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A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil

A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil
    Book Description:

    Published in 1912 on the heels of Twenty Years at Hull-House and at the height of Jane Addams's popularity, A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil assesses the vulnerability of the rural and immigrant working-class girls who moved to Chicago and fell prey to the sexual bartering of what was known as the white slave trade._x000B__x000B_Addams offers lurid accounts--drawn from the records of Chicago's Juvenile Protection Association--of young women coerced into lives of prostitution by men who lurked outside hotels and sweatshops. Because they lacked funds for proper recreation, Addams argues, poor and socially marginalized women were susceptible to sexual slavery, and without radical social change they would perhaps be "almost as free" as young men. In addition to promoting higher wages and better living conditions, Addams suggests that a longer period of public education for young women would deter them from the dangers of city life._x000B__x000B_Despite its appeal to middle-class readers eager for tales of sexual excess and the rape of innocence, the press and prominent intellectuals criticized A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil for being disproportionately hysterical to its philosophical weight. Katherine Joslin's introduction considers the controversial reactions to the book and the circumstances of its publication. Behind the sensationalism of the narratives, Joslin locates themes including the commodification of sex and the importance of marriage for young women.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09036-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction: Slum Angels
    (pp. ix-xxxiv)

    “There comes a time in nearly every girl’s life when her cry is to go to the city,” Florence Mabel Dedrick, a missionary at the Moody Church in Chicago, declared.¹ As Melville’s Ishmael and his generation of young men on the East Coast headed for the sea in the nineteenth century, midwestern girls headed for Chicago. Dedrick’s essay “Our Sister of the Street,” which aroused the reading public, appeared in a sensational exposé entitled Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls; or, The War on the White Slave Trade. The illustration on the book’s cover features a white woman locked behind...

  4. Preface
    (pp. 1-2)
    Jane Addams
  5. 1 As Inferred from an Analogy
    (pp. 3-8)

    In every large city throughout the world thousands of women are so set aside as outcasts from decent society that it is considered an impropriety to speak the very word which designates them. Lecky calls this type of woman “the most mournful and the most awful figure in history”: he says that “she remains, while creeds and civilizations rise and fall, the eternal sacrifice of humanity, blasted for the sins of the people.” But evils so old that they are imbedded in man’s earliest history have been known to sway before an enlightened public opinion and in the end to...

  6. 2 As Indicated by Recent Legal Enactments
    (pp. 9-25)

    At the present moment even the least conscientious citizens agree that, first and foremost, the organized traffic in what has come to be called white slaves must be suppressed and that those traffickers who procure their victims for purely commercial purposes must be arrested and prosecuted. As it is impossible to rescue girls fraudulently and illegally detained, save through governmental agencies, it is naturally through the line of legal action that the most striking revelations of the white slave traffic have come. For the sake of convenience, we may divide this legal action into those cases dealing with the international...

  7. 3 As Indicated by the Amelioration of Economic Conditions
    (pp. 26-44)

    It may be possible to extract some small degree of comfort from the recent revelations of the white slave traffic when we reflect that at the present moment, in the midst of a freedom such as has never been accorded to young women in the history of the world, under an economic pressure grinding down upon the working girl at the very age when she most wistfully desires to be taken care of, it is necessary to organize a widespread commercial enterprise in order to procure a sufficient number of girls for the white slave market.

    Certainly the larger freedom...

  8. 4 As Indicated by the Moral Education and Legal Protection of Children
    (pp. 45-63)

    No great wrong has ever arisen more clearly to the social consciousness of a generation than has that of commercialized vice in the consciousness of ours, and that we are so slow to act is simply another evidence that human nature has a curious power of callous indifference towards evils which have been so entrenched that they seem part of that which has always been. Educators of course share this attitude; at moments they seem to intensify it, although at last an educational movement in the direction of sex hygiene is beginning in the schools and colleges. Primary schools strive...

  9. 5 As Indicated by Philanthropic Rescue and Prevention
    (pp. 64-81)

    There is no doubt that philanthropy often reflects and dramatizes the modern sensitiveness of the community in relation to a social wrong, because those engaged in the rescue of the victims are able to apprehend, through their daily experiences, many aspects of a recognized evil concerning which the public are ignorant and therefore indifferent. However ancient a wrong may be, in each generation it must become newly embodied in living people and the social custom into which it has hardened through the years, must be continued in individual lives. Unless the contemporaries of such unhappy individuals are touched to tenderness...

  10. 6 As Indicated by Increased Social Control
    (pp. 82-100)

    When certain groups in a community, to whom a social wrong has become intolerable, prepare for definite action against it, they almost invariably discover unexpected help from contemporaneous social movements with which they later find themselves allied. The most immediate help in this new campaign against the social evil will probably come thus indirectly from those streams of humanitarian effort which are ever widening and which will in time slowly engulf into their rising tide of enthusiasm for human betterment, even the victims of the white slave traffic.

    Foremost among them is the world-wide movement to preserve and prolong the...

  11. Index
    (pp. 101-108)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 109-110)