a 
civic club house was the deepening of their interest in 
life, which shifted their chief attention from superficial 
personal adornment to more important things. This 
came partly from their physical training and partly from 
the development of a sincere natural acquaintance with 
the young men of the neighborhood. It was expressed 
in this bit of doggerel which one of the girls' clubs pro- 
duced : 

We girls who used to pose in front 
Of mirrors half the day, 

Now have the roses in our cheeks — 
Our powder's thrown away. 

We know that brains are more than hats. 
That heads are more than hair. 

We're here because we mean to be 
Useful as well as fair. 

As in the household, the adult members have their 
special counselings, so in the social center the adult citi- 
zens have their special evening when the serious business 
of democracy is considered; as the boys in a household 
have their own room or rooms, so the "Coming Civic 
Club" of the neighborhood has its own evening; as the 
girls in a household have their own rooms, so in the 
neighborhood use of the schoolhouse they have their time 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 149 

of exclusive use of the building. The general evening is 
the gathering of the whole community group, as the 
family gathers in the household, all together, for such 
fine enjoyments as are common to the whole group. This 
is the heart and hearth of the neighborhood. It is in 
this communal gathering of the whole neighborhood 
family, with music at the opening, and then a lecture or 
entertainment, supplemented, perhaps, by motion pictures, 
followed by an hour's wholesome intercourse, usually 
with dancing or other form of free enjoyment, that the 
living, creative communal spirit, the spirit that sings, is 
released. 

Of such a general evening, a visitor at a center said : 
"In the room were gathered the fathers, the mothers, 
the grand-fathers, the grand-mothers, the young men 
and the young women, and, oh, it was good to see. I 
stepped up beside the wheel chair of an old Hollander. 
He was a paralytic, but his heart beat high, and his 
quavering old voice was sweet with the hope of youth, 
and he, too, sang. No one could look upon that scene 
and not feel a better man, a better woman. We had 
half an hour of song and a half hour of talk, and then 
we had some dancing and I saw the finest thing I have 
seen in years ; the fathers danced with their daughters, 
the mothers grown young again danced with their sons. 
Weren't they happy? Indeed, they were. I saw a vision 
of the future, a vision with a promise. No one could 
come there and not be thrilled to higher endeavor, finer, 
stronger, and better effort, purer service and more fra- 
ternal love." 

This spirit does not find itself merely by the gathering 
of neighbors together, without having back of it such 
waking of democracy as comes through the serious dis- 
cussion of public questions by the adults, meeting to- 
ll 



150" THE SOCIAL CENTER 

gether, and such training in self-government as comes 
through the young men's meeting by themselves and the 
young women's meeting by themselves, each group on 
its own evening. It is when these parts of the community 
group have found, each its common interest, and then 
these parts are brought together that the air is clarified, 
and the common feeling of the neighborhood is born. 

Col. R. E. Smith is a very practical farmer of Sher- 
man, Texas. Like most men in our commercial eco- 
nomically-unadjusted time, he has been forced to meas- 
ure values in terms of material things. Things of the 
spirit are worthy or not in proportion as they register in 
wealth increase. He said, in speaking of the social cen- 
ter, and especially of the general evening gathering: 

"I will be candid with you, that I paid little attention 
to the social center idea when I first heard of it, but 
I want to say that my ideas of farming have almost 
been revolutionized, transformed. It seems entirely dif- 
ferent now. Perhaps the fact that I have taken more 
interest in my neighbors, become acquainted with them 
on the common ground of the social center, makes me 
like them better, makes them like me better, and con- 
sequently makes us both do better; anyhow things are 
in a more prosperous condition now than ever before. 
This movement will do good in many ways. People get 
together, causing them to understand each other, and 
the young people are fired with ambition, and if this 
goes on — better corn will be raised over Texas than 
there ever was before." 

But there is a more important standard of values in 
this country to-day than even that of economic efficiency 
— it is the standard of democratic efiiciency, for in the 
development of political capacity lies the hope of intelli- 
gently solving the great problems of economic and social 



PRACTICAL POLITICS 151 

adjustment, and this is the effect of which Governor Wil- 
son speaks, the effect of so bringing the parts of the 
community together that there may be expressed the 
copimon impulse. 

■^ "There is no sovereignty of the people if the several 
sections of the people be at loggerheads with one another. 
Sovereignty comes with cooperation ; sovereignty comes 
with the quick pulses of sympathy, sovereignty comes by 
common impulse." --^ 

Here then is the first matter to be taken up by any 
neighborhood organization of the citizenship, the "un- 
finished business" of establishing the use of this neigh- 
borhood house as a club for young men, and for young 
women, and as a common place of social gathering for 
the whole community. And this, not only because of 
the need of the young people, and not only because in 
this way is laid the foundation for the practical answer 
to the question : How and where shall we develop the 
folk art, the folk music, the folk drama of America? 
With this organization is established the foundation rock 
of democratic sense, the clarity of vision and the power 
without which democracy is impossible. 

When the neighboring citizens have established this 
basis of the complete social center, then the gathering 
there of cooperation in health and dental, cultural and 
informational service, and the centering there of com- 
munity enterprises of all kinds are sure to come as the 
expressions of the unified life and thought and will of 
the community. Here is the realization of practical 
politics within the neighborhood, without which politics 
in the wider reach of the city, the state, the nation cannot 
be practical ; for without this basis, in which the sepa- 
rated pebbles and sand grains are cemented together in 
common feeling, democracy has no firm understanding. 



CHAPTER VII 

WHAT WE HAVE — WHAT WE WANT 

"What is the debt of your city? 

"Is there a legal limit to the bonded debt, and has it 
been reached? 

"Do you remember the tax rate? 

"What is the total valuation, or assessment for tax 
purposes ? 

"Do you know what the basis of the assessment is?" 

These are the questions which J. Horace McFarland, 
President of the American Civic Association, asked of 
citizens in various parts of the country. He makes the 
fact that he nowhere received satisfactory answers to 
these questions the theme of an article, which appeared 
some time ago in the Outlook,'^ entitled "The Ignorance 
of 'Good' Citizens." 

In these questions is expressed the attitude of the 
men who would have citizens regard their membership 
in the city as stockholdership in a business enterprise. 
If citizenship is that, then the important "primary 
facts" (Mr. McFarland italicises the word) for one to 
know about his city, are the financial facts. If the city 
is simply a business corporation, and citizenship is 
simply stockholdership, then why should the citizens, the 
stockholders, interfere with their officials, the directors 
in running the business ? 

* January 3, 1906. 
152 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 153 

The general ignorance regarding these financial mat- 
ters signifies that the average citizen does not regard 
his membership in the city as mere stockholdership in 
a business corporation. 

What does the average citizen know about his city? 

He knows the population. Mr. McFarland says, "I 
never knew one to fail on the population!" and he says 
it with a disdainful exclamation point, as though this 
knowledge were unimportant, and the citizen's possession 
of this knowledge were without significance. 

This fact that, while practically nobody can tell "the 
total valuation or assessment for tax purposes," prac- 
tically every citizen can tell the population of his town 
is of the greatest significance, for it indicates that the 
interest of the citizen is naturally, primarily and con- 
tinually — not financial or business, but human interest. 
It indicates something more and deeper than that. It 
shows that we are involuntarily, unconsciously, but surely 
reaching out with the feeling that the city is more than 
a financial corporation, that it has the character of a 
larger family group. For this pride in numbers is not 
confined to the men who own real estate, or whose 
interest may be accounted for on other commercial 
grounds ; it is common to the man who has nothing to 
gain by increased population ; and it is the same feeling 
which the primitive man, the Abraham, the Isaac, the 
Lot, of every race had in regarding it as a blessing to 
have a great household. 

The whole publicity-of-accounts hope of "good govern- 
ment" has been built up on this theory that the city 
or the state is merely a financial corporation; and the 
practically universal ignoring of the city treasurer's re- 
port by the average citizen is the declaration that this 
theory will not do. Finding that citizens do not grasp 



154- THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the significance of fiscal statements, and, for the most 
part, do not read them, when submitted in pamphlets 
or in dry formal lists of figures in the daily press, there 
has begun the city budget exhibit method, first used by 
the Bureau of Municipal Research in New York City. 
There in 1908, twenty-five thousand dollars of public 
money was spent in attempting to set forth in a popular 
and sensational way the city treasurer's report. A good 
many people came and admired the ingenuity by which 
Dr. William H. Allen and his stafif had attempted to 
make poetry and pictures out of a financial statement. 
The city refused, however, to become deeply excited or 
stirred or inspired. "It is a splendid way of bringing 
home to taxpayers the knowledge of what their money 
buys," said the mayor of another city on visiting the first 
New York Budget Exhibit ; and in this comment he 
stated the necessary limitation of this method of making 
the city known to the citizen by talking merely in terms 
of dollars and cents. It is an appeal to the citizen in 
his capacity of "taxpayer," that is, on his dried-up, un- 
interested and splendidly unresponsive side. The city 
is more than finance, and the citizen is very much more 
than a taxpayer. 

The leaders in the movement for the city's self reali- 
zation are beginning to recognize that the vision is not 
to be brought down to earth by appealing simply to the 
financial interest of citizens as merely taxpayers. Prac- 
tical students are moving on to another conception. 

At the First National Conference on Social Center 
Development, George E. Hooker of Chicago expressed 
this more practical, because more human, understanding 
of the problem. He spoke in terms of the large city, 
but what he said applies, so far as it goes, to the prob- 
lem of the small town and rural community. 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 155 

He said : 

Fifteen or twenty years ago some of us who were then 
actively attacking the housing problem, struggling with 
franchise questions, bewailing the architectural ugliness, or 
trying to remedy the lack of wholesome recreational oppor- 
tunities in the cities, were separately seeing only unsatis- 
factory conditions, and scarcely one of us was finding any- 
thing that was promising. Then there came into the air 
the phrase "city planning," and it seemed like the clearing 
of a clouded sky. The idea which that phrase fastened upon 
the mind was that cities could be planned as well as build- 
ings. And to-day any self-respecting city in this country 
has on its front counter a book of greater or less size, well 
illustrated with one or two colored maps setting forth pro- 
posals for its general physical improvement. We are going 
to do a great deal in that line in the next quarter of a cen- 
tury. We have done considerable studying and some execu- 
tion. If Germany, if Sweden, if England, if Australia, if 
Japan, if South America can build cities in an original, eco- 
nomic, sanitary, beautiful manner, we can, and, of course, 
we are going to. For we have just as large resources, and, 
indeed, somewhat more than any of them. We have all the 
facilities and resources of modern science, and we are going 
to remove some of the legal obstacles so that we will get 
freedom for constructive action. We will go ahead. 

Then the question is. What kind of cities are we going 
to have? We may have a city whose physical framework 
has been dominated by military accident or intention, as 
the long streets of Paris mark the location of her historic 
walls, and her boulevards are laid out so as to make it pos- 
sible for cannon to command long stretches. We may have 
a city that is more or less a show town, that puts up a brave 
front for visitors, with fine avenues, well faqaded, well 
flowered, as are the streets of the capital of the German 
empire, but with eighty per cent, of the population living 
in small fiats in the rear, opening upon areas dark and 



156 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

clammy, and facing similar flats across the way; or a city 
which is addressed to the artistic feeling, like Munich; or 
a city whose physical framework has been dominated by 
railway interests, like Chicago; or a city that has been 
largely directed by commercial and landlord interests, like 
New York. 

What kind of city are we going to have? 

The city that is in the minds of all of us when we bring 
the question down to our deep, real desire, to our real aspira- 
tion, is a people's city, not a city which has some particular 
architectural expression, but simply a city in which no classy 
no group, no part, shall have been overlooked, a city that 
shall not be dominated in the interests of one section of the 
community. 

Mr. Hooker then expressed the value of citizenship- 
organization and social center development as a means 
to the realization of this ideal. 

How shall we develop that kind of a city, a people's city? 
How shall zve find out what the people need and what they 
want? We shall find out by means of the social center. 
Without this practical method by which the people can 
be concentrated, consolidated, by which they can express 
themselves and formulate their judgment and enforce their 
will, it is impossible to know what a people's city is, or to 
plan a people's city or to build a people's city. With the 
social center as a means of concerting opinion, as a means 
of expression, as a means of conference, we can find out 
and we can adopt methods and we can attain the result of 
a people's city. 

This is more practical. When citizens are recognized 
as "people," and not merely as "taxpayers," progress is 
being made. While this view point of Mr. Hooker's is 
much more nearly true than that v^hich Mr. McFarland 
and Dr. Allen express, it is still impractical. The "peo- 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 157 

pie's city" is more interesting than the "taxpayers' city," 
but there is a very real difficulty in this conception of 
the "people's" city, as Mr. Hooker expresses it, and this 
conception is far from that which is essential and in- 
herent in the social center idea. As we use the term 
"people" we always mean a class, which excludes. Not 
only is this true when we qualify the term by the 
adjective "plain," which excludes those who are good 
looking; but it is always true. When we refer to "the 
people" we do not mean to include ourselves. We use 
the third person. Notice that Mr. Hooker does this. 
"IVe shall find out what they (the people) want." 

Now, the "people" in this sense in which Mr. Hooker 
uses the term can never realize anything in city plan- 
ning, nor in any other creative expression. For it is 
always a changing aggregate, shifting with each indi- 
vidual. "The people" is always the other persons, those 
who are not "we." The difficulty is that when for in- 
stance the city planners set themselves apart from the 
"all of us" and wait for the rest of us to plan, it is 
as though the part of the brain of an individual which 
is especially capable of planning were to separate itself 
from the rest and say, "when the rest formulates a 
plan, then we will know what the rest wants." It is 
as though the eyes were to set themselves ofif from 
the rest of the body and say, "the thing we want 
to look at is that which the rest of the body enjoys 
looking at." It is only when the specialized part of 
the individual brain functions as one with and a part 
of the whole brain that thought is possible for the in- 
dividual. It is only as the eyes act as a part of the 
individual that sight is possible. The whole person 
thinks with the specialized parts not away from, but of 
the brain. The whole person sees through the eyes. 



158 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

The whole city is capable of planning, as the parts 
of it which are specialized in capacity for planning act 
with and in the whole. The term which Mr. Hooker 
should have used was not "the people" ; for this does 
not include Mr. Hooker, and he must be included. The 
term, perhaps, he should have used is "folk" or "folks"; 
for this, as spoken by the individual, does not exclude, 
but includes, himself. It is not "the people" but "we 
folks" who find creative expression, whether in music, 
or drama, or in other arts. Folk songs, folk drama, folk 
dancing — these are the expression of the spirit which 
says "we," not "they." A city's, a town's, a nation's 
expression can never be characteristic, genuine, original, 
and so, true, except as it becomes "folk" expression, ex- 
cept as the elite each of us identifies himself with the 
great common all of us. 

This is the spirit for which the social center furnishes 
the means of expression. The social center makes it 
possible to use always, in regard to public matters, the 
first person plural, instead of the first person singular 
on the one hand and the third person plural on the 
other. It is not "I" and "they"; it is "we." It is not 
"mine" and "theirs"; it is "ours." This is the spirit 
of practical politics in a democracy. 

Aside from the intrinsic great importance of supply- 
ing the young people of the neighborhood with whole- 
some opportunity for association and recreation, and 
the inherent benefit to be derived from establishing a 
general evening for common all-inclusive assembling, 
which shall serve as a melting pot, not only to burn out 
the false and the useless in the latest comers, but to 
burn out the dross in those of us who came, or whose 
ancestors came, from various parts of the world on 
earlier boats, and so to produce unadulterated men and 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 159 

women, this program has the greatest value in 
putting into practise the all-inclusive *'our" in thinking 
of and striving for a public project. The opening of 
the schoolhouse and the securing of the necessary super- 
vision for its use as the club house of the young people, 
and the gathering place of the whole community, should 
be regarded as the "unfinished business" of the citizen- 
ship organization, because this action visualizes in a 
very practical way the community of interest within the 
neighborhood, a community of membership centering in 
a community of ownership. And so it gives a standing 
ground for the creative "folk" spirit, the sense of "we" 
and "ours," and a starting point from which this atti- 
tude toward municipal and state and national problems 
may broaden. 

Of course, if citizens develop neighborhood spirit, and 
stop there, it is only a little less bad than if they limit 
their sense of fellowship and common interest at the 
boundary of the family group. In its very nature, this 
program of fully developing the neighborhood institution 
forbids the expression merely of the ingrowing neighbor- 
hood spirit, which is just a two sizes larger selfishness. 
For it necessitates cooperation with other neighborhoods. 
To be sure, in some parts of the country, in some rural 
communities and in a very few towns, the single school 
district is autonomous, but even where this is the case 
the local organization of the electorate cannot develop its 
social center fully, without the cooperation of other 
neighborhoods in securing worthy programs, it cannot 
have motion picture films, for instance, except through 
commercial agencies, unless there is a supply available 
for other communities. And in the arrangement of 
game schedules for the young people, and of a system 
of visitings, for debate, et cetera, the single neighbor- 



l6o THE SOCIAL CENTER 

hood organization cannot really live if it tries to live 
only within itself. 

In the cities, and in the average town and rural 
county, the individual neighborhood organization cannot 
gain for itself any opening or equipment of the building, 
nor any securing of supervision except by obtaining 
equal opportunity for all of the other neighborhoods in 
the city or rural county to fully use their neighborhood 
buildings. That is to say, if the citizens of any district 
decide that they want their building equipped with gym- 
nasium and baths, and supplied with lectures and enter- 
tainments, then they must at once, in order to achieve 
this neighborhood benefit, enter the sphere of municipal 
politics, and unite with other organizations in bringing 
about the common benefit to the whole city. 

It may be that the school board is of the type which 
Rochester had when social center development began 
in that city; that is, a committee of the citizenship, which 
recognizes the right of the citizens to have their property 
put to larger beneficial uses and which also has in hand 
funds for this purpose. The Rochester school board 
adopted and published a set of rules by which, not only 
might the citizens in any neighborhood use their school 
building as a neighborhood civic club house for adults ; 
but, upon the request of the citizens' organization in any 
neighborhood, the building might be opened for use of 
the young people, the young men and young women on 
separate evenings, with proper equipment and super- 
vision, and for use as a branch public library, a lecture 
and entertainment center, et cetera. 

It may be, as in the case of Milwaukee, that the school 
board is favorable to this project, but has no funds for 
more than the use by adults for discussion meetings. In 
this case, the necessity is, of course, in order to secure 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT i6l 

the further systematic use of the buildings, to have an 
appropriation made. In Milwaukee that was the situa- 
tion, and the people were given an opportunity to 
vote upon and to endorse, as they did, the invest- 
ment of eighty-eight thousand dollars in this enter- 
prise. 

It may be, however, as was the case in Denver, that 
the school board recognizes no rights on the part of 
the citizens to the wider use of their property, or to 
say anything about its being opened for the use of the 
young men or young women, or for recreational or 
other purposes. If this is the situation, then there is 
no possible means by which the citizens may more 
quickly and vividly "see the cat" than to have their 
school board refuse them the full use of these neigh- 
borhood buildings. In the Rocky Mountain Neius, of 
December 3, 191 1, in a signed editorial, George Creel 
said : "The thing is bound to come, as a matter of 
course, for it is part and parcel of democracy. Nothing 
can stop it. Denver can take its choice between getting 
in with the vanguard, or trailing along in the rear. As 
for the school board, let this word be said to them in 
all kindness: If they will grant the request of the peo- 
ple, realizing that mere election did not vest ownership 
of the buildings in them, the social center idea will 
come in peace and utmost good will. But let them take 
the attitude that the people must not be allowed to use 
their own buildings for purposes of meeting and dis- 
cussion, the social center idea will come with the sweep 
of a storm, and all the blotters in the world will be 
needed to gather up their political remains." The next 
spring came the turnover in Denver. To be sure, this 
municipal house cleaning was not due alone to the re- 
fusal of the school board to allow the school buildings 



i62 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

to be fully used, but when the president of the board 
said, regarding the request of the citizens, that "the 
people in the city hall" do not like this idea and that 
therefore the request should not be granted, it helped 
very materially to reveal clearly the allegiance of "the 
people in the city hall." 

Supposing that the neighborhood organization of the 
citizens has taken up and acted upon the matter of pro- 
viding for the full use of its community building; it 
is now ready to give its attention to the wider problems 
of city, state and nation, for whose solution its mem- 
bers share the final responsibility. If the organization is 
formed at the time of a "campaign," it is in order that 
invitations be given to have the claims of the various 
candidates presented before it. 

Congressman Perkins, in opening such a pre-election 
series on "Why Vote for Taft?", "Why Vote for 
Bryan?", "Why Vote for Debs?", "Why Vote for Cha- 
fin?" before the first neighborhood organization formed 
in Rochester, four years ago, said : "This is a most 
practical method of preparing for the intelligent selection 
of a president." Obviously, in the consideration of the 
qualifications of men for the presidency it is not feasible 
for each neighborhood club to have each of the various 
candidates appear before it in person; but it is possible 
to have advocates of each present his claims, and it is 
feasible to have each candidate speak, upon the invita- 
tion and under the auspices of the city or town league 
or federation of neighborhood clubs, assembled in gen- 
eral meeting. The same is true, of course, of candidates 
for state office. 

In the case of applicants for municipal or local po- 
sitions, however, it is feasible to have each candidate 
appear in person to tell why he thinks he should be 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 163 

chosen, and to answer questions. William Beard, in 
opening the program in which each of the candidates for 
alderman of the ward presented his claims before a newly 
formed civic club in Rochester, said : "I understand 
that we are here for a three-fold purpose ; first, that 
the voters may see what sort of men we are who are 
seeking ofifice ; second, that we may tell what has been 
the history of our relation to the ward we seek to 
represent; third, that we may tell what we mean to do 
if elected." 

In the meeting of one of the neighborhood organiza- 
tions in Madison, Wisconsin, which began its usefulness 
by inviting the several candidates for mayor to speak 
before it, one of them said : "Even if I should not be 
elected, I shall be glad I ran, since my candidacy has 
given me this opportunity to talk before an audience 
free from partisan bias, to tell how I think our munici- 
pal affairs should be conducted, to hear the ideas of 
others and to hear what others think of my ideas, and 
so to become acquainted with my fellow citizens in this 
town." 

If there are not only candidacies to be voted on at 
the approaching election, but amendments, bond issues, 
or other specific propositions, these should of course be 
made the topics of meetings in which the arguments 
for and against each are presented by the best propo- 
nents and opponents securable, and thus laid open for 
intelligent discussion by the citizens. At the meeting in 
which the movement for citizenship-organization and so- 
cial center development was inaugurated in the city of 
Racine, Mayor Goodland said : "This project seems to 
me altogether good; but when I think of the specific 
bond issue that is soon to be decided on, this proposed 
organization seems not only good, but immediately nee- 



i64 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

essary, for in no other way can that question receive 
the unbiased consideration its importance merits." 

If the citizens' organization is formed soon after an 
election, then it is a good plan to offer an early oppor- 
tunity for newly elected officials to meet the citizens and 
to set forth the programs which they mean to carry 
out. As a rule, the official of whatever rank, welcomes 
such opportunity. One mayor said on such an occasion : 
"This gives me a chance to find out whether you people 
are going to be behind me in what I am to do, or 
whether I am headed for trouble." Obviously, having 
state and national officers appear before the citizens to 
explain their programs is not so easily feasible as in the 
case of local officers, but where it is convenient for these 
agents of the citizens to consult their principals before 
they enter upon new sessions of legislature or congress, 
such meetings prove beneficial both to the delegate and 
to the citizens. 

If there is no special business of this kind to be 
taken up, then, however it may be worded, the intelli- 
gent program is such a series as that which the typical 
neighborhood civic club in Rochester arranged, under 
the general topic, "What we have and what we want." 

In order to secure the advantages of orderly arrange- 
ment and sequence, it is desirable to plan a series of 
programs, just as it is necessary for an individual or 
a group, starting out upon a journey, to have an itiner- 
ary. To be sure, this arrangement should be so flexi- 
ble, as always to allow for change as the season advances, 
or for interruption for the consideration of special ques- 
tions as they arise. 

"What we have and what we want." This is always 
the logical sequence for the consideration of public 
questions, although it is not the usual order in which 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 165 

interest is developed in public questions. As a rule, 
"what we have" is noticed and interesting only when 
the possible "what we want" suggested by what some 
other community has, has been noticed. The perpetual 
idealist always sees things as they are as wrong and 
improvable, the jagged, irregular outlines of the real 
always stand out clearly in silhouette against the light 
of the ideal. He is never indifferent, because he sees 
always a difference, a contrast. For the average man, 
however, the "shades of the prison house" of custom 
so dim the vision that he loses the disturbing sense of 
contrast between things as they are and as they might 
be. He is indifferent because he sees no difference. He 
does not notice, let us say, the club in the belt or the 
hand of the patrolman on the street ; but suppose that 
he visits Toledo and has his attention called to the fact 
that these men who are "hired not to hurt but to help" 
are equipped with personality and intelligence instead 
of clubs. When he goes back to his home town, he 
notices the clubs his home town policemen carry. 

While interest is most frequently awakened in the 
old, by first seeing the new, the consideration of the 
desirability of change should usually give precedence 
to the presentation of things as they are and the defense 
of the existing condition. It was this plan, that the 
neighborhood association in Rochester which first ar- 
ranged such a "what we have and what we want" series, 
found successful. 

For instance, in considering the desirability of chang- 
ing to the commission form of city government, one 
of the aldermen was first invited to tell the duties of 
an alderman and to give the arguments for the existing 
method. In considering the street railway service, the 
man who was invited to speak first was the representa- 
13 



i66 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

tive of the corporation, who happened to be the general 
superintendent of the city-lines. In a forty-minute ad- 
dress he set forth the facts about and the advantages 
of "what we have." The address that followed on 
"what we want" was given by a man who had recently 
returned from an extended investigation of the street 
railway service abroad and who believed that improve- 
ments might be made in the Rochester method. Follow- 
ing these two addresses, there was the period of general 
discussion, in which the corporation counsel was in- 
vited to participate and to advise on the legal aspects 
of the matter. In the same way, such a topic as "Work- 
ing conditions of women and girls in department stores" 
was taken up, the head of one of the large department 
stores in the city being invited to tell "what we have," 
a labor conditions investigator following with a presen- 
tation of "what we want." In the same way, the present 
and the possible newspaper service was set forth. 
Similarly, Rochester's housing conditions, the use of the 
Genesee water power, the method of taxation, the treat- 
ment of immigrants, the public school service, and so on, 
were taken up. 

Such a series of programs, treating of specific mat- 
ters, giving opportunity first for the presentation and 
defense of the existing condition, then for the presen- 
tation of the advantage of a possible change or acquisi- 
tion, is sure not only to hold the interest of a com- 
munity organization, but to prove constructive. Such 
discussion has the essential drawing power of a contest 
in which the instinct for fair play is satisfied. Real 
differences are expressed, but the audience being made 
up largely of those who have not previously taken sides, 
the spirit of the meetings is always sure to tend toward 
a constructive program. It is never the arrangement of 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 167 

debate, merely for the sake of debate. This may be, 
and often is, valuable in the organization of boys and 
girls, but it is worthless and indeed harmful in the 
gatherings of adult citizens, for it tends to develop par- 
tition and division which does not tend to eventuate in 
agreement and in action. 

Several things should be noted about this method of 
arranging the programs of a neighborhood civic organi- 
zation. This method always means the taking up of 
specific propositions, rather than disputing over large 
theories of political economy. The theory of the single 
taxer or the socialist or the high tariff man has oppor- 
tunity of expression, but always in terms of specific 
things to be done. 

It means the consideration of practical questions, that 
is problems, whose solutions may be translated into 
action. 

It recognizes that the citizenship is responsible, not 
only for the administration of that part of its business 
which is public in its ownership, but also for that 
which, while it is private in ownership, is public in its 
service; that is, "what we have and what we want in 
newspaper service" is considered in just the same way as 
"What we have and what we want in public school 
service," it being recognized that, so far as its service 
is concerned, the newspaper is a public educational insti- 
tution as much as is the school system, and that the 
final responsibility for its condition is upon the citizen- 
ship as much as is the final responsibility for the condi- 
tion of the schools. 

This same general method applies equally to the con- 
sideration of .the citizens' business in state and national 
spheres. Indeed, the taking up of problems of the 
municipality almost always leads to the consideration 



i68 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of state and national questions. For instance, if the 
citizens in the average town, having discussed the ques- 
tion of estabHshing a municipal lighting plant or of 
changing the form of the machinery of administration 
of their municipal affairs, have decided that they want 
to establish a lighting plant, or to adopt the commission 
form, then, as a rule, they have the occasion for in- 
viting their representatives in the state legislature to 
come and explain the advantage of the existing policy 
and laws of the state, and to learn what changes the 
citizens desire in the state legislation in order to empower 
them to do these things in the city. Or suppose the ques- 
tions taken up are such as the high cost of living, or any 
of the divisions of this complex and pressing problem. 
To be sure, the neighborhood organization may establish 
a cooperative creamery or factory or store, but in order 
to intelligently and completely discuss this sort of ques- 
tion, it is absolutely necessary to move into the national 
sphere, and, following out the same plan, to invite the 
national representatives to defend the existing national 
policy, and in turn to learn what the people want. Ob- 
viously, as compared with the mere gathering to protest 
against bad conditions, this method of giving subcom- 
mittee members the opportunity to explain what they 
are doing, and to tell what they propose to do about 
specific matters of common interest which the citizens 
have put into their hands to administer, is much more 
sure of practical result. 

There is one very important aspect of this citizenship- 
organization for "what we have and what we want" dis- 
cussion, which should be mentioned. It is illustrated in 
such a question as that of insect and fungus pests. Sup- 
pose a neighborhood is visited by some such pest as 
the chestnut blight, which brought in on uninspected 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 169 

Japanese chestnut grafts has destroyed practically every 
chestnut tree east of the Hudson River, or the brown 
tail moth which comes from France and Germany, or 
the San Jose scale which came from China. 

In order to intelligently consider this question, the 
neighborhood organization will send to the department 
of agriculture at Washington. There it will learn that 
this is the only civilized country in the world which has 
no adequate plant quarantine. Here is a question to be 
taken up with the senatorial and congressional represen- 
tatives. Why, in view of the fact that the foreign insect 
and fungus pests have not all reached here yet, that, for 
instance, the potato wart disease, starting from Hungary, 
has reached Newfoundland, and is likely to be brought 
in at any time in shipments of potatoes, have we not a 
plant quarantine? The representative may explain that 
the reason is of the same character as the objections to the 
parcels post, which John Wanamaker named as the pri- 
vate express companies ; that is, he may explain that the 
reason we have not a plant quarantine is because of the 
private lobby of nursery men. The practical outcome of 
such a discussion is the suggestion that, if the represen- 
tative puts the interests of the nursery men before the 
interests of the citizens who sent him to Washington, 
then they made a mistake in sending him. 

The establishment of a plant quarantine, however, is 
not the full solution. That will help keep out these un- 
desirable immigrants in the future, but a lot of them are 
here now — the boll-weevil from Mexico, the European 
leopard moth, and the rest. How shall we be rid of 
these? Here is a question within the sphere of state 
action, the protection of the birds that they may help in 
the fight. For the consideration of this phase of the 
question, it is desirable to invite the citizens' representa- 



lyo THE SOCIAL CENTER 

tive in the state legislature, to come and tell "what we 
have" in state legislation on this subject, and to hear 
from the citizens "what we want." 

Here is illustrated the great advantage of unity of 
control on the part of the citizens, of the business of 
both state and national character, which will prevent the 
development of that sphere of irresponsibility which is in- 
evitable when the citizens depend upon the courts or any 
other subcommittees to have the final "say" upon their 
business. On August lo, 191 1, Mr. Roosevelt said before 
the Colorado Legislature: "Unfortunately the courts, 
instead of leading in the recognition of the new condi- 
tions, have lagged behind, and, as each case has presented 
itself, have tended by a series of negative decisions to 
create a sphere in which neither nation nor state has 
effective control, and where the great business interests, 
that can call to their aid the ability of the greatest cor- 
poration lawyers, escape all control whatever." This 
whole matter of filling in the gap between state and 
national spheres of action and securing harmony and 
close correlation between them, which comes into every 
general problem, large or small, and which Mr. Roose- 
velt says is not achieved by the courts, is obviously se- 
cured when the citizenship assumes control, for this body 
is made up of those who are at the same time the 
authority in both national and state spheres. 

This matter of insect pest treatment is not finally set- 
tled, however, by either national or state action, nor by 
both. It demands also direct local action. The one con- 
tribution to the insect hosts of destruction of the world 
which America has produced is the Colorado beetle, fa- 
miliarly known as the potato bug. This native originated 
on the eastern slope of the Rockies about forty years 
ago. Ten years since, he passed in the tgg the German 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 171 

quarantine and appeared in Prussia. At once the chil- 
dren were enlisted by the offer of cash prizes, in gath- 
ering all that had arrived, and then all the ground where 
potato bug eggs or young were supposed to be was 
drenched with kerosene and set on fire, and ther^ are 
no more potato bugs in Germany. 

In Germany efficiency is secured through the power 
to command unified action, vested in a monarch. In this 
country similar efficiency may be secured only through 
democratically unified action, such as is possible with 
the citizenship organized in one body. With the citizen- 
ship organized into one body, and with the young people 
so organized as to supplement the activities of the adult 
citizens, it will be possible, not only to secure the enact- 
ment of laws in the public interest, but where, as in the 
handling of this problem, direct action on the part of 
the citizens themselves is required, there is furnished 
the means of producing such concerted action as would 
eliminate, within one year, every insect pest in the 
country with the possible exception of the mosquito. 

Some of the great national questions, such as the for- 
tification or neutralization of the Panama Canal, the 
proper method of developing the merchant marine, the 
public ownership of telegraphs, telephones, railroads, et 
cetera, the problem of international social center develop- 
ment, that is, the increase of the functions of The Hague 
tribunal, which carries with it the question of reduction 
of armament, et cetera, seem to be wholly within the 
national sphere. These and all other questions will in- 
evitably come to the consideration of the citizens, if 
they begin to take up consecutively the public problems, 
beginning in the sphere of neighborhood interests, and 
following out to the town or city, the county, the state, 
the nation, in the spirit of practical politics, in the spirit 



172 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

which calmly and broadly, intelligently and fearlessly, 
studies "What We Have," to understand it, and decides 
upon "What We Want," to get it done. 

See what this line may lead to. 

At the 1909 meeting of the National Municipal League 
at Cincinnati, the experience of Rochester, New York, 
in social center development was presented. The man 
who reported the conference for C. P. Taft's Cincinnati 
Times-Star was Frank Parker Stockbridge. Becoming 
interested, Mr. Stockbridge went to Rochester to investi- 
gate this development. When he came, he demonstrated 
again the remarkable power of the social center to discover 
the human interest of even a newspaper reporter. This 
had been shown before when, in that city, a seasoned re- 
porter from one of the papers who was assigned to cover 
a neighborhood civic club meeting, became so much in- 
terested in the discussion that he forgot that he was not 
a human being and a citizen, and participated in it. 
When the city editor heard of it, he said that such a 
thing was impossible ; but when he asked the reporter 
about it, the reporter answered : "Sure I did, and if you 
had been there, you would have forgotten yourself, too." 
Mr. Stockbridge got the story he came for, but he got 
something more. He became interested as a citizen. 
And, when he returned to Cincinnati, he found his friend, 
Herbert Bigelow, interested in the social center idea, 
and together they started to bring about the coordination 
of one community. 

