NOVEMBER 17, 1936
CHICAGO—I thought I had seen every type of work's progress activity that we had in this country but I reckoned without Chicago! I have just come back from the Field Museum. Never before having been there before, the Museum in itself would have been an exciting experience for me particularly as I made my entry via the rooms where Malvina Hoffman's work shows us the development of the human race and all the different types to be found throughout the world. I wanted to spend hours there instead of a few minutes, but I came away with the feeling that I had seen art used in combination with science to the advantage of both and my admiration already great for the skill of the artist who did this work, is augmented a hundred fold.
We really went, however, to see what people on WPA were doing, and I came away tremendously proud of the contribution which these workers have made not just to the Museum but to the taxpayers of the State of Illinois.
Here is a group of people who came in having skills of their own, able, industrious, intelligent people not able to find work. In the museum they have adapted these skills, under the patient leadership of the Museum director, Mr. Sims, and developed new skills in a number of extremely technical occupations. A beautiful doorway is being reconstructed from tiny fragments; foliage is being made for museum groups; the mending of vases and the practical reconstruction of fragments of old pieces of pottery is under way. Miss Warren is using her remarkable skill to mend old mummy cloths, Persian mattresses which are hung on the wall when not in use as a decoration and other beautiful pieces of material.
Besides this the binding of pamphlets is going on, there is an increased force in the printing shop. Men and women are cleaning and preserving the skeletons of all kinds of animals. As I looked at the fine work one woman was doing, it occurred to me that it would not take more patience and skill to put together the parts of a watch.
Walking along I said: "Will you be sorry, Mr. Sims, to part with your WPA workers?" He said: "Sorry, they are practically indespensible. They have expanded our possibilities for usefulness and I have even filled vacancies on my staff from their ranks. There isn't any useless boondoggling in the Field Museum."
I went to lunch with my husband's cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Houghteling who had gathered an interesting group of people together.
We dine tonight with Rabbi and Mrs. Mann and after my speech we are off to Detroit.