Their plan was to open the public building for the 
public discussion of public questions, but they quickly 
found that the public servants who controlled these pub- 
lic buildings were not the public's servants, and dis- 
tinctly did not want public affairs discussed publicly. 
The public library board refused to allow the use of the 



WHAT WE HAVE— WHAT WE WANT 173 

auditoriums in the branch Hbraries for public discus- 
sions, and the school board likewise took a firm stand 
against this form of education. 

Mr. Stockbridge's public advocacy of this obviously 
democratic right was so out of harmony with the spirit 
of the political methods then dominant that Mr. Stock- 
bridge was forced to resign his position on the Times- 
Star. 

The "Town Meeting Society," which Bigelow and 
Stockbridge had organized to promote the social center 
idea, did not abandon the field, but diverted its energies 
into the effort to bring about such a change of political 
conditions as would make it impossible for any future 
pretenders to suppress free speech in Cincinnati. They 
found that the obstacles to be overcome were in the very 
constitution of the state of Ohio, which, by requiring all 
cities to have uniform charters, made it impossible for 
the citizens of any municipality to accomplish any ad- 
ministrative reform without the consent of the represen- 
tatives in the legislature of enough other cities to make 
a majority of the legislature. The solution appeared to 
them to be the simple one of revising the constitution of 
Ohio, and from the "Town Meeting Society" and its ef- 
forts to open the public schools of Cincinnati sprang the 
movement for a constitutional convention, which was held 
in 1912, with Herbert Bigelow as president, and which 
submitted to the voters of Ohio, in September, 1912, forty- 
two amendments to the state constitution, the net result 
of which was to give Ohio the broadest and most pro- 
gressive fundamental law of any of the states, and to 
give every municipality in the state absolute self-govern- 
ment in all matters pertaining to the local affairs of its 
citizens. 

Mr. Stockbridge entered the magazine field when Gov- 



174 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ernor Wilson's acquaintances started his boom for the 
democratic nomination for the presidency. Mr. Stock- 
bridge was selected as the best man in the country to 
organize Governor Wilson's preliminary publicity cam- 
paign. When Governor Wilson took his first western trip 
he was accompanied by Mr. Stockbridge. Arriving at 
Minneapolis, Governor Wilson was met by the writer 
who invited him to speak at the First National Confer- 
ence on Social Center Development, to be held under the 
auspices of the Extension Division of the University of 
Wisconsin. His acceptance of this invitation was in 
part due to the fact that he had learned of the social 
center plan and method from Mr. Stockbridge. 

This is not the end of the story. But it is enough to 
illustrate the character of this practical method of ap- 
proach to the administration of public business of which 
Governor Wilson spoke at that national conference. 

"The interesting thing about this movement is that a 
great many things have occurred to people to do in the 
schoolhouse, things social, things educational, things po- 
litical — for one of the reasons why politics took on a 
new complexion in the city in which this movement origi- 
nated was that the people who could go into the school- 
houses at night knew what was going on in that city, 
and insisted upon talking about it, and the minute they 
began talking about it many things became impossible, 
for there are scores of things that must be put a stop to 
in our politics that will stop the moment they are talked 
of where men will listen. The treatment of bad politics 
,is exactly the modern treatment of tuberculosis — it is ex- 
posure to the open air." 



CHAPTER VIII 

BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER AND ELSEWHERE 

Yes, I see it. The foundation of this development in 
Rochester is the right of free discussion and democratic 
control. I have wondered why, in our city, although we 
have spent as much money and effort in having our schools 
used as social centers as you have, yet we haven't developed 
the same spirit. The reason is that men haven't made use 
of the schools, and men haven't made use of the schools be- 
cause we have superimposed restrictions upon their discus- 
sion. It is strange to think that in America, in the most 
essentially American of our institutions, we have denied this 
right. Unquestionably, the secret of the success of the 
Rochester movement is in the fact that it has not been un- 
American. 

Thus spoke Superintendent F. B. Dyer, of the Cincin- 
nati public schools, when visiting the city of Rochester, 
New York, in 1909; and, in these words, he noted the 
fundamental difiference between the spirit in which the 
full use of the schoolhouses of Rochester was begun in 
that city in 1907 and the spirit in which the wider use 
of these buildings had been begun in New York City, 
Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and other 
towns, including his own city of Cincinnati. 

In a word — in each of these other cities, the school 
board had failed to distinguish between its relation to 
the adult citizenship and its relation to the children of 

175 



176 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the citizens, in the administration of the citizens' prop- 
erty. In each of these cities the members of the school 
board had made the remarkable assumption that when 
the citizens delegated to them authority over the young 
people in the use of these buildings, the citizens at the 
same time delegated to the board authority over them- 
selves, the citizens, in any use which they might wish to 
make of their buildings. 

Clearly, the school board, being a subcommittee of the 
citizenship, while being in authority over the children, is 
subordinate to the body of the adult citizenship, and 
where the school board fails to recognize this plain dis- 
tinction, there can, of course, be no civic use of the build- 
ings by normal adults ; for the essential character of the 
citizenship is its sovereignty, and, for the school board 
to assume that it has a right to dictate to citizens as to 
what they shall talk about in these buildings is to assume 
that, in their use of the buildings, they come into the 
same class with children. Obviously, if the movement 
as developed in this paternal spirit had succeeded any- 
where it would be an evidence of either immaturity or 
decadence on the part of the citizenship, an evidence 
that either civic self-respect had not yet developed, or 
that it had become weak. 

The essential difference between the spirit of the move- 
ment in New York City, which is typical of that in each 
of the cities where the school board had failed to dis- 
tinguish between the authoritative position of the citi- 
zenship over it and the subordinate position of minors 
under it, and the spirit of the movement in Rochester, 
where the school board showed itself capable of recog- 
nizing this distinction when it was pointed out by its 
president, George M. Forbes, was strikingly shown when 
Dr. E. W. Stitt, a district superintendent of schools of 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 177 

New York, spoke at one of the social centers in Roches- 
ter. He said : "You people should be very grateful to 
the school board for their goodness to you in allowing 
you to use these buildings." 

In commenting upon this remark, one of the thought- 
ful citizens of Rochester, who had been present at the 
meeting, said : "It seems to me that the attitude which 
Dr. Stitt expressed, which no doubt reflects the attitude 
of the school board in New York City, has a vital bear- 
ing upon the question which they are discussing there, 
as to whether they should have a paid or an unpaid school 
board. I do not believe that any subordinate under the 
school board, nor the school board itself, could assume 
such an utterly ridiculous attitude toward the citizens' 
use of these buildings, if its members were paid for their 
service." 

Undoubtedly, the fact that the school board in the 
average city has been either an adjunct of the corrupt 
machine, as it was in Rochester before the change was 
made which brought such men as Professor Forbes to 
membership in it ; or that it has been amenable to 
such influences as that of the school book trust; or, at 
the best, has been made up of a group of prominent citi- 
zens, wealthy enough to be able to donate their time, 
whose impelling motive was one of benevolence, has had 
something to do with the failure of these men and their 
subordinates to recognize that they have no authority over 
the body of the adult citizenship, in so far as their use of 
the buildings does not interfere with the children's activi- 
ties. Whether paying the members of the school board in 
New York and other towns would cause them to recog- 
nize this primary distinction, and would help them to 
appreciate that as a subcommittee they are under, not 
over, the adult citizenship, or not, the point to be noted 



178 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

here is that this mistaken attitude on the part of the 
school board is, as Superintendent Dyer noted, the es- 
sential reason why, with the expenditure of as much, and 
in the case of New York, of many times as much, money 
as was spent in Rochester, the movement has never "de- 
veloped the same spirit," nor indeed any spirit of democ- 
racy whatever. 

Three years ago, the "191 5 Movement" was still alive 
in Boston; and, by the way, if there was ever a sincere 
effort on the part of a private, volunteer organization of 
uplifters and reformers to do the work that belongs to 
the citizenship, it was this movement. It had as yet 
shown few signs of its inevitable flattening out, and one 
of the projects in which its promoters became interested 
was the wider use of the schoolhouses. It was recog- 
nized that there was an essential difference between the 
method and spirit of the development in New York and 
that in Rochester, and it was decided to have both 
methods presented. It was, therefore, arranged to 
have Gustave Straubenmiiller, associate city superin- 
tendent of schools in New York, and a member of 
the Rochester social center staff, speak at the same 
meeting. 

Mr. Straubenmiiller said : "We, in New York, recog- 
nize the great fact that Caesar discovered, that, if we are 
to keep the people contented and in order, we must 
amuse them, just as the Roman emperors found that they 
could keep the people contented by providing them cir- 
cuses." Mr. Straubenmiiller did not mention any plan of 
providing free bread along with the circuses, but of 
course they went together in Rome. 

In other words, the movement as promoted in New 
York City had proceeded (and, of course, no criticism is 
here meant of the work of either Dr. Stitt or Mr, Strau- 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 



179 



benmiiller, and least of all, of Dr. Leipziger, but merely 
an explanation of the paternal spirit of this development, 
as contrasted with that which gave life and significance 
to the movement in Rochester) upon the assumption that 
the American citizenship is of the character of the Roman 
populace in the weak and rotten days of the empire, and 
that the public servants, the school-board members, and 
others, are in the position of the corrupt and bountiful 
emperors. 

At the same meeting it was pointed out that the devel- 
opment in Rochester was based upon the assumption that 
the citizenship in America is comparable, not to the 
Roman populace in the decadent days of the empire, 
but to the Roman citizenship in the great days of 
the republic, and that the social center is not analogous 
to the circuses used by the emperors to control the people, 
but to the comitium in the Forum used by the Roman 
citizens to control their servants. 

It was apparently decided that the citizens of Boston 
were of the type of the Roman populace in the decadent 
days of the empire, for the movement was begun there 
in the paternalistic "uplift" spirit, and thus far has devel- 
oped little strength. 

The inauguration of the social center movement in 
Rochester had one of the characteristics of the social 
center itself : It came about through the focusing of 
many interests in the city to a single point. 

On February 15, 1907, delegates from the Central 
Trades and Labor Council, the Playground League, the 
College Woman's Club, the Daughters of the American 
Revolution, the Humane Societ}^, the Labor Lyceum, the 
Local Council of Women, the Officers' Association of 
Mothers' Clubs, the Political Equality Club, the Social 
Settlement Association and the Women's Educational 



l8o THE SOCIAL CENTER 

and Industrial Union, altogether representing about 
50,000 people, or a half of the adult population of the 
city, met in the Chamber of Commerce and formulated 
the request that the mayor and common council put an 
item of $5,000 in the tax levy for social center develop- 
ment, and that the board of education administer the 
fund. 

It happened that James G. Cutler was mayor at the 
time. At the end of his term, he was refused renomina- 
tion by the "machine" and "boss" of Rochester. Mr. 
Cutler favored the project. The money was appropri- 
ated and turned over to the school board. This money 
was to cover the cost of equipment and supervision of 
school yard playgrounds, that is, children's out-of-door 
social center activities, as well as the indoor activities, 
and the school board made its selection of a civic secre- 
tary, or supervisor of the wider use of this public prop- 
erty with a view of his experience and qualifications for 
the practical organization of work indoors and out, as 
well as his understanding of the possibilities of this de- 
velopment. 

By way of preparation for the work the Chicago Field 
House duplication method, and the system of municipal 
paternalism in the New York recreation centers were 
visited and thoroughly studied. The organization and 
supervision of the out-of-door recreational activities dur- 
ing the summer gave excellent opportunity to become 
familiar with the situation, and to select competent direc- 
tors for young people's clubs, for musical organizations, 
gymnasiums, reading rooms, and so on. By autumn the 
plans were formulated. It was decided that the begin- 
ning should be made in No. 14 school building, which 
was selected because it was very near the middle of the 
city, and so, well located to prevent the movement at 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER i8l 

its start from being stamped as one especially for either 
poor or rich. 

On Friday evening, November ist, a general neigh- 
borhood gathering was held. At this meeting President 
Forbes spoke upon the two possible forms of govern- 
ment, the paternal and the fraternal, the one in which 
the people are managed, the other in which the citizens 
unite upon a common ground to administer their own 
affairs. He set forth very definitely the basic, fraternal, 
cooperative idea of the social center as an institution 
by which the community might serve itself. After some 
music by the neighborhood orchestra, which had been 
organized by the preliminary work of one of the social 
center staff, who had been employed during the summer 
in recreation leadership, and an explanation by the neigh- 
borhood civic secretary that he was there, not to direct 
nor to teach, but to take orders as a community hired 
man, there was a free hour for social intercourse and 
acquaintance. 

The next Thursday evening twelve men gathered in 
the building. They had been seen individually by the 
neighborhood secretary, who had explained the idea of 
citizenship deliberative organization. To be sure, a gen- 
eral announcement had been made of the meeting, but, 
in view of the character of "politics" in Rochester, the 
idea of a serious political organization using the school- 
house as headquarters was too simple and sensible to 
be grasped at once, so that only these twelve came. As 
Governor Wilson said, speaking upon this matter: "It 
does not make any difference how many or how few 
come in, provided anybody who chooses may come 
in." 

In the preamble of its constitution this organization 

recognized its unifying center of responsibility in the 
13 



i82 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ballot-box : "Whereas, the welfare of society demands 
that those whose duty it is to exercise the franchise be 
well informed upon the economic, industrial, and politi- 
cal questions of the day; therefore, we form a society 
to hold in the public school building meetings, whose 
object shall be the gaining of information upon public 
questions by listening to public speakers and by public 
readings and discussions." The membership of the club 
was recognized as the voting body of the district. 
Among the officers chosen was a well-to-do physician, 
who was a conservative Republican elder in a Presby- 
terian church; a Jewish tailor, who was a socialist; 
a union printer, and a director in several banks in the 
city. 

At the second meeting the topic was "The Duties of 
an Alderman," the speaker being the local member of 
the aldermanic council. At this meeting there were some 
fifty-seven present. Here began the demonstration of 
the welcome on the part of officials to the opportunity 
which citizenship organization gives, and the demon- 
stration of the purely imaginary character of the 
danger from freedom of discussion in neighborhood 
gatherings. At the next meeting the new charter was 
presented by the man who had been most active in its 
preparation ; there followed the discussion of the school 
service, then the telephone situation, and so on, the 
attendance soon rising to the point where it was neces- 
sary to move from the class-room, which was used at 
first, to the large room on the ground floor which serves 
during the day for the kindergarten. 

Within a month after this first organization was 
formed, a request came to the school board from the 
citizens of a neighborhood in a distant part of the city 
to have the school building in their district opened for 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 183 

use as a civic council place, and to have the services of 
a neighborhood civic secretary. This was in the Tenth 
Ward, one of the finest "residential" sections of the city. 
A month later came a similar request from another part 
of the city ; so that, by the end of the first season, there 
were three buildings in use as neighborhood political 
discussion headquarters. 

During this first year, after the value of free and frank 
discussion of political and economic questions had been 
demonstrated, the right of the citizens to use the school 
buildings was questioned in a rather interesting way. 
The people of Waterloo, New York, invited Governor 
Hughes to address a meeting to be held in their high 
school building, under the auspices of the Republican 
party organization, and to explain the direct primary 
proposition, for which he was then contending. They 
received a notice from Dr. Draper, state superintendent 
of education, that this could not be permitted. 

In order to clarify the distinction between political 
discussion under the auspices of the single all-inclusive 
political organization of the citizenship and political dis- 
cussion under partisan auspices, as proposed in Water- 
loo, this decision of the state superintendent was made 
the occasion for holding a large civic club banquet at 
No. 14 Center (the method of arranging for these occa- 
sional banquets was a "chip in" collection of the men's 
body, the money being turned over to the women who 
arranged the service, which was participated in by all), 
at which the use of schoolhouses as political head- 
quarters was discussed. The unanimous thought of the 
evening, in which both the mayor and the corporation 
council of the city concurred, was expressed by Howard 
T. Mosher, chairman of the Democratic County Com- 
mittee, in these words ; "The schoolhouses are the real 



i84 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

places for political meetings. Why should I be com- 
pelled to go into a barroom to address a political meet- 
ing, where the bartender is using me to advertise his 
beer? Why should I be compelled to go into smoke- 
filled rooms to talk on political issues, when we have 
buildings like this where these things can be taken 
up?" 

Throughout the season there were seventy-two meet- 
ings in which citizens gathered to discuss political and 
economic topics, there being no single instance of dis- 
courtesy, as there was the utmost freedom of discus- 
sion, with nothing to interfere with the workings of 
the law of liberty, the restraint of common sense. In 
each of the newly formed neighborhood organizations, 
the need of the community for associational and recrea- 
tional provision for the young people was discussed, and 
the desire to have the social centers completely developed 
was expressed. However, there was not a sufficient ap- 
propriation to make more than the citizens' use im- 
mediately possible. 

At the end of the first year, the men of the various 
neighborhood organizations gathered at No. 14 Center 
for a dinner and social evening. In Buffalo, Kansas 
City, and several other towns, the effort had been made 
to begin the use of school buildings for civic discussion, 
and had been opposed for one reason or another. The 
fundamental importance of this right of free examina- 
tion of public questions, the fact that this use of school 
buildings was being prohibited in other cities, and the 
fact that the successful development in Rochester was 
bringing many visitors to that city, suggested the fol- 
lowing song, which was sung at this first anniversary 
gathering. It went to the air, "When Johnny Comes 
Marching Home." 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 185 



'Twas not so very long ago. 
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! 

The pioneers have told us so, 
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! 

Twelve good men came to the Center, 

And said: "If we are going to enter. 
We'll talk about the things 
We want to talk about, 
Yes, we'll talk about the things 
That ought to be talked about." 

II 

And so these men did organize. 
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! 

And other clubs began to rise. 
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! 

And all the time we did not know 

What it was that made us grow, 
'Twas talk-ing about the things 
We wanted to talk about. 
Yes, 'twas talk-ing about the things 
That ought to be talked about. 

Ill 

And now of other towns they say — 
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! 

And we are hearing it every day, 
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! 

That of the things that can't be done 

In the schoolhouse — this is one : 
To talk about the things 
Folks want to talk about, 
Yes — to talk about the things 
That ought to be talked about. 



l86 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

IV 

And now they're coming from Buffalo, 
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! 

A place where we're considered slow, 
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! 

To learn of the Social Center plan. 

And how we make it that every man 
Can talk about the things 
He wants to talk about, 
Yes, can talk about the things 
That ought to be talked about. 

During the first season, while three schoolhouses were 
used as neighborhood club houses one evening each 
week for civic discussion, only one, No, 14, the first to 
be opened, was used each evening, the time being divided 
so as to give three evenings each week for men and boys, 
two for women and girls, and one, the "general even- 
ing," for everybody together. 

At the time of making up the budget for the second 
year, the Neighborhood Civic Club of No. 14 passed the 
following resolutions, and, with the signatures of the 
seventy-five men who were present at the meeting, sent 
them to the mayor and aldermanic council, endorsing 
the school board's recommendation that the appropria- 
tion be doubled the second year. 

Knowing that the question of extending the social center 
work of the public schools is now before you, and believ- 
ing that the judgment of the men who have frequented the 
Social Center at No. 14 school may be of value in this 
matter, we, the undersigned voters, residing in the neigh- 
borhood of No. 14 school, and members of the Men's Civic 
Club of the Social Center, declare that, in our judgment, 
the opening of the public schools in the evening for recrea- 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 187 

tion, reading and club meetings, so far as it has been tried 
at No. 14 school, is an unqualified success. 

Not only does it give opportunity for wholesome athletic 
exercise, literary culture, and training in good citizenship 
to the older boys and girls and young men and women of 
the community and in its free lectures afford opportunities 
for entertainment and instruction to all the people, but espe- 
cially in. its clubs for men and women it is of great value 
as a place for the discussion and understanding of civic ques- 
tions and the development of a good community spirit. 

In our opinion there could be no more wise and economical 
investment of the city's money than in the extension of the 
social center movement, and we do most heartily indorse the 
recommendation of the Board of Education in this matter. 

The appropriation made for the second year was 
$10,000, which made possible, in addition to the installa- 
tion of new equipment and the opening of more recrea- 
tion fields out-of-doors, the full equipment and opening 
for young people's use, as well as for adults, of three cen- 
ters. These were opened for use, not only each evening, 
but also on Sunday afternoon, at the request of the 
Ministers' Association, whose members recognized the 
advantage of having a wholesome place for young men 
and young women on that afternoon which they had 
been accustomed to give over to the direction of the 
employer of the idle. 

During this second season sixteen schoolhouses came 
to be used as neighborhood club houses for adult citi- 
zens, and in this season was formed the city-wide Fed- 
eration or League of Civic Clubs. The purpose and 
character of this organization may be shown by giving 
the preamble to its constitution : 

The steady growth of the civic club movement from its 
beginning in November, 1907, when there was one club with 



l88 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

twelve (active) members, to the present, when there are six- 
teen clubs, with fifteen hundred (active) members, seems to 
justify the belief that there is a permanent, real need of non- 
partisan organization of adult citizens, meeting in the public 
school buildings, for the purpose of developing intelligent 
public spirit by the open presentation and free discussion 
of matters of common interest, and that the civic clubs meet 
that need. 

To increase the effectiveness of the civic clubs and to 
further their purpose, especially in such matters as the se- 
curing and entertaining of distinguished visitors to the city; 
in giving unity to the expression of the people's will in the 
matter of desired legislation, and in guiding the further ex- 
tension of the civic club movement with a view to the wel- 
fare of the city as a whole, it is desirable to form a central 
league or federation of these civic clubs. 

We, the chosen representatives and delegates of the sev- 
eral civic clubs of the City of Rochester, do hereby form 
such a league or federation. 

At this point a serious mistake was made, a policy 
was adopted which was inconsistent with the social cen- 
ter idea. The mayor was not made the president of this 
organization, as he should have been. The fact was, 
that Mayor Cutler had been supplanted by another, 
whom the "organization" had carefully selected for this 
office as a more dependable and docile servant than Mr. 
Cutler had proved. This official, of course, though thus 
put into office, would really have been glad to be the 
people's mayor instead of the "boss's rubber stamp," 
and he should have been chosen president of the League 
of Civic Clubs, but these organizations had not been 
meeting long enough completely to relieve the citizens 
of the old "bad man" superstition regarding public offi- 
cials, and Hon. John B. M. Stevens, judge of the county 
court, was chosen president. 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 189 

Judge Stevens proved a splendid president, but it was 
unfortunate that the mayor was not chosen ex officio, 
for there is no doubt that if he had been he would have 
transferred his allegiance from the person, who was con- 
trolHng the city, to the citizenship, just as did minor 
officers in the city. There was no reason whatever for 
treating with the "manager" of Rochester, because he 
was merely a private citizen who volunteered to control 
the town. Neither was there any reason for fighting 
him. He should have been regarded as any other citi- 
zen, and it should have been assumed that the mayor 
was the presiding officer. The mistake was made, how- 
ever, and henceforth, not only was the "boss" bitterly 
hostile to the social center idea of the citizens assuming 
their responsibility, which he had carried until he had 
begun to think that it belonged to him, but the mayor 
was lined up on the side of the private interferer with 
the public business, when, of course, he would have been 
much happier on the side of the organized citizenship. 

During the second season the interest continued to 
grow, and the habit of practical accomplishment began 
to develop through the securing not only of additions to 
the equipment of the social centers in various parts of 
the city, the opening of playgrounds, et cetera, but in 
bringing about various improvements in street paving, 
in the installation of convenience stations, and so on, in 
the town. 

At the close of the second season, it was decided to 
have a League of Civic Clubs' banquet, and to invite 
Justice of the Supreme Court Charles E. Hughes, who 
was then Governor of New York, to be the guest of the 
organized citizenship and to address the league. An 
agent visited the governor, and received the response 



IQO THE SOCIAL CENTER 

that on account of the pressure of other duties he would 
not accept the invitation. Thereupon the various clubs 
decided that he evidently did not appreciate the charac- 
ter of the organization, and an invitation was drafted, 
and signed by twelve hundred and seventy active mem- 
bers of the adult clubs, and sent on to the governor. 

When he arrived, Governor Hughes was taken about 
the city to visit the various fully equipped and fully 
used centers, and then brought to the building where 
the movement had started, for the dinner at night. He 
said in explanation of this recall of his decision : "When 
the delegation visited me with the invitation signed by 
some twelve hundred seventy people interested in this 
work, I experienced a thrill which it is the highest hap- 
piness of a man to enjoy, that twelve hundred seventy 
people in Rochester, unselfishly interested in such great 
work, should take such trouble to induce my coming 
here to speak to them ; and that presented it in a light 
which made refusal absolutely impossible. * * * I think 
that I can say that it is the first time that I have ever 
taken back what I have said since I became governor." 

It was at this dinner that the governor said of social 
center development : "I am more interested in what 
you are doing and what it stands for than in anything 
else in the world. You are buttressing the foundations 
of democracy." 

Later at the city Convention Hall, where the governor 
addressed a general League of Civic Clubs, that is, an 
organized citizens' meeting, he said: 

I thought that I held Rochester in just regard. I had 
an appreciation of its enterprise, its commercial expansion, 
and of the thrift and intelligence of its citizens, but there 
are resources of communities which are not reflected in sta- 
tistics of commerce or industry, which cannot be expressed 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 191 

in amounts of money representing invested or stored wealth. 
I have had the great privilege of becoming acquainted to-day 
with the real resources of Rochester's strength, and I would 
not have missed that opportunity. It is not in the growth 
of wealth or of commerce, or in the expansion of industry 
that we find the true index of civilization. The question is 
whether, with increasing opportunity, there still remains the 
generous sentiment; whether with growing wealth and new 
establishments of industry and commerce there still remain 
the instincts of human brotherhood. The question really is : 
While we are conserving individual opportunities are we 
growing more solicitous of the common good? 

You in Rochester are meeting one of the great tests of 
our democratic life; you are proving that the virtues of 
humanity far exceed in force the vices of humanity; you 
are showing that it is health that is really contagious, and 
that in a prosperous community the most intelligent of the 
citizens of the community turn their attention to the thought 
of mutual improvement and of enlarging the area of the 
real opportunities of life, not in mere money-getting, but 
in enriching the character, giving chance for expression of 
individuality, bringing home the information and the stores 
of knowledge that are otherwise inaccessible to many who 
are burdened with the toils of the day. It is in the social 
centers of Rochester that I should look for an answer to 
the question, whether in a great democratic community yott 
were realizing the purposes of society. 

I have enjoyed seeing the splendid provision that is 
made through this movement for the promotion of physical 
well-being. How little we realize that character must have 
its basis in self-respect — and it takes a good deal of a saint 
to have self-respect when one is not well and vigorous. I 
rejoice that boys and girls, and men and women, are having 
a chance to lead a normal life, and to have the physical 
basis upon which everything else in life so largely depends. 

And then you have gone beyond that, to give opportunity 
for intellectual development. Wherever we may be born, 



192 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

in stately mansion, or in flat, or tenement, or under the 
humblest conditions, we are pretty much alike, and it would 
be a rash man who would try to measure brains by the cost 
of the nursery. Go anywhere you will, there is a human 
soul demanding a fair chance, having the right to know 
what has happened in the world, having the right to be en- 
riched with the stories and poetry of life, having the right 
to be inspired by the deeds of men of force who have lived 
amid struggles in the past, having the right to be shown 
the way upward to that wholesome life which is absolutely 
independent of circumstances and which is strong and suc- 
cessful because it is the life of a man or a woman doing a 
man's part and a woman's part in a world which is fairly 
understood. 

I congratulate you upon the use that is made of the fine 
public buildings that have been erected for educational pur- 
poses. I do not think that I have seen any buildings — of 
course, I except the Capitol at Albany — I do not think I 
have seen any public buildings so overworked, or so fully 
worked, yielding such rich dividends upon the public in- 
vestment through the promotion of the public good, as those 
school buildings that I visited to-day. We used to pass these 
stately edifices of education, after school hours, and find 
them closed and dark, and interesting only because of the 
architectural beauty or curiosity of their faqade. Now I 
don't know when they get time to clean the public school 
buildings of Rochester. It seems to me that they are being 
used all the while, and it is a school extension proposition, 
so that what the community has paid for is now enriching 
the community in larger ways than were at first thought pos- 
sible, although in ways, under wise guidance, which I un- 
derstand are entirely compatible with the uses for which 
they were primarily intended. 

But you have not stopped there, and I am glad of that. 
You are organized in civic clubs, and you have federated 
these clubs, and you are discussing public questions. We 
cannot have too much of that. I believe, absolutely, in the 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 193 

success of the merits of a proposition. The one thing we 
cannot afford to do without in this country is public dis- 
cussion. There may be those who shrink from a free exam- 
ination of public questions. You cannot hold the American 
public in leash, you cannot muzzle American men and 
women. The only question is, whether you will have it out 
in a time of turmoil and excitement and agitation, when the 
coolest minds become somewhat heated, and when there is 
the strife of a controversy and the anxiety to win, or whether 
you will have calm discussion, with the sole desire to get 
at the truth, in time of quiet and when reason and not pas- 
sion control the dispute. It is of the first importance in 
every American community that there should be the largest 
possible opportunity for the rational discussion of all ques- 
tions that concern the community. Therefore, it is that you 
have done a great service to Rochester in organizing these 
forums of public opinion. 

I do not overlook the advantage of the press and its great 
power in forming public opinion. We would not be able to 
run the government or to exist as a society without the play 
of these forces so largely represented by our newspapers, but 
there is such a conflict of voices and so many interests in- 
volved, and so many points of view, and so many things to 
be read between the lines, that the average man cannot 
always determine what he shall think by what he may read. 
The influence plays upon him, and, whether he recognizes 
it or not, his opinions are largely shaped by what he reads, 
but it is such a delight to sit down with a few for a quiet 
and calm exchange of opinions, to get at the respective points 
of view and see, once in a while, where the truth really lies. 
And so you are at work in your clubs, discussing, getting 
at the facts to the best of your ability, and applying to those 
facts the principles in which you believe, under the corrective 
influence of the arguments of others who are seeking to 
apply different principles. We have nothing to fear in this 
country if we can only have enough of that sort of thing. 
The danger is in having too little of it. 



194 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

It was this address of Governor Hughes which fully 
roused the bitter antagonism of the private interests 
which had hitherto controlled the actions of the people's 
servants in Rochester, or at least of those which loved 
darkness rather than light. 

It should be remembered that, as Henry Oyen says in 
his series entitled "The Awakening of the Cities," * 
speaking of the condition at the time of the beginning of 
the social center movement in 1907 : 'Tt was shortly 
before this that Rochester had been described with much 
truth as 'one of the most sodden cities in the country.' " 
It should also be remembered that, while the school board 
had been wrested from the control of the "boss," as 
to its personnel, yet it was not independent in the levy 
of its funds, and could do no more than recommend ap- 
propriation for social center expenses by the City Hall, 
that outfit which Dr. William R. Taylor characterized as 
a ''nest of unclean birds." 

Of course, as was to be expected, there was a certain 
type of big business men in Rochester, as there is in 
every city, that thoroughly disliked the open examination 
of the industrial conditions of the town. There were 
men who were benefiting by franchises, water power, 
gas, street railway, who disliked the frank consideration 
of the service they were rendering the citizens. There 
were tenement house owners who disliked the public 
comparison of the housing conditions in Rochester with 
those of other cities. There were department store own- 
ers who objected to the discussion of their treatment of 
the Rochester citizens whom they employed. 

Then, too, there was a certain sort of church leader 
who failed entirely to recognize that the assembling of 

*The World's Work, June, 191 1, p. 14497. 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 195 

citizens for deliberation is of the same character as the 
assembling of citizens to vote, and so is outside of the 
legitimate province of the sectarian leader to control, 
except that the clergyman has the same right to par- 
ticipate as other citizens. To be sure the majority of 
the ministers recognized this and took the stand ex- 
pressed in the words of the Reverend R. M. West : "In 
order to adjust ourselves, our laws and society to the 
changes, philosophical, political, industrial and economic, 
which have taken place within the past half century, 
there must be an awakening of the civic intelligence and 
an arousing of the civic conscience. The neighborhood 
civic club is the means to that end. I can express appro- 
val in no way more strongly than by saying that, al- 
though I am a very busy man, I am going to find time 
to attend the meetings of the civic club that meets in 
No. 23 school building, as an expression of my com- 
mon citizenship in this community." But one clergy- 
man, the Reverend A. M. O'Neil, decided that this 
neighborly gathering of the citizens for civic discussion 
and the furnishing of young people with wholesome 
opportunities for recreation was somehow an evil thing. 
It is probable that if he had investigated he would have 
come to the same conclusion as did one of the leading 
members of his church who wrote : "A careful study 
of the movement extending over a period of nearly two 
seasons has convinced the writer that it has demon- 
strated its need and worth. The social center can do 
more toward eliminating racial, religious and political 
bigotry than any other known factor." 

Finally each of the newspapers, of which the city 
has five, swung or was swung around to a position of 
hostility. In no case was this due to the sincere attitude 
of the newspaper men themselves. Indeed, when the 



196 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

final show-down came, the ablest editor in the city, Livy 
S. Richard, of the Rochester Times, resigned his position 
rather than attack the right of the citizens to freely 
discuss matters of public interest in their own build- 
ings. The change in the attitude of the newspapers, 
all of which had favored the social center idea at the 
start, might have been accounted for in part by the 
fact that one of the neighborhood civic clubs invited 
Samuel Hopkins Adams, author of "The Great Ameri- 
can Fraud," to speak before it upon "Under-currents 
of Journalism," but the sufficient reason for their oppos- 
ing the practical development of the means of the citi- 
zens' taking care of their own municipal affairs lay 
in the fact that these newspapers, being themselves pri- 
vate interests, naturally allied themselves with the 
other private interests as against the growing power 
of the citizenship seeking to promote the common 
good. 

All this was to be expected, and it was to be taken 
for granted that the ''boss," as the agent of the 
"powers that prey," should oppose the organization of 
the citizenship to look after their affairs in the common 
interest. If he remained "boss" the citizens could not 
control their own city, and if they became "boss" and 
sought to understand the administration of their affairs, 
then he could not continue to rule the town by the old 
methods of underground manipulation. If the people 
continued to perfect their machine of democracy, then 
his machine of corruption would be scrapped. It was 
natural that he should fight for his control, for it was 
his source of livelihood, since he had no other income 
except that derived from securing and protecting the 
privilege of the great corporations to rob the citizens. 

Everything would have gone smoothly, however, even 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 197 

with the big business men, the few reactionary clergy- 
men and the newspapers opposing the citizens' organized 
discussion, if the normal social center development had 
been complete, that is, if the mayor of the city had been 
assumed to be the president of the city-wide league of 
civic clubs. To be sure, he had been selected by the 
"boss" and nominated by his manipulation of the 
party convention. To be sure, he was "a machine prod- 
uct" ; but, so were some of the minor officials in the 
city; aldermen, for instance, and these invariably, when 
4hey actually grasped the idea of the common organiza- 
tion of the citizens, welcomed it and rejoiced in the 
opportunity it gave them for transferring their alle- 
giance from the agent of the exploiting private interests 
to the people. 

A study of the experiences of other towns leads the 
writer to the feeling that the reason why the social 
center movement in Rochester developed into a tempo- 
rarily losing fight of the citizens for the right to use 
their own buildings for the orderly discussion of their 
own common welfare was simply that the citizens failed 
to assume that the mayor was on the side of the com- 
mon interest. Those who know that mayor will perhaps 
smile at the idea that he would be capable of standing 
out against the powers of municipal corruption or that 
he would be able to resist the dominance of the "boss," 
but the writer is sure that he would have done just that 
thing if the citizens had recognized him as their leader 
instead of assuming that he was a henchman of the pri- 
vate interferer. It was a ward-heeler of far less natural 
liking for decent methods of public administration than 
the mayor had who made the discovery through his as- 
sociation with other citizens on the common ground of 

the social center, which he put into these words : "By 
14 



198 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

! It is more fun to work with people than under or 



over them !" 

As it was, while there were many fine evidences of 
the natural expression of the social center movement 
in new and beautiful ways during the third season, it 
was continually under the fire of misrepresentation .from 
the press and of hostility from the city hall. During 
this season, through the cooperation of the Rochester 
Dental Society, the first dental office to be opened in a 
schoolhouse in Rochester was installed. Through the 
cooperation of the Rochester Art Club, the beginning 
of the use of the schoolhouse as an art gallery, which is 
so finely developed in Richmond, Indiana, was begun 
in Rochester. During this season, also, the experimen- 
tation in the use of the schoolhouse as a local health 
office which offers the perfectly feasible means of sys- 
tematizing the public health movement was made through 
the devotion of Dr. John A. Whittle and the coopera- 
tion of the city health department. During this year, 
too, the neighborhood social center organization was 
shown to be the ideal agency for the celebration of 
civic holidays and festivals. For instance, in the cele- 
bration of the Fourth of July in one neighborhood, the 
coming civic club requested that the chief of police 
keep patrolmen away from the schoolhouse and grounds 
as they wanted the honor of maintaining order during 
the celebration, which they did successfully in spite of 
the fact that ten thousand people gathered during the 
day and evening. This year saw also the beginning of 
the use of the schoolhouse as a motion picture theater 
and the demonstration of the marvelous possibilities of 
this social magnet not only for young people's gather- 
ing but for bringing all people, even those who do not 
speak English, to a common ground of enjoyment. And 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 199 

in this third season began the use of the neighborhood 
librarian's desk in the social center as the local branch 
of the information distributing system regarding menless 
jobs and jobless men which demonstrated the perfect 
feasibility not only of making the schoolhouse a voca- 
tional bureau for young people but a permanent em- 
ployment bureau for all. 

The appropriation for this third season had been 
double that of the second, something more than twenty 
thousand dollars being available, and by the end of 
the season, there were eighteen school buildings being 
used as neighborhood centers. 

Unfortunately, however, the fight was on, and in 
this fight, the mayor who controlled the appropriation 
was lined up on the side of the boss. The school 
board earnestly recommended an appropriation which 
would make possible the continuance and natural exten- 
sion of the movement. It is significant that in order 
to retain his grip the boss was forced to abandon 
the old fiction of party loyalty and to line up all of 
the forces of reaction and bossism together, that 
is the "machine" was forced to become bi-partisan, 
which of course is the preliminary to its ultimate 
destruction. 

The campaign at the fall election centered in the 
question of the continued use of the schoolhouses as 
centers of democratic intelligence and popular sov- 
ereignty; and, as Ray Stannard Baker says, "the bosses 
won." It may be well to give Mr. Baker's description* 
of what happened afterward, remembering that the 
citizens labored under the bad handicap of having the 



* American Magazine, September, 19 10. 



200 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

mayor on the side of the private interests instead of 
on their side. 

The bosses won, but their victory did not, after all, settle 
the problem of the school centers. The people began to wake 
up. The newspaper discussion waxed warmer than ever; 
Father O'Neil denounced with greater and greater vigor. 
The fate of the work hinged on the appropriation. If Boss 
Aldridge's machine would grant the money, the school cen- 
ters could go ahead; if the boss would not, they would have 
to close up the work. 

I suppose Rochester never before saw such a succession of 
demonstrations. Delegations came daily, sometimes almost 
hourly, to visit the mayor, until the mayor was actually ill 
with the pressure. Not only were the school center clubs 
represented, but all the progressive forces of Rochester lined 
themselves up. Delegates of the Federated Women's Clubs 
marched to the City Hall in a body, the labor unions sent 
delegations, so did many of the fraternal orders, especially 
the Jewish orders. The Protestant Ministerial Association, 
after a hard fight among its members, declared in favor of 
the school centers. 

Finally as a result of this remarkable popular agitation the 
progressives succeeded in preventing the entire discontinu- 
ance of the appropriation for the school centers, but they 
had to accept a considerable reduction. 

This reduction presaged a curtailment of the work, but so 
great was the enthusiasm of the staff of directors of the 
school centers for the thing they were doing that they 
agreed, when the money ran out, to continue to the end of 
the season without salary. And that is what happened. 
They closed their work this spring after the most successful 
year they have had — the wide discussion and opposition hav- 
ing given to it a new vitality and dignity. 

On April 19th the special election for Congressman was 
held; and the boss, flushed with his victory of last fall, 
and with no conception of the meaning of the revolt going 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 201 

on around him, nominated himself for Congress. By this 
time the reaction was complete. The progressive spirit, 
fanned into flame, expressed itself at the polls in an over- 
whelming defeat of the "boss." 

Of course, "bossism" is not yet dead at Rochester. "I am 
still alive," the boss is reported to have said after the elec- 
tion. So are the old authorities which he represents. And 
the struggle in the future will be fiercer, more desperate, 
than it has been in the past, as the minds of men become 
clarified as to the real issues involved. 

In conclusion the point I want to make is that the spirit 
which underlies the defeat of the boss — the same spirit 
which vivifies the insurgent movement of the west and caused 
the overturn in Congress during the past summer — is "a 
great, a steady, a long-continued movement of the public 
mind," and that it cannot be deflected by abuse nor charged 
to agitators, for it is the universal struggle of growth, of the 
new against the old, of self-government against boss-govern- 
ment, of internal authority in religion against external au- 
thority, of community enterprise in business against private 
monopoly, in short, of democracy against aristocracy. 

The later developments in Rochester were told by Pro- 
fessor George M. Forbes, who, as president of the board 
of education, was closest to the movement in that city, 
in his address entitled "Lessons Learned in Rochester," 
given at the First National Conference on Social Center 
Development at Madison, October, 191 1. This address 
has been printed as a bulletin, and, like the other 
addresses given at this meeting, may be secured by 
writing to the Bureau of Social Center Development, 
the University Extension Division, Madison, Wis- 
consin. 

The first off-shoot of the movement in Rochester 
appeared in a rural community north of the city, in the 
tenth school district of the town of Greece, where the 



202 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

citizens came together and organized a neighborhood 
civic club which not only led to the equipment and 
full use of their schoolhouse but also served as the 
means of their securing better service from the rail- 
road and laid the foundation of their cooperative mar- 
keting. 

During the second year, a delegation of thirty-one 
people from Buffalo visited the social centers in Roches- 
ter and returned with the recommendation that the 
schoolhouses in Buffalo should be opened for civic use. 
Their visit was followed by that of Superintendent 
Henry P. Emerson who, after spending several days 
investigating, said before one of the civic clubs : 'T have 
recently returned from a trip to Europe which I took 
to see the educational systems and the development of 
the public schools. What I saw at one of your social 
centers last night, and what I have been seeing here 
to-day, lead me to think that here in America there 
are some developments as worthy of copying as anything 
in Europe. I came to Rochester unannounced, because 
I wanted to see the social centers in their usual activities 
and not on parade. They seem to be successful and 
popular. The city of Buffalo means to be progressive 
and we are ready to copy anything that seems to be 
an improvement. I think that we shall copy this idea 
from Rochester." Buffalo, however, did not copy the 
idea, for after he made this statement, Mr. Emerson 
learned that the machine in Buffalo did not like the idea 
any better than the "organization" in Rochester did, and 
Mr. Emerson did not care to antagonize the men who 
manage cities by developing the means through which 
the citizens could control their own town. 

The same sort of thing happened in a number of other 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 203 

cities, Syracuse, Scranton, Boston, Philadelphia, Har- 
risburg. Attracted by the awakening of the new spirit 
in Rochester, people in each of these cities attempted 
to follow that city's example. When they began, how- 
ever, they discovered that the private groups which were 
controlling the town seriously objected to the organiza- 
tion of the citizenship to become informed upon public 
matters, and they either changed to the paternalistic 
method followed in New York City, or gave up alto- 
gether. 

Then the idea was transplanted to the west. 

One of the visitors of the social centers in Rochester 
was Senator Winfield Gaylord of Wisconsin. On the 
occasion of his visit, he said : "This is a miracle in 
New York State. It is manna, which tastes good, but 
it has no apparent connection with its environment, and 
I am afraid that it won't last overnight. If this develop- 
ment had appeared in Wisconsin instead of New York, 
it would have been a crop and it would stay." 

The fact is that while the strong meat of democracy 
was proving too much for the feeble digestion of 
Rochester, it had begun to be the regular diet of Wis- 
consin and the other progressive states. Indeed the 
social center idea is just another way of saying the 
"Wisconsin idea," just the expression in the local neigh- 
borhood of the method of fully using the public edu- 
cational apparatus which on the larger scale of the 
commonwealth had begun to make the University of 
Wisconsin the leader among Universities. The mark 
of the University of Wisconsin is the splendid fact 
that the people, all the people throughout the state, real- 
ize that they own this institution, and that the men 
and women on its staff are their hired men and women. 
The map of Wisconsin is a picture of the campus of the 



204 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

University as served through its great extension division. 
Most universities have regarded themselves and been 
regarded somewhat as sacred shrines wherein is kept ever 
burning the lamp of knowledge and whereto devotees of 
abstract truth come to worship. The University of Wis- 
consin has led the way to the new conception that the 
function of the university is to serve rather as a central 
power house whose great dynamos produce driving force 
and light not only for self illumination but for service 
of light and power to all the state. 

Recognizing that the fundamental organization of the 
citizenship for democratic understanding and expression 
through the use of the schoolhouse in each district in 
the state would be the means of facilitating the great 
movement for the state's self-service through its univer- 
sity, there was established, in the fall of 1910, the Bureau 
of Social Center Development in the Extension Division 
of Wisconsin, 

The next spring, at Dallas, Texas, was called the first 
large conference on social center development. Its 
chief promoter was Colonel Frank P. Holland, owner 
and publisher of Farm and Ranch and Holland's Mag- 
azine. This public spirited leader, becoming interested 
in the idea, had put the ablest man on his staff, Charles 
W, Holman, in the field to spread the gospel of the 
common ground. The meeting brought hundreds of 
men and women from all parts of the southwest and 
served to give great impetus to the movement. To-day 
schoolhouses are beginning to be used as centers of 
democracy, recreation, neighborhood through all that 
region. 

In the autumn of 191 1, there was called at Madison, 
under the auspices of the University Extension Division, 
the First National Conference on Social Center Develop- 



BEGINNINGS IN ROCHESTER 205 

ment. Of this conference so conservative a publication 
as The Survey said : 

It was a conference to be remembered from New York to 
California, from Texas to North Dakota. Delegates came 
representing city clubs, boards of education, welfare com- 
mittees, churches, universities, and various associations for 
civic and social betterment. A new spirit of enthusiasm, a 
new hope for the future, a fresh and eager interest in the 
interchange of ideas and experiences seemed to fill the air. 
Before an audience which filled the large gymnasium was 
read the greeting sent to the conference by Edwin Markham, 
author of "The Man With the Hoe." 

"We men of earth have here the stuff 
Of Paradise. We have enough ! 
We need no other things to build 
The stairs into the Unfulfilled — 
No other ivory for the doors, 
No other marble for the floors, 
No other cedar for the beam 
And dome of man's immortal dream. 

"Here on the paths of every day — 
Here on the common human way — 
Is all the busy gods would take 
To build a heaven, to mold and make 
New Edens. Ours the stuff sublime 
To build eternity in time !" 

During three days of a varied program this underlying 
thought was repeated that here we have both the tools and 
the workmen with which to build a new democracy. 

At this meeting the two ideas of developing the full 
use of the schoolhouse, the paternal, by which the public 
servants use these buildings to manage the people, and 
the democratic, by which the citizens use these buildings 



2o6 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

to direct the government, were brought into direct and 
clear contrast by the proposal of a delegation from 
New York City that the constitution of the national asso- 
ciation to be formed should embody the uplift spirit of 
the New York movement, and the proposal of the west- 
ern men and women that the movement should be frankly 
democratic in its aim. After a full discussion, it was 
finally agreed that out of this meeting should develop 
the "Social Center Association of America," whose pur- 
pose it should be "to promote the development of intelli- 
gent public spirit through community use of the com- 
mon schoolhouse — for free discussion of public questions 
and all wholesome, civic, educational and recreational 
activities," The fundamental idea of the social center 
regarding its membership was also expressed in the con- 
stitution adopted by this convention, namely, that while 
one has to join in order to be an active member, "the 
members of this association are the people of the United 
States." 

It was the getting together of some of us to promote 
the getting together of all of us in the place that belongs 
to all of us to do the work that no less than all of us 
can do. 

"What I see in this movement," said Governor Wilson, 
at this meeting in Madison, "is a recovery of the con- 
structive and creative genius of the American people." 



CHAPTER IX 

THE PUBLIC LECTURE CENTER 

In the program of complete social center development 
the use of the schoolhouse as a public lecture center is 
an important element. In many cities this extension of 
the use of school buildings has been begun, but nowhere 
else in the world has so large a public lecture system 
been developed as in New York City. In Rochester, 
where the basic organization of the citizens in the sev- 
eral districts made possible the people's having a voice 
in the selection of the speakers and the topics to be pre- 
sented, the attendance at each public lecture averaged 
nearly a third more than in New York City, and thus 
it was demonstrated that the use of the schoolhouse as 
a lecture center will be most successful only as it is 
made a part of a democratically controlled and compre- 
hensive focusing of community activities, instead of 
being developed autocratically as an independent educa- 
tional provision, as in New York City and elsewhere. 

The steady, consistent expansion of the New York 
Public Lecture system through the past quarter of a 
century has been very largely due to the devotion and 
administrative capacity of Dr. Henry M. Leipziger, who, 
as Supervisor of Public Lectures, occupies a position not 
subordinate to, but coordinate with, the office of city 
superintendent of schools. 

207 



2o8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

Dr. Leipziger here briefly sets forth the results of his 
long experience in the administration of the New York 
Public Lecture system: 

The social function of the school is best encouraged by 
the features which may be included in the term school 
extension. This school extension includes summer 
schools, vacation schools and recreation centers, but the 
real pioneer in the work of school extension (which is 
the opening of the schoolhouse all hours of the day all 
days of the year) was the use of the schoolhouse for 
public lectures to adults in New York City, or, as it was 
first styled, "free lectures to working men and working 
women." 

The underlying principle of this scheme of instruction, 
for it is a well organized scheme of instruction, is that 
education must be unending. The details of the system 
cannot be dwelt upon, but the establishment of this 
scheme of adult education is justified on the theory that 
the education furnished by the city shall not end with 
the high school or the university, but it shall furnish the 
opportunity for a continuance of education to those whose 
school life has been limited or who acquire later in life 
some yearning for higher things. 

Established in 1888 in six schoolhouses in the thickly- 
settled portions of the city, they have continued, until 
now lectures are held in about 175 places in the City 
of Greater New York, including schoolhouses, museum 
halls and church halls, and reaching a total annual attend- 
ance of about a million and a quarter. The equipment 
at each lecture center consists of a stereopticon outfit, 
with screen, and other necessary apparatus ; and during 
the past five years, having in view the use of school 
buildings for adult education, many splendid auditoriums 



THE PUBLIC LECTURE CENTER 



209 



with comfortable seats similar to those in a theater have 
been provided. 

The main idea of the lecture course, of course, is in- 
struction and not entertainment, although as a rational 
system of entertainment the expenditure could be justified. 

The scheme of the lectures covers all the great divisions 
of human knowledge, but those of more immediate and 
practical value are given the preference. Lectures on 
sanitation, health, civics, natural science, descriptive geog- 
raphy, art, music and literature all have their place in 
this scheme. It is found that courses of lectures, ex- 
tending to as many as twenty-eight, with examinations 
and collateral reading, have proven exceedingly popular. 
These courses of lectures have developed and confirmed 
the habit of study and they lead indirectly to larger 
use of the excellent collection of books in the various 
public libraries in the city. 

The public lecture course also maintains its own plat- 
form library. The circulating libraries have perhaps a 
single copy of any particular book. In connection with 
the courses of lectures the book recommended for col- 
lateral reading by the lecturer is provided by the board 
of education. 

Public lectures to adults in the schools bring the very 
best teachers in the universities and the very best scholars 
in every field to engage in the work of public teaching, 
for the lecturers include college presidents, professors, 
teachers, scholars, artists, physicians, travelers, musicians, 
et cetera, making a company representing all the phases 
of intellectual life, held together by a common purpose. 

The value of the work is shown by these letters 
received from auditors. A college graduate writes : "I 
believe there are many who think the lectures are only 
for those who have not had the opportunity to receive 



210 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

a high school or college education. The more intelligent 
the hearer the greater the benefit derived." Another 
auditor writes : "I shall try my best to pass the exam- 
ination, (referring to a course on first aid to the in- 
jured), although I am very absent-minded and nervous. 
If I fail I shall at least have tried my best and learned 
something to my advantage. I cannot say anything in 
favor of the Monday night lectures as my husband only 
attends them because I have three children who cannot 
be left alone. I am glad my beloved spouse stays with 
them on Thursday evenings to grant me the benefit of 
the lectures." 

The extended uses of the public school only indicate 
the wider influence that the school should exert. The 
schoolhouse is the natural meeting place of the American 
citizen. Here all meet upon an equality and in the 
schoolhouse it would seem as if the citizens o£ any par- 
ticular neighborhood should naturally meet to consider 
questions either of neighborhood interest, or questions 
that relate to broad educational policies. The school- 
house should be the natural meeting place of all citizens 
to consider great questions of politics and each school- 
house should become a genuine "people's forum," for, 
where better than in the schoolhouse can we say, "Come 
let us reason together !" 

The results observed from the public lectures during 
the past twenty years may be summarized as follows : 

(a) Continuation of systematic study; 

(b) Americanization of immigrants; 

(c) Improvement of sanitation and health; 

(d) Increased interest in our city's government; 

(e) The formation of people's forums for discussion 

of social and economic questions; 



THE PUBLIC LECTURE CENTER 211 

(f) Greater efficiency and earning power; 

(g) Appreciation of our art and science museums; 
(h) Improved reading taste of the public; 

(i) Wider and larger interest in the finer things of 
life. 



CHAPTER X 

THE BRANCH PUBLIC LIBRARY 

There is no specialization of a form of community self- 
service more remarkable than the independent develop- 
ment of the public library. This movement is distinctly 
and wholly educational. It has not been subject to com- 
mercialization as have the recreational forms of com- 
munity activity which began in the schoolhouse of the 
early days. Indeed, the establishment of a library in 
each schoolhouse which should serve, not only the chil- 
dren, but all the members of the community, was a very 
important part of the propaganda of the leader in early 
public school development, Horace Mann. Moreover, in 
some cities the establishment of public library service 
was, at its beginning, made a branch of the public edu- 
cation system. Perhaps the importance of public library 
provision would not have been realized if there had not 
been a period of separate development, but now men are 
turning to the problem of coordinating public library 
service with other forms of social self-education. 

In Grand Rapids, St. Louis, Buffalo and other cities 
schoolhouses have begun to be used as branch libraries, 
or, at least, as distributing stations. In the city of 
Rochester, where there is no central municipal library, 
the possibility of public library service entirely through 
the use of the schoolhouses as social centers, with no 
expense for a separate building, was demonstrated. 

212 



THE BRANCH PUBLIC LIBRARY 213 

Dr. Charles E. McLenegan, the Pubhc Librarian of 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is exceptionally well fitted to dis- 
cuss the use of the schoolhouse as a branch public library, 
for he came to his present position from extended and 
successful experience as a school administrator. 

Mr. McLenegan writes: 

There are some classes in the community who will have 
books without a public library; and there are some who 
will never look into a book although they are as plentiful 
as the autumn leaves. Between these two extremes is 
that great body of our fellow citizens who toil six days 
each week in shops, in offices, in stores, in homes, many 
of whom do read, more of whom would read, and whose 
circumstances compel them to depend on the public library 
for their books. These are the people who can be won 
to read books to their great profit, if access to these 
books is not made too difficult. In this matter of getting 
at the books, it is well to consider a natural law, which 
is hard to state, but not hard to recognize. A very 
gentle force, persistently and continuously applied, can 
produce a most tremendous result. Nature works upon 
us in that way constantly ; in fact, it is nature's cus- 
tomary way of working, except when she strikes us by 
lightning. She does that when she is done with us. 
Place an obstacle, however slight, in the path of a cus- 
tomary human choice and you immediately cut off a 
certain number from the enjoyment of that choice. If 
the obstacle be an exceedingly slight one, only a few 
of the acts are hindered; but if the obstacle be a more 
considerable one, more and more are hindered until the 
obstacle may amount to a prohibition of the action. 

To illustrate this by a concrete example. If the sugar 

trust raises the price of sugar one cent per pound in the 
15 



214 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

fruit season, the result is always a falling off in the sale 
of fruit for preserving, and a further rise in price of 
sugar produces a glut in the fruit market and the inflic- 
tion of ruinous loss on the fruit grower. That slight 
obstacle thrown in the way of each housewife influences 
millions of people. After two successive rainy days 
what a shrinkage of optimism there is in the world ! In 
a mild winter how business is depressed ! Nature gov- 
erns us every day and from year to year by the slight- 
est and gentlest of impulses and prohibitions, and yet the 
whole human race moves obediently and unconsciously 
to these impulses. It is not the mighty force that pro- 
duces the great effect. It is the slow-moving, unob- 
trusive, quiet force, acting on vast areas and vast num- 
bers, that really works a miracle. Now what is the 
application of all this profundity ? Simply this : 

In all these human actions which involve great num- 
bers of people who are free agents, if you wish them 
to do a particular thing, you must rid the act of discom- 
fort to the actor. You must make it easy and com- 
fortable for people to get the books. The modern con- 
ception of a public library is a place where books are 
kept for the free use of* all the people. The place must 
be democratic in atmosphere, with no more chance for 
a man, woman or child to be under constraint because 
of social position than there would be in Heaven. There 
must be "welcome" written over every door, and "ser- 
vice" written on the face of every attendant. A public 
library with a grouchy attendant is a contradiction in 
terms, for the library is the continuation school for the 
people, and the problem of the library is how to get the 
people to come to the school and use it. A library should 
be as "waywise" as a railroad corporation, and you notice 
that the good railroads in the country have subtracted 



THE BRANCH PUBLIC LIBRARY 215 

the grouchy and the saucy servants ; so we assume that, 
in the Hbrary, those who serve the pubhc are there in 
the modern spirit of glad service. 

Only those who have the best that college and school 
can give know how little that education is compared to 
the greater education which every man gives himself, 
and your collection of books in these days is your true 
university. 

The librarian's problem, therefore, is a simple one to 
comprehend. It is nothing more than the making of this 
school accessible to the greatest number of people and 
most helpful to them when you have gotten your people 
to come. 

If the library is the people's college and continuation 
school, the question of paramount importance is how 
to get people to come to the library. A fine central 
library is a great thing to raise a glow of civic pride. It 
gives a city a flavor of intellectuality. The real ques- 
tion is how to minister to the man who wishes to use 
books. Does this fine central library make it easy for the 
people of the city to use books for serious purposes? 
Does it add anything to the difficulty of using books? 
Does it add a temptation to dwell in ignorance, rather 
than encounter the exertion of going to the library? Is 
there a shortage in the central library idea? If so, 
the grand central library idea should be looked into. 

Mr. Carnegie has built more libraries than any other 
man in the world. With him, the building of a library 
is a simple business question — how to make the building 
of the greatest service to the largest number of people. 
He is no spendthrift and he is not a sentimentalist. He 
puts up no buildings because he wishes to glorify him- 
self, or to exalt his name, or merely to put up a library. 
The sole question is one of utility. He has found that 



2i6 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

if you draw a circle with a radius of one mile around a 
library, you will have included about all the territory 
in your circle that this library can serve effectively. 
Roughly speaking, a space of about four square miles 
is the sphere of influence of a public library. The best 
way to bring the case home is to try it on yourself. 

Suppose you come home in the evening from the shop 
— I am speaking now of a city library — suppose you 
come from the shop, where some of the really thoughtful 
men of the modern city work. You reach home possibly 
at six o'clock, change your clothing and remove the grime 
of the day's toil, get your supper and take a little thought- 
ful tobacco to soothe the irritations of the day and induce 
a philosophic spirit. That program is not too self indul- 
gent, is it ? The man who told us how to live on twenty- 
four hours a day, says that every man in creation has a 
right to that much. Put on your overcoat and go to 
the library a mile away. If your courage does not show 
signs of evaporating, you are a good man. If you can 
keep it up two nights a week during the winter, you 
are a wonder. It does not matter whether this man comes 
from a machine shop, a brewery, a tannery, an office, or 
a store. A tired man is a man who is tired, and eight 
hours work per day makes any man tired. See, then, 
how this man is handicapped in the use of the library, if 
the central library is a mile distant from his home. If 
he walks, he is handicapped by the distance and by his 
fatigue after his day of toil. Try it yourself. If you 
can pursue a systematic and profitable course of reading 
throughout the winter, visiting the library once a week, 
you have demonstrated your right to the fruits of the 
earth, for you are of that stern stufif that nothing will 
keep down or turn aside. You are a profitable citizen, 
not because of the library, but in spite of it. 



THE BRANCH PUBLIC LIBRARY 217 

Suppose next that he rides to the library. Again he 
is handicapped, for the car fare is about a four per 
cent, tax on his day's wages. When you ask a man for 
money, you will usually find that he is from Missouri, 
and he is easy compared to the gentle sex — but that 
is another story. You cannot blame him, for this is a 
direct tax and not concealed in the velvet paws of a 
protective tariff. It is a handicap just the same, and 
remember that the rise of one cent in the price of sugar 
has proved enough to make man forego something to 
eat. Where a man gives up something to eat, what show 
have things of the intellect in the scuffle? 

Third, whether he rides or walks, the man who lives 
a mile from the library is handicapped in the matter of 
time. Complaint of the impossibility of getting in any 
serious work in the evening in the main library is one 
most frequently met. In this aspect of the case, we are 
in a real cul-de-sac. It has not been demonstrated that 
a library can be kept open later than nine o'clock in 
the evening profitably, and any one who has watched the 
long dark procession of workers filing to work on winter 
mornings before daylight, can understand why. Scipio 
LeMoyne understood it : "To shoot straight, go to bed 
the same day you get up ; and to think straight, use same 
policy." 

What can a man who works during the day do in a 
great central public library? It is well worth pondering, 
because the opportunity for improvement of conditions is 
very great. The improvement must come from the li- 
brary folk, for the patient endurance by the public of 
insufficient service is one of the most pathetic things in 
life. Applying Mr. Carnegie's rule, every city has a fair 
measure of its present efficiency in library service. Every 
four square miles at the least should have its branch at 



2i8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the cross roads. The library should be brought as near 
the home as the school is and be just as convenient as 
the postoffice ; we would not tolerate a postal system that 
obliged us to go to the central office for our stamps or 
our money orders. Now that we have coupled the two, 
why is not the schoolhouse the proper place for the neigh- 
borhood branch of the public library? In the law found- 
ing the Milwaukee Public Library there seems to have 
been a prescience of this day on which we meet, which 
dictated the words making it a "branch of the public 
school system." The Milwaukee Public Library was 
started in the right direction. It has not traveled far as 
yet, but it will I hope be known hereafter for its relation 
to the public school system. 

Merely giving the library a room in the schoolhouse 
does not meet the requirements of the case at all. That is 
compliance with the form and not the spirit. A library 
is as much a part of a school as is a teacher or a recita- 
tion room. Every schoolhouse built should have a per- 
manent and special part set aside for the branch of the 
public library. This room should have its own heat and 
light and its separate entrance from the street. It should 
be accessible to the pupils from the schoolhouse and it 
should be open after school so that the citizens of the 
neighborhood can have their turn in its use. Why should 
the plant be used only five hours a day and closed to the 
public after that? This library should teach the pupils 
of the schools the use of books as instruments for find- 
ing out what they wish to know. Few boys in high 
school ever learn how to use the aids that libraries have 
in finding information. They are helpless when turned 
loose among books to find their way to the desired infor- 
mation. This the library should teach pupils in every 
school, and when you have taught" public school pupils 



THE BRANCH PUBLIC LIBRARY 219 

some dexterity in this use of a library, you have given 
them a powerful impulse to use the library ever after as 
a continuation school. 

It is amazing how few people know the purpose of an 
index or of a table of contents in a book. Fewer still 
know "Poole's Index," or the "Reader's Guide" which 
open a wealth of current publications. Only the high 
school boys who go in for debates ever learn these. 
When, however, boy or man learns to use these and a 
few more, it is really gratifying to see them go. "The 
world is all before them where to choose." These boys 
never stop using books when they leave school, and when 
they wish to know anything they do not have to ask aid 
of any one. This is making your library a continuation 
school and this is the way to do it. I doubt if anything 
that a child learns in school classes is comparable in 
importance to him to this knowledge of how to use 
books. It stays by him as long as he lives and is an 
element of power in his character and a mighty engine 
of self education in his after life. 

Another great advantage of this branch in the school- 
house is that it gives every home an almost ideal means 
of communication with the library — and that is one of 
the unsolved problems in a large library — how the home 
may communicate with the library. Thousands of little 
messengers travel every day from the home to the school. 
All that is needed are proper finding lists and the children 
do the trotting for a tired or busy father or mother. As 
a means of communication it is ideal, and nothing like it 
as a means of reaching the homes now exists. Think 
that over a few times. I am sure the more you think 
of it, the better you will think it. 

Last and greatest of all is the fact that this branch 
of the schoolhouse enlarges the function of the school 



220 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

and bridges the path from the conscious training which 
is given the child by the teacher to that larger training 
which the child will give himself hereafter. It realizes 
and puts into concrete form the great truth, only half 
understood, that a university education is little more than 
the careful reading of certain books which, in the judg- 
ment of wise men, fairly represent the accumulated 
knowledge in this or that line of human effort. It is 
reassuring to reflect that the Washingtons, the Franklins, 
the Lincolns, and the host of self made men like them 
were not so badly made. Would we could get more of 
them. 

Is it a dream — this branch of the library in the schools? 
Not at all for the future. The old schools that are now 
erected will hardly ever be serviceable in this way. They 
are there to stand as monuments of how not to do it 
unless they are rebuilt and so give us a chance. For 
that part of the city which is built up, we shall have to 
use branches of the ordinary type. But from now on, 
in the building that is to come, and that is to mark our 
contribution to the progress of the day, let us hope for 
library branches in the public schools. 



CHAPTER XI 



THE PUBLIC ART GALLERY 



"You cannot sell chromos to everybody in Richmond," 
says Mrs. M. F. Johnston, President of the Richmond 
(Indiana) Art Association. "I think that when history 
is written it ought to be recorded that early in the twen- 
tieth century, in Richmond, a common council spent one 
hour discussing the value to the town of an art exhibit 
and, — appropriated money from the City Treasury for 
its support." The amount of that appropriation was one 
hundred dollars. The story of how schoolhouses began 
to be used as art galleries in Richmond, so that the ex- 
pense of a separate building was saved, and the pictures 
were placed where they would most powerfully and con- 
tinually benefit the whole community, a part of the story 
that lies back of Richmond's earning the title "The Art 
Center of America," is told by one of that city's distin- 
guished men, the Honorable William Dudley Foulke. 
Mr. Foulke writes: 

Richmond, Indiana, a city of a little more than twenty 
thousand inhabitants, is a pioneer in the use of a public 
school building as a public art gallery. In that city, 
in 1897, it was proposed by some of the club women 
and local artists with the active cooperation of T. A. 
Mott, superintendent of public schools, to hold an exhi- 

221 



222 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

bition of paintings. A number of citizens in the town 
had private collections of no great size, but each con- 
taining a few pictures of rather remarkable excellence. 
These were collected, and the Garfield School Building, 
the best then in the town, was loaned by the school 
commissioners and the superintendent for the purpose 
of exhibiting them, just at the beginning of the summer 
vacation. The walls were draped in some of the rooms, 
the blackboards covered, and the desks removed. The 
light was excellent, and the exhibit proved to be highly- 
successful. The people of the city were astonished to 
know how many good pictures they had in their midst. 
The school children visited the gallery, the works ex- 
hibited were explained to them, and the public generally 
was invited. An art association was established, and 
Ella Bond Johnston, the wife of one of our leading 
physicians, who had shown great enthusiasm for the 
undertaking, soon became its president. At this time 
she had had no special facilities or advantages for the 
study of art; but realizing the importance to the com- 
munity of a continuance of exhibitions like the one then 
held, she determined that they should be repeated, and 
afterwards fixed a limit of twenty-five years during which 
she proposed to devote a great part of her time and 
energy to this work. 

The association grew in numbers; the use of the Gar- 
field School building was repeated each successive year; 
professors in a local college, teachers in the schools, news- 
paper men, local artists and business men cooperated; 
the association was not long afterwards incorporated, 
and all these elements were represented upon its board 
of directors, composed of seventeen of the citizens, men 
and women. More recently a permanent art committee 
of nine and a finance committee of seven have been 



THE PUBLIC ART GALLERY 223 

added. The annual dues were merely nominal, but sub- 
scriptions were circulated among some of the members 
who were willing to cooperate and gifts were received 
from others. The association has now held fourteen 
of these exhibitions, and mainly through the energy of 
Mrs. Johnston, who visited the studios and collections 
of art in the east, as well as at Chicago, Cincinnati and 
St. Louis, a supply of excellent pictures for each exhi- 
bition has been procured. The city council has also made 
a moderate appropriation for these exhibitions ; and, 
although there was no law which authorized this, yet 
so universal was the sentiment in favor of this enterprise, 
that the amount is annually appropriated by unanimous 
vote and no one in the city is heard to object. 

All exhibitions are absolutely free to every one, and 
people come from the towns and country around. There 
is usually a formal opening, with short addresses, and 
there are lectures upon questions connected with art 
during the exhibition. 

From the surplus of the moderate fund accumulated 
the association began to buy some pictures; at first, pic- 
tures by Indiana artists, but the field was soon extended. 
The fact of these purchases encouraged artists in other 
places to send their work, and then Daniel G. Reid, a 
wealthy man now residing in New York, but formerly 
of Richmond, gave $500 a year for the purpose of pur- 
chasing a picture. Other associations and individuals 
have given single pictures; the Women's Club of Rich- 
mond gave one; a gentleman from New York presented 
the association with a bronze tortoise fountain by Janet 
Scudder (some of whose work is in the Luxembourg) ; 
and a picture which won a competitive prize in Paris 
was presented by the International Art Union of that 
city; until now the permanent collection numbers some 



224 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

twenty canvases which, taken as a whole, are works of 
remarkable merit. 

Among the exhibitors are John W. Alexander, Henry 
Hosier, William Chase, George Inness, Jr., William Cof- 
fin, Charles Curran, Ben. Foster, Samuel Isham, Henry 
Ranger, A. E. Albright, Pauline Dohn Rudolph, Karl 
Buehr, L. H. Meakin, J. H. Sharp, H. F. Farney, Charles 
Warren Eaton ; besides the best Indiana artists, T. C. 
Steele, William Forsyth, R. B. Gruelle, Otto Stark, J. 
Ottis Adams ; and local artists of merit, J. E. Bundy, 
Charles Connor, and others. Foreign work was loaned 
by New York dealers ; Breton, Bougereau, Cazin, Dau- 
bigny. Von Bremen, Rico, Schreyer and Thaulow have 
been represented. In the last exhibit was seen an ex- 
quisite Japanese landscape by Hiroshi Yoshida. Pur- 
chases are also made from the collection by citizens of 
the town; and a few years ago the children of one of 
the schools earned a picture fund of $150 and bought 
an attractive painting for their schoolroom — "Shadows 
on the Wall," by Albright of Chicago. This same school 
earned another $150 to purchase "Hills in Springtime" 
by William Wendt. The public schools own, besides five 
hundred photographs of famous pictures, oil and water 
color paintings to the number of sixty, mostly purchased 
from the annual exhibitions. 

The paintings, however, are only one feature of the 
exhibition. There is usually a collection of etchings ; 
generally a small collection of bronzes, to which Mr. 
McMonnies, Miss Scudder and others have contributed; 
another room is devoted to drawings, sketches and col- 
ored prints. The handicrafts are represented, pottery, 
metals, books, leather and textiles of artistic character. 
Some are loaned by our citizens, some are sent by the 
designers. In order to encourage the development of 



THE PUBLIC ART GALLERY 225 

painting in Indiana, a small prize is given each year, by 
one of the ladies of the city, to the best picture painted 
by an artist residing in that state. Judges are selected 
from Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis and elsewhere, who 
come and pass upon the pictures. It is astonishing how 
many creditable canvases a prize of this kind will attract, 
not so much for the money as for the reputation in- 
volved, because the Richmond exhibition has now come 
to be recognized throughout the state as a matter of 
some little importance. A prize of fifty dollars this 
year attracted some thirty pictures, most of which were 
really excellent works. Another prize is given to the 
best picture from an artist of the city, and it is astonish- 
ing how greatly these exhibitions and the competition 
thus developed has stimulated the group of Richmond 
painters. 

Mrs. Johnston's work in the collection and exhibition 
of these pictures soon led other cities of Indiana to fol- 
low the example of Richmond. First, it was Muncie, 
and the same collection was exhibited in both places. 
This began more than four years ago. A year later 
Vincennes joined the group ; then Indianapolis and 
Lafayette became part of the circuit ; and finally Fort 
Wayne and Terre Haute. By means of the circuit 
which Mrs. Johnston has developed a larger number of 
pictures can be secured, and better pictures and at less 
expense than where the exhibition is confined to a single 
city. The impulse throughout the state in the encourage- 
ment of art has been very great but in no other place 
has it been so closely connected with public instruction. 

The most important step thus taken, however, was 
when the present high school building was erected. That 
building has just been completed. It is a beautiful struc- 
ture, and the school board determined to incorporate in 



226 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

it three rooms for a permanent art gallery. These rooms 
are located above the auditorium, are lighted from the 
roof, and are equipped for the purpose as perfectly as 
the best modern galleries anywhere. The gray-green 
covering of the walls sets off the pictures to the best 
advantage. The last annual exhibition, from October 
19th to November 3rd, 191 1, was attended by multitudes 
of our citizens and others from all parts of the state. 
The collection was composed of four classes of paint- 
ings : first, the permanent collection of the association ; 
second, the circuit collection, selected and arranged by 
Mrs. Johnston; third, the pictures by Indiana artists ex- 
hibited in competition for the prize; fourth, a few pic- 
tures loaned by private individuals. 

By means of this association and these exhibitions the 
interest in art in the city of Richmond has been stimu- 
lated to such an extent that a valuable series of twenty 
university extension lectures was given last winter by 
Mrs. C. K. Chase (who has made a special study of the 
various schools of painting, both abroad and in America, 
including the Italian, Dutch, Spanish and English 
schools), illustrated by a large number of photographs 
and lantern slides. This instruction was given by an 
expert thoroughly qualified to present the history of art 
and its essential qualities. Another important feature of 
many of these exhibitions has been that they contain a 
collection of drawings and paintings by the pupils in the 
public schools. The first efforts in this direction were 
necessarily crude, but it is astonishing how the quality 
of the work has developed year by year and a good deal 
of that which is now given is of a very high order of 
merit. 

Such have been the results in our city of the use of a 
public school building as a public art gallery when com- 



THE PUBLIC ART GALLERY 227 

bined with the efforts of a single individual who has 
shown extreme energy and organizing power, as well as 
excellent taste and discrimination in the selection of 
objects of art. Under similar conditions the same results 
can be accomplished elsewhere — the public will always 
be found willing to cooperate in an undertaking of this 
kind if it is well conducted. 



CHAPTER XII 



THE MUSIC CENTER 



One of the most valuable uses for which the youth and 
older people gathered in the schoolhouse during the early 
period of spontaneous social center development was 
community music. There are still districts in which the 
old-fashioned singing school continues to meet. The 
modern social center not only carries on this tradition 
of choral training, but offers opportunity and stimulus 
for the other forms of musical expression which are 
possible in every community. 

First, the Social Center furnishes the place for com- 
munal "folk" singing. Dr. Samuel Crothers said of the 
singing in one of the centers in Rochester, where for 
half an hour before the lectures on general neighborhood 
evenings everybody sang: "You have found a substitute 
for war. You know that we peace fellows have all the 
arguments but one ; and that one has been unanswerable. 
The military fellows say that it takes a war to make 
people really feel together — to know a common interest, 
to ozmt a common country. And how do they prove it? 
They tell us that from '6i to '65 we were a singing 
nation, and that's true. Those were the days when 
we learned 'Marching Through Georgia,' 'Tenting To- 
night,' 'Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory,' 'Tramp, 
Tramp, Tramp,' 'When Johnny Comes Marching 
Home.' We learned them then and we sang them then. 

228 



THE MUSIC CENTER 229 

Since then we've just been warming over the words. I 
was a boy in those days. I heard it, and I never expected 
to hear that note again. But I have heard it again. I 
have heard it here to-night. You sang in that spirit. 
What does it mean? It means that down underneath 
you have been gripped by that same throbbing common 
reahty, not hate this time, nor fear, but love. You know 
a common interest. You ozvn a common country. You've 
proved it, for you've sung in that spirit. You've found 
what the miHtary fellows say we can never get without 
fighting. You've spoiled the only argument for war." 

Second, Mr. Will Earhart, the director, not only of 
the music of the children, but of all the people gathered 
in the schoolhouses in Richmond, Indiana, has shown 
choral training to be as feasible and as artistically and 
socially valuable in the modern city as it was in the simple 
pioneer community. 

Third, complete social center development necessitates 
orchestral training and furnishes the means by which the 
members of a neighborhood orchestra may pay back to 
the community in musical service far more than the cost 
of publicly employing a director and purchasing the less 
commonly used orchestra instruments. Where a com- 
munity gathers once a week for a general neighborhood 
evening there is opportunity for the service of a neigh- 
borhood orchestra in furnishing the overture, in accom- 
panying the singing and in furnishing the music for the 
closing social hour. 

Fourth, this general gathering furnishes constant 
stimulus to the individual by offering opportunity for 
participation in the community entertainments. 

Professor Arnold Dresden, who has aided in the de- 
velopment of community musical expression in Chicago 

and Madison, writes: 
16 



230 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

Music seems to many of us a form of culture so far 
removed from actualities as not to deserve the attention 
of earnest men and women engaged in serious work. 
Indeed it must be granted that under present circum- 
stances, the opportunity for musical appreciation and 
expression is so restricted, that they are rapidly becom- 
ing privileges of the better-to-do, at least if we are 
agreed that learning to play an instrument or buying a 
piano on the installment plan do not of themselves open 
up such opportunity. 

However, no one who is earnestly concerned with 
social betterment can afford to disregard the power of 
music, or the opportunities for hearing and creating 
music which our communities offer. That rhythm and 
melody, the two elements which with harmony form the 
foundation upon which music rests, lie deep in our human 
nature, is shown for instance by the almost instinctive 
use of whistles or call signals ; by the short calls with 
which men who are pulling a heavy load and want to 
work in unison precede their exertions every time. On 
the other hand, the desire for tonal stimulus is not the 
least of the influences which lead the city boy and girl 
to the cheap vaudeville 'or to the dance hall. 

In what way can music be made to play a more vital 
part in the lives of our people? How can the great 
power be made socially useful? 

Between the call of the sailor as he hoists the sails 
and the modern symphony lies a wide field. A multi- 
tude of forms for musical expression is being used to-day 
to sing the song of our complex life. Gradually musical 
forms have developed until now they seem to have gone 
far from the simple directness of the music of the wind 
and of the birds. Its interpretation of our human experi- 
ences has become hard to understand. But as a prophet 



THE MUSIC CENTER 231 

can make us see through the complexities of our modern 
Hves and feel what is fundamental in our existence, so 
the masters of musical form use their finer tools to pen- 
etrate more deeply into and make us feel more keenly the 
things that are universal. To learn to follow them, there- 
fore, is what is necessary in order to bridge the chasm 
which now exists between music and progress towards 
mutual understanding. Much training is necessary to 
accomplish this ; but above all, opportunity to hear and 
learn to understand good music should be plentiful. 

There is hardly a village in Germany, Austria, France, 
or any of the other countries of Western Europe, that 
has not its municipal orchestra or band. The Kaim 
orchestra, which for many years has been the municipal 
orchestra of Munich, is one of the famous orchestral 
organizations of Europe. Choral societies, many of 
them of excellent quality, are numerous. But, more than 
that ; let us go with Richard Wagner * to "some small 
village on a winter night and look in at the little room; 
there sit a father and his three sons about a round table ; 
two of the boys play the violin, the third one plays the 
viola, the father the 'cello; what you hear them play 
with such understanding and so full of emotion is a 
quartette, composed by this slender short man who is 
beating time. He is the schoolmaster of the neighbor- 
ing village, and the quartette that he has composed is 
full of art, beautiful and deeply felt." 

In many places an effort is being made to bring about 
more intimate acquaintance with the great masters of 
music. Boston has had a department of music in its 
city government since 1898. Besides band concerts con- 
ducted under its auspices in different parts of the city, 

;* "Gessmmelte Schriften und Dichtungen," Vol. i, p, 152. 



232 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

during the summer, that department arranges concerts 
of chamber music given during the winter in the audi- 
toriums of the schools. New York has been furnishing 
a great deal of good public music during the last two 
years. The work done in Rochester is well known and 
doubtless many other cities are following suit. 

The results arising from such efforts must of necessity 
be comparatively small, because it can bring about only 
a very superficial contact with the work of the masters. 
We must build up musical traditions among the people 
of this country, and we must learn to know, to preserve 
and to cultivate the musical talent and traditions which 
so many of our immigrants bring to us. 

I shall not easily forget the enthusiasm aroused in 
an audience at one of the centers in a Bohemian 
neighborhood in Chicago when they heard some of their 
folk-songs played by some one unknown to them, or 
when they heard sung, in their own language, songs com- 
posed by the Bohemian, Dvorak. 

The school as a social center furnishes an excellent 
opportunity for systematic work of this kind. It has the 
atmosphere in which anything that tends to bring out 
our common human bonds must thrive. It brings us 
in contact with our fellow-men in a desire for mutual 
understanding and appreciation. It is an effort to find 
out where our common roots lie, so necessary in these 
days, when there is so much to promote misunderstand- 
ing and aloofness. There, then, we can look for music 
to make its power felt. Through frequent presentation 
of the simplest works at first, of the more complex ones 
later, accompanied by explanatory comment, the founda- 
tion for an appreciation of good music can be laid and 
opportunity for self-expression be given by the forma- 
tion of choral and orchestral clubs. Instruction in the 



THE MUSIC CENTER 233 

playing of an instrument can be given free, as is being 
done in Rochester, the pupil repaying the community 
later on in assisting in the public concerts. Where good 
human performers are not available, mechanical per- 
formers could be used to advantage, just as moving pic- 
tures are being used where the stage is out of reach. 
Under appropriate arrangements between different social 
centers, able musicians and lecturers on music can be en- 
gaged to visit the centers from time to time presenting, 
interpreting and explaining. Thus the social value and 
importance of music may begin to make itself felt. 



CHAPTER XIII 



THE FESTIVAL CENTER 



"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm 
rehance on the protection of Divine Providence, We 
mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortune, 
and our Sacred Honor." 

The statement announcing the birth of the American 
Nation, which closed with these words, was a declara- 
tion of common interest, of interdependence. The men 
who adopted and the people who endorsed this declara- 
tion were, for the first time, clearly conscious of a com- 
mon bond. And this conscious unity was the essential 
fact which gave meaning to the statement of defiance 
embodied in the earlier part of the declaration. 

A true commemoration of the adoption of that declara- 
tion, a true celebration of the Fourth of July, is a re- 
affirmation of this principle of our common interest. 

We can't get up any deep enthusiasm over the re- 
affirmation of the statement that henceforth we are go- 
ing to be independent of Great Britain, because, for one 
reason, we know that we aren't. That we should not be 
subordinate to Great Britain, we take , as a matter of 
course. But we now recognize that the denial of a false 
relation is not the final adjustment. We are more or less 
conscious of moving on to the next step ; that is, we are 
ready to affirm the true relation between the United 

234 



THE FESTIVAL CENTER 235 

States and Great Britain and all other nations — not de- 
pendence, nor independence, but interdependence. 

The basic all-inclusive organization of the community 
using the schoolhouse as the social center furnishes the 
means and the place most appropriate for the celebration 
of both the civic unity within the neighborhood and the 
growing friendliness among the nations, which are em- 
bodied in the national festival. 

Not only is the community organization at hand for 
the ideal celebration of the Fourth of July where demo- 
cratic social center development has been begun, but 
where community organization has not been established 
the arrangement for a "Sane Fourth" celebration offers 
a splendid occasion for effecting the all-inclusive gather- 
ing, which, made permanent, is the basis of social center 
development. 

In addition to the out-of-doors activities, the pageant, 
the games, and fireworks, for whose preparation the 
schoolhouses afford the convenient meeting places, this 
use of the schoolhouse as the center of festival celebra- 
tion has suggested and caused to be realized a peculiarly 
appropriate form of observing the National Festival. 
This is the civic dinner in celebration of the arrival of 
youth and of naturalized immigrants at full citizenship. 
This "New Citizens' Birthday Banquet" was first cele- 
brated in the city of Rochester, where its suggestion, 
coming simultaneously from several sources, seemed to 
be a spontaneous expression of the social center idea. 
The new citizens, those who had come into the right 
to vote during the preceding twelve months, were the 
guests. The older citizens who attended acted as hosts 
by each paying for a plate for one of the guests, as well 
as for his own. The addresses began with the Welcome 
of the City, given by the mayor or his representative, 



236 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

followed by a response from one of the new citizens. 
This "Welcome Feast" may be held at another time than 
on the Fourth of July, as it has been at Superior, Wis- 
consin, but it seems especially appropriate to the Fourth. 
More has been done with the organized celebration 
of the "National Festival" than with that of any other 
holiday, but there is scarcely a holiday in the calendar 
which is not capable of beautiful and beneficial observa- 
tion when once a community has secured in the school- 
house the place and in the engagement of a neighborhood 
secretary the personal leadership service for its self-ex- 
pression, and for nearly all the holidays their celebration 
in and through the social center tends to bring forth, 
not only new dramatic forms, but deeper significance. 
Thus, it was only with the beginning of the community 
celebration of Hallowe'en in Milwaukee that the signifi- 
cance of that day of gathering of good and bad and all 
souls, the living and the dead, came forth with its appeal 
to the widening of sympathies. In a Jewish neighbor- 
hood the social center celebration of Christmas in its 
original significance, as the time when the sun starts back 
with its promise of summer in the midst of the cold, 
made of that day for the cosmopolitan neighborhood a 
time of quite universal peace and good will : so, the cele- 
bration of the beginning times of the New Year and the 
celebration of the spring at Easter time. The social cen- 
ter also ofifers the ideal opportunity for the celebration 
of the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln. For in- 
stance, the fact that Garibaldi was born on the anniver- 
sary of Washington's birth suggested a joint celebration 
by the Italian and the native born citizens in a social 
center, in which the Italians presented an American flag 
to hang on the walls of the schoolhouse and the Ameri- 
cans presented an Italian flag to hang with it, the two 



THE FESTIVAL CENTER 237 

flags crossed, to serve as a token of better racial under- 
standing within the neighborhood. Then, too, social cen- 
ter organization tends to make of occasions not usually 
recognized as community festal, times of reunion. For 
instance, in the town of Fairchild, Wisconsin, the com- 
mencement of the high school was made a town cele- 
bration, all the people, as well as the graduating class, 
adopting the motto, "Life Is Now Our School." 

The intimate relation between the use of the school- 
house as a center of musical expression and training and 
its use as a center of festival celebration is obvious. The 
convenience of its use for neighborhood festivals, which, 
of course, should include musical expression, is here set 
forth by Mr. E. S. Martin, Chairman of the Festival 
Committee of the Playground and Recreation Association 
of America: 

The problem of celebrating our national holidays in 
a rational manfter is one that merits serious considera- 
tion and careful thought. There are several days out 
of each year which are recognized all over the United 
States as being occasions for special festivals, though 
not all of them are named by the statutes as legal 
holidays. 

They are New Year's Day, Washington's Birthday, 
Arbor Day, May Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day. the 
Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Hallowe'en, 
Thanksgiving and Christmas. The celebrations that take 
place on these days may be of national importance in 
the sense that they are nation-wide, but are they of 
national importance in the sense that they contribute 
directly to the development of the nation? Has the day 
set aside by the state to commemorate some great event 
accomplished the fullness of its mission when it occasions 



238 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the meeting of groups of people for an idle jollification, 
or even when it inspires the preparation of a scholarly 
paper or the delivery of a learned lecture on the dead 
event? Surely the fact that a nation has set aside an 
entire day to be observed by the people as they will, 
ought to mean more to society than this. 

In the early days of the Republic when the population 
was predominantly rural and fairly homogeneous in 
respect to race, religion and tradition, the festival served 
to bring people together and produce a spirit of geniality 
and good feeling that did much to wipe out past dif- 
ferences and unify public opinion. To-day a very much 
changed condition of afifairs confronts us ; practically 
every race, nationality and religion in the world is repre- 
sented in the American Republic, with the result that 
class distinction has been raised up, which was unknown 
at the dawn of our national history. The fact that 
the festivals are observed by each social class in its own 
peculiar way tends to fix the lines of social cleavage by 
strengthening the class consciousness ; and anything that 
tends to the establishment of rigid class lines shakes 
the foundations of democracy. 

In a country where the elements of the population 
are as heterogeneous as they are in the United States 
it may be expected that class barriers will tend to be- 
come more and more marked unless counteractive agen- 
cies are set to work to dissolve them. 

In the school social center we have just such an 
agency; and the arguments that justify the expansion 
of public activities in recreation and education apply 
with special force to the utilization of public school prop- 
erty in the celebration of national holidays. The tax- 
payer is beginning to realize that he is not getting full 
returns for money invested when he permits school build- 



THE FESTIVAL CENTER 239 

ings to deteriorate with the year while standing unused 
the greater part of the time. With the school buildings 
open on holidays, when many stores and factories are 
closed, an excellent opportunity is presented to bring 
people together in the practice of democracy so that a 
realization of the fact of common proprietorship opens 
the way for further common activities. In this way it 
is possible to school the people in the practice of de- 
mocracy so that a welding of the various elements re- 
sults and a solidarity is given to the social body which 
it would be impossible otherwise to accomplish. 

The taxpayer is usually a part of the separate organi- 
zation attempting to celebrate some festal occasion which 
it believes should receive recognition, therefore it is 
advisable that the school building should be utilized, 
first in the preparation of the neighborhood for the 
particular celebration, and second, as a place to carry 
out the program when deemed advisable. Such a use 
made of the school plant would bring all social classes 
closer together. At present New Year's Day is com- 
paratively little celebrated. Washington's and Lincoln's 
Birthdays are celebrated in our public schools if the 
authorities permit. Arbor Day should be utilized to 
teach, not only children, but adults, the great lessons of 
nature that they may be applied in every-day life. One 
might refer to May Day and its great possibilities, 
Memorial Day, the day of commemoration. Flag Day 
and Independence Day, the preparation for which may 
be coordinated. Here is a rich field for the utilization 
of the school plant, not only during its idle hours, but 
during its active hours as well. 

As chairman of the committee on festivals of the 
National Playground Association, I found one of the 
problems of many cities to be "How shall we bridge 



240 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the gap between the close of school and July Fourth." 
The use of the school plant with leaders from the neigh- 
borhoods keeping the children interested and rehearsing 
after the close of the school season will bridge the gap. 
Similarly in connection with Labor Day, a day which 
should be utilized to cement labor and employer rather 
than for demonstrations against either as is sometimes 
the case, the school plant should be used in connection 
with playgrounds and civic organizations to plan 
an acceptable program for this great occasion so vital to 
our commercial future. 

Columbus Day and Thanksgiving as well as many others 
might be made of vital importance by a more thorough 
preparation participated in by all working in the common 
center, the public school plant. Hallowe'en might be 
made constructive as a festival instead of destructive as it 
is to-day, if the school building were opened for directed 
activities suitable for the boys and girls to give vent 
to the feelings which the day suggests, and then these 
feelings should be directed accordingly. I deplore legis- 
lation prohibiting an undesirable action on the part of 
our youth without providing a substitute. These are 
but a few of the ways to which our school buildings 
may be utilized, always, however, under careful super- 
vision and regulation. 

My belief that almost every governing body to-day 
will grant the use of the school plant for the many 
admirable uses to which it may be put if they are assured 
of proper supervision, and by proper supervision I mean 
not only as to plant but supervision which presupposes 
an understanding in this case of what a proper celebra- 
tion of these festal occasions will mean to the future 
citizenship of the community, as well as ability to carry 
them to a successful climax on the day to be celebrated. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE MOTION PICTURE THEATER 

At one of the joint sessions of the Wisconsin Legis- 
lature of 1910-1911 was given, through the cooperation 
of John Colher, the Educational Secretary of the Na- 
tional Board of Censorship of Motion Picture Films, and 
of the General Film Cornpany, with the University Ex- 
tension Division, a demonstration of the possibilities of 
the motion picture as supplementary educational equip- 
ment and as a social magnet in the public schools. Fol- 
lowing this demonstration, the University Extension 
Division equipped itself with a standard machine and, 
cooperating with the state anti-tuberculosis association, 
secured a supply of films sufficient to show the feasibility 
of this extension of the use of the schoolhouse. As a 
result of the favorable comment of men and women in 
all parts of the state upon this enterprise, the Dean of 
the Extension Division has recommended an appropria- 
tion by the next legislature sufficient to establish a state 
library of motion picture films. The fact that many 
schoolhouses are now equipped with machines promises 
that in at least one state the plans which Mr. Collier sets 
forth in the following comprehensive paper may soon 
begin to be realized : 

Students of social welfare began to awake, two or three 
years ago, to the fact that a new influence is at work 

241 



242 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

among the children throughout the cities and towns of 
America. This influence is the motion picture show. 

The motion picture is a labor saving device and is 
accomplishing in the theatrical field a revolution such as 
labor saving machinery has accomplished in other fields 
before now. It has cheapened the amusement commodity, 
thrown many people temporarily out of work, called into 
existence many whole trades which are contributive to 
the manufacture and use of motion pictures, and length- 
ened the reach of dramatic art in many directions. 

Sociologically, the motion picture has thus far laid two 
great claims on attention. First, it has turned the Amer- 
ican masses into theatergoers and has carried the rich- 
ness and stimulation of the theater into millions of lives 
not hitherto touched by the dramatic appeal. Second, 
the repertory of the motion picture is so varied and the 
language it speaks is so universal, that it has appealed all 
along the range of social classes and to old and young 
alike in the family. From the beginning, the motion 
picture show has been preeminently a democratic theater 
and largely a family theater. 

A few statistics gathered by the National Board of 
Censorship will illustrate these propositions. There are 
about 10,000 motion picture shows in the United States, 
charging five and ten cents for admission. The daily 
audience throughout the year is not less than 4,000,000, 
and of this number probably 400,000 are children of school 
age. In certain congested districts of New York a census 
roughly taken two years ago indicated that in different 
schools from fifty to eighty per cent of the children at- 
tended motion picture shows at least once a week. The 
estimated attendance on all American theaters other than 
moving picture shows is 750,000 a day, and the propor- 
tion of children is comparatively small. 



THE MOTION PICTURE THEATER 243 

We are considering- the motion picture as an aid in 
the school, but we can best introduce our subject by re- 
marks on the purely commercial picture theater, as it can 
be observed in any American city or town. Educational 
themes and even specific pedagogy have never been absent 
from the motion picture theater. Between April, 1909, 
and April, 1910, the board of censorship inspected about 
3,000 reels of pictures. (A reel is 1,000 feet of film and 
provides a fifteen-minute show.) About 400 of these reels 
were classified by the board as educational. The educa- 
tional repertory of motion pictures, as seen in American 
shows, covers very extensively the picturesque side of 
geography; many of the more spectacular modern in- 
dustries, such as steel-making and mining ; authentic his- 
torical episodes ; agriculture, systematic play ; and the 
physical sciences. In the last category, American 
audiences have recently seen several examples of micro- 
scopic motion photography exhibiting chemical action, the 
growth of plants, and bacterial process. The anti-tuber- 
culosis, pure milk, anti-typhoid, and similar propagandas, 
have been dramatized in motion pictures, in some cases 
with perfect scientific accuracy, and these pictures have 
gone through the channels of the regular show-house to 
upward of 10,000,000 people in America. Already, the 
school which was ready to use motion pictures would find 
several hundred subjects available in this country, and, 
by going to Europe, could select from a profuse library 
of strictly educational subjects not yet exported to 
America. 

The topic of the school as a motion picture theater 
falls under three titles : motion pictures in the school 
curriculum ; motion pictures in school extension and 
social center work; motion pictures in the school 
budget. 



244 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

I. Motion Pictures in the School Curriculum 

The motion picture is valuable in pedagogy because it 
is graphic and because it is dramatic. The text-book 
illustration and the stereopticon found in most schools 
are graphic ; they give body and actuality to practically 
all the subject matter of teaching, with the exception of 
pure mathematics. The motion picture does the same, 
and improves on the stereopticon at every point, even 
in its effects of artistic coloring. In ^addition, the mo- 
tion picture provides a complete, an illusive representa- 
tion, which can glide without pause over every facet of 
any subject it deals with, and can reproduce any move- 
ment between the vibration of a microscopic organism 
and the transit of a heavenly body. No human eye has 
ever seen the process of cell division in biology, for 
the inner mechanism of cell division is made visible only 
by the killing and staining of the cell. In motion pic- 
tures, the slides of minute successive stages in such a 
biological process may be assembled, and a complete re- 
production may be thrown, greatly magnified, upon the 
screen. Similarly, the growth of a plant from seed to 
harvest is shown in ten minutes on the screen, not with 
gaps and pauses, but in a continuous process, which is 
accurate to a microscopic degree. The almost infinitely 
swift motion of an insect's wing has been dissected 
through photographs taken at the rate of two thousand 
a second. Once made, the pictures may be projected at 
any desired speed. In all such motion photography an 
actual color reproduction is now possible. So much for 
the graphical side of motion pictures. 

In pedagogy, the dramatic quality of motion pictures 
is perhaps more important than their merely graphic 
quality. Is not the dramatic element too little provided 



THE MOTION PICTURE THEATER 245 

in our customary school curriculum and method of teach- 
ing? Drama is that form of art which deals with the 
human will, and is, therefore, the most important form 
of art, whether to the theologian, the militarist, or the 
teacher. The word "dramatic" is here used, not merely 
to describe conscious and histrionic representation, but 
to recall the psychological law by which motor response 
follows on stimulation. Drama, whose method is the 
method of struggle, is peculiarly a motor form of art. 
It directly suggests and compels action, desire, and the 
use of the will, whereas such art as decorative art, or 
any stimulation of a purely intellectual kind, issues only 
remotely and indirectly in action. Too much abstraction 
in the teaching method is likely to result, at least with 
the child, in a weakened capacity for action. 

A motion picture dealing with first aid to the injured, 
or with an historical episode artfully handled, or with 
the activities of a model commercial house, shown be- 
fore a class in commerce, does more than merely arouse 
interest; it impels the pupil to action, along definite and 
predetermined lines. This proposition, even without the 
help of technical psychology, is evident to common sense, 
and has been recognized by the child-protective agencies 
throughout the country in their protest against what 
they call the "suggestive tendency" of motion pictures 
in the picture theaters. 

It is clear that the motion picture can be used as a 
time-saving, stimulating, and directing agency in the 
school curriculum. It must also be said that the motion 
picture will bring a peril with it. I have suggested that 
in our present school curriculum, memory work, imita- 
tion, and purely ideal presentation play too large a 
part. Merely to graft motion pictures into a curriculum 
which did not invite and require an abundance of action 
17 



246 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

— coordinated, team-work action — on the part of the 
pupil, would have no result other than stimulating the 
pupil and rousing an active disposition for which the 
curriculum itself would provide no expression. The 
outcome would be nervousness, mischief, and a definite 
weakening of the will. In other words, motion pictures, 
viewed as a dramatic art, can be recommended to any 
school only in such measure as that school is ready to 
make use of the new-old pedagogical principles of edu- 
cation through action. I believe that the principles here 
laid down are orthodox, but space does not allow their 
more thorough treatment. 

A word should be said with regard to the effect of 
motion pictures on the eye. The eye-strain of the school 
child is already severe, and any increase of eye-strain 
should be carefully questioned, no matter what the edu- 
cational advantage may be. In brief, motion pictures 
need not lay any especial strain on the normal eye. The 
eye-strain incidental to motion pictures is generally due 
first, to the intense white glare which accompanies their 
display, and second, to the oscillation of the pictures on 
the screen.' A very slight variation in the sequence of 
pictures on the film, due, perhaps, to the vibration of 
the camera which made the original negative, or a very 
slight vibration of the projecting machine, will appear 
as an exaggerated oscillation in the magnified picture 
that is thrown on the screen. In other words, to pre- 
vent oscillation a picture must be well made and care- 
fully projected. In addition, eye-strain is caused by the 
flicker of motion pictures, seen when the pictures suc- 
ceed each other at a slower rate than about fifteen per 
second. This flicker is never necessary, and the imper- 
fect focusing of the picture, and the presence of blurs 
and tears, is never excusable. 



THE MOTION PICTURE THEATER 247 

The important eye-strain of motion pictures, however, 
is due simply to the prolonged focusing of the eye on 
the white screen. The eye is dazzled, and is prevented 
from getting that rest which, amid the ordinary sur- 
roundings of nature, it constantly secures through wan- 
dering over the gradations of light, shadow, and color. 
This primary form of motion picture eye-strain can be 
minimized in two ways : (i) The picture, if an ordinary 
black-and-white picture, should not be projected in com- 
plete darkness, but in an auditorium illuminated by a 
diffused light, almost or quite sufficient to read by. This 
diffused light can be secured through the simple process 
of screening the lighting apparatus, so that its rays will 
not strike directly upon the eyes of the audience or 
directly upon the screen. Under these conditions one 
may secure a perfect motion picture and avoid the dazzle 
which is due to the acuteness of contrast between the 
calcium-white screen and the surrounding darkness. (2) 
More important from the standpoint of eye-strain, and 
equally from the standpoint of art, is the use of color 
process in motion pictures. Color softens the glare, 
greatly diminishes any flicker, and gives to the eye all 
the relief and contrast it needs. Colored motion pictures 
may be obtained through the use of tinted glass slides, 
manipulated by the operator while he is throwing his 
picture. Likewise, the film itself may be tinted. The 
best French and Italian manufacturers of motion pic- 
tures use an actual lithographing process, with exquisite 
results, and this process may be seen in almost any of 
the regular motion picture shows throughout America. 
Finally, color photography has now been applied and 
commercialized in motion pictures. This last process 
is known as kinemacolor, and its exploitation in America 
is about to begin. 



248 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

To sum up the question of eye-strain, motion pictures 
do undeniably injure the eye, except under conditions of 
the careful selection of films and of inventive diligence 
in their exhibition. 

2. Motion Pictures in School Extension and Social 
Center Work 

Viewing the school in the aspect advocated in this 
volume, the value of motion pictures is assured and 
large. They appeal to the interests of the whole 
family, and they combine amusement with education, 
and^ furthermore, they can be made to vitally com- 
bine civics with amusement. A recent film dealing with 
the milk industry, produced under scientific advice by a 
New York film company, illustrates the use of motion 
pictures in the dramatization and illumination of a civic 
problem. This picture, like other pictures dealing with 
the fresh-air evangelism, with many forms of sanitation, 
with folk dancing, the career of the immigrant, etc., 
etc., has gone out as purely an amusement commodity to 
the thousands of theaters in America. 

Social workers have noted how the motion picture 
show attracts classes of people who do not go to the 
evening lecture center, the church, or the settlement. 
These people pay for admission, they come habitually, 
and they live more intensely and far more broadly dur- 
ing the motion-picture hour than during any other mo- 
ment of their day. The motion-picture show has come 
to be recognized as a folk-institution, and it has seemed 
that commerce has gotten the better of philanthropy and 
of municipal good-will in this problem of helping the 
wage-earning millions to use their leisure time con- 
structively and pleasurably. Has not the time now come 
when the school, endowed with a conscious public zeal 



THE MOTION PICTURE THEATER 249 

which the commercial show-house cannot possess, may- 
be justly expected to equip itself with that powerful 
magnet which has given to the commercial show its great 
advantage ? 

5. Motion Pictures in the School Budget 

As yet, in America, neither the demand nor the supply 
for educational motion pictures has been effectively or- 
ganized. Owing to this fact, motion pictures are as yet 
an expensive innovation for any school, and a relatively 
unsatisfactory innovation. This can best be made clear 
by a description of the methods through which the com- 
mercial show-houses obtain their pictures. 

A picture film, when completed at the factory, is sold 
to the "exchange" at an average price of $100 per 1,000 
feet of film. It is then rented by the day or by the week 
to the exhibitor. A motion picture, if carefully han- 
dled, can be run about 500 times through the machine 
before it begins to deteriorate. The average exhibitor 
repeats his program perhaps five times each day, so 
that the film is good for about fifty days' service, and, 
in practice, to the detriment of eyesight, is used much 
longer than fifty days. The rental price is determined 
by these considerations. 

Under present conditions, all the exchanges in this 
country are organized to meet solely the demand of the 
commercial picture shows, whose managers use but little 
thought in selecting their programs, and, in fact, are 
generally content with what the "exchange" hands out 
to them day by day. The "exchange" uses to the full, 
at show-house prices, every film it buys, including every 
educational film. Because the films are going to be 
used repeatedly each day in the show-houses, the ex- 
change demands a relatively high rental for them. If 



250 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the film were going to be used only once or twice a day, 
as would be the case in a school, the daily rental 
price would be less and the film would remain for a 
longer time in serviceable condition. The exchange, 
however, prefers to handle the commercial show-house 
business, where a film is worked to the limit and the 
returns are swift. As a net result, the educational insti- 
tution which wishes to draw on the supply of educa- 
tional films of a regular exchange has to pay show-house 
prices, and has to fight continually for the privilege of 
selecting its own pictures. Such conditions, as a rule, 
effectively discourage the school from attempting the 
use of motion pictures at all. 

One of two measures is necessary, if motion pictures 
are to be generally used in the schools. First, an edu- 
cational film exchange might be established, dealing ex- 
clusively with educational institutions and adapting its 
methods to their peculiar needs. Such an exchange 
would be a success on purely business principles. Sec- 
ond, a sufficiently large system of schools, or any group 
of institutions willing to cooperate with each other, 
could purchase their films outright, and use them in ro- 
tation, thus gradually building up a permanent library 
of motion pictures. Undoubtedly, both of these methods 
will be applied in the near future. 

The rental cost of an educational film, under existing 
conditions, ranges from one dollar to eight dollars a 
day, and, as I have said, the service is unsatisfactory. 
When once the educational demand and supply become 
organized, films will cost from fifty cents to two dollars 
a day, and the service will be satisfactory. Motion pic- 
ture machines can be purchased at prices ranging from 
$125 to $250. The expense of light is negligible where 
electricity is used, but where oxyhydric gas is used the 



THE MOTION PICTURE THEATER 251 

fuel costs nearly a dollar an hour. The salary of an 
operator is about $15 a week, but any intelligent man 
can be trained to handle the motion picture machine, 
and in the school use of motion pictures special arrange- 
ments would be made. 

With regard to motion pictures in the school budget, 
I throw out this final suggestion : That the state educa- 
tional authorities, or any similar body in a given region 
of the country, could establish a self-supporting and 
self-extending motion-picture library, which would not 
only make possible every use of motion pictures by the 
schools, but would exert a stimulating influence on every 
show-house in the region. 



CHAPTER XV 



THE RECREATION CENTER 



The use of the schoolhouse as the recreation center is 
to its use as the political headquarters of the deliberative 
organization of the voters of the district as the flesh is 
to the skeleton of a body. Without the skeleton the body 
would be a flabby thing. It might be held erect, but only 
by being propped up, suspended, uplifted from outside. 
The school recreation center, which has no basis in the 
community's political self-organization for self-expres- 
sion, is necessarily a paternal, an uplift, institution, 
whether used by adults or children or toth. As such 
it is essentially not a positively moral institution. In 
view of the fact that one of the great motives for open- 
ing the schoolhouses to wider use is the desire to sup- 
plant immoral dissipation by moral recreation, it is of 
the greatest importance to point out the truth that, with- 
out a basis in self-government, there is no positive moral 
training in the recreational use of the schoolhouse. It 
is obviously better that people spend their leisure under 
the enforcement of rules of conduct by men appointed 
by the school board in the schoolhouse than under the 
supervision of men appointed by the police department 
in the usual pool room or commercial dance hall. There 
are many reasons why it is better. It is very much 
cheaper for one thing; there is no motive for promoting 
the sale of cigarettes or liquor or the rental of debauch- 

2$2 



THE RECREATION CENTER 253 

ing rooms in connection with the gatherings, for an- 
other; and the men appointed by the school board to do 
police duty have the good taste to take their hats off in- 
side the building for a third. But, while the schoolhouse 
used as merely a recreation center is not immoral, as the 
privately run pleasure resort is likely to be, neither is it 
positively moral. It is a negatively good institution. In 
order to be positively good, in order to be constructively 
moral, it must be democratic, for positive moral develop- 
ment comes only with i-^/Z-expression under self- 
restraint, that is, with democracy. 

The distinction between the merely recreational use of 
the schoolhouse, which is analogous to the Roman circus, 
and the fundamentally civic use of the building, analo- 
gous to the Roman forum, was pointed out in Chapter 
VIII. But it is emphasized in this connection, because, 
next to the confusion of social "center," which is akvays 
a public institution, with social "settlement," which is 
akvays a private institution, the confusion of "social" 
center with "recreation" center is perhaps both most com- 
mon and most harmful. Of course, in America, where 
the basic essential of society is its democratic sovereignty, 
the term "social" center is properly used only of an in- 
stitution built upon a foundation of democratic expres- 
sion. The social center of any community is the place 
where the members of that community have their head- 
quarters of expression as a single, all-inclusive, organ- 
ized society. As was pointed out in Chapter I, the poll- 
ing place is the center, and all the center there is in most 
communities. When the schoolhouse is made the head- 
quarters of the community organization, either for vot- 
ing or for deliberation, or both, then, and only then, 
does it become the social center. It may then be used 
by the society, whose headquarters it is, as also a place 



254 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of recreation, of art exhibition, of information dissemi- 
nation, and so on. These functions and activities may 
or may not be included in the meaning of the term in 
any particular case, but they are not fundamental. A 
home may include a library and an art gallery and a bil- 
liard room, or it may not. But it must have its basis in 
the union of the two adults v^^ho are primarily respon- 
sible for the welfare of the family group. Otherwise it 
is not a home. So a social center may include recreation 
facilities, et cetera, or it may not : but it must have its 
basis in the civic union of the adults who are primarily 
responsible for the welfare of the neighborhood group. 
There is only one more extreme misapplication of the 
term social center than its use to designate a schoolhouse 
opened merely for recreation ; that is the use of the term 
social center in designating privately conducted dance 
halls. 

The following survey is furnished by Clarence Arthur 
Perry, author of the "Wider Use of the School Plant." 
Its summaries, he says, "are probably under- rather than 
overstatements," because the manifestations of the move- 
ment "are so varied, are appearing so rapidly and in so 
many different localities that any quantitative statement 
becomes untrue a month after its utterance." While 
this survey is not, and of course cannot be, complete, it 
nevertheless clearly demonstrates that the all-important 
thing now is not to secure the mere opening of the school- 
houses for wider use, for this is already hastening at in- 
credible speed, but to take care that the institution thus 
developed is not, to use the term of Superintendent Dyer, 
"un-American." 

Mr. Perry's survey is followed by a detailed statement, 
furnished by Dr. Edward W. Stitt, who, as District 
Superintendent of Schools, has charge of the recreation 



THE RECREATION CENTER 255 

centers in New York City, where this use of the school- 
houses is most extensive. 

Mr. Perry writes: 

The most conspicuous progress in the socialization 
of school property has occurred in that phase of it 
which is denoted by the evening recreation center. 
Two years ago there were only fifteen cities in which 
any of the schoolhouses were used as winter play cen- 
ters under the direction of paid zuorkers. During the 
past season that number was increased to forty-three, 
and the total number of school buildings in the cities 
where play leaders were employed for evening activ- 
ities was one hundred and sixty-nine. 

Reports from thirteen cities showed an expenditure 
of $117,631 for the maintenance of recreation centers 
during the season of 1911-12. Of this amount $100,000 
was reported by New York City, where forty-eight cen- 
ters were operated. In that city five years ago the nightly 
attendance at the evening recreation centers averaged 
over 9,500. During the season just passed the average 
nightly attendance was over 17,500. 

Chicago, which began two years ago with only two 
public school recreation centers, supported thirteen dur- 
ing the winter of 1911-12. The recreational work which 
has been carried on for a number of years in the Phila- 
delphia schools by the Home and School League and its 
afiiHated organizations has so thoroughly demonstrated 
the wisdom of community provision for a larger play life 
that the superintendent of schools in his last annual 
report has recommended that the work be placed under 
the control of the board of public education. 

In Boston the Woman's Municipal League has estab- 
lished a popular neighborhood center in the East Boston 



256 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

High School. The undertaking was directed by a couple 
of skilled social workers who settled in the district and 
spent three months in investigating and making ac- 
quaintances before opening the center. Intensive club 
work has been the leading characteristic of this interest- 
ing experiment which attained such a pronounced suc- 
cess that next year it is to be conducted, along with 
four new centers, by the school committee. 

In St. Louis the first definite experiment in the social 
use of the public schoolhouse has been made by the 
Neighborhood Association. It rented Franklin School 
from the board of education and used it as a meeting 
place for the clubs and the carrying on of its various 
recreational and social activities. 

Milwaukee, through a referendum, has authorized its 
board of school directors to levy a two-tenths of a mill 
tax for social and recreation center work, which will 
yield next year about $88,000. A director and staff have 
been employed to start this work. 

The Massachusetts state legislature during the past 
year enacted a law authorizing the use of public school 
property in Boston for social, civic and other purposes. 
As the result of an agitation for social centers which 
had been waged in Washington, a bill was introduced in 
the United States Senate authorizing the board of edu- 
cation to use public school buildings as centers of 
recreation and for other supplementary educational pur- 
poses. 

In many cities organized agitations are being car- 
ried on to secure the use of school buildings for 
recreation center work. In Duluth this is being urged 
by the board of public welfare. In Youngstown, Ohio, 
over $7,000 was raised in a campaign for playgrounds 
and recreation centers which was carried on by the local 



THE RECREATION CENTER 257 

playground association. In Cincinnati, where the school- 
houses have been open for evening gymnasium classes 
for years, the proposition of a more thorough expansion 
of the social center idea is being vigorously advocated. 
The Evanston Welfare Association of that city made a 
social survey of one of the districts and thereby de- 
veloped facts which make a strong argument for pro- 
viding wholesome recreation in public school buildings. 

The men's club of one of the large churches of Spring- 
field, Massachusetts, has secured the use of one of the 
public schools for neighborhood center work. In Pater- 
son, New Jersey, the Woman's College Club has agi- 
tated the subject of opening the schools in that city. 
The Social Service Council of Portland, Oregon, repre- 
senting twenty-five local philanthropic organizations, is 
also seeking the opening of the public school buildings 
as substitutes for the dance halls. 

The above instances are simply representative of the 
organizations and their methods; they do not constitute, 
by any means, a complete record of all the bodies which 
are working to further this movement. The superin- 
tendents of some fifty cities other than those included in 
the foregoing summaries reported schoolhouses which 
were locally known as "recreation or social centers"; 
and although on closer inspection of their reports it 
appears that many of these buildings were used only 
for monthly parent-teacher meetings or bi-monthly en- 
tertainments, nevertheless the fact of their being reported 
is indicative of the new attitude of school officials re- 
specting the recreational use of school property. 

These fifty do not embrace, even approximately, all 
of the cities in which incipient centers are develop- 
ing. The increasingly frequent desire to extend the priv- 
ileges of the school building for recreational purposes 



258 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

even when the board's funds do not permit organized 
activities is well illustrated by an extract from the report 
of a superintendent in the far west : "Our schoolhouses 
have been used as social centers by permitting the pupils 
in the respective grades, in charge of their teacher, to 
have little parties. Also, the teachers of the respective 
schools have held social gatherings at which the teachers 
of the city have been invited, together with other per- 
sons interested in educational work. Schoolhouses were 
allowed to be used, free of all cost, by outside organi- 
zations for consistent purposes. Parents' meetings were 
held in all the schools, closing with some exercises in 
which the pupils take part. We hope to do more of 
this the coming year." 

Since many of the parent-teacher associations have 
recreational and entertaining features upon their pro- 
grams, they cannot be overlooked in this survey. Some 
notion of the numerousness of these associations can 
be gained from the fact that the National Congress of 
Mothers, with which the majority of them are affiliated, 
has branches in over thirty states, the number of local 
groups making up the state bodies ranging from twenty 
to one hundred and seventy. 

The terrible facts regarding the extent and causes of 
the social evil as revealed by the report of the Chicago 
Vice Commission have given a new impetus to the move- 
ment of providing substitutes for the vicious dance hall. 
In the effort to find a place where young men and 
women may come together in a social way under whole- 
some auspices, welfare workers are turning more and 
more to the public schools. In New York City the 
opportunity for social dancing was afforded during the 
past season in over a dozen of the recreation centers. 
In Jersey City the school extension committee has been 



THE RECREATION CENTER 259 

instrumental in opening three of the public schools for 
social dancing one night a week. From the outset the 
school board furnished heat, light, and janitor service, 
and after the work won the approval of the community 
it employed a trained supervisor to direct it, retaining 
the extension committee in an advisory capacity. In a 
dozen or so other cities the question of social dancing 
in the public schools is being very actively discussed. 

In a large number of cities school boards are prepar- 
ing for this general community use of the schoolhouse 
by providing suitable auditoriums in all of their new 
ward buildings. In Oklahoma a country school teacher 
in Cleveland County has been arranging lectures and en- 
tertainments in the rural schools. Many of them have 
had lyceum courses of from two to six numbers, and 
sometimes as many as twelve meetings are held simul- 
taneously in one county. 

In Brooklyn, New York, a small committee of citizens 
during the past season secured the Commercial High 
School for a series of free concerts and lectures on social 
and civic subjects on Sunday evenings. The course in- 
cluded ten concerts given by high-class quartettes and 
other well-known musicians. These alternated with the 
lectures by persons prominently identified with various 
kinds of social work. The attendance at the first four 
concerts averaged 1,500 people and the attendance at 
the lectures ran from 400 to 800. 

The superintendent of schools in Alma, Kansas, has 
promoted public meetings among the citizens of the school 
district. The meetings were held sometimes in the after- 
noon, but more often in the evening, and musical features 
enlivened the evening entertainment. The school children 
addressed and carried printed invitations to their parents, 
and others were sent through the mail. The discussions 



26o THE SOCIAL CENTER 

were focused upon matters of common community in- 
terest. Starting from the standpoint of sentiments that 
already existed, the attention of the auditors was grad- 
ually directed to new viewpoints and new ways of co- 
operating for community betterment. Among the topics 
discussed were school athletics, musical instruction in 
the grades, school libraries, and student government. As 
the result of one meeting the purchase of a tract of land 
for athletics and agriculture was authorized. Social hy- 
giene was the subject on one of the discussions, and a 
public sentiment is now developing that will permit the 
giving of systematic instruction in eugenics and whole- 
some sex hygiene. 

The United States Bureau of Education is now send- 
ing out bulletins describing the progress of social and 
recreation center work throughout the country. The 
social service commissions of a number of the leading 
religious denominations are now promoting the wider 
use of the school plant. The Social Service Committee 
of the New York Federation of Churches and Christian 
Organizations passed the following resolutions : "That 
the community should regard the school building as its 
property, to be turned to every possible community use. 
That the sense of the community should commend the 
work already done and demand the further extension 
of the vise of the school buildings, outside of school hours, 
until the needs of the city be more fully met as regards 
summer vacation schools, supervised playgrounds, and 
evening recreation centers for physical, social, literary 
and other activities of young people and adults. That 
the use of school buildings for polling places and other 
civic activities be urged as far as practicable." 

In connection with the Men and Religion Forward 
Movement during the past winter, the wider use idea 



THE RECREATION CENTER 261 

was advocated in some seventy conferences in the lead- 
ing cities of the country. Each of these meetings was 
attended by representatives of nearby cities and towns, 
so that the social use of school buildings was in that 
way brought to the attention of leaders in the religious 
life of a large number of communities throughout the 
country. 

Dr. Stitt writes : 

Nothing is more remarkable in the growth of our 
great nation than the continued tendency of the people 
to dwell in cities. This gradual urbanization of our 
population has been especially noticeable in the last half 
century. 'Tn i860," declares Lawrence Veiller in his 
recently published book on Housing Reform, "the per- 
centage of urban population was 16.1. In 1900, it had 
increased to 33.1. The United States census for this year 
will show, it is estimated, that the urban population 
of the entire country is fifty per cent." All the Census 
figures thus far published confirm the above statement. 
Almost all the gains in population have been made in 
the cities, and there has been a gradual shifting of the 
population from the villages and outlying districts of 
the country to the crowded cities. 

This enormous urban development has gradually re- 
ceived the close attention of our modern sociologists. 
The narrow confines of so many crowded tenements, the 
absence of any satisfactory court-yards in most apart- 
ments, and the fact that so many of the streets and 
avenues are apparently the permanent property of electric 
cars and automobiles, prevent the city boy and girl from 
enjoying any of the free, outdoor sports which are the 
right and heritage of every country child. It there- 
fore becomes the dutv of every municipality to provide 
18 



2^2 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

playgrounds for the children who live in the crowded 
sections of our great cities. It is also necessary to 
care for the young men and women who are engaged in 
their various occupations during the day, and crave 
some form of recreative activity at night. 

New York City has given careful consideration to 
the claims of the large army of workers whose daily 
toil is so heavy that they are physically and mentally too 
tired at night to attend evening schools, and whose hum- 
ble lodgings, located in the congested sections, furnish 
no opportunity for home amusements. The schoolhouses 
are the proper places in which to provide satisfactory 
recreative facilities for the wage-earners who are sixteen 
years old or over. 

Our city has been especially fortunate in having as 
its school architect superintendent, C. B. J. Snyder, who 
has devised a structure called the "H" school. It is 
especially adapted for school purposes by day, and be- 
cause of the high ceilings of the first story in which the 
playground is located, it is admirably adapted for gym- 
nasium purposes at night. The separate court-yards 
formed by the wings of the building also lend them- 
selves to recreative activities. These modern buildings 
have an abundant supply of electric lights, as proper 
illumination is one of the greatest factors in the success 
of the movement. 

There are now thirty-eight different recreation centers 
established in the five boroughs making up this great 
metropolis. Five of the centers located in outlying por- 
tions of the city, and in places in which the congestion 
of population is not so great are open only two nights 
per week. The others are open every night except Sun- 
day, from 7.30 to 10 p. M. The sessions commence in 
October, and usually close at the end of May. 



• THE RECREATION CENTER 263 

There are several different departments to the recrea- 
tion centers, all under the direction of a principal who 
is expected to be a trained gymnast, as well as a lover of 
humanity, and therefore desirous of raising the social 
and ethical standards of those who attend the center. 

Great importance is properly placed upon the athletic 
activities. The first floor of our modern buildings makes 
a very satisfactory gymnasium. It is well heated for 
use during the cold weather, and the ceilings are made 
sufficiently high to provide excellent ventilation, and 
also permit the installation of basket-ball courts. There 
is provided a satisfactory amount of gymnastic material, 
including the buck, horse, parallel bars, horizontal bar, 
jumping-standard, dumb-bells and Indian clubs, so that 
the apparatus is sufficiently extensive to permit many 
forms of physical training. Indoor base-ball, hand-ball, 
quoits, ring-toss, and other such games are provided, 
the only limitations being our financial disability, and 
the lack of proper accommodations as regards floor-space 
or playing area. In all the work directed by the teacher 
of gymnastics, no attempt is made to create star athletes 
or trained acrobats. The effort has been rather to de- 
velop young men of good physique and to teach them 
how to use the various kinds of apparatus with which 
the gymnasium is equipped. They are also encouraged 
to take part in the organized games, and to look upon 
the physical side of the recreation center as being of 
great importance. To encourage competition and to 
stimulate the natural spirit of rivalry, each center fre- 
quently has a series of athletic contests including relay- 
races, potato-races, obstacle-races, dashes and other run- 
ning races, as well as the standing and broad jumps. 
Prizes are offered by the various clubs, and these open 
meetings are largely attended by parents and friends 



264 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of the members. At the end of the year, a union athletic 
meet of all the centers has been heW in one of the largest 
armories, and several thousand people gathered to wit- 
ness the contests. Gold, silver and bronze medals are 
awarded to the successful competitors, and also a hand- 
some trophy to the center which wins the highest num- 
ber of points in all the contests. 

Some of the buildings used for recreation centers 
are equipped with shower-baths, and capable attendants 
are provided by the board of education to supervise the 
bathing. These baths are very essential for many young 
men and women who have not proper bathing facilities 
in their homes. It is also a great attraction to the center 
to be provided with baths so that those who have been 
taking severe physical exercise, or who have been playing 
a strenuous game of basket-ball or hand-ball, may have 
a chance to get a cool shower bath before venturing out 
into the cool night air. One of our centers is located 
in the High School of Commerce which is fortunate 
enough to have a pool 42x21 feet, and a competent 
teacher gives instruction in swimming. This is a luxury 
which cannot be afforded in many buildings. It is, how- 
ever, of great importance that every building used as a 
recreation center should be equipped with several shower- 
baths. 

A second branch of the recreative activity is provided 
in the game-room and library. Here such quiet games 
as checkers, chess, dominoes, parchesi, and so forth, are 
provided, and also such card-games as battles, authors, 
and various historical and geographical games. Frequent 
tournaments are held in checkers and chess. Last winter 
in one of our east side centers our chess-club tied the 
chess-club of New York University in a series of games. 
In the library are provided a number of the leading 



THE RECREATION CENTER 265 

magazines, so that the young men and women may keep 
abreast with current literature. In some of the centers, 
the teachers and some of those in attendance purchase 
and keep on file two or three evening newspapers. Each 
center is also furnished with fifty volumes from the New 
York Public Library, including not only books of fiction, 
but also of art, history, and general literature. These 
books may be read in the center, or by special permission 
may be taken home by the reader. 

The most important educational department of the 
recreation center is found in the clubs. Sometimes 
twenty, thirty and even more have been organized in 
a single center. The board of education provides a club 
director, who assists in the organization of these clubs, 
trains the members in parliamentary procedure, and aids 
in the preparation of the weekly literary program of 
recitations, dialogues and debates. Some of the clubs 
are specially organized as athletic clubs, and produce 
basket-ball teams of exceptional ability. Other clubs are 
more or less social in their nature, and still others have 
a purely literary aim. Many clubs embrace all three 
features. The principals always strive to persuade all 
the club members to take some systematic training in 
the gymnasium. 

The clubs have stated nights of meeting, and are gov- 
erned by duly elected officers of their own selection. 
Elections are always decided by ballot, and the. club mem- 
bers obtain practical demonstration of all the essential 
principles of ordinary parliamentary practice in their 
spirited meetings. Some of the clubs are organized to 
give simple dramatic performances, and very creditable 
work has been attempted along this line. The staging 
of the plays is necessarily attended with many mechanical 
difficulties, and the young actors are limited to costumes, 



266 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

which they may hire or borrow, or else ingeniously man- 
ufacture from clothes loaned for the purpose. The public 
performances of the plays are very largely attended, the 
audience frequently numbering a thousand or over. 

Some of the clubs are organized to encourage civic 
pride. One of the most successful of these is the Max- 
well Civic League, named in honor of the city super- 
intendent, William H. Maxwell, who has done so much 
to develop, broaden, and encourage the work of the 
recreation centers. This club recently held an open 
meeting at which about twelve hundred persons were 
present. The program consisted of many interesting 
numbers, including a session of a pseudo board of esti- 
mate and apportionment, a stereopticon lecture on the 
work of the street cleaning department, and an address 
by myself on the privileges so freely afforded by the 
board of education. A school orchestra furnished the 
music, and a glee-club of young ladies sang several 
selections. The average age of the immense audience 
was about twenty years, and all left at the end of the 
instructive exercises with nobler ideals of citizenship, 
a broader knowledge of proper sanitary laws, and a 
more appreciative lovC for the city which furnished so 
many recreative and educational advantages. 

In most of the recreation centers, one or more study- 
rooms have been established. Here the children of the 
day schools who have not proper home advantages as 
regards desks, light, quiet, and other necessary adjuncts 
of a proper place for study, gather in well-lit and -com- 
fortable rooms, where they have the assistance of teachers 
of special ability and wide experience. Each pupil is 
provided with an attendance card admitting him or her 
to the study-room privileges. This card is properly 
punched by the teacher in charge, so that the parents 



THE RECREATION CENTER 267 

may know the child has been present at the center, and 
has not been running the streets at night. Very few 
of the children attending these classes fail in their school 
work, and, as a rule, they are regularly promoted at the 
end of the term. In one center, out of two hundred 
children who attended the study-room, all but one were 
sent ahead at the last general promotion. 

In several of the recreation centers for girls and 
women, there have been organized very successful mixed 
dancing classes. The principals in charge of these cen- 
ters have been requested to use especial vigilance, so 
that all proper precautions have been taken that no criti- 
cism could in any way be fairly directed against the 
plan of bringing young men and women together once 
a week for a social dancing period. The membership 
on the part of the young men has been restricted to 
those who were members in good standing in clubs in 
the neighboring male center. Cards of membership, 
non-transferable, are issued, signed by the principal of 
the center at which the young men are regular attend- 
ants. The woman principal in charge of the center at 
which the mixed dancing class meets acts as a sort of 
membership committee, and has the right to refuse ad- 
mission to any young man whom she does not consider 
a desirable member, or to request his immediate with- 
drawal any time his actions or manners are not in every 
respect satisfactory. 

The first part of the evening is devoted to systematic 
instruction, so that the beginners, especially among the 
young men, may be encouraged to learn to dance. No 
attempt is made to develop dancers of extraordinary 
ability. The young men who are naturally awkward and 
clumsy are helped most of all, as the desire is to enable 
as large a number as possible to learn the essentials 



268 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of dancing. It has been astonishing to note the im- 
provement in grace, courtesy, and manly dignity made 
by the young men. Much attention has been paid to 
the matter of personal cleanliness and correct dress, 
so that clean collars, polished shoes, and the little re- 
finements of polite society soon came to be recognized 
by all. 

In most of the mixed dancing classes, a special social 
evening is held once a week, to which each member is 
privileged to invite one friend. The attendance at the 
various classes varies from sixty to two hundred. No 
attempt, however, has been made to enlarge the mem- 
bership to too great an extent. The fact that the num- 
ber is restricted adds to the value of the privilege, and 
makes those selected esteem the honor so highly that 
all are more than willing to maintain a high standard 
of membership. As a rule, the music consists of piano 
and violin, though occasionally one or two other pieces 
are added. The board of education furnishes the piano 
and pianist. The other music is paid for by the club 
members from the money collected as dues. For special 
occasions, orders of dancing are provided, and the young 
men are taught the ordinary usages of society regarding 
engagements to dance. 

There are many improvements which could be made 
in the further usefulness of recreation centers. Gen- 
erally these require the expenditure of additional money, 
more than most municipalities will be willing to pay. 
The following are suggested as being some of the more 
important recommendations : 

( I ) It is hardly fair to limit the advantages of recre- 
ation centers to the poorest sections of a city. In some 
neighborhoods where persons in moderate circumstances 
live the inroads of moving-picture shows, cheap theaters, 



THE RECREATION CENTER 269 

elnd the lower order of vaudeville performances need to 
be met by the uplifting influences of recreation centers. 
. (2) Each school building used for a recreation center 
should have a large electric sign outside the building, 
30 that the passers-by may have their attention attracted 
by the opportunities afforded by the centers. 

(3) Glee-clubs and choral societies should be -or- 
ganized under proper musical direction. The services of 
the supervisors and special teachers of music in the day 
schools will be very helpful. After some instruction 
has been given, some of the simple oratorios and can- 
tatas may be attempted at a union concert of the various 
musical clubs of the centers. 

(4) At least once or twice a week mothers' clubs 
should meet in the cooking-room of the school, and very 
practical lessons in plain cooking and economic house- 
keeping should be given. If more mothers knew how 
to make wholesome soups, bread and rolls, cook potatoes 
properly, broil steaks and chops, and prepare other sim- 
ple home dishes, the homes of many workingmen could 
be made much happier, and some of the saloon prob- 
lems would be solved. 

(5) Classes in simple sewing, patching, darning, and 
other such necessary details of the clothes question would 
help to solve the problem of the poor as to how to live 
within their means. 

(6) Nurses could give practical lessons once a week 
upon such important topics as the following : Proper 
food for infants ; care of the sick ; ventilation of bed- 
rooms ; care of the teeth ; cleanliness of the home ; var- 
iety of food; first aid to the injured; importance of 
bathing. 

(7) Civil service classes for those wishing to join 
the fire and police forces should be organized. The 



270 THE SOCIAL CENTER ' 

members can secure their preparation for the physical 
tests in the gymnasium. Once a week, a teacher can be 
assigned to act as a helper in the work necessary for 
the educational tests. 

Theodore Roosevelt recently said of the playgrounds : 
"They are the greatest civic achievement the world has 
ever known." Recreation centers are really the play- 
grounds of our adults. Effectively equipped and wisely 
directed, they can be made of the highest value in the 
conservation of the youth of our city, who are to be 
the citizens of the future, and upon whose training and 
patriotism the welfare of our country depends. 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE VOCATION CENTER AND EMPLOYMENT BUREAU 

The argument of Mrs. Annie L. Diggs in her recent 
book, "Bed Rock," that a large unemployed class is as 
inimical to the welfare of the country as a large illiterate 
class and that the furnishing of vocational guidance and 
information regarding employment, along with, and as 
a part of the educational system, is immediately neces- 
sary, points the importance of this chapter. The leaders 
in the movement for the development of the use of the 
schoolhouse as a vocation center and employment bureau 
in this country are Mr. Meyer Bloomfield, director of 
the Vocation Bureau of Boston, and Dr. John R. Com- 
mons, of the Wisconsin Industrial Commission. In his 
paper Mr. Bloomfield discusses ^uainly the vocational 
service of the evening school. His argument is, there- 
fore, chiefly applicable to urban conditions. The plan 
which Dr. Commons sets forth contemplates the use of 
rural as well as city schoolhouses as branches of a gen- 
eral system of employment offices. In several places it 
has been found that the librarian in the schoolhouse 
branch library is the officer best situated to assume 
charge of the neighborhood employment bureau. 

Mr. Bloomfield writes: 

The movements for vocational education and for vo- 
cational guidance, steadily gaining in nation-wide inter- 

271 



272 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

est, promise in their relation to the larger uses of the 
school plant a unique field of personal and social service. 
An age like ours, sensitive to social waste in unemploy- 
ment, misemployment, and exploited childhood; a public, 
keener for the better social investment of youth in com- 
merce and industry, demand of the school, that tradi- 
tional center of light and inspiration, a closer relation- 
ship with the world of work and its problems. 

Abundant evidence is at hand of the evils during the 
critical transition from school-life to working-life. Re- 
ports such as those of the Royal Commission on the 
Poor Laws, published in England two years ago, and 
the studies of child-helping societies in this country, con- 
firm the conviction of all thoughtful observers that the 
community has failed thus far to bridge the gap between 
school and the occupations. 

The school influence abruptly terminates when tens 
of thousands of fourteen-year-old boys and girls in this 
country get their working certificate and are "pitch- 
forked into the working world," as Charles Booth has 
put it. At no time in their lives is the social protection 
of the school and the community more needed for these 
children. At no othef period does guidance and train- 
ing prove more fruitful. The period of adolescence is 
the moral crucible of youth. The schoolhouse has here 
a strategic opportunity of cooperating with the home and 
the occupation in order to tide over that part of one's 
lifetime vyherein efficiency or inefficiency develops. 

Unquestionably many a devoted teacher has started an 
individual boy or girl on a career of usefulness and suc- 
cess. The complex age we live in, however, requires, 
if we do justice to the masses as well as to the individ- 
uals, that the sympathy and initiative of the teachers be 
supplemented by a thorough-going organized service of 



THE EMPLOYMENT CENTER 273 

vocational training and vocational guidance. For the 
multitude of fourteen-year-old children who drop out of 
school never again to study anywhere, a schoolhouse 
must be so organized as to reach them with its influence 
and its service. Until such time, therefore, as a more 
enlightened public sentiment shall raise the compulsory 
school age of childhood, and until socially minded em- 
ployers realize the wastefulness of employing young 
people at all, there is a work of conservation which the 
common school must energetically undertake. 

Broadly speaking, all education aims to develop the 
capacity for living and for a livelihood. Home-making, 
citizenship, and bread-winning are phases, the effective 
union of -which make the man and the woman. Voca- 
tional education is becoming a part of the public school 
system, and in communities educationally progressive 
continuation schools are being started so that work and 
a fundamental training for work go together. Before 
long legislation will enforce a short working day for all 
minors who will be obliged to receive instruction with 
wage-earning. 

Underlying all this preparation for life and a liveli- 
hood is the necessity of studying the individual apti- 
tudes and circumstances of each child and of the occu- 
pations which the children may to their best advantage 
engage in. Such a study demands time and resources, 
and to give counsel based on such study requires excep- 
tional insight, sympathy, and skill. The present day de- 
mands this specialized service for the protection of young 
people. 

Most boys and girls do not choose their life-work ; 
nor are they prepared for it. They find the first job to 
hand — whichever job pays the most, that is the one 
scrambled for. Parents are too busy and uninformed to 



274 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

guide their children intelligently. Teachers, however 
kindly, cannot be expected to know the facts about the 
vocations, their dangers, advantages, disadvantages, and 
what they hold out to those they employ. It so happens 
that most "blind alley" occupations pay young people 
oftentimes twice the wages of the occupations which are 
educative and in which progress is possible. The dofifer 
boys of a cotton-mill receive much more than machin- 
ists' apprentices, or the boys in an architect's office. In- 
deed, the latter are often glad for the sake of the train- 
ing they receive to work for nothing. The doffer boy 
can never get more wages, and at seventeen or eighteen 
years of age he is out on the street unfitted for any use- 
ful occupation. There are many parents who would 
gladly make even more sacrifice than they now do in 
order to give their children a good start in life, but no 
one is at hand to tell them about the vocations, and to 
point out to them what must inevitably befall their chil- 
dren in this or that occupation. Hence the necessity of 
vocational counselors in connection with the public 
school. 

The Boston School Department, awakened to the situ- 
ation, has joined hands with the Vocation Bureau — a 
work maintained by public-spirited men and women to 
study the occupations in their relations to young workers 
— and, as a result, vocational advisers have been ap- 
pointed in every school in Boston. These advisers are 
studying the employments open to young people, and 
some of them are preparing themselves as for a new 
profession. Harvard University has recognized the need 
of fitting teachers as vocational counselors, and a be- 
ginning was made in the Harvard Summer School of 
191 1 by means of a course on Vocational Guidance. 

The wider use of the school buildings is naturally 



THE EMPLOYMENT CENTER 275 

associated with its use outside of the regular day school 
world. For wage-earners it is the evening school en- 
largement we have in mind, and, consequently, the need 
is for an evening program that shall minister to the 
vocational problems of young wage-earners. Unfortu- 
nately, the night school is the poor relation of the school 
system. Whatever is left over from the heavy and 
growing demands of the insufificiently maintained day 
school determines the length of the evening school period 
and its activities. But as the social service which the 
night school can render is better understood, the public 
will come to regard the night school budget as a fixed 
charge which it cannot safely cut. 

Dealing as it does with wage-earners, young and old, 
the night school has a singular opportunity of providing 
instruction intended to quicken what President Eliot has 
called the "life-career-motive." The night-school service 
must be saturated with the vocational purpose, else it is 
a failure. The English taught to foreigners must be 
practical enough to serve them as peddlers, laborers, and 
artisans; the geography must point out the boundaries 
of states, not only in terms of hills and rivers, but also 
in those of mines and mills and other wage-earning re- 
sources. In other words, the culture of the evening 
school must not be academic, and remote, but real, vital, 
and significant. It is a dangerous snobbishness which 
regards the utilitarian view of education as inferior 
and unworthy. There is a difiference between the prac- 
tical and the sordid. All that the vocational idea aims 
for is to make men and women effectively self-sup- 
porting citizens, respecting the producer and despising 
the parasite. 

A large number of the night school pupils, particularly 
the young, are in an unstable condition of employment. 



276 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

They change frequently and they are wholly without 
guidance. This continual change makes for demoraliza- 
tion quite as often as for betterment. The night school 
which ties up its instruction with the vocational prob- 
lems of its students will succeed far beyond any of the 
present type. 

The following program is therefore suggested for the 
use of the night school as a vocational guidance center, 
the purpose being to develop happier and more efficient 
workers. In the first place, vocational record-cards 
should be kept of every pupil showing what their occu- 
pations are now and what they have been, both here, and, 
m the case of the immigrants, abroad. The educational 
history of each student should also be recorded. These 
cards must be treated as live material and not as mere 
statistics. Someone, preferably a specially designated 
vocational counselor in that school, must use the facts 
disclosed by the record-cards as a basis for organizing 
appropriate vocational and social service. In the first 
place, the counselor should have a personal interview 
with each pupil to ascertain what his present problems 
are. On the one hand there will be those found who 
can be persuaded to teke courses that will advance them 
in their present employment ; then there is another and 
very large group whose preparation may be started for 
another occupation. These plans can be pursued with- 
out encroaching upon the fundamental work of the regu- 
lar evening school. Indeed, the pupils will be found 
eager to spend more time in school and to attend more 
regularly because of the vocational opportunities ofifered. 

An evening school physician is needed as a medical ad- 
viser. Every pupil should be given the opportunity to 
consult this physician, at least once during the school 
year, about his physical condition, and the classes should 



THE EMPLOYMENT CENTER 277 

be addressed on topics dealing with industrial hygiene 
and occupational diseases. No greater service than this 
could be rendered to the pupils and to the community, 
for among the pupils are painters and others whose work 
■subjects them to the risk of lead-poisoning, and there are 
thousands of others who are in dust-breathing employ- 
ments. The prevention of tuberculosis must be a re- 
iterated topic of discussion. Indeed, the vocational aim 
of the night school makes it essentially a school of health, 
for health is efficiency. 

A large proportion of night school pupils are immi- 
grants. The removal and distribution of the new Ameri- 
cans out of the congested tenement district will be 
hastened by such information as to opportunities of 
employment outside of their localities as will enable these 
thoughtful students to work out their own vocational 
salvation. The night school must be not only a center 
of information about the trades and professions, the 
rural as well as the urban occupations, but must have 
also the closest affiliation with the public and the private 
educational agencies which offer technical courses to 
wage-earners. And in communities where such facilities 
are lacking the vocational adviser must work for their 
establishment. 

It is the duty and the, privilege of the evening school 
vocational adviser to discover and help develop the 
talent and the special capacities among the various pupils, 
and having done so to connect them with their appro- 
priate opportunities. Some pupils are book-dull but tool- 
bright. The adviser should find the facilities for testing 
the pupils in as many ways as possible in order fairly 
to judge of their endowments. 

Simple talks and debates can be organized in the night 
.school dealing with the occupations and their relative 
19 



2/8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

merits. Some years ago there was a series of discussions 
at the Civic Service House, Boston, deaHng with ped- 
dHng, the trades, the professions, farm life and city life. 
Adult immigrants struggling for a livelihood took part 
in these discussions and contributed information, criti- 
cism and suggestions of greatest value. 

To make the vocational service of the night school 
real and attractive it is necessary for the relief of the 
tired brains and bodies that come for instruction to com- 
bine wholesome amusement with vocational information. 
Men, women and children crowd the store windows 
where a demonstration is in progress. It may be a tobacco 
store where a skillful carver is transforming a lump 
of meerschaum, a cutlery shop where an ingenious whit- 
tler is exhibiting the magic of a sharp knife deftly 
handled, or even a humble but immaculate eating-place 
with its show of well-made flap-jacks. People like to 
see things done. They learn by seeing them done just 
as they learn by doing them. The night school should 
provide for vocational demonstration. Moving pictures 
and lantern slides can be used for vocational instruction. 
An educational moving-picture show in a night school 
would crowd its largest hall. That alone would effec- 
tively compete with the unwholesome amusements of 
the night school neighborhoods. We have here a large 
and undeveloped field of instruction and social service. 

The wider uses of the school building is an accepted 
proposition by all thoughtful people. The ordinary night 
school as an instrument for vocational efficiency is not 
so well understood. In the day schools we shall see 
vocational counselors helping more and more children 
to prolong their school life and to start their bread-win- 
ning career intelligently. The large night school popu- 
lation of this country must likewise be taken into account 



THE EMPLOYMENT CENTER 279 

in our social development of the school plan. The social 
worker, the teacher, and the vocational adviser dealing 
with these earnest, self-supporting students have before 
them a vast opportunity for contribution to the public 
good. Their particular privilege it is to bring work and 
school into closer relations, to help make life and a live- 
lihood one in the service of democracy. 

Dr. Commons writes: 

What is an employment office and what are its func- 
tions? A place where buyer and seller of labor may 
meet with least difficulty and least loss of time. This 
function is now performed by private agencies and news- 
papers. They fail of their complete purpose because 
there are many of them and each is small. The more 
places to look for work the more likely that man and 
job will miss each other. "Don't fly around looking for 
a job," says a newspaper. "Advertise !" But without 
one central agency, workmen must do this. 

The function of an employment office is best expressed 
by the British term "labor exchange." Exchange im- 
plies a market. It is an organization of the labor mar- 
ket, just as the stock market, the cotton market, the 
wheat market are organized. 

Why is an employment office needed? Employers 
are constantly discharging and hiring laborers. Work- 
men are constantly looking for jobs. One firm in Mil- 
waukee hires from 60 to 240 men a week. About ten 
per cent of all those employed change places because of 
seasonal work. Four out of every ten workmen have 
to look for work at least once a year. There is need 
of an organized market because, without such an ex- 
change, each factory and each district of a city tends to 



28o THE SOCIAL CENTER 

become a market. Each has its reserve labor force ready 
to work when needed. Many markets tend to increase 
the number of unemployed. Lack of organization causes 
maladjustment. "Manless job" and "jobless man" do 
not meet and maladjustment of two kinds occurs. First, 
is an oversupply of labor in one place and lack of labor 
in another. Second, some occupations, particularly those 
of unskilled laborers, are greatly over-supplied while 
many skilled occupations have not enough men. 

What is the ideal organization of the labor market? 
Ideal organization would be national. One unified 
national labor exchange would reduce idleness by having 
a single market so that over-supply anywhere could 
be shifted to meet demand anywhere else. At present, 
each manufacturer and each district is interested in 
having idle workmen in the immediate neighborhood 
ready to go to work when they are needed. But as it is 
impossible to get national action at once, we must begin 
with state action. 

What is the ideal labor market of a state? 

(a) Free employment offices maintained by the state. 

(b) Free employment offices maintained by local 

committees. * 

(c) Private agencies regulated by state. 

(d) Correspondents in various cities and industries. 

(e) Reports from all to a central clearing house. 

(f) Periodical bulletin of the labor market. 
What is the ideal for a city? 

(a) Central office in the business center. 

(b) Branches in various residence districts. 

(c) The school as a branch of the employment bureau. 
If each schoolhouse has a director of its social center 

service, he could be supplied with blanks from the 
main employment office. A workman, by going to the 



THE EMPLOYMENT CENTER 281 

school nearest his house to register, could be immedi- 
ately connected with the whole organized labor market 
of the state. The fact that he is out of a job and the 
kind of work he can do will be immediately known 
at the city exchange and in a day the central clearing 
house will know. If a man of his trade qualifications 
is wanted anywhere in the city, the director of the social 
center will be able to inform him after a talk with the 
central office in the city. If there is a place for him 
anywhere in the state, it will be known to him in the 
course of a few days. No discouraging tramping of city 
streets,, no spending of precious pennies for car fare or 
newspapers or as fees to private agents. This will tend 
to remove maladjustment of place. It is of use par- 
ticularly to the immigrant and the ignorant. It would 
tend to distribute population by removing congestion 
in certain places. 

Maladjustment of occupation belongs to the vocational 
bureau. The school, as a branch of the children's de- 
partment of the employment office, will tend to remove 
this kind of maladjustment. British figures show that 
while about 75 per cent of applications for work cannot 
be filled, 40 per cent of the jobs could not be filled. How 
to direct some of the 75 per cent excess so as to reduce 
the 40 per cent lack is the problem of the school. Rec- 
ords of children's aptitudes should be kept in school. 
Teachers can best tell what the child is good for. The 
children's department of a free employment office has 
special blanks for children. These can be filled out in 
the schools with the aid and advice of teachers. The 
employment office has the best records of desirable trades, 
those which are growing. Children are thus directed 
into the most promising occupations. Vocational train- 
ing in public schools and trade schools need employ- 



282 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

merit offices to connect children with the business world. 
The schoolhouse as a branch of the organized state 
labor market meets this need. Thus the free employ- 
ment office connects up with the vocational bureau and 
its special juvenile advisory committee of employers, 
employees and educators to encourage apprenticeship, 
to visit parents and child and to encourage the boy 
to stick to trades and not to jump into "blind alley" 
employments. 

How to induce school teachers and principals to co- 
operate in this great agency is a matter that can be 
worked out when once its importance is understood. The 
Industrial Commission is meeting with success in en- 
listing municipal authorities and local associations of 
manufacturers in supporting financially and supervising 
the employment offices. It has arranged with a few 
country bankers to act as agents for their localities. 
With a broadening idea of the school as a social center 
and the employment of principals who are wide awake 
and alive to their social opportunities, the commission 
could enlist them as a part in a comprehensive scheme 
for the state. Such men should, of course, receive 
extra compensation, not'only for this, but also for other 
work outside the usual pedagogical lines. The policy 
of the Industrial Commission, and the one that will make 
local cooperation most effective, indicates that these 
local expenses should be met by the local authorities, 
while the state meets the general expenses and the sal- 
aries of those in the larger offices who are required to 
give their entire time to the work. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 

"Gentlemen, some of us are beginning to feel that to 
point out the causes of the diseases and defects of the 
school children is only going half the distance. We are 
becoming convinced that the true method is to work for 
the removal of the conditions which permit these causes 
to become operative." 

Thus spoke Dr. George B. Young, Commissioner of 
Health of Chicago, before the First National Conference 
on Social Center Development. His paper, which has 
been printed as a bulletin by the Wisconsin University 
Extension Division, points out the necessity of democrati- 
cally founded and complete social center development in 
order to deal with the social maladjustments of which 
individual disease is coming to be recognized as, in part 
at least, merely a symptom. 

In the two papers which follow, the one by Dr. George 
W. Goler, Health Commissioner of Rochester, the other 
by Dr. Oakley W. Norton, of the same city, the develop- 
ment of the use of the schoolhouse as a health and dental 
office is considered chiefly from the point of view of the 
child. Community self-service through the cooperative 
employment of neighborhood health or dental service has 
only begun, but this is a development to be expected, and 
for reasons set forth in Dr. Goler's paper the school- 

283 



284 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

houses furnish the convenient places for this neighbor- 
hood branching of the public health service. 

Dr. Goler writes : 

It is the duty of the community to provide that every 
child shall be physically and mentally well born ; and for 
this purpose the city must provide that midwifery train- 
ing shall be thorough; that midwives, if permitted to 
practise at all, shall have the same physiological obstet- 
ric training as that given to medical students for the 
degree of Medical Doctor. Midwives and physicians 
both must be thoroughly grounded in hygiene of the 
child, so as to be able to teach both expectant mothers 
and the mothers of the babies already born how to care 
for their children. This training should also include 
work in sex hygiene so that syphilis and gonorrhea, 
those scourges of the race, may in a measure be lessened. 
Births must be very carefully reported. Every death 
among children must be looked up in the birth register, 
and if the birth of the child has not been reported the 
attendant should be dealt with according to law. Inspec7 
tors and nurses visiting a family for any cause should 
inquire as to the obstetric attendant of every child in 
the family under two years of age, and with the name 
of the attendant and the name of the father return 
these data to the health officer for comparison with the 
birth records. That the transmission of ophthalmia neona- 
torum may be caused to disappear, preventive treatment 
in the case of every child born should be made by law 
a part of the duty of every obstetric attendant. 

To insure the normal physical development of school 
children, a medical school inspector, who shall be the dis- 
trict physician, should be attached to every school, whose 
duty it should be to determine not alone the freedom 



THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 285 

of the child from transmissible diseases, but who shall 
be responsible for, and who shall make, a physical in- 
spection, and later as the plan develops a more detailed 
examination. Record should be made of the relations of 
height to weight for age ; the measure of all the sense 
developments by instruments of precision; a nose and 
throat formula, showing the number and location of 
nose and throat obstructions ; the condition of the cir- 
culatory, and respiratory apparatus; and a vaccinating 
formula, showing when and how many vaccine scars the 
child exhibits. These data should be annually registered 
on a card that shall accompany the child from grade 
to grade or from school to school, the card along with 
the baptismal and school certificate to be used as a 
prerequisite for permission to go to work. 

In every school there must be a school dentist with 
chair and dental equipment, who shall teach the hygiene 
of the mouth, the relation between infantile disease — 
diphtheria, scarlet fever, measles and whooping cough — 
and the decay of the teeth; who shall make an annual 
dental formula exhibiting the state of the child's dentition 
on entering school, and, by careful inspection, advise and 
teach the child how to preserve the teeth. 

For the purpose of bringing the school and home into 
closer relation, every school should have its nurse, who 
should be the assistant to the school physician. The 
nurse should not occupy her time altogether in rendering 
assistance to the doctor in the school, but should visit 
the homes of the pupils wherever and whenever neces- 
sary to render assistance, and give advice to mothers 
relating to the preservation of the health of the child. 

Out of the development of this preliminary work there 
must be established in every school a laboratory of 
hygiene for the study of these problems relating to 



286 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the normal health and development of the well child. 
Not only must the sense apparatus of the child be studied 
and recorded in these laboratories, but many questions 
relating to child physiology and psychology must be 
opened for inquiry, among them that great question of 
child fatigue. 

When these problems have received the attention they 
deserve, physical training and instruction in hygiene 
will be made a part of the work in every school. 
Bathing, clothing, the care of eyes, ears, nose, throat, 
teeth, and skin will be made subjects of instruction in 
every school. The shower, the plunge, the gymnasium 
and gymnastic indoor and outdoor games will have a 
place in every school under the direction of a physical 
instructor. To provide for the physical well-being of 
the people generally by securing hygienic conditions in 
the home, we will no longer permit to exist without 
care and education that unfilled gap in child life between 
birth and the time the child attends school, but we will 
fill in that gap by supplying the much-to-be-desired 
teacher nurse for this neglected period of childhood. 

Under the direction of the school and district 
physician, the visiting teacher nurse for expectant 
mothers and infant children will do visiting work in 
cooperation with the school nurse, the health department 
and the maternity hospital. Through all these agencies 
she will discover when the stork may be expected, and 
she will be ready with advice and, out of her nursing 
experience, she will be able to show the mother how to 
bathe, clothe, and otherwise care for her child; how to 
keep it well and how to prevent it from becoming sick; 
how to nurse it should it meet with the accident of sick- 
ness. She will be the hygienic adviser in the home. She 
will advise the mother about the vaccination of her 



THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 287 

child. In the homes of her district she will be the hand- 
maiden of the district physician and the school dentist, 
to whom she will look for advice and direction. Through 
her close relations to the family she will learn of the 
unsanitary conditions about the house, in the shops, fac- 
tories, working places of the members of the family, 
and she will refer all of these matters to the properly 
constituted sanitary authorities for investigation and 
rectification. She will also, through her relation with 
the family and with the officers of the public and pri- 
vate places of worship and amusement, find means for 
bringing to the attention of the proper authorities notice 
of unsanitary conditions that may exist in any one of 
them. 

The work of the school nurse, the school doctor, the 
school dentist, the visiting teacher nurse will all be made 
easier and the results consequently greater when pro- 
vision is made for opening the school buildings as places 
of rest and recreation, and as places for social, scien- 
tific and political meetings, and when well equipped 
gymnasia and laboratories are provided in the schools ; 
and when the parks are really made the parks of the 
whole people, by providing fares within the reach of 
the workingman, or, what is better, transportation on 
the street cars nearly as free as air. When all these 
things shall have been done, tuberculosis and the acute 
contagious diseases will be reduced to a minimum. We 
will not spend our time nursing the sick, for sickness 
will be as rare as smallpox in a well vaccinated com- 
munity, and the money now spent for the care of the 
sick will be put into institutions for outdoor and indoor 
recreation, and the balance will be used to keep people 
well. The above group of functions will doubtless be 
best perfected by the state or some of its subdivisions. 



288 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

Private agencies, however, have now their great oppor- 
tunity ; for, as Samuel Hopkins Adams has well said : 
"It is the duty of private philanthropy to point the way 
to public responsibility." None of the work of keeping 
well should be left wholly to private agencies, for theirs 
is the duty to point the way, to fill the gaps now unpro- 
vided for, and as fast as the work of filling in the chinks 
is accomplished, the work should be handed over to the 
state. The organization of these various activities makes 
for the health and happiness of the whole people and 
naturally falls within the lines of public health and 
school organization, and it is to these institutions that 
we must look for the elaboration of a plan for the phys- 
ical and mental welfare and happiness of the whole 
people, once private effort has pointed out the way. 
For in this age of ours it is not to the care of the sick 
that we should direct our efforts, but to the education 
for health and happiness of the whole people. 

The scheme here outlined may appear at first sight to 
be both elaborate and expensive. The cost of any plan 
having for its object prevention of sickness, ameliora- 
tion of suffering, promotion of happiness, must be bal- 
anced against the co'st of sickness, suffering, widow- 
hood, and preventable death, and the dip of the balance 
is far on the side of prevention. In most great cities the 
frame work of a large part of the plan has already 
been perfected ; it only remains for the activities we 
have to be joined together into a perfected whole. 

In many cities we have established a primitive kind 
of medical school inspection, and we have made a begin- 
ning in school nursing. It now remains for us to build 
in both directions ; to construct a plan for the prevention 
of disease in children and for the care of children who 
meet with the accident of sickness, that will result in 



THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 289 

the saving of health, the postponement of death, and, 
therefore, in the prolongation of life and the promotion 
of happiness ; for health is a human asset, sickness an 
economic loss. To nurse the sick is neither so wise, so 
humane nor so economic as to health nurse the well. 
Can we not perfect and extend our scheme for medical 
school inspection and school health nursing by card 
indexing for health the physical and psychological values 
of our children, passing the cards from grade to grade 
and from school to school ; and, school ended, using 
the card records as certificates for permission to work 
and for physical permission to enter the high school or 
college? Is it not just as important that our children 
should leave school, enter high school or college, go into 
the store, factory or workshop with certificates of phys- 
ical and psychical efficiency, as that they should enter 
the high school or college with certificates of mental 
efficiency? Ought we not to have a standard of health 
by which the child is permitted to enter either the pri- 
mary or secondary schools or the college? If in cer- 
tain families parents surround their children with all 
the safeguards for their physical health, and the child 
or children associating with these guarded children is 
a disease carrier, has not the time come when the parents 
who safeguard their child shall ask for protection against 
those children who are carriers of disease? 

We have organized our schools so that school work 
depends largely upon the ability of pupils to learn les- 
sons. How much do we know of the physical efficiency 
and physical robustness of these children? The back- 
ward child is often a child who cannot breathe because 
of obstruction in the upper air passages; the anaemic 
child is anaemic for the same reason. The child who 
is deficient in his school work is often found to be the 



290 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

child who cannot see or who cannot hear; who suffers 
from digestive disturbances or infectious diseases con- 
tracted in infancy. Children who come to school are 
found to suffer from sense and other defects, which it 
is the duty of the medical school inspector and the nurse 
to detect and refer to the parent and family physician 
and to the family dentist before the child can do even 
the average of good work. 

It is necessary, therefore, for us to have a school 
organization for health, a school doctor who shall be a 
medical school inspector for health, and who at the same 
time shall be the health officer of his school district; 
a school dentist, quite as important as the school doctor, 
who shall have his chair and equipment in the school, 
and whose duty it shall be, as far as possible, to keep 
fillings out of the teeth of children, to keep sound teeth 
in children's mouths, to do temporary fillings for all 
children in need of them; and finally a school nurse, 
whose business it shall be, not to run a second-rate 
dispensary in the school by attending to cuts, bruises, 
and verminous heads; but who, as teacher nurse, shall 
bring the school and the home into closer contact; who 
shall teach the mother how to care for her child ; who, 
when the doctor says glasses are required for Johnnie, 
or Mary's ears need treatment, or that Lizzie's teeth need 
to have the moss removed from them and some tempo- 
rary fillings put in, will go to the home and explain to 
the mother the needs of her children, and when necessary 
take the child to the doctor or dentist and actually see 
that the necessary work is done. 

That the school nurse may become better acquainted 
with the babies and young children in her school district, 
let us establish milk stations in the schools during the 
long summer vacation, where she as visiting nurse to 



THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 291 

the babies of the district may learn the needs of the 
school circle in which she is doing her work. In each 
group of schools there will have to be established, under 
the care of a trained psychologist, a special psychological 
laboratory, for the study of all backward, deficient, and 
defective children, so that there may be developed from 
this beginning a laboratory of hygiene and psychology 
for the study of all well children. We are now making 
our sick children, our deficients, and defectives, and we 
must, of course, first establish a laboratory for the study 
of those we have made. Later, as we stop developing 
defectives, we may then direct our efforts toward the 
study of those children who exhibit but slight departures 
from the normal. As a still later piece of work we will 
have to establish and develop in connection with the 
health departments a laboratory for the inspection, and 
finally for the study of the physical and sense values 
of all the children who apply for permission to work. 
Let us make not only the birth and pedagogical record 
a requisite for the child to go to work ; but as long as 
we permit boys and girls in the early adolescent period 
to enter upon tasks which may be somewhat dangerous 
for them, let us be sure that physically and psychically 
they are able to measure up, as shown by the instruments 
of precision, to the work they are to do. 

At the other end of the scheme we are building let 
us provide a teacher nurse, who, working with the 
health department, the school, the hospital and various 
private institutions, shall make the foundation of the 
whole system by carrying to the expectant mother 
advice for herself and her unborn child ; and when the 
child comes into the world, let the teacher health nurse 
be a kind of new godmother, a health godmother, to 
the infant in its first five or six years of life. Such a 



292 



THE SOCIAL CENTER 



visiting health nurse for infancy would carry to the 
mother a knowledge of the new hygiene of the child; 
she would tell the mother about feeding and clothing, 
bathing and sleep; about the care of the mouth and 
teeth ; the eyes, ears, and nose, and she would see to it 
that the bodies of little children brought to the school 
nurse and school doctor were not already stamped with 
the marks of disease. Such a nurse would remove from 
us the shame that we as a people now permit our children 
to contract infantile diseases in their infant years, that 
we may send them to clinics and hospitals, epileptic col- 
onies and reform schools in later life. 

We have done a great deal of work to reform the 
man; let us do something to form him. We have had 
a plan for jfilling our hospitals and clinics with material ; 
here is a scheme for emptying our dispensary waiting 
rooms and keeping our hospital beds for emergency pur- 
poses. It is a scheme by which the school is to become 
the center around which all health activities revolve. 
The babies are to grow up into health with the teacher 
nurse who takes them to school. If their parents are 
poor, let them get milk and advice from the milk station 
in the school ; if theii* teeth need attention, let them go 
to the school dentist in the school ; if they need a doctor 
for health, let them have the advice of the school doctor, 
who is at the same time the district doctor. Let the 
school have its attending health doctor to care for the 
health of the children; the attending school dentist to 
preserve the teeth of the children ; the school nurse to 
visit the homes and be the handmaiden for health of the 
doctors. The visiting nurse for infancy and maternity 
will teach the mother how to care for the infant she is 
to bear. From earliest infancy until it enters school, the 
nurse will watch the child grow into health ; instruct the 



THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 293 

mother in its personal hygiene and teach the mother how 
to avoid the accident of disease. 

Let us do all these things now, and later let us do 
more of the same kind of preventive work ; not only 
because of our greater sympathy or because of our larger 
humanitarianism, but also because it is economically more 
valuable to do so here and now than it is to nurse the 
sick. 

Dr. Norton writes: 

One does not have to be very old to remember the 
time when there were no doctors of dental surgery. At 
that time the dental operations were performed by the 
barber or blacksmith, and consisted in merely extracting 
the tooth. This procedure was known in those days as 
a "medicinal application of cold steel." These con- 
ditions would exist to-day were it not for the ever in- 
creasing demand for better care of the teeth, more in- 
telligently applied and more skillfully practiced, a better 
acquired knowledge intelligently to administer aid to 
suffering humanity. 

It is through this development that it has become 
generally known that many ills of the entire system are 
directly traceable to dental lesions. Going still further, 
it is considered in this day and age a disgrace if one's 
teeth are not properly cared for. This being the case 
and the development having been so wonderfully rapid, 
it is small wonder that the men to whom the knowledge 
of the importance of this work has come should bear in 
mind the child whose age and whose environment make 
it improbable for him to realize the seriousness of his 
first toothache and the necessity of avoiding it if possible. 

It is a fact that the child at this age, that is, primary 
and grammar school age, or between the ages of six and 
20 



294 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

fourteen, during which time the permanent teeth erupt, 
is passing- through one of the most important periods in 
its Hfe and it is especially necessary that every condition 
be taken into careful consideration. The mouth is the 
gateway by which one-third or one-half of the disease- 
causing germs enter the body. It is of vital importance 
that it be kept clean and in a healthy condition. 

All these facts were realized by members of the Roch- 
ester Dental Society some thirty years ago, when they 
established a free dental dispensary at the Rochester City 
Hospital that people unable to pay for dental services 
might be treated at this dispensary free of charge. This 
was maintained by the society with money provided from 
its treasury, and was carried on by dentists who were 
members of the Rochester Dental Society donating their 
services and each working his allotted half day. 

The equipment of this first dispensary in Rochester 
was very meager, consisting of a stand, a barber's chair 
and what instruments each individual dentist saw fit to 
take to the infirmary for his own personal use. 

This movement lasted for about two years, at which 
time it went the way of all philanthropic movements, 
which are born too early for the public mind to receive 
and which must inevitably fail. Some time after this 
some of the oldei members of the society who had in 
mind this start and its failure, but who realized the im- 
portance of the movement itself, again brought the mat- 
ter to the attention of the society at a meeting, and a 
committee was appointed to establish a dispensary. It 
was through the efforts of this committee that Captain 
Henry C. Lomb of Rochester ofifered to equip a free 
dental dispensary if the society would maintain it. His 
idea was to establish the dispensary in one of the hos- 
pitals in the city. However, this was found to be im- 



THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 295 

possible, owing to lack of suitable accommodations, and, 
upon invitation, the dispensary was finally established at 
the headquarters of the Rochester Public Health Asso- 
ciation. A charter was obtained from the New York 
Board of Charities, and the dispensary formally opened 
to the public on Washington's Birthday, February 22nd, 
1905. Twenty-four members of the society alternated 
in taking charge of the work, and at first the dispensary 
was open only two afternoons a week. Soon, however, 
it was found necessary to open every day, and Mr. Lomb 
kindly consented to pay the salary of one dentist. At 
this time the dispensary being the only one in the city 
and the only place where poor people could obtain den- 
tal services, it was necessary to work for all classes ; but 
soon it was found necessary to alienate patients suffer- 
ing from tuberculosis, and Mr. Lomb kindly volunteered 
to equip a dental infirmary in the municipal hospital 
where poor tuberculous patients might receive dental 
care. Thus it was that the movement of free dental 
service to the poor children of Rochester first started. 
This was practically the condition of our dispensary 
in this city, when in the fall of 1909 the condition of 
the teeth of the children in our schools was brought to 
the attention of the school board by the principal of 
one of our schools. Miss Edith A. Scott, the principal 
of No. 14 School (this was the building where the 
social center movement had begun, and Miss Scott had 
caught the idea), requested the board of directors of the 
Dental Society to install a dental dispensary in her 
school, assuring the society that the board of education 
would cooperate in so far as to allow the installation of 
a dispensary, and, should the arrangement be found sat- 
isfactory, to cooperate more materially in the future. 
The directors fully realized the importance of this offer, 



296 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

and decided to equip a dispensary in No. 14 School. 
The entire equipment was donated by the manufacturers. 
One manufacturing company donated equipment to the 
amount of $365, others donated similar and less amounts 
until an equipment valued at $1,400 was installed. 

On Washington's Birthday, 1910, upon the fifth anni- 
versary of the opening of our first dispensary, the one 
at No. 14 School was formally opened to the public. 
As upon the former occasion, dentists alternated and 
gave up their valuable time to start the work. Forty 
dentists, one attending each afternoon, started this move- 
ment. Any one of these forty dentists would gladly 
have given the money necessary to hire a substitute, 
but the directors wished to interest as many members 
of the society in the movement as possible, and it was 
surprising to note how gladly and quickly dentists vol- 
unteered. One practitioner, of middle age, relates the 
following incident which occurred on his first day at 
No. 14: 

A little patient was placed in the chair whose face 
was so dirty that the dentist moistened a towel with 
hot water and soap and thoroughly scrubbed the boy's 
face. Upon seeing his reflection in a hand glass which 
was given him, the little patient gasped and exclaimed, 
"Gee !" This dentist did more good than he realized. 
The little patient had been placed in the chair expecting 
to be hurt, instead he met a genial man in a white coat 
who washed his face. The dentist was so much inter- 
ested in this little patient that he has watched the boy's 
progress and has ascertained that through this little fel- 
low's influence, the whole family are being educated 
in the care of the teeth. His little sisters and brothers 
are almost as enthusiastic about keeping their teeth 
clean as he is. 



THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 297 

Of the eighteen Httle patients treated the first week 
four came from the mentally deficient class. This is sig- 
nificant, illustrating the fact that children who are back- 
ward from mental deficiency or from sluggish brain 
equipment are found to have more or less trouble with 
their teeth. 

This dispensary in our public school has been in opera- 
tion nearly a year, and so far as actual conditions in the 
dispensary are concerned they are practically the same as 
when it was first started. However, during this year 
there has been unusual and rapid progress in the gen- 
eral movement. Two months after starting the dispen- 
sary it was deemed necessary to procure a dentist who 
would be able to devote his entire time to the work 
in our dental dispensaries, consequently a committee was 
appointed and a graduate of the University of Pennsyl- 
vania was selected by them for this position. He has 
devoted his entire time to the work. Forenoons, six 
days in a week, are given to the work in No. 14 School. 
Afternoons he is occupied at the first dispensary estab- 
lished. 

In the spring of 1910 a committee was appointed from 
the dental society to consult with the board of education, 
and, if it met with their approval, to arrange for a 
series of lectures on oral hygiene to be given to the chil- 
dren in all the public and parochial schools. Dr. John 
P. Corley, of Sewanee, Tennessee, a member of the Oral 
Hygiene Committee of the National Dental Association, 
was selected to deliver these lectures. He began his 
work on October 25th, 1910, and delivered from two 
to five lectures a day until the evening of November 
nth, at which time the campaign of oral hygiene was 
brought to its close by a mass meeting held in conven- 
tion hall. Besides the general public this mass meeting 



298 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

was attended by 1,200 pupils from the schools. The 
lectures given by Dr. Corley in the schools were illus- 
trated by the stereopticon and created widespread in- 
terest throughout the city. In conjunction with these 
lectures the Dental Society distributed gratuitously fifty 
thousand pamphlets on care of teeth to the school chil- 
dren. The expense of this campaign of oral hygiene in 
the public schools together with the enormous expense 
of holding the mass meeting was paid by private sub- 
scriptions from dentists. During our campaign in the 
schools, William Hodge, an actor who was playing at 
the Shubert Theatre in Rochester, upon being recalled, 
appeared before the curtain and made an unusual offer, 
that is, that he would give $1000 to the most worthy 
cause in Rochester, he having lived in Rochester in his 
early boyhood days. Several in the city made application 
for this money, but it was found that the dental dispen- 
sary and its work in the city was considered by Mr. 
Hodge and the mayor to be the most worthy at that 
time and the money was formally presented to our 
society by the mayor at the mass meeting. Such interest 
was aroused in this movement that during the lecture 
campaign in our schools two individuals offered to fur- 
nish the equipment for a dispensary to be opened in an- 
other of our public schools. 

It is well known that statistics may be had in any 
quantity regarding the percentage of children in school 
to whom it is necessary to administer dental aid. For 
example, of 500 children examined last May and June 
in New York City, 486 were found to have decayed 
teeth. In the mouths of these 500 children 2,397 
first and second molars were decayed. In Atlanta, 
Georgia, last year, it was found upon careful examina- 
tion that sixty out of every one hundred children did 



THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 299 

not brush their teeth at all, and that 686 out of 2,375 
needed dental treatment. In New York City upon exam- 
ination it was found that 126,000 required immediate 
attention by the dentist, and out of 500 pupils taken 
from different schools for the purpose of statistical ex- 
amination it was found that only 14 had sound teeth. 

Page after page of these statistics can be had, but 
in our experience here in Rochester it is thought ad- 
visable not to compile statistics regarding those who 
need dental attention, but to ascertain to what extent 
the faulty dental conditions affect the general health 
and also the intellectual condition and advancement of 
the child. To this end that we may be making one step 
toward solving this vital problem, experiments are now 
under way here in Rochester, which we hope will bear 
fruit. A class of twenty-five children has been placed 
in the hands of a committee appointed for this investi- 
gation, and they have started by placing the teeth of 
these children in perfect condition. Careful and accurate 
records of their class work for one year in the schools 
have been looked up, together with careful and accurate 
records of their work under the present healthful condi- 
tions of the mouth. It is, of course, understood that the 
children keep their teeth in perfect sanitary condition 
while these experiments are going on. Also, children 
who are not up to the standard, that is, children who are 
suffering from adenoids, the mentally deficient, or nat- 
urally backward, et cetera, are excluded from this class. 
It is intended that the children shall be examples of the 
normal healthy child. Records after careful selection 
and thorough care will be kept for the period of one 
year. This work has just been started and we believe 
will be a step in the right direction. 

Men in different parts of the country, who have gone 



300 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

into this matter thoroughly, realize that in this regard 
a vast field is opening up. In New York, Dr. Gulick, 
after some investigation, has made the statement that 
two defective teeth in the mouth of a child will retard 
that child in his studies six months. 

In New York City alone, should the children's teeth 
be cared for properly, the result in the saving of money 
would be enormous. Many million dollars would be 
saved to the municipality. Briefly explaining this state- 
ment: It is generally known that during the summer 
months, it is necessary to maintain a summer school 
for the benefit of such children as fail in their spring 
examinations. The cost of this summer school may be 
greater or less, according to the number of pupils who 
are backward. Therefore, anything tending towards 
the betterment of this condition would, of course, neces- 
sarily result in a saving in dollars and cents. 

That the authorities of the state of New York are 
alive to the gravity of this situation and the necessity 
for coping with this problem has been demonstrated 
recently by the fact that a department of oral hygiene 
has been added to the health bureau of the state. Two 
dentists. Dr. H. L. Wheeler of New York City and 
Dr. W. A. White of Phelps, New York, a member of 
the Rochester Dental Society, have been appointed and 
will take active charge of this department. This is 
the first step to be made in this direction in the United 
States. Quoting from the Dental Cosmos of January, 
1911 : 

A similar and preceding recognition of the dental hygiene 
movement was made by the department of public health and 
charities of the city of Philadelphia, which opened a dis- 
pensary for free dental service to the poor children of the 
city during the first week in September last, which dispen- 



THE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICE 301 

sary has been in active and successful operation since its 
opening, and now maintains a staff of six dental practitioners 
giving continuous attention to the service during the full 
working hours of each day in the week. 

As a part of the dispensary service plans are now per- 
fected by which, immediately after the holiday recess, the 
dental condition of fifty thousand school children in Phila- 
delphia will be examined and recorded by a corps of volun- 
teer inspectors recruited from the dental practitioners of 
Philadelphia. The purpose of this school inspection is not 
only to determine the existing condition of the teeth of pub- 
lic school children of the city, but to determine from the recr 
ords the most urgent cases requiring attention and to give 
them precedence in the order of treatment at the free dental 
dispensary. 

Both the New York appointment of dental lecturers and 
the free dental dispensary in Philadelphia are interesting as 
being examples of direct articulation of public dental service 
with the health departments of states and municipalities. 

At the time the oral hygiene movement was started in 
this city, thirty years ago, laymen and dentists alike were 
unable to grasp the importance of it. They did not re- 
alize the necessity for it, and, in fact, were not ready. 
Realizing that for thirty years there has been a con- 
tinued effort to bring the lay mind to the proper under- 
standing of this necessity, we believe that when con- 
ditions are such that the city authorities realize what 
it means to the advancement of the child in the school, 
how closely the health of the child is associated with its 
mental advancement, then will the problem of how to 
manage and conduct the work in connection with the 
city government be a matter for consideration. Until 
then it is better to put all energy into bringing about 
this condition. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE SOCIAL CENTER IN THE RURAL COMMUNITY 

"Social center development is the only thing that will 
take the kink out of the rural school." This statement, 
indicating the cordial attitude on the part of rural school 
men and women toward this movement, was made by a 
county school superintendent at the All Southwestern 
Conference for Social Centers, held at Dallas last Febru- 
ary. This meeting, the first of its kind to be called any- 
where in this country, demonstrated a unanimous deter- 
mination to promote the focusing of community activi- 
ties in and through the school social center as the best 
practical method of meeting the complex and difficult 
"country life problem." That conference was arranged 
by Charles W. Holman, of Dallas, Texas, who, in the 
following paper, sets forth present rural conditions and 
their need : 

Within the limits of this report an intimate study of 
the environments and social forces in the country life 
of the whole nation is both impracticable and impossible. 
For this reason the writer has chosen the rural problems 
of the southwest as the problems most nearly representa- 
tive of the whole nation. In this section already definite 
movements are on foot for the organization and the de- 
velopment of the social impulse. 

Than the southwest no more interesting field can 
302 



THE RURAL SOCIAL CENTER 303 

be found. Its development is one of the remarkable 
features of a remarkable decade. Its vast territory is 
being filled rapidly by hbmeseekers from all parts of 
the world. The farmer from Washington state has a 
neighbor from Georgia, and down the road is a family 
from Maine. The country school is taught by a young 
lady from Kansas, and the circuit rider came from 
Tennessee. Here is a small German colony, there is a 
group of Scandinavians. North and south Europeans 
are pouring into Texas through the Galveston gateway. 
Louisiana French are coming across the Sabine. Ameri- 
canized Europeans and natives are moving from the 
Central States onto the fertile farms of the southwest. 
Everywhere is the spirit of change — the invisible battle 
of conflicting farming methods, religious ideas, political 
creeds, racial prejudices. The older southern type of 
southwestern settlers is giving way before the constant 
stream of new bloods, and more settled ideas of life are 
being disturbed by the constant friction of ideas from 
other sections and nations. The children of the south- 
west have a widely scattered ancestry, and will inherit 
the traits and sentiments of a hundred nationalities, 
modified by contact and changed environment. 

This modern migration is different from former set- 
tlements. It is accompanied by phenomenal material 
progress. A ranch is opened for settlement. Buyers 
come by the trainload, and a town is started in a day. 
In three years this ranch is cut into small farms and is 
being cultivated by farmers. The same diversity of 
settlers continues. The new farmers rapidly install rural 
telephones, erect churches and schoolhouses, and respond 
readily to the demand for better roads. 

Such is the problem as presented to-day. Within ten 
years the southwest will have no more vacant spots. 



304 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

Within fifteen years the country will have taken on a 
mellowness, and will have the general characteristics of 
almost any section of the United States and will have 
preserved some of the traits of all. 

In the rush and in the struggle for homes, our farmer 
folk have left themselves poverty-stricken in the matter 
of intellectual occupation, outside the daily work, and 
have left no provision for satisfaction of the social in- 
stinct. Another important fact in this connection must 
not be overlooked : The best, rather the most energetic, 
talent of the country has in all communities been drawn 
irresistibly to the towns and cities. This has further 
impoverished the life of the country neighborhoods and 
made it harder for spontaneous popular effort to gain 
strength. 

But in contrast to this rather unpromising material 
for social work, comes the hopeful fact that the country 
people of the southwest are hungry for intellectual train- 
ing and cultural influences ; moreover, they are respond- 
ing to leadership, wherever that leadership is based upon 
the sound doctrine of the people keeping busy solving 
their own problems. 

Briefly, then, there fs need for social centers in the 
country life of the southwest, as of other parts, to blend 
the spirits of the people into harmony, to satisfy the 
social instinct, to stimulate the intellectual life and to 
inculcate true ideals of democratic government. 

The state of Oklahoma is doing a wonderful work in 
organizing its boys and girls and in its farmers' insti- 
tute work. The various civic improvement organiza- 
tions of Texas have taken up the social center movement, 
and this fall practically every teachers' institute in Texas 
and every convention is devoting time to discussion of 
the social center idea. 



THE RURAL SOCIAL CENTER 305 

So great is the need for organization of country com- 
munities that Farm and Ranch, the leading agricultural 
journal of the south, has actively agitated the need 
through its columns for the last twelve months and de- 
votes all the time of one of its editors to social center 
propaganda. This journal has opened its columns to a 
free and full discussion and promulgation of plans. It 
has also made it possible for every community in the 
southwest to obtain libraries. 

Opinion is unanimous that the schoolhouse is the nat- 
ural place for the meeting of all the people, and agita- 
tion is active to see that new school buildings shall be 
located with a view to more convenient access by both 
pupils and parents. 

Summarized, we find present-day environments of the 
farmer in the southwest contain these serious handi- 
caps: 

1. The majority of the southwest's rural population 
supports by taxation a double system of free schools — 
white and negro — and this burden is borne, in major 
part, by the whites. There are too many one-teacher 
schools. Schoolhouses are unfortunately located, poorly 
equipped and meagerly supported. Teachers are 
underpaid, and prejudice is a serious handicap to the 
teacher. 

2. Farmers' organizations lack virility. Their mem- 
bership is limited to a very small percentage of actual 
farmers. 

3. In many sections renters are supplanting the stur- 
dier types of land owners. These renters are, necessar- 
ily, of a lower economic order, and cannot give ready 
response to popular movements. 

4. Farm families are geographically isolated, and bad 
wagon roads make communication at times difficult. 



306 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

5. There is a general negligence of sanitation for pre- 
vention of diseases and purity of water supply. Beau- 
tifying home and school grounds and public roads is not 
given proper attention. And there is often a plentiful 
lack of good literature within the home. 

Other causes could be brought to mind, but are not 
necessary for the purposes of this paper. 

Our imperfect school system has not yet eliminated 
from the country the illiterate element; neither has it 
met th^ cultural or technical needs of country boys and 
girls. V Instruction in the small country school is often a 
mere matter of memory lessons!} Bad locations of school 
buildings have tended furthefm isolate farmers, by mak- 
ing it hard for them to get together in the community 
schoolhouses. 

In the matter of his organizations, the farmer's weak- 
ness engenders in him a failure to appreciate the mutual 
dependence of all who work on the farm ; and renders 
the one most important class in America almost impo- 
tent and at the mercy of those who set the prices on the 
world's goods. This means economic debility. 

As renters increase in a community, enthusiasm de- 
clines ; and initiative in 'personal or public endeavor loses 
the "name of action." 

Isolation, accentuated by bad roads, et cetera, has 
these good and bad results : Farmers tend to become 
both extremely radical and absurdly conservative, the 
two predispositions being often paradoxically present in 
the same character. The farmer's point of view tends to 
become limited to his vocation and the world repre- 
sented by his neighborhood. This very isolation, how- 
ever, develops also a rugged independence, a sturdy self- 
reliance, and a type of men and women who think deeply 
and weigh well all questions within their range. 



THE RURAL SOCIAL CENTER 307 

We must evolve a cooperative democracy, with the so- 
cial supplanting the individual spirit. 

To do this we must generate enthusiasm and develop 
leadership in the country. Our progress will be the 
advance of a people alive to its needs and consciously 
doing' the things necessary for its evolution. We require 
a vital stimulus and dependable leaders. 

We have referred to the intense individualistic spirit 
of the countryman. Under pioneer conditions that spirit 
was natural and normal. The tiller of the soil was the 
nearest approach to the man who was sufficient unto 
himself. With settlement in an advanced stage, how- 
ever, with small farms, with practically all available 
lands yielding to the husbandman, with agriculture mani- 
festing a constant tendency toward specialized effort, it 
becomes more and more necessary for the farmer to lay 
aside his early attitude and work in harness for the so- 
cial good. Such a spirit as was to be praised in 1800 
is abnormal and out of harmony in 1910. Yet, is it 
hard to find countrymen, working with the tools of 
modern civilization, living in the thoughts of a time 
that has gone? Can these men readjust their rela- 
tion to organized society? Can they interpret this 
readjustment to mean that the highest form of indi- 
vidualism finds its completest expression in social ex- 
change ? 

Forces are consciously at work transforming the pres- 
ent agricultural class. As an indication, in Texas, a cam- 
paign is being prosecuted for creation of a special county 
board of education, thereby relieving the already over- 
burdened commissioners' court ; and for establishment of 
country high schools, in order to give boys and girls 
higher educational advantages right at their own doors. 
Another educational effort is to draw into the office of 



3o8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

•county superintendent a man fitted for upbuilding the 
county school system. 

While farmers' organizations are not always of long 
life, and usually have quickly alternating high and low 
tides of strength and influence, the never-ceasing at- 
tempts at cooperative efforts foretell a day when some 
giant movement will sweep the country and enable the 
farmer to voice a determining word concerning the 
prices of farm commodities. Another important point 
to notice is that almost every strong farmers' organiza- 
tion admits women to full membership privileges, and 
entitles them to hold office. 

We are modifying isolation by permanent wagon 
roads, rural telephones, free mail delivery, trolley cars 
and automobiles. Active agencies for diminishing the 
effect of distance have already accomplished marvels. 
The next ten years shall witness miracles. But, for 
the farm to fulfill its mission, country people must fed- 
erate the social forces already at work. 

The social center for the southwest was first voiced 
by Mrs. Maggie W. Barry, chairman of the educational 
committee of the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, 
who, at the Denison meeting of that body, mentioned 
the good accomplished by the Rochester centers, an I 
suggested that the clubs take up the idea in the 
southwest. This suggestion was adopted, and the 1910 
meeting in San Antonio devoted an important part 
of its program to discussing the feasibility of the 
idea. 

A lecturer has been sent to every teachers' institute 
that could be reached in Texas last fall and this winter. 
The writer had the pleasure of explaining the idea to 
the Oklahoma State Federation of Women's Clubs, and 
having them endorse and take up active agitation, also 



THE RURAL SOCIAL CENTER 309 

to the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs meeting at 
San Antonio. 

In this way active agitation has made the name social 
center famihar in three states. It is resulting in prom- 
inent educators and community leaders readjusting their 
programs of community organization, and in trying out 
plans of work in some communities. The University of 
Texas has come to recognize the practicability of the so- 
cial center idea, and is rendering invaluable assistance to 
the movement by its organized extension work. 

The social center problem in rural sections divides 
into two logical parts : first, the small farming town, 
surrounded by a dense farm population ; and, second, the 
isolated neighborhood, that must depend upon its own 
resources. We will deal first with the latter : 

The initial requirement will be leadership. It will 
take a man and a woman. Two are enough to start 
with. Their qualities of leadership must consist of broad 
ideals, untiring energy, patience, tact, limiting their guid- 
ance only to the point where people think for themselves, 
yet ever keeping the people alive to this point. It will 
require constant endeavor, and they must be always "on 
the job." The two can work wonders with any isolated 
community. 

If the community is split by sect, party or family dis- 
putes, the task will be harder than if mere apathy pre- 
vails. If the people are conscious of their social need, 
and are ready to act with competent leaders, the task will 
be easy. Organization is not troublesome, enthusiasm is 
not hard to generate ; but keeping lighted the fires of 
social progress is difficult. 

To do this the leaders must find a social magnet — 
a something that will center and hold the interest of 
the people in the country school. This something must 
31 



310 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

be material and form the nucleus for the social center 
institution. The almost unanimous opinion of workers 
is that the community library, placed in the country 
school, fulfills this need. It will attract until it takes 
its rightful place among the other institutions which 
will compose the social center. 

This man and this woman will find as their valuable 
aids the secretary of the business men's organization 
in the town to which they are tributary, the local min- 
ister, the school teacher, the county superintendent, the 
government demonstration agent, and always a few en- 
terprising men and women who appreciate the motive 
and the great results bound to accrue. 

If the school building is antedated, the best way to 
bring the tax payers' attention to this fact is by starting 
a campaign for a school library. This focuses attention 
upon the school. Once the library is installed, public 
interest can be aroused by schoolhouse meetings for the 
discussion of a special bond issue to build a new and 
suitable structure to house children and books. A little 
diplomacy will quell the opposition of those who oppose 
a new school building. Enthusiasm started among the 
children will soon reach the necessary fever heat to pass 
the proposition through the ballot box. Care, now, should 
be taken to make the school building not only modern but 
one that can be utilized by a community of much larger 
growth. If possible, a separate room should be fitted 
out for library and reading room. 

With an attractive school building, and a helpful 
library, federation of the community becomes a much 
simpler proposition. The school will be the natural 
meeting place for the branch of the farmers' union, the 
boys' corn club, and the Friday night "literary." It is 
logical and natural for the teacher and the government 



THE RURAL SOCIAL CENTER 311 

agent to organize a school and home garden association 
among the boys and girls. The fundamental idea of this 
association will be to make outside surroundings of 
country life as attractive as possible. Beautifying of 
home and school grounds will result in beautifying of 
home and school thoughts. 

The woman leader will organize cooking and sewing 
societies, and a mothers' club. The man leader will 
organize for better roads and buildings among the men. 
These interests will unite in parent-teacher and in home 
and school clubs. We have presented here every needed 
factor to awaken this community. The next step is 
coordinating these organizations for civic betterment. 

A schedule can be so arranged that the school build- 
ing will be in use five nights out of the week by sep- 
arate organizations, and one night out of the week by 
everybody in the neighborhood. Plans for bringing these 
associations into harmony with each other and quicken- 
ing the life of the people are unlimited. For instance, 
the girls' clubs could entertain the boys' corn clubs. 
The home and school garden association could give an 
open program, and its members could tell their parents 
how to make homes more attractive for children. The 
farmers' union could hold its open meetings in such a 
manner as to get the non-members interested in the work 
the union is trying to accomplish. 

For discussion at every public meeting should be 
themes interesting to the local community. Holders of 
public offices should be invited to give their answers 
to questions affecting the public welfare ; and these repre- 
sentatives should be thoroughly grilled concerning their 
positions on issues wherein they voted contrary to the 
will of their constituents. True democracy and inde- 
pendent, positive thought should be encouraged. The 



312 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

social center is to be everybody's meeting place and 
everybody's forum. Speakers can always be secured for 
the asking; and the secretary of the business men in 
the next town will gladly send out authorities on farm 
subjects to address the enterprising community. In 
such a community these speakers will find eager, willing 
auditors, earnest, intelligent men and women, who will 
fill the house to the doors. But these same listeners will 
follow the speaker with thoughtful discussion of his 
theme and he will probably find himself in the witness 
chair before the end of the evening. Who can doubt 
the benefit of this kind of community organization? 

In the small farming town, where almost everyone is 
directly interested in agriculture, the social center will 
flourish, because it fills a vital deficiency. Such a town 
has a serious question to answer in "What shall we do 
for our boys and girls, to keep them off the streets, and 
actively engaged in something that will be for their 
own good, yet attract them?" 

Two serious drawbacks to small town life are found 
in the attitude of the commercial club, and the women's 
clubs. The one desires to exploit its town to bring in 
industries; the other is too liable to waste energy and 
money on idealistic ventures of no practical benefit. 

It will be necessary for the commercial club to enroll 
the farmers of the open country; and for the town 
women to do the same with their country sisters. If 
this is not always possible or practicable, the women's 
clubs and the commercial club can find means to draw 
the farm population to the town meetings. 

A library can be installed, with a reading room open 
night and day. Boys can be enrolled in athletic classes 
by the volunteer work of young graduates, who went in 
for athletics at college. Young women, returned from 



THE RURAL SOCIAL CENTER 313 

college — to fold their hands at home and idle until they 
are married off — can find useful employment under this 
plan by becoming auxiliaries to the teaching force, and 
aids at the open meetings. Such a town could support 
a lyceum, supplemented by free lectures. Open evenings 
can be made so attractive that they will always draw 
crowds. A scheme of organization parallel to that in 
the isolated community can be used here. 

The success of the Hesperia movement warrants our 
firm belief in social centers for the southwest. Farmers- 
ville, Piano, Celeste, Troupe, Normanna, and other small 
towns of Texas have started this work. A number of 
isolated communities have consciously gone to work on 
definite lines of advancement. 

Knowledge of conditions leads the writer to believe 
that the library idea is the one which will be most quickly 
responded to by the people. This is undoubtedly as great 
a need as any other. Meeting it will arouse the people 
to appreciation of the value of cooperation. Through 
the efforts of Farm and Ranch, one hundred communi- 
ties have already adopted the library plan. The senti- 
ment is growing. Especially does the library plan appeal 
to the isolated community. It is necessary to agitate for 
more libraries in the southwest, as a first means of cre- 
ating social centers. 

In concluding, the writer wishes again to say, that the 
social forces at work in country life will make the farmer 
of the future a very different being from the farmer of 
to-day. He further predicts a spread of the social center 
wave, and its adoption over the whole country; perhaps 
not in name, but certainly with the same idea. From 
that getting together of the people will result: 

1. A growing spirit of fraternalism. 

2. A quickened interest in public welfare. 



314 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

3. A saner, better-balanced manhood and woman- 
hood, inspired by truly democratic ideals. 

4. Ultimate solution of the difficult question of hold- 
ing farm population on the farms, by making country 
life so attractive that its possibilities will satisfy the 
normal instincts of the ambitious man and woman. 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE SOCIAL CENTER AND THE UNIVERSITY 

The Social Center is related to the University in two 
ways. It furnishes the means wherein and where- 
through the college or university graduate may express 
the civic and social impulse he has received. And it is 
the means through which the citizens, by neighborhoods, 
may continually take advantage of the resources to which 
they have a right as owners of a university. 

'Tt must be admitted, to our shame," says Woodrow 
Wilson, "that college men have not borne a very active 
relationship to public life in this country in the past." 
What is the reason for this? Chiefly, perhaps, the rea- 
son is that the civic spirit which the university fosters 
in the student is rational and scientific, that is, it is 
political, rather than partisan. In the past the college or 
university graduate has had practically no opportunity 
to participate in political afifairs except by giving up his 
political independence, coming to belong to a party, put- 
ting in place of open-eyed, unbiased investigation the ac- 
ceptance of a platform or creed. The non-partisan, or 
rather super-partisan, civic impulse of the university 
graduate has had no sub-partisan political machinery 
through which it might become effective. The social 
center, with its. basis in the single all-inclusive political 
organization — the voting body self-organized into a de- 
liberative body — presents an opportunity for political par- 



3i6 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ticipation which is not out of harmony with the university 
impulse. The social center furnishes the means by which 
the college or university graduate may, as a citizen, "get 
the enthusiasm of things to be done." This is the en- 
thusiasm of the common political organization which is 
the basis of the social center, a different and very much 
finer enthusiasm than that of any partisan organization. 
But, while the value of the social center as the ma- 
chinery through which the civic impulse of the university 
may be expressed by the participation of the graduate is 
of the highest importance, the value of this institution 
as the means whereby the social, fellowship impulse of 
the university may be conserved and democratized is also 
very important. This spirit of "good fellows together" 
of undergraduate life has tended to find its expression 
among college and university men after their graduation 
in the establishment of exclusive fellowships, university 
clubs, et cetera. For even the small percentage of gradu- 
ates who become members of such organizations, they 
fail entirely to satisfy the larger fellowship impulse. 
Now the social center furnishes in the local community 
to which the man or woman goes from the university 
not only the most effective machinery for political par- 
ticipation, but also the opportunity for the expression of 
the largest and finest social impulse which university life 
has awakened and fostered. The social impulse, the group 
spirit, is a by-product of student association in university 
or college. Of the "fraternity" organizations within the 
university or college, the awakening of this impulse, the 
development of this spirit, is the chief object. If the 
little artificial "fraternity" organization does not serve 
as a training place of the fraternal spirit which is to find 
its true expression in the common life of society, then 
the undergraduate "fraternity" has no excuse for exist- 



THE LOCAL UNIVERSITY CENTER 317 

ence, at any rate in a publicly supported institution. The 
social center in each community is the local chapter 
house of the all-inclusive American fraternity, for which 
every exclusive "fraternity" organization is, of right, an 
artificial fostering school. 

The above consideration of the social center in its re- 
lation to the university or college applies equally to the 
private or public institution of high education. The fol- 
lowing, and even more important, consideration applies 
to the social center in its relation to the state university. 
One may not say that — what the social center is to the 
neighborhood the state university is to the common- 
wealth ; because the state university is not the civic head- 
quarters : the state house or capitol is that. But where, 
as in Wisconsin, and now in Kansas and other states, 
the university is conceived of, not as a shrine wherein 
the lamp of knowledge, kept ever burning, is attended 
by devotees of abstract truth who gather there, but as 
a light and power plant serving all the state, the social 
center in each neighborhood becomes the place of con- 
stant connection of each local community with the cen- 
tral institution. The system through which the larger 
resources of the university are made available for in- 
dividuals and groups in the local communities is known 
in Wisconsin and in the other states in which Wisconsin's 
method is being followed as the University Extension 
Division. It is through the University Extension Divi- 
sion that the state becomes the campus of the uni- 
versity. 

The remarkable development of University Extension 
in Wisconsin has been very largely due to the clear vision 
and practical engineering skill of Dr. Louis E. Reber, 
Dean of the Extension Division. Dr. Reber here sets 
forth the program of increased University Extension 



3i8 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

service which is made possible through local social center 
organization. 

The state university is a public service corporation. 
It is supported by the public, presumably for the public. 
Until within comparatively recent years, few questions 
have been asked as to the quality and comprehensiveness 
of the service offered by the university to this constitu- 
ency, but the time has arrived when not only educators, 
but intelligent laymen, including both employer and em- 
ployed, are asking to what degree the relation of the 
people as a whole to the educational system has been 
recognized either in the construction of its curriculum 
or in the dissemination of its benefits. 

What proportion of the young folk who become high 
school students are served in future years by the uni- 
versity? What proportion of those who remain in 
school for elementary training only reap more than the 
most meager benefits from our so-called popular edu- 
cation ? 

The high average percentage of illiteracy in the United 
States, the low comparative degree of efficiency in the 
industries, and the avi'dity with which opportunities for 
further education are embraced by persons who have 
completed their formal education, all point to a fault 
in the existing system for which there is at present no 
generally adopted remedy. 

It is not necessary to dwell upon the shortcomings of 
our public education, nor to emphasize the fact that fig- 
ures relating to school attendance would change greatly 
for the better if the value of training for efficiency were 
recognized in our public schools. The awakening to 
the need of a thoroughly reorganized system of educa- 
tion is quite general, and the time is doubtless not far 



THE LOCAL UNIVERSITY CENTER 319 

distant when the work of the schools will be so differ- 
entiated, after the earliest grades, as to offer equal op- 
portunities for effective training to the future artisan 
and to the future professional man. In the meantime, 
the stability of our institutions is threatened by the in- 
creasing number of the uneducated or the helplessly edu- 
cated who crowd the large cities, and drift from place 
to place through the country. 

Reorganized methods in the common schools, continu- 
ation schools, trade schools, and apprenticeship courses 
are all directed toward provision of the needed remedy, 
but under present conditions are sorely inadequate to 
meet the situation. In this field, then, university exten- 
sion may find a large usefulness. 

There is much to be said in favor of a policy which 
carries the university to these people who cannot come 
to it. A measure presenting such immense possibilities 
of usefulness would seem to belong as an organic part 
to the state educational system. The work requires as- 
sured and liberal support in order to secure permanence 
of establishment and growth, and its central offices, for 
reasons of economy and convenience, should be placed 
where the material equipment, research foundations and 
instructional force of the great head of the state system 
may become available for its use. Although this close 
affiliation with the intra-mural processes of the uni- 
versity is important, it should not be understood that 
extension instruction shall be limited to courses of study 
of university grade, nor even that it shall conform neces- 
sarily to any conventional schedule of studies. The pres- 
ent range of extension activities, as interpreted by an 
increasingly large number of colleges and universities, 
is held to include not only such courses as entitle the 
student to credit toward university or advanced degree, 



320 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

school teacher's diploma, or other certified recognition, 
but also short courses and conferences not leading to a 
degree, and the promotion of a great variety of inter- 
ests that reach the people, both young and old, in the 
intimate relations of their daily life. 

In this breadth of scope is seen the vital spirit that 
animates the new conception of university extension — 
the spirit of boundless liberality which would make use- 
ful to the entire people, in whatever place, in whatever 
walk of life, that great fund of knowledge which accumu- 
lates and is available at a university — be it the product 
of research, scholarship, or of great gifts of mind and 
heart. 

Having conceded the point that the state university 
is the natural and proper guardian of the educational 
interests of the whole people of the state, existing under 
an obligation to those who cannot enter her walls fully 
equal to that she owes to her resident study body, there 
arises the paramount question of method by which every 
part of the state shall be reached by the university with- 
out duplication of machinery, yet effectively and thor- 
oughly. It is probable that no method can be absolutely 
successful which does not involve division of the state 
into districts having local headquarters, from each of 
which the various activities of extension shall be pro- 
moted within the limits of its territory. The organiza- 
tion may then be compared to a great wheel, of which 
the hub is the university, the rim the boundaries of the 
state, and the spokes the lines which divide the whole 
into districts. 

At the hub, or central headquarters, will be located 
the dean, director, or extension committee, the several 
secretaries of departments, and the specialists who ofTer 
lecture courses, prepare correspondence — study lessons, 



THE LOCAL UNIVERSITY CENTER 321 

publish bulletins designed to aid the student in the study 
of topics for debate, or gather, classify, and, if neces- 
sary, edit instructive literature dealing with subjects use- 
ful to the student as a private individual, or as a citizen 
of state or municipality. 

In the districts, superintendents, field organizers, and 
local teachers coming into immediate contact with the 
people whom the university would serve, will be en- 
abled to apply the benefits of university extension to their 
specific needs. Here, again, the working plant of the 
public educational institution may be of use in the pro- 
vision of suitable class rooms, lecture halls, laboratories, 
and club rooms. 

A seemingly insurmountable obstacle to the spread 
of university extension in rural communities or villages 
has existed, heretofore, in the apparent lack of public 
gathering places and other facilities for the meeting of 
groups for study. Though criticism of our failure to 
utilize our school plants to their fullest capacity is not 
new, yet it is only with the comparatively recent use of 
the schoolhouse as a social center that the tremendous 
possibilities latent in the out-of-school hour service, 
have come to be generally recognized. From the civic, 
social, and recreational uses, in themselves indirectly 
educational, to direct educational applications has been 
a natural step, and the community gatherings at the 
schoolhouse center are natural assemblers of the ele- 
ments of study groups. 

In the coming civic clubs, which are, or should be, 
holding evening sessions in schoolhouses all over the 
country, are thousands of young men whose education 
has ended with graduation from the high school. 
Among these, many, if offered the chance, would avail 
themselves of the opportunity to continue their studies 



322 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

with the object either of improving their vocational 
proficiency or of acquiring credit toward a university- 
education, with the hope of completing a course of study 
in future residence at the institution. These are fre- 
quently youths of sturdy frame and manly qualities, 
worthy of the best the state can give them, but denied 
the benefit of further advantages than the very meager 
training of the small village or rural school. The cir- 
cumstances of their lives in too many instances forbid 
progress, and its inevitable converse, deterioration, fre- 
quently becomes their lot. That they should be rescued 
from this condition, at however great a cost of effort 
and expense on the part of the government for altruistic 
reasons alone, is evident, but in this day the fact is ac- 
knowledged that education for efficiency pays, not only 
in returns to the individual, but also to the state. It is 
recognized that every child taken from school and put 
to work without further opportunity for education repre- 
sents almost invariably a ruined life and always a loss 
in dollars and cents to the commonwealth. 

This view of the situation rarely occurs to the young 
worker, and even when the conclusion is forced upon 
him that he must inevitably be left behind in the race 
with his trained companion, he seldom knows how to 
improve his condition, and the only result of his obser- 
vation is bitterness of spirit and discouragement. 

To such a one the offer of training applicable to his 
needs, direct from the university, at no greater cost than 
his means will afford, under such conditions as leave him 
free to continue earning a livelihood and taking him no 
farther afield than to the nearest schoolhouse, comes as 
a solution of difficulties as vital as life itself. 

In speaking thus of the needs of a large class of the 
youth of our country, young folk who are passing 



THE LOCAL UNIVERSITY CENTER 323 

through the critical period of the formative years of 
their existence, an important possible service of uni- 
versity extension in cooperation v^ith other educational 
agencies throughout the state, has been suggested. This 
is but one of the many uses of university extension for 
people remote from direct university influences. 

In the development of educational activities in public 
school centers, the requirements of all classes of persons, 
of every individual, may be considered. These activi- 
ties may include correspondence study courses in con- 
junction w^ith class work, lecture courses, illustrated by 
lantern slides, or motion pictures, lists of referred read- 
ings for the study of given subjects for general informa- 
tion or debate, bulletins presenting briefs dealing with 
questions of the day, package libraries containing 
material for study in the absence of local libraries, 
apparatus for experimental tests, cooperation in special 
movements, expert advice in matters relating to sane and 
healthy living, et cetera. The enumeration fails to con- 
vey an adequate conception of the significance of the aid 
and guidance that may be claimed from the university 
through the agency of the extension division working 
in the school center. It will be seen, however, that 
through this instrumentality the student may receive as- 
sistance in preparing himself for advanced standing in 
school or university, the worker may improve his voca- 
tional proficiency, the citizen may inform himself upon 
matters relating to improved conditions in his home, 
in his community or in his state, and all may receive 
a stimulus to effort that will result in better conditions 
of life and make us a happier, stronger, and more intelli- 
gent people. 



CHAPTER XX 



THE MAGNIFIED SCHOOL 



The final question regarding the project of making 
the schoolhoLise the headquarters of the district voting 
body, self-organized into a deliberative body, and then 
the center of such community expression as the neigh- 
boring citizens may desire to focus there, is the effect 
which this increased use of the building will have upon 
the school in its primary function as the institution of 
children's education. This is the ultimate and deciding 
cjuestion, not only because the use of the schoolhouse 
for the education of children "was there first," but be- 
cause this use is inherently of such importance that if 
social center development were to mean injury to the 
school in this prime service, no arguments in its favor 
would counterbalance this single argument against it. 
That the exact opposite of injury to the primary service 
of the school results from social center development — 
that this wider use, not merely does not interfere with, 
but powerfully aids the school in its primary service — 
explains the unanimous endorsement of this movement 
by such bodies as the National Education Association, 
and the willingness to cooperate, which may everywhere 
be expected on the part of school trustees, superintend- 
ents, principals and teachers. 

In the paper which Dr. Edward C. Elliott, Professor 
of Education in the University of Wisconsin, has fur- 

324 



THE MAGNIFIED SCHOOL 325 

nished upon the ways in which social center development 
contributes to the efficiency of the primary service of 
the schoolhouse, he uses the term which heads this chap- 
ter — The Magnified School — to designate the social 
center. A few years ago to call the democratically 
based and completely developed community institution a 
"school" would have been to suggest that in their use 
of this neighborhood building adult citizens were to give 
up their sovereignty and come under the authority of a 
teacher. Recognizing the danger that lay in that pater- 
nalistic conception of the term "school," Professor 
George M. Forbes, President of the Rochester Board 
of Education, clearly and strongly differentiated between 
the "school" and the wider uses of the neighborhood 
building. But we are very rapidly coming to enlarge 
our conception of the meaning of the word. For in- 
stance, a member of the Wisconsin State Legislature, 
addressing a gathering of citizens in a social center, 
spoke of the state house as "the school which the legis- 
lators attend," and described the basic idea of the social 
center in practically the same terms which President Wil- 
son has used, as being "the going to school to one an- 
other of citizens in each district for the understanding 
of public questions." 

This use of the term "school" is made by John 
Stuart Mill, when, in his "Representative Government," 
he describes the essential civic character of the institu- 
tion of democracy which is realized in the social center. 
He says : "There is no difficulty in showing that the 
ideally best form of government is that in which the 
sovereignty or supreme controlling power in the last re- 
sort is vested in the entire aggregate of the community ; 
every citizen not only having a voice in the exercise of 
that ultimate sovereignty, but being at least occasionally 
22 



326 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

called on to take an actual part in the government. 

* * * It is a great discouragement to an individual 

* * * to be reduced to plead from outside the door 
to the arbiters of their destiny, not taken into consultation 
within. * * * What is still more important than 
even this matter of feeling is the practical discipline 
which the character obtains from the occasional demand 
made upon the citizens to exercise * * * some so- 
cial function. It is not sufficiently considered how little 
there is in most men's ordinary life to give any largeness 
either to their conceptions or to their sentiments. Their 
work is a routine, not a labor of love, but of self-interest 
in the most elementary form, the satisfaction of daily 
wants ; neither the thing done nor the process of doing 
it introduces the mind to thoughts or feelings extend- 
ing beyond individuals ; if instructive books are within 
their reach, there is not stimulus to read them ; and in 
most cases the individual has not access to any person 
of cultivation much superior to his own. Giving him 
something to do for the public supplies, in a measure, 
all these deficiencies. If circumstances allow the amount 
of public duty assigned him to be considerable, it makes 
him an educated man. * * * 

"Still more salutary is the moral part of the instruc- 
tion afforded by the participation of the private citizen 

* * * in public functions. He is called upon while 
so engaged to weigh interest not his own, to be guided 
in case of conflicting claims by another rule than his 
private partialities ; to apply, at every turn, principles 
and maxims which have for their reason of existence the 
common good. He is made to feel himself one of the 
public. * * * 

"Where this school of public spirit does not exist 
scarcely any sense is entertained that private persons 



THE MAGNIFIED SCHOOL 327 

* * * owe any duties to society, except to obey the 
laws and submit to the government. There is no un- 
selfish identification with the public. Every thought or 
feeling, either of interest or of duty, is absorbed in the 
individual and in the family. The man never thinks of 
any collective interests, of any objects to be purchased 
jointly with others, but only in competition with them, 
and in some measure at their expense. A neighbor not 
being an ally or any associate, since he is never engaged 
in any common undertaking for joint benefit, is, there- 
fore, only a rival. Thus, even private morality suffers, 
while public is actually extinct." 

A very striking illustration of the way in which this 
conception of democracy is coming to common recog- 
nition and practical expression was given during the re- 
cent presidential campaign. The chairmen of the three 
leading national party committees had sent a joint request 
to the New York Board of Education that arrangements 
be made for the use of the schoolhouses in that city as 
polling places and as common pre-election meeting places. 
This request had been referred to the committee on the 
wider use of schoolhouses, of which Commissioner Her- 
man A. Metz, formerly city comptroller, was chairman. 
At the next meeting of the board this committee recom- 
mended favorable action upon this request. Immediately 
one of the commissioners called upon his colleagues to 
"kill that proposition," stating as the reason why it should 
be "killed" that : "The schoolhouses were built for edu- 
cation, and they'll not be used for politics." In reply 
General George Wingate, one of the oldest members of 
the board, said : "I agree with the commissioner's state- 
ment that the schoolhouses were built for education — and 
politics is education, and the appropriate place for politi- 
cal expression is, therefore, the schoolhouse." 



'328 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

It is in this larger sense of the common institution 
which serves the adult political, recreational, social self- 
education of the community, as well as the instruction 
of children, that Professor Elliott uses the term "school," 
as he considers the advantage to the one-third use that 
we have been making which will come with the full 
development of the characteristic institution of 
America : 

In what ways is it possible for the public school social 
center movement to contribute to the improvement of 
those activities which the school regularly undertakes in 
the performance of its duty of educating children? This 
is the question that has been submitted to me for a brief 
reply. Thus far, it would appear that the campaign to 
magnify the school and to increase its usefulness for 
the common good has been carried on with particular 
reference to that portion of our population — adults and 
youth — outside of the field of the normal, direct influence 
of public education. Moreover, the principal concern 
has been with those new forms and forces of education 
and recreation, the inherent social value of which has 
only lately been recognized. Even a general considera- 
tion of the whole matter brings to light the fact that the 
larger and more conscious economy in the use of the 
school building and equipment must inevitably result in 
the utilization by the school of all of the later agencies 
for popular education. The school child, as well as the 
working adult, will become the beneficiary of the hew 
education of our citizenship. The conception of the 
school as the broadest and most comprehensive of our 
social institutions means a larger conception of the school 
as an educational institution. 

The following items have been selected for special con- 



THE MAGNIFIED SCHOOL 329 

sideration, not only because they represent the most profit- 
able by-products of the expansion of the public school 
into a social, civic, community center, but also because 
they are apt to be omitted from the customary, casual 
enumeration of advantages. Quite obviously, even a 
partial performance of the manifold activities included 
within the program of the school as a social center will 
bring to the school itself a large increment of opportunity 
for the effective teaching of children. The gymnasium, 
the indoor and outdoor play space for day and evening 
use, the vacation school, the evening school, the classes 
in manual arts and domestic science, the library, the illus- 
trated lecture, cannot be disconnected from the organized 
work of the day school. If the movement accomplishes 
nothing more than to attract public attention to the 
necessity and worth of education through action, it will 
have served no mean end. There is not in the country 
to-day a city or rural school the nominated functions of 
which would not be better performed as a result of this 
movement, if for no other reason than through the in- 
creased material equipment which the socialized school 
will have. 

There is one fundamental form of public school better- 
ment that may be suggested here parenthetically ; the 
improvement of the public school building itself. In 
spite of the millions spent, and the millions spending, the 
great majority of schoolhouses, in city and country 
alike, are lamentably deficient in providing a material 
surrounding in which may be effectively conserved and 
developed the physical, civic, economic, and spiritual ca- 
pacity of children. Neither the social reform through 
the school stimulated by the movement here represented 
nor the educational reform of the school advocated to- 
day will come to pass until public financiers and school 



330 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

architects give a larger content and a more adaptable 
form to our structures used for school purposes. On 
the physical, hygienic side much progress has been made 
in recent years; for the increase of civic, economic, and 
spiritual service scarcely a beginning has yet been at- 
tempted. 

First. The magnified school (this term appearing to 
me to connote most appropriately the aim of the larger 
movement under consideration) will provide a fit time 
and place for the meeting of parent and teacher. The 
tragic consequences in our education of the alienation 
of the home from the school are being borne in upon us 
more and more. Any method or means that will substitute 
for the existing indifference of the home a positive and 
abiding interest in the work of the school, and that will 
also permit the school to regulate its efforts in accord- 
ance with the special conditions to which the home holds 
the key, opens the way for the accomplishment of a 
much higher educational efficiency than now generally 
obtains. Teacher and parent need greater opportunity 
for natural communion. Under present conditions, these 
two potent, controlling factors in the education of the 
child endeavor to cooperate only in cases of emergency 
and under circumstances, which, at the best, are arti- 
ficial. The visits of the teacher to the home, however 
much gain and increase in harmony it may result in, 
rarely avoid the semblance of condescension, intrusion, 
or formality. The visit of the mother to the school 
during its session/ good in manifold ways as such a visit 
is, whether as an ordinary or an extraordinary event, 
does not give chance for freedom of communication be- 
tween parent and teacher and for fullness of understand- 
ing of the common problem. And, what is more impor- 
tant, the father, under the existing regime, is perforce a 



THE MAGNIFIED SCHOOL 331 

dummy director on the board of control of the child's 
education. 

Nearly four score years ago a Frenchman, wise be- 
yond his generation, gave an interpretation of our democ- 
racy that, for its insight and sympathy, has not been sur- 
passed. Therein he says, *Tf, then, there be a subject 
upon which a democratic people is peculiarly liable to 
abandon itself, blindly and extravagantly, to general 
ideas, the best corrective that can be used will be to 
make that subject a part of the daily practical occupation 
of that people. The people will then be compelled to 
enter upon its details, and the details will teach them the 
weak points of the theory * * * " That blindness 
and extravagance in general ideas about education has 
been one of the cardinal faults of our democracy may 
not be gainsaid. That there is great need for a more 
careful study of the details of the public schools by our 
citizenship, especially the citizenship that is composed of 
parents, is pressing, if not apparent. 

The bulk of our people require a better insight into 
the workings and purposes of all grades of public 
schools. Demands in that quarter are, however, no 
greater than the urgency of larger and more complete 
understanding of the people by the teachers of the 
schools. Were I a benevolent monarch of our educa- 
tional system, I would decree that every public school 
should be kept open throughout one evening of each 
week, and that every teacher should be on duty to meet 
father and mother for the face-to-face discussion of 
those individual problems of the welfare of the children 
presented to every family. More than this, I would pre- 
scribe that none unable or unwilling to further such 
an enterprise of cooperation should be qualified as a 
teacher. And yet more, I would impose upon parents, 



332 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

the fathers in particular, the responsibility of carrying 
out their proper share of the plan. In truth, though, as 
long as the parents may not be compelled to enter upon 
the essential details of the child's school education, a 
favorable opportunity to do so should not be denied 
them. The parent-teacher organizations which are now 
becoming more general throughout the country repre- 
sent a move in the right direction. At the best the asso- 
ciations are too restricted in their membership, and too 
formal in their proceedings. We need something far 
more comprehensive, something which in operation lends 
itself more readily to meeting the interests and compli- 
cated relationship of the school and the home. The 
school neighborhood activities that form the core of 
the social center movement constitute the firmest 
foundation for a new and yet unknown educational 
solidarity. 

Second. The magnified school will afford ways and 
means for pupils, especially high school pupils, to accom- 
plish that individual and independent study which should 
form the necessary part of any efifective and complete 
school training. Teachers, as a class, are now busying 
themselves with the problem of how children study, how 
they conduct and control their intellectual occupations; 
and a lot is being discovered that accounts for the fruit- 
lessness of much of the ordinary work of the school. 
Above all, it is now widely recognized that any success- 
ful economical self-acquirement by school pupils — which 
is study — demands method and favorable environment. 
Recent experience in many localities demonstrates with- 
out question that the utilization of the school for the 
purposes of so-called "home study" gives that study a 
value which it does not now possess. The testimony of 
District Superintendent E. E. Whitney, of New York, 



THE MAGNIFIED SCHOOL 333 

on this whole issue is pertinent and illustrative of the 
larger thought in mind: 

The study rooms fulfilled their missions far better than 
formerly. They were opened in every center, with an aver- 
age attendance of 1,256. The majority of pupils came from 
the seventh and eighth grades, which are always over- 
crowded. Hundreds of children too timid to ask questions 
in the classroom and handicapped for want of quiet places 
to study cannot advance from this point without assistance. 
Each principal endeavored to ascertain facts about the home 
environment, and the statistics collected verified the seem- 
ingly extravagant statements regarding crowded tenements. 
Excellent teachers are assigned to these rooms ; they encour- 
aged questions, explained difficulties and provided reference 
books. Many children with tearful eyes expressed joy at 
being able because of their help to receive an "A" mark on 
report cards. (1909.) 

The public school itself, as a rule, attempts to do too 
much for the child. The need is for provisions for the 
child to do for himself. 

Third. The magnified school will permit the inclu- 
sion, within the school education of the child, of a num- 
ber of invaluable supplementary means for making the 
instruction of the school less formal, and more in accord 
with the nature of the learning human being. The fes- 
tival, the dramatic presentation, the story telling, the 
visual instruction through the stereopticon and moving 
pictures, the phonograph, all now employed as means of 
recreation and amusement, will have their real educative 
possibilities brought to the fore. The education of the 
future is not, if the signs and science of the present are 
not leading us astray, to be dominated by the printed 
book and the spoken voice. Other instruments for stirn- 



334 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

ulation to activity and for influencing right conduct may 
and can be used to an advantage. The experience of 
the larger world in these respects is teaching a valuable 
lesson to the school. 

Fourth. The magnified school will bring within its 
walls the doers of the world's work, the artisan and the 
merchant who will, in accordance with the needs of the 
busy practical life outside of the school, help us of the 
school to do that which should be done, and leave un- 
done those things which should not be done. There is 
scarcely a subject in the curriculum of the elementary 
school program, to say nothing of the secondary school, 
that would not be the gainer by being made to strike fire 
on the flint of the world. Perhaps, too, the world may 
gain by this process. The work of the school is not 
so simple as it seems. Moreover, in this day of the un- 
mistakable tendency toward the vocationalizing of the 
public school there exists a double necessity of constant 
contact with the constructive and productive members 
of the social organization. 

Fifth. The magnified school, more than any other 
agency that may be indicated, will cause the preeminent 
problems of moral and civic education to stand out in 
proper perspective. Nine-tenths — one may be fair — of 
the so-called instruction that aims to make for healthy, 
active standards of citizenship is devoted to the mouth- 
ing of the mere form of civic existence. Vital instruc- 
tion in the civic virtues means contact with the real pul- 
sating civic life. The citizenship of the future must be 
trained in the civic forums of to-day. And the civic 
forum contemplated in the organization of the social 
center gives more promise of contributing virility and 
strength to civic education than any effort that has sought 
to bulwark political institutions since the days when the 



THE MAGNIFIED SCHOOL 335 

Athenian boy became a Greek through vitalizing contact 
with the Hfe of his elders and the Roman boy was edu- 
cated with and by Roman citizens. 

Closely linked with civic education is the more funda- 
mental moral education. Any detailed exposition of the 
possibilities of the expanded school is impossible at this 
time. It is enough to say that the school is learning that 
ethics and morals, to be effectively taught, must employ 
those channels of influence that have been found to be 
necessary in other subjects. Words and formularies will 
not be effective. The school must dig deeper if it wishes 
to reach those strata of human nature out of. which comes 
the richness of a national conduct. 

As with all the other of the epoch-making discoveries 
of the nineteenth century we are now becoming aware 
of the new possibilities and of the wide fields of use- 
fulness of the public school. In this respect the energy 
of education is comparable to that of steam, of electric- 
ity, of water, or of chemical reaction. The transforma- 
tion of the latent forces of the school into kinetic social 
activities that may be directly utilized for the larger 
common betterment is no longer a matter of verbal spec- 
ulation; the process is going on all about us, and the 
efforts to accelerate it and to increase the value and 
number of its products are becoming each year more 
conscious and more evident. 

For several decades, competent judges and keen ob- 
servers of American life and institutions, especially those 
from abroad, have repeatedly called attention to the ex- 
travagances and conspicuous lacks of sensible economy 
that characterize all of our doings. The national guilt 
of waste is being gradually borne in upon us, and the 
vow of conservation has been inserted in the creed of 
progress. The consciousness of the evils of the wastage 



336 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

of material things is being succeeded by a sharp realiza- 
tion of the evils of the wastage of spiritual things. This, 
as I understand it, is the underlying motive of the move- 
ment to expand the school into a center for community 
activity. 

This later and larger conception of the function of 
the public school is the product of a century's experi- 
ence with public education. The nineteenth century 
was ushered in with a prevailing sentimental humani- 
tarian notion of the education of the people. The chil- 
dren of the unfortunate and the need}' were to be sup- 
plied, in a paternalistic manner, with 'their minimum 
wants. This was the day of the charity school, of 
worthy, though condescending, educational philanthropy, 
and of the numerous attempts to educate the masses 
through cheap, mechanical, and automatically operated 
devices for instruction. The building of the founda- 
tions of the public school for the children of a demo- 
cratic people will remain as an enduring monument to 
the faith and courage of the pioneers of a new civiliza- 
tion. The completion of the superstructure of this 
school remains yet to be accomplished. How and in 
what manner is writ large in the contemporary develop- 
ment of public education. 

The original constitution of the public school was 
dominated by the individualism which was inherited 
from a score of generations of the class education of 
the mother countries. It was fashioned to meet the ele- 
mentary needs of a child. The twentieth century public 
school has begun to discard its individualism for a 
broader principle of socialization. It has begun to ex- 
tend the boundaries of its sovereignty so as to include 
not only the whole of the territory of childhood, but that 
of adulthood as well. It already exercises suzerainty 



THE MAGNIFIED SCHOOL 337 

in those spheres over which, not long since, other great 
human institutions held sway. The decline of the in- 
fluence of the family, of the church, of the workshop, 
and of the major nationalizing traditions has meant 
the increase of the domain of the school. And as the 
school extends the frontier of education, thereby en- 
larging its service to the common good, it will, of neces- 
sity, turn its attention inward and utilize the external 
good for its internal improvement. It is being designed 
to meet the completer needs, not only of the child, but 
of the children. 



APPENDIX 

Suggested Constitution of the Neighborhood Civic Club 

Preamble 

Whereas, We, the citizens of precinct (or dis- 
trict) of town (or city) are now united in one 

political organization as members of the voting body, and 

Whereas, The responsibility for voting demands organ- 
ized preliminary deliberation, and 

Whereas, The public school building affords the appro- 
priate and convenient headquarters for the meetings of the 
district voting body, self-organized as a deliberative body : 

Therefore, We, the citizens of precinct (or dis- 
trict) of town (or city) do constitute ourselves a 

deliberative organization or Neighborhood Civic Club, to 
hold meetings in the public school building for the open 
presentation and free discussion of public questions and for 
such other civic, social and recreational activities as give 
promise of common benefit. 

For the better government of the same, we do adopt the 

following CONSTITUTION : 

Article I 

NAME 

The name of this society shall be the Neighborhood Civic 
Club^ meeting in school. 

339 



340 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

Article II 

OBJECT 

The object of this organization shall be the development 
of intelligent public spirit through the holding of meetings 
in the school building, in which there is the open presenta- 
tion and free discussion of public questions, and such other 
activities as shall promote the welfare of this neighborhood. 

Article III 

MEMBERSHIP 

Section I. Members: Every qualified voter living in 

the precinct (or district) of town (or city) 

is a member of this Neighborhood Civic Club. 

Section II. Associate Members: Every person not a 
qualified voter, twenty-one years of age or over, living in 
this district is an associate member of this Neighborhood 
Civic Club, with full right to participate in the delibera- 
tions of this body. 

Article IV 

OFFICERS 

There shall be seven elected officers of this Club, namely, 
President, four Vice-Presidents, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. 

Article V 

election of officers 

All of the officers shall be elected at the annual meeting 

of the Club, which shall be held on , to serve for a 

term of one year each. 



APPENDIX 341 

Article VI 

DUTIES OF OFFICERS 

Section I. President: It shall be the duty of the Presi- 
dent to preside at all meetings of the Club and also to serve 
as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Club. 

Section II. First Vice-President : It shall be the duty of 
the First Vice-President to preside at the meetings of the 
Club in the absence, or at the request, of the President. 

Section III. Second Vice-President : It shall be the duty 
of the Second Vice-President to serve as chairman of the 
Program Committee of the Club. 

Section IV. Third Vice-President: It shall be the duty 
of the Third Vice-President to serve as chairman of the 
Legislative and Improvement Committee of the Club. 

Section V. Fourth Vice-President : It shall be the duty 
of the Fourth Vice-President to serve as chairman of the 
Social Committee of the Club. 

Section VI. Secretary: It shall be the duty of the Sec- 
retary of the Club to keep the minutes of the proceedings 
of this Club in a book — the property of the Club — to keep a 
list of active members, to receive additions to this list, to 
carry on the correspondence of the Club, and to fulfill such 
other duties as usually pertain to this office. 

Section VII. Treasurer: It shall be the duty of the 
Treasurer to handle the money of this Club, to make all col- 
lections for the expenses of the Club, to keep a record of all 
moneys received, spent, and on hand, and to report upon the 
state of the treasury whenever called upon to do so. 

Article VII 

COMMITTEES 

There shall be four committees of the Club, namely, the 
Executive Committee, the Program Committee, the Legisla- 
tive and Improvement Committee, and the Social Committee. 
2S 



342 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

Article VIII 

DUTIES OF COMMITTEES 

Section I. Executive Committee: The Executive Com- 
mittee shall consist of the elected officers of the Club. It 
shall be the duty of this committee to confer upon questions 
regarding the welfare of the Club, to consider and recom- 
mend matters of importance to the Club, and in unusual mat- 
ters requiring haste to act for the Club. 

Section II. Program Committee : The Program Commit- 
tee shall consist of the Second Vice-President and four other 
members chosen by him. It shall be the duty of the commit- 
tee to arrange programs for all of the meetings of the Club, 
to secure speakers, and to suggest topics of discussion which 
shall assure live, interesting, and profitable meetings. 

Section III. Legislative and Improvement Committee: 
The Legislative and Improvement Committee shall consist of 
the Third Vice-President and four members chosen by him. 
It shall be the duty of this committee to investigate all mat- 
ters recommended for legislation and all questions of local 
improvement which may be referred to it by the Club, also 
to suggest matters upon which the Club should act. 

Section IV. Social Committee : The Social Committee 
shall consist of the Fourth Vice-President and four other 
members appointed by him. It shall be the duty of the So- 
cial Committee to promote neighborhood hospitality, through 
the arrangement of such special programs, entertainments, 
serving of refreshments or other social features as the Club 
may from time to time direct or desire. 

Article IX 

MEETINGS 

The Club shall hold a regular meeting each evening 

in the room in the school, between 7:30 and 

10:00 p. M. 



APPENDIX 343 

Article X 

DUES 

There shall be no regular dues of this Club. Members 

of the club may contribute cents per year to pay 

the expense of sending notices of the meetings of the Club 
and such other incidental expenses as may be incurred. 

Article XI 

QUORUM 

Ten active members of the Club shall constitute a quorum 
for the transaction of all business. 

Article XII 

AMENDMENTS 

This constitution may be altered or amended by a two- 
thirds vote of the members present at any regular meeting. 

BY-LAWS AND ORDER OF BUSINESS 

By-Law I. The meeting shall be called to order by eight 
o'clock or earlier, so that the business routine may be dis- 
posed of and the speaker of the evening may be introduced 
not later than fifteen minutes past eight. 

The main address shall be finished and the subject of 
the evening thrown open for general discussion at or before 
nine o'clock. 

This discussion shall last not longer than three-quarters 
of an hour, and should close with a ten-minute opportunity 
for the speaker to sum up the discussion and to answer 
questions. 

By-Law II. The chairman of the meeting shall leave 
the chair in order to engage in discussion. 



344 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

By-Law IIL In speaking from the floor in the open dis- 
cussion which follows the main address, the parHamentary 
rules of addressing the chair, etc., shall be strictly followed. 

By-Law IV. Speeches from the floor are limited to five 
minutes and the time may be extended only by unanimous 
consent. 

By-Law V. No speaker may have the floor a second time 
unless all others who wish to speak have had opportunity to 
do so. 

By-Law VL Speeches from the floor must deal with the 
subject chosen for discussion. 

Order of Business: 

I. Call to order. 
11. Minutes of previous meeting. 

III. Report of standing committees. 

IV. Report of special committees. 
V. Treasurer's report. 

VI. Unfinished business. 

VII. New business. -> ■ 

VIII. Special program. 

IX. Discussion. 

X. Adjournment. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY* 

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524-527, November, 1905. 
Bagehot, Walter. The Age of Discussion. Physics and 

Politics. Part 3. 
Baker, Ray Stannard. Do It for Rochester. The American 

Magazine, Vol. 70, pp. 683-696, September, 1910. 
Baxter, Sylvester. Widening the Use of the Public School- 

* For those who can examine only a small number of these refer- 
ences a selected list is printed in italics. 



APPENDIX 345 

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346 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

Social Center Movement in Other Cities. Vol. i, pp. 

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APPENDIX 347 

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348 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

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APPENDIX 



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350 THE SOCIAL CENTER 

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APPENDIX 



351 



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1905, pp. 25-30. 



INDEX 



Alma, Kan., social use of 

schools in, 359, 360 
Appleton, Wis., schoolhouses 

as civic centers in, 66 

Bacheller, Irving, on political 

atavism, 59 
Bagehot, on educational value 

of discussion, 87 ; 

Baker, Ray Stannard, on 

school centers in Rochester, ' 

200, 201 
Beard, William, on social cen- 
ter and political campaigns, 

163 
Bibliography, 344-351 
Bicameral legislature, absurdity • 

of, in democracy, 117 
Bloomfield, Meyer, on service 

of vocational schools, 271, 

272 
Boston, "1915 movement" in, 

178; municipal music in, 

231 ; recreation centers in 

schools of, 25s; vocational 

training in, 274 
Boy Scouts, 133 
Branch libraries in public 

schools, 34, 209, 212-220, 310 
Brooklyn, Sunday concerts and 

lectures in schools of, 259 
Brown, E. E., on neighbor li- 

ness, 100 



Buckley, William, on repre- 
sentative government, 52 

Buffalo, social center move- 
ment in, 184 

Carnegie libraries, 215 

Chicago, recreation centers in, 
134. 13s, 138, 255 

Chicago Vice Commission, 258 

Child hygiene, 283-301 

Cincinnati, campaign for so- 
cial centers in, 172-174; 
evening gymnasium classes 
in schools of, 257 

Citizen, ignorance of, 152-153 

City council, 20-22 

Civic secretaries, teachers as, 
30-35 ; responsibility of, 36 

Cleveland, Frederick A., on 
will of the people, 19; on 
negligence of citizen, 46 

College graduate, activity of, 
in community, 315 

Colonies, development of na- 
tionalism in, 6-8 

Commons, John R., on func- 
tions of the employment bu- 
reau, 279-282 

Creel, George, on social cen- 
ters, 161 

Crosby, Ernest, on wealth, 59 

Crothers, Samuel McCord, on 
social value of music, 228 



353 



354 



INDEX 



Dancing in public schools, Jer- 
sey City, 258 ; in recreation 
centers. New York City, 258, 
267-8; social value of, 145-6 

Declaration of Independence, 

234 
Democracy, cooperation in, 

307; people in a, 56, 69, 157, 

158, 325-328, 331 
Dental clinics in public schools, 

285, 287, 290, 291, 293-298, 

300-301. 
Dresden, Arnold, on social 

value of music, 229-331 
Duluth, campaign for centers 

in, 256 
Dyer, F. B., on schools as so- 
cial centers, 175 

Electorate, inchoate condition 
of, 20-21 

Elliott, Edward C, on wider 
use of schools, 328-337 

Emerson, Henry P., on school 
centers in Rochester, 202 

Employment burea'us, adjust- 
ment of labor market by, 
280; necessitated by seasonal 
employment, 279 ; organiza- 
tion of an ideal bureau, 280- 
282 

Evanston, social survey of, 257 

Evening schools, 275-277 

Family, origin of, 104; position 
of child in, 108; protection 
of the, III; social unit, 105 

Farmer, environment of the, 
305-306 

Festival center, the, 234-240 



Festivals, democratic influence 
of, 239; social value of, 238 

Fleischer, Charles, on social 
center, 39 

Folwell, Prof., on organized 
citizenship, 3 

Foulke, William Dudley, on 
art in the public schools at 
Richmond, Ind., 221-227 

Gale, Zona, on obligations of 
the individual, 122 

Gaylord, Winfield, on social 
centers in Rochester, 203 

Goler, George W., on child hy- 
giene, 283-292 

Government, conceptions of, 
2-7, 57-58; coordination need- 
ed in, 9, 10, 119; efficiency 
in, 171; forms of, 118, 325- 
327; inefficiency of, 119; 
woman in, 120 

Grand Rapids, branch libraries 
in schools, 34; schools used 
as polling places in, 14 

Gross, A. W., on the civic club, 
38 

Hamilton, Alexander, on the 
people, 69 

Harvard University, instruc- 
tion in vocational guidance 
in, 274 

Hetherington, Clark W., on 
schoolhouse as a social cen- 
ter, 136, 137 

Holman, Clarence, on needs of 
rural communities, 302-313 

Hooker, George E., on civic 
development, 155, 156 



INDEX 



355 



Howes, J. W., on need of or- 
ganized citizenship, 56 

Hughes, Charles E., on bene- 
fits of civic assembHes, 56 ; 
on public schools as social 
centers, 190-193 

Johnston, Mrs. M. R, on art in 
public schools, Richmond, 
Indiana, 221 

Kansas City, social centers in, 

184 
Ketcham, Edna Murray, Song 

of the Neighborhood, loi 
Kipling, Rudyard, 80, 11 1 

La Follette, Robert M., on 

civic organization, 38 
Library, a continuation school, 

215, 219 
Lindsey, Judge Ben B., on the 

beast, 50; on criminology, 

116 
Los Angeles, election of 1912 

in, 80, 82 ; schools as polling 

places in, 16; municipal 

newspaper in, 85 

Madison, Wis., social center in, 
163 

Markham, Edwin, The Man 
with the Hoe, 205 

Martin, E. S., on festivals and 
celebrations in public 
schools, Q.'i'J 

Massachusetts, social use of 
schools in, 256 

McFarland, J. Horace, on ig- 
norance of good citizen, 152 



McLenegan, Charles E., on 
branch libraries in schools, 
213-215 

Men and Religion Forward 
Movement, 260 

Merrill, Wis., failure of recre- 
ation center in, 135 

Mill, John Stuart, on best form 
of government, 325, 326, 327 

Milwaukee, election of 1912 in, 
85; library in, 218; recreation 
centers in schools, 256; 
schools as polling places in, 
17; social centers in, 160 

Minneapolis, branch libraries 
in public schools of, 34 

Mosher, Howard T., on school- 
house as logical social cen- 
ter, 184 

Motion pictures, cost of, 249- 
251 ; establishment of educa- 
tional film exchange for, 250; 
eye strain of, 246, 247; in 
school budget, 249; in school 
curriculum, 244-248 ; in 
school extension, 248; in 
schools of Wisconsin, 241 ; 
in vocational schools, 278; 
number of theaters for, in 
United States, 241 ; social 
value of, 242, 243, 245, 248 

Municipal music, in Boston, 
231; in Rochester, 228; in 
Richmond, Ind., 229; in 
Europe, 231 ; New York City, 
232 

Music centers, 228-233 

National conference on Social 
Center Development, First, 
205 



356 



INDEX 



National Congress of Mothers, 

258 
Neighborhood associations, 

federation of, 36-39; need of, 

83 
Neighborhood civic club, sug- 
gested constitution for, 339- 

344 

Neighborhood library in public 
school, 34 

New York City, baths in 
schools of, 264; budget ex- 
hibit in, 154; clubs in, 265, 
266; dancing in public 
schools of, 258; dental clinic 
in schools of, 298, 300, 301 ; 
program for extension of 
recreation centers in, 268, 
269; public music in, 232; 
public school lectures in, 
178; recreation centers in, 
255, 262; school athletics in, 
263 ; school games in, 264 ; 
school libraries in, 264, 265 ; 
study rooms in schools of, 

257 
New York Federation of 

Churches, 260 
Nurses in public schools, 285, 

287, 290, 291 



Oklahoma, use of schools in, 
259; rural social centers in, 
304, 308 

Organized citizenship, need of, 
2, 23, 309-313; need of dis- 
cussion in, 23, 24, 46, 51-56; 
167-168; need of expert 
counsel for, 65, 66; problem 
of, II 



Oyen, Henry, on social center 
development in Rochester, 
194 

Parties, harm caused by, 87; 
neighborhood organization 
as a substitute for, 88 

Partisanship, 74-76, 78, 86 

Party platforms, 73 

Perry, Clarence Arthur, on 
wider use of schools, 254, 

255 

Philadelphia, recreation cen- 
ters in schools of, 255; 
school dentists in, 300 

Physicians in schools, 276, 
284, 285, 287, 288, 289, 290, 

293 

Plant quarantine, 169 

Political organization, Chicago 
Republican Convention, yy ; 
defined, 70, 71 ; usurped by 
small groups, 72 ; kind of, re- 
quired to-day, 80 

Political reform, 63 

Politics, cause of bad, 93 

Polling place, relation of, to 
organized citizenship, 11, 12; 
school used as, 14, 15, 16, 17, 
18 

Pomerene, Atlee, on need of 
voters' league, 56 

Public school, as a social cen- 
ter, cheapness of, 27, 66, 67, 
136, 187; discussion stimu- 
lated by, 74; logicalness of, 
69, 136, 140, 141, 184, 305; 
means toward practical poli- 
tics, 123, 142 ; moral influ- 
ence of, 252, 253 ; opposition 
to, 19s; politics improved by. 



INDEX 



357 



91, 92, 182 ; why not so used, 

97 
Public school, uses of, as 
branch library, 34, 209, 212- 
220, 310; as festival center, 
234-240 ; as motion-picture 
theater, 241-251; as music 
center, 228-233 ; as polling 
place, 13-20, 25, 327; as pub- 
lic art gallery, 221-227; as 
public forum, 210, 253, 254; 
as public lecture center, 
207-211; as recreation cen- 
ter, 252-270; as social center 
in rural communities, 302- 
314; as vocation center and 
employment bureau, 271-282; 
as voters' league, 43-68; ex- 
tension of, 175, 208, 209, 210, 

Rauschenbusch, Walter, on so- 
cial classes, 78, 79 

Reber, Louis E., on program of 
extension division, Univer- 
sity of Wisconsin, 317-323 

Richmond, Ind., art gallery in 
public school in, 198, 221, 
227; music in schools of, 229 

Rochester, art gallery in pub- 
lic school in, 198; branch li- 
braries in public schools of, 
34, 199; dental clinics in pub- 
lic schools of, 198, 294-298; 
motion pictures in schools 
of, 198; social center in, 102, 
III, 127, 146, 147, 148, 149, 
160, 162-166, 172, 175-202. 

Roosevelt, Theodore, on the 
courts, 70; on playgrounds, 
''i7o 

24 



Rural schools, as social cen- 
ters, 96, 302-314 

Saloon, as a social center, 63- 
65 

School board, as an adjunct to 
political machines, 177 

School superintendents, as so- 
cial center secretaries, 30-35, 
307 

School system, failure of, 138 

Schubert, Joseph C, on rela- 
tion of social center to pub- 
lic official, 53-54 

Secretarial service, 28-30 

Seidel, Emil, on need of neigh- 
borhood organization, 55 

Smith, R. E., on social center 
in Sherman, Texas, 150 

Social center, aids officeholder, 
125, 182; as a means of dem- 
ocratic expression, 38, 89-90; 
as a means toward social 
contentment, 99; definition 
of, I ; detailed organization 
of a, 126-128; development 
of, economizes social forces, 
34-35, 67-68, 90, 93-95, 139; 
educational importance of, 
115, 166, 318-323; fosters a 
community spirit, 107, 108; 
importance of school in, 13; 
mayor, the logical president 
of, 188, 197; must be demo- 
cratic, 102, 103; need of, in 
rural communities, 144, 145, 
302-314, 321 ; relation of, to 
politics, 163, 182; relation 
of, to university, 315-323; re- 
sults of, 39, III, 143, 144, 
313, 314 



358 



INDEX 



Social Center Association of 
America, 206 

Socialization of the individual, 
106, 109 

St. Louis, neighborhood li- 
braries in schools of, 34; 
recreation centers in schools, 
256 

State university, importance of, 
to social center, 318-323 

Steffens, Lincoln, on civic sal- 
vation, 46 

Stitt, Edward W., on growth 
of cities, 261 ; on social cen- 
ter in Rochester, 177 

Straubenmiiller, Gustave, on 
lectures in public schools in 
New York City, 178 

Texas, rural social centers in, 
308, 313 

The Survey, First National 
Conference on Social De- 
velopment, 205 

Tynam, Tom, on prison re- 
form, 121 

University of Wisconsin, Ex- 
tension Division, 203, 241, 
317, 318 

Vocational schools, adjustment 
of labor supply by, 281-282; 
need of, 271-274; program 
for, 276-279 

Von Suttner, Baroness Bertha, 
on organized citizenship, 2 

Voters' league, attitude of, to- 
ward officials, 60; character 
of, 44, 45 ; disliked by office- 
holders, 44, 49, 50; effect of. 



on officials, 61 ; ineffective 
methods of, 62, 63 ; must be 
all-inclusive, 47-51 ; need of, 
50-57; neighborhood gather- 
ing, 60 



Warbasse, J. P., on prostitu- 
tion, 143 

Ward, Frank, on discussion in 
government, 51 

Washington, D. C, social use 
of schools in, 256 

Washington, George, on 
parties, 84; on right of peo- 
ple to change constitution, 
61 

Webster's definition of politics, 
72 

Weil, A. Leo, on participation 
of citizen in government, 46 

White, William Allen, on de- 
velopment of social centers, 

39-42 

Whitney, E. E., on schools 
used for "home study," 333 

Wilson, Woodrow, on college 
graduate in politics, 315 ; on 
community as a unit, 107; on 
constitution, 61 ; on need of 
publicity in government, 
174; on popular government, 
181, 206; on sovereignty, 151 

Wisconsin, motion pictures in 
schools in, 241 ; schools as 
polling places in, 26 

Woman, in government, 120, 
121; sphere of, 113, 114 

Wood, Eugene, on neighborli- 
ness, 102 

World Scout Movement, 133 



INDEX 



359 



Wright, William Burnett, on 
organized citizenship, 2 

Young, George B., on health of 
school children, 283 



Young Men's Christian Asso- 
ciation, activities of, 130- 
132; origin of, 129 

Youngstown, playgrounds in, 
256 



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